The Edge of The Darkening (September 15, 2018)

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
We've unearthed a fascinating piece of pre-history: a detailed preview of Privateer 2: The Darkening from the August 1996 issue of Edge magazine... written when the game was still just called 'The Darkening!' The article includes a beautiful two-page gallery of artwork, plenty of pre-release screenshots and a surprising amount of technical detail about the game's development team. "Owen Roberts" is a first, though!




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Original update published on September 15, 2018
 

dizzibits

Chief Petty Officer
How was this found?! Looking at the contents page is a serious blast from the past. I was 12 and just started reading titles like this, Edge always seemed like the more 'mature' gamer magazine (and still is imo). Edge treats games more like art, and rightly so.

I'm sure Owen will be pleased this was found ^^
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
The thing I find intriguing about this article is that ultimately, it's still all about the graphics. The preview does talk about other things, obviously, but the graphics engine definitely plays first fiddle, and they go into details nobody should ever need to care about. This is not a criticism of Edge, or of this article - I'm pointing it out because it's a fascinating reflection of the concerns of that time period. Everyone would be writing about how many polys their engine can handle, how many technological buzzwords it supports, and so on. This only really happened in the early-to-mid 1990s, because afterwards, technological innovations were relegated from game engines to graphics cards. In fact, Privateer 2 was one of the last of the old breed of games that relied exclusively on a software renderer: not much later, WCP came along with its Direct 3D and 3dFX-dependent features, where the software renderer was definitely the poorest of the available options. So then, it was no longer about how many polys the renderer could put out, but how many polys the graphics card could show.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
The thing I find intriguing about this article is that ultimately, it's still all about the graphics. The preview does talk about other things, obviously, but the graphics engine definitely plays first fiddle, and they go into details nobody should ever need to care about. This is not a criticism of Edge, or of this article - I'm pointing it out because it's a fascinating reflection of the concerns of that time period. Everyone would be writing about how many polys their engine can handle, how many technological buzzwords it supports, and so on. This only really happened in the early-to-mid 1990s, because afterwards, technological innovations were relegated from game engines to graphics cards. In fact, Privateer 2 was one of the last of the old breed of games that relied exclusively on a software renderer: not much later, WCP came along with its Direct 3D and 3dFX-dependent features, where the software renderer was definitely the poorest of the available options. So then, it was no longer about how many polys the renderer could put out, but how many polys the graphics card could show.
Privateer 2 is also pretty much the first WC game that doesn't use an in house engine pretty much made for a flight/space game. The Brender engine was licensed, and later versions of the engine did add hardware acceleration.
 

Pedro

Vice Admiral
Everyone would be writing about how many polys their engine can handle, how many technological buzzwords it supports, and so on. This only really happened in the early-to-mid 1990s, because afterwards, technological innovations were relegated from game engines to graphics cards. .
Well until 2001 when you started getting programmable cards, and even before then each company had its own tricks. I think polygons fell by the way side but visual features were a consistent talking point until 5 years ago.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Well until 2001 when you started getting programmable cards, and even before then each company had its own tricks. I think polygons fell by the way side but visual features were a consistent talking point until 5 years ago.
Well, visual features are still a talking point, even today. But the conversation shifted away from technical features. People would get excited over how good a given new game looks, but there wasn't as much technobabble. For example, in the mid-2000s, you had the texture revolution, where we went from having one colour map to having colour, specular, normal maps, and so on - yet, these terms were rarely used in preview articles in that reverent tone once used for the number of polys an engine could handle.
 

Pedro

Vice Admiral
Well, visual features are still a talking point, even today. But the conversation shifted away from technical features. People would get excited over how good a given new game looks, but there wasn't as much technobabble. For example, in the mid-2000s, you had the texture revolution, where we went from having one colour map to having colour, specular, normal maps, and so on - yet, these terms were rarely used in preview articles in that reverent tone once used for the number of polys an engine could handle.
True, but I think that shift away from using tech jargon is the explosion of techniques due to them being put in the hands of the developer. Doom with it's single lighting model was the exception (and criticized for it), these days no two titles use the same ambient occlusion technique for example, it's a full time job to keep on top of the jargon.
 
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