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My comments on the Unreal engine 4 news item

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May 9, 2012 5:04:02 PM

I'm not sure why I can't comment on the news item, but I wanted to share my point of view/ask my question anyway, as I'm slightly annoyed/quite confused by all the comments to it... http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Kepler-Nvidia-Tim-Swee... So here goes;

First of all; I have an Xbox 360 and I have my 2600K/GTX560Ti PC. I prefer gaming on my PC. But...

If I was a game developer I would want to create the visually most stunning games possible. I would then obviously want the people who played my game to experience it exactly the way I created it.

If I developed for PC only a fraction of the people playing it would be experiencing it the way I created it as only a fraction of those people would have the cutting edge machines with exactly the right hardware needed. I would guesstimate maybe 2 or 3%, probably less. Probably more than 95% of the people who played my game would be playing it with not all the graphics or physics or whatever options I created it with.

If I created for console, I would be sure that right from release until the very end 100% of the people playing my game would experience it exactly the way I had created it, with the possible exception of lesser quality screens and/or soundsystems.

Sure, it might be slightly less awesome on a console than it could possibly be on the most cutting edge machines that month, but everyone experiencing it the way I created it weighed against 90 or whatever percent of the people playing it at (much) less than how it was created would seem to me a very easy decision to make... Develop for console, forget about PC's.

Maybe I'm missing something, but the above seems to me very obvious and so I don't understand most of the comments to the news item. If someone could explain it to me I'd be very glad.

Thanks very much in advance.

May 9, 2012 7:45:01 PM

You are correct in your reasoning,

So, the comments to the article are reffering to the fact that even though the developer has a chance to develop for PC and encourage PC games to get new hardware and also push console manufacturers to develop next gen console hardware sooner, that developer chose not to develop a new graphics engine and instead stick with current generation console hardware capabilities. Point is that, as you describe a lot of companies look at consoles for development of graphics, the problem with that is current PC hardware has long surpassed current console hardware. Very often PC enthusiasts purchase expensive new hardware only to have it run at the fraction of it's available computational capacity. It's disappointing.

But I think the bigger disappointment is the fact that console manufacturers not willing to develop the next generation console sooner are preventing the progress in the gaming industry by discouraging developers from developing more elaborate graphics.
May 10, 2012 5:25:04 PM

Hi AntiZig,

Thanks very much for your reply! But could you please clarify a bit more as I still don't really get it...

"...the comments to the article are reffering to the fact that ... that developer chose not to develop a new graphics engine and instead stick with current generation console hardware capabilities..."

But he DID?!?! They have Unreal engine 4 which pretty much nobody can run, unless they are one of the very few lucky ones who could find and afford one of the very latest GPU's that came out only in the last few weeks... Which IS pushing enthusiasts to go to the store and get a Kepler or AMD's alternative, and which IS pushing MS and Sony to make darn sure their upcoming consoles can run it too...

"...Point is that, as you describe a lot of companies look at consoles for development of graphics, the problem with that is current PC hardware has long surpassed current console hardware. Very often PC enthusiasts purchase expensive new hardware only to have it run at the fraction of it's available computational capacity. It's disappointing..."

Yes, and frustrating, I know. But at the same time, we're having a lot of fun doing it, aren't we? ;-) But anyway, that wasn't my point really. I remember playing the original Unreal on my Voodoo add-on 3D graphics card and Epic was pushing the boundaries then and they're still doing it with Unreal Engine 4 and hopefully will continue to do so for a long long time. Why is this guy now being called a joker and worse on Tom's? It's not his fault that only a very small group (compared to console owners) of crazies enthusiasts like myself and probably yourself have the cutting edge hardware needed to run the latest Unreal engine in all it's glories and if he developed for PC enthusiasts only and not for consoles he'd be putting himself out of business. If he developed for the average pc only, he might as well develop for consoles only as the average PC does NOT stand-up to even a 5 year old 360 or PS3, in more ways than one.

I'm looking forward to your or anyone else's reply...
Related resources
May 11, 2012 3:56:53 PM

Quote:
They have Unreal engine 4 which pretty much nobody can run, unless they are one of the very few lucky ones who could find and afford one of the very latest GPU's that came out only in the last few weeks... Which IS pushing enthusiasts to go to the store and get a Kepler or AMD's alternative, and which IS pushing MS and Sony to make darn sure their upcoming consoles can run it too...
yes, they developed an engine and decided, oh, we don't want to make any games that use this amazing new engine = retarding the progress and development of video gaming. Many of us would rather have a game that is hard to run, because it forces us to get better hardware, forces companies to make better hardware, and so on and so forth. This is progress, it's a natural progression for it, and making a choice to not progress is silly.

Quote:
If he developed for the average pc only, he might as well develop for consoles only as the average PC does NOT stand-up to even a 5 year old 360 or PS3, in more ways than one.
this is where you're wrong, an average PC being 6 years old can easily stand up to 6 year old console. The point is that, today, you can go out and spend the money to get almost the same exact console one would get 6 years ago. Is the story true for PC? no, because today, you can get far superior hardware for the same price of the computer you paid 6 years ago. Point is that the typical life cycle of an even entry level gaming PC is shorter than the life cycle of current gen consoles is turning out to be. And no, the reason is not because developers want to make games for everybody, it's because developers want to milk the current gen consoles for all they are worth and until they start seeing a decline in profits they won't bother developing new generation consoles.
May 11, 2012 5:16:21 PM

Hi again AntiZig! :) 

Quote:
yes, they developed an engine and decided, oh, we don't want to make any games that use this amazing new engine...


I don't think that's accurate. I'm absolutely certain there will be games using the Unreal 4 engine in the (near?) future. I do think that since the hardware required to run Unreal engine 4 has just come out in the last weeks, or maybe few months, and at this time is still very expensive and not even very available, they decided it's just too soon to release anything based on Unreal engine 4.

Quote:
...making a choice to not progress is silly.


Again, I don't think that's accurate, at all... Like I said before, there's very few companies, if any, that have been pushing the boundaries of game graphics as hard and for as long as Epic has. What would be more than silly, what would be commercial and financial suicide, would be to release a game that as good as nobody can play and to force people to spend pretty much at least twice the price of an Xbox 360 on a new GPU just to be able to play that one game. Companies are going bankrupt left right and center and game studios are being closed down all over the place. Who would dare push the boudaries of gaming if Epic went bankrupt trying too hard to do just that by pre-maturely releasing future games just to be pushing it?

Quote:
...an average PC being 6 years old can easily stand up to 6 year old console...


Sorry, but this is definitely not accurate, unless with a 6 year old console you mean a PS2 or the original Xbox, but definitely not a PS3 or a 360. A gaming PC that was cutting edge 6 years ago had a Geforce 7xxx or a Radeon 19xx card... Good luck playing MW3 or Skyrim on one of those. And you're talking about an average 6-year old PC standing up to a 360 or a PS3?

And just look at what's average right now... http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey Less than 50% of the hardware Steam surveyed last month was DX11 capable, close to 1 in 10 Steam users couldn't even run DX10 and last month more than 1 in 100 Steam users was using DX8! These are per definition gamer's PC's so the average May 2012 PC is more than likely even less capable. The PS3 and the 360 still run circles around any average PC in use right now. I don't think you can go to the store today and, for the price of an Xbox 360 or a PS3, buy a PC that beats a 360 or PS3 at gaming...

Quote:
The point is that, today, you can go out and spend the money to get almost the same exact console one would get 6 years ago


Well, no. When the 360 came out it was a lot more expensive than it is now... But I see your point... However, Epic has Unreal engine 4 ready and it's been ready for a while... MS and Sony do not have their next gen consoles ready and they won't be out for a while... How then can you blame Epic for MS' and Sony's "slow" release cycles. Do you really think that if Epic released an Unreal engine 4 game now it would make any difference at all as to when the next Xbox or Playstation would be available, or to the price and availibility of Geforce 6xx series cards? If anything, it would make a Kepler card even more expensive than it already is because of (slightly!) higher demand for them.

Now you might say that my last sentence proves your point; That if there was an Unreal engine 4 game available it would raise demand for Kepler cards (and AMD's alternative). No. Kepler would not have been released any sooner than it was and it was released anyway, even without an Unreal engine 4 game on the market. And yes, Kepler cards blow 360's and PS3's out of the water... But I have a sneaky suspicion that contrary to all the rumors, the next gen consoles are going to blow Kepler out of the water. We'll just have to wait and see what Maxwell does, and when, and at what price and who knows, in what console. And if we're lucky, by that time Epic will be hard at work on Unreal engine 5, if they're not already.
May 11, 2012 6:52:53 PM

Sounds like a poor business strategy, putting all of their eggs in a basket that they have no control over. I'm sure every developer would like to be able to develop for a single unified system that has beyond cutting edge hardware, but that's not reality. You can't cram $1500 worth of hardware in a gaming console and make money selling it. Basically they are saying they don't want to develop for PC because it's too hard, but only an extremely high end PC can run their new engine. If I was a shareholder I would be pretty worried, if these super high end consoled don't materialize quickly then they have no market for their engine. I guess they are making so much money off of UE3 they can afford to sit on their hands and wait for a non existent next gen console.
May 11, 2012 7:16:46 PM

benski said:
Sounds like a poor business strategy, putting all of their eggs in a basket that they have no control over. I'm sure every developer would like to be able to develop for a single unified system that has beyond cutting edge hardware, but that's not reality. You can't cram $1500 worth of hardware in a gaming console and make money selling it. Basically they are saying they don't want to develop for PC because it's too hard, but only an extremely high end PC can run their new engine. If I was a shareholder I would be pretty worried, if these super high end consoled don't materialize quickly then they have no market for their engine. I guess they are making so much money off of UE3 they can afford to sit on their hands and wait for a non existent next gen console.


Hi Benski, welcome to the discussion!

I'm not really sure what strategy sounds poor exactly. Maybe you could clarify?

I think you're right though, $1500 worth of hardware in a console would probably not make sense. But, I think when the current gen consoles came out MS and Sony were subsidizing them too, not to the tune of $1500, true, but if Maxwell has ARM integrated, how much would one of those chips cost end of 2013, early 2014? Surely nowhere near $1500. The price of memory is already very very low and I personally don't believe that rumor that the hardware in the next gen consoles is already outdated. That, to me, would sound like a bad business strategy, especially with Steam and Apple and who knows who else threatening to compete in the console market.

Now I don't have any clue to the financial performance of Epic or its revenue streams, but they seem to be quite ready for the next gen consoles and the next gen PC hardware with Unreal engine 4... So what are they waiting for? What do they know that we don't?
May 11, 2012 7:26:17 PM

they know that they can still still milk the current concoles, so there's no point developing for something that might push the boundaries. Basically, instead of trying at something and possibly failing or succeeding they chose not to try which has zero possibility of failing (which is a sound business strategy despite how many PC ethusiasts might not agree with it).

I believe the whole press release by epic was geared towards pushing other companies like MS and Sony to hurry up with new hardware, so Epic doesn't have to sit on their hands with UE4.
May 11, 2012 7:38:57 PM

Well, Epic would have to continue "milking" the current gen consoles until the next gen is available, what else could they do, apart from coming out with their own next gen console? Release a UE4 game for PC now? I already explained that in my opinion that would be financial and commercial suicide at this point, but I know you don't agree with that opinion...

No point in developing? They've done the development. UE4 is ready, it's been ready. There's just no (not enough) hardware out there to release anything to.... But if that rumor is true, that hardware is being produced right now somewhere in Texas.

I think you may have a very good point suggesting there was more to that press release/interview than meets the eye. Certainly the rumormill is running full speed and "everyone" knows that something is definitely coming. Isn't he actually basically saying the next gen consoles will or should have at least Kepler power? "The intended platforms this (UE4) is aimed at haven't even been announced"... "Last year the Samaritan demo (UE3) required 3 high-end NVidia cards, it now runs on a single Kepler"... "We can get so much more out of that card than what we saw in Samaritan" Or maybe the "intended platforms" he's talking about are not from MS and/or Sony... Like I said, maybe he knows more than we do... He probably does...

Anyway, back to my original point for this threat; I think most of the comments to the news article were out of order. Again, Epic has been pushing the limits for a long time, they're still doing so and I hope they will continue to do so. Calling Tim Sweeney a joker and worse is uncalled for and undeserved. The man deserves a giant statue in the gaming hall of fame in my opinion. And like you, I can't wait for the first UE4 games to start coming out... And they will!
May 13, 2012 1:20:57 AM

i'm still confused
are they saying that when this engine comes out i will not be able to play unreal tournament 4 unless i get one of these keplar things?

they are the latest graphics card and so expensive
and so expensive
EXPENSIVE

not everyone has boatloads of money to chuck a things :(  it seems i wont be able to enjoy unreal tournament 4 untill the keplar graphics cards hit a nice price (aka about idk... £80)

(edit: my point, by making it so ut4 and any games using the u4 engine will only run on some expensive hardware i will not be buying them games because i will not be able to play the game and i think there are other people out there who are the same)
(edit again: and how does restricting to new/unreleased hardware help people get better games on consoles? at a guess the xbox 720 and ps4 will have the specs of by todays standards a mid spec computer (ok closed system no changes specific coding an all that) iirc 360's and ps3's were the same on release - mid spec (if they were computers)
May 13, 2012 10:36:15 AM

Hiya Heero,

What you're confused about is actually exactly what we're discussing and not quite agreeing on.

First of all, it's exactly my point that the percentage of people like you, who would be very disappointed that they could not afford to run any game based on Unreal Engine 4, is still far too great for Epic to actually release any game based on UE4. I think it would be commercial suicide for them to do so at this point in time, and it looks to me like Epic agrees with me on this point.

Basically yes, when UE4 comes out, and nobody knows when that will be, but probably not until at least 2013, you will need something with at least the power of Kepler (which is a Gefore 6xx series card or AMD's alternative to it) to run it.

Now the big question is; Will the next generation of consoles (Xbox 720, PS4 and possibly some mystery console by Apple or Steam or who knows), probably coming out second half or last quarter of 2013, be powerful enough to run UE4? Nobody except for probably some industry-insiders know the answer to that, and it's a big secret so far, but there's a lot of speculation.

Some rumors seem to indicate that the next gen consoles won't be powerful enough for UE4, but I personally believe that they will, as it would be commercial suicide (in my opinion) for Microsoft and Sony to put something out that isn't at least as powerful as hardware already on the market for more than a year (Kepler) when their next gen consoles are released.

What do I base that opinion on? Well, several things, one of the most important ones is history. The Xbox 360 hit the market in November of 2005, about half a year before the Geforce 7 series (7xxx) and more than a year after the Geforce 6 (6xxx) series hit the market. Xbox 720 will probably hit the market near November 2013, probably half a year after the Geforce 7xx (Maxwell) and half a year before the Geforce 8xx series (Einstein?). Xbox 360 proved to be more powerful than the Geforce 7 series which was released in the year after the Xbox 360. In my opinion it therefore makes no sense that the Xbox 720 would be less powerful when it comes out than a Geforce 6xx card (Kepler), released about a year and a half earlier. If history is anything to go by, the Xbox 720 will have (at least) the power of the Einstein series, the 2014 Geforce, which is 2 generations more powerful than Kepler, and so in my opinion, Unreal engine 4 should be a piece of cake for Xbox 720 when it comes out at the end of 2013.

And your final question; How does restricting to new/unreleased hardware help people get better games on consoles? Well, maybe that's for AntiZig to answer... ;) 
May 14, 2012 2:03:52 PM

^ wait you need the power of a kepler
need as in you need it or it wont run at all or need or it wont run as well?

because if its need or it wont run at all...
theres some games i am not buying :( 

(but ofc if its need but it wont be able to run as well (aka max details on everything but tone it down and its got some nice fps) then i would buy - after trying the demo of any games)
May 14, 2012 5:55:47 PM

Yaldenski said:
Hi Benski, welcome to the discussion!

I'm not really sure what strategy sounds poor exactly. Maybe you could clarify?

I think you're right though, $1500 worth of hardware in a console would probably not make sense. But, I think when the current gen consoles came out MS and Sony were subsidizing them too, not to the tune of $1500, true, but if Maxwell has ARM integrated, how much would one of those chips cost end of 2013, early 2014? Surely nowhere near $1500. The price of memory is already very very low and I personally don't believe that rumor that the hardware in the next gen consoles is already outdated. That, to me, would sound like a bad business strategy, especially with Steam and Apple and who knows who else threatening to compete in the console market.

Now I don't have any clue to the financial performance of Epic or its revenue streams, but they seem to be quite ready for the next gen consoles and the next gen PC hardware with Unreal engine 4... So what are they waiting for? What do they know that we don't?


I think the strategy that could backfire is not developing a new engine that can run on todays PC hardware and be scaled back for console use, like cryengine 3 or frostbite 2, given how long it could take for next gen consoles to arrive. It is looking like at least 2-3 years before we get new consoles, tons of games will be developed and released during that time and with unreal engine 3 showing its age developers may choose to go in a different direction. Then even when the hardware comes along to support UE4 developers may already be locked into using other companies game engines already. I just think they may be a little too overconfident in UE3's ability to maintain market share while developers wait on UE4 to become usable.

I guess their thinking is that UE3 is advanced enough for today and the near future and that it would be a waste to develop another engine until much better hardware is available, but there are other engines TODAY doing things graphically that UE3 can't match. Just kind of seems like a cop out to say we can't make a better engine until hardware improves when the competition looks so much better.


May 14, 2012 5:59:16 PM

nagisa said:
^ wait you need the power of a kepler
need as in you need it or it wont run at all or need or it wont run as well?

because if its need or it wont run at all...
theres some games i am not buying :( 

(but ofc if its need but it wont be able to run as well (aka max details on everything but tone it down and its got some nice fps) then i would buy - after trying the demo of any games)


Yes you would need the power of a kepler to run a UE4 game, but because of this games developed on UE4 won't even exist at all for a number of years, so don't worry about it :) 
May 15, 2012 5:24:21 PM

for a number of years...
that number of years had better be at least 5 O.O
!