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Unity Engine for Serious Visualization Application

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Hi,

 

I'm developing a 3D visualization application for the entertainment industry. It's used, for example, to plan stage shows.

The application has been released 5 years ago and is mature (large userbase).

 

I wrote everything in raw DirectX, and the graphics are bad.

To improve the graphics and save time, I want to switch to a commercial, well-supported game engine.

 

I want state-of-the-art graphics with dynamic indirect lighting and shadows.

I don't need most "game" features (e.g. AI, controller support), but I do want the best graphics I can possibly get.

It should be possible to go deep into the rendering pipeline and adjust all details myself.

 

I'm looking for an engine with a proven track-record, a large userbase, that will still be around in 5-10 years.

Multi-plattform support is not necessary, all of my customers use Windows.

C++ or C# are both fine.

 

My candidates:

1. Unity

  Pro: well-supported, big community, easy to learn, runs on old hardware.

  Cons: less good at photorealistic rendering

2. Unreal

  Pro: better graphics

  Cons: harder to learn, more expensive, doesn't support old hardware

3. CryEngine

   Problem: I am not allowed to use their "pay-what-you-want" game license, because it's not a game. I doubt I could afford their enterprise license, as I'm just a one-man business.

4. Torque3D

   Cons: smaller userbase, not sure if it can deliver the super-realistic lighting I'm looking for.

 

Any suggestions?

Thank you!

Edited by Tubos

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In your situation I'd recommend Unreal/UE4. Unity is capable of photorealistic graphics but you don't get access to the source code to make any low-level tweaks that you might need. (However, I suspect you won't need to go that far. Shaders can probably cover everything you need. But at least with UE4 you will have that safety net if I'm wrong.)

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Have you looked into Lumberyard and their License? It is basically CryEngine.

 

Other than that, I would vote for UE4 as well. Best fidelity out of the box and free material graph editor for easily making your own shaders. They also have quite a few examples of Visualization programs. They even have a forum dedicated to it.

Edited by _Martin

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Thanks for your input so far!

 

About Lumberyard:

I wonder what will happen long-term. My software has been out for 5 years and I predict it'll still be around in the next 5-10 years. That's a much longer lifecycle than most games.

 

Unreal has an 18-year history, and I'm confident development will continue over the next years, incorporating new features, even better graphics and support for the newest VR gear.

 

Lumberyard, on the other hand, has been acquired from Crytek and I'm not sure future CryEngine improvements would be incorporated into Lumberyard.

So by choosing Lumberyard, I may be stuck with the current version of the CryEngine, with no possibility to upgrade.

Edited by Tubos

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In your situation I'd recommend Unreal/UE4. Unity is capable of photorealistic graphics but you don't get access to the source code to make any low-level tweaks that you might need. (However, I suspect you won't need to go that far. Shaders can probably cover everything you need. But at least with UE4 you will have that safety net if I'm wrong.)

 

Think this was perfectly stated. With UE4 you have access to the source code and you build the project on the machine you want to use it on, therefore if you have an older computer you can build there and see how it handles. 

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Thanks for your advice. I looked at Unreal and it's a great engine, and with some adjustments it can be made to run on low-end hardware.

 

Only thing I wonder is whether CryEngine / Lumberyard may be better for outdoor scenes. A lot of my customers work with outdoor sceneries, including water and buildings.

At the same time, CryEngine seems to be less general, more optimized for particular kinds of games, and harder to use. 

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Thanks for your advice. I looked at Unreal and it's a great engine, and with some adjustments it can be made to run on low-end hardware.

 

Only thing I wonder is whether CryEngine / Lumberyard may be better for outdoor scenes. A lot of my customers work with outdoor sceneries, including water and buildings.

At the same time, CryEngine seems to be less general, more optimized for particular kinds of games, and harder to use. 

No problem. It is generally acknowledged that CryEngine (and spinoffs) has done better with realitime dynamic outdoor lighting because of their GI setup. However, on version 4.14, UE4 has come a long way for having some great outdoor scenes - plus the fact that updates come in fast and sweet shows continual support. I would join to forums and take a look at some of the [Scene] tagged posts in the Works In Progress and Released Projects sections of their forums.

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The fact that Unreal has open source code is not only good for modifying, but if you are not sure how some of the engine code is implemented, you can just head right back to the source and see how some engine code you are calling is implemented. I have done this many times.

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The fact that Unreal has open source code is not only good for modifying, but if you are not sure how some of the engine code is implemented, you can just head right back to the source and see how some engine code you are calling is implemented.

This is another great reason UE4 looks like a great choice. 

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