Unreal Engine 4 ready 'around 2014,' Epic says

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney talks about the current development of Unreal Engine 4, and the challenge of designing for multi-core systems.

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Epic's Unreal Engine 3 has served as the backbone for plenty of hits this generation, but now the company is investing more of its time in planning for the next generation with Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says most of his day is spent on research for the next generation, and the company is currently attempting to tackle the challenges that more advanced systems will bring.

"I spend about 60 percent of my time every day doing research work that's aimed at our next generation engine and the next generation of consoles," Sweeney told IGN. "This is technology that won't see the light of day until probably around 2014, but focusing on that horizon enables me to do some really cool things that just aren't practical today, but soon will be." He says the fun of this project is "exploring areas of the technology nobody else is really yet contemplating because they're still a few years away from practicality."

Of course, more power means planning for how to use that power. "The big challenge that's going to be coming up in the next decade is scaling up to tons of CPU cores," Sweeney said. He says Unreal Engine 3 tends to divide the CPU's work between two cores. "But once you have 20 cores, you can't easily say this one is going to be for animation and this one is going to be for details on the face of the character, because all these parameters change dynamically as different things come on screen and load as you shift from scene to scene."

Sweeney expects the next ten years to be driven by the slow march toward movie-quality visuals, and improved "simulation" aspects like more realistic enemy behavior. The next generation has stalled, but it's most certainly on the way. Epic's UE3 has been widely adopted this generation, so it's smart business strategy to prepare for the impending new cycle.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    September 27, 2011 8:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Unreal Engine 4 ready 'around 2014,' Epic says.

    Epic CEO Tim Sweeney talks about the current development of Unreal Engine 4, and the challenge of designing for multi-core systems.

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      September 27, 2011 8:13 AM

      Awesome news I can not wait to see version 4, as well I can not wait to see the next consoles its going to be crazy. Not to mention by 2014 the PC titles should be insane as well.

      2014 another gaming golden year I can see it now, it will rule, my gut is also thinking that the next consoles will have probably at least 20 cores, that would be sweet and if they where actually consumed.

      Time will tell, Unreal Engine is very good I am sure 4 will blow us away.

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      September 27, 2011 8:14 AM

      Translation: Xbox 720 release date: 2014

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        September 27, 2011 8:29 AM

        :) this totally ^^ man its seems like such a long way till the next consoles, I am sure we will see crazy stuff on the PC till then,w ell I hope.

        Man 2014 is going to be year to put everything aside in preparation of the gaming insanity that is sure to happen.

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          September 27, 2011 8:33 AM

          You know what'd be cool, valcan? Getting rich and then hiring some guy to maintain the best possible gaming rig for you, upgrading (overnight when necessary) and installing stuff whenever something better comes out, so it's always the best money can buy. So right now you'd have a 2560x1600 monitor, that quad-SLI pack you mentioned, together with 16GB (or more?) overpriced premium RAM, a bunch of the best SSD's, the latest Intel extreme edition CPU and water cooling wherever phase change or liquid nitrogen isn't feasible.

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            September 27, 2011 8:43 AM

            Personally, I'd rather spend it on maintaining a LAN center with like 50 pc's all decked out and upgraded every year, not totally top of the line, but very high end.

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              September 27, 2011 8:45 AM

              Yeah that be cool, my castle would have a LAN hall where Shackers with VIP passes could come by any day and hang out and play games all day on some nice rigs.

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                September 27, 2011 8:49 AM

                I have this dream for a totally unsustainable business based around that. It'd be like mixing an arcade with a gamestore and a bar and it'd be totally sweet and never make any money.

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                  September 27, 2011 11:06 AM

                  Nice, same here, basically a gaming night/day club for gamers been wanting to do that forever I am not sure what the market would be like and if you make money?

                  Regardless if I ever make it(get rich), I am going to open them up all over the world for the community, sort of a way to bring back arcades for the Future, I would have memberships.

                  Ah if only we'ed have the cash to do this stuff :(

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                    September 27, 2011 11:11 AM

                    Aye, I'll definitely keep the shack informed should I ever get the cash to go forth with such an endeavor.

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                  September 27, 2011 2:20 PM

                  But it would be an awesome retirement community.

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                September 27, 2011 8:51 AM

                Obviously it's in a castle.

                Obviously!

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                September 27, 2011 9:29 PM

                Work beer and food in there somehow.

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            September 27, 2011 8:43 AM

            LOL he be like Igor, and say "Master your rig has been upgraded" and I would live in a castle, that would be cool :) well I guess I better buy some lotto tickets.

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              September 27, 2011 8:44 AM

              I would hire Richard Ridings (Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2 mentor) to do the voice.

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            September 27, 2011 9:37 AM

            could have a cooled server room to house all of these. wouldn't even need a case. the room is the case!

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            September 27, 2011 10:13 AM

            I'd also want the whatever the highest res/best projector at the time was to blast that puppy's graphics over as large a surface as I could muster.

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                September 27, 2011 10:37 AM

                Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! I think I've seen that room on a show before but one of those theater grade projectors would be amazing to have with a cutting edge PC's graphics behind it (not to mention having half the speaker set up as that guy would be incredible also).

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                September 27, 2011 11:03 AM

                Awesome, yeah we would have a bunch of those you know we have to watch movies when we where burnt out from gaming :)

                Very nice.

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                  September 27, 2011 11:11 AM

                  I bet somewhere there's a group of people that went together to fund their own place, with scheduled viewings and time slots for individual use. Big-ass farm somewhere in the countryside, with a cottage, LAN house, movie house, and no neighbors this side of the horizon.

                  It would be known as the Mencave.

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                September 28, 2011 11:15 AM

                #2!! its the fucking Bat Cave!!! I'd live in there like Batman with muh bats.

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            September 28, 2011 4:34 PM

            Marrbe you know god damned well they'd need 120Hz monitors and not just the highest res ones.

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        September 27, 2011 8:41 AM

        That's a 2 year lead for the Wii U, you could have another version of it out in 2016 at that rate, Nintendo will be in a weird mid-generation step.

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          September 27, 2011 8:57 AM

          Not a bad place to be, maybe. People who aren't gamers will buy it whenever, and people who are gamers might be more willing to spend money on new hardware if they already have another console that they've played everything on and aren't saving up for a next gen one. Plus, Nintendo can have a console that's on par with systems toward the end of their cycle without splurging on the hardware when it's new, which keeps their costs way down.

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        September 27, 2011 8:53 AM

        Man, 9 years is an epic run for a console generation. I remember generations lasting 4-5 years in the past. :\

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          September 27, 2011 3:30 PM

          The PS2 effectively ran until a year or two ago (Sony was still trumpeting PS2 sales, and there are still PS2 games coming out here and there; Harmonix arguably extended the PS2 life cycle with Guitar Hero 2).

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            September 27, 2011 3:32 PM

            I'm talking about a console generation. The 360 came out 5 years after the PS2.

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      September 27, 2011 8:55 AM

      Think they will ever fix the mouse code?

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        September 27, 2011 11:09 AM

        I don't think they'll ever figure it out.

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          September 27, 2011 2:29 PM

          Quite the opposite, they'll devote a core or two to give all games the authentic feeling of trudging through a swamp.

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            September 27, 2011 3:13 PM

            Then they'll advertise it as a feature of the game, calling it a "sense of weight".

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        September 27, 2011 3:27 PM

        That is the worst tragedy here: Epic nailed mousecode in UT99 (Dan Vogel renderer), held close to it in UT2004, and then lost it in Unreal Engine 3 (UT3 itself was okay, but many Unreal Engine 3 PC ports do something really stupid with mouse acceleration; I don't know if it's prudent to include Bioshock since it had a combination of UE2 and UE3 in its codebase, but its input config file sure looked like a UE3 clusterfuck).

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        September 27, 2011 8:54 PM

        I thought UT3's mouse code was really good, actually. Which games got it wrong?

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      September 27, 2011 8:56 AM

      i still remember being blown away by the Unreal Engine 2 Tech Demo
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmE9hvPu9Gk

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        September 27, 2011 8:58 AM

        [deleted]

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        September 27, 2011 9:26 AM

        That eventually led me to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6mJtxW8x8A&feature=related

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        September 27, 2011 9:35 AM

        Except for the facial animations, it doesn't look THAT bad :)
        Compared to HL1 it must have looked amazing

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        September 27, 2011 9:40 AM

        I remember that video too. Then came the awesome Halo videos before it was stolen away.

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        September 27, 2011 9:58 AM

        That's crazy early Unreal 2 stuff. The actualy engine was leaps and bounds better looking than that.

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        September 27, 2011 10:20 AM

        Nuh uh.. As far as tech demo come nothing beats the original Quake3 demo @ Macworld 99 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ePJjx7-QQU
        That fucking video totally blew my pants off.. The shaders, the moving curves, the quad effect..

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          September 27, 2011 10:46 AM

          still pretty.

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            September 27, 2011 3:40 PM

            For being 12 years old it still holds up really well. I think it has a lot to due with how good their artists were

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              September 27, 2011 3:48 PM

              Id was the first 3D game developer (if not one of the first ones) to use textures larger than 256 x 256 pixels (at the time, the architectural limitation for the 3dfx Voodoo 3 chipset; I don't remember if the Riva TNT supported large textures, but the GeForce definitely did). The game still looks pretty damn awesome texture-wise when cranked up all the way. UT99 was really nice too, but you had to find a way to enable "detail textures" (at that time, only supported with 3dfx cards running Glide, until Epic finally coded it into the D3D and OpenGL renderers).

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        September 27, 2011 10:30 AM

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26I-Pw-yPJ4 Unreal 1 Castle flyby :)

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        September 27, 2011 11:08 AM

        Hell, i remember being utterly gobsmacked by the castle flythrough in the original Unreal
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26I-Pw-yPJ4

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      September 27, 2011 10:18 AM

      Next gen brown games.

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        September 27, 2011 10:46 AM

        Next gen is green games, calling it now.

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        September 27, 2011 3:46 PM

        I don't get where this attitude comes from. The Unreal Engine 3 games I've played have been very colorful. Bioshock 1 & 2, Arkham Asylum, Sanctum, Singularity, even Unreal Tournament 3. A lot of the most popular games built on other leading engines aren't as colorful, like just about anything ever built on the Source engine and the entire Call of Duty series.

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      September 27, 2011 11:10 AM

      Nice.

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      September 27, 2011 11:13 AM

      I want some true volumetric fluid/gas simulations - needs some more navier-stokes based grid approximations. The current state of the art in games seems to be some really crappy attempt at Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics with a hundred particles or so plus some metaball implicit surface rendering - and it looks really bad. Unfortunately, the awesome looking SPH style water I've seen has been in research work that use hundreds of thousands or millions of particles. Hopefully future hardware will be able to scale up to that many, or maybe a grid-based NS style would be better?

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        September 27, 2011 11:34 AM

        As rad as it would be that still sounds a little far away.. AFAIK it's hugely cpu intensive.. Even next-gen sounds too early for decent performance here.

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        September 28, 2011 2:24 PM

        Nah, the geometry of the water is perfectly fine and gets way too much attention already. Only faces, tits, and ass get as much attention. Water might need more attention in normal mapping, pixel shaders, and dynamic transparency. Also dirty up the water some, dirt, leaves, dead fish, insects, shit like that.

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      September 27, 2011 11:36 AM

      I wonder at the point what Unity and CryEngine will be like? It seems like Epic has gone the route of adding outside tools like Scaleform and SpeedTree instead of just trying to compete on visuals.

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        September 27, 2011 2:11 PM

        CryEngine 4 will surely be out by 2014.

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      September 28, 2011 6:03 PM

      Eventually AI will be so dynamic, why play multiplayer? When you can devote an entire core to one or two AI, I'm sure that will make some amazing things possible.

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