All that talk about the Wii U being “weak”, “underpowered”, and not capable of outputting graphics like the Xbox 360 or PS3, is apparently hogwash. Unity Technology's CEO David Helgason squashes the rumors by acknowledging just how far the Wii U's tech can scale and what developers will be capable of utilizing with the Unity alone.
So, for those of you who don't know the Unity Engine is like a poor-man's equivalent of the Unreal Engine. It's not an insult, it's actually a compliment. You get many of the same or similar features from the Unreal Engine, within the Unity Engine, but at a fraction of the cost and with a lot less “coding bulk”. What's more is that Unity 4 is capable of Shader 4.0 and higher, 3D texturing, real-time dynamic lighting and everything else in between. One of the more popular demonstrations of the Unity Engine is Zero Point Software's Interstellar Marines.
Recently, Unity Technology announced that the Unity Engine will be supported by Nintendo and the Wii U across the globe, opening up development via the indie-friendly engine for developers both big and small.
In a pre-briefing interview with Helgason before the press announcement went live, Gaming Blend had the opportunity to ask a few questions about the jump from mobile, PC and current-gen consoles to the first next-gen console, and whether developers would be able to make use of all of Unity's latest high-end technology on Nintendo's newest console, including the ability to make use of Unity 4's DirectX 11 equivalent features and shaders. Helgason replied with the following...
Yeah. We'll do a -- we'll make it potentially possible to do.
What's interesting is that our philosophy is always this: We have a match work flow and I'm sure we can make a decent game and prototype, and they're fun. And then we have a shared system that basically allows you to access the full capabilities of the hardware you run. That's going to be good whether you're running [software] on an iPhone, the Wii U, a gaming PC or whatever.
When pried about the actual clock speeds, shader limits and memory bandwidth of the Wii U's GPGPU, Helgason tried waving off the question, basically saying that it was up to Nintendo to disclose that information. Dang it.
Epic Games' Mike Capps also retracted his comments about the inabilities and capabilities of the Wii U's hardware, first tweeting that the Wii U would be limited to the Unreal Engine 3 but then later clarified his comments saying that the engine was "unconfirmed for all platforms".
So far, The Big 'N' has been extremely discreet about the actual detailed hardware specifications of the system. We've at least learned more about the console's RAM configuration and hard disk space, as well as the fact that it's even using a GPGPU but further details are still sketchy. I imagine we'll find out a lot sooner as the system draws near the November launch date.
On the upside, at least it's confirmed the system can make use of the higher end functionality of today's generation's game engines, which should be a sigh of relief for a lot of gamers out there who were afraid that the Wii U just wasn't up to par. In fact, if what Helgason says coincides with the actual specs of the Wii U, that could put the graphics card at least two generations ahead of the Xbox 360 and PS3 in terms of shader capabilities, shadowing and lighting effects, since neither current gen console is capable of producing DirectX 11 equivalent graphic effects. Perhaps the $350 price tag isn't so high after all?