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Holy snaps! The game design arena just escalated ten-fold. We've been introduced to Unreal Engine tools and software development kit advancements since its announcement and demonstrations displayed at E3 2012, but this latest tool demonstration video is the one that seals the deal: the Unreal Engine 4 SDK is one of the easiest design tools available on the market.
While some publishers may be crying a fit about development costs, the new $19.99 subscription model and the brand new blueprint scripting toolset in Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4, makes it doubly competitive with Unity Technology's latest release of their indie-friendly and Kickstarter-preferred game engine.
Even though the Unreal Engine 4 may have lost one of its biggest features (global illuminated lighting), it definitely makes up for it with the blueprint toolset, enabling non-programmers to script easy functionality and gameplay mechanics into a scene without requiring heavy language toolsets outside of the Unreal Engine. This is perfect for beginner game designers or those who have become familiarized with Unity, but would like to take advantage of some of the Unreal Engine-specific features.
Not only that, but Epic Games' Zak Parrish does a superb job of walking novices and experts alike through the new and improved features of the Unreal Engine 4, giving the development environment a really good name by showcasing some of the easy-to-use features and artist-friendly modifications that will be like a pretty pony cake for a brony's birthday.
One of the things that I really, really liked about the video was how easy it was to manipulate the material and setup the properties. I imagine a lot of non-artists will love being able to grab pre-made material objects instead of having to focus on designing or scripting in the material properties manually, or having an artist pre-render effects or sprites for use in a project. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing for both sides of the design fence.
I'd also like to imagine this should should very easily cut down on a lot of those asset resources that larger games require when trying to apply a lot of attention to detail in those “realistic” action titles.
I'm excited to see how the Unity 5 release grows and matures in opposition to the Unreal Engine, and what sort of advancements Unity will make to stay competitive. It's a great time to be a game designer, and even better time to be a gamer.
You can learn more about the Unreal Engine 4 and some of these very exciting new and improved features for Epic's latest design suite, by paying a kind visit to the official Unreal Engine website. Also, be sure to watch the video above to the end to see that awesome sequence featuring those cyborg warriors fighting in the picture. It's well worth it.