Unreal Engine 4 announced, hands hobbyist market to Unity

19. March 2014
Unreal Engine 4 for Everyone

 

Today Unreal officially announced the release of Unreal Engine 4.  First a blurb about the Unreal Engine from Tim Sweeny:

 

Unreal Engine 4 launches today. What we’re releasing is both simple and radical: everything.

Epic’s goal is to put the engine within reach of everyone interested in building games and 3D content, from indies to large triple-A development teams, and Minecraft creators as well. For $19/month you can have access to everything, including the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine’s complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development.

This is the complete technology we at Epic use when building our own games, forged by years of experience shipping games like Gears of War for Xbox and Infinity Blade for iOS, and now reinvented for a new generation. Having the full C++ source provides the ultimate flexibility and puts developers in control of their schedules and destinies: Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can find it in UE4, source it in the GitHub community, or build it yourself – and then share it with others.

Develop in the Unreal Ecosystem

Beyond the tools and source, Unreal Engine 4 provides an entire ecosystem. Chat in the forums, add to the wiki, participate in the AnswerHub Q&A, and join collaborative development projects via GitHub.

To help you get started, we’re shipping lots of ready-made content, samples, and game templates.  You’ll find it in the Marketplace in the Unreal Editor. Right now, it simply hosts free stuff from Epic, but its resemblance to the App Store is no coincidence: It will grow into a complete ecosystem for sharing community-created content, paid and free, and open for everyone’s participation!

[SNIP]

A New Beginning

This first release of Unreal Engine 4 is just the beginning. In the C++ code, you can see many new initiatives underway, for example to support Oculus VR, Linux, Valve’s Steamworks and Steam Box efforts, and deployment of games to web browsers via HTML5.  It’s all right there, in plain view, on day one of many years of exciting and open development ahead!

We have enjoyed building Unreal Engine 4 so far and hope you will join us on this journey as a contributor to the future of Unreal!

 

 

Now the part I didn’t mention:

Ship Games with Unreal

We’re working to build a company that succeeds when UE4 developers succeed. Anyone can ship a commercial product with UE4 by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users. If your game makes $1,000,000, then we make $50,000. We realize that’s a lot to ask, and that it would be a crazy proposition unless UE4 enables you to build way better games way more productively than otherwise!

So, will this effort succeed? That’s up to you and your judgment of the engine’s value. Unreal Engine 4 has been built by a team of over 100 engineers, artists and designers around the world, and this launch represents all of our hopes and dreams of how major software can be developed and distributed in the future.

We find this future very exciting. It’s no longer dominated by giant publishers and marketing campaigns, but by a simple and honest proposition: Gamers pay for great games, and anybody who can valuably contribute to building those games can succeed, from indie developers, to large triple-A teams, and to individual programmers and content creators, too.

 

Now part of this is very cool news.  Indie developers are now going to get full source code access to the engine.  If you are setting out to create a game, a flat 5% full code access library is pretty awesome.  However… there is a small blurb this blog missed.

image

 

… a 19$ dollar a month subscription fee.

 

This is capital S STUPID.  No doubt some accountant somewhere thought “Hey, we have all these developers that never ship a product and we are making nothing off them!  Let’s charge a monthly subscription!”

 

Guys… don’t let the accountants do the thinking.

 

What’s 19$ a month you say?  It’s a barrier of entry and a meaningless one at that.  How many indie developers are now not going to bother evaluating Unreal and are just going to go with Unity or another engine instead?  What about schools looking to pick an engine for development?  What about the entire hobbyist community that are just looking to have some fun but accidently make the next Angry Birds and make billions of dollars?  Well, they most likely wont be doing it in Unreal anymore. 

 

They really need to consider how many potential 5% royalty projects are never going to get started because they tried to get 19$ a month from a bunch of hobbyist?  Even if a single hobby developer flukes out an makes a million dollar grossing game, how many developers do they have to sign up in a month to make up that potentially lost revenue?  That would be 2,631 Alex.  Do you think one in 2,631 developers are going to hit it big and make money for Unreal?  Well, now we will never know.

News ,




Get Marmalade Community free for one year

19. March 2014

Today from GDC, Marmalade are offering their flagship product, um… Marmalade Community Edition free for a year.  Normally Marmalade Community is priced at $150 a year.

 

So, what exactly is Marmalade?  Its a cross platform, mobile oriented C++ game framework (although Obj-C, Lua and HTML5 are options).  In their own words:

Marmalade gives you the full power of C++ - whether you’re coding for one platform or many. Perhaps even more importantly, Marmalade means you can concentrate on simply making your game the best it can be, rather than getting distracted by the mechanics of going cross-platform. Enjoy performance, openness, flexibility and great low-level access – with Marmalade.

 

Marmalade is one of the most popular mobile gaming SDKs and has been used for a number of high profile mobile titles such as Plants Vs Zombies and Call of Duty: World at War Zombies.  You can see a number of titles made with Marmalade here.

 

So what are the limitations of Marmalade Community Edition.  There are a couple:

  • only able to target iOS and Android ( not BlackBerry, Tizen or Windows Phone 8, Desktop or various devices like smart TVs )
  • show a Made with Marmalade splash screen
  • 3 seats per organization maximum
  • maximum annual revenue of $500,000

 

 If you are interested in signing up you can do so here using the promo code GDCFREE mentioned in this tweet.




Autodesk announced 2015 versions of products and silently kill off Softimage

18. March 2014

 

With GDC going on it’s no surprise to hear a number of product announcement.  Today Autodesk announced the annual refresh of almost all of their game related technologies including Maya and Maya LT, Max, MotionBuilder, Mudbox and Softimage. 

 

From the official press release here are the major new features for each product:


Autodesk Maya 2015 software adds new capabilities to the toolset such as the new Bifrost
procedural effects platform which provides an extensible, artist-friendly workflow for complex
simulation and rendering tasks, initially applied to near photorealistic liquids; XGen Arbitrary
Primitive Generator for the easy creation of richly detailed geometry such as hair, fur, and foliage; 
Geodesic Voxel Binding method for skinning characters; ShaderFX, a new node-based visual
interface for shader programing; support for Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries; enhanced polygon
modeling tools; and expanded UV options;

Autodesk 3ds Max 2015 software has been extended and redesigned to help improve
performance, ease-of-use and management of complex scenes. New in 2015 is ShaderFX, a new
node-based visual interface that allows game artists and programmers to more easily create
advanced HLSL viewport shaders; point cloud dataset support for reality capture workflows; new
viewport performance optimizations; a redesigned scene explorer to make it easier for artists to
manage large scenes; ActiveShade support for the NVIDIA mental ray renderer; and new Python
scripting support – a highly requested user feature for pipeline integration; 

Autodesk MotionBuilder 2015 provides several features that advance motion capture workflow
accessibility such as: a new plug-in for Microsoft Kinect to help capture body movements for use
in MotionBuilder, Animatable Depth of Field and Follow Focus camera options to recreate
elements of real-world cinematography, a robust content library with 100 commonly required
character animations in the Autodesk FBX®
format and flexible marker assignment to adjust
character positions;

Autodesk Mudbox 2015 software boasts streamlined mesh refinement for retopologizing and new
Sculpt Layer and Paint Layer groups for organizing and identifying particular layers in complex
scenes. The release also has advanced interoperability with Maya 2015, an enhanced texture
export and updating workflow, new caliper tool and support for Intel HD graphics 4000 on
compatible Windows 8 operating system hybrid tablet/PCs;

Autodesk Softimage 2015* software helps streamline 3D asset creation and management with
Alembic caching, enhancements to the ICE platform and animatable weight maps in Syflex cloth.

Autodesk Maya LT 2015 Software  Streamlines Indie Game Development

Maya LT 2015, the latest iteration of Autodesk’s cost-effective 3D animation and modeling software for
professional indie game makers, introduces a series of rich new features and integrations that help
advance the 3D content creation process for indie game development.

The updated application has:

  • Cloud integration allows artists to browse, open, modify and save Dropbox or Autodesk 360 files to the cloud directly through the Maya LT interface. Leverage 123D Catch or 123D Creature files saved in Autodesk’s 123D cloud storage as a reference for creating game assets in Maya LT;
  • Unfold 3D helps facilitate the seamless creation of UV maps from 3D models;
  • Substance Material Integration allows users to apply materials created in the Allegorithmic Substance Designer procedural texture creation tool to 3D models

 
In addition to the new features, Maya LT 2015 also has the extension releases of Maya LT 2014, such as:
support for MEL scripting, a send-to-Unity workflow, uncapped polygon export to Unity, the ability to
export models or scenes up to 65,000 polygons in the FBX or OBJ formats, Human IK and IK Handle
Animation, and Boolean operations on polygon geometry.

 

Notice the little asterisk beside Softimage 2015?  Well, here is the fine print.

* Editor’s Note: Softimage 2015 will be the final new release of this product.

 

So there you have it, Autodesk finally killed it off.  I think the writing has been on the wall for a long time, but it still sad to see an old friend go.

News ,




Unity 5 GDC revealed, then not. Did Polygon jump the gun?

17. March 2014

 

A pretty common journalistic practice is the news embargo.  Basically a number of journalists are given advance access to information and a date which is the earliest time they can reveal that information.  Everyone once in a while someone jumps the gun and breaks the embargo; often by mistake, sometimes on purpose.  Often when you see a new story pop up, followed a little while later with a 404 error this is what happened.  They released early and got a take down notice.

 

Right now, with the GDC going on, it’s a common time for game dev related news releases, so this one makes sense.  Polygon seems to have done just that, although the link is now dead, this reddit post caught the news and posted this cached link.  As they say, the cat is now out of the bag.  Why people say that and why they are stuffing cats in bags in the first place I’m not exactly sure.  Anyways, here is the text of what was announced:

 

Unity 5 — billed as "a massive update" to the multiplatform game engine and toolkit — was unveiled today at Game Developers Conference 2014.

Unity Technologies, makers of the suite, said Unity 5 will overhaul the game's audio toolset and deliver upgraded lighting and and a physically based shader system. It now is a 64-bit engine with this release, Unity Technologies added.

Of note, Unity 5 will also include the launch of a cross-promotion neetwork for mobile games called Unity Cloud, "enabling mobile game developers to run full-screen interstitial ads in their mobile games, as well as exchange ad units with other Unity developers."

The last full version, Unity 4 launched two years ago. Unity supports development on all mobile OSes, plus Windows, MacOS and Linux, the PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360 and Wii U. Games developed with Unity range from acclaimed indie titles like Gone Home, to mobile hits like Temple Run, to the upcoming Wasteland 2 on PC.

 

Of course it is all pure speculation at this point, so except more details to emerge.  Or of course this could all turn out to be completely bunk.  In some ways I am kinda hoping it’s bunk as that’s a pretty underwhelming list for a major release.  A .5 release I could see, but not a full revision.  Improved audio tooling is nice and I am certain 64bit support will appeal to some but… it’s just so blah.




MakeHuman 1.0.0 finally released

15. March 2014

 

MakeHuman started life in 1999 as a Blender plugin named MakeHead, a plugin for procedurally creating head meshes.  In 2000 the first version of MakeHuman was released.  In 2005 it was turned into a stand alone application. Today we seem a major milestone release of MakeHuman 1.0.0!

 

So what exactly is MakeHuman?  It’s an application for generating human models.  Most impressively it generates very clean, fully rigged, quad only, Mudbox/zBrush ready models using 1170 controllable morph targets.  If you’ve ever played a video game that allowed you to fully customize your character, you have an idea what MakeHuman provides.  The major difference is MakeHuman generates a model ready for use in major 3D applications.  In many ways it is very similar to the application Poser.

 

image

 

Oh yeah, did I also mention it was completely free and open source?

 

Now for a couple key links. 

You can download MakeHuman here.

The source code is available here.

You can access the current buglist here.

The 1.0.0 press release is available here (and repeated below).

 

So why should you as a game developer care?

Well first of all, it is about one of the easiest ways to create game ready human assets.  Speaking of game ready, you also have the ability to create game appropriate rigs:

image

 

Perhaps most importantly, the resulting mesh is both clean and relatively low polygon ( unless of course you choose the smooth option ).  Here is an exported mesh opened in Blender:

image

All told its about 24K quads as currently configured.  The mesh is and ampature are both logically laid out (with clothing all as separate meshes) and ready for use:

image

 

If you need a human model for your game, you really have nothing to lose checking out MakeHuman.

 

Press release:

Art, News