What Is the Effect of Middleware On Gaming?


In playing the Batman: Arkham Asylum demo on the PlayStation 3 the other day, licensed use of proven and optimized code(often referred to as “middleware”) seemed a pertinent concern in the way we experience games. Take the aforementioned demo- Arkham Asylum is built on Unreal Engine 3 technology created by Epic Games. UE3 is easily the most widely accepted cornerstone of current-gen HD gaming development at the moment. But is that a good thing?


Unreal Engine 3, for the most part, is a fairly rock-solid piece of technology. Sure, everyone acknowledges it’s largest complaint- every surface appears as if it is wet. Batman: Arkham Asylum seems to be different. Rocksteady seems to have gone to great lengths in customizing the visual style of the game. Make no mistake about it- there is a rainy sequence in the game’s opening FMV and the engine renders it beautifully.

So, then the question must be has middleware muddied our ability to differentiate games, thus lowering our standards? If not, has it caused games to stand on their own technical merits? Please leave comments below as this will, erm, could be used on Episode 9 of a certain show…

7 comments on “What Is the Effect of Middleware On Gaming?

  1. I think the middleware enhances the game greatly. Most games i have played with the UE3 have been beautiful experiences in the fluidity of the games movements. Would the games still be as good if they did not use UE3? Yes, i believe so because i probably wouldn’t be playing a game if it didn’t have a solid story line and fun gameplay that locks you in. The games definitely could be just as fun without the UE3, however they look so much better with it. I love to see the bodies flung around lifelessly like rag dolls in games like The Force Unleashed or Gears of War2 instead of a programmed fall to the ground and i’d still play them if they didn’t use the UE3. It just makes the gaming experience more enjoyable for the realistic attributes.

  2. I think the graphic look very good and I would like to play it if it becomes available on a PC. You know what, this would be a great topic for episode 9

  3. Has middleware lowered our standards?….. mmm, good question. In short I think the answer is no. Middleware is a fairly new industry which is growing rapidly and affecting just about every game we play. For example Speed Tree was used to render the trees and vegetation in Oblivion (and many other games). Although Bethesda would have had to pay for the license to use the software it would have saved them many hours of development time and as a result money. If anything what middleware does is to give developers a set of tools to create the game in question. It is down to the developers to choose which middleware or game engine suits the game being created.

    What is lowering the overall standard of games however; it’s us, the consumer. As long as gamers keep buying new versions of old games that look a bit better and play slightly differently, the publishers of these games (yes I am looking at you Activision) will keep churning them out instead of trying new like oh I don’t know, Brutal Legend for example.

    So in closing, middleware is not at fault. It’s our fault, oh and Bobby Kotick’s for being such a douche.

  4. Oh yeah don’t forget about the early game engines! Where would we be without SCUMM? I just got Monkey Island on my touch. Ahh the memories. I cant believe it’s been so long.

  5. Hardlydan, that sounds to me like a “Level up”… *cue sound effect* lmao

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