This is pretty much the undisputed best game engine in the current era of the game industry. With literally hundreds of games – even MMO games – that have used it in the past, the Unreal Engine is capable of creating any game for any genre with any budget. While it’s by no means something an amateur should tackle solo to make the game of their dreams, it is however a great tool for creating the 3D level of your dreams.
UnrealEd 3 Level Editor
Unreal Tournament 2003 (and newer versions) comes with UnrealEd – the Unreal Engine’s level editor – bundled in for free, and after one or two nights of reading and watching tutorials online you’ll be able to create your own 3D level that you and your friends can play together online! It lets you use hundreds of objects and textures from the game to create your own levels, but importing your own data is also an option. Thanks to Epic Games, creating FPS levels is easy for anyone to accomplish, and those with coding experience can even branch out and take on more ambitious goals.
Unreal Engine 3 Features:
Animation. Unreal animation uses a skeletal system that supports up to four bone influences per vertex with full mesh and bone level of detail support. For your ease of use, an AnimSet Viewer tool is also included. All animations are driven by AnimTree, which is a tree of animation nodes including: blend controllers, data driven controllers, physics controllers, procedural skeletal controllers, inverse kinematics, group animations, and morph target animations.
Artificial Intelligence. Navigation meshes give AI objects increased spatial awareness and the ability to make smarter movement decisions. Plenty of path finding options are available, as well as a flocking technology for making crowd animations.
Audio. Major audio compression schemes are supported, including Ogg Vorbis compression and decompression. Also present are 3D sound positioning, multi-channel playback, extensive debugging tools, and a plethora of controllable sound parameters.
Particle Effects. Unreal Cascade is the particle effects system, and it covers fire, smoke, rain, dust, and any other visual effect your game might need. It comes with a real time preview function so you can make dynamic tweaks without wasting time.
Cinematics. Unreal Matinee provides movie director control over all of the objects, cameras, and timeline cuts in a scene, plus it includes an in-engine, real time preview feature that plays back all the visual effects of a cinematic.
Unreal Kismet. Gives level designers control over how a level will play without touching any code. An intuitive user interface allows artists to drop events and variables onto a canvas and drag connectors between objects.
Lighting. The advanced lighting system offers ambient occlusion, per pixel lighting, fill lighting, fully dynamic specular lighting, reflections, and Lightmass, which is an advanced global illumination solver. Shading options revolve around these techniques: dynamic character shadows, ultra high quality precomputed shadow masks, and directional light mapping with static shadowing and diffuse normal mapped lighting.
Terrain. Work with a dynamically deformable base height map extended by multiple layers of smoothly blended materials. Then layer on procedural weathering, such as grass or the snow. Destructible environments options and the SpeedTree Foliage Editor give astounding amounts of control over game terrain.
Networking. Unreal Engine 3 currently offers network support for Internet, LAN, client-server models for up to 64 players, non-dedicated listen servers, vehicle themed multiplayer games, team games using NPCs or bots, co-operative gameplay in single player games, and auto-downloading and cache content such as user created maps or mods.
Physics. Powered by NVIDIA’s PhysX, coders can control destructible environments, crowd animations, vehicles, animation blending, dynamic fluid simulations, rigid bodies, soft bodies, elastics, ragdoll characters, dismemberable objects, and Unreal PhAT, which is a visual physics modeling tool built into UnrealEd.
Swarm. Unreal Swarm is a massively scalable job distribution system optimized for high-speed networks of multi-core PCs.