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The Unreal Man: Mark Rein Speaks
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The Unreal Man: Mark Rein Speaks

November 28, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

BS: So if somebody wanted to be incredibly insane and try and create a racing game using the hoverboard or something like that, that would be...

MR: Well, as long as they make it as a mod and give it away for free, that's fantastic. We love it. And then if they want to sell it, they should just come and talk to us. Red Orchestra's a perfect example. It's out there being sold on Steam and at retail, and it was a mod. We embrace that. There's others that we would have happily done the same thing with. Some of the others that are in the contest actually have licenses and publishers doing it, so you'll see some events on our retail service. But there's nothing wrong with that. It's fabulous.

BS: Do you think Unreal Engine 3 running on the PS3 now is going to help people surmount the difficulties they've been having?

MR: I think that's generally how it works. That's part of the reason why we build a game -- to prove out the technology, and iron all the kinks out of it and make it good. As I've said before, a year after the Xbox 360 was on the market, we had a really good game -- Gears of War -- and that kind of became version 1.0 of Unreal Engine 3 for the Xbox 360. That became a roadmap. It was well-optimized, and licensees could go look at that code. We released it so they could say, "If I want to do at least what Epic's doing with Unreal Engine 3 and get that kind of framerate and performance and visual look or move some of those levers up and down to be different, I can do that."

I think it's the same thing with Unreal Tournament [3 on PS3] so absolutely. I think now, people can see, "Okay, they've got the engine running with this much content." Everybody's mileage varies, because not everybody's making the same game. But, "They have the engine running with this many characters, explosions, and vehicles, and the level's this size, and if I follow that idea, I can get that kind of performance, and if I do less of this, I can do more of that. If I do more of this, I can do less than that." So, absolutely, I think we're at that kind of version 1.0 on PlayStation 3 a year after the PlayStation 3 shipped, the same way we were with Xbox 360 a year after the Xbox 360 shipped. That was a pretty predictable thing, and was what we expected that was going to occur and what we've been telling people.

BS: Some have said things like Unreal Engine 3... I mean, generally, they've just started using it, but, "It likes certain things more than it likes other things." To me, it seems like that's kind of the nature of an engine, that there's certain things that it's suited for, and other things you've got to attack on your own.

MR: People are doing a lot of a pretty large variety of things with Unreal Engine 3. We're pretty proud of that. People are making huge MMOs and tiny little arcade games, and they've making action games like Unreal, BioShock, and Mass Effect and things of that nature. We're pretty excited that people are doing so many different things with the technology, and we're always encouraging them to do more. I think you're going to see more and more variety, especially when you see some of the mods. You just go back to look at the things people did with mods, and it's pretty clear it's the engine to do all kinds of things.

Sometimes imagination is the biggest limitation to what people think a technology can do or can't do. An engine's just an engine. People are saying, "This is a shooter engine," or "This is an RPG engine," and then you see RPGs being made with a shooter engine or a shooter being made with an RPG engine. In some cases, it's really just opening your imagination and understanding the limitations of the hardware and how a particular piece of technology is going to perform on that hardware.

BS: So when people do push those boundaries with the engine, do you ever push back on them and try to incorporate those into your build for things?

MR: We ultimately only have control over the features that we're going to use all the time. If we put something in that we're not using and stressing and testing, sooner or later, it will be broken. There's something called code rot. If we don't touch the code for six months, it just breaks, because other dependencies have happened. So you've got to be very careful to make sure that you're keeping things clean and stable.

That's what our games have accomplished. They've become that test spec, because every day we're playing our games and testing them so that as we break something we can fix it. If we put in a lot of features in the engine that we ourselves couldn't use in the game, we would end up testing a lot of features that we're not using. It would also be hard to guarantee that those features were done in a way that delivered consistent performance all the time. I think that's true of any codebase. I don't think it matters which one you're looking at.

CN: How's it been working with...I could be wrong, but this is probably the first generation you've worked heavily with Japanese licensees, so how's that been?

MR: There's always a challenge working with people that don't speak the same language as you. That takes some getting used to, and we're certainly had some growing pains there, but that's the case with any American company working with Japanese companies. You've seen that in the console business. So that's a challenge, but we're having some pretty good successes, actually. The guys at Square are... there's a game that doesn't look anything like our games, but the guys at Square are doing some really incredible stuff.

CN: I'm zipping my mouth shut!

MR: You've seen it?

CN: Yeah.

MR: But they're doing some pretty neat stuff that's different. We've tried to work around the language barrier as best we can, and we are looking to expand to work with more people in Japan, as well as build our own presence there. That will ultimately help us in the Japanese marketplace -- to have a little bit of an Epic presence. We have a little bit of a direct Epic presence in China, and that's going very, very well. So we hope to repeat the kind of thing we're doing in China in Japan at some point.


Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

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