Next-Generation Unreal Engine, Unity and Oculus Rift All Unveiled at GDC
It wasn’t just Sony using this year’s Game Developers Conference to unveil new wares to the public. There was big news from the folks behind the Unity engine, Unreal Engine 4 and Oculus VR (aka Oculus Rift). At GDC 2014, they all unveiled big news about their products and made them available to the gaming community.
The first company to break some news was the Unity engine folks. The popular cross-platform game engine that’s used for everything from PC and console indie games to triple-A mobile games is getting its fifth-generation engine soon.
Unity Technologies unveiled Unity 5 during its GDC Developer Day on Tuesday. The newest iteration of the Unity engine will feature a whole host of updates and improvements. The lighting system sees an overhaul that includes a “physically-based shader system” along with real-time illumination and real-time lighting previews. The audio system will see a near total overhaul with a “more efficient audio pipeline” and real-time audio mixing. A new Unity Cloud feature will be added that allows for Unity-based mobile games to seamlessly integrate ads into games.
Interested developers can pre-order Unity 5 for $1,500 or $70 per month. That will come with a free licence for Unity 4. The upgrade from Unity 4 to 5 starts at $600. If you want to know why so many indie devs use that engine, the low entry price point would be why. Well, that and the ease of cross-platform development.
Meanwhile, over at Epic Games, they’re changing the business model for their Unreal 4 engine. The Unreal 3 engine was one of the most commonly used engines in gaming during the last generation but UE4 games are almost unheard of.
The folks at Epic are planning to change that by changing the price of access to Unreal Engine 4. While triple-A developers typically have to pay hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to licence Unreal Engine, the new licensing rate is $19 per month plus 5% of gross revenues of UE4 games sold. This licensing rate is for games developed for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. It looks like console devs will be on the hook for more.
By the way, in addition to Fortnite, the first game announced for Unreal 4, Epic says they are working on a new Unreal Tournament game.
The biggest new piece of kit to be unveiled was the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2. Back in our 2014 CES coverage, we talked about the Oculus Crystal Cove. That was the code name for the current Rift DK2.
The latest version of the Rift comes with a 1080p OLED display with both eye screens having a 960 x 1080 resolution which combines to a total resolution of 1920 x 1080. It uses a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a magnetometer to track head motion but also has the external camera to track head movement that was first seen on the Crystal Cove prototype.
Perhaps the most important bit of the new Oculus Rift is that this one comes with games that have already been developed, patched or modded to support a virtual reality headset. So unlike Rift DK1, the DK2 will be usable on games once you’ve got it set up.
The 2nd generation Oculus Rift dev kit is currently available for pre-order for $350 and is expected to ship in July. We’ll have to wait and see how the PS4’s Project Morpheus stacks up to this when it comes out.