Game Development Engines for Mobile Platforms: Unreal Development Kit

16/01/14
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Game Development Engines for Mobile Platforms: Unreal Development Kit

In our previous article we focused on Unity3D, so now let’s take a closer look at the Unreal Development Kit.

The UDK is the free version of the well-known Unreal Engine from Epic Games. Such famous games as “Deus Ex”, “Duke Nukem Forever” and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets“ were all built using Unreal Engine 3. Partly, it is based on Unreal Engine 2, which is foundation for several dozen well-known titles such as XCOM Enforcer and Unreal Tournament.

Why am I bringing this up now? I just want to draw your attention to the fact that the lads made an iOS converter for this game engine that has been making bestsellers for several decades now and that’s gotta be worth something. However, such a big heritage also has its drawbacks.

First of all, you need a Windows PC to develop an iOS game.

That’s right, UDK doesn’t work with MacOS and the entire development process has to take place on a Windows PC. I’m not the one to judge (let’s leave the whole Mac vs. PC holywar out of this), but younger iOS developers have to find this strange and uncomfortable.

Why only the younger ones? Because before the introduction of the iPhone, 99% of all games were developed exclusively using Windows, regardless of what platform they were going to be launched from (like the Unreal Engine many years ago).Getting yourself a copy of UDK is no different from any other Windows installation; Make sure you’ve got DirectX 9.0c, agree with the license (Or don’t, I guess) and you’re home and dry.

UDK is a large fully functional editor.

What’s great about it is that all effects work as soon as you add them! You don’t have to launch a scene or build the whole project if you what to see the ripples on your water. Just add it and you can enter preview mode to check how it will behave.

This saves a lot of time when building your game’s levels. Truth be told, UDK doesn’t need a programmer as much as it needs a level designer and/or a painter.

The package has everything. It’s like UE wanted to say: “Just design the scene and you’ll see it works”. And it really does. However, typical programmers may get the feeling they’ve been completely left out of the picture.

UDK has only one programming language, Unreal Script, and no IDE. Someone could, of course, use a third-party editor like Notepad++ with syntax highlighting or Visual Studio to edit the script file. Compliments to UE, the visual editor is so powerful, that most of the tasks are done with drag-and-drop.

Epic also let you license UDK with the engine’s complete source code. Then, users can do whatever they want.

So what does UDK provide?

  • Unreal physics – still based on NVIDIA PhysX, and like any other Unreal product, it has a visual editor – Unreal PhAT (Rigid bodies, soft bodies, elastics, ragdoll characters and dismemberable objects). Support for vehicle physics and Destructible Environments.
  • The Unreal graphics engine - Blend controllers, kinematics, real time terrain shaders, texture streaming, etc.
  • Audio – optimized support for Ogg Vorbis, 3D sound and of course Visual Sound Cue Editor – a visual sound editor.
  • AI - navigation mesh, AI commands, AI Visibility Manager.
  • Network - Internet and LAN, client/server architecture, gameplay feature support: Vehicle-based multiplayer games, Competitive team games with NPCs or bots, Co-operative play in single-player focused games.

Packaging a game for iOS is fairly easy: simply launch provision profiles and add an apple developer certificate key. Then attach your iOS device to PC and launch the game.

There are several sample projects included in UDK, the most comprehensive one is, of course, Epic Citadel.

You can download the complete version from iTunes using this link:
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/epic-citadel/id388888815

What about the cost of using UDK?

Until your sales are under $50k, you can use the fully functional iOS version free of charge.

Why iOS? Because it’s the only version available without a license.

As soon as you earn more you’ll have to pay a 25% royalty plus 99$ for every installed UDK. If you buy the license, you will also get the engine’s full source code (alone with the possibility to use C++), and will be able to develop for PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360, MacOS X, PC, Android, Wii U and Windows 8 / RT. In the long run, it’s certainly worth this money.

Read about Unity3D: http://blog.dataart.com/game-development-engines-for-mobile-platforms-unity3d/

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