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A shot of Unity 4's new Mecanim animation interface.

AAA developers with deep pockets are no doubt looking forward to the many gorgeous upgrades available in the upcoming Unreal Engine 4. But smaller independent developers will probably be more excited about the new features for Unity's just announced Unity Engine 4.

The new version of Unity fully integrates new animation tools from Mecanim, a Canadian company that Unity acquired last year. This brings skill from experienced animators who have worked with major publishers including EA and Ubisoft. Besides improving computational efficiency and increasing Unity's limit on simultaneously animated characters from dozens to "hundreds" at once, Unity President Dave Helgason stressed that the Mecanim system makes animation much simpler for developers.

"Things that would normally take several hours or even days to do—taking the animation data, making sure it fits the character, timing the motion extracts and making sure it all loops correctly—now that's all automatic so it's literally minutes... you can do so much more with so much less," Helgason told Ars. Users will also be able to buy canned animations from the Unity Asset Store, dropping fully animated characters into their projects unedited, or diving in deep to play with the underlying blend trees and state machines if they want.

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Look out, Arma!
The guys over at PCG noticed that the US Army’s CryEngine-powered “Dismounted Soldier Training System” has two trailers out. Do military training technologies need trailers? Hard to say, unless they are angling to become the third contender for the military manshoots arms race? These trailers are perhaps a little austere to complete with the big boys boombox bombast, but it’s nice and simulatory, as you can see below, so perhaps they could square off with Arma 3.
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Sorry, end-users but this post is going to be all about the developers. Yes, just them. Unless, of course, you're interested in the inner mechanics of the CryEngine in which case, you're less of an end-user and more of a budding -- Okay, I'll stop now.

That said, this tutorial series by CyberGamearts is a rather in-depth look at the basics of formulating a game and most definitely worth a look. So, if you've been procrastinating on picking up a new technology and needed a little boot in the right direction, go check it out!

The rest of the videos can be found here.

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 all you need.
CryEngine 3 is now free to use, as long as you’re not making any money from your creations. Crytek explain: “You can use CryENGINE 3 for free in educational facilities, even if you are charging tuition. We have always offered our engine for free to educators, but now individual students can also freely download the engine and use it to learn about real-time 3D development. CryENGINE 3 is also free for non-commercial use; if you are distributing your game or application for free (and not charging for your work in producing it, whether directly or indirectly), no additional license is required.” There’s also apparently an indie license agreement for small projects, but you need to get in touch with Crytek for details.

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