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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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Major Unreal Engine 3 Upgrades Shown at GDC 2009

by Rainier on March 16, 2009 @ 8:51 a.m. PDT

Epic Games will demonstrate the latest Unreal Engine 3 engine features alongside free advanced training sessions for existing users, the introduction of an integrated MMOG back-end environment, and closed door presentations for its prospective customers, evaluators, licensees, members of its Integrated Partners Program and the media.

Find out why top developers and publishers use Unreal Engine 3 to power their games for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Epic will showcase the most recent upgrades to the Unreal Engine in a private theater within its expo suite, ES 144, located in the West Hall.

Unreal Lightmass, a new global illumination solver, will be shown for the first time at GDC. Unreal Lightmass produces high-quality static lighting with next-generation effects, such as: soft shadows with accurate penumbrae; diffuse and specular interreflection; and color bleeding. Furthermore, Epic's new Swarm distributed computing framework enables lighting to be generated up to 10 times faster. The new lighting features are bundled with Unreal Engine 3 and benefit all current and future engine licensees. Like all of Epic’s engine features, Unreal Lightmass is available at no additional cost to licensees.

A new content browser and search engine, powered by a back-end database, enables designers to find game assets near-instantly among large amounts of source content. With thumbnail previews, support for content tagging, and asset collection management, the Unreal Content Browser frees artists from the need to manually open files to look for game assets.

“We looked at how easy it was to search the net with Google, and find photos on Flickr, and redesigned Unreal Engine 3's content searching and tagging along those lines,” said Tim Sweeney, chief executive officer and technical director of Epic Games. “The result was a productivity boon for artists and designers.”

To power the online community features of Gears of War 2, Epic developed a scalable statistics and data management back end. Now available as a general feature of Unreal Engine 3, the Unreal Master Control Program (MCP) is a high-reliability online service architecture supporting announcements, settings management, online population tracking, and data collection for hardware, profile, and game stats. Unreal MCP includes a set of tools for visualizing gameplay, including such features as heat maps displaying regions of player activity within a level.

"Battle-tested by over 6.8 million hours of online player time, Unreal MCP seriously ups the ante for game engines," says Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. "The online infrastructure required for a modern, triple-A game represents man-years of work, and all of this is now included in Unreal Engine 3."

In addition, Epic Games China will share details regarding its integrated, massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) backend solution for Unreal Engine 3.

Licensees of the Unreal Engine can take advantage of free training sessions on topics including game optimization, content and programming tips, rendering, animation, physics and visuals, as well as workflows for the Unreal Editor, level design and tools at GDC.

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