SAN FRANCISCO — At the recent GDC show, here, the opening session — titled “State of Unreal" and presented from Epic Games (epicgames.com) founder/CEO Tim Sweeney and CTO Kim Libreri — revealed Unreal Engine's growth to 7.5 million licensees and new technology advancements, plus Epic MegaGrants, Epic Online Services, and Epic Games store announcements.
“Our success is inextricably linked to developer success, and that ethos guides everything we do,” says Sweeney. “From our free Online Services and Epic MegaGrants to new Unreal Engine features, our goal is to help developers, and to equip them to give players even better experiences.”
Available now in preview, with the full release coming within two weeks, Unreal Engine 4.22 is the fastest version of UE4 ever, with drastically reduced compile times and many optimizations and performance upgrades. UE 4.22 ships with new features that include ray tracing, new Live++ hot reload for live coding, multi-user collaboration in Unreal Editor, Niagara VFX enhancements, Microsoft HoloLens streaming support (with full HoloLens 2 support coming in May), and support for Google’s new Stadia game streaming platform.
Two realtime demonstrations were shown during the “State of Unreal” showcase, providing examples of the visuals that can be achieved with Unreal Engine.
Troll is a realtime short from Goodbye Kansas and Deep Forest Films. It features a scene starring a digital princess, fairies and an enchanted crown to demonstrate how ray tracing can create cinematic-quality lighting with complex soft shadows and reflections. Troll was created entirely with Unreal Engine 4.22, leveraging the powerful new ray tracing features.
Quixel's Rebirth short was created by a team of just three artists and highlights use of the studio's photogrammetry techniques, extensive asset library, and artistry. The movie is lit, composed, edited, and rendered entirely in Unreal Engine 4.21, with no custom plug-ins or code.
Epic Games launched Epic MegaGrants, committing $100,000,000 to assist game developers, media and entertainment creators, enterprise professionals, students, educators, and tools developers doing outstanding work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community. Epic MegaGrants marks an evolution from Epic’s Unreal Dev Grants program, a $5,000,000 fund initially launched in 2015, which awarded its final grants earlier this week.
Epic Online Services are free offerings that will make it easier and faster for developers to successfully launch, operate and scale high-quality games. Built from Epic’s experience with Fortnite, which has nearly 250 million players, Epic Online Services provides a single SDK that works across any platform, game engine, and store to help developers give their players a unified, cross-platform social experience. In addition to game analytics and the ticketing system, the growing library of tools includes sentiment analysis, cloud storage, voice communications, and matchmaking. To access the SDK now, visit dev.epicgames.com/services.
The Epic Games store launched in December 2018 with the goal of achieving a more open, fair and profitable platform for developers and publishers, disrupting the industry by offering an 88 percent revenue share, a free game every two weeks, and major exclusives. Epic just announced that the store has grown to 85,000,000 PC players, with its Support-A-Creator program surpassing more than 55,000 creators. Epic also revealed nearly two dozen games coming to the store, along with store performance metrics.
Epic Games is also partnering with Humble Bundle to enable developers to sell their Epic Games store titles on the Humble Store, including Epic store exclusives.
Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system, which is coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The realtime tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in realtime in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction.