Project Offset: Amazing Game Engine, Uncertain Future

If you've never seen the work coming from the dev team behind Project Offset, the game engine Intel bought several years back, you really ought to take a look. While the game has been under development for over five years, Intel bought the firm two years ago and devoted a significant amount of energy towards positioning Project Offset as the showcase engine for what Larrabee could do. With Larrabee, if you recall, Intel was pushing the idea that real-time raytracing (RTRT) could replace traditional rasterization in 3D gaming. ATI and NVIDIA never took too kindly to the idea; the result was quite a bit of back-and-forth posturing about what could and couldn't be done with near-generation hardware.

Mom? Is that you?

Prowl through the available movies and demos and there's some strikingly beautiful artwork, including the screenshots above and the Blind Giant movie below.

Unfortunately, it's not clear where Project Offset is headed now. When Intel was working on Larrabee the nascent game engine was demo'd at IDF several times including last September. The Meteor demo is quite impressive—you can see it below or grab it here in HD.

When Intel canceled Larabee it said it would update the status of PO in 2010, but there's been no word as yet. As a fantasy FPS, Offset looked primed to deliver the sort of gameplay we haven't seen since Hexen. It's widely rumored that Intel was offering Offset as a potential development framework in its pursuit of the next-generation PS4/XBox 720. It's worth noting, however, that while Intel canceled its first-generation Larrabee, it never said it was canceling the entire project. A software development kit is supposedly in the works and Intel's original cancellation notice implied that GPU hardware did exist, but would be used internally.

Hopefully in the midst of the development possibilities, Larrabee confusion, and console chasing, the actual game gets out the door. Based on its artwork and gameplay videos, it'd be a shame for Offset to end up on the ash heap of Intel's (second) failed attempt to build a competitive GPU. Hopefully we'll learn more in the not-too-distant future.