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Death Stranding is using the Horizon Zero Dawn engine

Meet the Decima Engine

After sharing a new variant of the second Death Stranding trailer — this version uses a different song than the one we saw at The Game Awards— developer Hideo Kojima appeared on stage with moderator Geoff Keighley to announce the “technical partner” for the game. Horizon Zero Dawn-developer Guerrilla Games is providing its Decima Engine, and Guerrilla managing director Hermen Hulst and PlayStation 4 chief architect Mark Cerny appeared to discuss the technology and the relationship with Kojima Productions.

“Decima is the Horizon Zero Dawn engine and, in essence, it’s the engine that all Guerrilla games so far run on, but it’s evolved,” Hulst explained. “It’s fair to say it’s taken a quantum leap in the last couple of years to get it ready for this project. It’s a lot more than just a rendering engine. It involves AI, physics, logics, it’s got the entire world creation tool screen in it. And I’d argue that the engine probably is a statement of philosophy of game development as well.”

“Unfortunately, Kojima-san had to leave his technology with his former employer,” Mark Cerny said as the crowd booed loudly. Kojima worked for years on the so-called Fox Engine at Konami, used for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

Cerny and Kojima visited various Sony first-party studios earlier this year, with two goals, one of which was to find a technical partner. “One [reason for the trip] is technology, tools and services and what kind of technologies we can find,” Kojima explained. “So that was one of the objectives going through all the studios and seeing what kind of stuff they have.”

Earlier rumors pointed to Kojima Productions using a modified version of Sucker Punch’s Infamous: Second Son engine but now we know Kojima settled on another Sony studio’s technology. That decision was made, at least in part, thanks to Guerrilla’s trust in Kojima.

The Dutch developer gave Kojima a box with the engine’s source code right after their first meeting, before any contracts were signed. “This box is the treasure of Guerrilla, and it symbolizes everything they’ve been working on so far. Just meeting me and immediately handing me this, made me feel very special. It gave me a really special feeling,” Kojima said, before adding, “I’m very confident that Herman is completely insane.”

A shot of the box with the source code for the Decima Engine

“At Guerrilla Games in Amsterdam, we’ll have a small, satellite studio for Kojima Productions,” Hulst said. “I’m pretty excited about it guys.” Hulst explained that the collaboration has gone beyond just code sharing, but also includes extensive meetings, office visits, social connections and, soon, actual colocation between the two development teams.

“What’s notable about the Guerrilla Games technology is that it’s not just graphics technology, it’s a great number of things,” Cerny said. “You design a world, you say what the flora and fauna are going to be. You script AI for the enemies. It’s a very deep and intuitive toolset.

“One thing we know is that when game companies work on technology it’s going to evolve and get better and I could not hazard a guess as to where they’re going to take it.”

The next level of puzzles.

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