If you've been living under a rock this week, you've probably not heard this. At GDC Epic announced that Unreal Engine 4 will be available for a $20 subscription fee. That is, the full source of the engine and tools, that multi-million dollar franchises use, available to indies for $20.
Pretty big news and it got me thinking about the work I'd done so far with Unity and what more I had to do.
I'll link the latest dev diary video in this post, where you can see that Unreal definitely has the edge on lighting and materials and the like over Unity. But both Unreal and Unity have a problem where it comes to the game I'm trying to make. That is, that both engines want you to develop something based on mostly static levels. In Unity you create "scenes" and populate them with content, then load them either sequentially or additively. I'm not entirely sure that Unreal allows you to selectively load parts of a scene, but it definitely expects you to load "levels" as map files.
The reason this is the case, is that scenes/levels are often static and "baked" with lighting information to get the optimum visual quality. In addition, navigation information is "baked" into the scene by building a navigation graph around the static geometry.
Can you spot the problem here? The main one is that HOPE's levels are player-created, so not static but dynamic. Neither lighting nor navigation information can be baked. Everything physically represented (aside from buildings and machines) can be moved via the physics tool.
I'm not sure there is an answer to this issue in sight to be honest. Other than accept that players won't be able to have all the nice looking lighting, will have to maybe wait a short while before the navigation solution (which I've yet to work out) updates the navigation graph. OR I could simply go the other route and have static rigs in which players are more akin to managers and do away with the player created rig structure idea entirely. The latter option isn't as bad as it sounds, because I wanted the game to be about socializing and community anyway, but it does feel wrong to not be able to empower players with those kinds of customization. Maybe the release of CryEngine later this year will offer another option.
Anyway, this week I'll be adding a bunch of recipes for crafting and some crafting stations(machines) that craft different kinds of items. I'm particularly interested in making machines that offer the basic items for life, like food and energy and some form of income to then allow transfer into other goods.
Here's the dev diary video: