Epic’s Samaritan Demo Shows The Future Of Graphics, Today

March 9, 2011

By Andrew Burnes

Epic Games wowed attendees at last week’s Game Developers Conference with a presentation of their new Unreal Engine 3 technology and advanced DirectX 11 development features, now available for professional and amateur developers to use courtesy of Epic’s free Unreal Development Kit. The presentation revolved around a showing of Samaritan, a real-time tech demo running on three NVIDIA GTX 580 graphics cards. We must emphasise “real-time” as many attendees struggled to believe that the demonstration was running as a game would, in real-time without any trickery.

Set in a futuristic Blade Runner-esque Washington D.C., the tech demo ran through a connected sequence of scenes, each showing off each new effects that DirectX 11 and the other advances made to Unreal Engine 3 allow. The demo was not pre-recorded or pre-rendered, and as such Epic were able to interrupt the presentation to adjust the camera, or focus on specific features in further detail.

GeForce.com will have an in-depth examination of the engine’s new technology next week, but in the meantime here’s a brief rundown of the new features on show in the screenshots and video:

  • Image-based reflections that allow surfaces of any shape to reflect an approximate version of scenes, with varying glossiness across surfaces, anisotropic HDR highlights and anti-aliasing.
  • Subsurface Scattering (SSS) that simulates the light that scatters inside semi-translucent materials, which makes character skin come alive.
  • Anti-aliased masked materials that super sample the edges of masked and alpha-tested materials, resulting in highly realistic hair.
  • Deferred rendering with MSAA support.
  • Bokeh depth of field providing close to film-quality DOF, with artist-controllable Bokeh.
  • High-quality dynamic shadows cast by multiple realistically rendered light sources.

To download a high-definition, 1080p video version of the demo, click here.