We take a look inside the powerful development tool Unreal Engine 3

Essential Game Engines: Unreal Engine

Creator: Epic Games
Platforms: PC, iOS, Mac, Android, PS Vita, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Seen in: Infinity Blade, Mass Effect, Bioshock

The Unreal Engine is one of the best known and most used game engines in the industry. Now on version 3, it has been used in many top triple-A franchises such as Mass Effect, Gears of War and the Infinity Blade series on iOS.

The engine is integrated with more than 20 middleware technologies, and features visual scripting system Unreal Kismet and the Unreal Matinee cinematic system, as well as coming complete with the full Scaleform package, enabling developers to create flexible user interfaces using Flash.

Epic also provides a free version of the engine, the Unreal Development Kit, which can be downloaded and used for free, with a commercial license after royalties reach $50,000 in sales.

“Our focus is on providing the best possible tools for everyone, on every important platform, at any given point in time, period,” says Epic Games vice president Mark Rein.

He also says that the company is gearing up for the next generation of consoles, as seen by its Samaritan demo at GDC last year, which gave a hint of the potential of UE4, which he hopes will ease any fears over the move to new platforms.

“Naturally, people are concerned about the console transition,” says Rein.

“Epic built Samaritan with UE3, to not only show what we want to see in the next generation of games, but also to show developers that they can license UE3 now if they want to ship a game for those systems on day one.

“As we get further into the next-gen cycle, more developers will migrate to Unreal Engine 4. We’ll talk to each studio to see how we can best help them. We have great options for everyone.”

Rein also reveals that it will be showing Unreal Engine 4 to “select developers” interested in the platform behind closed doors at GDC.

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