As an artist the main interaction I have with a game engine is importing and placing 3d assets to build game levels. But the amount of freedom for artists within engines is becoming increasingly more spread. With the next generation of engines the artist is given the ability to prototype and test ideas that would have previously required a programmer to do. Although this has been available to some degree, for example with UDK’s Kismet, the new Unreal Engine 4’s Blueprint system empowers artists and designers like never before by providing access to low-level engine functions and the ability to rapidly prototype without having to write a single line of code.
Supported by built-in debugging tools and enhanced by Unreal Engine 4’s brand new interface, Blueprints deliver all the power of Kismet along with the ability to visually script reusable components for gameplay, AI, player controls, geometry creation and numerous other features. These components can be used as pervasive parts of the world, so when a Blueprint is updated, the change affects all parts of the game where Blueprint is present.
Blueprints can be utilised for gameplay behaviour, animation blending, level building and design, and as mentioned before, object construction.”
I feel that even though this new generation of game engines has only recently arisen, the future of the games engine is only around the corner. Currently in development is a new type of game engine that uses ‘Real-time Path Tracing’, much in the way that ‘V-Ray’ or ‘Mental Ray’ does but in real-time allowing you to walk around an environment instead of just viewing a single render of it.