Wired has an extremely lengthy piece about Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4, and the first public screens taken from the Demon Knight demo previously shown to developers in March at the Games Developers Conference. This demo was reportedly built by a team of 14 engineers over a period of three months.
"I had sleepless nights over this damn thing in the beginning, but I think we got the disasters out of the way," art director Chris Perna told Wired.
According to the report, the fourth-gen Unreal Engine will likely make Microsoft and Sony rethink how much horsepower they'll need for their next-generation hardware. "It will streamline game development, allowing studios to do in 12 months what can take two years or more today. And most important, it will make the video games that have defined the past decade look like puppet shows," Wired writes.
"There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation," says Cliff Bleszinski, Epic’s design director. "It is up to Epic, and Tim Sweeney in particular, to motivate Sony and Microsoft not to phone in what these next consoles are going to be. It needs to be a quantum leap. They need to damn near render Avatar in real time, because I want it and gamers want it—even if they don’t know they want it."
Bleszinski indicated that Epic has seen the specs of proposed new consoles and is actively lobbying for them to be more powerful. The studio reportedly started its next-gen crusade by re-introducing the UE3-powered Samaritan demo using a new set of specialized plug-ins and running on three then-high-end graphics cards. The "upgrade" and hardware enabled the engine to render realistic clothing, lifelike lighting, and highly detailed facial expressions flawlessly.
"We used it as an opportunity to make a point to the developers," Sweeney says. "'We want 10 times more power; here’s what we can do with it.'"
Wired reports that the new Unreal Engine 4 demo used a single Kepler GTX 680 GPU from Nvidia. The public will finally get a glimpse this June at E3 2012 -- likely the very Demon Knight demo shown behind closed doors just months prior. Gamers and developers alike are expected to wet their pants.
"Epic has redefined gaming before, and with Unreal 4 the company is doing it again," Wired writes.
To see the entire Unreal Engine 4 gallery, head here.