Robo Recall by Epic Games

Unreal Engine 4.14 Is a Huge Update for VR

TurboSquid 3D Modeling, Real-Time, Site, VR

Epic’s Unreal Engine 4.14 is a beefy update all around, and includes great stuff for TurboSquid users– especially those creating VR content. Real-time, GPU-rendered graphics have always required a tight belt when it comes to poly counts and texture sizes, and the introduction this year of consumer VR hardware has brought with it a renewed emphasis on optimization.

If you’ve ever skipped an otherwise perfect model because it seemed a bit too dense, you might give it a second look after seeing what 4.14 can do to optimize heavier assets. Read on for our top three favorite new features in Unreal Engine 4.14.

Forward Rendering & MSAA

For VR devs in particular, this has been a long time coming. With the introduction of a capable forward renderer, multi-sample anti-aliasing (MSAA) is now on the table for Unreal developers. MSAA is especially critical for VR, as it provides crisp anti-aliasing even on relatively low-resolution consumer HMDs. Solid anti-aliasing is also critical in reducing edge-sparkle artifacts that can be particularly distracting on stereoscopic VR displays. Beyond those qualitative wins, Epic reports that the forward renderer delivered a performance boost of 22% over the deferred renderer when crunching their Robo Recall VR shooter.

Automatic LOD Generation

Arguably the most powerful feature in 4.14 is the new native toolset for generating levels of detail (LOD). Unreal devs have long relied on native modeling apps such as Max and Maya, and third-party tools like Simplygon and InstaLOD LOD generation. There will still be situations where one will prefer the specialized capabilities of those solutions, but the native tool is solid, easy to use, and likely to become a first-try solution in many cases.

NVIDIA Ansel Integration

Ansel is an interesting tool from NVIDIA that allows users to take beautiful captures of GPU rendered imagery. Presented in 4.14 as a plugin, Ansel goes well beyond simple screen caps, allowing for the capture of high-res, high bit-depth 360 environment caps, which make for ideal HDR environments. Ansel is also perfect for capturing true, in-engine images of game assets. These are highly recommended as preview images for game assets on TurboSquid, as they tell prospective buyers most of what they need to know when evaluating a 3D model on the site.

Further Reading

There is much, much more in this update, so definitely dig into the full release information below.

Unreal Engine 4.14 Released!
As always, Epic provides a solid overview, a detailed breakdown, and comprehensive release notes of all the changes in 4.14.

NVIDIA Ansel Technology Page
NVIDIA overview of the Ansel features and capabilities.

Matthew Hales is the VP of Immersive Technology at TurboSquid, and director of TurboSquid’s Virtual Reality Lab. You can find him on Twitter @vivanola and read more about his adventures in VR on Medium @hales.

Ben Bickle is an Associate Producer at TurboSquid, focusing on real-time and game development pipelines. He can be reached on Twitter @BenABickle.