E3 12: Unreal Engine 4 -- What you (and we) missed at GDC.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2012 - 03:09 PM |
Tagged: video, unreal engine 4, E3 12, E3

Epic has released as much of their GDC demo as they are able to in an effort to end E3 2012 with a bang. They have included a second video to walk through the engine for developers to enjoy. We will explain to the masses why it is awesome.

Before we go any further -- the video you have been waiting months to see.

Be prepared for a particle-filled generation.

As was the case with Intel’s sand-to-CPU video -- the demo is pleasing but the supplementary info is the prize.

Epic released a 10 minute developer walkthrough to highlight the most important features of Unreal Engine 4. You can see it below and read on to see what that all means.

Yes, Unrealscript did not make it to Unreal Engine 4.

The first major feature of the engine is real-time dynamic global illumination and glossy specular reflection. Traditional video game graphics only considers the first bounce of light from a source -- if that bounce does not reach the player camera then it does not exist. Global illumination allows objects to be lit not just by light sources but also by light bouncing from neighboring objects.

It has been very popular to calculate how light interacts with objects ahead of time for the last generation as well as a portion of the generation prior to that. With those methods you are able to soften the shadows cast by light and make the scene feel much more naturally lit. The problem arises when anything in the scene moves or changes as obviously happens in a video game.

Unreal Engine 4 has the ability to calculate Global Illumination in real time. Dynamic lights such as muzzle flashes or flames are able to not just illuminate the area around them but also induce that area around it to light each other.

Also, static sources such as moonlight shining in the window against the floor can bounce from the floor and slightly lighten the walls with a bluish tint without being calculated ahead of time. Developers can try lighting effects without waiting for sometimes hours to see the results. This also means that what would have been once a pre-computed lit scene with nothing moving can now be destroyed and still remain properly lit. And now the moon can even move if the designer wants.

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Specular material on the gold statue

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Diffuse material on the gold statue, notice how the floor lighting from the statue desaturates and changes.

In this scene we see how light can reflect against a statue and influence the objects around it. A specular material has a much smoother and more mirror-like surface than a diffuse material which tends to scatter light in all directions. If you were to shine a laser against a mirror the beam would bounce and you would not see it unless you were in the reflected path whereas if you shine the laser against the wall you would see a dot regardless of how you look at it. This is because the wall, like a projector screen, is like trillions of microscopic mirrors all pointed in different directions which each take a tiny fraction of the light and sends it in a different direction.

In Unreal Engine 4, this effect means that a shiny surface will not only glare if you look at it but also light the objects around it differently than a diffuse surface. You can see that effect against the floor.

Read on after the break to continue with the discussion of Unreal Engine 4 features.

E3 12: More Elder Scrolls -- Skyrim Expansion, Dawnguard

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 07:46 PM |
Tagged: video, elder scrolls V, elder scrolls, E3 12, E3

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is getting an expansion pack known as “Dawnguard”. The expansion explores vampirism and to a lesser extent, lycanthropy. Extra content includes new quests related to those vile blood-suckers as well as new abilities and two new skill trees.

Todd Howard spoke at DICE conference and played a video of his team’s GameJam: one week of passion projects.

The Skyrim GameJam sizzle video highlighted several of those projects with many already included in recent patches. A fairly decent period of the video was focused on Vampirism and Lycanthropy and forms the basis of the newly announced Skyrim: Dawnguard expansion pack.

G4 has forwarded some further details from Bethesda as a part of their E3 coverage.

Hopefully the Werebear has also made the cut.

This DLC seems to be a homecoming of the typical expansion packs that we PC gamers remember.

The extra campaign appears to be fairly lengthy for an update with a decently engrossing story. The trailer suggests that you will have a different series of quests depending on whether you support the vampire cult or wish to destroy it. In addition we will also receive two separate skill trees: vampirism will be advanced by feeding on the living and lycanthropy will be advanced by feeding on the dead.

The expansion will launch on (editor's note: Forgot to write the 360 release date) June 26th for the Xbox 360 first with the PS3 and PC to follow at an unspecified date. There is no mention of price. (editor's note: Apparently it'll be ~$20 and was briefly mentioned in the video I linked -- must have missed it.)

Source: G4TV

E3 12: Star Wars 1313 demo is NVIDIA powered.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 04:34 PM |
Tagged: video, Star Wars, E3 12, E3

Star Wars 1313 is a mature-themed video game published and developed internally by LucasArts as well as its sister companies: Lucasfilm Animation, Industrial Light and Magic, and Skywalker Sound. The game allows the player to experience being a bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe. The demo released at E3 is powered by Unreal Engine 3 and an NVIDIA GPU.

The Star Wars franchise has not been the most beloved lately -- but this might change some minds.

Rumors leading up to E3 have claimed that a game would be announced which allows you to play as Boba Fett. On the opening day LucasArts announced Star Wars 1313 which allows you to take control of an unidentified bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe. Geoff Keighley of Game Trailers and Spike TV was shown a demo of the game.

What does this have to do with Nashville, Spike?

There are two possibilities for the identity of the bounty hunter -- and they are not mutually exclusive. Typical speculation is that the bounty hunter will be the premiere star in an upcoming LucasFilm production such as a live action TV show. What I speculate, and the look of the player model supports this, is that the character actually is related to Jango Fett as was previously rumored.

That of course is just speculation and not one that I will flesh out any further.

The demo itself was stated by Mark Rein of Epic Games to be running on Unreal Engine 3. LucasArts has confirmed that the demo is running on a PC with an NVIDIA GPU doing the calculations.

I have not been able to track down release date information or supported platforms but it is pretty safe to say given the demo that it will be available on the PC. I guess that is all I really care about, to be honest.

Source: PC Gamer

E3 12: Elder Scrolls Online gets more than a useless teaser.

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: elder scrolls, E3 12, E3

Zenimax has launched a new teaser trailer for their upcoming Elder Scrolls Online. You will not see any in-game footage nor will you see any information in the trailer. To learn more about the game, you will need to be satisfied with testimonials -- which thankfully exist, at least.

So the “big MMO” space will likely be a three-way clash between EA, Activision/Blizzard, and now Bethesda.

I would expect that The Elder Scrolls franchise would be one of the strongest contenders against Warcraft and Star Wars. According to PC Gamer, The MMO will span the whole of Tamriel which is a departure from earlier installments which mostly flesh out a single area. The world will graphically not keep up with Skyrim yet will keep up with modern MMOs.

And EVE Online for the rest…

Three factions will be available for the player to choose from: The Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the Ebonheart Pact with the Bird, Lion, and Dragon emblems respectively. PVP between these three factions will be constrained to Cyrodiil which you may remember from Oblivion. Imagine catapults versus a castle sieging into the fortress and you would be imagining what some witnesses have described.

G4 has their hands on a few (older) screenshots which show the -- yes, third person -- gameplay of the MMO.

elder-scrolls-online-switches-to-third-person-first-screens-emerge.jpg

Oh look, a Venus fly trap.

Game Informer has quite a wealth of information about the two provinces controlled by the Daggerfall Covenant: High Rock and Hammerfell. Maps of both are present and dotted with allegedly present cities full of quests and attractions. This will be your home if you choose either Breton, Orc, or Redguard as your player race.

Game Informer also promises a feature on the Aldmeri Dominion tomorrow.

E3 12: E3 2012 starts Tuesday with pre-coverage on Monday

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2012 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: E3, E3 12

The 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2012) is taking place next week from Tuesday through to Thursday. Monday will start the week with four press conferences. Stay tuned for as much PC-centric coverage as we can feed you with over the week including expected Unreal Engine 4 news.

If you work in an electronic entertainment retailer -- prepare to be asked weird questions next week.

E3 2012 is kicking off next week and a lot of announcements are expected to come out it. We here at PC Perspective are most interested in learning more about Unreal Engine 4 which is expected to be publicly announced at the expo. We expect that there will be something else which will surprised us as well.

Unreal-Engine-4-3.jpg

You better be here next week!

Monday will kick off E3 with four press conferences:

  • Microsoft from 12:30PM EST to 2PM EST
  • EA from 4PM EST to 5PM EST
  • Ubisoft from 6PM EST to 7PM EST
  • Sony from 9PM EST to 10:30PM EST

Nintendo will take the stage the following day with a Tuesday at Noon EST conference.

Apart from Unreal Engine news I am very excited to find out what Valve has in store for E3. Valve has a private meeting room this year which they skipped for E3 2011. In E3 2010 they demonstrated Portal 2 and this year it is possible that we will see little more than DOTA 2 -- but there is always hope for something more.

What are you guys and girls hoping to see? Unreal 4? Valve cake? Beyond Good and Evil 2?

Source: PCPer