GDC 09: Epic adds MMO dev suite to Unreal Engine 3

By Patrick Garratt, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:50 GMT

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Epic’s confirmed that MMO functionality is to be added to Unreal Engine, details of which are to be shared at GDC later this month.

It was already confirmed that Epic would be focussing on UE3 at the show.

Advancements in the software were detailed in a press release today, which you can find after the break. In short, there’s “lots of them”.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Epic Games to Show Major Unreal Engine 3 Upgrades at GDC 2009

CARY, N.C. (March 16, 2009) Epic Games, Inc., invites interested parties to visit its booth (ES-144 in the expo suite section of Moscone Center’s West Hall) next week at the Game Developers Conference, where the latest Unreal Engine 3 engine features will be demonstrated alongside free advanced training sessions for existing users, the introduction of an integrated MMOG back-end environment, and closed door presentations for its prospective customers, evaluators, licensees, members of its Integrated Partners Program and the media.

What’s New in Unreal Engine 3
Find out why top developers and publishers use Unreal Engine 3 to power their games for PC, Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION®3. Epic will showcase the most recent upgrades to the Unreal Engine in a private theater within its expo suite, ES 144, located in the West Hall.

Unreal Lightmass, a new global illumination solver, will be shown for the first time at GDC. Unreal Lightmass produces high-quality static lighting with next-generation effects, such as: soft shadows with accurate penumbrae; diffuse and specular interreflection; and color bleeding. Furthermore, Epic’s new Swarm distributed computing framework enables lighting to be generated up to 10 times faster. The new lighting features are bundled with Unreal Engine 3 and benefit all current and future engine licensees. Like all of Epic’s engine features, Unreal Lightmass is available at no additional cost to licensees.

A new content browser and search engine, powered by a back-end database, enables designers to find game assets near-instantly among large amounts of source content. With thumbnail previews, support for content tagging, and asset collection management, the Unreal Content Browser frees artists from the need to manually open files to look for game assets.

“We looked at how easy it was to search the net with Google, and find photos on Flickr, and redesigned Unreal Engine 3’s content searching and tagging along those lines,” said Tim Sweeney, chief executive officer and technical director of Epic Games. “The result was a productivity boon for artists and designers.”

To power the online community features of Gears of War 2, Epic developed a scalable statistics and data management back end. Now available as a general feature of Unreal Engine 3, the Unreal Master Control Program (MCP) is a high-reliability online service architecture supporting announcements, settings management, online population tracking, and data collection for hardware, profile, and game stats. Unreal MCP includes a set of tools for visualizing gameplay, including such features as heat maps displaying regions of player activity within a level.

“Battle-tested by over 6.8 million hours of online player time, Unreal MCP seriously ups the ante for game engines,” says Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. “The online infrastructure required for a modern, triple-A game represents man-years of work, and all of this is now included in Unreal Engine 3.”

In addition, Epic Games China will share details regarding its integrated, massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) backend solution for Unreal Engine 3.

Licensees of the Unreal Engine can take advantage of free training sessions on topics including game optimization, content and programming tips, rendering, animation, physics and visuals, as well as workflows for the Unreal Editor, level design and tools at GDC.

Hours for Epic’s booth are the same as expo hours: Wednesday, March 25, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Thursday, March 26, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and Friday, March 27, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Demos will run on the half hour each day of the show, and appointments are not required.

Those wishing to individually meet with Epic should email Mark Rein, mark.rein@epicgames.com, and specify three possible meeting times, the number of people planning to attend, and whether those individuals would like to see a technology demonstration, chat with Epic business representatives, speak with Epic technical representatives or see to other matters. Availability may be limited, so please respond early. Those unable to confirm an appointment in advance are invited to drop by, and Epic will do its best to accommodate visitors.

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