Unreal Engine Summer Roundup

Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4

Unreal has had a couple big releases since our last news roundup, so let’s take a look at the most current version.

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Version 4.9 of the Unreal Engine dropped at the end of August, and included many new features.

Features

  • VR Motion Controller Support
    We’ve added an extraction layer enabling access to VR motion control devices through a single, common interface. You can now implement motion tracking by simply adding a Motion Controller component to your character.
  • Full Scene Particle Collision with Mesh Distance Fields
    We’ve introduced distance field GPU particle collision for creating rich, efficient visual effects in your Unreal Engine projects. You can now make performant effects, such as accumulating snow or sparks bouncing off of surfaces, using the GPU.
  • Dynamic Point Light and Character Shadows for Mobile
    Explore the possibilities for creating high-end mobile experiences with new features such as dynamic point lights and dynamic modulated character shadows from directional lights on iOS and Android.
  • DirectX 12 Support [Experimental]
    DirectX 12 is now supported as an experimental feature. Take advantage of a more efficient, lower level rendering API that allows for rendering commands to be submitted in parallel across many threads on the Windows 10 platform.
  • Ambient Occlusion Material Mask
    Use the new Ambient Occlusion Material Mask, which offers access to Lightmass-calculated ambient occlusion in materials, for procedural texturing, such as adding aging effects and dirt in areas where it would naturally accumulate.
  • Plugin Creation Wizard
    Make C++ plugins easier than ever before with the new plugin creation wizard. Three new templates will help you extend the editor, increase project functionality, and add new buttons to Unreal Engine toolbars with just a few clicks.

The full list of changes, which includes hundreds of updates, can be found in the Release Notes.

Hotfix 4.9.1 was released on September 14 to address a few issues.

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The last major release, Unreal Engine 4.8 came out in June.

Features

  • Grass Rendering and Procedural Foliage Systems
    We’ve optimized our Grass Systems for use with large open worlds. Use it to produce huge amounts of grass and ground cover with temporal LOD cross-fading. We’re also releasing an experimental preview of the procedural foliage system we used to paint foliage across our GDC 2015 Kite Demo.
  • Plugins Available in Marketplace
    We’ve partnered with Allegorithmic to provide our first plugin available in Marketplace. Look for more plugins from select partners in the future!
  • Post Processing Enhancements and Tools
    Major increase in accuracy of our Motion Blur, including morph target animations that can now generate motion blur. We’ve also updated our depth of field to be more physically-based, as well as added a new Tone Mapper to achieve more filmic look.
  • Multiplatform VR Support
    Support for all the latest VR hardware including Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Steam VR, Leap Motion, and Sony Project Morpheus.
  • Network Replays
    “Scrubbable” network replays with rewind support and live time scrubbing.
  • Asset Size Mapper
    Visualize the memory footprint of game assets in an interactive tree map UI.

The full list of changes, which includes hundreds of updates, can be found in the Release Notes.

Hotfix 4.8.1 was released on June 24, 4.8.2 on July 14, and 4.8.3 on July 29 to address a number of bugs.

Free Assets

As part of the Unreal Engine 4.8 launch, Epic released the assets for their A Boy and His Kite project, showing off the support for Physically Based Shaders and large world support. This pack contains all of the assets used to create the 100-square-mile scene and its 15 million pieces of vegetation, with assets based on actual photographs.

More recently, Epic also released over $3,000,000 worth of assets from Infinity Blade for free. These 7,600 assets comes mostly from a cancelled project titled Infinity Blade: Dungeons, and comes in eight packages, including environments (Grasslands, Ice Lands, and Fire Lands), characters (Warriors and Adversaries), weapons, effects, and sounds.

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Finally, Epic released the assets for its VR Demo, Showdown, for free as well. Although these are geared for a future-tech, bullet-time shooter, the assets themselves can give a good indication of what is necessary for VR games.

Developer can use all of these assets for free in any Unreal Engine 4 project.

Other News

Get It!

You can sign up as a Unreal Engine 4 developer for free on the Unreal Engine page.

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