GDC 06: Epic shows off Unreal tools

Epic Games demonstrates Gears of War on the Xbox 360, Unreal Tournament 2007 on the PS3, and talks about taking the programmer out of Unreal Engine 3.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--Epic Games is one of the many exhibitors showing their specialties at the 2006 Game Developers Conference in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. The studio is giving updated demonstrations of the latest edition of its Unreal Engine, the popular technology that is on its third iteration. This year, however, Epic is primarily focused on showing the engine's powerful editing tools, which it continues to make available for game development licensing.

Always-upbeat vice president Mark Rein began the demonstration by pointing out the extremely high-end Dell XPS Renegade computer hardware that was being used for the demo. The plug was more than a simple shout-out to Dell, as Rein casually mentioned that Epic has entered into a partnership with the PC manufacturing giant because Dell's influence positions it as a market influencer that can have a positive effect on the PC game market.

After getting the initial partnership announcements out of the way, Epic's Alan Willard demonstrated early versions of Gears of War on the Xbox 360 and Unreal Tournament 2007 on the PlayStation 3. Mark Rein prefaced the Unreal Tournament 2007 demonstration with an explanation that the early build didn't yet have full multithreaded support and the demo level was built in only a week. Frame rates seemed fine, and the high-resolution graphics looked great running on the PlayStation 3 development hardware.

For the remainder of the meeting, Willard demonstrated Unreal Engine 3 tools specifically designed to make creating effects and scripting events easier for game artists and designers. Removing bottlenecks in the game production pipeline has always been important to game developers, but smart project management and efficiency has become even more important now that next-generation game budgets are ballooning into the tens of millions of dollars.

Willard showed off a level whose appearance was easily altered using the engine's ability to link together multiple shader effects with an easy click-and-drag interface to combine lens filters with sepia tones and numerous others. The editor has a multiple-window view reminiscent of 3D Studio or Adobe Photoshop, including a picture-in-picture view that lets users preview their created levels in real time, as well as monitor (and modify) exactly when each section of a level will load, so that areas can be streamed continuously by judicious linking rather than forcing geometric pop-up as large chunks of levels get loaded abruptly.

Epic's postprocessing editor gives artists a simple way to create shader effects without relying on a programmer to implement each effect. The tool is a graphical user interface that lets the artist select and attach prebuilt shader effects to game graphics. Epic demonstrated the tool by adding a distortion effect to the entire picture by selecting the effect from a pulldown menu and linking it to the scene using the graphical interface. Linking yet another effect to run on top of the distortion only required another selection from the pulldown menu and a line drawn between the effects in the GUI interface.

Willard also demonstrated the Unreal Engine 3 Kismet system, a scripting tool that lets the designer schedule game events in a flow-chart-like format. Kismet can script event triggers, like setting damage thresholds for objects before they explode. Willard showed GameSpot a Kismet-built environment filled with destructable objects including boxes, oil drums, a helicopter, and a robot. He then maneuvered a character through the map shooting objects and triggering scripted events. The scripting tool itself has a GUI interface, and a complete script filled with object boxes and events bares a remarkably strong resemblance to a Microsoft Visio flow chart.

The purpose of Kismet is to give the designer the power to design levels without the help of the programmer, but the system doesn't have to be strictly an internal affair. Speaking later with GameSpot, Epic's Rein mused over what game enthusiasts and mod makers would be able to create with such powerful tools. "Maybe someone will create a whole new game genre," he pondered.

For more news from the event, check out GameSpot's GDC 2006 page.

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52 comments
lageasy311
lageasy311

NOw this is what I'm talking about!!! New technology and differ ways of making games. WHo knowes what comes in the future for us gamers. And blackice Joe lay off the crack man, lay of that crack!!! (referring to page 1)

SirFatalChaos
SirFatalChaos

LOL wow good comments (not) people! And yes I've played the good FPSs. I don't get rocked btw. I've played CS, UT2004, HL, and the likes... Also what I said what a PERSONAL OPINION. Good jobs idiots. But yet I do think computer FPSs are somewhat gay. Do I like them? Yes. Do I like them better than console FPSs? No. I've tried to play computer FPSs with a controller and I do better with a mouse on it. And BTW I do better in console FPSs and I snipe a lot better with a controller. And when I said "Also you have to pick up the friggin mouse to turn around in the game." It's true. I have the sensitivity at (12.5) on CS and I have to pick up my mouse because when I try to look around it ends up my mouse is all the way at the end of the table then I have to bring my mouse back to the middle of my desk. I've tried the "ball mouses" yet it's harder to play FPSs with it (Yet better to play MMORPGs with)

harpdogg
harpdogg

Come on guys every one now the ut2007 will be on all 3 systems. as in this article they dont even have multi-treading in it yet which mines it basicly running on the ps3 like a computer. it also mean the game is not coming out no time soon. all they would have to do is do multi-thread for both 360 and ps3 together. and in reallity if the the ps3 card is similar to the x1900 or what ever the new gforce is. it will most be on both for sure. and for anyone that hope it comes out for ps3 first your in for a very bad thing. what that means is that when it doest come out of 360 it will probable have have added stuff and more developement time. also if it a launch game they just may not want to compete with them selves when they release gears of war. make no since to have two game out around the same. and another gears of war is exclusive to 360 and is being develperd by the creator of the unreal engine. xbox 360 gets the top guy focused on 360 were ps3 gets a pc port.

spidey008
spidey008

Wow, Epic is really turning up the heat on this engine.

trigun3x
trigun3x

waffles at SirFatalChaos i really don't care about the ps3, rev and x360 war thing going cause i'm a pc boy, and always will be, but i've played fps' on consoles and pc's, and the pc take the cake and eats the consoles piece too

fdskjgksldf
fdskjgksldf

How about some dam footage, I wanna see this **** not read about it!! wtf

GaaraZanta
GaaraZanta

SirFatalChaos Analouge sticks are soo easy to aim! LOL WOW, you must be a noob to say that it's inaccurate. The PC is the hardest to get use to. Also the gay thing about using PC mouses is that people get so good with it so it's impossible to play unless you play since the start it came out. With analouge sticks games can have set sensitivity or you can change it. BUT in PC games in FPSs you can turn around in 0.0000000000000000000000000000001 seconds which is so gay and really unrealistic comparted to reallife. Also with PCs you can't really control the speed your character goes. All you can do is press a key then you switch to "Run to Walk" which gives you only 2 speeds, but with controllers you can go from "Walking as slow as midget pushing a truck-all the way and in between- RUNNING SUPER FAST!!" It's also harder to run in in a PC game because you have to push a key to switch speeds so it gets very annoying and it very inconvinient to the player. Posted Mar 23, 2006 4:53 pm PT Unless of course, you are a PC noob yourself, stop whining about people being better than you, get better yourself so you can beat them, don't blame it on the controls.

evilbanshee
evilbanshee

Heh, first he complains about people turning too quickly with their mice, then he complains about having to pick it up all the time, implying that it's too slow. Sheesh, make up your mind already.

Makoto22
Makoto22

The Unreal Engine is the best of all.

Imavnas
Imavnas

SirFatalChaos: You my friend are a total: [Insert Random Idiot insinuating insult here]. Do you actually UNDERSTAND what you just posted?! "FPSs you can turn around in 0.0000000000000000000000000000001 seconds which is so gay and really unrealistic comparted to reallife" You DO understand that your playing a GAME right? And you DO understand that you can change sensitivity in the best of console FPS' as well as in PC FPS' right? RIGHT?! I truly hope you do. "Also with PCs you can't really control the speed your character goes. All you can do is press a key then you switch to "Run to Walk" which gives you only 2 speeds, but with controllers you can go from "Walking as slow as midget pushing a truck-all the way and in between- RUNNING SUPER FAST!!"" Riiiighhht, *insane sarcasm* because most FPS' allow you to move at 30 different speeds anyway. HAVE YOU PLAYED A DECENT FPS RECENTLY??!! "Also you have to pick up the friggin mouse to turn around in the game." WHAT GAME ARE YOU PLAYING?!

SirFatalChaos
SirFatalChaos

Also you have to pick up the friggin mouse to turn around in the game.

SirFatalChaos
SirFatalChaos

Analouge sticks are soo easy to aim! LOL WOW, you must be a noob to say that it's inaccurate. The PC is the hardest to get use to. Also the gay thing about using PC mouses is that people get so good with it so it's impossible to play unless you play since the start it came out. With analouge sticks games can have set sensitivity or you can change it. BUT in PC games in FPSs you can turn around in 0.0000000000000000000000000000001 seconds which is so gay and really unrealistic comparted to reallife. Also with PCs you can't really control the speed your character goes. All you can do is press a key then you switch to "Run to Walk" which gives you only 2 speeds, but with controllers you can go from "Walking as slow as midget pushing a truck-all the way and in between- RUNNING SUPER FAST!!" It's also harder to run in in a PC game because you have to push a key to switch speeds so it gets very annoying and it very inconvinient to the player.

evilbanshee
evilbanshee

Yeah I already read it. I even mentioned it in my first blog post months ago. Although consoles will still need to match the multiplayer capabilities of a PC to really kill it off.

Imavnas
Imavnas

Yea u can but not many games get demos and at least half the time the demos dont really reflect the real game, unless their released after the fact. And btw, I believe I answered the keyboard/mouse to console dilemma in an earlier post. Check it out and tell me what you think.

evilbanshee
evilbanshee

Imavnas: You're right about the keyboard/mouse part. It's a conclusion I came to myself a long time ago. I've been dreading the day when and if keyboard/mice become popular on consoles. It would be a major blow to PC gaming. Keep in mind though that with increased capabilities come increased costs. If consoles replace PCs as you say, they will end up costing more than a low end PC and that would defeat one of the console's main advantages. It will serve to kill console gaming as well. Btw, you can always use demos to see if a game will play well on your PC as well as to see if you'll like it.

Imavnas
Imavnas

UT07' is only slated for PS3 and PC release Sandman. Theirs no 360 release planned, and IMO, it should stay that way.

Sandman100
Sandman100

UT Tournament 2007 is going to be on the PC, PS3, and 360. I can't wait in tell E3 to here more about the game, and Gears of War. The unreal engine is one of the best game engine out there. So both of these game will be very great.

Imavnas
Imavnas

multiplatform competiton stagnates IP creativity skyvader. Were seeing it now with multiplatform games everywhere. If you happen to own a particular system thats getting a multiplatform game and another system that u dont have is getting it as well, chances are, unless the differences are enormous (graphics alone arent a big enough difference), that you wont bother buying the other system for that same game. Now if that same company had made three DIFFERENT games and released them exclusively on varying systems, i.e. like Epic is supposedly doing, then players who get the PS3 and hear that Gears is an awesome game, might have an interest in buying the 360 because of that, (and vice versa). This in turn is better for the gaming market as a whole. If cross platform games becoming common is a sign of things to come, consider gaming creativity dead.--------------------luke_wj: thats why I said that if console gaming makes it commonplace for a keyboard or a new type of interface to be used for FPS', it could easily sway hardcore PC FPS' players away from the PC versions of FPS'. I for one am also a PC gamer but even I have to digress, that if I can play UT07' with a plugged in keyboard on my future PS3, id rather do that than spend yet again MORE money on upgrading my PC.

skyvader
skyvader

To add, the issues of patches and version conflicts are basically gone with the ability to update games over the web. Aren't there other games where console users play in tandem with PC users? FFXI comes to mind. I never played it but thought a PS2 user could play along side a PC user. Or maybe that is what Square has in mind for the 360 version. Can 360 users play COD2 against PC users?

skyvader
skyvader

You know, if Epic really wanted to, they could make UT2k7 for both the 360 and PS3 and allow them to compete with PC players over the net. ID had proved it possible for a console to go up against a PC when the DC version of Q3 was made. Granted it was buggy but it was a sign of things to come. Now would be a perfect time for Epic and others to announce not only cross platform game but also cross platform competition within those games. The PC world has been doing it for years. I know there are a few games that you can play PC users against Mac users. Not to mention the various configurations that PC's have to deal with. A console is a closed platform but all this talk about being open really needs to be addressed in the right way. Over the web, aren't we all talking the same langueage? The time of multiplatform competition is upon us.

luke_wj
luke_wj

In reply to Imavnas, I dont think that pc gaming will ever die. Or at least, will last as long as console gaming. Mainly because pc gamers (or at least most pc gamers I speak to) cant use a controller for fps's. Analogue sticks for movement is too innacurate and hard to aim.

ReyWing
ReyWing

^ Yes, the U4 engine will probably be phreaking photorealistic. it will be bananas! Anywayz, the U3 is awesome... makes me wanna be a game developer =p

buster8695
buster8695

one of the coolest and shocking things ive ever heard out of a epic developers mouth was, man were all a little dissapointed with the u3 engine. Wait till you see what we have in store for the u4 engine weve just started.

paradyme777
paradyme777

Looking forward to both games. They are looking sharp so far, lets just hope the gameplay lives up to its expectations.

sasuke55
sasuke55

I'm just glad developers are atleast making quality games for both systems I for one will be getting a 360 next month so Gears of War looks sweet! Hopefully Nintendo will stop being so anti-thirdy party and they can reap some of the benefits.

shydre
shydre

fanboys are funny (and dumb) and by the way gears is a MICROSOFT games studio game so it wont be on PS3!

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

Like Imavnas was saying THe systems need more then just the same games.If every system got the same games there would be no reason to buy both the 360 and the PS3. Even if the Unreal Tournament 2007 does not come out on the PS3 thats ok. THere needs to be a lot more games and they need to be different.Now if thoughs games where to go on the systems that would be ok but we need different games to make the market better.

K1LLSWITCH
K1LLSWITCH

Nintendo will never have these types of games, ever for their system. But it's an exciting time to be a gamer. The games mentioned in the article will eventually be on both systems. I'm still waiting to here what exclusive titles are going to be on the 360. Oh wait I forgot, they only port games from the PC and PS2, or in this case the up coming PS3, and call it their own. And the over hyped Halo games. So far i heard 5 exclusive games for the PS3. Keep making those paper weights Microsoft, your doing a hell of a job at doing that.

brothaval
brothaval

hopefully we'll see UT2K7 come to the Revolution; Epic said a while ago that the engine would work off the Revo hardware.

Fatality4u
Fatality4u

Skipped over Gears of War info and went to Unreal info, would have been nice to hear a little something.

Imavnas
Imavnas

And besides my other statements regarding console exclusivity, MS game studios is co developing Gears (check this sites Gears page). Thats why its an X360 exclusive (as cyrax just pointed out). Also, UT07' would require MASSIVE space that regular dvd's might not be able to handle (on PC you just INSTALL the software and use a Play CD or DVD). Couple that with the fact that 360 HDD's arent standard in every 360 sold and you have good reason for Epic not to release UT07' . (Of course this is IF the PS3 comes standard with the HDD, cause if it doesnt then its one good reason instead of two).

cyrax_smetsers
cyrax_smetsers

Ryokinshin GEARS OF WAR Is a Xbox360 Exclusive,i think u can wave bye bye to a pc version or Ps3 version,it should have gone to Pc aswell but like 9 months ago maybe slight bit less,they turned it into a Xbox360 Only version,so i guess maybe we Xbox360 players wont be playing Unreal 2007 on a 360 :( though the xbox360 could easily handle UT2007 i hope they make it anyway :D

Imavnas
Imavnas

I agree to a certain extent, as the PC's identity is far more than just a gaming machine. But even AS a gaming machine, its a double edged sword, as its harsh to have to upgrade so often for every other new PC game that releases, and not only that, but you cant even rent PC games anywhere; one HUGE reason for the steady decline in PC game sales. The idea that you have to buy a game out of pure word of mouth, 1, and 2, Have to worry about wether itll even run smoothly on your computer usually far outweights the want to play a particular game on PC. The only exception is when ridiculously High-Profile games release on PC, ala WoW or Half-Life 2. I get paid rather good yet even I hold back when I see that im upgrading my computer for the 10th time in 3 years. And now, when the new OS releases next year, its back to upgrading once more, as im sure plenty of games will force the consumer to use Vistas or just DirectX10 to play them. In fact, Ill go a step further and help you with those last two sentences of yours. If and WHEN, consoles adapt a new method or adapt keyboards to play FPS' & RTS', the PC gaming market will start to TRULY die. Theirs going to be a breaking point though. At some point consoles will be just cheap computers with the latest hardware that dont upgrade, and normal every day computers will either be replaced by them, or will have to be fully integrated with them. Either that, or the average day computer will be downsized permanently to do evrything BUT video gaming, which will be gaming console's only purpose. Sorta like how a dvd player can read MP3's and JPEGS but its real purpose (and what it does best) is read dvd movies and displa them on the connected display device (i.e. a TV set).

evilbanshee
evilbanshee

Imavnas: The PC is as much of a gaming system as any console. You talk about giving each platform its own identity but the PC is losing its own in the wake of all the PC game series that have been going multiplatform. There used to be a time when FPS games were exclusive to the PC but that time is long past. I agree with you that keeping certain games exclusive to one system makes it special and encourages people to buy it. I personally would have prefered if PC games had remained exclusive to the PC. Nowadays though, console only gamers have fewer reasons to play on a PC unless they really like RTS games. Not only that but some PC gamers might decide to forgo PC gaming if their favorites are already on the more affordable consoles.

buildar
buildar

Its good to hear more info about the engine that a zillion next gen developers ahve paid good money to use.

stovich
stovich

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Imavnas
Imavnas

evilbanshee: I think blackIceJoe is referring to consoles. At the moment what the consoles need the most is a diverse library of games, not the SAME library of games for each system. That just floods the market with multiple copies of ONE game on several systems instead of many DIFFERENT games all on different systems. The latter benefits the gaming industry as it drives up competition. So having UT07 on PS3 and Gears on 360 serves to please owners of each, but with the same token, serves to give each system its own identity, raising the interest in gamers in systems that they dont own (and possibly convinving them to buy said system).

fore_runner
fore_runner

Unreal Engine 3 is the best games engine in existence (my opinion), The Doom 3 engine has shadows being generated real-time, but Unreal delivers an all around amazing experience.

evilbanshee
evilbanshee

blackIceJoe, If that were the case, you wouldn't even get UT2k7 on the PS3. UT is a PC game, remember?

decebal
decebal

btnheazy03 LOL. You are funny dude. I mean comparing an engine that it's not out yet, with an engine that was out 3 years ago. Wow. It really blows it?! Did it take you long to realize that? Did you realize that UT 2k4 was better than Quake 3 engine as well? Or you are still meditating about that one.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

thats nice I really can't wait to play this on the PS3.I for one do not see why every game needs to be on every system.THe 360 gets Gears of War and the PS3 gets Unreal Tournament 2007.THe 360 needs different games and so does the PS3 and I think that would be best if it was like that.

btnheazy03
btnheazy03

This blows iD's Doom 3 engine out of the water.

kevin634
kevin634

damn i want gears of war so bad

harleyoz
harleyoz

dam i want the demo movies now !! LOL

ryokinshin
ryokinshin

they will probably put gears on ps3 and ut2007 on xb360 eventually for the money, and us pc ppl dont hav to worry since both are coming out already

XtReMeGaMeR4eVa
XtReMeGaMeR4eVa

UT 2007 will hopefully be on 360 since they could do the exact same thing on MS's hardware. Can't wait for Gears Of War.