Unreal Engine: 4.20.1

Internal Version: v0.3.21


Architected for Procedural Generation

  • All game systems are designed to be dynamically-created and configured as-needed at runtime. This ensures that players truly are in charge of their play experience.
  • Items are designed to be procedurally-generated based on a set of statistics, modifiers, and hundreds of small parts that are dynamically-assembled to fit certain visual and functional styles and be completely unique to every player.
  • This is carried through to the huge enemy bosses (Behemoths), environment art, world simulation, and more as well.

Physically Accurate Simulations

  • Building off of systems already in Unreal Engine, we created a system and workflow to ensure that there is physically accuracy throughout the worlds we create.
  • This accuracy extends to game systems, physics simulations, as well as rendering. If it looks like wood, it'll behave like wood, sound like wood, break like wood, and... Be... Generally wood-like.

Completely Dynamic, Always

  • Everything we do in our games, we do based on a series of systems and simulations. And then doing everything in our power as gamers to try and see how far we can get with them.
  • To ensure as much customization and variety as possible for our players, we have completely dynamic lighting, global illumination, environment simulation & rendering, materials, and more.
  • We want all of our games and their engine to be procedural, dynamic, flexible, and bulletproof. So we can hand it to our players and say: have at it.

Volumetric Lighting and trueSKY

  • A highly-detailed, physically-based atmospherics scattering and volumetric rendering algorithm.
  • Uses existing shadows maps for lights in the scene to construct hardware-tessellated meshes every frame to serve as detailed light shafts that are then rendered with a customizable, powerful shading and scattering effect.
  • The volumetric lighting has been customized to work perfectly alongside a full, engine-wide integration of simul's trueSKY cloud and atmospherics calculation and rendering middleware for a great, detailed final lighting environment.

Data-Driven for Efficiency, Live-Ops, and Hotfixes

  • A custom data solution for gameplay data outside of the typical Unreal Engine 4 setup that allows us to easily modify gameplay data without ever issuing a substantial binary patch.
  • This same architecture ensures that, upon launch, we can easily operate live-ops and game events easily, rapidly, and adapt them to the game's audience.
  • This same workflow allows developers to modify simple text files in the editor of their choice which UE4 reloads (upon any change) and developers can instantly see the results of their changes.

NVIDIA GameWorks Blast

  • NVIDIA's latest physics/destrution technology allows us to create complex, efficient, dynamic in-game destruction to truly bring the rugged world of Steel Hunters to life.
  • Blast allows us to create content/structures with multiple layers, structural integrity from its miscellaneous pieces, resulting in a one-of-a-kind level of environmental response to player interactions.

Houdini Engine-Powered

  • Since Joy Machine's middle name is "Dynamic and Procedural" (it really is), SideFX's Houdini is like software made specifically for us. Their increased dedication to making it a game development tool along with the Houdini Engine has made it a perfect tool for our kind of workflow.
  • We'll be talking more about how we use this in our workflow in the future, but the general idea is to create highly-parameterized content packages for run-time variations of miscellaneous meshes.


  • Incredibly detailed, efficient ambient-occlusion.
  • Uses the depth buffer as a height-map to conduct ray-tracing to ensure accurate, detailed AO.
  • With the latest HBAO+ binaries, we were able to replace both methods of AO built-in to UE4 (SSAO and DFAO) and save up to 9-10ms per frame.
  • Enhanced distant ambient occlusion due to high-precision depth buffer reads.

PopcornFX Integration

  • Joy Machine and PopcornFX  go back a while, ever since Trent established the VFX pipeline on ArtCraft Entertainment's Crowfall around it.
  • More relevant: PopcornFX provides an incredible degree of power and runtime customization for all of its effects, making each effect a very powerful and versatile asset.
  • And our Unreal Engine integration outperforms UE4's Cascade system in most use-cases. So that's pretty excellent as well.

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