Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2015 - 06:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, gdc 15, GDC
I am not quite sure if the Game Developers Conference led to this video being released, or if it was just a coincidence. This is the sole work of Alexander Dracott, a visual effects, lighting, and shader artist who has been employed at Sucker Punch and Sony Online Entertainment. He works for a studio in Bellevue, Washington, USA doing VR demos, which sounds like Valve but is probably someone else entirely.
Basically, it is a forest scene that is rendered in Unreal Engine 4. It is convincing, despite a little macroblocking from Vimeo compression (or its source). Even the falling leaves cast appropriate shadows. Granted, he never mentions his computer's specifications, which could make a difference in how many features he could get away with enabling. Either way, the art would even be amazing in a non-realtime scene, let alone Unreal Engine 4.
A couple of days later, he posted pictures of the same scene in an autumn time frame (same link). I guess that I should keep coming back to this thread, just in case it gets a Winter update or something. Awesome work!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | March 4, 2015 - 05:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GDC, gdc 15, nvidia, epic games, ue4, unreal engine 4, PhysX, apex
NVIDIA and Epic Games have just announced that Unreal Engine 4 developers can view and modify the source of PhysX. This also includes the source for APEX, which is NVIDIA's cloth and destruction library. It does not include any of the other libraries that are under the GameWorks banner, but Unreal Engine 4 does not use them anyway.
This might even mean that good developers can write their own support for third-party platforms, like OpenCL. That would probably be a painful process, but it should be possible now. Of course, that support would only extend to their personal title, and anyone who they share their branch with.
If you are having trouble finding it, you will need to switch to a branch that has been updated to PhysX 3.3.3 with source, which is currently just “Master”. “Promoted” and earlier seem to be back at PhysX 3.3.2, which is still binary-only. It will probably take a few months to trickle down to an official release. If you are still unable to find it, even though you are on the “Master” branch, the path to NVIDIA's source code is: “Unreal Engine/Engine/Source/ThirdParty/PhysX/”. From there you can check out the various subdirectories for PhysX and APEX.
NVIDIA will be monitoring pull requests sent to that area of Unreal Engine. Enhancements might make it back upstream to PhysX proper, which would then be included in future versions of Unreal Engine and anywhere else that PhysX is used.
In other news, Unreal Engine 4 is now free of its subscription. The only time Epic will ask for money is when you ship a game and royalties are due. This is currently 5% of gross revenue, with the first $3000 (per product, per calendar quarter) exempt. This means that you can make legitimately free (no price, no ads, no subscription, no microtransactions, no Skylander figurines, etc.) game in UE4 for free now!
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2015 - 09:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: quixel, GDC, gdc 15, ue4, unreal engine 4, gdc 2015
You know that a week will be busy when companies start announcing a day or two early to beat the flood. While Game Developers Conference starts tomorrow, Quixel published their Jungle demo to YouTube today in promotion of their MEGASCANS material library. The video was rendered in Unreal Engine 4.
Their other material samples look quite convincing. The vines on a wall (column in this case) is particularly interesting because it even looks like two distinct layers, despite being a single mesh with displacement as far as I can tell. I don't know, maybe it is two or three layers. It would certainly make sense if it was, but the top and bottom suggests that it is single, and that is impressive. It even looks self-occluding.
Pricing and availability for the library is not yet disclosed, but it sounds like it will be a subscription service. The software ranges from $25 to $500, depending on what you get and what sort of license you need (Academic vs Commercial and so forth).
Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, unreal engine, epic games
On Thursday, Tim Sweeney joined the Unreal Engine 4 Twitch Broadcast to announce “Unreal Dev Grants”. In short, Epic Games have set aside 5 million dollars to pass out in increments of five thousand ($5000 USD) to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000 USD), with no strings attached. If you are doing something cool in, with, or involving Unreal Engine 4, you are eligible and can use the money in any way. You keep all your “intellectual property” and equity, and you do not even have any accountability requirements.
It's free money that you can apply for, or they will even approach you with if they see you doing something awesome (you can even nominate other people's projects). The only “catch” is that your work needs to be relevant to Unreal Engine. From there, it could be anything from congratulating an awesome pull request for the engine on GitHub, to giving an indie (or even AAA) game a little bit of a financial boost. Tim Sweeney was telling stories about mowing lawns for the $3000 it took for him to launch ZZT. He mowed lawns so you don't have to.
For more information, or to nominate yourself or someone else, check out their website.
Subject: General Tech | November 21, 2014 - 01:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, game jam
Update 3: Day 3 is live. Clearly not going to be done before the Game Jam, but it sounds like this should be a regular thing that I do.
Update 2: Day 1 is starting just after 2 PM EST (~10-15 minutes from now). Stream is up. Link in first update.
Update: Live in less than five! Join me at Twitch.tv/ScottMichaud
It is all for fun, right?
Last week, the official Unreal Engine Twitter account tweeted about an online game jam being held, which starts this Friday (November 21st) at midnight and ends just 72 hours later. In that time, participants will attempt to create a full video game. All art, music, code, and so forth must be created in that short window. Existing engines, libraries, and utilties are allowed though, and they are actively encouraged with several license of Unreal Engine 4, Unity Pro, Clickteam Fusion, and GameMaker: Studio being provided to contestants. There are no prizes, except that the top ten, highest-voted entries will be featured in a PewDiePie YouTube video. He is the host of this game jam.
The theme of this game jam is, “Fun to play and fun to watch”. Funny is a bonus.
Oh why not? I have an idea for a quick-ish Unreal Engine 4-based game. While expectations should be kept low, I will enter the jam and I intend to stream the whole development process live on Twitch. Whether or not I am successful, I hope that it will be fun and entertaining for everyone involved. Drop in! Talk in the chat room! Say your opinion! Give suggestions! Embrace exclamation points!
I am not, by any metric, a professional game developer, but it should be a good weekend!
Barring technical issues, the stream will start at around 11:55 PM on Thursday, November 20th, 2014. I will probably work for a few hours that night outlining the concepts and creating assets. I hope you will attend! (Details will be available before the event both here and on Twitter).
Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2014 - 11:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: square enix, kingdom hearts 3, unreal engine 4, ue4
I did not report on this the first time because it did not seem like a credible rumor. As it turns out, they were citing an interview with the game's director from Famitsu, the Japanese video game magazine. Basically, while Square likes to make their own engine to use with their RPG projects, their Luminous Engine did not satisfy their needs so they decided to shift production to Unreal Engine 4. While it is still not scheduled to come to the PC, we know that the engine feels at home on our platform.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
It seems pretty clear that Kingdom Hearts was not moved to Unreal Engine 4 for PC support. That would just be silly. More likely, their internal engine might have needed a little extra development work and, especially with the vastly different art styles of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, they moved the two release dates further apart. Maybe they will even release Kingdom Hearts 3 earlier than intended?
But, if it does come to the PC, it seems somewhat more likely that it will function better than Final Fantasy XIII does. That title was locked to 720p with a few odd quirks, like Esc being the equivalent of "/qq" despite even Alt+F4 giving a warning prompt, and that it seems to require a keyboard to close (I could not find a way to close the game with the gamepad or mouse alone). That said, while a tangent-to-a-tangent, I did like the option to have the original, Japanese dub. Yet again, I digress.
This was not the first time that Square has developed an RPG on Unreal Engine. The Last Remnant, for the Xbox 360 and PC, was developed on Unreal Engine 3. Kingdom Hearts 3 does not have a release date, but it might be sooner than we expect (and probably much earlier than Final Fantasy XV).
Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2014 - 11:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, epic games
Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4.5 last Tuesday, and it is one of their largest releases since launch. While most point-releases occur on a four-to-six week schedule, this one took about nine weeks.
The headlining feature from the press release is Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows. In the real world, lights have an actual size. A light bulb is not an infinitesimal point, it fills up your hand when you grab it (when it is off and cooled to roughly room temperature, of course). If a surface can see a light, it is lit by it. If the surface cannot see the light, it is not lit by it, which looks like it is covered in shadow. If a light is big enough that part of it lights a part of a surface, but part of it is blocked, you get "soft shadows".
Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows is a dynamic effect, which means that it can update over time. This is very useful if, for instance, the object that is casting a shadow gets blown up by a rocket launcher or, less entertainingly, the sun sets. The effect is also particularly quick, with scenes rendering in just a couple of milliseconds (you get about 16ms to hit 60 FPS). This is faster than cascaded shadow maps (a method to generate shadows that is optimized for shadows near the camera) in benchmarks listed at Epic's documentation.
Unreal Engine 4.5 has also updated Subsurface Scattering. I am not exactly sure what is different, because Unreal Engine 4 had SSS for quite some time now, but they changed something. This technique is useful to create realistic skin, but is also very useful for oceans, ice, and wax.
Although Ray Traced Distance Field Soft Shadows and Screen-Space Subsurface Scattering are the most interesting feature to write about, I would consider C++ Hot Reload to be the most important feature of this version. To explain it, I will need to first describe how Unreal Engine 4 is designed. When you subscribe, you are given source code access to the engine on GitHub; alternatively, you can download the Unreal Engine Launcher, which allows you to manage canonical builds of Unreal Engine. When a version of the engine is run, it will open a project in Unreal Editor. These projects could be programmed either in C++ or Epic's flowchart-based scripting system, "Blueprints". Complete games could be made in Blueprints, and developers are encouraged to do so, but they are often used for simple objects (lights and elevators), modifications of complex objects, and rapid prototyping.
Rapid prototyping is the key part of my explanation. Remember how there is "engine code" that, when compiled, opens an editor to run "game code" for any given project? Despite the E3 2012 demo, many changes in a project's C++ source require the editor to be shut down and reloaded when game code is compiled. This led people to use Blueprints as a prototyping tool, not because of its logical, visual layout, but because you could manipulate objects several times in just a couple of minutes and without closing the editor. Now C++ is said to be a first-class citizen in this regard (unfortunately I have not had time to test this). As long as you are not modifying the engine's code, just the C++ code associated with your project, your changes should be possible while remaining in editor.
Also updated, and finally supported by default, is Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG). UMG is a UI platform that is built upon Slate, which itself is the main UI platform for Unreal Engine 4 (Unreal Editor, for instance, is created with Slate). Basically, it extends Slate and includes a Flash Professional-like editor for it, complete with styles, animations, and scaling for high-DPI devices.
Because I am not in the DirectX 12 private beta, I am unsure whether that branch has been updated. Microsoft has announced that it was based on Unreal Engine 4.4. They have not said anything publicly since, at least not regarding that.
Unreal Engine 4.5 is available now for subscribers through GitHub or the Unreal Engine Launcher.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 20, 2014 - 12:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, nvidia, microsoft, maxwell, DirectX 12, DirectX
Microsoft and NVIDIA has decided to release some information about DirectX 12 (and DirectX 11.3) alongside the launch of the Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 980 and GeForce GTX 970 graphics cards. Mostly, they announced that Microsoft teamed up with Epic Games to bring DirectX 12 to Unreal Engine 4. They currently have two demos, Elemental and Infiltrator, that are up and running with DirectX 12.
Moreover, they have provided a form for developers who are interested in "early access" to apply for it. They continually discuss it in terms of Unreal Engine 4, but they do not explicitly say that other developers cannot apply. UE4 subscribers will get access to the Elemental demo in DX12, but it does not look like Infiltrator will be available.
DirectX 12 is expected to target games for Holiday 2015.
Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2014 - 03:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, unreal engine 4, Unreal Tournament, kick ass, epic games
The only way Epic could have excited gamers more than the announcement that Unreal Tournament is coming back is to announce that it is utterly free with no DLC or pay-to-win ... which is exactly what they did! It will be built on Unreal Engine 4, the one you can license at $19 a month and will be designed from the ground up to be moddable and eventually there will be a marketplace where modders can trade, sell or give away their work. Polygon wasn't given any hint of a release date but this news is so exciting it almost makes you forget UT3 ever existed!
Of course you don't have to wait to join in on some classic UT2K4 action, just head to the Gaming Forum and see when the Fragging Frogs will be playing next.
"Developer Epic Games revealed today that the multiplayer shooter's next incarnation — in development in Unreal Engine 4 for Linux, Mac and Windows PC and called simply Unreal Tournament — will be free, moddable and collaboratively developed with fans."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Sci-Fi Contest Winners @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft is developing a smartwatch to rival Samsung, Sony and Apple @ The Inquirer
- Whoops! Nvidia lets slip Q1 earnings early – and they're solid @ The Register
- HP's virtual cloud-based Z Workstation packs Nvidia Grid K2 graphics @ The Inquirer
- FCC MUST protect net neutrality to preserve AMERICA, say Google et al @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2014 - 04:14 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Unreal Tournament, unreal engine 4, unreal, ue4
Unreal Tournament will make a comeback. This Thursday, on the official UnrealEngine Twitch.tv channel, Epic Games will make some announcement about the future of the franchise. The only other concrete information that we have is in the original tweet from Paul Meegan, their vice president of product development for about a year and a half.
— Paul Meegan (@PaulMeegan) May 2, 2014
So, Unreal Engine 4 dev community and Epic. That could mean any number of things but it sure seems to suggest that the community will have an active hand in its development. As our readers know, UE4's licensing structure has transitioned from an undisclosed, large fee upfront and a percentage of revenue to a small monthly subscription (and five percent of revenue). Full source code is provided to these licensees.
Perhaps the game is not, itself, the product?
Or maybe it is. Who knows. I just get an... off... feeling from the structure of this preannouncement (and that is not a bad thing). It is set to occur on the stream where they record Unreal Engine training videos. They explicitly mention "UE4 Dev Community + Epic". Why the community so front and center?
According to Edge, Epic is currently working on three titles: Fortnite, an unannounced mobile game, and an unannounced "high-end next generation title". The mobile title is currently in pre-production and will not be "formally announced for some time". This, of course, leaves one of two possibilities: it is the "high-end next generation title" or Epic is not counting it as an official title, for some reason.
Going a little further, Fortnite is said to be PC exclusive. If Unreal Tournament is their high-end next generation title, it will either be their only offering on the next generation consoles, or they do not have a planned offering on a next generation console.
As fun as it is to speculate, I should be clear that this is entirely speculation. We will know more when Epic makes their announcement, Thursday at 2PM EDT.