While most of the talk at GDC this year was centered around the slew of VR contraptions being unveiled, the delightful whispers in tech-storm were the big time announcements being made in regards to video game engines.
Sh*t got “unreal” when Epic Games opened up their Unreal Engine 4 development tools to everyone under the sun (or anyone with a compatible computer, that is). For a $19/month subscription, you can access and use Unreal Engine 4 to bring your very own games to life, with only 5% in royalties being required of you if/when your game ships. Fooling around with the engine myself at Epic’s GDC booth, I found the tools to be impressively intuitive.
Epic wanted to create an engine that made development a bit more accessible to folks who aren’t as proficient when it comes to coding and programming. With the addition of a feature called Blueprint – visual solutions to script writing – artists can let their imaginations run wild without having to worry about being restrained by the extreme complexities of scripting language.
Not to be outdone by Epic’s megaton announcement was Crytek, who unveiled their own subscription service, undercutting Unreal Engine 4 at the price of $10/month. The currently free, non-commercial SDK will remain unaffected by this, and the service will be royalty-free. The latest update to the CryEngine added Linux support, an image-based lighting system, and physical-based shading.
All of this is just a taste of what’s to come in the future of game engines and game development, and the imminent improvements are certain to be recognizable to connoisseurs of game development as well as those folks who believe games magically appear on store shelves after being stocked there by the tooth fairy.