It's an Unreal Deal! Heh Heh Heh

Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2018 - 10:29 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, epic games, unreal

Seriously, though. Epic Games has just made Unreal Gold available for free on Steam and GoG if you add it to your library before the deal ends. If you have seen our posts about Origin’s “On the House” promotions, then it shouldn’t be too shocking. Still, it’s a good game and you can’t beat 100% off.

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Image Credit: UnrealWiki

This aligns with Unreal’s 20th anniversary. The first-person shooter launched on May 22nd, 1998. It was apparently well-received at the time, although people complained that the online multiplayer had issues with lag (and so forth). This feedback lead to Epic’s next title: Unreal Tournament.

As you can probably guess – that title did very well with multiplayer.

Unreal had a sequel, developed by Legend Entertainment (before they were shut down by Atari / Infogrames) called Unreal II: The Awakening. I’ve… never played that one, although it apparently had a dedicated fanbase of its XMP multiplayer expansion.

Source: Epic Games

Epic Games Handed Out Another $200,000 in Dev Grants

Subject: General Tech | January 28, 2018 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: epic games, ue4

On January 16th, Epic Games announced handing out a total of $200,000 USD across thirteen recipients. This is a part of their Unreal Dev Grants program, which donates money to people that they think are doing cool things with (or alongside) their engine, no strings attached. It’s a simple bursary to let cool people do cool things in the realm of Unreal Engine.

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Of this round of winners, twelve are listed in the blog post: ten are games, one is a feature film, and one is a game development tool. I don’t know what the thirteenth is, unless they’re counting one of the entries as two for some reason.

I will not be covering the games in this post – feel free to check the blog.

This leaves me with two: BlueprintUE.com and Allahyar and The Legend of Markhr.

The latter is a feature-length film that is rendered in Unreal Engine. It is from 3rd World Studios in Pakistan, and it has a bit of a Pixar-esque art style. Epic Games has in their EULA that capturing linear video from Unreal Engine 4 does not require a royalty, because the software is not being distributed, just the imagery produced by it is, which makes UE4 an interesting choice for video production. It is fast and high-quality, although it adds an extra stage in the content pipeline… but it’s a stage that you’re used to if you do UE4 work. Honestly, I’ve been considering UE4 as a render system for the animations I’ve done earlier, but I settled on Blender Cycles just because I had too many other things to worry about. I did know that the Paragon trailer was done in-engine, though. Maybe in the future.

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As for BlueprintUE.com, it is a tool that allows users to copy and paste blueprint networks into a web-based flow chart editor. Users can then add comments and share the logic with others. As far as I can tell, you cannot directly manipulate the blueprints in the editor, and they have not said that this feature is in development – but I’d be surprised if they haven’t at least thought of it.

Check out all the entries on the Unreal Engine blog.

Source: Epic Games

Epic Games Shutting Down Paragon with Refunds

Subject: General Tech | January 27, 2018 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: epic games, paragon

Paragon was a MOBA, based on Unreal Engine 4, that played in a third-person action style. Typically, these sorts of games are played top-down, which is probably due to the genre’s most popular, early entries being mods of Blizzard games (WarCraft III and StarCraft). While applying the formula to a different player controller is not unheard of, such as the first-person Minecraft mod that we mentioned back in 2012, Epic Games decided to try their hand at it, too.

Unfortunately, it’s being shut down. The servers are going offline on April 26th.


IIRC -- Epic Games said that this cinematic was made with LOD0 assets.
Sure, the game didn’t look as good as a directed cinematic, but the assets were in-game assets.

That said, you won’t be out anything. If you made any purchase in Paragon, on any platform, Epic Games will provide a full refund. On the one hand, it’s sad to see that the game was a total loss for a good company, apart from the engine research it drove.

On the other hand, it’s good to see that Epic isn’t forcing their fans to carry this burden.

Source: Epic Games

Unreal Engine 4.18 Preview Published to Epic Launcher

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2017 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: ue4, epic games, pc gaming

Epic Games has released a preview build of Unreal Engine 4.18. This basically sets a bar for shipped features, giving them a bit of time to crush bugs before they recommend developers use it for active projects. This version has quite a few big changes, especially in terms of audio and video media.

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WebAssembly is now enabled by default for HTML5.

First, we’ll discuss platform support. As you would expect, iOS 11 and XCode 9 are now supported, and A10 processors can use the same forward renderer that was added to UE4 for desktop VR, as seen in Robo Recall. That’s cool and all, but only for Apple. For the rest of us, WebAssembler (WASM) is now enabled by default for HTML5 projects. WASM is LLVM bytecode that can be directly ingested by web browsers. In other words, you can program in C++ and have web browsers execute it, and do so without transpiling to some form of JavaScript. (Speaking of which, ASM.js is now removed from UE4.) The current implementation is still single-threaded, but browser vendors are working on adding multi-threading to WASM.

As for the cool features: Epic is putting a lot of effort in their media framework. This allows for a wider variety of audio and video types (sample rates, sample depths, and so forth) as well as, apparently, more control over timing and playback, including through Blueprints visual scripting (although you could have always made your own Blueprint node anyway). If you’re testing out Unreal Engine 4.18, Epic Games asks that you pay extra attention to this category, reporting any bugs that you find.

Epic has also improved their lighting engine, particularly when using the Skylight lighting object. They also say that Volumetric Lightmaps are also, now, enabled by default. This basically allows dynamic objects to move through a voxel-style grid of lighting values that are baked in the engine, which adds indirect lighting on them without a full run-time GI solution.

The last thing I’ll mention (although there’s a bunch of cool things, including updates to their audio engine and the ability to reference Actors in different levels) is their physics improvements. Their Physics Asset Editor has been reskinned, and the physics engine has been modified. For instance, APEX Destruction has been pulled out of the core engine into a plug-in, and the cloth simulation tools, in the skeletal mesh editor, are no longer experimental.

Unreal Engine 4.18 Preview can be downloaded from the Epic Launcher, but existing projects should be actively developed in 4.17 for a little while longer.

Source: Epic Games

Unreal Engine 4 Enterprise Sizzle Video

Subject: General Tech | August 2, 2017 - 11:41 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, epic games, unreal engine 4, ue4

Apart from a Fortnite clip that they snuck in, Epic Games has published a video to highlight the recent use of Unreal Engine 4 in the enterprise. The game engine is attractive to several industries, including architectural visualization, product demos, and even rendering video for TVs and movies. For instance, you can walk through a building (even in VR) that you’re intending to create and move walls around, or customize a car and see it in that state before you order it.

One that caught my eye was the Paris VR demo from The Chainsmokers and Sony Music. This was the first that I’ve heard of it, but I find kind-of abstract, music video demos interesting. It reminds me a little of the Ellie Goulding WebGL demo from back in 2011. It should be a cute little demo if you have a PSVR, although you can also watch a playthrough on YouTube.

NVIDIA and Epic Games Announce "Edge" Program

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 28, 2017 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: epic games, ue4, nvidia, geforce, giveaway

If you are an indie game developer, and you could use a little more GPU performance, NVIDIA is hosting a hardware giveaway. Starting at the end of July, and ongoing until Summer 2018, NVIDIA and Epic Games will be giving away GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards to batches of Unreal Engine 4 projects.

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To enter, you need to share screenshots and videos of your game on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, tagging both UnrealEngine and NVIDIA. (The specific accounts are listed on the Unreal Engine blog post that announces this initiative.) They will also feature these projects on both the Unreal Engine and the NVIDIA blog, which is just as valuable for indie projects.

So... hey! Several chances at free hardware!

Source: Epic Games

Epic Games Releases Zen Garden Demo for WebAssembly

Subject: General Tech | March 13, 2017 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: webassembly, ue4, mozilla, epic games

HTML5 was a compile target for Unreal Engine since Unreal Engine 3, but it was supposed to be a bigger push for Unreal Engine 4 then it has been. At the time, Mozilla was pushing for web browsers to be the main source of games. Thanks to Flash, users are even already accustomed to that use case; it’s just a matter of getting performance and functionality close enough to competing platforms, and supporting content that will show it off.

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That brings us to Zen Garden. This demo was originally designed to show off the Metal API for iOS, but Epic has re-purposed it for the recently released web browser features, WebAssembly and WebGL 2.0. Personally, I find it slightly less impressive than the Firefox demo of Unreal Tournament 3 that I played at Mozilla Summit 2013, but it’s a promising example that big-name engines are taking Web standards seriously again. You don’t get much bigger than Unreal Engine 4.

So yeah... if you have Firefox 52, then play around with it. It’s free.

Source: Mozilla

Epic Games Releases Unreal Engine 4.14

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, ue4, pc gaming, epic games

Every couple of months, Epic Games drops a new version of Unreal Engine 4 with improvements all over. As such, you should check the full release notes to see all of the changes, including the fifty-one that Epic thinks are worth highlighting. Here are some that I think our readers would enjoy, though.

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First, Vulkan support for mobile devices has apparently moved out of experimental. While this will not be enabled for desktop applications, it's interesting to note that DirectX 12 is still in experimental. Basically, if you squint and put blinders on, you could sort-of see some element of Vulkan beating DirectX 12 to market.

Second, Unreal Engine 4 has significantly upgraded their forward renderer. In a lot of cases, a deferred renderer is preferable because it's fast and consistent; the post-process shader only run once per output pixel, ignoring lighting triangles that are covered by other triangles. The way this is structured, though, makes multisample anti-aliasing impossible, which is slightly annoying on desktop but brutal in VR. As an added benefit, they're also using forward shading to help the deferred renderer with translucent materials.

Unreal Engine typically uses a lot of NVIDIA SDKs. This version updates PhysX up to 3.4, which allows “continuous collision detection” on rigid bodies. This means that fast moving object shouldn't pass through objects without colliding, because the collision occurred between two checks and was missed, if this feature is enabled. They are also adding the Ansel SDK, which allows players to take high-detail screenshots, as a plug-in.

Skipping down the release notes a bunch, Unreal Engine 4.14 also adds support for Visual Studio 15, which is the version after Visual Studio 2015 (Visual Studio 14.0). Both IDEs are, in fact, supported. It's up to the developer to choose which one to use, although Visual Studio 15 makes a lot of improvements regarding install and uninstall.

Finally, at least for my brief overview, Unreal Engine 4.14 begun to refactor their networking system. It sounds like the current optimizations are CPU-focused, but allowing more network-capable objects is always a plus. Epic Games claims they are benchmarking about 40% higher performance in this area.

Source: Epic Games

VR Funhouse Game Jam Results

Subject: General Tech | November 4, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, nvidia

In early September, we posted about a VR game jam that was coming to Hamburg, Germany by Epic Games, NVIDIA, HTC, and Valve. The companies wanted to increase the amount of content available so, with the release of the VR Funhouse mod kit, they rented a boat, docked it really well, and let indie developers do their thing around the clock. Seven teams of three-to-five participated, and the public were invited to play around with the results.

Most of the entries deviated from the literal fun-house theme to some extent. Probably the most original game is one where users play a kid in a candy store, trying to evade detection while gorging on sweet, sweet candy. Go figure, it's called Kid in a Candy Store. The closest to the literal interpretation of the theme is Beer Beer Beer and Sausages, where you serve carnival food, with real beer and mustard fluid simulations.

Two of the games, Beer Beer Beer and Sausages and Waiter Wars, are available for free on the VR Funhouse Steam Workshop page. I'm not sure what happened to the rest. The Unreal Engine post seems to suggest that they are supposed to be here, but maybe some of the teams are looking to polish it up a little first.

Source: Epic Games

Europeans: Epic Games Is Hosting a VR Game Jam

Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2016 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, epic games, valve, htc, vr funhouse, vive

So Epic Games, NVIDIA, and HTC (with Valve) are hosting a game jam aboard the MS Bleichen ship in Hamburg, Germany. The purpose is to develop mods for VR Funhouse. Nothing says a fun VR experience like room-scale experiences on a boat. Hopefully it will be firmly docked to prevent judges from getting sea-sick... or not. Maybe that will make the carnival games even better?

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The jam takes place between September 24th and September 26th. Epic, NVIDIA, and Valve will be donating prizes to the event. Tickets cost 16.67 Euros, although I'm guessing that doesn't include food or a place to sleep -- they don't say one way or the other. The general public can also buy tickets for the last day, to experience the creations.

Source: EventBrite