Unreal Engine 4 Pitch to Developers: Layered Materials
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 08:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: unreal engine 4, udk
Epic Games seems happy with their Unreal Development Kit (UDK) initiative. Not only did UDK spawn a few games, such as Hawken and Antichamber, but also a bunch of employable artists trained on Unreal Engine. Similar to an artist comfortable with Photoshop, many level designers comfortable with your tools could influence a few studio licenses.
Part of alluring users is giving them a legitimate reason to use you.
Computing the color of a pixel, at least these days, comes down to running scripts called shaders bundled into a package called a material. A material gives geometry its distinct look be it metal, glass, plastic, or particles of a nuclear explosion. Each triangle could, traditionally, be assigned just one material.
A new feature with Unreal Engine 4 is, as heavily foreshadowed, the ability to layer materials through a mask. The benefits of this model are real and apply for both gamer and artist alike. The video (above) demonstrates a rocket with the Unreal Engine logo branded upon it with a different metal.
Rather than creating a high resolution material, the artist is able to create multiple simple materials and select which one to use with a masking texture. This makes it easier for artists to reuse a library of materials and could provide higher performance with reduced material count and complexity.
There is currently no launch information but, especially given its Youtube channel, we can expect Epic plans to bring Unreal Engine 4 to the Unreal Development Kit at some point.