Bungie Wiki
Advertisement

The Tiger Engine is the name of the game engine for the Destiny series. It was created by Bungie after they gained their independence from Microsoft and is an overhauled version of the blam! Engine that's been used for the Halo series.[1]

History[]

blam! Engine[]

Bungie's blam! Engine was created in 1997 to develop the first Halo game. This engine was used throughout the 2000s to develop all of Bungie's Halo games, as well as in the development of two game projects, code-named Phoenix and Gypsum.

By 2008, Bungie felt that the engine was started to feel "old" and restrictive. It was created to be used on a single platform (Xbox), and it was single-threaded instead of multithreaded, meaning that it couldn't take advantage of platform multicore processors and perform tasks at the same time. These core design principles were hard to change, and Bungie realized that it would become increasingly difficult to change as development began to work on Destiny.[1]

Destiny[]

There was a debate on licensing an engine from another company that would offer continuous support, or to create a brand-new engine. Knowing that they wanted to take the gameplay framework and networking from the blam! Engine to use in Destiny because they didn't know if they could replicate it, they decided that the best decision was to heavily modify the blam! Engine instead.

The new engine, code-named "Tiger Engine" because of a piece of Destiny concept art that featured a space tiger in it, was forked off from the blam! Engine in 2008, taking the codebase of the in-development Halo: Reach. The engine was worked on for over five years, except for a five-month break in 2010 when the engineering team joined the Halo: Reach team to help ship the game. After Reach shipped in 2011, the Reach engineering team then joined the Tiger project to further help with the engine. It was around this time that the engine's systems were being put together, including artists and designers trying out new ideas in test levels, however, no production content could be created yet. In 2012, all the pieces of the engine were put together, with full production beginning on July 1. This included creating Destiny for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and PS4. By December 15, 2013, the full game was playable on all platforms. The only thing remaining was optimization and polish work for the engine.[1]

The engine was built around new core design principles: multithreading and cross-platform, divide the codebase into layers to decouple engine functionality from game logic, preserve all the good features of the blam! Engine and "none of the bad," and support all advanced tech Bungie would ever want to develop.[1]

According to sources in a report from Kotaku in 2015,[2] the Tiger engine was "an inhibiting factor" in Destiny's development. Someone familiar with the engine was quoted as saying, "Let’s say a designer wants to go in and move a resource node two inches. They go into the editor. First they have to load their map overnight. It takes eight hours to input their map overnight. They get [into the office] in the morning. If their importer didn’t fail, they open the map. It takes about 20 minutes to open. They go in and they move that node two feet. And then they’d do a 15-20 minute compile. Just to do a half-second change."[2]

Destiny 2[]

A leak posted on NeoGAF in 2016 reported that the then-upcoming Destiny 2 would by coming to PC and include "major changes" to its engine.[3] "Their render tech has gone through some major iteration thanks in large part to getting to approach it without having last-gen as a limit," said shinobi602 in the post, "Because of this, they are still undecided what, if any, of Destiny's old content, both in terms of playspace, areas, Strikes & raids, will be available through D2."

Destiny 2 did eventually launch on PC on October 24, 2017, seven weeks after launching on PS4 and Xbox One.[4] The PC version launched with native 4K resolution and uncapped frame rate (fps), full mouse and keyboard support, text chat, adjustable field of view, and 21:9 monitor support.[5] High-Dynamic Range and 4K support were added to consoles later that year.[6][7] In May 2020, it was announced that Destiny 2 would be supporting the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S.[8][9]

Beyond Light[]

When Destiny 2: Beyond Light launched in November 2020, many changes were made to the engine to support Destiny 2 in the future.[10] Bungie shifted the mission scripting model to run on the Physics Host instead of the Mission Host. Changes to this system included new additions, like taking Patrols with you across areas on a destination, and joining or leaving a fireteam in the Tower without having to reload the Tower after performing the action. This new system also introduced some challenges, which was one of the reasons why the Prophecy dungeon was removed for a short time at launch.[10]

Character faces were updated, or in some cases, completely changed due to the engine, resulting in decals and other items being universal across faces instead of being custom-made for each face.[10]

As part of the engine upgrade, Bungie also decided to introduce the Destiny Content Vault. By removing older content, the installation size when Beyond Light launched was 30-40% smaller, and developers didn't have to make updates to the older content to take advantage of the new engine upgrades. This also shrunk new developer builds of the game down from 24+ hours to sub-12 hours.[10]

Finally, a new lighting system was introduced. The EDZ and Nessus were two destinations called out as receiving "relights and global lighting updates" across the destinations.[10]

Marathon and the Future[]

According to a job listing posted on Bungie's careers website in June 2023,[11] Bungie was hiring a Senior Tools Engineer to specifically work on "Tiger Engine Sharing." The listing said, "Are you ready to join the team upgrading Bungie’s proprietary game engine? Are you excited to help build alignment with diverse customers across Destiny, Marathon and other game projects on the best investments to make?" and "As a Senior Tools Engineer on a new core engine team at Bungie, you will help develop tools and workflow upgrades for our award-winning proprietary “Tiger Engine.”

Lessons Learned[]

Bungie learned several lessons during the development of Destiny. The main one being that porting old code, even code that they really wanted to use, into the newly written code for the engine was much harder than expected. The older code had to first be extracted from the blam! Engine, and then replaced in the Tiger Engine. The reason being that if it were kept the same the engine would have two multi-threading systems and two memory managers, which would actually take away from resources cause you're splitting them up.[1]

After the code was replaced, it then had to "talk" or be linked to the new engine's systems, which took over a year to implement and the progress was extremely slow. They also had to make sure that the code could be used on multiple platforms. Eventually, much of the older code was deprecated, but a lot still remained in the code.[1]

The hybrid approach of using part of the blam! Engine while creating new code took 3.5 years, which Bungie felt took 2-3x times slower than it "should have been."[1]

References[]

Advertisement