Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 12:38 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: unreal, udk, samaritan, nvidia, fxaa
Last year we saw Unreal unviel their Samaritan demo which showed off next generation gaming graphics using three NVIDIA 580 GTX graphics cards in SLI. Epic games showed off realistic hair and cloth physics along with improved lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and more bokeh effects than gamers could shake a controller at with their Samaritan demo, and I have to say it was pretty impressive stuff a year ago, and it still is today. What makes this round special is that hardware has advanced such that the Samaritan level graphics can be achieved in real time with a single graphics card, a big leap from last year's required three SLI'd NVIDIA GTX 580s!
The Samaritan demo was shown at this years' GDC 2012 (Games Developers Conference) to be running on a single NVIDIA "Kepler" graphics card in real time, which is pretty exciting. Epic did not state any further details on the upcoming NVIDIA graphics card; however, the knowledge that the single GPU was able to pull off what it took three Fermi cards to do certainly holds promise.
According to GeForce; however, it was not merely the NVIDIA Kepler GPU that made the Samaritan demo on a single GPU possible. The article states that it was the inclusion of NVIDIA's method for anti-aliasing known as FXAA, or Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing that enabled it. Unlike the popular MSAA option employed by (many of) today's games, FXAA uses much less memory, enabling single graphics cards to avoid being bogged down by memory thrashing. They further state that the reason MSAA is not ideal for the Samaritan demo is because the demo uses deferred shading to provide the "complex, realistic lighting effects that would be otherwise impossible using forward rendering," a method employed by many game engines. The downside to the arguably better lighting in the Samaritan demo is that it requires four times as much memory. This is because the GPU RAM needs to hold four samples per pixel, and the workload is magnified four times in areas of the game where there are multiple intersecting pieces of geometry.
FXAA vs MSAA
They go on to state that without AA turned on, the lighting in the Samaritan demo uses approximately 120 MB of GPU RAM, and with 4x MSAA turned on it uses about 500 MB. That's 500 MB of memory dedicated just to lighting when it could be used to hold more of the level and physics, for example and would require a GPU to swap more data that it should have to (using FXAA). They state that FXAA on the other hand, is a shader based AA method that does not require additional memory, making it "much more performance friendly for deferred renderers such as Samaritan."
Without anti-aliasing, the game world would look much more jagged and not realistic. AA seeks to smooth out the jagged edges, and FXAA enabled Epic to run their Samaritan demo on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card. Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I'm excited to see game developers roll some of the Samaritan graphical effects into their games. Knowing that Epic Game's engine can be run on a single graphics card implies that this future is all that much closer. More information is available here, and if you have not already seen it the Samaritan demo is shown in the video below.
Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2011 - 02:36 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: crysis, CryENGINE 3, crytek, epic, udk, unreal, sdk
There exists a common thought that developing a game is a relaxed experience involving playing all day. Creating games is really a difficult experience; the majority of entry-level jobs consist of creating trees and rocks for the latest Nickelodeon or Disney movie tie-in for 80-hour weeks on end. While there exist some levels of exceptions to that rule and some people who do not mind that lifestyle there is quite a bit of churn in the industry as people simply burn out. Outside the typical distribution chains there exists the independent movement similar to that seen in the 90’s where smaller companies can publish with a much lower overhead now thanks in majority to the internet. For those who wish to develop their own smaller titles there exists many options with Crytek adding one more to the ring; CryENGINE 3 has gone free for non-commercial use with royalty options for commercial applications.
The little engine that cryed is getting the royaltyment
CryENGINE 3, like the UDK, does not include native source code access (full game-code access though) which is to be expected from a modern commercial engine: there are likely quite a few sections of the source code that Crytek cannot legally release to the public because it was written by other individuals and companies. Also as should be expected from an engine like this, regular updates are promised including an update to allow the same DirectX 11 features as was recently patched into Crysis 2 to make your jersey barriers look stunningly lifelike.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 10:34 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: udk, ios, game
Indie videogame developers have a great challenge keeping up with the industry. Technology is advancing quickly, the skills required to output games with the quality of the greatest developers keep diversifying, and the time required to detail each part keeps exploding. Though it is highly unlike that the next Call of Duty will come from a single person there are tool developers aiming to decrease the burden for projects of all sizes.
Do you think that was an onomatopoeia said by indie devs?
Epic Games released UDK in November 2009 to help developers make their own 3D PC games without needing to develop their own engine and associated toolset or needing to pay a hefty license fee up front. Since then, Epic has added support for iOS development to allow developers to create games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. New versions have come out on an approximately monthly basis and May is no different.
This release is incrementally better than previous builds with a few usability tweaks like grouping objects and modifying them together, the ability to copy and paste vertex coloring, and performance importing art assets. As usual a few dozen documentation pages were updated to reflect changes in the game engine. While UDK does not remove the pain of making a good game, it does soften the blow a lot, which is all we got thus far.