Epic Games has awarded $500,000 in awards to the final recipients of Unreal Dev Grants, a $5 million fund supporting developers working with Unreal Engine 4 (UE4).

This is the last round of grants, and they give no-strings-attached financial assistance to more than a dozen projects. Recipients come from a variety of industries, including games, film, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, education, and more.

“With today’s announcement, we’ve reached our $5 million goal for the Unreal Dev Grants program. As we look back at the list of those we’ve been able to support throughout the years, we can’t help but feel deeply honored to have played a part in the stories of hundreds of projects,” said Chance Ivey, partnership manager at Epic Games, in a statement. “We remain inspired by the talent and dedication that the Unreal Engine community continues to exhibit, and look forward to where everyone will take things next. Though Unreal Dev Grants is now behind us, it’s not the end of our ongoing support. Tune in to Epic’s State of Unreal opening session at GDC for more information.”

The goal of Unreal Dev Grants has been to empower talented artists, designers, and programmers to build upon their outstanding work in and around Unreal Engine 4 while alleviating financial stress. The embedded YouTube video is a highlight reel of all of the award winners over the past four years.

In addition to numerous stealth projects, the latest Unreal Dev Grant recipients are as follows:

Independent game

Aeon Must Die! by Limestone Games — Alpha trailer

Developed by Estonia-based Limestone Games, Aeon Must Die! is a new beat-’em-up game that favors smart decisions over quick reactions. Aeon Must Die! dazzles with its stylized graphics and incorporates an RPG-like alignment system to track how players behave through its ruthless, colorful world.

VR game

Eclipse — 4D Virtual Reality by BackLight

Founded in 2008, BackLight traces its origins back to the passionate musings of two video game professionals who forged their own animation studio. The developers channeled their passion for film and images to create 3D animated films that eventually found their way to TV advertisements. Unreal Engine has powered multiple projects for this talented team of innovators, including their hyper-immersive, collaborative 4D experience, Eclipse. They continue to push the boundaries of real-time 3D animation in their upcoming unannounced project, which is also built with Unreal.

Education/independent game

BioStories by Bio-Bridge Initiative

Biostories is a new interactive series that aims to raise awareness for biodiversity. Initiated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the multi-chapter educational games are being created by two experienced game developers, as well as a team of motivated students from ISART, a leading interactive technologies university in Montreal, Canada. Passionate about sustainability, they hope to evoke change through the medium of interactive media. BioStories Chapter 1 — The Rhinos is expected to release later this year.

Education/online courses

Complete Unreal C++ Dev by GameDev.TV

The team behind the insanely successful Unreal Engine C++ Developer: Learn C++ and Make Video Games course from Udemy returns. With more than 170,000 students enrolled in the original course, talented authors Ben Tristem and Sam Pattuzzi from GameDev.tv are working to update and remaster their critically acclaimed course for the latest versions of Unreal Engine.

Independent game

Cryptant by Orcari

Orcari’s Cryptant is an upcoming survival-horror game that is as realistic as it is frightening. Sporting triple-A visuals and a dynamic, fully simulated ecosystem, players must navigate the looming forest canopy, carefully avoiding the treacherous creatures that lurk within. Unite with friends in asymmetrical multiplayer or brave the terrors on your own in single player as Cryptant’s ominous tale unfolds through environmental storytelling.

Independent game

Eximius: Seize the Frontline by Ammobox Studio

Eximius: Seize the Frontline is an inventive new take on war from Ammobox Studio that combines the shrewd tactical gameplay of real-time strategy with the skill-testing combat of a first-person shooter. Build bases, train troops, and utilize support abilities as you call down assistance for your units as a strategic commander. Or, take the battle to the enemy on the ground as an officer, where you lead your squad into conflict, capturing resources and crushing your foes through the combination of agile maneuvers and brute force. Ammobox Studio is a trailblazer in the Malaysian development community, where they’re heavily involved in both education and private consulting. This project also represents one of the very first Unreal Engine 4 games to be released on PC in Malaysia. Eximius: Seize the Frontline is available now in Steam Early Access.

Film/VR cinema

Glimpse from Mr. Kite

Glimpse is an animated VR short that observes the deep and profound heartbreak that remains following a failed relationship. Mr. Kite’s award-winning cofounders Benjamin Cleary and Michael O’Connor transplant players into the panda body of Herbie, an artist locked away in both his studio and his melancholy following the disbanding of his relationship with Rice, a pretty deer and his long-term partner. Interact with Herbie’s expressive art as you soak in emotional dialogue, painting the bittersweet tale of their ill-fated romance.

Independent game

Kingshunt from Vaki Games

Supporting up to 100 players per match, Vaki Games’ Kingshunt utilizes the power of SpatialOS to provide online multiplayer battles at a colossal scale. One team must defend their base by building towers while the other attacks with a legion of minions. Kingshunt is a fantasy epic that combines the genres of third-person action, tower defense, and real-time strategy to create an entirely new style of gameplay.

Animation/media and entertainment

Meta Runner by Glitch Productions

Meta Runner is a new animated web series from Glitch Productions that tells a story of a universe where video games, speedrunning, and esports are everything. A cyborg girl named Tari finds herself in the crosshairs of world-class Meta Runners, as she discovers her ability to warp into video games. Glitch Productions, based in Sydney, Australia, uses Unreal Engine to create stunning visuals and immersive storytelling. Their previous work includes the Machinima show and YouTube channel; SMG4 — which has accumulated more than 3 million subscribers and 1 billion views. Meta Runner is currently slated for 10 episodes scheduled to release in July 2019 on their YouTube channel.

Real-time ray tracing

Photorealism in UE4 by Rense de Boer

Known for his outstanding photogrammetry techniques and high-end rendering skills, technical art director Rense de Boer is receiving his second Unreal Dev Grant for the successful early adoption of ray tracing features in Unreal Engine 4.22.

Independent game

Polter Pals by Split Hare Games

Polter Pals by Split Hare Games is a game about sprucing up your social life in the afterlife. Playing as a lonely ghost, use your paranormal power of possession to steer the living into deadly hazards, forcing them to join you in the party of the literal eternity. Equal parts colorful, creative, and morbidly hilarious, Polter Pals is truly a game like no other. Expand your social circle today on Itch.io.

VR game

Project M from EVR Studios

Forge digital relationships in Project M, an interactive VR experience from Korea’s EVR Studio. In this narrative-driven adventure, you’re encouraged to interact and build friendships with the game’s hyper-realistic non-player characters. Combining responsive artificial intelligence with high-quality 3D scanned images, EVR Studio uses Unreal Engine 4 to blur the lines between the real and digital, creating characters that are recognized as being some of the very best in VR today. Preview Project M’s fidelity yourself via Dream, a teaser available now on Steam.

VR game

Shooty Fruity Arcade from nDreams

UK-based nDreams, a leading developer of VR entertainment, is bringing the wildly fun and critically acclaimed Shooty Fruity for PSVR, Oculus, and HTC Vive to VR arcades.

VR game

SnapClick: Fossil Diggers VR by The Orphanage

SnapClick: Fossil Diggers VR is a new virtual reality puzzle game from Australian studio The Orphanage. Play as a paleontologist on the hunt to find proof that dinosaurs once existed. Travel to remote locations, explore environments, find fossils, and piece them together. Uncover the truth behind the lie: that these magnificent beasts hold the key to understanding our past — and a warning for our future.

Independent game

The Forgotten City from Modern Storyteller

The Forgotten City from two-person studio Modern Storyteller takes you through the underground layers of a mythological Roman city as you unravel the layers of a mystery that has left 26 explorers dead. Delve into an intricate labyrinth as you interrogate characters, make difficult moral choices, and exploit a time loop Groundhog Day style in attempts to solve this interpersonal puzzle. Originally beginning life as a mod with more than 2 million downloads, The Forgotten City was awarded a National Writers’ Guild Award and would later go on to win an Unreal Underdog Award at E3 2018 as a standalone title. The Forgotten City is scheduled for release on Xbox One and Steam in late 2019.

Tool/simulation and training

TrianGraphics by TrianGraphics

Triangraphics has been providing a professional toolset for 3D environment generation based on GIS data since 2007. Their software, Trian3DBuilder, covers tools for the generation of flight, driving, and maritime virtual landscapes, including automatic airport, road network, and pier construction. Its functional editing tools are used to polish virtual environments based on GIS dataset. Adopted by major simulation providers, the workflow is designed to easily create large landscapes with rich detail in a short amount of time. The upcoming Trian3D Unreal Engine Exporter harnesses these functionalities and outputs ready-to-use UE4 scenery. The first public demonstration of the Trian3D Unreal Engine Exporter will be at ITEC 2019 in Stockholm.

Visual design

Virtual Helsinki by Zoan

Become a virtual tourist in Virtual Helsinki by Zoan. Take in the sights and sounds of Finland’s beautiful capital from anywhere in the world in a high-fidelity digital recreation that includes several of the city’s most storied landmarks, including its illustrious Senate Square. Recipients of an Unreal Award for Experience Design in 2018, Zoan hopes to provide an interactive platform that extends real-world travel, tourism, retail, and more through the accessible realm of VR. Visit Virtual Helsinki’s website for more information about when you can schedule your first virtual vacation.

Epic will release more information at its annual State of Unreal opening session of GDC at 9:30 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday, March 20, via the livestream at Unreal Engine YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook channels.