Epic pimping some new Unreal Engine 3 features at GDC

Turns out that Gears of War 2‘s ranking system was just the beginning. Epic Games has announced a few cool new features they will be adding to their flagship graphics engine that’s been fueling a lot of games and probably, to some extent, paying for Cliffy B’s wardrobe, which we assume is massive. Among them is a new data control program, lighting system, database, and even a MMOG backend.

Apparently, the ranking system is part of a brand new engine feature called the Unreal Master Control Program, which is basically back end data management that can be good for announcements, data collection, settings management, population data and, obviously, player statistics. Also showing up will be a new lighting system called, appropriately, Lightmass.

“Unreal Lightmass produces high-quality static lighting with next-generation effects, such as: soft shadows with accurate penumbrae; diffuse and specular interreflection; and color bleeding. Furthermore, Epic’s new Swarm distributed computing framework enables lighting to be generated up to 10 times faster.”

For designers, the dev tools will now sport a snazzy Google-inspired backend database so you can search through those gazillions of assets faster than ever.

Finally, Epic Games China has implemented an MMOG backend, so expect the engine to show up in some new MMO’s in the future as well.

Curious how that lighting will really look beyond techie terms? Want to see it actually running an MMO? So do we, and they’ll be flaunting it all next week at Game Developers’ Conference ’09. Will we be there? You bet.