Unless you absolutely despise games, you've probably noticed Unreal Engine is sort of a rock star among game development platforms. Not only is it capable of rendering some profoundly gorgeous graphics, it can do so on virtually every major desktop and mobile operating system available. Today, Epic Games is releasing Unreal Engine 4.4 with some new tools for building animation and behavior models, additional rendering features, improved support for Android and iOS, and even some free stuff in the content marketplace.
Among the featured items of the update, Epic is touting two new editors. The first is Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG), an interactive editor that integrates with Blueprints to allow developers to more easily construct events and animations, then preview them in real-time. This is the first release of UMG, and it is still considered experimental, so it may not be ready for regular use. The other major addition is the Behavior Tree Editor, which makes designing AI scripts more visual and intuitive. This editor has been available for some time as a preview, but the 4.4 release promotes it to a standard production-ready tool.
Along with the new tools, Epic is also adding a lot of free content to its marketplace. There are 15 new, fully animated character models, and tons of new graphics assets and samples.
This is hardly just an update to the tooling; there are also plenty of improvements to the engine. The rendering engine now supports translucent layers on top of materials (e.g. clear coats like acrylic) and capsule-shaped light sources. Games built in 2D are also getting some help in the form of "sprite dicing," a feature that handles translucent and masked regions differently from opaque sprites to increase GPU performance. There are also several small tweaks to improve compile times for C++ projects and the Unreal Build Tool.
Epic has also put some time into making several small improvements specific to Android. Perhaps the most important detail is added support for more devices, including the NVIDIA Shield, LG G2, and several Samsung devices. One of the more convenient improvements is that Blueprint scripts can now directly access in-app purchase data, meaning developers won't have to do as much custom coding to call it up. There are also several tweaks to the editors to improve performance on mobile.
The changelog is absolutely astounding in its sheer size and all of the elements that have received attention. Just to give an idea of how huge this update really is, the word 'new' appears 244 times throughout Epic's announcement. Version 4.4 is included in the Unreal Engine 4 subscription. For those that haven't checked it out, the subscription model for Unreal Engine 4 is a simple $19 per month per seat, plus 5% of the gross revenue from product sales (including marketplace fees). If you've been planning to build the next killer game, it's a great time to get started!
Source: UnrealEngine Blog