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22. March 2019


At GDC 2018, Microsoft unveiled DXR, or Direct X 12 Raytracing, an SDK enabling real-time raytracing, followed closely by NVIDIA announcing hardware support.  This year at GDC 2019, those technologies have come of age, with major raytracing support coming from 3 major game engine manufacturers.  Additionally NVIDIA have announced some potentially game changing news as well.  Let’s break down the announcements and demonstrations one by one.


CryTek

CryTek started the raytracing announcements off with their amazing real time demo Neon Noir.  Even more impressive, it was done using an AMD card without real-time raytracing support!  Unfortunately, the demo was never released to the public.


Unity

Unity showed an impressive demo Reality vs Illusion which intercuts real world footage and real time raytraced BWM footage that is nearly impossible to discern the difference.  Unity’s technology is sadly several months from being available in a future HDRP release.


Unreal Engine

Unreal is the closest with their real time raytracing implementation, in fact it’s available now in Unreal Engine 4.22.  They also had a presentation in the form of the short movie Troll.


NVIDIA

NVIDIA also had a real time raytracing demonstration in the form of Project Sol, Part 3.  Their announcement may have been the most significant however, as they announced that DXR driver support will be shipping in April to older generation NVIDIA GPUs, such as the 1060/1070 and 1080 cards.

GameDev News


19. March 2019


Today at GDC 2019, Allegorthmic, recently acquired by Adobe, announced the open beta of Substance Alchemist to existing Substance customers.  Alchemist is a tool for authoring and managing materials and is part of the Substance subscription.

Details from the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – March 19, 2019 – Today at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019, the Substance team announces the start of the Project Substance Alchemist open beta. Effective immediately, all current Substance subscribers have exclusive and unrestricted access to the latest Substance material tool, uniting the Substance ecosystem like never before. Artists now have a SubstanceAlchemistplayground for creating and augmenting entire libraries of materials with ease.

Project Substance Alchemist advances the art of making and managing 3D materials through instinctive simplicity. Creators can rely on a powerful, streamlined workflow and an intuitive user interface. It’s simple, fast and it uses some of the most advanced technology around. By hiding its complexity through easy-to-use tools like parametric sliders and filters, Project Substance Alchemist brings efficiency to artists and designers, without giving up any of the power that helps them thrive.

Starting today, artists are able to leverage the power of a tool that can quickly be adapted to meet their needs. Users can access materials in several ways, including downloading materials directly from Substance Source, find materials offered up by the Substance community or even upload real-world photographs. From there, they can quickly elaborate their own libraries of materials. For instance, a cobblestoned street can be honed to an artist’s exact specifications within Project Substance Alchemist, whether they desire a brand-new look with polished surfaces, or a broken down feel with moss and damaged tiles.

Project Substance Alchemist puts powerful tools into the hands of artists who work with scans, with quick and reliable tiling, as well as an AI-powered delighter. Trained with thousands of images, the delighter can instantly balance the shadows and light tied to photos and scans, so that lighting remains even and consistent. Designers who need to iterate rapidly on a material can also enjoy a vast array of variations with the instant creation of material collections based on a single image or a moodboard. Project Substance Alchemist can analyze the artist’s material and automatically generate suggestions on colors and textures, ensuring compatibility and additional creation options.

Although it is designed as a standalone tool, Project Substance Alchemist is deeply tied to the existing Substance ecosystem. Artists can search through their Substance Source downloads, import materials and filters made in Substance Designer or swap creations through the Substance Share artist exchange. Imported materials can then be added to the artist's personal library for later use, or applied to an asset in Substance Painter. Thanks to the standardization of the Substance format, materials created in Substance Alchemist can be exported and used in every major 3D tool, including Unreal Engine, Unity, 3ds Max, Maya and many others.

Based on years of industry-leading research, and built with the help and feedback of the Substance community, Project Substance Alchemist will continue to develop in order to adapt to the evolving needs of artists and designers. The open beta is available now. For a video walkthrough, click here.

Pricing/Availability

Project Substance Alchemist is available at no cost to current Substance subscribers. Subscriptions come in Indie or Pro plans, priced at $19.90/month and $99.90/month respectively. Enterprise and education pricing is available upon request. Students and teachers can request a license at no cost.

In addition to the release of Alchemist, Allegorithmic also did a blog post on the status of their acquisition by Adobe and the effects it will have on future licensing terms.  The key details are as follows:

Since the acquisition, we’ve heard lots of questions from our community about licensing and pricing. Our goal with licensing and pricing has always been to be fair to everyone and we’re continuing that philosophy. We're planning to introduce new offerings late this year, but until then, our licensing and pricing structure will not change.

These future offerings will be primarily subscription-based, but we will continue to offer indie perpetual licenses. We believe that when the content and services offered in a subscription package evolve and improve at a steady pace, the subscription model is the best way for us to innovate fast, continuously improve your tools, and bring you more value.

I know perpetual licensing is important, especially in the indie space, so this should be taken as good news.  That said, it’s Adobe calling the shots now so who knows what will ultimately happen.

GameDev News


14. March 2019


SideFX Software have just released Houdini 17.5.  You can learn more about the 17.5 release here with more detailed release notes being available here.  Houdini is such a unique procedural 3D software package that the release notes will make little sense, unless you are already familiar with Houdini.  Houdini is “built from the ground up to be a procedural system that empowers artists to work freely, create multiple iterations and rapidly share workflows with colleagues.”  Traditionally known for special effects work, Houdini is becoming more and more commonly used in game development.  In fact, they ship a runtime version, Houdini Engine, that enables you to bring their procedural approach directly into game engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity.

Perhaps more importantly, Houdini is also now available in the much cheaper Houdini Indie version (also on Steam), bringing Houdini within the price range of indie developers, so long as they make less that $100,000USD per year.  They also have the non-commercial but completely free Houdini Apprentice for people looking to learn or evaluate Houdini.  To go along with Apprentice they also have tons of free learning resources to get you started.  Be forewarned though, Houdini is a very unique application with a very harsh learning curve!

For a better idea of Houdini’s game related capabilities, be certain to check out their games reel and details available here.

Art GameDev News


14. March 2019


The Esenthel engine, previously previewed in this video, have moved from a license based business model to a donation supported one.   Additionally the source code has been released and is available on GitHub.  The source code is not under a recognized FOSS license, instead releasing under a proprietary one with one particularly poisonous condition:

Esenthel Engine code/algorithms/designs may NOT be used for development/improvement of other Game Engines.
You may NOT browse Esenthel Engine source code if you work on improving other Game Engines, in that case
you may only compile it with the included tool and work with the compiled binary version of Esenthel Engine.

If you are working on or contribute to a game engine then you want to stay far away from this source code! Other than this clause, the license is fairly liberal and allows you to use Esenthel freely and without requiring a splash screen or watermark.

The key features of the Esenthel engine include:
  • Very Easy to Use
  • Advanced Graphics and Physics
  • High Performance
  • Low Memory Usage
  • Unlimited Sized Worlds
  • Collaborative Development
  • Auto Publishing
  • 100+ Tutorials and 90+ Documentation Pages Included
  • Esenthel Store to sell your own Items
  • Frequent Updates
  • Rock Solid - Zero Bug Tolerance
  • Free!

Essenthel can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Linux here.

 

GameDev News


8. March 2019


Diligent Graphics just released Diligent Engine 2.4b.  Diligent Engine is a cross platform open source rendering framework that abstracts away the details of the underlying OpenGL, Direct3D 11/12 and Vulkan renderers.  The 2.4b release brings the following major new features:

  • Added cmake options to disable specific back-ends and glslang
  • Improved engine support of GLES3.0 devices
  • Added new module – DiligentFX, a high-level rendering framework
    • Reworked light scattering post-processing effect to be ready-to-use component

Diligent Engine is available on GitHub under the Apache 2 open source license.  In terms of why you would choose Diligent Engine over other cross platform graphics libraries, here the advantages the framework offers:

  • Better abstractions (such as one monolithic pipeline state object vs numerous fine-grain states) that map directly to next-generation APIs and reduce run-time overhead
  • Explicit control of resource state transitions.
  • Efficient shader resource binding model that takes advantage of descriptor tables in Direct3D12 and descriptor sets in Vulkan.
  • Multithreaded command list recording.
  • HLSL (VS, PS, GS, DS, HS, CS) as common shading language on all platforms and back-ends.
  • Vulkan back-end.

To learn more about Diligent Engine, in addition to getting started with Diligent Engine, watch the video below.  To learn about other cross platform rendering frameworks, check here.

GameDev News


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