The new Unreal Tournament keeps surprising me with how far along in development it is. Recently, for instance, we saw concept art that was, in fact, a fully rendered level. Now, we get to see the game's team deathmatch mode being played. No big deal, right? We've seen nu-UT deathmatch before. Only this time, the team say they've got all weapons working in the game.
Here's some "working concept art" from the upcoming Unreal Tournament. And it does look like concept art, thanks to the clean environments and stylised lighting. In fact, this is an early look at a work-in-progress level, and Epic are taking you on a flythrough tour in their new development video.
Want a new look at Fortnite, Epic's free-to-play co-op shooter? Wait, you did remember that Epic were making a free-to-play co-op shooter, right? Admittedly it was first announced a long time ago, but the game has recently re-emerged from its years-long silence with the renewed promise of an upcoming alpha.
Thursday was stuffed with good news for FPS players. We announced Killing Floor 2, learned that Unreal Tournament was being thawed after seven years of hibernation, and, bonus some guy taught us how to Counter-Strike with a steering wheel.
True to its name, Game Informer has informed us about a game with an exclusive feature on Epic's cooperative build n' kill, Fortnite, in its latest issue. Our friends at CVG have scoured the story for details, and there are some surprises.
Where is Unreal Engine 4? Propping up a bunch of unannounced next-gen console games, apparently. Epic's Europe Manager, Mike Gamble told Edge. “There haven’t really been any announcements of the games still under wraps [that use UE4] – as soon as they start going live, then you’ll see suddenly see that we’re everywhere again,” he said. “You’ll be thoroughly sick of us!”
He reckons the big leap from cross-gen games to games developed to the higher min-spec of the new consoles will around Christmas, which will mean better looking games on PC as well. Will the explosions be quite as voluminous as those in the Unreal Engine 4 tech demo? Watch, as two people from Epic go inside the explosion to take cross-section slices, like an MRI scanner filleting a glowing orange brain.
Make Something Unreal Live is Epic Games’ yearly talent competition, challenging European students to cobble together a prototype using the free Unreal Development Kit. Victorious entrants get more than a pat on the head: this year, they scoop an Unreal Engine 4 licence, among other prizes yet to be announced. Needless to say, competition is fierce. I popped along to the final heat of the competition yesterday at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, in which four student teams are currently ensconced, scrabbling to put the finishing touches to their games before judging begins on Sunday.
This is more like it! All this messing about with old men's faces has been great and all, but it's not really what games are about. Games are about grey corridors, faintly futuristic military hardware and hovering robots that go "WOOWOOWOOWOOooooooooooh" as they fly by. Epic have given us all of that and more with their Unreal Engine 4 tech demo, Infiltrator, unveiled at GDC.
Firefox creators Mozilla have teamed up with Epic to bring the Unreal Engine to web browsers. Announced at GDC, the two companies aren't just looking to give casual and indie developers a web-enabled Unity alternative - their ultimate plan is to make it a viable platform for AAA games. It's going to be a right pain if you accidentally close the tab while waiting for Bioshock Infinite's 17GB of data to load.
Unreal’s most enduring legacy has been its engine tech. It’s a shame. Not because Epic’s awesomely powerful development toolkit is undeserving of its industry-dominating status, but because it now overshadows one of the most spectacular and evocative singleplayer experiences in gaming history. Unreal needs to come back, and it needs to use Epic’s ever-increasing engine grunt to deliver a shooter as exotic and expansive as was suggested by the original.
But to truly deliver on that vision, it might have to make a departure from the kinds of shooters that Epic now tends to make: linear cinematic shooters. Unreal suggested a future not of tightly controlled set-pieces and cut-scenes, but of sprawling landscapes, complex histories and interesting alliances. An Unreal of today - at least, the awesome Unreal I can imagine - would have to be more open, perhaps even an open world, and allow for a richer interaction with its inhabitants than was possible by waggling an Eightball at them. I want Unreal by way of Far Cry 3 with a little bit of The Witcher on the side. I don’t ask for much. Well, okay, I do - but surely no more than Epic’s deep, deep pockets can fund.
Well this is awful. You might recall that, around eight months ago, Epic Games snapped up many of the developers left jobless after the collapse of Kingdom of Amalar's 38 Studios and Big Huge Games. This new company, Impossible Studios, seemed like the light at the end of a particularly dark tunnel - but it's just a few months later and the developers have been fired all over again. Epic founder Tim Sweeney made the announcement on their community site, stating that "ultimately it wasn't working out for Epic."
Seattle-based developer Zombie Studios - the folk responsible for Blacklight: Retribution - has licensed Unreal Engine 4 for a forthcoming PC-only "psychological thriller game". Due in the second quarter of 2013, no other details are confirmed on the as-yet-untitled game, though we do know that it will be thrillingly psychological.
As we noted yesterday, Epic veteran Cliff Bleszinski has left Epic, but you don't last that long in this business without learning to psychically project yourself into several places at once. Even as Cliff walked into the sunset with a bundle of Lancer Assault rifles slung over his shoulder, his ghost was over in the Game Informer offices talking up Unreal Engine 4.
"When you ask me what next generation is, it's really the sum of all its parts," says ghost Bleszinski, lounging on the couch like psychic projection ain't no thing. Advanced particle effects, destructibility, light refraction and shinier shininess will bring the next generation closer to visual realism, but Bleszinski highlights Unreal Engine 4's Kismet system as an especially big step forward for developers.
The next Make Something Unreal Live competition kicks off this month. Are you a team of "six to 10 members consisting off current full-time university students?" Then you might want to consider signing up here and then submitting a pitch here before the November 2 deadline. If you're successful you'll become part of a 12 team shortlist tasked with building a game based on "Mendelian inheritance" before judgement day at the Gadget Show next April.
Producer Tanya Jessen has been chatting to RPS about Epic's plans for the Unreal Engine 4 powered co-op survival game, Fortnite. Jessen reveals that Epic are thinking about making an online connection a requirement. “It’s gonna be really dependent on gameplay, and it’s also dependent on platform – the method of getting updates and stuff like that. So I can’t say for sure today one way or another [whether or not we're going to use it],” Jessen says.
“Fortnite is a game that’s being developed as a co-op experience primarily,” she adds. “That’s our number one focus. This is a game you’re gonna want to play with your friends, and it’s most fun with your friends. So whatever we decide to do there is gonna be more relevant to the most fun experience you can have with your friends [than it is to piracy]. But I can’t nail that down today.”
Here it is, part of the Unreal Engine 4 tech demo shown behind closed doors earlier this year, from GameTrailers. Unreal Engine 4 wasn't powering the new games on show at E3, so it'll be a while before we start seeing games using this tech, but it gives us a good look at the levels of spitshine we can look forward to in the coming years.
There's also another video that rolls lots of the techniques shown above into one sequence. It shows an armoured demon waking up and walking outside for a bit of a stretch. He takes his time about it though, so we can get a look at the new effects that Epic's next generation engine has to offer. Take a look.
Some of next year's Frostbite 2-powered games will require a 64-bit OS to run. That's according to a tweet from DICE Frostbite rendering architect, Johan Andersson, picked up by Eurogamer. Battlefield 3 was the first game released to be powered by the new engine, but it's since turned up in other EA titles like Need for Speed: The Run and Medal of Honor. It'll be interesting to learn which 2013 games will also be carrying the new tech.
"If you are on 32-bit, great opportunity to upgrade to Windows 8," says Andersson. Windows 7 64-bit should work just as well. A 64-bit OS lets systems make of more than 2GB of RAM, so it's a useful upgrade whether or not you're planning on playing any EA games next year. It's inconvenient, maybe, but shows that graphics tech is levelling up. Recently, Epic released the first screenshots of Unreal Engine 4. 2013 could be a big year for graphics engines.
Epic have been showing off the next iteration of the Unreal Engine to developers for a short while. Wired got a look recently, and have posted their impressions alongside a few new shots showing a fiery demon, some busy wireframe scenes and a lovely vista.
Epic haven't released the demo video yet, but Wired describe plenty of new tech, including an advanced particle rendering systems and a lighting program that models the way light bounces around rooms entirely in real time, bypassing the typical level design techniques that "bake" light and shadow into the textures of a scene. The days of designers hand-placing individual light shafts in a scene may well be over.
Epic will be showing off Unreal Engine 4 behind closed doors at GDC next week. This time last year Epic showed off the impressive Unreal Engine Samaritan demo above. That demo was running on a souped up super-PC running several GTX580s in parallel, so we're unlikely to see that sort of carefully choreographed loveliness running in the next engine. Still, given how much has been gradually added to Unreal 3 over the years, the new build must be making quite a leap to justify sticking a 4 on the end.
SOPA protests: Minecraft, Firefall, Reddit going dark next week. Nvidia, Runic and Frozenbyte come out against the bill
Earlier this week Reddit announced that they would be switching off for twelve hours next Wednesday from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC) in protest at the Stop Online Piracy Act. Today Red 5 Studios and Mojang have announced that they will also go dark and Nvidia, Runic and Frozenbyte have voiced their opposition to the bill.
Red 5 CEO, Mark Kern confirmed to Shacknews that "Red 5 Studios is joining Reddit in protest of SOPA by going dark on January 18. We will be taking down our website, community site and Firefall beta for 24 hours on the 18th."
"We are extremely disappointed in this misguided legislation. We are also ashamed of the ESA for supporting a bill which is clearly not in the best interests of gamers or the game industry. This bill, and it's sister bill, Protect IP, will shut down live streaming, shout casting, user generated content and have a chilling effect on game innovation and social media," he added.
On Twitter, Notch has mentioned that Minecraft.net and Mojang.com will go down next Wednesday in protest.