When the Playstation 3 was first revealed at E3 in May 2005, the first ever playable demo of the game was a very early version of Unreal Tournament 2007, showing off Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. With the Game Developers Conference set for this week, FiringSquad got a chance to ask some questions of Epic Games Vice President Mark Rein about the Unreal Engine, their plans for the PS3, and his opinions on the current state of PC gaming and hardware.
FiringSquad: What will Epic be showing at GDC?
Mark Rein: We’re going to have some new and updated Unreal Engine 3 demos. We’ll be bringing along PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 to show demos on those platforms as well. We’ll have both a theatre presentation and private meetings in our Exposuite.
FiringSquad: How is it going on PS3?
Mark Rein: PlayStation3 development is coming along really nicely. We’re almost finished with our new multi-threaded renderer which will give us performance improvements on multi-core systems like Xbox 360 and PS3. We’ll be showing some early demos of it to our licensees during GDC. We’ll also have a new PS3 demo that we’ll show behind closed doors.
FiringSquad: What do you think about the recent announcements of Sony’s online network for PS3?
Mark Rein: We make online multiplayer games so obviously it is exciting for us to hear Sony talking about this and we hope to hear more details soon. It is great news that Sony is going to offer a free service and that publishers will be able to setup their own servers. This will give us some great flexibility.
FiringSquad: Sony said that should expect that every PS3 will have a hard drive – is that good or bad?
Mark Rein: If that is what they do then I think it’s a really smart move. It means developers can create features that rely on large amounts of fast, persistent storage knowing that every PS3 will have it. That’s a good thing. It also means Sony can create services knowing that they can leverage the hard drive and every PS3 customer can use them. For example if they wanted streaming HD movies on PS3 they could accomplish using the hard drive as a cache to help smooth out internet bottlenecks. I have no idea if they’re going to do something like that or not but we can definitely take advantage of having a hard drive on every machine.
FiringSquad: Will you use it for Unreal Tournament 2007 on PC?
Mark Rein Definitely. On the PC side if you’re playing Unreal Tournament 2004 and you go to a server which has a new content on it you’re able to download that content to your hard drive automatically and then join the game on that server. We’d like to be able to do that with UT2007 on PS3 if Sony will allow it. It certainly wouldn’t be possible on consoles without hard drives because most of that content is going to be larger than a typical console memory card could support. That’s just one example but there other things we can do knowing we have a hard drive on each machine.