At GDC 2009, Epic Games demonstrated several major enhancements that have been built into Unreal Engine 3 to make developing great games easier for licensees.

Unreal Engine 3 at GDC 09

Unreal Lightmass, our new global illumination solver, produces high quality lightmaps within the Unreal Engine development environment. Because it requires relatively little filtering of indirect lighting, Unreal Lightmass produces smooth bounced lighting without detracting from indirect shadows. Also, the custom Swarm distribution solution enables the system to scale effectively, which ensures fast performance. Unreal Lightmass provides advanced global illumination that requires no third-party software or integration code.

The Unreal Content Browser features a modern interface and improves the way users view and manage assets in the Unreal Engine. In addition to manipulating objects and packages, users can organise assets by tagging them or placing them in collections. Finding assets is made simple with intuitive search and filter features. The Content Browser enables users to locate, preview and manage all assets in the game, regardless of whether they are loaded or not.

The new Unreal Master Control Program (MCP) is a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that focuses on providing a highly scalable and available set of services to enhance players’ online experiences. Currently offered is the same set of services used by Gears of War 2 including announcements, settings changes, online population tracking, and data collection for hardware, profile, and game stats. Unreal MCP also provides business intelligence services for offline data analysis, including general hardware and user profile analytics and domain-specific data mining such as level-based heat maps over a multitude of analytical dimensions.

Epic Games China has released its Atlas Technology MMO development suite. Consisting of persistent world server technology and MMO content creation and management tools that work directly with Unreal Engine 3, Atlas Technology provides a solid foundation on which to build MMOs, casual and session-based games, plus community and e-commerce applications.

Atlas Technology extends UE3’s functionality to support persistent online games. Epic Games China is using the suite for its projects, plus Atlas has been licensed by game developers in North America, Asia and Europe.

Acony Games plans to launch Parabellum, its free-to-play massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (MMO-FPS), later this year.

Product manager Lars Janssen recently spoke with reporter John Gaudiosi about how his team was able to ramp up production on the game with Unreal Engine 3.
“Those who had little to no experience with this technology were able to produce good results within a very short time frame,” said Janssen. “We were astonished at how fast they were able to use UE3 and its respective tools effectively. UE3 allows for multiple tasks to be carried out on a level in parallel and thereby helps to efficiently use our resources.”

Janssen found that the engine’s particle effects tool, in conjunction with Kismet, enabled visual effects artists to create complex effects without extra programmer support, which reduced development time and also cut down on sources of errors.

“UE3 is a powerful engine, which allows state-of-the-art graphics combined with great customisability and flexibility,” said Janssen. “Apart from that, it’s a well-known engine in the gaming industry and therefore a seal of quality, especially in the highly competitive free-to-play market.”

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