General / Off-Topic What If .... Frontier Licensed The Cobra Engine?

What if Frontier licensed out the use of their Cobra engine to other game developers to make games on?
Would Frontier possibly make a bucket-full of money? After all Epic founded their empire with their own game engine (I can't remember if they own Unity or Unreal Engine 4) and they used their own engine to make Fortnite .... and we know how that turned out.

So what if Frontier allowed others to make games on their own engine. It has shown it can be used for a variety of games from big epic space sims like Elite Dangerous, to management games like Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo and Jurassic World Evolution and even make platformers like Lostwinds (you'd forgotten about that one, had'nt you :p ) It was also making The Outsider ( we think that was going to be a first person style game similar to Watchdogs, but only Frontier really know)

Now, I have no expection that Frontier ever will license the Cobra engine, as a company, they are very protective of everything they own. But what if they did license it? :p
 
In a sense, that would be like selling/licensing the keys to the kingdom and any third party would also need to have access to the source code as well.

It would be the same as Microsoft selling the core of it's OS for others to build shells on top of.

If you look at Linux this way, the source code (open) is used to build different shells, but it's still Linux, just in different flavors and some are not as good as others.
 
I think they would have to stop being a games company. At least severely cut back on it. It takes a lot of effort to keep customers happy as a engine producer.
 
They have already license it to one game developer but the name wasn't revealed, not sure if it was for a new game or to help the maintenance of a existing game. It something Braben have said he wants to do repeatedly.

Handing the keys to the kingdom to everyone isn't a bad thing to do either. Square Enix is switching a lot of their production production to Unreal 4 engine, FF7 remake because their a tonne of artists, developers who either been trained or self taught in Unreal 4 engine. This would give Frontier over time access to a much greater talent pool.

If he does release the cobra engine, I suspect it will be tied to his aim of help UK children to program, and Raspberry PI stuff. Which is he a trustee off. May be a simplified game development tool, think Planet coaster but with a programing language layered on top, access to the underlining engine, with additional tools for animations, particle effects and lighting an character creation from elite. It certainly how I go about it, instead of trying to take on Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 straight out.
 
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If he does release the cobra engine, I suspect it will be tied to his aim of help UK children to program, and Raspberry PI stuff. Which is he a trustee off.
I just want to address the wording you used. It could be confused for speculation. Let me clarify here (as I started this) There is NO indication Braben or Frontier will release the Cobra engine. It's not even speculation. It is only and purely a "what if" conversation topic. No more, no less.
 
They used to mention Cobra quite prominently on their corporate web presence. These days they seem to display themselves more like a pure "games company" though, which may change if they go through with becoming a bit of a publisher.

These days, they'd be competing against very complete development environments, e.g., Unity or Unreal, and even small projects may as well boostrap from "raw" graphics, sound, and input APIs with little effort.
 
An engine that only supports a light source at a time in 2019... I don't think game studios would be lining up at the door to use it...
 
In a sense, that would be like selling/licensing the keys to the kingdom and any third party would also need to have access to the source code as well.
Unlikely they'd need to have access to the source code; more likely the cobra engine would be provided as a set of APIs and libraries would be provided. That's how most third-party tools work.
 
An engine that only supports a light source at a time in 2019... I don't think game studios would be lining up at the door to use it...
On the other hand the number of game engines capable of handling what cobra does in Elite, is precisely 2, what Space engine which technically not a game engine and Cobra engine. Who else is making real size planet maps?

Plus that limitation hasn't prevented PC and PZ from being some of the best looking games on the market. Elite as age a little graphically but it still look pretty damn good. An it not being able to handle multiple stars in a system will change eventually.
All game engines have their limitations
 
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On the other hand the number of game engines capable of handling what cobra does in Elite, is precisely 2, what Space engine which technically not a game engine and Cobra engine. Who else is making real size planet maps?
If you understand why there's witch space, planetary approaches, supercruise transitions, and you notice the LOD popping artifacts, you know they are telltale signs of Cobra engine providing very much industry standard solutions to problems not in any way unique to ED. Unity and Unreal can easily do continuous streaming of procgen content, varying scales and coordinate systems, features required by Elite's illusion of a continuous representation of planets, star systems and galaxies. Unity and UE just don't come with very specific features for such a use case built in because they're not biased towards any particular game genre (well maybe except for what I lovingly call the Unreal Tournament Engine, there's definitely some bias), but I haven't seen anything in ED I couldn't reproduce given Unity and a team of competent developers. It's more a matter of who else thinks there's an engaging game that can be sold for profit almost entirely on the premise of "simulate billions of similar looking brown rocks you can visit". I sure don't think the world needs all that many so you don't see me venturing into that type of business.

I have made the decision on a game engine for our dev team and from that perspective there's UE, there's Unity, and then there's the also-rans.
 
If you understand why there's witch space, planetary approaches, supercruise transitions, and you notice the LOD popping artifacts, you know they are telltale signs of Cobra engine providing very much industry standard solutions to problems not in any way unique to ED.
Not like that was a bad thing, and there is no visual discontinuity at relevant scales during in-system travel, so it does that part of industry standard quite well (discounting for some rare occasions when planets get garbled into a mess of intersecting triangles, and small objects like ring rocks or stations not being visible from supercruise even under extreme conditions when they could be…)
 
If you understand why there's witch space, planetary approaches, supercruise transitions, and you notice the LOD popping artifacts, you know they are telltale signs of Cobra engine providing very much industry standard solutions to problems not in any way unique to ED. Unity and Unreal can easily do continuous streaming of procgen content, varying scales and coordinate systems, features required by Elite's illusion of a continuous representation of planets, star systems and galaxies. Unity and UE just don't come with very specific features for such a use case built in because they're not biased towards any particular game genre (well maybe except for what I lovingly call the Unreal Tournament Engine, there's definitely some bias), but I haven't seen anything in ED I couldn't reproduce given Unity and a team of competent developers. It's more a matter of who else thinks there's an engaging game that can be sold for profit almost entirely on the premise of "simulate billions of similar looking brown rocks you can visit". I sure don't think the world needs all that many so you don't see me venturing into that type of business.

I have made the decision on a game engine for our dev team and from that perspective there's UE, there's Unity, and then there's the also-rans.
Some of the transitions aren't needed because of engine limitations but because of instancing. You can travel from a planet to another planet without a single transition.
 
Witchspace is obvious, so is the supercruise transition (both in and out) but I think glide is another moment where you may get thrown across connections. I'm not 100% on that but it just has that "wait wait I'm not ready yet" or "loading screen that's not a loading screen" vibe to it.

Anyway, my point is that continuity is just a reasonably well implemented illusion in ED and it's not like dynamic meshes or materials, dynamic LOD, near field vs far field rendering, or on-the-fly switching from one server/host to another are features truly exclusive to the Cobra engine. Completely reproducible in Unity, for example.

There's good reasons against picking from the pool of also-rans: I can randomly throw a rock out of our office window and hit a Unity developer or three. I wish anyone running some exotic toolchain good luck hiring devs. Someone is paying for the ramp-up time and it just makes financial sense to play it safe and pick the popular one, unless absolutely necessary to deviate from the norm.

There's a reason why student licenses exist.

"Boss, we should pick a 3d modeling software for our company. We have been hiring these artists fresh off the school bench, they all know Maya inside out because they've been using it for all their school courses. Now it's really expensive but it would take months if they started learning another software. So I guess maybe we just cough up the money for them Maya licenses, and get our artists to produce results immediately."

Now imagine that discussion a hundred thousand times over, and what you have there is the Autodesk business model. :D
 
An engine that only supports a light source at a time in 2019... I don't think game studios would be lining up at the door to use it...
It does supports multiple light sources. Look at your SRV lights and your ship lights when on and you will get multiple shadows.

What it doesn't do is have more then one major lightsource, but I haven't seen any other games engine do that either. Just think of all those landable planets and all the huge amount of multiple shadows it will need to create just on one planet. It would make our systems come to a crawl most likely.

The engine can probably do it, but I doubt our machines could.
 
The engine is pretty rubbish on PS4, so I doubt they'd get much traction here. Decima is the hot new engine on our platform (outside the ubiquitous Unreal Engine), because unlike Cobra, it's highly optimized for the console. The Euphoria Engine is great, but I think it's a Rockstar exclusive..

Anyway, I really don't understand the fuss over the Cobra engine. It's really not that impressive IMO.
 
Witchspace is obvious, so is the supercruise transition (both in and out) but I think glide is another moment where you may get thrown across connections.
All transitions but hyperspace are visually continuous, all you get is a slight wobble effect entering and leaving supercruise (which is probably masking faster than pretty LoD transitions), and objects that are irrelevant at interplanetary scales get thrown away or spwaned in. There's also a slight weeblewobble when landable planets switch between flat sprites and full models.

You get some interrupted motion during the transitions, but those are owed more to instancing if the network logs are to be believed. There's some asset loading involved, but a lot of that happens dynamically after you've entered an instance.
 
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