Every aspect of the Unreal Engine has been designed with ease of content creation and programming in mind, with the goal of putting as much power as possible in the hands of artists and designers to develop assets in a visual environment with minimal programmer assistance; and to give programmers a highly modular, scalable and extensible framework for building, testing, and shipping games in a wide range of genres.
- 64-bit color High Dynamic Range rendering pipeline. The gamma-correct, linear color space renderer provides for immaculate color precision while supporting a wide range of post processing effects such as light blooms, lenticular halos, and depth-of-field.
- Support for all modern per-pixel lighting and rendering techniques including normal mapped, parameterized Phong lighting; custom artist controlled per material lighting models including anisotropic effects; virtual displacement mapping; light attenuation functions; pre-computed shadow masks; directional light maps; and pre-computed bump-granularity self-shadowing using spherical harmonic maps.
- Advanced Dynamic Shadowing. Unreal Engine 3 provides full support for four shadowing techniques:
- Dynamic stencil buffered shadow volumes supporting fully dynamic, moving light sources casting accurate shadows on all objects in the scene.
- Dynamic characters casting dynamic soft shadows on the scene using shadow buffers. Shadow buffer filtering takes samples on a jittered disc that are rotated per-pixel to detect shadow penumbras. Dynamic branching is then used to refine shadow coverage in penumbra regions.
- Ultra high quality and high performance pre-computed shadow masks allow offline processing of static light interactions, while retaining fully dynamic specular lighting and reflections.
- Directional Light Mapping enables the static shadowing and diffuse normal-mapped lighting of an unlimited number of lights to be precomputed and stored into a single set of texture maps, enabling very large light counts in high-performance scenes.
- All of the supported shadow techniques are visually compatible and may be mixed freely at the artist's discretion, and may be combined with colored attenuation functions enabling properly shadowed directional, spotlight, and projector lighting effects.
- Volumetric environmental effects including height fog.
- Full support for seamlessly interconnected indoor and outdoor environments with dynamic per-pixel lighting and shadowing supported everywhere.
- UnrealKismet, our visual scripting system:
- Gives artists and level designers virtually limitless control over how a level will play without touching a single line of code.
- By connecting together simple events and actions created by programmers, everything from simple behaviours to complete gameplay prototypes can be assembled quickly.
- UnrealKismet supports hierarchies of scripts for organizing very complex sequences into manageable units.
- The Unreal Editor (UnrealEd) is a pure “What You See Is What You Get” content creation tool filling the void between XSI, 3D Studio Max and Maya, and shippable game content.
- A powerful browser framework for finding, viewing, and organizing game assets of all types.
- Visual placement and editing of gameplay objects such as players, NPCs, inventory items, AI path nodes, and light sources – with a full realtime view of their appearance, including 100% dynamic shadowing.
- Includes a data-driven property editing framework, allowing level designers to easily customize any game object, and programmers to expose new customizable properties to designers via script.
- Realtime terrain editing tools allowing artists to elevate terrain, paint alpha layers onto terrain to control layer blending and decoration layers, collision data, and displacement maps.
- Visual Material Editor. By visually connecting the color, alpha and coordinate outputs of textures and programmer-defined material components, artists can create materials ranging from simple layered blends to extremely complex materials and dynamically interacting with scene lights.
- Animation tool enables artists to import models, skeletons, and animations, and to tie them to in-game events such as sounds and script notifications.
- In-editor “Play Here” button puts gameplay just one mouse click and a fraction of a second away. Here, you can test gameplay in-editor in one window while modifying objects and rearranging geometry in another.
- Plug-ins for 3D Studio Max and Maya to bring models into the Unreal engine with mesh topology, mapping coordinates, smoothing groups, material names, skeleton structure, and skeletal animation data.
- Fully integrated source control, so that artists and level designers can check out content packages, modify, and check in from within the editor.
- All the other niceties you'd expect from a modern content editing tool: Multi-level undo/redo, drag-and-drop, copy-and-paste; customizable key and color configuration; viewport management.