Unreal Engine 4
The Unreal Engine is considered to be the most used toolset and game engine (look at all of the games that use it!), and often joked about as having too much brown and black. It is also scalable to be used on the lowest performing computers as well as the highest specc’ed PCs on the market – this makes it invaluable to game manufacturers and developers as it means that the potential user base of their games is enormous.
Not one to sit on their ass and rake in the dough, Unreal Engine creators Epic Games are ready to start showcasing their next line of product, which features amazing video clarity, new particle effects that make your eyes dart around the screen, and a new “world lighting” system that essentially removes the task of creating lighting engineering and modeling things around light sources.
Check out the particle effects in this Unreal Engine 4 tech demo:
It should be ready to go in terms of development shortly, and Microsoft, NVIDIA, Intel, and ATI have all been part of the discussion as Epic formulates their new engine enhancements. Plus, it is touted as one of the few engines that will be readily available to develop and deploy onto a huge amount of platforms, including consoles, handhelds, PCs, tablets, and even cell phones!
On the official Unreal Engine website, they highlight some great new features to enhance and speed up game development time:
- Make updates directly in game without ever pausing gameplay with Hot Reload. This tool allows you to quickly find and edit C++ code and see those changes reflected immediately in game.
- After an update is made, Instant Game Preview gives you the power to spawn a player and play anywhere in game without needing to wait for files to save.
- The all-new Code View saves you time by allowing you to browse C++ functions directly on game characters then jump straight to source code lines in Visual Studio to make changes.
- Live Kismet Debugging enables you to interactively visualize the flow of gameplay code while testing your game.
- Now you can quickly debug and update gameplay behaviors when they happen through the new Simulate Mode. This tool lets you run game logic in the editor viewport and inspect AI as the game characters perform actions.
- View your game in full-screen within the editing environment with the Immersive View tool. This allows programmers to complete iterations on gameplay changes without added UI clutter or distractions.
- Possess/Eject Features allow at any time while playing in editor to easily “eject” from the player and take control of the camera to inspect specific in-game objects that may not be behaving properly
In case you were interested in the more technical details of their engine, here is a walkthrough with Alan Willard, Sr. Technical Artist for Epic Games:
Luminous Studio Engine
The Luminous Studio engine is currently in development internally at Square Enix (makers of Final Fantasy), and if their tech demo is any indication, it’s going to be one hell of an engine. With great attention to character and model fidelity, the graphical abilities of the Luminous Studio engine are currently at par with what the Unreal Engine 4 aims to deliver.
While maybe not on the same level when it comes to the toolset offerings and user interface of the development kit, Square Enix is still adept at making excellent games and kits. Their demos so far have proven that Square is more than capable at delivering fancy pixel crunching.
As Square Enix puts it:
Thanks to the Luminous Studio engine, the demo video can depict high quality “real time computer graphics” (*1) at the same level as “pre-rendered computer graphics” (*2). The fine details of the characters, who express life-like humanity, are showcased through their rich facial expressions, subtleties of their pupils and hair, and their brilliantly flowing garments. The characters, along with the vibrant monsters, transport the viewer into the world created by the Luminous Studio engine.
They certainly learned a lot from creating an engine for Final Fantasy XIII, and it looks like they are applying their gained knowledge into a new product that they will hopefully be able to license out to other RPG manufacturers. They were fairly successfully with their release of the Crystal Tools Engine, though there were some gamers that were turned off by it.
Here is the Final Fantasy Luminous Studio Engine tech demo, titled Agni’s Philosophy: