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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!

General


22. September 2011

 

 

Good news today for Mac users that were interested in developing with the Unreal Unreal Development KitDevelopment Kit (UDK, also known as the game engine used by people who didn’t select Unity ), there is now Mac OS support for UDK developed games.  For UDK developers that is pretty cool news, as it increases your customer base by an easy 5 – 10%.  That said, in Steam surveys, the average Mac GPU is still pretty lousy, but should be getting better with the more recent Mac releases.

 

As for other features in this update:

  • A new foliage editor
  • Dual Monitor support for iPad games via HDMI or Airplay
  • Decals now scale correctly when placed
  • Added texture import option for inverting green channel
  • Slightly increased the size limit of files when importing to 4096x4096x32
  • New button can remove all notifies from an anim set
  • Added editor comments for AnimNotifies
  • UnrealConsole now has text color coding for warnings and errors
  • New ambient sound spline actors emit sounds along paths for adding noise to rivers, roadways, etc. with a single actor

But the big news is easily the addition of Mac support.

 

Full release notes here or jump right in and download here.  Granted, its 1.5GB download and their servers must be taking a bit of a kicking as it is coming down extremely slowly for me.

 

So, if you didn’t choose Unity, this is all good news for you.  If you, like myself, did choose Unity, well…  yeah, nothing to see here.

General


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