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Unreal Engine 4 at GDC

Epic Games has already indicated it will unveil the Unreal Engine 4 to the public later this year, and now we have word that they will be showing it off behind closed doors at the Game Developers Conference next week in San Francisco, CA. Don't expect to hear much about this at the time, however, as word is non-disclosure agreements must be signed to view this presentation.

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38. Re: Unreal Engine 4 at GDC Feb 28, 2012, 18:28 Ruffiana
eRe4s3r wrote on Feb 28, 2012, 05:54:
Actually, you don't need more or better artists, you just need better tools. Sculpting is still a terrible chore and normal map generation for sculpts requires complex unwrapping and messing around.

What we actually need is procedural shaders for primary materials, like wood, stone, plants, ground material (sand/stone/etc.) as well as any kind of metal compound with paint simulation. A dirt simulation, AO in-engine baking etc.

The solution to better graphics is not more artists or more art. It is quite literally to automate stupid processes in art creation. Something that requires infinitely more GPU power than we have now, procedural stuff is still at least 20 times slower than baked stuff, that is why EPIC said that. The future is not better shaders, the future is that you do not need to design shaders anymore, you set the material type, paint type, dirt/wear is simulated according to model and you are done. At that point, you can do high-poly objects outside of sculpting, and once sculpting, baking, unwrapping is gone from art-work flow you can finally see some decent graphics in indy games, and superb graphics (photo-real, actually) in AAA games.

Procedural shaders are still years away though. Someone would have to do some insane R&D on that, but once that is done the possibilities are endless.

Well yes, and no. Definitely at a bottleneck in terms of content creation requirements for modern graphic rendering techniques...but if that bottleneck were removed tomorrow with the wave of a magic wand, the thing that's holding games back is a proper respect for art direction and technical art direction.

The reason so many games look the same is because they're based on the same sources of inspiration, share very similiar art direction, and mostly rely on the same shaders mined out of the same white-papers. Developers with the technical capability to pioneer and develop new ways of rendering triangles and pixels are few and far between...and they tend to get copied once they publish a white-paper for GDC or Siggraph.

We'll always be developing tricks for simulating the way real-world materials look in a 3D engine because it's just flat out faster than raytracing everything. It will always be faster--performance wise--to fake something than brute-force your way through it.

Otherwise I agree, the tools and pipelines have a long way to go. Not just modeling though. Rigging, skinning, animation, lighting, environments, scripting, every bit of content is struggling with implementing in increasingly complex system.
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