Epic Games wants architects to make Unreal Engine more lifelike

While gaming graphics keep getting more realistic, they're still a far cry from what architects can do. That's why Unreal Engine maker Epic Games and architectural site Ronen Bekerman are marrying the two in a new competition. For the 2015 Vineyard Challenge, competitors will "interpret a modern winery setting" (of all things) in Unreal Engine 4, where they'll be judged on categories like lighting, design and interactivity. Winners will draw from "the largest cash prize in architectural visualization contest history," with a $25,000 grand prize for the group winner and a $12,500 individual award.

Epic's latest engine now comes with a marketplace so that developers don't have to build common objects like rocks, trees and chairs from scratch. Other new tricks include subsurface scattering for more realistic surfaces, ray-traced soft shadows and streaming video textures. The company said it wants to encourage a "deep collaboration" between game development and architectural rendering "that will result in something entirely new." Of course, it's also a way for Epic to draw attention to its now-free gaming engine and away from competitors like Unity. If you think you've got what it takes to create GTA VI: Chateau LaTour, hit the Unreal Engine site for more info.

[Image credit: Bertrand Benoit, Ronen Bekerrman GH House Challenge]