Epic's Mark Rein is a famously effusive, opinionated, but smart exec, one that leads the public face of the key Unreal Engine 3 creator and Gears Of War developer. Recently, Gamasutra had a chance to speak with Epic Games VP as Unreal Tournament 3 prepared to launch on PC.
In the days before it definitively revealed that the game would ship in the U.S. on PlayStation 3 this holiday season, the discussion turned to the progress of Unreal Engine technology on that platform, the game's ability to embrace user-created content, and much more.
Brandon Sheffield: A lot of people
have been talking about the look of Unreal Engine 3 games, and how there's
a distinct kind of look to it. It looks like an Unreal game.
Mark Rein: See, I don't see that. I
think if you look at our two games, yeah, they share some styles, because
we're one company with the same art director between the two of them.
We like making those big, bulky, beefy guys, but that doesn't mean
Mass Effect is going to look that way. BioShock doesn't look
that way, and Undertow sure as heck doesn't look that way. If
two games look similar, it's because they're intended to look similar.
I don't necessarily look at...if you
go look at Crash Course -- which is a cute little Xbox Live Arcade
game coming out -- and you look at Undertow, you can't look at
those and say, "That's Unreal Engine!" And Lost Odyssey
doesn't look like this game. That's the thing -- there's so many different
looks to the games. That's really the decision of the art directors
that are using the technology, as opposed to the technology itself.
BS: It depends on how much you want to alter it, right? BlackSite, for instance, does look very Unreal-y.
MR: I think it's just a matter of how far you want to go with materials, lighting, and level design. I don't think that two games necessarily have to look that similar at all.
Christian Nutt: You referenced an Xbox Live Arcade game that's coming out with Unreal Engine. Maybe this is common knowledge, but is there a licensing program for XBLA games that makes them more financially sound?
MR: We don't give out the details of that, but we work with developers of all different size and games. So absolutely, we definitely have a bit of a push in that area. People are making games for the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade -- some more casual-oriented games. We've also done things with guys making MMOs. Have you seen The Agency? Does that look anything at all like the other games? We work with all different sizes of teams and situations. We're pretty flexible.
BS: Having a look is not necessarily
a bad thing, either. I'm not trying to peg it as a negative.
MR: I'm very sensitive about that.
CN: It makes me think of how back in the 16-bit days, when the SNES games had a certain look and Genesis games had a certain look. You could identify them. They had a certain character to them.
BS: We were talking about this earlier,
personally. You could tell what platform something was on just from
screenshots, just because it looked like something. We were thinking
in a way that engines were the future of that. Like, "This looks
sort of like it's got that Unreal look."
MR: Like I say, when you see some of the games people are doing, they have a completely different look. I think it's absolutely an artistic decision. Take Stranglehold and Gears of War, for example. I wouldn't say so. Each has its own stylized look.