GC: Epic Games' Mark Rein • Page 2

On UT, Gears PC, the Gears film and Unreal Engine 3.

Eurogamer: Yesterday in your talk you said Gears and UT3 were both coming out in a similar kind of timeframe relative to the launch of the host platform. You also said that the best way to develop an engine is to make a game. But the thing was - if UT3 was your first PS3 game, does that mean Unreal Engine 3 is really only going to come into its own on PS3 once you finish UT3?

Mark Rein: Well, I mean Rainbow Six Vegas shipped on PS3 months ago and it's very good. What it means is that - I think, and everybody knows this coming into it - we're not a launch title technology. You wouldn't license Unreal Engine 3 if you were going to try and make a launch title. Launch titles are made by taking your old engine and upgrading it as much as you can. You're dealing with unfinished libraries, unreleased code, you're dealing with a lot of newness and the documentation of platforms isn't done yet, so everybody's rushing in this state of unpreparedness on a launch title. That was never our plan.

Our plan was to be cutting edge - to take advantage of the full power of the platform - and historically you always see that about a year after the platform shipped. The documentation has settled down, the libraries have gone through a few revisions, people are getting better performance out of their machines, the manufacturers are better at supporting it, there's customers out there to actually buy the games. So we want to have that first hit at the first sweet spot, and we're a small company so Gears of War basically finished everything, if you will - finished is a relative term, you're never really finished with an engine - but it took it into, you're right, a finished kind of state, and Unreal Tournament is doing that now on PlayStation 3.

Now, oddly enough, we're a little ahead on PlayStation 3 compared to where we were at this time on Xbox 360, and what I mean by that is our code and our level of completeness, and that's because we have shipped a game with UE3 already. So PlayStation 3 is very much benefiting from Gears of War. That sounds silly, but it's very much benefiting from Gears of War. And the point is that we're more prepared today for PlayStation 3 than we were for Xbox 360 this time last year, and the engine is running a little better - we're X frames ahead with, let's not forget, a lot more polygons and a lot more materials, a lot more characters and a lot more projectiles. When you see UT, this pushes the engine a lot harder than Gears of War did. I know it sounds preposterous because of how great Gears of War is, but we're pushing this up another notch. I'm very proud of that, and I think it's good for us and it's good for our licensees.

You can always go off ahead of us and finish things that we haven't finished, or optimise or add in your own features for things that are in an incomplete or untested stage on ours. But you're right - once you ship the game you have very much a version 1.0. And when you talk about other engines on other platforms, you've got to say 'hey, did they ship a game yet? Do I have a really 1.0 version to deal with?' There's no question that, of the licensable engines, we're among the most prepared in terms of delivering high performance, cutting edge engine technologies for these platforms, and I think that if you want engines that don't push it as far, then there are probably other engines that can deliver technology to you that's in the same general area of preparedness as we are, but in terms of the really high-end stuff, of pushing the platform as hard as possible, we're getting there now and it's a great position to be in, and I don't think there's anybody else who's following us very closely.

And we're so cross-platform. You want to take one of our levels and run it on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, your Mac or Linux or PC, it's exactly the same content. I know other people are talking about better situations and that's really the way it works for us too, and you'll see that this fall - we're putting that in the hands of end users. Talk about perfect test. We're going to put that in the hands of end users to take PC content and put it on PlayStation 3.

We'd do it on Xbox 360 if we could - we're pushing with Microsoft to try and figure out a way to let users do that themselves, because it's the same. We can do it on a dev-kit, it's just how do you get your content on Xbox 360? It's a still a question mark, which we will answer, and which we're confident that after talks with Microsoft we'll figure out how to solve. Same with Mac and same with Linux.

So I think we're just in a really good state. If you want to have a really high end engine technology, at least you can say Unreal is shipped. It's shipped on Xbox 360, and it's pretty darn close to shipping now on PlayStation 3, and by the time the winter rolls around it's there.

Eurogamer: I was speaking to your friend Denis Dyack yesterday and he commented that he was confident that the complaint they had about UE3 support was valid, and I was just wondering if you had any comments on the lawsuit or if there was anything you could say.

Mark Rein: We deliver fantastic support. You just need to talk to our licensees. You can talk to Gearbox - I read a post yesterday that a Gearbox guy had actually said on a completely independent forum about how good our support is, and we have great documentation, we bend over backwards to answer questions for our licensees, a lot of times we have this whole community support where licensees are helping each other - that is a fantastic feature, that is really great, and what the Gearbox guys say is they get back way more than they give. The quality of our support is very much how much you use it and how much you put into it.

I don't believe anybody delivers better support than us, and, when you have a question about our engine, it's answered by the guy who made that particular thing in the engine. When you have a question about art in the game, you have all of our artists reading those questions, so we have artists that are actually making real award-winning, leading-edge, number-one best-selling games of this generation - and we know we're going to get our butts kicked in a few weeks by Halo, but I can say that for now! - so number-one best-selling game in the entire generation and you have access to those artists to help guide you to achieving artistic performance and creativity levels.

So if you have a question about the graphics rendering, you go right to the guy who wrote the graphics rendering, not some middle-man who's going to try and figure out the question for you. We've got a 1700-page book for Unreal Engine 3 now that's going to be published by the world's largest book publisher either this fall or winter, geared a lot at both end users and licensees because it's a how-to book for the Unreal editor. We really do a good job on support, and I think if you talk to some of our customers, you talk to Midway, you talk to Gearbox and some of these other guys, I think they'll tell you that our support is very good.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.


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