Why next-gen videogames will rock your world

In the midst of all these quick E3 news snippets this week, I appreciated this longer Wired story on Epic Games and the revolutionary effect of the Unreal Engine on modern gaming:

Then something surprising happened: Kismet [a simplified event scripting tool] democratized programming. “There were people who weren’t programmers but who still wanted to create and script things,” says James Golding, senior engine programmer. In other words, some artists weren’t content simply to draw the monsters; they wanted to define how they acted as well. Kismet let them do that. “When we got them a visual system,” Golding says, “they just went completely bananas with it.” This was off-label usage, though; while it was a great secondary benefit, Kismet hadn’t been designed for this task, so it was kludgy and slow.

And thus was born Kismet 2, which again converts tedious lines of code into an interactive flowchart, complete with pulldown menus that control almost every conceivable aspect of behavior for a given in-game object. Need to determine how many bullets it will take to shatter that reinforced glass? Kismet 2 is your tool. Once behaviors are set, they can be executed immediately and edited on the fly. With Kismet 2, Epic empowers level designers—the people responsible for conceptualizing the world—to breathe life into that world directly, rather than relying on programmers to do it on their behalf.

I knew gaming engines were crazy, but not that crazy.