Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-09-29 09:49 (JST)
Translated by. Ryuki Ishii
On September 28, Japanese software company historia Inc. released a short adventure game called The Market of Light for PC (via Steam). This game also serves as a tech demo for Unreal Engine 5, and it is available for free.
The Market of Light is a short exploration game developed by historia using an early access build of Unreal Engine 5. The player takes on the role of a firefly and explores a small-town market to collect luminous orbs. The map may be small in human standard, but it is a huge playing field from the perspective of a tiny insect. You can fly around and explore the meticulously rendered world as a firefly.
The game takes advantage of Unreal Engine 5’s latest features: Nanite, Lumen, and Niagara. Nanite is a virtualized geometry system that uses “a new internal mesh format and rendering technology to render pixel scale detail and high object count.” (Unreal Engine Blog) Lumen is a dynamic Global Illumination and reflections system, and Niagara is a visual effects system “used for creating and previewing particle effects in real-time.” (Unreal Engine Documentation) The three colors of orbs you’ll be collecting in the game, also represent Nanite, Lumen, and Niagara.
Nanite allows you to automatically scale the number of polygons depending on the situation without the artists having to manually adjust the numbers. In The Market of Light, the Level of Detail for each model doesn’t switch around, and many objects such as fruits and vegetables maintain their visual quality no matter the distance.
In addition, Virtual Texturing allows the game to switch resolution based on the camera’s view distance, and with this tech, The Market of Light manages to show highly detailed textures even at close range. With the power of Nanite and Virtual Texturing combined, historia managed to use approximately 4.9 billion polygons, 253 8K textures, and 1065 4K textures in a single map.
Luman can perform real-time lighting calculations which take both direct light and indirect light into account. This allows for an environment that seamlessly reacts to lighting changes. You can see The Market of Light taking advantage of this as the map transitions in real-time from the festive atmosphere of daytime to the calm and serene ambiance of nighttime. Usage of Niagara can be felt as well, with the game’s mesh particle effects and with the behavior of particles.
According to historia, this short game/tech demo was made by a small team. The majority of the map was created by three artists using dozens of Megascans assets. Since Nanite removed the need to consider polygon count budgets, they were able to use film-quality assets without reductions.
historia specializes in software development using Unreal Engine and hosts indie game contests and UE-related seminars. They started working on The Market of Light right after the announcement of Unreal Engine 5.
If you are interested in this rare opportunity to get hands on with a game/tech demo made in Unreal Engine 5, check out The Market of Light on Steam.