Whenever you think of games with stunning graphics, the Crysis series still makes the list. Those games seriously pushed the limits of PC hardware, to show the kinds of incredible graphics and performance that could be accomplished. In fact, many people will still use games from that series as a kind of unofficial benchmark test when seeing what their new rig is capable of.
To achieve that graphical fidelity, those games rely on a game engine called CryEngine – the same engine initially used for the Far Cry series (similarly praised for its spectacular graphics). Now that same engine is coming to Android, bringing with it the potential for some crazy graphics and new gameplay possibilities.
The best part? That’s not the only news for Android devs to come out of the Games Developer Conference (or at least the digital presentation Google provided in lieu of the summit). In fact, Google revealed a ton of exciting announcements for game developers that should be even better news for gamers.
We have the full details here.
CryEngine support for Android
Of course, this is not the first time that the CryEngine has been made available to Android developers. In fact, games like The Collectables on Android and iOS used the engine back in 2014. But this was rare, and the difference is that CryEngine is now providing official support for mobile development. Mobile devs will be able to make use of an Android pipeline (currently in beta) to help cram those impressive graphics onto smaller hardware.
Mobile devs will be able to make use of an Android pipeline to cram impressive graphics onto smaller hardware.
Theodor Mader, who is the Technical Director for CryEngine, said of the project: “We’re proud that teams of all sizes, all around the world, choose our game development platform, and by participating in the beta program, developers will get to experience what CRYENGINE can achieve on mobile chipsets, as well as participate in the development of the new Android pipeline.”
You can check out this impressive demo (running on a Galaxy S20+ but compatible with most modern Android phones) to see just what the pairing should be capable of.
So what does this mean for mobile gamers? Hopefully, it means devs will be empowered to create experiences with even more amazing graphics. Remember though: Unity has also been adding new features to improve mobile graphics, and that tool is still considerably easier for devs to get to grips with (especially when building 2D games). You can read the official announcement from Crtyek here.
Also read: How to create non-games apps in Unity
Game package registry for Unity
Speaking of which, Google’s new Game Package Registry for Unity will consolidate a whole bunch of useful Google plugins for Unity in a single place. You can use it to install such features as Google Play Billing, Android App Bundles, and more direct from the IDE. Get more information from Google’s own documentation here.
New Visual Studio extension for easier cross-platform development
Another big piece of news for Android developers was the announcement of a tool that will provide better Visual Studio support. Devs will now be able to more easily generate APKs and even debug Android games direct from the IDE.
This is very significant, seeing as Visual Studio and Xamarin provide perhaps the very best combination for cross-platform development between iOS, Android, and Windows. This will not only make life easier for those developers, but could hopefully mean that we get more ports of iOS apps on Android.
Also read: How to make an Android app with Xamarin
That, and some people just really like using Visual Studio! So this is a boon for that crowd too. You can apply for the developer preview here.
Android GPU Inspector
Another new tool, The Android GPU Inspector, will allow devs to get greater insight into the GPU performance. By revealing render states and GPU counters, devs can optimize their games’ performance to provide smoother framerates and improved battery life. Devs can apply for the preview here.
More new announcements and features
These are only a few of the exciting announcements Google made via its presentation. Other interesting features include Google Play Asset Delivery, which will allow developers to dynamically control the delivery of assets to target devices. The result should be that users can dive into games more quickly, while the required assets are installed in the background. This could even cut hosting costs for games studios, by providing the delivery of those resources from servers only as needed.
Unity developers will also now have access to all of Play Billing Library 2’s features. You can find a list of all the announcements over at the Android Developers blog.
For mobile gamers, this serves as a reminder that improvements in game performance and graphical fidelity come not only as a result of new hardware leaps but also better tools and optimized software. This is why console graphics tend to improve so drastically over the course of each generation; and it’s a constantly ongoing process here on Android where new devices are being launched all the time.
Improvements in game performance and graphical fidelity come not only as a result of new hardware leaps but also better tools and optimized software.
The good news? These features should serve to not only improve the quality of experiences available on our mobile platform of choice, but also attract more of those experiences by making life easier for developers.
The future of gaming on Android is looking bright indeed!