Global illumination, distributed computing and Atlas MMO system on display

New UE3 features to be shown off at GDC

Epic has announced the latest additions to Unreal Engine 3 to be showcased at the developer’s GDC booth.

UE3’s lighting has been bolstered with Unreal Lightmass, a new global illumination solver supporting effects such as diffuse and specular interreflection, colour bleeding and soft shadowing. Epic’s new Swarm distributed framework also means that the lightmapping process can be made almost 10 times faster.

Epic has also strengthened the engine’s content management tools, adding a new browser and search engine to make it easier to find assets, and developed the Unreal Master Control Program, a statistics and data management back end originally developed for Gears of War 2. It offers standard data mining metrics, such as population and hardware statistics, and goes as far as to offer tools for visualising gameplay such as heat-maps of player activity within levels.

"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."

At the same time, Epic’s Chinese office has announced Atlas, a set of MMO content creation and management tools, partnered with persistent world server technology. It extends UE3’s functionality to support persistent online games, which although being done by many third parties, is a significant alteration to the engine. Epic Games China is using Atlas in several of its own projects, as well as having been licensed to game developers in North America, Asia and Europe.

“The increasingly competitive MMOG landscape is forcing developers to commit to exceptional production values. UE3 combined with Atlas Technology gives development teams a firm foundation to help them bring their products to market,” said Jay Wilbur, vice president of Epic Games.

Paul Meegan, CEO of Epic Games China, added: “UE3 is already a proven and powerful MMO engine. With Atlas Technology, we’re now providing a purpose built solution that takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting and Unreal client modification.”

Demos of all of the above will be performed every half-hour at the Epic booth, ES 144, with pre-registration not required.

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