Epic Games is definitely a name that carries a lot of weight among game developers, and it is especially so at the Game Developers Conference.
From 'usual' announcements about record-breaking sales to spectacular showcases that involved not only game developers but also a movie SFX studio and a car brand, Epic Games' keynote was dazzling to say the least.
Let's see what Epic Games brought to GDC 2017.
Two Years after 'Free' License
Before starting the show, Tim Sweeney first revealed how much the engine had taken over the market share. It was at GDC 2015 where they revealed that they will be offering a free license for Unreal Engine 4; the revenue of Unreal Engine was at its highest ever in 2015, and it increased by twofold in 2016.
Tim also boasted that the only commercial engine used by the top 25 games in Steam was Unreal Engine, and the top ranking game for over 10 platforms have used Unreal Engine.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Then, to the audience's surprise, Industrial Light & Magic's CCO John Knoll appeared on stage and revealed that Unreal Engine was used to render K-2SO in last year's hit 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'. John explained how K-2SO appeared in the movie without pre-rendering, as they utilized Unreal Engine for renders "to be as fast as they can be" while being good enough for his requirements.
The Human Race
To further emphasize the power of Unreal Engine in real-time rendering, a short film called 'The Human Race' was revealed by Chevrolet and The Mill. What seemed to be a pre-rendered, or even pre-recorded, footage started to be edited on the fly as the presenter appeared on the stage. The technology involved was one thing, but the presentation was definitely on another level.
Andy Serkis and Imaginati Studios
After 'The Human Race', Andy Serkis was introduced to the stage where he unveiled 'Imaginati Studios'. Andy was no stranger to Unreal Engine, as his Imaginarium Studios have created a virtual actor on stage for the Royal Shakespeare Society's Tempest. With Imaginati Studios, Andy plans to venture forth to the game industry, and he will unveil a project that utilizes Unreal Engine 4 soon.
Nintendo Switch powered by Unreal
Afterwards, Tim Sweeney introduced Nintendo as a new partner of Epic Games for Nintendo's new console the 'Switch'. As Reggie Fils-Aime filled up the screen, he said that he is "genuinely thrilled" to provide a proven path to develop high-quality games with familiar tools for those who developed with Unreal Engine before. He unveiled 'Snake Pass' and 'RiME' as examples of games being developed for the Switch with Unreal Engine 4, and there will be more announcements coming soon.
Redefining mobile gaming
For an example of a mobile game succeeding with Unreal Engine 4, Simon Sim from Netmarble US CEO came up to the stage to showcase their blockbuster mobile game - Lineage II Revolution. Netmarble's goal was to provide "Highest Quality Visuals, Massive Castle Sieges, and Persistent Open World" on mobile devices, and the company used Unreal Engine 4 to achieve these goals.
He also boasted how popular the game was in Korea: 30 days after release, Lineage II Revolution pulled in over $176 million just from the South Korean market, and it only took 17 days for them to earn $100 million in revenue. He promised that the game is being further developed for localization to different countries including North America, and hopes that he can deliver soon.
All developers big and small
Next, to showcase how Unreal Engine 4 isn't just for triple-A developers, Adam Bromell from System Era was invited to the stage to tell how the engine was great for indie developers. Astroneer was mostly developed by a team of just five people, and Adam explained that "For the first year...we were using a completely different engine from the Unreal Engine 4." The problem was that he had to "spend a lot of time to develop the tools and the pipeline" before they could actually develop the game. As Unreal Engine 4 provided several tools needed to develop a game, Adam was sure that Unreal Engine 4 would be a powerful tool for small-sized indie developers.
Borderlands Tech Demo
Then, Randy Pitchford from Gearbox Software unveiled a tech demo for their hit franchise, Borderlands. Although Randy was careful not to reveal whether any part of the demo would be in Borderlands III, it was a session to see how Borderlands' signature art style could be realized through Unreal Engine 4.
VR Editor for Unreal Engine
The presentation turned towards VR, as Ryan Brucks and Lauren Ridge from Epic Games appeared on stage to showcase VR editor. Through demonstrations made by many different people, including an eight-year-old child, new features of VR Editor were revealed, and they will all be available via GitHub.
Robo Recall by Epic Games
Also, 'Robo Recall', an Oculus-exclusive FPS developed by Epic Games was revealed as well. It will be available for all Oculus Rift + Touch owners for free, and it will also be fully moddable with all game assets and the source code available. Finally, Brendan Iribe, co-founder of Oculus, announced a price cut of both the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch to a cost of $598. Individual devices will cost $499 and $99 respectively.