WHO IS SMARTGRAF?

EDGE Screenshot

EDGE features dynamic terrain shadows and advanced lighting effects (DX11 required!)

The flight simulation community eagerly awaits news of the next major release by Eagle Dynamics, DCS World 2. The ‘2’ indicates that DCS World is moving to a fancy new graphics rendering engine acronymed: EDGE (Enhanced Dynamic Graphics Engine). 

What has been noticeable since it’s appearance on the expected road map for Eagle Dynamics’ customers, is the huge discrepancy between expectation and reality. Customers who pre-purchased DCS Warthog were promised the Nevada terrain for no additional charge. The engine couldn’t handle it though so the company producing it failed to deliver and the whole thing got shelved. Here enters the term ‘Nevadaware’ for anything that doesn’t materialize as expected. Concerns were alleviated somewhat when Eagle Dynamics themselves took over and promised to deliver the Nevada terrain inside their new graphics engine: EDGE. DCS Warthog was officially released in 2011. So that makes Nevada 4 years late for whatever reason. Eagle Dynamics has since withdrawn from offering release dates or confirming features as everything is subject to change right up until release. That’s something I support.

We’ve seen quite a few screenshots and videos from EDGE dev builds and the progress is coming along nicely. It appears that they are finalising the integration of the simulation with the rendering engine and rumour has it that the middle of the year will bring with it the release of DCS World 2. That’s good for me. June is the middle of winter here in New Zealand. Of course, rumour also had it that we’d have flying cars by 2015 and that DCS World 2 was going to be out by the start of 2014 so, yeah, we’ll see whether it really comes out.

So there’s been a bit of a buzz when a site went up purporting to showcase the EDGE Engine as a joint partnership between Eagle Dynamics and themselves, Smartgraf. Who are Smartgraf? What part did they play? Perhaps they are the crowd who actually built EDGE while Eagle Dynamics focus on handling the advanced flight dynamics that makes DCS World so realistic. But then we know the flight model of the F-15 was outsourced to Belsimtek. So, perhaps Smartgraf are terrain builders who have a big library of assets they can plonk down to build new maps. God knows, DCS World needs maps and their screenshots all seem to show maps not seen before.

There’s also a couple of YouTube videos showing their work and selling EDGE as a product, not DCS World.

There’s also an Occulus Rift video:

Whoever these guys are, one thing is for sure. DCS World 2 owners are very unlikely to see their work. These kinds of offerings are for professional solutions only. That means that you’ll have to be another software development shop or a Military contractor to get access to this stuff and you can bet the bill is going to be a magnitude higher than some DCS DLC.

Right now I’m leaning towards the thought that Eagle Dynamics has started a subsidiary, or found a partner who is taking the EDGE engine and shopping it around as a rendering engine for others to license. Kind of like the CRYEngine 3 being used in Star Citizen.

This isn’t the only partnership to come out of Eagle Dynamics. RRG Studios from the Ukraine announced a Kickstarter to fund DCS WWII. Ultimately they fell apart after offering too much, too quickly and failing to deliver. Eagle Dynamics stepped in and took that project over also (Is this going to become a pattern?) and many, or all of the developers from RRG became Eagle Dynamics employees.

A promised part of the DCS WWII package was a new map, Normandy. RRG studios was to develop this, so it’s fair to say that they have some experience with the terrain builder technology. It’s then also a fair guess that the ex-RRG, now new Eagle Dynamics team could in fact be the same team renamed to Smartgraf. There’s no actual evidence apart from a couple of scenes in the Youtube clip matching the DCS WWII promo clip and they kind of look similar in style. But it makes for an interesting story and begs the question, will Normandy become the next Nevadaware? Let’s hope not, I’ve sunk hundreds of dollars into DCS WWII and look forward to crashing on take-off somewhere in France.

In any case at least the intense focus and discussion has moved on from the Next U.S Fixed Wing Fighter currently standing at over 700 pages of drool and scorn.



Categories: Digital Combat Simulation

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