Epic Games gave developers their first taste of the new Unreal Engine with a hefty early access launch earlier this week. With the engine's much-touted new "Nanite" feature bragging the ability to support "essentially infinite" detail, one indie decided to see how far that would go with a whole lotta good boys.
Nanite, effectively, lets developers import incredibly high-detail models (like high-res photogrammetry captures) with minimal performance impact. To put this to the test, Ionized Games lead developer Taylor Loper took a quick scan of his dog Ziggy snoozing on a bed, tossed it into the editor, and duplicated it 1,00 times.
This resulted in 10 billion polygons of dog—and arguably the best Unreal project ever made.
I was able to load a 10 million polygon photoscan of Ziggy in the @UnrealEngine. Using #UE5's Nanite meshes I was able to load 1000 instances of it at 60fps before I got bored. That's 10 billion polygons and it didn't even blink. It could have handled a lot more than this. pic.twitter.com/IMRnQIjFSxMay 26, 2021
True to Epic's word, Unreal barely broke a sweat rendering so many pooches. In a follow-up tweet, Loper writes: "This didn’t even begin to max out my system. Any 10 series card or newer is gonna see some mind blowing enhancements. I’ll try to run it on a gtx 750 when I get a chance but I suspect it will work."
Granted, one of the concerns with UE5 is that hyper-realistic scans will only bloat game storage requirements further—even Epic's fairly limited built-in demo comes in at a hefty 100GB. Loper does seem quietly optimistic, though, telling one commenter that there wasn't any reason why Unreal titles would be inherently bigger than games built on any other engine.
"This model was 1.5 Gb and the example project Epic released is ~100gigs. Games will certainly get bigger but that’s still primarily on the dev. I could have spent 10 more minutes and gotten this model down to 50-100Mb with no real quality loss or effort."
Having proven Unreal Engine 5 can handle infinitely-detailed canines, I've only one question left to ask. When can we expect a distressingly photorealistic sequel to (previous PC Gamer contributor) Xalavier Nelson Jr's An Airport For Aliens Currently Run By Dogs?