Epic Games is calling on Microsoft and Sony to offer bleeding-edge visuals with the next wave of consoles, and it believes the Unreal Engine 4 can spur such an advancement in fidelity. In an interview published today at Wired, Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski said the company's proprietary Unreal Engine 4 needs to be at the forefront of next-generation technology.
"There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation," Bleszinski said. "It is up to Epic, and [CEO] Tim Sweeney in particular, 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."
Why should Microsoft and Sony listen to Epic? Sweeney says his company has a more intimate relationship with manufacturers than others do.
"We're much more in sync with the console makers than any other developer is," he said. "That means we can give detailed recommendations with a complete understanding of what is going to be commercially possible."
A preview of the Unreal Engine 4 was offered to select licensees, partners, and prospective clients during the 2012 Game Developers Conference in March, with those parties required to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
As for advancements of the Unreal Engine 4 over its predecessors, Sweeney said the new framework includes tools that allow for shortened production cycles and lower development costs. In terms of technical specifics, the new engine includes a new dynamic lighting system, which operates based on calculations of objects' inherent properties, as opposed to being dictated by preprogrammed effects. This technology will supposedly allow for more realistic lighting, where "colors mix, translucent materials glow, and objects viewed through water refract."
For more on the Unreal Engine 4, and to see images rendered by the technology, check out the full Wired interview.