Unreal Engine 4, the latest version of Unreal game engine series from Epic Games, is ready to see the light of the day. For the uninitiated, a game engine is a development framework that makes a game development easy, cheap and convenient. The engines provide support for graphics, illumination, artificial intelligence, sound, animation and lots of other functionalities required to develop a game. Unreal Engine first appeared in 1998 with the game Unreal. Since then, it has gone through two more renditions before the latest Unreal Engine 4. The UE 4 is already being touted as the next generation of game development by many.
Epic Games have announced that the latest Unreal Engine is designed to power both PC and console games alike. In fact already a few videos have been showed off based on the PC and console platform. A demo called Infiltrator for the Playstation 4 was recently released which used a technology called Sparse Voxel Octree Global Illumination Lighting System. The resulting lighting effect was amazing for both. Of course the Playstation 4 still has not seen the light of the day and it is very possible that the demo was created using an early development kit. Once the PS 4 is out and developers get to explore the full potential of the console, things will only get better.
The Unreal 4 Engine uses a lighting technique called Static Global Illumination. This technique is used to make light reflect and bounce off of objects in the scenery and create much more realistic lighting effect. It is also less resource hungry than some other illumination techniques. It is quite possible that all future high end games will use this Global Illumination technique to render game graphics. Unfortunately, due to lack of hardware power, consoles are not able to support SGI as of now, but things may change in the future.
According to Epic Games and Unreal Engine developers, the engine will work seamlessly on both PCs consoles. They claimed that due to several changes in the architecture, porting games from PC to consoles and vice versa will be much easier than before. There are also claims of the Engine’s easy and complete scalability to HTML 5 based web development and also mobile development.
Goal of the Unreal Engine series has been, according to its developers, to bring the details and richness of games on par with the hardware that run them. According to Epic Games, most game developers fail to produce a game that uses the available graphics and other resources at a maximum level. The games created using Unreal 4 engine will squeeze out all the performances a hardware unit is capable of.
The Unreal game engines have given us several swashbuckling games like The Unreal Tournament 3, BioShock 1 and 2 and also the Gears of War series. The first Unreal Engine 4 game will be a PC game called Fortnite. So it is time to wait and find out just how much the expectations are going to be met by Unreal Engine 4.