During the last generation, many games were built using Unreal Engine 3. For the current generation, Epic Games hopes developers will switch over to its new middleware - Unreal Engine 4. We've already seen the engine in action a few times in the past using Epic's own real time demos, but it became available to all at GDC. To sell developers on its latest technology, Epic has released a new lengthy video detailing the new features in Unreal Engine 4.
In its latest demo, Epic Games goes over some of the newest features to hit Unreal Engine 4. One of the biggest new features is its ease of us. In other words, developers will have an easier time than ever when it comes to creating environments. Developers need merely drop in the asset, size it up and and it will appear in the environment. Applying textures is just as easy since developers need only select a surface, click a texture asset and apply it to said surface.
One of the neater aspects of Unreal Engine 4 is that it can recognize material types and can react accordingly to changes in the environment. In the demo, we're treated to orbs made of ice, wood and metal. When shot with fire, the orb of ice melts, the wood catches on fire and the metal turns red hot. These reactions are programmed into the engine and do not require additional coding on the part of developers.
So, why should gamers care about this? While the technical aspects may go over your head for now, it represents a sizable leap forward in development. These tools will make it easier and faster for developers to get games out the door to you - the players. The games built with Unreal Engine 4 will also look much better so those who invest a lot into visuals will not be disappointed.
As for those who are thinking about getting into game design, Unreal Engine 4 is also much easier to use than previous iterations. It's also incredibly cheap as the entire engine is now available to developers for $19 a month.
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