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Unreal Engine 4 and Epic's 'responsibility' to push next-gen consoles

by Alice O'Connor, May 21, 2012 6:45am PDT

While corners of the Internet speculate and bicker about the hardware powering the next console generation, Epic last week lifted the wraps off the engine that'll surely power plenty of next-gen games, Unreal Engine 4. Blowing its own trumpet a little, Epic spoke of its "responsibility" to make sure the next consoles from Microsoft and Sony can support the sort of prettiness it's putting out.

Epic ran the Unreal Engine 4 demo on a PC with a single Nvidia Kepler-based GTX 680 graphics card, Wired reports. PC hardware constantly marches onwards and upwards, but consoles' generational nature means Epic's concerned about them having enough muscle.

"There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation," Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski said. "It is up to Epic ... to motivate Sony and Microsoft not to phone in what these next consoles are going to be. It needs to be a quantum leap. They need to damn near render Avatar in real time, because I want it and gamers want it--even if they don't know they want it."

Wired reports the UE4 demo showed off improved tech in areas including lighting, terrain, and particles. It'll be able to render thousands, even millions, of lit particles, which Cliffy says "are going to be whored by developers." Lighting is now fully real-time, complete with reflections ('bounces') from one surface to another.

The real-time lighting will make it easier for developers to light levels and save time, while version 2 of UE's scripting language Kismet will give level designers more power to play around with things without running to a programmer to lay down some code.

The grand gamer-facing unveiling of Unreal Engine 4 will come at E3 in June.




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