On June 8, software engineer Marco Alamia at Blizzard Entertainment shared a lengthy post describing a new piece of technology that was created in-house and implemented in Overwatch 2.
The new engine called Environment States is aiding developers to create and design appealing maps. Lighting artist Fabien Christin was the one who came up with the idea. He explained the purpose of Environment States in the post.
In short, Environment States are a way to bring changing atmospheres that complement the map. “Imagine traveling to Numbani and seeing the futuristic city illuminated in a warm African sunset,” he explained. The example he gave was describing the Sun and Sky aspect. It sets a particular mood based on the color and position of the sun.
The Environment Scenario assets use components like lighting, effects, and sound. Developers can then share these assets across different maps. These allow developers to test on one map and see if it can work on another better than ever.
The post goes into more detail about how Environment States will affect gameplay through weather changes that pose obstacles. Sandstorms, rain, and winds are a few he mentioned.
This new technology allows developers to experiment, be creative, and make minor tweaks in a reasonable amount of time.
Marco described Environment States functioning like Photoshop. He gave an example saying, “it’s the same as having multiple layers blended together to produce a final image.” Essentially, different aspects of the map make a whole. Each piece can be removed or added to make the map more dynamic.
Although the post gave examples of PvE and PvP maps, it didn’t specify whether these changes apply to both modes.
Besides the changes in gameplay, atmospheric aesthetic, and better workflow for developers, Environment States will reduce data footprint, preventing sizable download and installation time for Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2 does not have a set release date, but Blizzard has hinted at a 2022 launch.
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