Epic Games' Tim Sweeney took the stage at WWDC as once again his company's technology was prominently featured at the Apple media event. This time however, instead of swinging swords as Infinity Blade's tragic hero Siris, the team behind the best selling Infinity Blade series was there to show off the capabilities of iOS 8's new level of gaming software called Metal.
With the introduction of new graphics technologies like Metal and SceneKit, Apple demonstrates that they do indeed know one of the primary reasons that so many of us are using our iDevices: awesome games! While both Metal and SceneKit will benefit gamers, Metal in particular seeks to raise the bar on what's possible in mobile handing by essentially bridging the A7 chip's capabilities and the process of writing code in a way that will take advantage of all that the A7 system has to offer.
With Metal, we see a dramatic 10 times improvement in draw call speed and a major increase in CPU rendering efficiency. It enables leading game developers to truly tap into the A7's potential and for the first time in mobile gaming, allows developers to bring console-calibur 3D games to iOS. SceneKit helps out all developers of more casual iOS games, making it easy (relatively speaking) to create fun and entertaining 3D games. iOS 8 also brings significant enhancements to Apple's already existing SpriteKit framework, including field forces, per pixel physics, and inverse kinematics.
To show off the potential of all that this means, Epic Games crafted a visual and spatial masterpiece. They call it the Zen Garden, and if you've played Infinity Blade II it might even look somewhat familiar to you. I definitely found elements to be similar to the palace of Sayadi, see image below:
Zen Garden isn't a replica by any means, but it is reminiscent, and vastly enhanced and more elaborate. Check out this cool video short below, which shows Zen Garden made with Epic's Unreal Engine 4 running on iOS 8. We're talking about hundreds of koi fish and butterflies, each with their own AI allowing each one to function independently and uniquely, and graphics with the kind of shading, texture and depth this gamer has never seen on iOS (much less mobile) before.
If you can't see the video above, click HERE. You can also watch Epic's unveiling by jumping to the 99:32 mark in Apple's WWDC 2014 Keynote. Zen Garden will be available when iOS 8 comes out and will be a featured free app, exclusively in the App Store.