Epic shows next-gen Unreal Engine 3 effects at GDC

The Game Developers Conference is still rolling in San Francisco, and Epic Games has taken the opportunity to show off some of the latest updates to Unreal Engine 3. Joystiq has the scoop, not to mention an image gallery with links to humongous full-sized screenshots. And they all look absolutely gorgeous.

Additions to Unreal Engine 3 showcased in this demo include DirectX 11 tessellation, subsurface scattering on characters, depth of field with bokeh effects for lights, fully modeled hair, and some very fancy reflection effects that add a veneer of realism to the rain-soaked streets depicted. If my eyes don’t betray me, I believe I also see some realistic film grain and fake chromatic aberration around the edges of the pictures—like peering through a cheap camera lens.

The results, as you can see in this shot, are really breathtaking. I think we’re getting awfully close to photorealism—we just need next-gen consoles to push game developers to take advantage of the DX11 graphics hardware.

I’m also excited to see what Epic has in the pipeline in terms of actual games. When the firm began to show off Unreal Engine 3 all those years ago, the art in the demos looked pretty much like what we ended up seeing in Gears of War. If this latest demo is any indication, the studio could have a film noir, Blade Runner-style title in the works.

Comments closed
    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Good lord, stop it, Epic. Every single game and/or technology presentation you’ve provided since the original UE3 has looked like crap.

    I’m sure nobody but me notices this, but the engine – when in the hands of Epic, and only Epic – is incapable of displaying saturated green and blue, and is extremely dominated by pink hues and half-shades everywhere you look (that is, whenever it’s not gray, desaturated and shiny).

    Pink and violet. That’s all you can do. That’s very, very gay of you, Epic. Give us some saturated blues and greens, for pity’s sake. It’s the same reason why UT3 looked like capital garbage. Gray, pink and pale yellow everywhere. Three colours in a modern game. What the hell is that? Why can’t you learn a bit from Bulletstorm’s developers (not that they’re perfect, far from it), or license Technicolor or something?

    Another note: I applaud the efforts regarding reflections and shadows, but antialias is still ridiculous.
    [url<]http://www.blogcdn.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2011/03/msaa01logotext.jpg[/url<] Look at the above link. Not only is it hard to *find* a difference, if you zoom in on the guy's shoulder like I did, you'll see that MSAA off is actually producing *better* visuals. Go back to the planning board, Epic. Edit: I challenge anyone in here to find just one saturated colour in their presentation that isn't violet or pink.

      • sschaem
      • 9 years ago

      What challenge? the tech demo is perfect, no need to make it look like super mario brother to please your color palette.

      Its like saying Blade Runner need more color… Specially more green neon lights, because “pink neon are gay” ???

      Epic got one word you.. “go turn on your wii”

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        UT 2004 was the last game they ever made that had colours. I miss it.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    “like peering through a cheap camera lens” — oh, yay, let’s have more of that. Perhaps the games will come with a little shrink-wrapped packet of grime we can smear on our monitors to make things even more “gritty” and unpleasant? I’ll give Epic a bit of a pass here, since a demo like this is supposed to show what is possible, not necessarily what is worth doing, but personally I don’t want to see games spending their shader budget making things look worse by duplicating physical flaws that show up in the “cinematic experience.”

      • GrimDanfango
      • 9 years ago

      What consitutes photorealism as far as you’re concerned if it’s not the effective modelling of real-world imperfections? It’s a fairly simple job to display a meticulously clean smooth sterile environment. Most advances towards photorealistic rendering are from the understanding of subtle imperfections.

      The key word there is subtle… and that’s pretty much the key reason UE3 games have typically been a little rough on the visuals – they do tend to apply their realistic effects with a sledgehammer rather than a paintbrush.

      Film grain and lens aberrations will look hideous and distracting *if* they’re done heavy-handedly. You won’t even notice they’re there if they’re done perfectly. That is the goal of realistic rendering…

      They’ve made some good advances with this new demo – one of the biggest I’ve spotted is reflection-occlusion… less noticable than shadows, but just as conspicuous by its absence. Most people probably won’t even notice it’s there, in which case it’s doing its job 😛

    • DrCR
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://www.blogcdn.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2011/03/billboardreflectionslogo.jpg[/url<] Looks like something out of SplinterCell.

    • jalex3
    • 9 years ago

    so much ue3 bashing, it has flaws as do all engines… that said its the best for indie devs.
    A well made pc game on ue3 looks great take red orchestra 2 for example

      • mikehodges2
      • 9 years ago

      Bulletstorm is a ue3 game too isn’t it? I was pretty impressed with some of the environments in there..

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      I wouldn’t begin to know what is unique about the engine itself, but it was extremely irritating how many games using it early on went the, “ROMG SHINIES!” route.

      Epic deserves at least a slap on the wrist for that, as they only encouraged it with the entire Gears of War series and Unreal Tournament 3.

    • south side sammy
    • 9 years ago

    “we just need next-gen consoles to push game developers”

    SORRY, WE ALREADY HAVE A PLATFORM, IT’S CALLED THE PC. IF CONSOLES CAN’T KEEP UP, TOO BAD!! GIVE “US” THE GOOD STUFF.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Console sales are the cash driver at this point. We’re lucky we get bad ports; it could be just that games get skipped on the platform.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 9 years ago

        The end of ever console cycle brings more quality games to pc since the consoles stagnate at the end of their life cycle real bad. I feel that people underestimate our platforms potential. We are more than just console ports, first to embrace digital distribution, first with DLC, first with mini games, first with social gaming, first with pretty much everything that console player pay 60 dollars a month to get through xbox live 1-5 years after it comes to pc. I’m not worried we have companies like valve looking after us.

        • ThorAxe
        • 9 years ago

        That is a widely held misconception.

        PC games made $16.2 Billion in 2010 – a 20% increase and over double the next best platform.

        Console revenue on the other hand shrunk.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          The hardware is surely a hell of a lot more profitable, as well. I doubt anyone ever really adds all that up.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 9 years ago

            [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/18665[/url<] 9.5 BILLION with a B, I think thats revenue so probably to be conservative, halve that for profits. How much money did Sony make selling PlayStation 3 for the first 2 years? It lost millions. Hmmm interesting balance.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            MS didn’t make any money, either, after the red ring of death fiasco.

            • ThorAxe
            • 9 years ago

            Jon Peddie Research estimates 2011 expenditures on PC gaming hardware are set to jump to over $22 billion globally, with a 27% gain in 2011 across the three segmentations of the market; Mainstream, Performance, and Enthusiast.
            [url<]http://jonpeddie.com/press-releases/details/jon-peddie-research-announces-2011-international-pc-gaming-hardware-estimat/[/url<]

          • Skrying
          • 9 years ago

          Where is that number from? What the heck defines a PC game?

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 9 years ago

            I think that is a PCGA number, and it includes all forms of pc gaming, micro, social, retail, DLC, etc.

            • ThorAxe
            • 9 years ago

            Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, CA – February 28, 2011 – The PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA), a nonprofit corporation dedicated to driving the worldwide growth of PC gaming, today unveiled its third annual Horizons research report. This preliminary report, prepared for the PCGA by market research firm DFC Intelligence, covers the 2010 year end and encompasses all major aspects of the PC gaming industry worldwide through 2014. The full in-depth report will be shared with all PCGA members the week following GDC.

            Among the key findings: the global PC games market continues to show surprisingly strong growth in 2010, reaching a record $16.2 billion. This represented overall growth of 20% over 2009. No geographical market segments tracked showed a decline in 2010 in overall PC game revenue. [url<]http://www.gamershell.com/companies/the_pc_gaming_alliance/827710.html[/url<] Now before people start going on about casual games they should take note that Zynga (makers of Farmville, Cityville and many others) only accounted for 5% of the $16.2 Billion.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 9 years ago

        [url<]http://www.digitalbattle.com/2010/01/13/modern-warfare-2-supasses-1-billion-in-revenue/[/url<] Modern warfare 2 makes 1 billion in revenue in 1 year Wow makes made more than double that if I'm not mistaken. I think it made 1.2 million its first year and has almost doubled each year somehow it doesn't get media love.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    What we don’t get a sense of in this tech demo is if this will fix any of the numerous issues that UE3 currently has both graphically and performance wise. The most grievous of all graphical glitches that seem to persist through all the titles is texture popin. I also wonder if they finally embrace a complex physics system or just keep the basic havok package rolling right along. If their game engine won’t support deformable environments better animations and better soft body simulations among other things I think UE3 will struggle to stay on top since cry engine, source engine, and frost bite all seem to embraced this stuff(in all cases at least 3 years ago) and have games in the pipe that utilize it and will release this year. UE3 was a leader because they where the king of textures and poly counts but now that most every other engine has caught up there and has long since surpassed UE3 in every other area I worry that it may go the way of ids quake and doom engines and become irrelevant.

    I think the test is in motion, the screen shots are obviously great but games are an interactive medium.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    frist psot

      • yogibbear
      • 9 years ago

      Actually you weren’t. Mush MORE SLAVES!!!!

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        yes i was.

          • TaBoVilla
          • 9 years ago

          you’re both @ 6:16AM, pff get a room you two

            • lilbuddhaman
            • 9 years ago

            Dear Cyril,
            It has come to my attention that there is a strange man that comments on here named “sweatshopking”. In an attempt to cut down on my need to thumbs down this strange fellow so often, it will be a great pleasure if the website added the seconds and possibly milliseconds of posting times.
            Thank you and this is a joke.

            -Concerned Reader

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Did they fix the mouse accelleration, standard widescreen implementation flaws and shoddy AA ???

      • GrimDanfango
      • 9 years ago

      It is impressive how far they’ve come, especially considering the underlying technical flaws that seem to have plagued UE3. Even some of these shots though feel like if you scratch beneath the cutscene-glitz, there’s rough edges hiding. Sometimes I wish they’d just ditch it and build a good, solid Source-engine type of base package to build on top of. Unreal Engine has pretty much single-handedly made a generation of games look a little shoddy.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      Negative. That’s the “beauty” of UE3. It makes the games look browny and grayish with interesting AA and beautiful PC ports the likes of which no one ever wanted.

      Then again, considering Epic’s support of PC gaming, I’d say their engine matches their emphasis. You get what you pay for? At least Bethesda will be using the Rage Engine, right?

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 9 years ago

        I don’t think they are using id tech 5 for elder scrolls, at least it didn’t look like it was.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          they have stated that it’s not tech 5

            • GrimDanfango
            • 9 years ago

            Indeed, plus I don’t think Bethesda would know what to do with a decent game engine if they were handed one on a plate that pressed all the right buttons for them.

            Bethesda’s expertise obviously lies more in well written narrative and dialogue… no, wait a minute… maybe it’s in rock solid game mechanics… no, not that either…

            What are Bethesda good at?… Why does everyone keep buying their half baked bleedin’ games? Why does everyone keep expecting their next one will miraculously correct all the glaring cock-ups of the last one and turn out to be the greatest game ever made?

            • khands
            • 9 years ago

            They’re good at making mediocre quality look amazing. Also, brand loyalty.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This