© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.

MARVEL Future Revolution is a blockbuster open-world MMORPG designed for mobile

Jimmy Thang |
October 6, 2021
Established in Korea in 2000, Netmarble Corporation is a top developer and publisher pushing the boundaries of the mobile gaming experience with highly innovative games including Marvel Future Revolution, Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds, Lineage 2: Revolution, The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross, Blade & Soul Revolution, and Marvel Future Fight. As a parent company of Kabam, and a major shareholder of Jam City and HYBE (formerly Big Hit Entertainment), Netmarble strives to entertain audiences around the world with a variety of mobile games based on its powerful franchises and collaborations with IP holders worldwide. More information can be found at http://company.netmarble.com.
MARVEL Future Revolution is an open-world MMORPG set in the Marvel universe. Designed for mobile, the game features best-in-class graphics and slick real-time cinematics that seamlessly transition to in-game action. MARVEL Future Revolution features fan-favorite playable superheroes such as Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and more coupled with robust character customization options that provide hundreds of millions of possible skin combinations. 

In our interview below, developer Netmarble shares its ambitious goals for the game, how it approached pushing fidelity while balancing performance, and explains how Level Streaming, along with other Unreal Engine tools, enabled the studio to build an open-world game tailored for mobile.
 
Considering MARVEL Future Revolution is an open-world MMORPG set in the illustrious Marvel universe, can you outline some of your goals coming into the project?

Project Executive and Executive Producer Doohyun Cho:
The first goal was to create the most realistic Marvel world possible. This, of course, includes realistic representations of superheroes with the highest-quality graphics.

Second, since it is an online game, the appearance of the hero should be freely customizable. A lot of different Captain Americas will be playing in this game, but we wanted to make sure that they all looked and played differently from one another. It was an important goal for the heroes to be unique, with different looks, features, and combat styles.

The third goal was not to be limited to the ground. Marvel's superheroes are capable of flying through the skies with great finesse. We wanted to portray the most realistic Marvel universe, which naturally includes flight and aerial combat. 

A game in which you play as your own superhero, clearly distinguished from other players, in the realistically expressed Marvel world, and fight epic fights across the ground and in the air—this is the goal we set at the beginning of the project.
© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Did you have any specific inspirations coming into development, be it from other games, movies, or comics?

Senior Game Designer Jinyeol Yoo:
Since we are making a game based on the Marvel universe, we read tons of Marvel comics and checked out many other representations of the Marvel IP. We also benchmarked games from several other genres for the best gameplay experience. But, I guess, the most important aspect of it all was the Marvel comics and movies. Watching and studying each scene, each move from a superhero all became inspirations for the superheroes of Omega Flight in MARVEL Future Revolution.

Considering Netmarble previously worked on mobile game MARVEL Future Fight, can you talk about ways the studio has learned from that experience that you're building upon for MARVEL Future Revolution?

Cho:
I think that we have built a solid relationship with Marvel Games. We’ve trusted each other for a while now, going back to MARVEL Future Fight. Many ideas were exchanged on how to better utilize the Marvel IP and integrate it into our game, and those ideas have finally been realized.
© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Working with such an iconic IP, can you talk about your vision for recreating the Marvel universe within a framework that would work well on mobile?

Project Director and Lead Creative Director Hanjin Ju:
Our goal was to represent the best and most authentic Marvel world on mobile devices. It was very important to strike the right balance between high-quality graphics and smooth game performance. There were challenges in the early stages of development to achieve this result. The more we pushed for high-quality graphics, the more we had to balance performance.

In any case, we did not give up on our goals of having both high-quality graphics and great performance. We had it developed in this direction by continuously improving game performance and stabilization. With the efforts of many programmers, the performance of the game gradually stabilized, and as a result, I think we were able to achieve something great.

MARVEL Future Revolution has some of the most impressive visuals in a mobile game to date. Can you share how the team pulled off the game's graphics?

Multimedia Executive Producer Gyubo Choi:
What most people don’t realize is that the lighting that’s used in-game and the lighting used for cutscenes are all set up differently. In the cutscenes, we set each individual lighting for almost all of the cuts to maintain the cinematic visuals and to make the story more immersive. Due to the mobile environment and performance goals, we were limited to using three lights in the beginning. However, with the support of our technical artist, client team, engine team, etc., we were able to receive various technical support to raise the quality of the visuals. With this support, we were able to overcome the limitations of the mobile environment separating channels for each character, adjusting character settings for shadows, vignetting, ray, and post-process application for each cut within Sequencer. Also, in cutscenes, the face mesh is replaced with a Skeletal Mesh with additional bone structures, bypassing the limit of 75 bones, creating a richer look.
MARVEL Future Revolution features impressively slick cinematic sequences that transition seamlessly into gameplay. Can you share how the team pulled this off?

Client Development Technical Director and Senior Developer Hyunseung Cho:
The assets used in the sequences and the Skeletal Mesh within the game were designed for both purposes from the start. In the sequences, other additional visual resources were applied to provide realistic expressions, but once we transition into gameplay, we add a function that seamlessly transitions the model, resulting in a seamless experience. 

Multimedia Executive Producer Gyubo Choi: The in-game to sequence transitions are naturally connected. After the sequence is finished, the in-game connection is made by having the camera cut shorter than the sequence length to maximize the camera blending function with the in-game camera. The character is precisely set to end at the last frame of a particular “action” at the end of the sequence, and at the same time as the sequence comes to an end, the acting character is replaced by the playable in-game character, giving it the realistic illusion of seamless transition.

With unique settings that take players across Xandearth, Sakaar, New Stark City, and more, can you share your approach to creating an open-world game for mobile using Unreal Engine?

Client Development Technical Leader Youngjae Song:
We actively used Unreal Engine’s Level Streaming. We used Landscape, World Composition, HLOD, Instanced Static Mesh, and Foliage systems to help implement those worlds. In addition, GC Cluster and various GC-related options that reduce hitches in the process of loading and unloading levels and objects helped facilitate a good play experience.

Senior Environment Artist Heeyoung Kim: An open-world environment was constructed using the Level Streaming function with the existing World Composition. However, when accessing this the conventional way, memory is lowered and raised in units of sectors, there are memory hatches and hitch occurrences per sector. HLOD was used, but this presented a texture-capacity issue, so it was used selectively when needed.
© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
With such a diverse cast of characters that include fan favorites such as Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and more, can you talk about how you approached designing the game's combat system?

Lead Combat Developer Dongwoo Ye
: As you said, there are various characters in the Marvel universe, each with a huge fan base. And fans are deeply attracted to the thrilling battles and unique aspects held by these characters. Our goal was to allow the existing fans to discover the characteristic elements of the characters they encountered through the original comics and various other media in the game as well as experience them firsthand. To this end, we designed the unique battles and movements of superheroes, as well as the characteristic gimmicks that represent the character's identity, to be experienced directly in the game.

Users can directly experience the characteristic combat techniques and movements of their favorite superheroes, as well as unique movements such as Iron Man's three-point landing and Spider-Man's web-swinging. Above all, in order to effectively express these elements in the game, we had to overcome various technical challenges and make new attempts.

While providing an MMO environment where many users can access and play at the same time, superheroes have to implement action like a single-player game for the fast and flashy abilities and movement. In addition, in order to express superhero battles without boundaries between ground, air, running, jumping, flying, and landing, we had to take on a new technological challenge called the 3D Voxel system. After numerous performance tests and optimizations, we were able to fit all of this into a small device that fits within the palm of your hand.

Thanks to all these technical challenges and achievements, we now have Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man coming to life within mobile devices. 

The bosses in MARVEL Future Revolutions can be a real challenge. Can you delve into how you approached designing the enemies in the game?

Senior Combat Designer Jaeyoung Park:
We talked a lot about how to approach our players by collecting various information such as appearance, characteristics, and growth background of supervillains from the comics and movies.

For example, Thanos is very powerful but not very fast. We needed a look that felt very solid and heavy, and we needed to show slow but dignified movement. We designed and worked to reproduce the unique aura of these supervillains and applied them to the game.
© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Character customization is a big component of the game with players being able to mix, match, and recolorize numerous unique outfits, which amount to hundreds of millions of possible skin combinations. Can you talk about the work that went into executing here?

Cho:
One of the key features of both MARVEL Future Revolution and superheroes as a whole is the costume. The development team had to think a lot from the beginning in order to express the vast worldview and the vast amount of characters Marvel has to offer. It is possible to produce the desired result only when huge game resources are used, but despite this, after various attempts on how to express it while minimizing resources, the following pipeline was created: The main characters were divided into four parts. Each part is composed of one character through merging Skeletal Mesh. Some costumes have geometry but have multiple colors. For this, we created and used a material that can apply color values ​​to each channel through a four-channel Mask Texture. Through this, each costume part was dynamically expressed by applying cool colors to each of the four channels.
© 2021 MARVEL © Netmarble Corp. & Netmarble Monster Inc. 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Optimizations for real-time shadows were also needed to render accurate depth with finite resources. In the game, each item had an icon. This was also a huge amount, so it was necessary to minimize the effort of those working on the graphics. To do this, we laid out a chroma-keyed background, rendered each character in 3D, and took screenshots for each part. We also took a base texture and a mask texture and sent it to the icon-developing team. After the team made some adjustments to the icons, they read the color values ​​for each of the four channels of the Skeletal Mesh and similar items and applied them to the icons dynamically. If it was possible to save a lot of work and resources through this, various icons were expressed.

Why was Unreal Engine a good fit for the game?

Cho:
It is the best game engine that exists that has various functions and can be controlled through optimization while showing high-quality games to users. By providing various base systems for implementing game ideas, we were able to express various performances that we wanted to show with only small changes. In addition, stability is provided by controlling the throughput of animations and particle systems through the Significance Manager under load conditions. The performance Profiler was also particularly helpful. 
Can you talk about what players might expect in terms of post-launch content?

Cho:
All we can say is that there are interesting stories and new areas coming soon. Players can have high expectations for our upcoming update once they reach the current final mission and find the hint for the next region. They can also look forward to the next superhero: Magik. She’ll have a unique combat style and different mechanics from our current eight superheroes. 

Thanks for your time. Where can people learn more about MARVEL Future Revolutions?

Cho:
You can share and check out various opinions of players who are currently playing our game on the Netmarble forum

We also have an active Discord server with passionate players from around the world.

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