We've often heard developers singing the praises of the new generation of consoles, claiming that their PC-like architecture makes them much easier and more efficient to develop on. Speaking on one of the featured developer interviews over on Capcom's business site, senior manager Masaru Ijuin has flown in the face of this widely accepted belief, saying that developers must brace themselves for the greater challenges that lie ahead.
When asked whether his development team expected a smooth transition from their original engine, MT Framework, to the new Panta Rhei engine, Ijuin replied, "Well, I'm afraid creators will have to start back at square one when they learn how develop games using Panta Rhei. Next-gen consoles have drastically redefined the way games are rendered. Conventional theories no longer work.
"If we create games the same way as before, we won't be able to give our fans what they want, and that's games unlike any they have ever played. We think we should view this new hardware as an opportunity to tackle new challenges.
"Don't get me wrong," he continued. "We believe MT Framework is a powerful rendering engine. But it's clear that heightened game quality leads to a rise in the number of man hours. The amount of work involved in making games for next-gen consoles is eight to ten times greater than what is required for the current generation of consoles."
Ijuin (whose personal motto is "always rise to the challenge") also believes developers should embrace the rapidly changing world of game design. "Just like with MT Framework, there were people who were initially against the introduction of Panta Rhei," he said. "I think everyone's a little apprehensive about changing the development environment.
"People frequently asked us why we felt the need to replace a smoothly running engine with a new one. We promised to offer them maximum support, and moved ahead with the development of Panta Rhei.
"Panta Rhei is designed to unlock the full potential of hardware and maximize the rendering power of next-gen consoles. It also reduces the iterations in developing games for next-gen consoles. To make games more exciting, we need to go through a process of trial and error, such as adjusting parameters and considering how games are played. This process needs to be completed in the shortest amount of time possible. Reducing the iteration time from ten minutes to one minute delivers a tenfold increase on the amount of work we can do."
Ijuin is feeling confident about the new engine's potential.
"Panta Rhei can be adapted to anything," he said. "It is designed to be a general-purpose engine, and facilitate the creation of all types of games. Capcom creates games for a variety of genres, so this engine needs to be capable of handling whatever kind of game we want to make. Panta Rhei can meet the exact needs of each development team, no matter what type of game it is they're making. This engine is pretty much engineered specifically for Capcom games."
We can expect "big stuff" from Capcom in the next couple of years, apparently. Got any games or franchises you'd like to see Panta Rhei bring to life? I'm going to fall back on my old favourite, Dino Crisis. 2014 is its year - I can feel it.