Hello everyone! And today I want to discuss the current situation with Ray Tracing technology and answer the question – do we really need it? At first, I want to announce that our small indie team of just two people finally starts to work on our new awesome game. Yes, finally this happens – we just can’t wait anymore when all this madness that happens right now in the world finally ends. Unfortunately due to war in Ukraine I have lost contact with my good old friend who lives there, so basically now I create this game alone. I hope that everything is ok with him, and soon he’ll be able to come back to work.

For our new mega awesome cool game we choose Unreal Engine because when I take a look at what happens right now with Unity game engine I just want to cry. Really – this piece of garbage becomes even bigger and bigger! Now Unity game engine has 3 different rendering pipelines, 2 different UI systems and even a new cool visual programming system. And it still has a lot of troubles and problems. So for any more or less serious game project Unreal game engine is the only way to go.

Unreal Engine 5.1 is released right now, and it offers Lumen – Ray Tracing for everyone. Basically, the situation with Ray Tracing technology is exactly the same as it was with PhysX technology. Long time ago, graphical cards from NVidia did have special hardware module to perform physical computations in games. Right now, PhysX technology is just a part of modern game engines – no more separate hardware needed. And I believe that as the overall computation power of graphical cards grows day-by-day, in the end the Ray Tracing hardware module just shall be obsolete. This technology just shall be a part of new game engines such as Unreal Engine 5.

Well, that is really nice, but what to do right now? Right now if you want to work in Unreal Engine 5 you need a really powerful graphic card. I live in Estonia – a poor country from ex-USSR with stupid government. Right now we have 25% inflation rate – the biggest in Europe, and our government just does not care at all. So I just can’t afford to buy myself RTX 4090 for my workstation right now.

I believe that for small indie teams, Unreal Engine 4 is still the best game engine. You don’t need latest hardware to work with it, and it still looks awesome even without Ray Tracing at all because it has good old proven technologies such as reflections and lights baking. Yes, good old baking takes time, but I can be sure in the final result, whereas in Ray Tracing technology the final result depends on graphical card model and graphical driver. Ray Tracing technology is just not mature enough.

Here are some screenshots that I have made lately from the scene on which I am working right now in Unreal Engine 4 with my old good 1660 SUPER graphical card without any Ray Tracing technology. Just click on the picture to make it bigger:

As it can be seen, I have perfect shadows and reflections on the water without any Ray Tracing technology. Here is another screenshot:

And again, just perfect graphics. Here is another screenshot:

On this picture you can see how well Unreal Engine 4 handles light and shadows without any Ray Tracing, just good old baking. Here is another screenshot:

Ang again perfect water, nice reflections and soft shadows - what else do you want from a good game? Here is another screenshot:

Here I use one additional static light to make the scene a little bit better and deeper. Here is another screenshot:

You can notice how well this Infantry Fighting Vehicle looks like on this picture. I only use one additional static light to improve shadows a bit. And here is the last screenshot:

Ok, and here is my conclusion – Unreal Engine 4 is the best game engine for indie teams right now, and you really don’t need Ray Tracing technology to make great games. If you have something to add, just write a comment.

P.S. If you want to help us to survive this madness that happens right now around in the world and to support our small indie team, you can do this via PayPal system ->>> link.