Really Real: Unreal Reel

A new version of UDK has turned up, and Epic have produced a demo movie (below) to show off some of the features that the engine now boasts. Worth watching for the pretties, at least.


  1. riadsala says:

    The trailer alone is making my pc’s gpu feel old and decrepit.

  2. Nesetalis says:

    looks quite sexy..
    though much of it seems very simplified at detail, all together it makes a stunning effect.

    I’m more curious about the limitations of the engine, how far can it be twisted and bent? how much can be procedurally generated?

    I’m certainly going to need to look deeper in to this :D

    • Benny says:

      The unreal 3 engine has always felt like it’s been made and maintained with the console (and namely the console’s lowest denominator for it’s type of games: the 360). UDK was a breath of fresh air from them, and obviously inspired by the things Unity was doing. Giving more power and freedom to the PC users.

      As far as bending and twisting goes, the ultimate question is whether the artists are able to use these tools to create the wonderful shiny environments that we play around in even shinier. All that said, i’m very sure the engine gives people the ability to add these kind of features in themselves so all they’ve done is add official versions (i could also be very wrong :P).

  3. fearian says:

    Glad to see UDK getting some RPS love! This video blew me away, I am feverishly downloading the latest build now.

  4. ninjapirate says:

    For some reason I’m really bothered by the way the trees’ branches just wiggle back and forth hectically during the storm. But I guess the more realistic these engines get, the easier it is to spot things that are unrealistic.

    Still looking forward to seeing these graphics in games though!

    • MrMud says:

      I was having a similar silly nag with how the raindrops fall evenly on the ground despite there being a tree canopy.

  5. NPC says:

    Looks nice… may be this could be used to create a highly-detailed small-area game, so that we don’t zoom past these beauties at high speeds…

    PS Tram-sitions!

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      As beautiful as it may be, the risk I’m afraid of is that we’ll end up with a (if you’ll pardon me) signal to noise quotient that drowns out writing, plot, and functionality of a game in favor of beauty. The latest Mafia II or Two Worlds II titles are a perfect example. Simply amazing graphics, NPC behavior, physics interactions, lighting, camera work, etc – but only 5% of the beauty and physical space is utilized. Most of the game just feels empty if you explore. Remember when RPS wrote about exploring in FUEL? Same.

      Then you flip the coin, and point all that realism in an “on rails” heavily scripted game where the environment is just as equally presented in a corridor, but we feel choked and trapped by the constraints. We want to be able to open doors, climb on the roof, accomplish the mission some other way. Call of Duty compared to Crysis.

      So while I love this sort of thing to no end, I’d much rather see a “crysis meets oblivion” where you realize your environments potential in the epic of your narrative – not just a pretty box you go from one side to the other to click an NPC or fetch 10 rat tails.

  6. Mashakosha says:

    That’s pretty impressive, even if some of those terms don’t make a lick of sense to me. But then, I’m a noob. Will still link one of my tutors to this though.

  7. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Trouble is, it’s getting so close to being realisitic, it’s starting to fall into the uncanny valley and the bits that aren’t quite as good are jarring. Still, they just need to sort out the tree leaves and some of the water effects and they’re there. The lighting is lovely

    • Sinomatic says:

      Uncanny Valley – exactly what I was thinking. Some of it was rather pretty, and some of it was just creepy and not-quite-right.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Lovely? I found the lighting the least realistic (and most jarring) aspect in the entire video. Especially the way the lighting effects colour the surroundings.

  8. skinlo says:

    Not bad, but still doesn’t compete with the Crytek engine really imo.

  9. Babs says:

    I’m not that impressed tbh. Some aspects of it are good: the lighting, post-processing effects and some of the rain for instance, but a lot of it is terrible.

    The trees are very low-polygon and move in an entirely unconvincing manner, with the branches just waggling backward and forwards. Similarly the close-up of the flowers shows looks wrong because they’re stretching the petals in a strange pseudo-drunken way. If you look closely there are some really, really terrible water effects too.

    I would guess that this demo is aimed squarely at the consoles. I’ve seen better graphics actual PC games, plus it loks to me like there is no tesselation which surely would have been included on the PC.

    • Jp1138 says:

      I completely agree. DidnĀ“t seem too spectacular to me :(

    • DrGonzo says:

      If that is a demo of what it will look like on consoles then it’s very impressive. If that will run on a 360 then it will either run on a low spec PC and look gorgeous, or look even better on high spec PC.

    • shrk says:

      It’s demonstrating some features of the engine… it’s not like it’s meant to be a modelling tool or a collection of models, so it’s odd that you complain about those.

    • lethu says:

      @shrk, let me disagree, for ages the released tech demos were often demonstrations of what was best under a given support at a given time, really top-notch graphics, which ironically were then rarely completed in terms of real playable games, it was demonstrations of technologies that you would almost think came from aliens at the time… But here, I hardly see what would seem realistic by 2 or 3 years earlier standards, and I have a strange feeling that what we see in this trailer can easily run on a computer like mine, which is already 2-3 years old, which wasn’t the case for (ie) STALKER when its first tech trailers started raining all over the web.

    • Benny says:

      Yeah, tech demos show features, but these features are ones that i’m pretty sure were being done 2-3 years ago in the same, if not higher fidelity.

      The most likely reason they’re releasing these tools is that after they made them for use in Gears of War 3 they were obliged to release them on UDK as well. That or face the wrath of another Silicon Knights debacle.

    • bastronaut says:

      Sophisticated technology to provide the uncanny valley without characters. For all the detail it didn’t look any less artificial than Quake 1. Videorealism fail; is the wrong approach. Games based on such technology aren’t more engaging or immersive–it just feels like moving through a highly detailed and non-interactive model. It’s not fun at all. For me, anyway. But I suppose some people want a visual illusion. Although the rain, the wind effects on the plants, the water, the absurdly exaggerated light glow–not convincing at all.

  10. Hmm says:

    Nice video, but who cares if there are no games using features shown here?
    Too bad Epic are too busy kissing MS’s feet and focus on Gears 3 being XBOX exclusive instead of releasing it on PC and taking advantage of today’s hardware. Funny that they keep releasing bullshots of that game – insane resolution, tons of AA and AF… Embarassed to show their baby in its consolized glory?

    • Benny says:

      But upscaled 720p at 30fps looks so gorgeous! Why wouldn’t they?

  11. Rob Hale says:

    The features shown are actually 100% scripted so you don’t get procedural skies or night and day or weather out of the box. You get the engine and tools to be able to make those things unlike Crysis where you can sit with the editor and fiddle with the time of day and weather values straight away.

    The kismet required to pull off that video is actually horribly complex so don’t be fooled into thinking that making a world with time of day and weather patterns is easy. It isn’t.

    Also on my ridiculous spec dev PC the level runs at about 10fps at 1024×768. The video is almost certainly offline rendered and getting this kind of detail into a real time game with a framerate in double digits on even good hardware isn’t going to happen for a couple of years.

    It is pretty though.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      The kismet required to pull off that video is actually horribly complex

      That word doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s almost as bad as people using the word “chai” for a cup of tea.

    • mlaskus says:

      Kismet has a lot of meanings.
      link to

      He meant the visual scripting language used in UDK,

    • weego says:

      I hope irony still means what I think it means, otherwise I may have just paradoxed us.

    • Kristian says:

      @Rob Hale: You’re comparing a game to an engine.

    • Rob Hale says:

      @Kristian actually the time of day and weather (mostly the wind) stuf fis supported in Cryengine not just Crysis without you having to completely reintegrate it and it is also a licensable engine.

      The point is this: People approach UDk expecting a button that has “Generate Game” written on it. What they get are the tools to make a game. The video suggests that the time of day and weather etc are already provided to you. They are not. However with Cryengine they are.

    • Starky says:

      @ Kristian, no he isn’t.

      He’s comparing an engine (the Crysis engine) to an engine.

      Edit: Bleh, ninja’d.

    • Starky says:

      As a side note, I’ve ever heard anyone use Chai to mean tea in my part of Britain.

      I hear people use “cup of char” all the time – which is perfectly fine and really an old phrase, probably from the Chinese tcha (tea), not the indian chai (tea) – given it dates back to when we brits got most of our tea from china.

      Anyway, saying a “cup of chai” while mixing language, is still correct.

    • fearian says:

      @Hale, then these people are naive idiots. I’m sorry, but you cannot criticise UDK for failing to be some imaginary game generator you think people might expect, that’s ludicrous. It’s also very petty to criticise it for not having an automatic ‘make time-of-day’ button and act like the functionality flat out doesn’t exist.

      UDK is an engine. One that gets regular, fantastic updates that often feature whatever new technology is only just being implemented in AAA in house engines, to the public, for free. Obviously this opens up its audience considerably, but It’s unfair to assume that Epic are now creating videos in order to mislead budding developers. The features are there, they are very real, and honestly very useful. I’ve been looking forward to promised improvements to foliage rendering for a month or two.

  12. muki says:

    The animated noise modifier is a little too apparent on vegetation, makes the greens dance oddly. Otherwise really great!

  13. KillahMate says:

    I really appreciated that they finally created a realistic DOF implementation. In most every other game engine so far you can see that the picture is first rendered sharply and then clumsily filtered with maybe two different strength blurs (foreground and background, near foreground and far background) with no transitions, which are then combined with the sharp original in a plain 50% alpha pass, so you can still clearly see the sharp edges of objects, and the DOF ‘blur’ is just this sort of bloom over them.

    The flowers at 0:28 blur gradually, the bokeh does not seem to interact with objects at separate screen depth (common problem with screen-space DOF effects), and the blur generally emulates HDR bokeh fairly well. So not bad.

    • Theory says:

      They say the DOF is “for film-makers”, which I can only take to mean it’s not a realtime effect.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s also possible that they mean that DOF and other post-processing used this heavily is largely intended for film makers since it would impact gameplay.

  14. Daniel Carvalho says:

    I’d love to here the technical backing to “Improved Foliage Rendering”. Sounds like horse shit to me. Plants are a combination of models, textures, shaders etc… just like anything else in the game world. Maybe there’s something specific they’re doing to foliage rendering-wise, if that’s the case, they should probably tout that specific feature instead of, “Improved Foliage Rendering”.

  15. Jetsetlemming says:

    I wasn’t too impressed until I saw the rain. That was neat, I’m a sucker for weather effects. Those trees are awfully low detail, though. Really obviously “a bunch of 2d branches clipping through each other in a jumble”.
    More than anything it reminded me of Far Cry 2, and Far Cry 2 runs at 30FPS at 1440×900 maxed on my $350 system, a damn sight better than “10fps at 1024×768”

  16. Linfosoma says:

    Let me guess, they removed all functionality and added some more useless eye candy?
    As an spectator Im sure this must look impressive to you, but as a developer it’s a pain in the ass when Epic simply decides to remove entire features and force you to redo everything on a new system that is not as good or not replace it at all, forcing you to remove features.
    My team stopped uptading build a long ago because of this.


    • Rob Hale says:

      The only features they’ve removed to my knowledge are UIScenes and that was a good call as they are terrible and Scaleform is much easier to develop with.

    • Jetsetlemming says:

      Are you talking about starting a map in Subtraction? Because that was a horrible concept that worked just like normal Ued, except that it started with a giant 50k cube for you to dig into. That cube massively fucked up how Lightmass works, making rebuilding the level take ages longer than it should. You can still work subtractively, just add basic boxes to shape out your level, and carve into them.
      It still works a hell of a lot better than, say, Source’s Hammer editor, where you can ONLY add: Want to make a doorway? Subdivide the added wall brush into two halves, resize them for the gap for the doorway, add in a new brush above it to connect the two walls on either side of the door, and then add in the doorframe and hall beyond it. Compared to UDK, where you can just cut a hole in the wall and move on from there. One step versus many. And far less likely to result in leaks.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yes, but for some reason I’ve always preferred using Hammer to UED.

  17. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Huh, that was a bit more mellow than I thought it was going to be; I kept expecting a bald space marine with erect nipples and pulsing biceps to thunder from the undergrowth and shoot the dicks off the flowers.

    • Skurmedel says:

      That would be the stamen :D It would be a good boss, a giant Orchid with flamboyant stamen flailing wildly.

  18. markcocjin says:

    You guys find the lack of HDR and color bleed impressive? Nearby objects didn’t even get a soft warm glow from torches.

    Color filters are just a lazy person’s way of setting the mood of the map. When the sun shines through the clouds, the environment should be awash with warm light.

    Unreal needs these dark shadows to bring out their bumps, normals, and ripples. You notice that even an outdoor environment still has dark shadows. In an artist’s eye, that’s really unnatural. It’s like they all had some sort of focus lighting.

    Look at a real photo and just look at the colors in it and compare it to a similar scene in Unreal’s engine. Forget polygon count and all those other effects. Focus on just the color and shades. Something all video cards can produce. Unreal can’t do proper colors even if Cliffy B’s life depended on it. Hence the mostly dark and grimy games on Unreal. All the other colorful Unreal games still don’t compare with other engines.

    • Skurmedel says:

      You have some good points, I found the lack of glow from the torches a bit odd as well. And I totally agree about the colour filters, I think it’s a reason why so many modern games look post-processed.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Half-Life 1 had radiosity lighting 12 years ago……..

    • Skurmedel says:

      Erm, yes but how is that relevant?

    • DMJ says:

      Brown is so “this generation”. Monochrome will be be the battlefield of the next console wars.

    • Benny says:

      I believe mirror’s edge was made using UE3. And they damn well got colour and outdoor lighting nicely done. Then again, half the game did take place underground in the dark…

  19. Tei says:

    All the images of Unreal look the same to me, Is like the engine apply a filter to the images. I can’t define or point exactly why. But I feel like you can give me 3 seconds of video, and I can tell you is made with the unreal engine. And is not a good thing.
    I think more AAA engines wil be very good for the gaming world. Having too much games based on unreal… I don’t think is a good thing.

    • mlaskus says:

      Yeah, there is something specific about Unreal engine, it’s hard not to notice it. The same thing always bothered me with movies, most of the time you can tell what genre are you watching just by the way everything looks. Different cameras and filters are used for different kinds of movies.

    • Tei says:

      The same thing always bothered me with movies, most of the time you can tell what genre are you watching just by the way everything looks. Different cameras and filters are used for different kinds of movies.

      Yea, I can do that too. I can even tell if the movie is a cheap germany production (like that one about the policeman and his dog ‘rex’ ). Reading on the internat that other people can do that is kinda cool :-D

    • DrGonzo says:

      Unreal Engine games do always seem to have a really chunky look to them. But that could be as much down to developers being lazy as the engine itself. Edit – I just remembered Mirror’s Edge runs on Unreal, so I think that proves it’s not the engine itself.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      The show with a policeman and his dog Rex is Austrian, not German, so you cannot tell all the fine details just by looking at it :)

    • Theory says:

      Mirror’s edge tore out and replaced UE3’s lighting systems.

    • KillahMate says:

      Yeah, Mirror’s Edge had a custom lighting solution, and you can really tell.

  20. Basilicus says:

    Agreed. Pretty, but not impressive. I’m not terribly knowledgeable about engines, but to me, UE is caught in some strange middle-ground of presentation. It feels very focused toward a particular style of game that even Epic barely makes anymore. It still doesn’t feel as real as Cry Engine, it lacks the ranginess of Source, and it doesn’t have the grittiness of the new idTech.

    It might even be more technically capable than those, but it doesn’t FEEL right anymore. If they were making another Unreal or Unreal Tournament with this, I’d get excited, but those are on hold and there aren’t any current games I’d rather see on UE than their current tech.

  21. Foxfoxfox says:

    Whatever happened to that infinite point data engine being touted a while ago?

    • mlaskus says:

      Last time I checked they haven’t posted any updates since showing off that one video.

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      Oh well, it seemd so interesting. I do remember thinking at the time ‘how would you model in this’

    • mlaskus says:

      A modeller would probably be hard pressed to notice a difference. You would still do mostly the same things you do now, the difference would lay in the implementation of your tools.

    • The Amazing Maurice says:

      Infinite detail was a hoax.

  22. Navagon says:

    Epic are clearly keen for the UDK to remain the best choice for 3D indie titles. Damn shame they’re not interested in developing anything for the PC themselves.

  23. fallingmagpie says:

    Is Bulletstorm made with this?

    • John Peat says:

      That and a LOT of dick… :)

      UDK had been home to some lovely games but when I watch that video I keep waiting for a really, really obvious button prompt to tell me what I need to do next ;)

      Next generation gameplay hasn’t really kept-up with next-gen gfx…

  24. LionsPhil says:

    Why does lighting seem to get worse with every generation of UnrealEngine? First we lost proper dynamic lights and got projector hacks that can smear white blends over things but not actually light them, and now even the static lighting seems broken but—hey—shafts!

    Also it can make everything blurry. Great. You know how else I can do that? Set it to render at non-native res and put the texture detail all the way down. It’ll look terrible either way but mine runs faster.

    • spawnmoreoverlords says:

      Im glad Im not the only one who notices lack of decent light in UE.
      And the gimmicky sunshaft effect people slap in every game is terrible.

      The only game with good sunshafts, or actually I should call it volumetric light is Stalker. GSC not only did it right in stalker, they also pulled it off on DX9 while it was touted at being DX10 feature.

  25. pupsikaso says:

    Uh, did they upgrade the engine or something? Because, it looks like what UT3 (and the engine) shipped with from the start. So then I don’t understand why they made this demo now after all these years? Is this about the “engine wars”?

  26. Bhazor says:

    “Colour Grading”

    Now even browner!

    • Christopher M. says:

      Maybe someone could make a color grade to undo the browning effect? Heighten saturation and hue variation?

    • Theory says:

      Someone did that for UT3, but it just revealed that all of the textures were brown too (not just the colour correction).

  27. Asehujiko says:

    Sooooo, their “update” basically jacked up DoF to massive levels?

  28. Binho says:

    Why is everyone so angry?

    For an engine which is free for non-commercial use, it’s pretty damn good and good looking. I’m sorry, but looks-wise it’s not far off CryEngine, even though it might not be as user-friendly/technically capable.

    And if you compare it to Unity, at least you can do some more or less proper lighting with it.

    • Hmm says:

      Everyone’s angry because Mark Rein and co. turned their back on us.

      I’m still MAD over “no Gears of War 2 for you!” – I bought GoW1 and feel betrayed.

    • Urael says:

      The way THIS crowd flip-flops over people and companies, Mark’ll be back next week with a dynamite PC exclusive and most will be offering to suck him and wash his car.

  29. bob arctor says:

    Looks a bit…. unreal?

  30. Gabbo says:

    Colour me somewhat unimpressed – It looks exactly like I’d expect a UE3 demo to look.

  31. Nesetalis says:

    i know what you mean. If they had a different ‘wobble’ effect for each petal on that flour for instance.. it might not have looked half bad.. but as it was it looked really weird :p

  32. Grey says:

    I’m unsure but I think until a game uses these effects (rather this quality of effects) it will take another couple of years ? ;(

  33. bastronaut says:

    It reminded me of GLQuake when underwater. Achieved (not) by simulating staring through a window with rain falling on it: not at all what being underwater (or in the wind) looks like. Do the people who build this kind of technology ever go outside and look at real things?

  34. Dr Lulz says:

    The graphics in the video has nothing on Quake.

    Not in my eyes, nope.

  35. Sigma957 says:

    The graphics in this video, while pretty, are just that. The engines for Crysis and STALKER- Clear Sky have better da/night quality. STALKER’s weather system is awesome. And Crysis can at times look photo-realistic when full DX10 is enabled. So real it looks like parts of my island. An amazing feat. This video doesn’t make my PC creak, just makes it say, “nice but should be better.”

    Unity engine has way more potential.