|Initial release||July 1, 1998|
4.16 / May 24, 2017
|Operating system||Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, HTML5, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One|
|Available in||English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese (Beta version)|
The Unreal Engine is a game engine developed by Epic Games, first showcased in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal. Although primarily developed for first-person shooters, it has been successfully used in a variety of other genres, including stealth, MMORPGs, and other RPGs. With its code written in C++, the Unreal Engine features a high degree of portability and is a tool used by many game developers today.
Unreal Engine 1
|Initial release||Unreal build 100 / May 1998|
Unreal Tournament build 436 / November 2000
|Written in||C++ , UnrealScript, Assembly|
|Operating system||Windows, Linux, OS X|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2|
Making its debut in 1998 with Unreal, the first generation Unreal Engine integrated rendering, collision detection, AI, visibility, networking, scripting, and file system management into one complete engine. Unreal Engine 1 provided an advanced software rasterizer and a hardware-accelerated rendering path using the Glide API, specifically developed for 3dfx GPUs, and was updated for OpenGL and Direct3D. The release of Unreal Tournament marked great strides in both network performance and Direct3D and OpenGL support.
The engine became popular due to the modular engine architecture and the inclusion of a scripting language called UnrealScript, which made it easy to mod, including total conversions like Tactical Ops.
From the start, the engine was designed in a way to be extensible and improved over multiple generations of games, as creator and founder of Epic Games Tim Sweeney stated in a 1998 interview with magazine Maximum PC.
Unreal Engine 2
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Initial release||Unreal Warfare build 633 / January 2001|
Unreal Engine 2.5 build 3369 / November 2005
|Written in||C++ , UnrealScript|
|Operating system||Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
The second version was released in 2002 with America's Army, a free multiplayer shooter created by the US Army and financed by the U.S. government. This generation saw the core code and rendering engine completely re-written. In addition, it featured UnrealEd 2, a level editor, which debuted with the previous generation of the engine and was shortly followed later by UnrealEd 3, along with the Karma physics SDK. This physics engine powered the ragdoll physics in Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Championship. Other engine elements were also updated, with improved assets as well as adding support for the GameCube and the Xbox. Support for the PlayStation 2 console was previously added in UE1. Taking Xbox aside, both GameCube and PS2 were never supported directly by Epic, support being instead farmed out to Secret Level. As such, third parties looking to use further Unreal Engine revisions had to do their own builds throughout the generation, as they had to in more recent years with the Wii, X360, PS3, PSP, and 3DS.
UE2.5, an update to the original version of UE2, improved rendering performance and added vehicles physics, a particle system editor for UnrealEd, and 64-bit support in Unreal Tournament 2004. A specialized version of UE2.5 called UE2X was used for Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict on the original Xbox platform. It features optimizations specific to that console. EAX 3.0 is also supported for sound.
Unreal Engine 3
|Initial release||Unreal Engine 3 build 100 / March 2004|
Unreal Engine 3 build 12791.2424394 / February 2015
|Written in||C++, C#, UnrealScript, GLSL, Cg, HLSL|
|Operating system||Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, HTML5, Xbox One, Playstation 4 Adobe Flash Player, iOS, Android, Windows RT, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360|
The first screenshots of Unreal Engine 3 were presented in 2004, at which point the engine had already been in development for 18 months. Unlike Unreal Engine 2, which still supported fixed-function pipeline, Unreal Engine 3 was designed to take advantage of fully programmable shader hardware (in DirectX 9 terms, it required shader model 3.0). All lighting calculations were done per-pixel, instead of per-vertex. Unreal Engine 3 supports a gamma-correct high-dynamic range renderer.
Initially, Unreal Engine 3 only supported Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 platforms, while iOS and Android were added later in 2010 along with Xbox one and PS4 in 2014 (with Infinity Blade being the first iOS title and Dungeon Defenders the first Android title). OS X support was added in 2011. Its renderer supports techniques including HDRR, per-pixel lighting, and dynamic shadows. In October 2011, the engine was ported to support Adobe Flash Player 11 through the Stage 3D hardware-accelerated APIs. Epic has used this version of the engine for their in-house games. Aggressive licensing of this iteration has garnered a great deal of support from many prominent licensees. Epic has announced that Unreal Engine 3 runs on both Windows 8 and Windows RT.
Throughout the lifetime of UE3, significant updates have been incorporated, including a global illumination solver, improved destructible environments, soft body dynamics, large crowd simulation, iPod Touch functionality, Steamworks integration, a real-time global illumination solution, and stereoscopic 3D on Xbox 360 via TriOviz for Games Technology. DirectX 11 support was demonstrated with the Samaritan demo, which was built by Epic Games in a close partnership with NVIDIA, with engineers working around the country to push real-time graphics to a new high point.
Unreal Development Kit
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2017)|
|Initial release||v5860.390428 / November 2009|
v12791.2424394 / February 2015
|Written in||C++, C#, UnrealScript, GLSL, Cg, HLSL|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS, Android|
|Type||Level editor / Software development kit|
|License||Free for noncommercial use|
UDN for UDK
While Unreal Engine 3 has been quite open for modders to work with, the ability to publish and sell games made using UE3 was restricted to licensees of the engine. However, in November 2009, Epic released a free version of UE3's SDK, called the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), that is available to the general public.
Unreal Engine 4
|Initial release||Unreal Engine 4 build 8967 / May 2012|
4.16 / May 24, 2017
|Written in||C++, C#, GLSL, Cg, HLSL; UnrealScript removed|
|Operating system||Windows, OS X, Linux|
|Platform||Windows, OS X, Linux, HTML5, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|License||Free to use, with access to source code; 5% of gross revenue after the first US$3,000 per product per quarter|
On August 17, 2005, Mark Rein, the vice-president of Epic Games, revealed that Unreal Engine 4 had been in development since 2003. Until mid-2008, development was exclusively done by Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Epic Games. The engine targets the eighth generation of consoles, PCs and Tegra K1-based devices running Android announced in January 2014 at CES.
In February 2012, Mark Rein said "people are going to be shocked later this year when they see Unreal Engine 4". Unreal Engine 4 was unveiled to limited attendees at the 2012 Game Developers Conference, and video of the engine being demonstrated by technical artist Alan "Talisman" Willard was released to the public on June 7, 2012 via GameTrailers TV. This demo was created on a PC with triple GeForce GTX 580 (tri SLI) and can be run on a PC with a GeForce GTX 680.
One of the major features planned for UE4 was real-time global illumination using voxel cone tracing, eliminating pre-computed lighting. However, this feature has been replaced with a similar but less computationally-expensive algorithm prior to release for all platforms including the PC because of performance concerns on next-generation consoles. UE4 also includes new developer features to reduce iteration time, and allows updating of C++ code while the engine is running. The new "Blueprint" visual scripting system (a successor to UE3's "Kismet") allows for rapid development of game logic without using C++, and includes live debugging. The result is reduced iteration time, and less of a divide between technical artists, designers, and programmers.
[In older engines], if you wanted to change the relationship between your weapon damage and how long it'll take to kill a creature, you may spend a couple of days iterating, but if you have to spend a lot of time waiting for a build every time, you're talking one change, waiting 15 minutes for the compile to complete, and then play the game, get to the point where you can test it, test it, exit the game, change, compile...now, since all of that can be done very quickly within the tools, it's ‘Make the change, play, when it compiles, finish, shoot the guy, and then escape, make the change, play.. the iteration time is down to 30 seconds instead of 15 minutes. Our ability to kind of roll through and see how the game is playing out is much faster.
On March 19, 2014, at the Game Developers Conference, Epic Games released Unreal Engine 4, and all of its tools, features and complete C++ source code, to the development community through a new subscription model. Anyone can sign up for UE4 for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android by paying $19 per month, plus 5% of gross revenue resulting from any commercial products built using UE4. CEO and founder of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, said that the new business model is a reflection of changes in the industry. Epic Games has traditionally made its Unreal Engine available to large AAA game development teams at a cost of millions of dollars but as the industry has evolved, Epic has had to "really rethink our whole business as to how we make the engine available to teams." "Looking at the new shape of the industry now, we realize that's an outdated tool," Sweeney said. "Looking at the possibilities for the engine, we started from scratch and thought 'How can we make the engine available to more people?'". According to the Unreal Engine website, subscribers to the engine will be able to cancel and renew their subscription at any time. They will be able to retain access to UE4 tools, but will not receive access to future releases of Unreal Engine 4.
On September 3, 2014, Epic Games launched the Unreal Engine Marketplace, allowing UE4 subscribers to buy and sell community-created content of all shapes and sizes. In addition to all of the previously released free content, the new marketplace came with a variety of asset packs including full-scale environments, props, characters, sounds, materials, animated meshes, prefab C++ code and a number of other asset types as well as free demos and tutorials.
On September 4, 2014, Epic released Unreal Engine 4 to schools and universities for free, including personal copies for students enrolled in accredited video game development, computer science, art, architecture, simulation, and visualization programs.
As of March 2, 2015[update], Unreal Engine 4 is available to everyone for free, along with all future updates, with a selective royalty schedule. Oculus VR announced in October 2016 that it will cover royalty fees for all Unreal Engine titles shipping on the Oculus Store for up to the first $5 million of gross revenue per game. The same month, Unreal Engine 4 support was confirmed for Nintendo's hybrid console, the Nintendo Switch.
|Typing discipline||Static, strong, safe|
|Filename extensions||.uc .uci .upkg|
UnrealScript (often abbreviated to UScript) is Unreal Engine's native scripting language used for authoring game code and gameplay events before the release of Unreal Engine 4. The language was designed for simple, high-level game programming. The UnrealScript interpreter was programmed by Tim Sweeney, who also created an earlier game scripting language, ZZT-oop.
Similar to Java, UnrealScript is object-oriented without multiple inheritance (classes all inherit from a common Object class), and classes are defined in individual files named for the class they define. Unlike Java, UnrealScript does not have object wrappers for primitive types. Interfaces are only supported in Unreal Engine generation 3 and a few Unreal Engine 2 games. UnrealScript supports operator overloading, but not method overloading, except for optional parameters.
In March 2014 Epic announced that the Unreal Engine 4 would no longer be supporting UnrealScript, but instead support game scripting in C++. Visual scripting would be supported by the Blueprints Visual Scripting system, a replacement for the earlier Kismet visual scripting system.
In addition to the game industry, the Unreal Engine has also seen adoption by many non-gaming projects. For instance, the Unreal Tournament engine was employed by visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic to recreate Rouge City, a fictional place in the 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, allowing Steven Spielberg to plan out camera angles for scenes set in Rouge City. The popular children's TV show LazyTown used Unreal Engine 3 during filming to generate virtual sets for real-time integration with footage of actors and puppets performing in front of green screens. In 2007, architectural firm HKS announced that it had licensed UE3 to create a virtual walk-through of the Dallas Cowboys' stadium for planning purposes. The Unreal Development Kit also was used by the Michigan Department of Transportation, who contracted in 2010 a visualization team at Parsons Brinckerhoff to design a multiscreen driving simulator with the aim to show how vehicles can be plugged in to the national transportation grid.
In March 2012, Epic Games partnered with Virtual Heroes of Applied Research Associates to launch Unreal Government Network, a program that handles government contracts for the Unreal Engine 3. With this support agreement, Virtual Heroes would be able to license the technology to the departments, agencies and units of the United States and its allies across multiple platforms. Epic also revealed that several UE3 projects were already underway, including an Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) contract for Virtual Heroes to design serious games with the aim to help intelligence analysts tackle instinctual biases that might colour their findings, an anaesthesiology training application for U.S Army physicians, and a multiplayer crime scene training simulation developed by the FBI Academy. Later in December, defense IT and software firm IPKeys Technologies licensed the third version of the engine through the UGN channel for development of I-GAME, a tool intended to train tactics and techniques in regards to Counter-IEDs.
In April 2013, the U.S Air Force licensed the ARA Unreal Engine 3 Web Player, an UE3-based plug-in developed by Virtual Heroes, for use on USAF computers. Three months later, IT systems integrator Intelligent Decisions announced that it had become part of the Unreal Government Network. As a new member of the program, the company would utilize the engine to improve training simulations in support of a contract with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM). Similarly, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) and the U.S. Army used the engine to develop a first responder training simulation titled Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE).
Awards and accolades
Unreal Engine 3 holds several technology awards, including eight Game Developer Magazine Front Line Awards for "Best Game Engine" (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), a place in the Front Line Awards Hall of Fame, and three Develop Industry Excellence Awards for "Best Engine" (2009, 2010, 2011).
Unreal Engine 4 received GamesRadar's E3 2012 Important Stuff Awards for "Best Taste of Next-Gen". IGN's Best of E3 2012 for "Coolest Tech", Game Informer's Best of E3 2012 Awards for "Best Tech", and was declared "Best Game Engine" in Develop 100: The Tech List 2014. It also received the Develop Industry Excellence Awards for "Best Engine" in 2013 and 2016.
Games using the Unreal Engine
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