How The Nitrous Engine Will Change The Face Of Strategy Video Games

Oxide Games isn't a name most of us are familiar with, and understandably so - the studio isn't even a year old. It's definitely one worth watching, however; both for the talent that comprises it and for what it intends to do.  Oxide was formed by a number of industry veterans from Microsoft and Firaxis. Between them, they've over a decade of experience, the majority of it in the strategy genre.

In short, they're kind of a big deal. 

What they're trying to do with Oxide Games, though...that's an even bigger one. The studio's first project is a tool known as the Nitrous Engine: a cross-platform, native 64-bit multicore game engine designed specifically for the hardware found in the PS4, Xbox One, and most newer PCs. Nitrous will, they hope, become the definitive 3D engine for the strategy genre. 

Nitrous's greatest strength is something known as SWARM - Simultaneous Work and Rendering Model. Basically, whenever the engine is rendering something, it will call automatically from whichever CPU core is currently dealing with the smallest amount of information. This, the team explains, allows Nitrous to render a much larger number of high-fidelity 3D objects than any other engine currently on the market.

"In most modern games, players may see a handful of unique, high-fidelity 3D models on the screen at the same time," explained Oxide co-founder Tim Kipp. "That's because current 3D engines are 32-bit and rely on a 'main thread' to talk to the GPU. Nitrous, by contrast, was designed from scratch to be a 64-bit, multicore engine. Nitrous will render epic numbers of units and light sources on a screen at any given time."

The founders have been working closely with AMD, Intel, and Nvidia for the past several months, ensuring that Nitrous will be able to take advantage of all the latest graphics hardware. From the sounds of it, the work's gone quite well. All three organizations stepped forward to sing the praises of the new engine. 

"As the sole industry provider of technologies powering both PCs and major next-generation consoles, AMD is a natural fit for Oxide's Nitrous engine, an evolutionary leap in PC and console gaming development," said Ritche Corpus, AMD's director of ISV gaming and alliances. "Oxide's Nitrous engine supports thousands of high-detail animated models on screen simultaneously. Nitrous makes tomorrow's designs come to life on today's top hardware like AMD's new AMD RadeonTM R9 Series GPUs, unrivaled APUs and powerful CPUs." 

"The Nitrous engine has made great progress on the fundamental substrate for parallel compute in PC games. Their tasking system shows near-linear scaling across Intel's high-end desktop PCs, which translates into players being able to control an unprecedented 10,000 interactive units in their engine," added Mike Burrows, principal engineer and technical director for visual computing engineering at Intel.

"Our existing and upcoming GPU architectures, such as Maxwell, fully leverage the memory capabilities of today's PCs," added Nvidia vice president of game content & technology Ashutosh Rege. "Nitrous, having been designed with 64-bit gaming in mind from the start, should be able to deliver games with an amazing level of detail across entire scenes of incredible scale."