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Unreal Engine 3 Powers NASA’s “Moonbase Alpha”

NASA’s new online game Moonbase Alpha, developed with Unreal Engine 3 by Virtual Heroes, launches today free of charge on Valve’s Steam network.

“Moonbase Alpha” is the precursor to NASA’s UE3-powered online game “Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond,” in which players will take on astronaut roles and explore the moon and other outer space locations in a virtual environment.

According to the press release:

The game has single and multiplayer options that allow participants to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement. Players must work to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment. Available resources include an interactive command center, lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and a fully-stocked equipment shed.

The game is a proof of concept to show how NASA content can be combined with a cutting-edge game engine to inspire, engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration. Moonbase Alpha is rated “E” for everyone.

It is the first game in NASA’s Learning Technologies project. The project supports the delivery of NASA content through interactive technologies such as virtual worlds, games and software applications to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

Virtual Heroes, NASA, Team up for Moonbase Alpha

RALEIGH, NC — In collaboration with NASA, Virtual Heroes — a North Carolina based serious video game developer — built a full-featured, space-exploration game called Moonbase Alpha and chose Unreal Engine 3 for the project. The game focuses on a fictional lunar outpost in the year 2025, following a meteor strike. Players must work together in an immersive 3D setting to repair damage to the base.
The game was released on STEAM in July 2010 and had more than 300,000 downloads in the first three months. 

The compelling graphics and interactive play are credited with attracting so many players. The development team used assets from NASA to develop many of the game's features. Virtual Heroes' founder Jerry Heneghan said,  "The advanced features in Unreal Engine 3 enabled us to model many of the complex features that you will find in the game. We show tanks leaking oxygen using particle effects, and also have robots with remote control displays. What do kids love more than space and remote-controlled robots? This game is fun and also allows kids to hone and practice their problem-solving and teaming skills."

Moonbase Alpha

With STEM education a hot topic in recent years, NASA wanted an application that encouraged public interest in space technology, inspired students to investigate STEM careers, and ultimately attracted young talent to their workforce. Additionally, this game was meant as a proof of concept for a larger space-themed MMO that is on the horizon. Heneghan adds "We pioneered a new game genre and proved that it can be both fun and educational."

_Moonbase Alpha_ was recognized at the 2010 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world's largest such conference, as the Best Government Game. 

Konami Licenses Epic Games Unreal Engine 3 for Saw II The Game

Epic Games, Inc. announced today that Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. has licensed its Unreal Engine 3 for “Saw II: The Game,” an upcoming third-person survivor horror sequel developed by Zombie Studios for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

Based on the fictional universe of the “Saw” movie series, “Saw II” takes place between the first two films and introduces a new twist on Jigsaw’s sinister traps and puzzles in the most intense look into the “Saw” universe ever. “Saw II” features a new combat system, clever ways to fight off enemies using the environment, and highly realistic graphics powered by the latest Unreal Engine 3 technology.

“Licensing Unreal Engine 3 was an easy decision for us,” said Careen Yapp, vice president of acquisitions and franchise development at Konami. “The engine’s new and improved features, time-saving tools and exceptional support system make it the best choice for the ‘Saw’ property.”

“I’ve used other game engines, I’ve written my own, I’ve used middleware and I’ve shipped sequels for franchises using other studios’ tech set, and I prefer Unreal Engine 3 over all of them,” said Mark Long, chief executive officer of Zombie Studios. “The quickest way to reduce risk is to use a known, proven toolset. With Unreal Engine 3, I can promise publishers what I can deliver, and I deliver on time. Every time.”

“Saw II” will be Zombie Studios’ ninth title and fourth franchise shipped with the Unreal Engine.

“It’s always rewarding to support repeat customers with our engine technology,” said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. “Konami is a fantastic publisher, and Zombie has great success shipping Unreal-powered games, so we’re eager to see how the new ‘Saw’ game unfolds.”

“Saw II: The Game” is scheduled to be released globally in fall 2010 to coincide with the release of the film, “Saw VII.” To download “Saw II: The Game” screenshots, the logo or trailer, visit http://www.konami.com/.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and its best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 maintains those features in addition to multi-core processor support, Xbox 360® and PlayStation®3 optimizations, massive world support, and a highly mature tool pipeline. Unreal Engine 3’s consistently evolving toolset is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for PC and console games, visualization applications, training simulations, and linear animated content. Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained through the Unreal Engine site 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” won over 30 Game of the Year awards, and the sales of “Gears of War” and “Gears of War 2” have eclipsed 12 million units. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the four-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also been recognized as the number one game engine by Develop magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Konami

Konami is a leading developer, publisher and manufacturer of electronic entertainment properties and traditional trading card games. Konami’s software titles include the popular franchises Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, DanceDanceRevolution and Castlevania, among other top sellers. Konami is also the manufacturer of the wildly popular Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME, which has sold more than 22 billion, cards worldwide. The latest information about Konami can be found on the Web at http://www.konami.com. Konami Corporation is a publicly traded company based in Tokyo, Japan with subsidiary offices, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan, Konami Digital Entertainment, and Inc. in the United States and Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH in Frankfurt, Germany. Konami Corporation is traded in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol KNM. Details of the products published by Konami can be found at http://www.konami.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament and Gears of War 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.

Anipark Licenses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 for Two Projects

CARY, N.C.– Korea-based Anipark, developer of the number one Korean online baseball game, “MaguMagu,” today announced it has entered an agreement to license Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 for its next two titles – a next-generation online baseball game and new massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for PC.

Anipark’s new casual baseball game builds on the success of the studio’s critically acclaimed “MaguMagu,” which is based on real world data for more than 1,000 athletes from eight professional baseball teams of the official Korea Baseball Organization. The highly anticipated sequel will build on “MaguMagu” records data including batting averages, homeruns, wins and losses and more to deliver realistic, 3D baseball gameplay for players of all ages.

“We selected Unreal Engine 3 for our baseball game because of its ability to handle massive amounts of integrated data easily and efficiently,” said Kwon Min Kwan, development director at Anipark. “There was no question that Unreal Engine 3 was the right choice. We know the Unreal Engine team has the right tools and support to help us realize our vision for our next titles.”

In addition to its new online baseball game, Anipark is also developing its next MMORPG with Unreal Engine 3. The title under development will follow the release of Anipark’s first MMORPG, “Project A3,” known for its fast, movie-like camera work, dramatic battle scenes and high-impact visuals.

“We’re always excited when developers choose Unreal Engine 3 for the sequel of a popular game,” said Ray Park, territory manager of Epic Games Korea. “Anipark established themselves as an industry leader early on, with the development of the first casual 3D online Korean baseball game and the release of the first adult-targeted MMORPG in Korea with ‘Project A3.’ We all look forward to seeing what new ground Anipark will break in developing these two new games.”

Established in 2009, Epic Games Korea is a wholly owned and operated business unit based in Seoul, Korea. The subsidiary drives Unreal Engine licensing and provides support resources to development teams using the Unreal Engine in the Korean marketplace. To learn more about Epic Games Korea, please visit http://www.epicgameskorea.com.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and its best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 maintains those features in addition to multi-core processor support, Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION®3 optimizations, massive world support, and a highly mature tool pipeline. Unreal Engine 3’s consistently evolving toolset is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for PC and console games, visualization applications, training simulations, and linear animated content. Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained through the Unreal Engine site 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” won over 30 Game of the Year awards, and the sales of “Gears of War” and “Gears of War 2” have eclipsed 12 million units. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the four-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also been recognized as the number one game engine by Develop magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Anipark

Anipark Co., Ltd, based in Seoul, South Korea and established in 2000, develops not only MMORPG but also games in many other genres including casual games and introduced “A3” in 2002, “Hoverboard ASDF” in 2004, “MaguMagu” in 2006, and “OZ Chronicle” in 2008. Through the successful overseas expansion with “A3,” the very first product of the company, Anipark has become a developer that attracts attention of the global game industry. “MaguMagu,” Anipark’s online baseball game based on the actual data of thousands of baseball players of Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and Major League Baseball (MLB), has enjoyed wide popularity in gamers and baseball manias in Korea. Additional information about Anipark can be obtained through the Anipark Web site at http://www.ani-park.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament and Gears of War 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.

Redduck Licenses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3

CARY, N.C. – Korea-based Redduck, Inc., the developer of “Alliance of Valiant Arms” (A.V.A), has entered into an agreement to license Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 for its upcoming first-person shooter (FPS), “Metro Conflict: Presto.”

“Metro Conflict: Presto” brings high-intensity, near future warfare to the PC. In “Metro Conflict: Presto,” players can storm the urban battlefield solo or with friends. This fusion of imagination and technology is stocked with amazing visuals, engaging maps, an arms system as well as a gratifying double-weapon system that gives players the ability to wield two weapons at once.

With the launch of “A.V.A” in 2007, Redduck became the first Korean studio to release a game powered by Unreal Engine 3 in the Korean market. The game was subsequently released in Japan, the U.S. and China, and received wide recognition for the quality of its graphics and its intense military battle scenes.

“With ‘A.V.A.,’ Redduck proved its ability to create a world-class game,” said Ray Park, territory manager of Epic Games Korea. “Plus, the game was innovative – their system for in-game commerce was one of the first of its kind. We’re thrilled that they’re using Unreal Engine 3 again for ‘Metro Conflict: Presto,’ and can’t wait to see what they’re able to do with it this time.”

“Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 was a big factor in our success with ‘A.V.A.,’” said Do-Min, Ok, Redduck’s chief technology officer. “We’re looking forward to pushing ourselves even further with ‘Metro Conflict: Presto,’ knowing that Unreal Engine 3 has constantly evolved since we used it for ‘A.V.A.’”

The trailer for “Metro Conflict: Presto” is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa2Q4WN7p3M&wmode=transparent&wmode=transparent.

Established in 2009, Epic Games Korea is a wholly owned and operated business unit based in Seoul, Korea. The subsidiary drives Unreal Engine licensing and provides support resources to development teams using the Unreal Engine in the Korean marketplace. To learn more about Epic Games Korea, please visit http://www.epicgameskorea.com.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and its best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 maintains those features in addition to multi-core processor support, Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION®3 optimizations, massive world support, and a highly mature tool pipeline. Unreal Engine 3’s consistently evolving toolset is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for PC and console games, visualization applications, training simulations, and linear animated content.

Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained through the Unreal Engine website 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” won over 30 Game of the Year awards, and the sales of “Gears of War” and “Gears of War 2” have eclipsed 12 million units.

Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the four-time winner of and Hall of Fame inductee for Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award. Unreal Engine 3 has also been recognized as the number one game engine by Develop magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games website at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Redduck

Redduck, established in 2006, is a game developing studio specializing in online FPS games. Redduck’s flagship game, A.V.A (Alliance of Valiant Arms) is the only FPS game in Korea that has been awarded Grand Prize (Game of the year), Best Characters and Best Graphics Awards at Korea Game Awards. Commercial services are being provided in Korea, Japan, the U.S. and China. Metro Conflict: Presto, currently under development, is Redduck’s next online FPS game using Unreal Engine 3 and its open beta service is scheduled for December 2010. Additional information about Redduck Inc. can be obtained through the official website at http://www.redduck.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, Unreal Tournament and Gears of War 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.

Uber Entertainment Licenses Unreal Engine 3

Xbox LIVE Arcade action game packs a punch with the latest Unreal Engine technology

KIRKLAND, WA – Uber Entertainment today announced it has licensed Unreal Engine 3 for “Monday Night Combat,” its newly revealed action game featuring competitive and co-op team-based fighting. Packed with the latest technical advances in Unreal Engine 3, “Monday Night Combat” is scheduled to storm Xbox LIVE Arcade later this year.

“Monday Night Combat” is a class-based, third-person shooter blending intense combat and finishing moves with game show-like challenges and rewards. Players can fight for cash, fame and endorsements via online multiplayer as well as the extensive career meta game.

“The Unreal Engine has enabled us to get ‘Monday Night Combat’ into a playable and great-looking state faster than any other engine on the market could have. We’re thrilled to be working with it,” said Bob Berry, president and chief executive officer of Uber Entertainment.

“We’re really pleased to see ‘Monday Night Combat’ make great use of Unreal Engine 3’s capabilities for downloadable console games,” said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. “Uber Entertainment has achieved a lot with the game’s development in a short period of time and we can’t wait to play it online.”

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and its best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 maintains those features in addition to multi-core processor support, Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION®3 optimizations, massive world support, and a highly mature tool pipeline. Unreal Engine 3’s consistently evolving toolset is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for PC and console games, visualization applications, training simulations, and linear animated content. Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained through the Unreal Engine site 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” won over 30 Game of the Year awards, and the sales of “Gears of War” and “Gears of War 2” have eclipsed 11 million units. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the three-time consecutive winner of Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award, was the 2008 Hall of Fame inductee and won Best Engine again in 2009. Unreal Engine 3 has also been recognized as the number one game engine by Develop magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Uber Entertainment

Uber Entertainment, Inc. is a privately held video game development company headquartered in beautiful downtown Kirkland, WA. Founded in March of 2008 by veteran developers, Uber Entertainment is working on an amazing blend of awesome technology and innovative gameplay. Team members have worked on many platforms including PC, PS1, PS2, GCN, Xbox, 360, PSP, Wii, and iPhone. Additional information about Uber can be obtained through the Uber Entertainment Web site at http://www.uberent.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Unreal, 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.

Scaleform GFx Bundled with Unreal Engine

CARY, NC and GREENBELT, MD – Epic Games, Inc., developers of the industry-leading Unreal Engine, and Scaleform® Corporation (Scaleform), the leading provider of Flash®-based middleware and user interface (UI) solutions for the video game and consumer electronic industries, today announced that Scaleform GFx will be bundled free of any additional charges with all current and future versions of Unreal Engine 3. In addition, Epic Games will use Scaleform’s technology to speed the design of innovative UIs for its own highly anticipated titles, including Gears of War 3.

Scaleform GFx has long been integrated with the award-winning Unreal Engine, although both middleware technologies were previously sold separately. The new partnership between Epic Games and Scaleform will ensure that all versions of Unreal Engine 3 will include Scaleform GFx and its many groundbreaking features without any additional work or licensing fees. The partnership will also ensure that fans of Epic Games’ titles will experience the latest in immersive UI design, including Scaleform’s new 3Di rendering and stereoscopic 3D interfaces, high performance heads-up displays (HUDs) and richly animated menus.

“At Epic, we pride ourselves on delivering best-of-breed graphics, performance, and an unrivaled toolset with our Unreal Engine,” said Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games and chief architect of the Unreal Engine. “Scaleform GFx is the clear leader in user interface design for casual and triple-A games alike with its unmatched versatility, performance enhancing features and new 3Di technology, making it a ‘must-have’ for our upcoming titles, and a tremendous added value for all Unreal licensees. We’ve also been long time admirers of the Scaleform team and the superior technology that they’ve been providing to game developers for many years, and even more impressed with their upcoming roadmap of feature improvements. We’re thrilled to have GFx bundled with the Unreal Engine for many years to come.”

“We’re extremely excited that Epic Games has chosen to bundle our technology in their industry-leading game engine and use GFx to enhance their award-winning game franchises,” said Brendan Iribe, co-founder, president and CEO of Scaleform. “Epic is an innovator in game design and 3D engine middleware technology. Their long-term confidence in Scaleform GFx is a strong endorsement of our proven track record, increasing ubiquity, and overall leadership in the game market.”

“Making Unreal Engine 3 a complete out-of-the-box solution for all developers is one of our core goals,” said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. “It quickly became evident that Scaleform GFx is far and away the best UI solution in the market and will remain without equal for years to come. Providing GFx as a fully integrated and standard component of the Unreal Engine is another example of how Epic continues to invest and improve our technology for all of our licensees.”

Scaleform GFx will continue to be available as a standalone UI solution that supports other middleware technologies on the market.

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and its best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 maintains those features in addition to multi-core processor support, Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION®3 optimizations, massive world support, and a highly mature tool pipeline. Unreal Engine 3’s consistently evolving toolset is designed to accelerate developers’ productivity for PC and console games, visualization applications, training simulations, and linear animated content. Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained through the Unreal Engine site 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” won over 30 Game of the Year awards, and the sales of “Gears of War” and “Gears of War 2” have eclipsed 12 million units. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the four-time winner of Game Developer magazine’s Best Engine Front Line Award and Hall of Fame inductee. Unreal Engine 3 has also been recognized as the number one game engine by Develop magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Scaleform Corporation

Scaleform is the leading provider of user interface software for the videogame and consumer electronic industries. Scaleform GFx enables developers to leverage the power of the Adobe® Flash® tool set and to streamline the creation of highly immersive user interface elements such as hardware-accelerated 3D game menus, HUDs, animated textures, in-game videos and mini-games. Used across all major platforms in 600+ games ranging from AAA to casual titles, the artist-driven Scaleform GFx has grown to include a complete Flash UI toolkit and framework, memory and performance analyzers, and add-ons for Flash video and IME for Asian chat. For more information, visit http://www.scaleform.com.

Epic, Epic Games, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, Unreal, Unreal Engine, and Unreal Tournament are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. All trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

Unreal Engine 2.5 Still Brings Rapture Alive in Bioshock 2

SAN FRANCISCO, California – When Irrational Games, now 2K Boston, first embarked on its underwater odyssey to bring the city of Rapture to life in the original Bioshock, they chose Unreal Engine Engine 2.5. Although a new team (2K Marin), overseen by eight key members from the original venture, has taken the helm on the single-player sequel (Digital Extremes is developing the multiplayer prequel separately in Toronto), Unreal Engine 2.5 remains the main star of this unique and award-winning universe.

“Frankly, I’m an Unreal Engine fan and I have been since the beginning of my career as a designer,” said Jordan Thomas, creative director on Bioshock 2. “Today, our version of Unreal Engine is its own animal… it's branched out into a lot of different, very custom things that our teams have layered on top of that base.”

Thomas said the fact that Bioshock 2, which pushes the visuals that wowed critics and gamers alike in the first game, is still running on Unreal Engine 2.5 definitely speaks to the technology’s versatility. He said that while there has been a lot of formidable engineering work done by the Bioshock 1 and 2 teams, which he wouldn’t want to discount, but he believes it’s fairly impressive that Unreal Engine 2.5 is able to make a game like Bioshock 2 after being customized that much.”

BioShock 2

“It’s sort of an interesting situation for us because the flavor of Unreal Engine that we have has been mutated over the last eight or nine years at Irrational Studios and it has had a lot of custom work put into it,” said Zak McClendon, lead designer, Bioshock 2. “All development has its trials and tribulations, but the nice thing about Unreal Engine is it has a really good level design tool set and that’s the foundation of any good design workflow. It’s something that allows our guys to work very quickly within.”

Hogarth de la Plante, the lead environment artist on Bioshock 2, was a senior environment and level artist on the first game. He said the decision was made not to upgrade to Unreal Engine 3 because the team didn’t have any graphical problems with the first game. 

“We felt like it won almost every art direction and graphical award the industry had to offer that year so we were like, ‘Okay, do we really want to change our entire pipeline and move over to Unreal Engine 3 at this point, or do we just want to retrofit it with the things that we want to do for Bioshock 2?’ So we decided to just do it that way this time.”

BioShock 2

De la Plante said the team continued to build proprietary technology on top of Unreal Engine 2.3. He wanted to improve how the ocean looked when the player was inside, and so a team member created a special shader technology that made the water look better. De la Plante said Unreal Engine 2.5 gave his artists a lot more flexibility to be creative with shaders. 

He added that on a very kind of boring and technical level, it allowed the team to do more with less memory, basically.

BioShock 2

“For Bioshock 2, we had someone write volumetric fog on the rendering side, we added ambient inclusion, which we baked into our levels, and the AI system’s been completely re-written,” said de la Plante. “There’s a lot of stuff in there, so it’s not a lot like stock Unreal 2.5. It’s almost unrecognizable. In fact, we have the entire shader system from Unreal Engine 3 in this game. We liked what Epic had done so they bolted it onto our version of Unreal Engine.”

Digital Extremes has a history of working with Unreal technology, which Alan Goode, systems designer at the company said helped the team when working on the new online multiplayer gameplay for Bioshock 2.

 “Our previous experience with Unreal Engine meant that we had a lot of talented individuals who already knew the framework and knew how to actually get the things done that we really needed to do in order to push the technology a little bit further,” said Goode. “Even with building the levels, it was really helpful to have that previous experience because our level designers knew exactly how to use the BSPs and whatnot in order to really utilize the technology and then it all just came together.”

BioShock 2

Goode said the Digital Extremes team had to build all of the multiplayer code for Bioshock 2 because the modified Unreal Engine 2.5 technology that 2K Marin was employing had no multiplayer support. Goode promises that the end result that gamers experience will be an interactive blast.

“What really stands out with multiplayer is what we could push when it came to the combinations with the plasmids and the tonics and the weapons in Bioshock 2,” said Goode. “The modes are fantastic because they really push all of these different kind of elements of Rapture, like dealing with the little sisters and big sisters and splicing and updating yourself with atom. We had all of these things that were open to us, but at the end of the day it’s the gameplay itself that’s really sticks everything together and really makes it play like Bioshock.”

Goode reiterated that players won’t feel like this sequel is anything but a huge step forward, despite sticking with the original, but highly modified, Unreal 2.5 technology.

“We’re not even using the newest Unreal technology that’s out there, but it’s obviously fairly impressive from what you can see that we’re doing on Bioshock 2, especially within the multiplayer,” said Goode. “We added all the multiplayer code and got that in there, but it’s all because we have the Unreal editor and the underlying code base from what the previous Bioshock team created. 

BioShock 2

Although the decision was made to stick with this custom variation of Unreal Engine for this sequel, Thomas has kept abreast of what Epic has been doing with its latest technology Unreal Engine 3 technology.

“I think Unreal Engine is very content designer-oriented, so I’ve got a bias, but I am more and more excited by all the features that I’m seeing layering into both Epic’s formal level editor and also their cinematic editor, Matinee, and their visual scripting system, Kismet, with Unreal Engine 3,” said Thomas. “I think that that stuff is amazing. I sort of crave returning to using some of it, frankly.”

Gamers will be able to return to Rapture and explore new a new single-player sequel and an original multiplayer prequel February 9, 2010.

BioWare Sculpts Improved Mass Effect Sequel with Unreal Engine 3

When it came time to create a sequel to its critically acclaimed bestseller, Mass Effect, Electronic Arts-owned developer BioWare focused on improving Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 base technology to create a more immersive sci-fi role-playing action game experience. Over 150 people at BioWare worked on the new game, which has already been honored as one of the big games of 2010. Having worked with UE3 on the first game, Casey Hudson, lead producer on Mass Effect 2, said his team has been able to push every aspect of the new game forward from both a technology and gameplay perspective.

“Having shipped the game on Unreal with a Mass Effect total framework into that engine, we looked at what our final performance memory budget was and billed Mass Effect 2 to that budget,” explained Hudson. “We didn’t have the opportunity to do that in the first game, so that helped us develop the content better. We also were able to look at where we were spending the most time on the least effective tasks.  So it’s not that we’re using more of the CPU, it’s just that we look at things like the previz phase, for example, in scale form and we rewrote our code for that. We just found little opportunities where we were surprised at how much time we were spending in the wrong places like you do in any normal game development process.”

Mass Effect 2

Hudson’s team also focused on the fidelity in Mass Effect 2. Although he said the lighting models in the first game were “really sophisticated and really detailed, they were a pain to that cost in the original Mass Effect.” He explained that a lot of times the lighting situation caused those materials to flatten out so players didn’t get to see or appreciate them for the way that they were built. With the sequel, the team designed the way its light manager works so it creates a high contrast and compelling lighting scenario regardless of what lighting condition a player is in, so that it shows off materials to their full potential. When all of these details are added together, Mass Effect 2 runs on a higher frame rate and yet it also has greater texture, resolution, and more material information than the original.

Digging into the toolset of UE3, Hudson said his team utilized Matinee and Kismet to improve the player experience in Mass Effect 2.

“Matinee is really integrated into the way we build a lot of our proprietary technology for digital acting and conversation and things like that, so we have our own system and tools that work with our conversation system,” said Hudson. “Our writers write into a dialogue editor and that becomes fused with the way that you end up seeing many different pieces of Matinee play out in combination when you have a conversation with characters. We used Kismet for scripting a lot of the way that the level responds to the action or prompting our enemies to do certain AI or having movers react and start moving around and things like that.”

Mass Effect 2

Although BioWare’s programmers communicated with Epic and other game developers through the Unreal Developer Network on Mass Effect 2, they spent most of their time utilizing that offering on the first game, especially as they ramped up on all the details of the technology the first time around.

“I think UDN is a really good service for when you’re first learning the engine,” said Hudson. “The biggest challenge when using someone else’s engine is figuring out how you’re supposed to use it and how to best use it. We used it a lot on Mass Effect and I know that our guys are always in contact with Epic.”

BioWare chose UE3 for the Mass Effect trilogy because they wanted to make an immersive third-person perspective shooter game with sci-fi environments.

“We started out already being a game that was likely to work with Unreal, but we took some further steps with Mass Effect 2 to really build the content a lot more like you’re supposed to with Unreal,” said Hudson. “With Mass Effect, we built a lot of things handmade in an intermediate level and with Mass Effect 2 we used more of the Epic method where we build lots of pieces and then assemble them in the end. They’re just little differences and they’re easy to get into performance games, but it comes down to a team really learning a different methodology with the technology. And that takes some time.”

Mass Effect 2

Gamers will experience from this “revolution of many tiny little improvements” in Mass Effect 2 a much more optimized game with a faster frame rate. Hudson said the camera has been improved to offer more precise aiming in combat, including body-specific targeting. 

“We moved some of the progression and skills out of the ability to aim and hit a target so that you still have all the progression in terms of how much damage you cause or the level of power of your special abilities, but when you’re firing a weapon you have a precise weapon,” added Hudson. “You’re a trained soldier so you’re able to hit a target if you can put the crosshair on the target. And this makes the weapons feel that much more precise and the aiming is much more satisfying. That precision and that fluid frame rate and better camera and aiming works really well with location-based damage. There are headshots and those things actually create different enemy behaviors and reactions. These things not only add more precision and depth to the experience, it also adds to the overall tension of combat, because we also limit your ammo. Every round counts.”

The end result is that Mass Effect 2, powered by UE3, offers players an intense RPG experience bristling with action. And it all looks and plays better thanks to the time BioWare spent working with the technology. Just imagine how great Mass Effect 3 will look and play in a couple of years.

Unreal Engine 3 Enlists with Army of Two: The 40th Day

On the heels of their success with the original, critically-acclaimed Army of Two game, Electronic Arts’ Montreal Studio has returned to the battlefield with a sequel, Army of Two: The 40th Day. Like the first game, the sequel is powered by Unreal Engien 3. Reid Schneider, executive producer on the Army of Two franchise — a Hollywood movie adaptation is also in the works — has been working with Epic’s game technology for years.

“Many of us first started using it when we were at UbiSoft Montreal working on the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell titles,” said Schneider.  “Also, since we shipped the original Army of Two on Unreal Engine 3 we had experience with their engine structure, shader/rendering pipeline, and animation system.  We have a great relationship with Epic, as well. They have always been very helpful to us. I think the core benefit of using Unreal is that so many artists/animators/engineers have experience with it now. This means the ramp-up time to become effective is minimized when they start on the project.”

Army of Two: the 40th day

Schneider said his team has always been focused around building content, rather than developing technology.  They like Unreal because it’s a very solid cross-platform solution and editor. The team has also done an extensive amount of optimization work on the engine since the first game, so using it for the sequel just made sense.

“When we started on the original Army of Two, we had to figure out everything because it was an original IP,” said Schneider.  “We were not starting with a universe, but rather crafting one.  I think the main difference of the development from the first game to the second was that we really kept the team focused on features that would end up in the final product.”

For both Army of Two games, EA Montreal used all the tools available in UE3. Schneider said his level designers do almost all their scripting in Kismet. He said this was especially useful for setting up triggering-events since the game is relatively linear. They also used Kismet for the morality choice moments, as well as pre-combat interactions with the NPCs.    

“We used Matinee extensively for two types of cameras in the game,” added Schneider. “We had ‘focus cams’ where the player would see what civilians were being held hostage. We also used Matinee for our ‘Destruction Cams,’ and regular cinematics. We spent a lot of time blowing up buildings/structures in this game and needed great camera work to show it off.”

Army of Two: The 40th day

Schneider said that Army of Two: The 40th Day was influenced by Hollywood films like Die Hard and Cloverfield. In this game, the goal was to make it a personal story where the players have to “get out alive,” rather than focusing on globetrotting and political conspiracy. The team was able to utilize Unreal Engine 3 to build environments that accentuated the danger that surrounds the players at all times. 

Players now have two co-op choices within the Army of Two franchise on the gaming side, and Schneider said Universal Pictures is developing a feature film based on the games. When gamers pick up the latest game, the expanded customization options and destructible environments that they’ll fight through were all made possible with Unreal Engine 3.