The Coalition, the company behind the Gears of War franchise, will debut an entirely new Unreal Engine 5 tech demo at GDC 2021 starting at 22:20 tonight.
So far, the show, dubbed Alpha Point, hasn’t shown anything. It’s simply that it’s made for Xbox Series X and S consoles. It has new graphics engine capabilities like Nanite for photo-realistic visuals and Lumen for absolutely accurate lighting. Kate Rayner, the studio’s technical director, and art director, will give the presentation. For a sampling, here’s a screenshot.
We anticipate an awe-inspiring demonstration as a result of this. Looking back, it’s hardly surprising: Unreal Engine is one of the most well-known and frequently utilized graphics engines in the world, and tech demonstrations for earlier versions have been available. Some players failed to seal their mouths completely. So, in light of today’s presentation, we thought it would be fun to look back at earlier productions and remember the engine’s history. Let’s get our hands on some virtual horses!
The first iteration of the Unreal Engine’s “tech demo” was essentially the 1998 Unreal video game, which was the first to use the graphics engine. The game itself did not become as well-known as the program that provided the fundamentals, but the engine drew the attention of gamers from the start.
Tim Sweeney (who is still the head of Epic), who makes up the large part of the engine, said that year that it was designed for a first-person shooter. An intentionally “clean” source code was inserted into a sheet. The technology was created to be widely adopted and then improved over time. There were no widely used graphics engines at the time that offered as many features as UE, which included the UnrealScript programming language and the UnrealEd orbit editor, among other things.
The engine was then upgraded in the 1999 Unreal Tournament:
- It became less hardware-intensive.
- Its network code improved.
- The artificial intelligence that could be employed in it is enhanced as well.
Epic and id Software were in rivalry during this time (a widespread debate about which of UT and Quake III: Arena was the better game).
Even John Carmack admitted that with Unreal Engine, there were concepts he had in his thoughts as well. The engine was utilized in more than a dozen games in the year following the release of the base Unreal, including the original Deus Ex. Nonetheless, it was pulled out early for the infamous Duke Nukem Forever (eventually completed on UE3 anyway).
In 2000, a technical demo for Unreal Engine was created and shown behind closed doors at the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS). It demonstrated a prototype that sits between UE1 and UE2 and includes features like support for great outdoor locations and face play. Even while it was a step forward in the age of the wood-faced Lara Croft, the latter doesn’t appear like a genuine achievement to today’s eyes:
In 2002, Unreal Engine 2 was used for the first time to create America’s Army, a free multiplayer shooter backed by the US military that attempted to persuade young people to join the army. The new engine’s code and UnrealEdet’s were redone entirely, and the physical engine Karma, which debuted in Unreal Tournament 2003, was added.
The character models, for example, have gotten significantly more detailed in the following demo, which was shown at the 2002 Game Developers Conference (GDC). Unreal Engine 2 was utilized in the first two BioShock games and practically all Splinter Cell titles (though some of these games have already taken advantage of the much-developed version 2.5).
In 2004, the Unreal Engine 3 was released, and in 2006, the first Gears of War (Xbox 360) and RoboBblitz (PC) games were released. Since its inception in 2010, this version has supported the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on iOS and Android smartphones. On a pixel-by-pixel basis, this engine had already analyzed the effect of lights and shadows. The natural lighting in the games was one of the most stunning developments.
Epic worked on the engine for an extended period, initially supporting DirectX 9 but subsequently switching to DX10 and DX11, which allowed the destruction of the environment. BioShock Infinite, Arkham series, and the top three Mass Effect games have all employed it. The Samaritan demo displayed below was shown at the 2011 Game Developers Conference.
They were already on Unreal Engine 4 in 2003, yet it was thought that only Sweeney worked on it until 2008. Daylight, a 2014 horror survivor, was the first to use the engine, debuting it in 2012 with the Elemental demo shown below (which had no good reception). They replaced UnrealScript with Blueprints Visual Scripting in this release, including many new features.
But what’s more interesting is the business concepts that have sprung up in tandem with it. UE4 was initially available for $19 per month, but in 2015, Epic made it free in exchange for 5% of overall engine-generated game income. This will be paid out after the first quarter when the game has raised $ 3,000, but they will also give up if it appears on the Epic Games Store.
Finally, UE5 is the Unreal Engine of the Future! Developed for next-generation consoles, the graphics engine promises to be unique due to two technical advancements. One of them is Nanite, which lets you import near-photorealistic photos and use them to create incredibly intricate surfaces.
The other is Lumen, which delivers fully dynamic global illumination, i.e., lighting that responds to changes in lighting conditions in real-time. Unreal Engine 5 is set to be released in 2021, so games that use it will have to wait a little longer. But it’s worth being patient if we start with Epic Games’ tech demos, which can be seen below.
Which tech demo did you find to be the most memorable? Please leave a remark!