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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


8. August 2012

I just finished publishing the GameFromScratch 3D Engine round-up.  This is a guide to the top game engines in use by game developers today, that are available to be licensed. There are a total of 20 engines on the list, and for each one it includes the platforms it runs on, the platforms it can target, the price, sample games, the books available if any, key websites ( generally the forum and wiki or documentation pages if available ), programming language supported and example games published with the engine.

 

I have a similar round-up in the works for 2D game engines, which I hope to publish shortly.  Additionally, I have already published a similar document for HTML5 game engines.  I made the horrific mistake of authoring the guide in Word ( what was I thinking!??! ), and as a result the fonts are a little wonky in Chrome.  Hopefully I can find and kill this annoying trait.

 

If I made any mistakes, or I missed a key engine, please let me know.  Hopefully you find the 3D engine round-up useful!

News Programming Design


2. August 2012

 

I don’t often get excited about unreleased products, and up until this point I have never gotten all too excited about a Kickstarter project ( although I really look forward to a possible Planescape sequel! ), especially a hardware package that sounds too good to be true.  “The first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games” is pretty ambitious.

 

Then I read the quotes:

 

  • "What I've got now, is, I honestly think the best VR demo probably the world has ever seen"
    John Carmack, id Software

  • "Needless to say, I'm a believer... We're extremely excited here at Epic Games to get the Unreal Engine integrated with Oculus"
    Cliff
    Bleszinski, Design Director Epic Games

  • "I think this will be the coolest way to experience games in the future. Simply that... that big"
    David Helgason, CEO Unity

  • "I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to program with it and see what we can do.”
    Michael Abrash, Valve

  • "It looks incredibly exciting, if anybody’s going to tackle this set of hard problems, we think that Palmer’s going to do it. So we’d strongly encourage you to support this Kickstarter.”
    Gabe Newell, President and Owner Valve

When it come to video game name dropping… that’s a pretty impressive list!

 

Now about the device itself:

occrift

It’s called The Oculus Rift  ( ugh ) and its tentative specs are:

Head tracking: 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ultra low latency
Field of view: 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal
Resolution: 1280x800 (640x800 per eye)
Inputs: DVI/HDMI and USB
Platforms: PC and mobile
Weight: ~0.22 kilograms

 

Perhaps most important, and the thing that got my interest, it’s coming out of the box with Unity and Unreal engine support.  That could move it from being a fringe curiosity, to being a device with an actual future.

 

Ultimately this all came about from their kickstarter campaign, attempting to raise 250,000$ to make developer kit’s available.  Well, that goal is WAYYYYYYY passed, and as of writing they are pushing the million dollar mark. A pledge of 275$ or more got you early access to the device and the SDK, although they are sold out, so I don’t know why I bothered mentioning that! Smile 

 

That said, pledging 300$ or more gets you:

EARLY RIFT DEVELOPER KIT + DOOM 3 BFG: Try the Rift for yourself now! You'll receive a developer kit, perfect for the established or indie game developer interested in working with the Rift immediately. This also includes a copy of Doom 3 BFG and full access to our Developer Center for our SDK, docs, samples, and engine integrations! (Please add $30 for international shipping)

 

300$ really isn’t that much, well within reach of many indie developers.  Of course, it’s a pretty big long shot, although if you are working with Unreal or Unity in the first place, the Oculus Rift really isn’t that much of a risk.

 

What do you think?  Is this the future of gaming?  There were some rumours that next Xbox was going the VR route.  I also seem to recall reading Steam had something in the works too ( ironically, Michael Abrash, who was quoted, was the person I believed was leading the effort).  Personally though, it makes me sick… literally.  I have tried a couple of VR rigs in the past, and beyond a few minutes play I start getting dizzy.  Let’s hope that doesn’t hold true with the Oculus Rift. Oh, and that’s a terrible name.

News


26. July 2012

Unreal have just release the July update of the popular Unreal Engine.

New features include:

  • Perforce version control integration
  • Normal map workflow improvements
  • Numerous Unreal Editor refinements including
  • Nvidia Open Automate integration

 

Mobile improvements including

  • DrawTimer for indicating busy status
  • Better save game encryption
  • Better ipod background music support
  • SMS and Mail dialog support
  • Better memory management on lower end devices

 

Over all, if you aren't all that excited about Perforce or Open Automate, it's a pretty unremarkable release.

 

You can download it here and read the complete release notes here. You can read about a rabbit with a pancake on its head here.

News


30. November 2011

 

 

Epic has released a new version of their UDK.  Updated features include:Unreal Development Kit

 

Upgraded to Scaleform 4

 

 

Unreal Landscape and Foliage

  • Landscape flatten tool tool is enhanced with a flatten to slope option
  • New Clay Brush makes sculpting of landscape vertex data much quicker and easier
  • Foliage scale axis locking allows for variable Z scale but uniform XY scale, plus z-offset settings
  • New reimport Heightmap / layer button for each layer
    • Updated Unreal Landscape documentation with info on new layer nodes
    • Updated foliage documentation with info on new features
    • Foliage now follows base component on copy/paste/move/rotate/move-to-level
    • Much improved brush painting behavior for both vertex and layers in regular (non-clay) mode. Repainting the same area no longer causes artifacts
    • Changed the regular paint tool behavior so that painting over the same area requires multiple brush strokes.  The functionality is now consistent with Zbrush and prevent artifacts

     

    Editor

    • You can now export skeletal meshes and animations from the editor, enabling bi-directional cinematic workflow
    • Added the ability to adjust sound class volume levels from a matinee track
    • The content browser's 'Packages' view now returns to previously active view (hierarchical or flattened) when filter is cleared
    • Added support for turning off startup movies and toggling cinematic mode for matinee movie captures

     

    iOS

    • High level Twitter UnrealScript-accessible support has been added
      • You can now show the iOS 5 Tweet UI and optionally attach a local .png image and/or a URL, making use of the single-sign-on Twitter account(s) in iOS 5
      • You can also submit a generic Twitter request (i.e., get the local user’s followers)
      • Implemented for iOS 5
    • Added ADPCM sound encoding support

     

    Mac OS X feature parity work

    • Additions and upgrades
      • Added support for "Maximize" button
      • Added full support for vertex texture fetch
      • Minor PhysX library update, addressing some rare crashes, and adding "quickload" extension support
      • Support for loops and secondary color attribute during shader generation
    • Fixed issues
      • Instanced drawing now on full parity with PC
      • Light shafts now render properly and have full visual parity with PC
      • Full-screen rendering and MSAA
      • Inconsistent lens flares compared to PC
      • Inconsistencies with anisotropic filtering between PC and Mac
      • Shadows from spotlight on dynamic / skeletal meshes

 

A fairly significant release, especially if you are on Mac OS X.  It is a 1.5 GB download.  You can get it here.

 

 

Of course, now that you read all of that, is it a bad time to mention they have a video version highlighting all the recent changes? Winking smile

 


 

 

I really have to look into it a bit closer.  I downloaded and installed the last release, played around a little bit with the default level in the editor ( while watching my computer cry under the strain ) but never got into it much deeper than that. 

 

It simply staggers my mind the wealth of affordable and professional tools available these days.  I still recall not that long ago where everyone had to create everything themselves and the first available engines cost in the hundred of thousands of dollars to license. Amazing how much things have changed!

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