A development environment, which permits a wide range of work to be done in the project, is a critical component in the successful game development process. Epic Games‘ Unreal Engine is a wonderful example of this type of technology. We’ve been working with the Unreal engine game development environment since 2007, and it just gets better with each iteration.
UE 5 has been available for more than a year. We are pleased to have gained expertise with projects that employ the most recent version of Unreal Engine. In this essay, we’ll discuss UE 5 as a development environment and share our experiences working on projects that use it.
Unreal Engine is a general-purpose game creation platform built on the C++ programming language. Unreal Engine, created by Epic Games, provides a comprehensive framework and a suite of integrated tools that allow game creators to create games for a variety of platforms, including PC, consoles, mobile devices, and virtual reality.
Every each generation of Unreal Engine introduces a new set of development tools that typically become a development standard for the engine’s lifetime. In the case of UE 5, Epic Games took care to include several highly advanced and in-demand next-generation development features. Here are a few examples:
- Nanite. Nanite, a breakthrough virtualized micropolygon geometry technology, is introduced in Unreal Engine 5. Nanite allows developers to easily load film-quality source material with hundreds of millions or billions of polygons into the engine, eliminating the need for time-consuming and laborious optimization. This technology enables very detailed and lifelike worlds, pushing the frontiers of visual quality to new heights.
- Lumen. Lumen Global Illumination: Lumen is an Unreal Engine 5 completely dynamic global illumination solution. It provides real-time and global illumination that responds dynamically to changes in the scene. Developers may use Lumen to produce realistic lighting and precise shadowing even in big open areas. It streamlines the lighting process, allowing for greater creative flexibility and faster iteration.
- Enhanced Animation System. UE 5 adds Control Rig, a new animation framework that allows developers to build more immersive and dynamic character motions. Control Rig provides a versatile and user-friendly toolkit for creating generative animations and controlling character movements in real time. This functionality simplifies the animation workflow and allows developers to easily construct realistic and responsive characters.
- Collaborative Development Tools. With new and improved collaborative capabilities, UE 5 improves team member cooperation. Real-time facial animation capture is possible with Live Link Face, allowing developers to swiftly capture and create realistic face emotions. Furthermore, Multi-User Editing allows for simultaneous collaborative editing, allowing different team members to work on the same project at the same time, expediting the development process and encouraging stronger collaboration.
Unreal 5 is a powerful and adaptable tool for game creators, allowing them to build aesthetically gorgeous, extremely immersive, and optimized gaming experiences across various platforms.
Previous versions of Unreal had industry-standard development tools such as Blueprints Visual Scripting, Scalable Foliage, Take Recorder, and Forward Rendering. In addition to the choices stated above, Unreal 5.2, which will be released in May 2023, provides the following:
- Procedural Content Generation framework. Because procedural level generation is a thriving technology in games right now, Unreal provides an early peek at a toolkit that will make it easy to incorporate this feature into your game. This tool allows developers to establish the settings, rules, and parameters of produced content on a huge scene inside Unreal Engine. The framework includes both in-editor tools and runtime components. The Procedural Content Generation framework is currently an experimental technology, but it has already shown promising results, therefore we look forward to future versions.
- Substrate. Substrate enhances the materials authoring functionality. It allows the developer more control over the appearance and feel of in-game items. Substrate assists in imagining states and other visual properties of things within Unreal 5, such as rust, filth, being wet, being on fire, and many others.
- Updates for the virtual production toolset. This addition to the current functionality gives filmmakers more creative freedom over cutscenes and other types of video output. The touch-based interface makes it simple to use on a mobile device; you can adjust lighting, color gradings, and other visible factors directly from the Unreal Engine settings panel. Also, with Unreal Engine 5.2, it is considerably easier to handle different pre-production activities, such as controlling numerous virtual cameras or programming camera motions.
- Updated ML Deformer. UE 5 makes extensive use of machine learning technology, enabling developers to produce high-quality game characters in real-time. ML Deformer adds a plethora of new choices for designing character poses, body languages, body states, and a variety of additional deformations for muscle, skin, and fabric.
Since 2014, Unreal Engine 4 has served us well, and even now, after a year of Unreal Engine 5’s strong presence on the market, we still see numerous games launched utilizing the previous version. Because Unreal Engine 4 is a good tool used by thousands of creators globally, many firms are hesitant to upgrade their games to the fifth edition.
However, there are numerous features in Unreal Engine 5 that cannot be done with the same quality in the fourth edition. Here are a few examples:
- API. Despite some early difficulties, UE 5 already includes a fine-tuned API that makes it easy to collaborate with other tools on your UE project. Also, the transition from Unreal 4.24-4.27 to Unreal 5 is rather easy.
- Dynamic Light System. It would take weeks to create a scene with the same amount of intricacy as the dynamics lights in Unreal Engine 4, but only days using Lumen and Nanite in Unreal Engine 5. Working with light in UE 5 is significantly quicker and more fluid. However, it need greater hardware power, and the files would be significantly larger with UE 5.
- UI. For a long time, the Unreal Engine 4 UI felt a touch dated. Inside the Unreal Editor, UE 5 has a considerably more contemporary and user-friendly interface. Things like the Create Tab and enhanced plugin support make it easier for developers to work with Unreal Engine 5. UE 5 can also run UE 4 projects in the redesigned interface, making the transfer easier.