Epic recently announced that they're making a new free Unreal Tournament game in collaboration with the UT community. This is good news. We like Unreal Tournament. Only yesterday, Andy wrote about his love for Facing Worlds. The monstrous flak cannon took the top spot in our roundup of gaming's greatest guns. With misty-eyed memories of frags gone by, we fired over some questions to Steve Polge, senior programmer and project lead on the new Unreal Tournament, to find out how this community collaboration thing will work.
Last week, we were excited to learn that Epic Games is developing a new Unreal Tournament. If you’re nostalgic for the first-person arena shooter series there are a few audible cues that will immediately transport you back to 1999. The announcer yelling “M-M-M-M-MONSTER KILL,” for example, or maybe the music track for the iconic Facing Worlds map. The composers of the latter, it seems, might return to the new Unreal Tournament.
It's been but a month since Epic unleashed the source code and toolset for its powerful Unreal Engine 4 to studios and individual subscribers alike, but major updates are already bolstering the engine's considerable capabilities. The big news in Epic's 4.1 update notes is full support for packaging games onto SteamOS and Linux platforms, a strong move catering to indie game-smiths and companies looking to unhook themselves from a reliance on Windows.
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.
Starcraft fans have it easy. Four official games or expansions, all of which were great. Command & Conquer's supporters may have access to more games, but that hasn't always been a good thing. Between free-to-play cancellations, web browser abominations, and even some lacklustre sequels, the series isn't what it used to be. Arguably C&C's first major misstep was over a decade ago, when Westwood wondered what would happen if they made a first-person spin-off. The answer was "it would make a bad game", and that game was called Renegade.
But where Westwood failed, modders want to triumph. Formerly an Unreal Tournament 3 mod project, Renegade X is a first and third-person standalone shooter that takes the C&C concept in what, from the release date announcement trailer, looks to be an exciting direction.
If I was nerdy enough to have a "favorite engine," it would probably be the Unreal Engine - not necessarily for its technical achievements (though you can't say it hasn't been pivotal in game development's innovation the past decade), but for its accessibility. The easy-breezy development kit has been especially kind to indies, and because of that, some brilliantly creative games have been built on the engine. Now Steam's flogging an Unreal Indie Bundle, and for $20, it's actually got a pretty admirable selection of games.
In this week's debate, Evan argues that Crysis 3 is the best-looking game in gaming, while Tyler isn't wooed by its tessellated vegetation and volumetric fog shadows. It's undeniably impressive tech, but does Crytek still wear the graphics crown?
IPKeys Technologies, creator of government-contracted military simulators, announced today that it has partnered with Epic to produce its next batch of tools. The use of Unreal Engine 3 should ensure that troops will be training in good looking virtual environments with excellently rendered bulging neck muscles, if IPKeys so chooses. More importantly, the engine has allowed them to include a very flexible mission editor that could open up new possibilities for PC gaming's hardcore milsim set.
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.
Epic Games, now purveyors of grunting masculinity, offal and chainsaws, once had a line of family-friendly shareware platformers and pinball titles. The reason we no longer think of them as the guys who made Jazz Jackrabbit is solely due to Unreal. It’s an overlooked great. A journey through an alien landscape with a sense of wonder, grandeur and mystery that almost no shooter has since achieved.
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.
VP of Epic, Mark Rein has been speaking to Eurogamer about the value of the PC as a cutting edge platform, saying that PCs are so far ahead that they are now setting the benchmark for the next console generation.
"Don't forget every game that's ultimately built is built on a PC. PCs are always going to be the tools through which all games get made," he said. "With the PC you can simulate the future – you can put enough hardware in a PC to show you what a future console will look like."