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Unreal 4 Details & Screenshots

The Imagination Engine: Why Next-Gen Video Games Will Rock Your World on Game-Life is a Wired.com article with a look at the Unreal 4 engine that includes a bunch of screenshots of Epic's next-generation tech in action. They also offer first-hand impressions of seeing a demo reel for the engine. Here's a bit:

In previous engines, one floating ember was enough to slow performance considerably; a shower of them was impossible. With Unreal Engine 4, there can be millions of such particles, as long as the hardware is potent enough to sustain them. Game developers overuse features of every new engine, because they are suddenly so easy to implement. In the original Unreal Engine, for example, the ability to render colored lighting led to a rash of games that employed the effect. The same may prove true for UE4′s particle effects, for better or worse. (“Mark my words,” Bleszinski says, “those particles are going to be whored by developers.”)

In one 153-second clip, the Epic team has packed all the show-off effects that have flummoxed developers for years: lens flare, bokeh distortion, lava flow, environmental destruction, fire, and detail in landscapes many miles away. Plus, it’s breathtakingly photo-realistic—or would be if demon knights were, you know, a real thing.

But that’s just the opening scene. After the cinematic, Epic’s senior technical artist, Alan Willard, starts playing the demo. At this point the view switches to that disembodied first-person perspective made so ubiquitous by shooting games like the Call of Duty franchise and Epic’s own influential Unreal titles. Willard maneuvers his avatar into a dimly lit room where a flashlight turns on, revealing eddies of dust—thousands of floating particles that were invisible until exposed. In another room, globes of various sizes float in the air. Willard rolls a light-emanating orb along the floor (think of a spherical flashlight that rolls like a bowling ball) and beams of light wobble and change direction, illuminating parts of the room and revealing the clusters of floating spheres with a kind of strobe effect. At first it all seems perfectly familiar: “Well, yeah,” you think, “that’s how they’d act in the real world. What’s the big deal?” But it is a big deal: This is stuff that videogames have never been able to simulate—the effects simply aren’t possible on today’s consoles.

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17. Re: Unreal 4 Details & Screenshots May 18, 2012, 00:36 Mordecai Walfish
 
Jerykk wrote on May 17, 2012, 23:06:
Apparently Epic had to convince MS to have 512MB of RAM instead of 256 for the X360. It's pretty ridiculous that console-makers have to be convinced to include things so obvious. In every console generation, memory is the number one obstacle for any developer. That's because every new console has about half as much memory as it should have. I suspect the next Xbox and PS4 only have 1 gig of memory right now, split between system and GPU. If MS/Sony were smart, they'd put at least 4 gigs of memory in there but I can almost guarantee that they won't.

As for the UE4 tech demo, I'm not terribly impressed by the screenshots. It looks good, no doubt, but tech demos are supposed to look amazing. The Samaritan tech demo they did a while back was far more impressive.


I disagree. Memory is cheap enough right now that they could easily justify putting 2-4 gigabytes in next gen systems, and console makers are, more vocally then ever, being petitioned by major (and minor) developers to support at least that much in the next generation.

Look at the price of 512MB ram when the 360 came out, that should give you an idea. (~Feb 2005 - Mushkin PC2700 CL2 512-MB = $101) Compound this with the fact that the 360 shipped with 8x the amount of ram of the original Xbox, and was released 4 years later. The successor to the 360 will be released ~8 years after the 360's original release date.

Both Moore's Law and the accelerated decreases in ram pricing lead me to believe we will see 4-8GB of ram in the next gen of consoles.
 
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