Mark Rein Interview
23rd Apr 2008 | 16:13
Unreal Tournament III on Xbox 360 is just a few months away now, as Mark Rein was on hand to confirm at Midway's recent Gamer's Day event in Las Vegas.
CVG was on site to sample the late-arriving conversion, and grabbed a very busy Rein for a chat about the Epic boys' work and all things gaming.
As usual, Rein was more than willing to voice his views on the current state of the gaming market, as well as the future of PC gaming, and cleared up some misconceptions over Unreal Engine 4.
So, we're finally playing UT III on Xbox 360. It's been a while coming...
Mark Rein: Remember we did the multiplayer on the PC and PS3 using GameSpy, so it takes time to rip GameSpy out and put in Xbox Live support. We have limited resources so we could only do so much at once. But it's coming out in the summer so it's not too far now.
Were there any other challenges in getting the game up and running on the 360, particularly the new split-screen mode?
Rein: We did a lot of extra optimisation. This is also part of what took a little longer - to make it so that we could have split-screen. We heard from our PS3 players that they were not happy about not having split-screen so we made sure that, on this version, because we might not have the same kind of mod support, at least we have split-screen.
Did that optimisation require any downgrading of visual effects?
Rein: No, not at all. We have more experience obviously with the Xbox 360 - we've had a year longer to learn it so it's given us the time to get that sort of stuff working.
We want this version to be as good as the PS3 version. The optimisations are mostly based around making sure we can get decent performance with split-screen.
And what's the final word on mod support for 360?
Rein: We're still trying. We're working with Microsoft to try to figure out how to support it, but regardless of what happens, mods will play a part somewhere along the line. We'll make sure we get a fair share of mods working. We'll figure that out.
What do you think of the current debate regarding the future of PC gaming?
Rein: It's going through its various changes and we need to adapt. We've released Unreal Tournament III on Steam and Direct2Drive, so we're making sure it's available for download on various services and that's just one of the ways PC gaming is changing.
I think that both the PS3 and 360 are doing really well. The HD-DVD and Blu-ray war is over and that's going to be great for Sony. On the PC side we're seeing some really high-end graphics cards at very reasonable prices.
We still have the problem with the low-end PCs that have things like Intel integrated graphics - that continues to be a problem. But you're going to see guys like nVidia and ATi release integrated graphics cards that are good enough to run games like UT III and, to me, that's fantastic. It's something we've been fighting for for years.
Now we've got to get Intel there and I think they're going to be there before too long. I think that'll help the PC a lot. If every PC was capable of being a gaming PC we'd be much better off.
Is that the answer for the future of PCs?
Rein: Absolutely. We know that in the long term that problem's going to be solved. It's just a question of what happens between now and then.
That's something people should realise. When we talk about the PC gaming market, we're talking about our little narrow view of it. We're not talking about casual games, or World of Warcraft. We're just talking about the kind of experiences that we want to make - the really high-end, Hollywood-quality cinematic experiences. So whenever we have a complaint or a concern, it's really related to that.
We want to still be able to sell games like Unreal Tournament and Gears of War on the PC platform. That's important to us. We want to be able to package them up at retail and not make you pay a monthly subscription for them. But that may not be the way it goes in the future.
I hate when I hear people say "That's what's going to happen to market - you've got to change your business model". On the contrary, we don't. We have a perfectly good, working business model so we want to also have an economy where we can bring those games to PC and those gamers enjoy them as well.
There were also some rumblings recently regarding Unreal Engine 4 and what platforms it will, or will not, be appearing...
Rein: One of the biggest misconceptions was when (Epic co-founder) Tim Sweeney was talking about Unreal Engine 4 and he mentioned something along the lines of it being exclusively for the next generation of consoles.
What he meant was, it won't run on this generation of consoles, but people assumed what he meant was that it won't run on PCs. Hello - all game technology runs on PC, that's how you build it. Of course it'll be on PC. That should go without saying.
But people took that as [a sign of] us abandoning PCs - and Tim said something about UE4 coming to consoles first. Unreal Engine 3 came out on consoles first - there's nothing new about that.
That's the way it works; the console guys were, in this generation, able to spend the money to put the really high-end parts out before they were even affordable on PC. Of course, the PC comes flying up behind and will have much better performance than consoles by the time the generation is over.
You are able to buy a PC that's as powerful as the Xbox 360 long before the 360 generation is finished. So people, calm down. If we give conflicting views and say things that are negative, it's because we care about it and we want it to be strong, and we're going to work to make it strong.
Relax, take a breath... PC gaming will be fine.