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UE5 – Lumen in the Land of Nanite – First Thoughts

Epic Game as usual revealed their standard for “Next Gen” Game engine just as they did with Unreal Engine 3 for PS3, Unreal Engine 4 for PS4, so it’s time for Unreal Engine 5 for PS5.

There are tons on tech analysis from this made by professionals, so I’m not going to get in that but in writing some personal thoughts as a gamer and digital artists.


The Tech Demo did impressed me, because it is stated to be running on a PS5, a 10.5 Tflop powered console. It’s impressive non the less but not for Ps5 potential but more about the potential of next gen engines.

Before talking directly of UE5 let’s remember how the Gaming Industry did some great achievements with “photo-realism” graphics in the past years.

The Reebok slash remake of Star Wars Battlefronts is the living proof that the Gaming industry is already living in a Cinema Film’s Visual standard.

Bringing Cinematic CGI features to Real Time running games, can be considered a real milestone in overall evolution.

We have already seen how Nvidea did the first important step towards realistic Lighting graphics into real time playable engines with Ray Tracing.

Lumen in the Land of Nanite


TWO are the main keywords that Epic Games presented their New unreal engine 5. (with 2 extras briefly mentioned and over shadowed)

LUMEN

Lumen is Epic Games response to Nvidea Ray tracing technology, a totally new way to implement lighting and shadows into game, say bye bye to “lighting maps” while creating games, just set up the ambient and let the magic happen.

This is something fascinating because it not only brings as ridiculously close to photo-realism graphics but also can CUT the time and budget needed to create such graphics since it’s a core system that “emulates” real physics.

NANITE

Nanite is Epic Games new feature towards polygons geometry in games. This is not a simple “step up” if what they showed was true, then they literally mind blowed this in an exponentially way.

For may years Gaming Studios struggled to bring high quality models to their games, there’s even a whole website dedicated to compare model polygons between games. Polycount.com

Just to put this into perspective, think that all major AAA games for PS4 main characters got around 100K polygons.

Well, Epic Games unreal Engine 5 tech demo showed us a Statue with 33 million polygons! Directly imported from Zbrush! but not only that, they put 500 exact copies of this statues in a room of the Demo, everything running in Real time! the achievement is brutal!

There is a catch tho! Because just as it happens in real life, we not always see everything 100% detailed, actually the far the things are, the more blurred they are to our eyes, so what the Engine also does is to process that model of 33 million polygons, increasing and decreasing it’s polygons according to the distance they are being rendered.

But just so you understand how important is this not only for photo-realism graphics but for time and budget to create games.. The studios spent a lot of time, money and creatives to create a bast majority of models with different polygons to “switch” between them as we get closer to them in the game, I mean, Game Devs spent a lot of time creating and manually setting up many many “visual tricks” to optimize games to be actually playable at a decedent FPS in a stable way.

If an AAA title takes from 3-4 years to create, the last year or more, it’s all about polishing and optimizing. Well, this technology will definitely cut this process by a lot.

2 extra features nobody is speaking about!

Epic Games tech demo also showed us and mentioned two more interesting things that got totally over shadowed by Lumen and Nanite core features.

One is the mention on how the “bats” and “beetles” of the Demo were actually “particle based system” !! Their movement animations and interactions were emulated in base of a particle system! That’s really impressive! Those bat swarms we saw flight around the beginning of the Demo around the cave entry, were not manually animated. Those bugs we show swarming and reacting to the Light.. Were also particle based animations! That’s mind-blowing! and again, cut lot’s of time in creating this kind of thing “realistically” for a game.

Last but not least. When the character of the Demo is climbing, walking on stairs or entering the cave, there are many little animations that “match” the environment for a better realistic and natural movement! Those are said to be also features of automatic animations implemented in unreal engine 5, everything is done to interact between different elements, polygon geometry, lighting, shadows, particles, character models and animations.

Unreal Engine 5 is will bring real joy to the gaming world of what is coming for the future standard of 5 years at least.

By the way, all those natural character animations matching and interacting with the environment are not new. Naughty Dogs already done them first time for uncharted 3. BUT manually! Designing them by a great big creative crew with a lot of time and money invested in.

UE5 is bringing this feature to everyone who will use their engine.

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