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Epic Games demoed the cool lighting and shadow features of its Unreal Engine 5.2 game engine at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Unreal Engine leader Nick Penwarden showed impressive features like a new substrate shading system that enables artists to author materials at a level of quality and fidelity that wasn’t possible before in real time.
In doing so, it showed off renderings of an electric car from Rivian, showing how it was possible to instantly change the surface of a car’s digital model, adding variations to its paint job or adding dirt and mud to the surface from driving through puddles.
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Normally, artists would have to go through a programmer to make such changes happen. Now the artist can do it alone in real time.
Unreal Engine 5 has tools to more easily make huge open worlds with procedurally generated content. Quixel megascans enable the creation of scenes with things like dense vegetation more easily. In the Rivian demo, an EV truck drove through water and I could see the dust and mud washed off the truck. Lumen events react in real time as developers move a light source around in a scene. And the changes propagate in real time in a scene in games such as Lords of the Fallen.
Fortnite’s Chapter 4 is using the new technology. Lumen can bring light flooding into a room in the game’s environment. Sweeney said there are more than 500 million Fortnite accounts and 230 million users on the Epic Games Store.
There were 71 million polygons in the Rivian truck, enabled by Unreal’s Nanite. Epic Games showed off its opal metallic paint and its iridescent look on the truck’s surface. You can add dust and dirt layers on top of that. About 77% of all Unreal users are on Unreal Engine 5, said Dana Cowley, communications director at Epic Games.
At the close of the event, Epic Games showed off a blend of all the technologies, using a new programming language called Verse. Epic also said that it will distribute 40% of net revenue from Fortnite’s creator section Fortnite Creative to the creators themselves.