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“Why Do You Like the Unreal Engine?” Random Drawing Announced

How would you like to to win an NVIDIA GeForce 460 video card? How about a sexy Unreal Technology T-Shirt? Like our page and let us know what you like about the Unreal Engine on our Facebook wall. The contest starts on 8/15/2011 and we will draw five lucky winners at random on 8/22/2011 at 4 PM EST. Winners will be notified via a message on Facebook on 8/23/2011 at 10 AM EST. Good Luck and don’t forget to let us know what you like about the Unreal Engine!

Please read the rules at http://epic.gm/contestrules before entering.

© 2009, Epic Games, Inc. Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Development Kit, Unreal Editor, Unreal Engine, and Unreal Tournament are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Epic Games Releases July 2011 Unreal Development Kit Beta

July 2011 UDK Beta Upgrade Notes

Epic Games, Inc. has released the July 2011 UDK Beta, the latest version of the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of Unreal Engine 3 that provides access to the award-winning toolset used in blockbuster video games, 3D visualizations, digital films and more.

Epic is committed to providing the UDK community with regular software releases at no charge. Anyone can take advantage of the latest UE3 technology, from mobile support to DirectX 11 features, by downloading the latest beta available at http://www.udk.com/download.

This month, we would like to highlight Q.U.B.E., a promising UDK-powered game created by former classmates turned independent developers. Q.U.B.E. is a first-person game that presents a series of brain-teasing puzzles, ranging from physics-based challenges and 3D jigsaws to platform-based trials. We wish Toxic Games much success with their first commercial release.

Have something cool to show us? UDK projects can be promoted to the community in the Works in Progress forum and the Released Projects forum.

It’s easy to sign up as a commercial UDK developer online. Have questions? Check out our FAQ.

Post-Process Anti-aliasing

  • FXAA and MLAA post-processing methods have been integrated into the engine. Post-process anti-aliasing is supported on DirectX 9 and DirectX 11.

Unreal Landscape Improvements

  • Use the new landscape gizmo to copy and paste chunks of terrain. Import and export entire regions.
  • Landscape gizmos can be arbitrarily positioned, rotated and resized.
  • Each Unreal Landscape layer can now be assigned a physical material.
    • The DefaultPhysMaterial property on the actor addresses layers not specifically assigned a physical material.
    • During layer painting, the index of the dominant (most highly weighted) layer is stored in the collision data, and this is used by PhysX to specify the material for each quad.

Simplygon Skeletal Mesh Simplification

  • Simplygon can now be used to simplify skeletal meshes the same way it can be used to simplify static geometry in UDK.
    • Generating LODs using Simplygon is also supported.
    • Morph targets are disabled for skeletal mesh LODs that have been simplified.
    • Alternate bone weightings are disabled for skeletal mesh LODs that have been simplified.

Unreal Console on iOS

  • The Unreal Console is now available for iOS development! Tapping with 4 fingers will bring it up.

Animation Tree Comment Boxes

  • UDK users can now create comment boxes in animation trees.

Additional Improvements

  • Materials can now use the vector transform node in the vertex shader!
  • When re-importing FBX meshes, a new “Replace Vertex Colors” option specifies whether to overwrite colors.
  • Handling of copying, moving and deleting animations between packages has been improved.
  • When searching assets from the Unreal Content Browser, exclude specific tags by typing “-” and then the tag name.
  • When previewing Camera Anims in the editor, it’s now possible to specify an animation to play on a viewport pawn.
  • The texture viewer now shows light map and shadow map textures.
  • Morph targets now support parent animation components. Enable the “Update Morph When Parent Anim Component Exists” setting to take advantage of this feature.
  • There is now an option to forcibly remove editor-only data when cooking PCConsole to allow for cases of shipping an exe build with the editor data disabled.
  • PhysX has been upgraded for both PC and iOS development.
  • Animation sequences are no longer automatically recompressed when bAnimRotationOnly is changed on the AnimSet owner.
  • There is now a map check warning for when lighting is built but is not production quality.
  • Normals are now correctly imported from FBX files for off-origin or scaled meshes.
  • The editor console command box is now cleared after a command is executed.
  • Flattened textures are now hidden in Unreal Content Browser but can be shown using a new filter button.
  • An issue of poor performance in the editor when toggling AnimRotationOnly options on AnimSets has been fixed.
  • An issue of poor performance in the editor when reordering levels in the level browser has been fixed.
  • Toggling an Unreal Matinee track’s enabled state no longer causes objects to change location.
  • The static mesh editor now has an option to show an object’s pivot point.
  • Normals for static meshes exported from the editor are no longer incorrectly translated and scaled.
  • Animation sequences are no longer automatically recompressed when bAnimRotationOnly is changed on the AnimSet owner. Instead, it’s now tracked whether or not there is a disparity between the existence of translations in the compressed animation and the value of bAnimRotationOnly. If there is a difference, a warning message is displayed in the AnimSet viewer and the RAW data is used in the previewer.
  • Checks have been added to the content cooker to prevent a material from being assigned a mobile base texture at cook time if mobile flattening is turned off.
  • Animation preview speed can now be controlled by a slider in the animation tree editor.

Updated UDN Pages

UDK Community Links

UDK Forums: http://www.udk.com/forums
UDK Developers on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2493123
UDK on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/UDK/183744733429
Epic Games on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EpicGames
Unreal Engine on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/UnrealEngine

© 2011, Epic Games, Inc. Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Content Browser, Unreal Development Kit, Unreal Editor, Unreal Engine, AnimSet Editor, Unreal Kismet, Unreal Landscape, Unreal Lightmass, Unreal Matinee and UnrealScript are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Epic Games Wins Fourth Consecutive Develop Industry Excellence Award

Unreal Engine 3 Wins Best Engine

Brighton, U.K. – Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 has won its fourth consecutive Develop Industry Excellence Award. Epic has held the award in the engine category since its inception, having also won in 2008 in the Best Tools category. This year, Epic was nominated for a total of five awards ranging from Best New IP to Technical Innovation. It is the third year in a row that the Epic team has won for best engine.

Mark Rein, Vice President of Epic Games, was on hand to accept the award in Brighton, UK. “Wow, three years in a row!” he said when he reached the podium.

The Develop Industry Excellent Awards are Europe’s only peer-voted awards, and Epic is thrilled by the win. “This award really means a great deal to us,” said Rein today. “That our peers acknowledge the impact of Unreal Engine 3 across so many platforms and applications is really tremendous. We’ve worked to set the bar for the industry, and the industry recognizes it. That’s truly an honor.”

Rein continued, “This year, Unreal Engine 3 has made headlines all over the place: from the success of Infinity Blade, which made $10 Million in its first six months, to the engine’s much praised GDC demonstration, ‘Samaritan’ – not to mention the fact that individual installs of UDK, the free version of Unreal Engine 3, doubled following the release ofInfinity Blade with the announcement of iOS support. And, really, this is just the beginning.”

Geomerics Announces New Enlighten Integration with Unreal Engine 3

Newest dynamic lighting features integrated with UE3 pipeline as Geomerics joins Epic’s Integrated Partner Program

CAMBRIDGE, U.K. – Geomerics announce a powerful integration of its premier cross-platform lighting solution, Enlighten, with Epic Games’ award-winning Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) is now available to licensees. Through its membership in Epic Games’ prestigious Unreal Engine 3 Integrated Partners Program, Geomerics maintains code and feature parity for Enlighten in step with the engine as it evolves.

Enlighten empowers game developers by providing the ability to update all aspects of indirect lighting in real time, in game, on PC and console. Instant feedback from Enlighten inside UnrealEd enables artists to iterate rapidly on lighting and opens up new worlds of creative possibilities. Enlighten’s fully dynamic global illumination technology, fused with the power of UE3, produces new levels of dynamism that were previously not thought possible on this generation of consoles.

“Providing developers with outstanding tools is a top priority for Epic, and we are making it easier than ever to produce visually stunning games with UE3 tools and the Enlighten integration,” said Dr. Michael Capps, president of Epic Games. “A number of this year’s biggest games are using Geomerics’ solution with Unreal Engine 3, and we’re making sure that process is easier than ever.”

“We’re thrilled to join Epic’s IPP and already be working with some amazing UE3 developers,” said Chris Doran, founder and chief operating officer of Geomerics. “The combination of Enlighten’s dynamic lighting technology and UE3’s superb authoring tools make a truly compelling proposition for developers. With Enlighten and UE3 the next generation of games technology has already arrived.”

In addition, Geomerics led a special learning session on dynamic lighting with UE3 at last week’s Epic Developer Day in London. Geomerics will provide a similar lecture for GDC Europe attendees entitled “Seeing the Light: Next-Gen Game Technology Has Arrived” at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, August 15.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for its cutting-edge graphics, best-of-breed suite of integrated tools and scalability across platforms. Epic Games’ research and development continually evolve Unreal Engine 3’s highly mature toolset and content pipeline. Unreal Engine 3 is available across multiple platforms including iOS, Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3, PC, Mac and Android. Unreal Engine 3 is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for computer and video games, mobile games and applications, training simulations, 3D visualizations, digital films and animated television shows. Unreal Engine 3 is the current holder and five-time winner of Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine award in the US as well as the current holder and three-time winner of Develop magazine’s Best Engine award in the UK. Developers can start using Unreal Engine 3 with the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of the engine’s award-winning toolset available at http://www.udk.com. Additional information on Unreal Engine 3 can be obtained athttp://www.unrealengine.com.    

About Epic Games

Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in its “Unreal” series, including “Unreal Tournament 3” for PC, PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360®. Epic’s “Gears of War” franchise has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and won more than 50 Game of the Year awards. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the five-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also held the Develop Industry Excellence Award in its category for the past three years. Additional information about Epic can be obtained at http://www.epicgames.com.      

About Geomerics

Geomerics is an innovation-led company developing cutting-edge graphics technology for the games industry. The company is based in Cambridge, UK, and has built a team that combines world class management and games industry experience with some of the UK’s leading researchers. We are partners with many of the leading companies in the games industry and are currently working with developers around the world on AAA titles for release in 2011 and beyond.

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Unreal, Unreal Development Kit, UDK, Unreal Engine, UE3, and Unreal Tournament are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.  

Epic Games President Dr. Michael Capps to Keynote 2011 Game Developers Conference Europe

Industry Trailblazer to Discuss How Epic Brings Triple-A Attitude to Every Game From Console Blockbusters to Mobile Games to Legendary PC Shooters and More

 

BERLIN – Dr. Michael Capps, president of Epic Games, developers of the mega-hit Unreal and Gears of War game franchises, will give a keynote address at the 2011 Game Developers Conference™ Europe (GDC Europe). The keynote, titled “Size Doesn’t Matter: How Epic Brings AAA Attitude to Every Game, from Gears of War 3 to Infinity Blade,” will provide attendees with insight into how Epic has delivered fun, successful triple-A experiences of all kinds: console blockbusters, mobile games, experimental Internet shareware, and legendary PC shooters. GDC Europe 2011, presented by the UBM TechWeb Game Network, brings the pan-European game development community’s premiere forum for learning, networking and inspiration back to the Congress-Centrum Ost Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany on August 15-17, 2011.

In his keynote, Dr. Capps will enlighten attendees on the distinct similarities between the production of all of Epic’s projects, even when team sizes and budgets on various projects can differ by a factor of ten or more. The talk will cover some of the key learnings to be taken from the similarities in production methodology and pipelines from shared staff and infrastructure, using the upcoming Gears of War 3 as a driving example. Dr. Capps will also analyze how Epic strives for quality, and how company culture reinforces those values to ensure that every game, every time, regardless of size or platform, is triple-A. Finally, Dr. Capps will discuss how the most important shared factor is a team’s attitude: their passion for the game, their desire for the team to be successful, and their pride in the positive response from fans. 

Dr. Capps is an advisory board member of the Game Developers Conference® (GDC) and serves on the boards of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Prior to entering the game industry, Dr. Capps worked as a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He specialized in defense and entertainment collaboration, virtual reality, and computer graphics. A departmental honoree in mathematics and creative writing, he graduated summa cum laude from University of North Carolina. He holds master’s degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from the University of North Carolina and MIT, and a doctorate in computer science from the Naval Postgraduate School.

“Epic’s name is one of the few that resonates just as much with the game makers as it does the game players – having brought to market arguably the most successful game engine of all time, alongside major game franchises such asGears of War. Dr. Mike Capps is a true industry stalwart, leading Epic Games to AAA hits time and time again,” said Frank Sliwka, Vice President of European Business Development and Event Director GDC Europe. “GDC Europe attendees will take away many valuable lessons from Dr. Capps and leave with new insights on how best to maximize resources.”

Dr. Capps’ talk joins the previously-announced keynotes by Richard Garriott, legendary creator of the genre-definingUltima series and founder of social media games developer and publisher Portalarium, and wooga founder and CEO Jens Begemann.

GDC Europe takes place August 15-17, 2011; for more information on the Dr. Michael Capps keynote or GDC Europe, visit http://www.gdceurope.com.

About the UBM TechWeb Game Network

A core provider of essential information to the professional game industry, the  UBM TechWeb Game Network – formerly known as the Think Services Game Group – offers market-defining content, and drives community through its award winning lineup of print, online, event and research products and services. These include the Game Developers Conference®, the Webby Award-winning Gamasutra.com and network of sites, the Game Advertising Online ad network, the Game Developers Conference® Online, the Game Developers Conference™ Europe, the Game Developers Conference™ China, Game Developer Magazine, Game Developer Research, the Game Career Seminars and GameCareerGuide.com, the Independent Games Festival and Summit, and the Game Developers Choice Awards.  Visithttp://www.jointhegamenetwork.com

About UBM TechWeb

UBM TechWeb, the global leader in technology media and professional information, enables people and organizations to harness the transformative power of technology. Through its three core businesses – media solutions, marketing services and paid content – UBM TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed brands and media applications in the technology market. More than 14.5 million business and technology professionals (CIOs and IT managers, Web & Digital professionals, Software Developers, Government decision makers, and Telecom providers) actively engage in UBM TechWeb’s communities and information resources monthly. UBM TechWeb brands includes: global face-to-face events such as Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat and Enterprise Connect; award-winning online resources such as InformationWeek, Light Reading, and Network Computing; and market-leading magazines InformationWeek, Wall Street & Technology, and Advanced Trading. UBM TechWeb is a UBM plc company, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion. Visit: http://www.ubmtechweb.com

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Gears of War 3, Infinity Blade, Unreal, Unreal Engine and UE3 are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Epic Games Announces Program Schedules for ‘Epic Developer Day’ and ‘Unreal University’ in Europe

Standing room only events offer best-in-class instruction to developers free of charge

 

Cary, NC – Epic Games announces its conference schedule for Epic Developer Day, to be held on July 13, and Unreal University, to be held on July 14, at De Vere West One in London. The first events of their kind in Europe, Epic Developer Day and Unreal University provide Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) developers with free hands-on learning experiences led by senior members of Epic’s engine team, UE3 technology partners and vetted UE3 instructors. All seats for both events were filled within mere hours of the opening of registration, and Epic plans to bring similar learning opportunities to other regions this year.

Epic Developer Day, which is open to anyone under Epic’s non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for commercial Unreal Engine 3 evaluation or full license, presents two tracks: one for content creation and one for programming. Epic Games European Territory Manager Mike Gamble will open the conference, and Epic Games Senior Technical Artist and Senior Level Designer Alan Willard will introduce how to get started with Unreal Engine 3, as well as present sessions on Unreal Engine 3 workflow, mobile development, shaders and DirectX 11. Epic Games Korea Support Manager Jack Porter will provide tutorials on the following topics: UE3’s new foliage system; streaming; UE3’s new terrain editor, Unreal Landscape; optimization and stats analysis; and UE3 debugging tools and techniques.

Attendees of Epic Developer Day will also benefit from the knowledge of Epic’s Integrated Partners Program (IPP) members. NVIDIA Technical Evangelist Phil Scott and APEX Product Manager Monier Maher will present sessions on APEX physics technology, and NVIDIA Developer Technology Engineer Jon Jansen will discuss unleashing the benefits of DirectX 11 using UE3. Geomerics’ Head of Technology Sam Martin and Lead UE3 Programmer Simon Taylor will explore dynamic lighting in UE3, GRIP Entertainment President Dr. Paul Kruszewski will cover advanced AI tools, and NaturalMotion Technical Account Manager Mark Hobbs and Lead Integration Engineer Juan Pizarro will address character animation with morpheme in UE3.

The second day presents Unreal University, an academic initiative funded by Epic Games to offer professional, hands-on guidance to those interested in using its award-winning Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) technology, including the Unreal Development Kit (UDK). Epic Games European Territory Manager Mike Gamble will provide opening remarks and hand over the program to seasoned Unreal University instructors James Tan and Markus Arvidsson. Tan, a documentation specialist for Epic, previously worked on UDK-powered “The Ball” with Arvidsson, lead programmer of Teotl Studios. Both veteran Unreal Engine developers have been recognized for their contributions to the $1 Million Intel Make Something Unreal Content.

Tan and Arvidsson will lead tutorials on the following Unreal University subjects: UDK overview, how to make a racing game for iOS with UDK; level building in less than one hour; making a side-scrolling game for PC with Unreal Kismet; and becoming a digital movie director with UDK. Furthermore, time has been blocked between each session so instructors can answer questions and provide one-on-one assistance to UDK users.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for its cutting-edge graphics, best-of-breed toolset and scalability across platforms. Unreal Engine 3’s highly mature toolset and content pipeline consistently evolve along with its advanced mobile features, multi-core processor support, optimizations for iOS, Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3 and massive world support. Unreal Engine 3 is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for computer and video games, mobile games and applications, training simulations, 3D visualizations, digital films and animated television shows. Additional information on Unreal Engine 3 can be obtained at http://www.unrealengine.com.

About Epic Games

Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in its “Unreal” series, including “Unreal Tournament 3” for PC, PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360®. Epic’s “Gears of War” franchise has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and won more than 50 Game of the Year awards. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the five-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also held the Develop Industry Excellence Award in its category for the past three years. Additional information about Epic can be obtained at http://www.epicgames.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Unreal, Unreal Development Kit, UDK, Unreal Engine, UE3, and Unreal Tournament are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Simplygon Joins Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 Integrated Partners Program

3D optimization technology coming to Unreal Development Kit

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – Donya Labs, creators of leading 3D optimization solutions for video games, announce the integration of its state-of-the-art middleware, Simplygon, with Epic Games’ award-winning Unreal Engine 3 (UE3). Donya Labs is the newest addition to Epic Games’ premier Unreal Engine 3 Integrated Partners Program and through its membership maintains code and feature parity for Simplygon in step with the engine as it evolves.

In addition to Unreal Engine 3 licensees having access to the Simplygon integration, users of the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of UE3, now can utilize Simplygon via the Unreal Editor. Simplygon’s basic mesh reduction features are available to all UDK users in the June 2011 UDK Beta, and Donya and Epic will work together to integrate the full feature set of Simplygon into Unreal Engine during coming months. UDK developers may use Simplygon’s integrated features for all projects, commercial and non-commercial, as part of Epic’s offer.

Simplygon is used to automatically generate game-ready Level of Detail models (LODs) for a specific pixel resolution by removing as much information as possible without degrading LOD quality for a certain onscreen size. Simplygon uses proprietary 3D reduction methods that retain geometrical LOD integrity and visual quality of LOD switching, producing AutoLODs that can directly be used inside triple-A games.

Unreal Engine 3 leverages Simplygon to provide high-quality mesh reduction without having to leave the Unreal Editor. Developers can quickly simplify meshes, generate LODs, and immediately see the results in their maps.

“Simplygon saves developers hundreds to thousands of hours of manual art adjustment, so we are pleased to extend those benefits to our licensees with its incorporation into Unreal Engine 3,” said Dr. Michael Capps, president of Epic Games. “Simplygon is especially useful for converting high-end PC assets for deployment on mobile devices, which dovetails with Unreal Engine 3’s cross-platform strengths.”

“Epic Games has for long been a key producer of world-class video games and cutting-edge game development technology. Through Unreal Engine 3 and Unreal Development Kit, Epic has further extended its technology to an even broader audience and range of platforms,” said Dr. Max Hamedi, CEO of Donya Labs. “We are very pleased to now be able to help all Unreal Engine developers to “Automagically” optimize any 3D for any platform.”

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for its cutting-edge graphics, best-of-breed suite of integrated tools and scalability across platforms. Epic Games’ research and development continually evolve Unreal Engine 3’s highly mature toolset and content pipeline. Unreal Engine 3 is available across multiple platforms including iOS, Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3, PC, Mac and Android. Unreal Engine 3 is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for computer and video games, mobile games and applications, training simulations, 3D visualizations, digital films and animated television shows. Unreal Engine 3 is the current holder and five-time winner of Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine award in the US as well as the current holder and three-time winner of Develop magazine’s Best Engine award in the UK. Developers can start using Unreal Engine 3 with the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of the engine’s award-winning toolset available at http://www.udk.com. Additional information on Unreal Engine 3 can be obtained athttp://www.unrealengine.com.

About Epic Games

Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in its “Unreal” series, including “Unreal Tournament 3” for PC, PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360®. Epic’s “Gears of War” franchise has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and won more than 50 Game of the Year awards. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the five-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also held the Develop Industry Excellence Award in its category for the past three years. Additional information about Epic can be obtained at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Donya Labs

Donya Labs is a Swedish company, founded 2007. The company vision is “to create a universal 3D optimization standard” through its proprietary “Simplygon” technology, so that any 3D can automatically be optimized into high quality interactive content for any platform.

About Simplygon

Simplygon is today the leading 3D optimization technology for video games, and is being used by some of the biggest AAA game developers such as CCP games, NCsoft, Disney Interactive and BioWare. Additional information on Simplygon can be obtained at http://www.simplygon.com.

Donya Labs’ and Simplygon’s names and logos are registered trademarks of Donya Labs AB in Sweden and elsewhere. Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Unreal, Unreal Development Kit, UDK, Unreal Engine, UE3, and Unreal Tournament are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Epic Games Releases June 2011 Unreal Development Kit Beta

Epic Games, Inc. has released the June 2011 UDK Beta, the latest version of the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), the free edition of Unreal Engine 3 that provides access to the award-winning toolset used in blockbuster video games, 3D visualizations, digital films and more.

Epic is committed to providing the UDK community with regular software releases at no charge, and the latest beta is available now at http://www.udk.com/download.

This month, we’d like to bring your attention to the Hawken UDK showcase. Hawken is a multiplayer mech combat game that is receiving early praise for its aesthetic style and ground-stomping gameplay. Adhesive Games Art Director Khang Le says that with UDK “you get a console-ready engine that has been proven with bestselling released games. Within a month of starting Hawken, we were able to test out a prototype.” Read more here.

 Hawken.

Have something cool to show us? UDK projects can be promoted to the community in the Works in Progress forum and the Released Projects forum.

It’s easy to sign up as a commercial UDK developer online. Have questions? Check out our FAQ.

June 2011 UDK Beta Upgrade Notes

New Foliage Editor

  • Quickly paint instanced foliage and decoration using the new foliage system.

 

  • Meshes and settings to be used by the foliage painting tool can be set up in the foliage editor, which is enabled through the Foliage Mode button in the toolbox.

  • Foliage instance types can specify a landscape layer name for weighting. If you set this, foliage panted on landscape will have its density modulated by the weight of the specified layer.

  • Foliage painting can now be used for altitude-based painting as well.

Map Templates

  • New map templates let you immediately configure lighting for day, night, dawn or sunset.

  • Simply drag the appropriate thumbnail from the Unreal Content Browser into a level to populate settings and achieve the desired lighting effect.

  • Map templates are fully customizable, too!

 

Mobile Workflow and Lighting Improvements

  • Lighting is now easier to implement for PC and mobile games.
    • Dominant lights are now baked into light maps for mobile.
    • Light shafts can now be activated on light mapped lights.
    • Gamma correction for mobile is now supported, providing the ability to have a consistent look across platforms.
  • This is a forward-looking feature and currently only has acceptable performance on iPad 2.

 The scene above has gamma correction enabled.

  • UDK now ships with one single editor and game content tree for both PC games and mobile games!
    • Share gameplay logic and assets between PC and mobile more easily.
    • New in-editor mobile preview mode: Preview your PC level with mobile features instantly with a simple tool bar toggle.

 

  • Mobile Previewer now has presets for iPad 2. This is a new option in the drop-down menu.

  • There is a new ‘Always Optimize Content for Mobile’ editor preference, which forces PVRTC compression and flattening, providing high-quality textures when previewing on mobile devices.

  • A guide to migrating mobile projects from previous versions of UDK to the June UDK Beta is available now as well.

Simplygon Static Mesh Reduction

  • Simplygon is used to automatically generate game-ready Level of Detail models (LODs) for a specific pixel resolution.
    • Simplygon uses a proprietary mesh reduction method that retains geometrical LOD integrity and visual quality of LOD switching, producing AutoLODs that can directly be used inside triple-A games.
    • Unreal Engine 3 leverages Simplygon to provide high-quality mesh reduction without having to leave the Unreal Editor.
    • Developers can quickly simplify meshes, generate LODs, and immediately see the results in their maps.

 The mesh has been reduced with a quality setting of 50%, resulting in similar looking geometry with a much lower triangle count.

Unreal Kismet Debugger

  • It is now possible to visualize Kismet node activation, set breakpoints that pause execution when nodes are activated, and step through sequences while running PIE!

    • With this brand new Kismet debugger, you can:
    • Visualize the flow of your Kismet sequence while your game is running.
    • Debug issues where nodes are being activated in the wrong order, not at the right time, not at all, or too much.
    • Step through your sequences one frame at a time and set breakpoints.
  • The Kismet debugger controls are located in the Kismet toolbar.

 

  • These features can help identify exactly what parts of a sequence are currently executing in your game and for what reasons.

 

  • Enabling the Kismet Debugger is done through the Enable Kismet Debugging button in the main editor toolbar.

Profiling, Performance, and Memory Improvements

  • Major memory and performance optimizations ship with the June UDK Beta.

  • The [STAT UNITGRAPH command](http://udn.epicgames.com/Three/StatsDescriptions.html#STAT UNITGRAPH) provides easy in-game visualization of performance data, making problem areas easy to detect during play.

 

  • Gameplay Profiler improvements include:
    • You can now see time spent in native cycle counter scopes on the game thread.
    • Data types are color-coded, so it’s easy to distinguish levels, actors, script functions, and so on.
    • The Gameplay Profiler can now display an asset associated with an actor or component.

 

Unreal Landscape

  • Unreal Landscape now supports decals, which makes it possible to add dynamic effects such as tire tracks or footsteps to surfaces.

  • Landscape now has a custom texture brush that enables you to control the shape of the brush using a texture. Paint layer weights, noise, etc. with a brush of any shape.

 

  • A preview of the texture in use is now displayed with brush settings.

 

Additional Improvements

  • The Height Fog shader has been optimized.

  • Editor Preferences have been moved to the main menu bar for easy access!

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Unreal Engine 3 is Grasshopper Manufacture’s Weapon of Choice for Shadows of the Damned

Epic worked with Grasshopper on this story, and at their request, some individual names have been withheld.

Acclaimed Japanese game developer Grasshopper Manufacture’s first Unreal Engine 3 game, Shadows of the Damned, has already seen critical and commercial success in the U.S. for publisher Electronic Arts. The innovative action horror game, unleashed in North America in June, is set to haunt Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Japan on September 22. Throughout game development, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 played an important part in enabling top Japanese game designers like Goichi Suda, Shinji Mikami and Akira Yamaoka to create the survival horror game’s unique world.

“Unreal Engine 3 has a long history and many features that helped us take the development process to the next level,” said Satoshi Kawakami, Grasshopper Manufacture CTO. “The game engine's speed allows for trial-and-error testing of gameplay right from the start of development, optimized video effects with a perfect balance of performance, system updates that always include the latest technology, and a level of stability that greatly reduces debugging time in the late development process.” 

Shadows of the Damned

In Shadows of the Damned, players assume the role of Garcia Hotspur, a demon hunter who travels to the City of the Damned to rescue his girlfriend from Fleming, Lord of Demons. Accompanied by a former demon named Johnson, who can transform from a talking skull into deadly weapons, and an assortment of very big guns – all of which can be enhanced through the power of light magic – Hotspur hacks, slashes and shoots his way through a grotesque army of monsters and hulking, disgusting bosses. The game is a unique experience, unlike any other game in its class, with Unreal Engine 3 bringing every outlandish creation to life behind the scenes.

Kawakami called Unreal Engine 3 “the premier game engine middleware in the world," saying that before licensing this technology from Epic Games, Grasshopper Manufacture wouldn’t have been able to tackle the first-person shooter genre.

“Game development is making progress from day to day, and so is the development of game engines,” said Kawakami. “It’s been moving at an incredible pace. I’m very happy that we didn’t waste any of the effort of Epic’s engineers when we created Shadows of the Damned.”

Shadows of the Damned

Kawakami said that using middleware does more than increase the efficiency of game content development, “Unreal Engine 3 helped us gain expertise related to content development methods, development systems, and everything from pipelines to management methods,” added Kawakami. “I really think we grew a lot as developers. This project also taught me that people bring a wide variety of experiences with them when creating games like this.”

A programmer at Grasshopper Manufacture believes the company was able to reduce development costs by utilizing Unreal Engine 3 because the technology is constantly updated with the latest visual effects and technology on a monthly basis. The team also was able to save time and costs in streamlining its cross-platform development of the title.

“Multi-platform support was a big reason that we chose Unreal Engine 3,” said one of Grasshopper Manufacture's programmers. “We looked into how to avoid risks when developing titles for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. By using UE3, we were able to create the game without being conscious of the fact that we were performing multi-platform development.”

Shadows of the Damned

The programmer also liked the fact that Unreal Engine 3 allowed programmers to concentrate on gameplay. In the past, programmers were also tasked with things like level design, effects, and shaders, a time-consuming process

“For asset management as well, the control that UE3's integrated environment gave us made development smoother, without any wasted effort,” said the programmer. “And being able to test behavior on the PC made implementation and testing easier.”

Throughout the development process, the team at Grasshopper tapped into the extensive resources of the Unreal Developers Network, which opened up a vast amount of information from the growing catalog of triple-A Unreal Engine 3 games.

“With all of the information being exchanged and the advice we got from other companies, it was quite stimulating,” said the programmer. “I was able to experience the engine's long development history in the way it enables you to work systematically with its many features supporting the developer. When I think about how pleasant it was to develop with Unreal Engine 3, I definitely want to use it again in the future.”

Grasshopper is already working on its second Unreal Engine 3 game, the action game Lollipop Chainsaw, which Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment plans to publish in 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3.

From a level design perspective, one of the game’s level designers said that using new technology provided by Epic online and using other licensed tools merged or shared with another code base allowed Grasshopper instant access to a development ecosystem giving them a high degree of freedom — examples include adding in crowds or landscapes, all done with far more ease than other options..

“Using BSP prototypes allows you to easily set up or change the level layout before creating the art,” said the level designer. “Personally, I found UE3 to be much faster and simpler than MAX. Using GUI scripting (Kismet) was very efficient. Plus, it’s easy for new people to learn. And since it’s scripting, you can copy and paste it as text just as if you were using a text editor. The Matinee tool has multiple features for cut scenes and gameplay, making it quite powerful.”

The level designer went on to say that using the animation system to set up events in Shadows of the Damned was easier than with engines he's used previously. With Unreal Engine 3, his team set up events from anim-notifies with Kismet. Players experience this first hand in-game when the lights in the castle flicker during the Antenna Survive charge animation, or during the shadow event occurs when buying energy soup from a vending machine in the lake.

“Using Unreal Engine’s visual GUI and Kismet, which has been refined over many years by adding the calculation function, you can set up more refined gameplay battle logic,” added the level designer. “With the package system and sub-levels, the workflow and editor make management more efficient compared to other editors. With no need to wait for artists or programmers to create new assets, the animators were able to finish a level’s cut scenes without waiting for the level design to be finished. The level designers can still easily make changes. And the map build time was less than it has been with the other tools I’ve used in the past for lighting, navigation data, and geometry.”

Shadows of the damned

Members from across the development team were happy to log into UE3's streamlined pipeline. Within a week, artists on the team were able to have the protagonist, Garcia Hotspur, run around a small map holding a torch.. As character evolved over the course of development, so did the engine.

“Throughout the project, we saw many improvements and additional features get added to Unreal Engine 3, and of course we used as many of them as possible,” said one of the game’s artists. “We really were able to let our creativity loose when using the Material Editor to make backgrounds and a variety of character effects. The materials were all made by the artists, everything from subtle random shading of background props to dramatic lighting and target flame effects.”

Perhaps the artist best sums up Unreal Engine 3 calling it Grasshopper’s “weapon of choice."

American McGee Returns to Wonderland

Acclaimed videogame creator American McGee as returned to Wonderland with the help of Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3. Electronic Arts published the long-awaited sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, across PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in June 2011. McGee’s Shanghai-based Spicy Horse, which is the largest Western game development studio in China, brought this universe to life using UE3. McGee has worked with this engine over the past few years on episodic game projects like Grimm, which added a twisted take to classic faerie tales.

“It helped a great deal that we'd had a good experience with it on our Grimm project,” explained McGee, senior creative director, Spicy Horse. “That was super-rapid prototyping and development across a series of 24 individual downloadable games. When it came to Alice: Madness Returns, we wanted an engine solution that would play to our strengths — content production, art presentation, storytelling and delivery of wide ranging game mechanics — while granting that same flexibility and speed we'd experienced with Grimm. We did eval on several other tech solutions before returning to UE3 and found that none of them could offer that.”

McGee added that based on his studio’s previous experience with the tech, they were able to move quickly into a full prototype stage on Alice while doing pre-production and design. He compared this stage as the equivalent to “sketching” ideas with the game engine. Although much of what was done during this phase ended up being cut, everything taught the team valuable lessons that were applied to full-blown game development and production.

Alice2: Return to Madness

“Compared to other game engines we've used, Unreal tech is one of the fastest and easiest to use, especially when it comes to the content pipeline,” said McGee. “When it comes to integrating new people into our production team, it usually takes only a few days for them to familiarize themselves with the development environment and start producing.”

Spicy Horse had 70 internal developers working on Alice and another 45 externally building 3D assets. With two U.S. developers focusing on story creation and community management, a team of 117 brought this sequel to life.

McGee said all aspects of the core Unreal tech were used in the production of this game, from Kismet to Matinee, FaceFX and more. Through Kismet and Matinee Spicy Horse has been able to present a wide range of beautiful interactive and dynamic environments representing Alice's psyche.

Alice2: Return to Madness

“It's a truly flexible environment which has allowed our artists and designers to express the full range of their creativity,” explained McGee. “Ultimately, it's a tool that gets out of the way of the creatives while empowering the tech guys to quickly and easily answer requests for extending the core features.”

Throughout the development process, McGee’s team was able to tap into two rich resources for Unreal – the Unreal Developer Network and Epic’s China studio, Ying Pei Games. Mcgee said that support from both the local Epic office (Ying Pei Games) and the online community has been invaluable. The quality of that support is another reason why his studio originally chose to work with the tech.

“The expectations we had for UE3 was set through interactions with Epic U.S. and Ying Pei Games,” said McGee. “Both groups brought a level of professionalism and service seldom found among game engine providers. When the team has needed to overcome truly unique obstacles (like limited access to the wider Internet from within China) both groups worked together efficiently to route around the problem and maintain our development rhythm.”

McGee said that from the outset, one concern he had was about the scale and detail that could be presented inside a given scene or level of an environment. The bulk of his team’s early frustrations, and then learning, came as a result of misunderstandings about limitations and possible workarounds for presentation of content. 

“Once we'd mastered the tools and our understanding of building in the ‘Epic way,’ everything smoothed out,” said McGee. “Now we're building impressive, expansive and imaginative worlds with little indication of constraint. In terms of the environments in this game, it’s partly about going back to places that Alice visited in the first game. In the original game she battled characters like the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts, and she’s going to travel back to these areas and see what the effects of those battles had on these spaces, and we’re also introducing new places. Players will also be able to travel around in real-world London, so Alice actually spends some time traveling back and forth between these fantastic locations in Wonderland and also spending some time in London.”

Alice 2: Return to Madness

McGee said he’s been influenced by many games over the years. But for the Alice franchise, which is so story-driven, game series like Valve’s Half-Life and 2K Games’ BioShock (another Unreal franchise), served as inspiration. McGee said that while these games are narrative driven, and often times linear, they’re very innovative in terms of the way that they present the story and the gameplay.

The original Alice PC game was built over 10 years ago in Texas by Rogue Software, using id Software’s Quake III technology. As an employee at Electronic Arts, McGee worked with R.J. Berg to develop the story behind the game. They went back to the Lewis Carroll books and took a new take on the world.

“We re-introduced Alice as a character who was dealing with the trauma related to the death of her family in a fire that consumed their home,” said McGee. “In that first game she used the mental landscape of Wonderland to overcome the problems that she was dealing with in the real world. Now, 10 years later, we’re returning to this same character and to this power that she has to travel into Wonderland and deal with her real-world problems.”

Alice 2: Return to Madness

McGee said that Unreal Engine 3 has helped his team develop this sequel as a cross-platform title, whereas the original was a PC-exclusive title – which went on to sell over 1 million copies. The expectations are much higher for this game, especially coming off the $1 billion Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland film from Disney.

“Since the moment the original book was released, Alice is something that took the world by storm,” explained McGee. “And then every couple of generations, it comes back again and is revived as a play or as a film or as a game.”

The latest interactive revival brings a new take to a character beloved by many and known by all. And it’s going to be an Unreal new adventure through the looking glass.