Ahead of the 2009 Game Developers Conference next week, Epic Games is teasing "major" new updates to its Unreal Engine 3 that it plans to showcase for the first time at the event.
Among the new features to be unveiled is a global illumination solver called Unreal Lightmass, which Epic says produces high-quality static lighting and effects including soft shadows with accurate penumbrae; diffuse and specular interreflection and color bleeding.
Epic also says its new Swarm distributed computing framework lets developers generate lighting up to ten times faster. The new features are bundled with Unreal Engine 3, and current licensees can add Unreal Lightmass at no extra cost.
The firm is also highlighting a new Flickr and Google-inspired content browser and search engine powered by a back-end database to help streamline the way users find source content. It adds thumbnail previews, supports content tagging, and asset collection management.
The Unreal Master Control Program, the scalable statistics and data management back-end used to support the online community features for Epic's Gears of War 2
will also be available as a general UE3 feature, Epic adds.
It supports announcements, settings management, population tracking and data collection, even tools like a heat map series displaying regions of player activity within a level.
"Battle-tested by over 6.8 million hours of online player time, Unreal MCP seriously ups the ante for game engines," says Epic vice president Mark Rein. "The online infrastructure required for a modern, triple-A game represents man-years of work, and all of this is now included in Unreal Engine 3."