Epic Games have always been outspoken in their self-proclaimed role of pushing console developers to usher in the next generation of graphics technology. Of course, it’s not always as simple as gathering the resources and personnel to push such tech out, but Epic VP Mark Rein was not hesitant while talking to CVG at GDC in his belief that next-gen consoles need to push the envelope like never before. If they don’t, he says, Apple has the products and technology to surpass them.
Rein stated that since 2006 when the developer was able to persuade Microsoft to increase the standard 512MB of RAM inside the Xbox 360 after an impressive showing of a Gears of War 3 demo, they have not slowed down in their attempts to be the benchmark of console capabilities. Rein said that Epic is “constantly pushing” platform holders to persuade them to make their next-gen platforms as “bleeding edge” as possible.
Chances are you’ve seen Epic’s showcase of its “Samaritan demo”, so when Epic says they are pushing platform companies to their absolute limits, they aren’t kidding. Running on Unreal Engine 3 technology, the demo reveals the engine’s ability to project image-based reflections that allow surfaces of any shape to reflect an approximate version of scenes, with varying glossiness across surfaces, anisotropic HDR highlights and anti-aliasing. Subsurface scattering (SSS) also simulates the light that scatters inside semi-translucent materials, making character skin look more realistic than ever before.
Rein also professed his belief that Apple could be a viable competitor for consoles if next-gen platforms fail to be cutting-edge. “If you don’t stretch just far enough, you don’t just have enough of a difference to make people want to take the leap with you… it all falls down,” he said.
He continued by saying, “There’s no end in sight for what we can do with unlimited technology. So we’re always going to be pushing and I’m sure we’ll be pushing for more than is possible to give. But yes, we feel that’s kind of our duty. That’s what Epic is here for.”
Epic is set to preview the behemoth Unreal Engine 4 this week at GDC. The incredible tech will be showcased only to “select licensees, partners and prospective customers.” Epic has said that the Unreal Engine 4 will require ten times the power of Xbox 360 to run and will make the graphics revealed throughout the Samaritan demo look “feeble” in comparison. If so, judging by the specs that the next Xbox is rumored to have, we won’t be witnessing that kind of technology any time soon.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the gorgeous Samaritan demo for your viewing pleasure: