Unreal Tournament 3: Mark Rein Interview

We quiz Epic Games bigwig Mark Rein on the all-new UT3, talk about the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and discover that Unreal Engine 3 IS actually in development for Wii.

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By Adam Doree

When Epic Games boss Mark Rein talks, people listen. And that means a hell of a lot of listening, because this man could talk as an Olympic sport. But we don't mind, because he has a lot of important stuff to say, and in our latest exclusive interview with him, the topics couldn't be more relevant: Unreal Tournament 3 and all of its new stuff, how the PS3 version's shaping up, Unreal Engine 3 for the Wii, DirectX 10 support and loads more.




Kikizo: Let's start with the PS3 version of UT3. Tanya Jessen was saying earlier it was definitely coming out this year. Is the PS3 version going to be out in time for Christmas?

Rein: In Europe, probably not, because it's a longer certification process for Europe obviously; there's so many countries with different languages. But hey, if Tanya says definitely, then I'm OK with that! I don't know... you know, the build you played is about ten days old, and it's really solid. And this is a build that we submitted for what's called a pre-cert, which is basically just an early test to see where are we - how far along are we. And it came back with surprisingly few issues. We were shocked by how few issues there were. So we're like, wow, we could get it to cert this week! But who knows, it's hard to say right now, because there are just so many variables that aren't under our control, and then if it doesn't pass cert, how quickly can we rev the updates and changes, and get it back in. The big problem with Christmas is, I mean, we're a couple of weeks behind. We're not far. But if we're two or three weeks behind, the problem is we start getting into Thanksgiving in the US, and Christmas and the pre-Christmas, and the stores are going to say hey, we've got our inventory...

Kikizo: But it's also a really crowded market, specifically in the FPS genre, right now...

Rein: Yeah, but we don't care about that. We don't want the game to come out when it's stale, we want it out the minute it's ready. So we're not worried about that, even if it costs us sales, we don't care about the crowded marketplace. We want to get the game out so that people can start playing and enjoying it. But the problem is if that goes after say December 11 or 12 or whatever it is, can you release a game on December 23rd? I don't think so! So unfortunately, that two to three weeks could mean a month, but what do you do! We're doing our best though.

Kikizo: How long is it going to be, on the PS3 only, before a 360 version appears? The 360 version is announced, right?

Rein: Yeah, we're doing a 360 version. Right now, the main reason we brought it to PlayStation 3 first is the mods. You know how important mods are to Unreal Tournament, and we love user created content. And remember, our user created content isn't just rearranging materials around on the deck, or the boat. It's making a new boat! It's making a plane, or a car - it's making whatever you want to make. If you look at in-game editors, the best you can usually do is move things around, you know what I mean? That's not modding, that's just reorganising. There's nothing wrong with that, and there's going to be some brilliant reorganisations. But what we can do is real, honestly it's new weapons, new vehicles, new game types, new scripts, new material, I mean anything you want. You can redo animation if you want, just so many cool things - that's what modding is all about and we're in a whole different league. Your sixty bucks that you spent on a game is worth a lot more!

So we're definitely pushing the boat in terms of user created content. The problem is - or not the problem, the benefit - is that PlayStation 3 is an open network. When we went to Sony and said we want to make this game, and we want it to support mods, they said, well we're an open network, you can do that. And we're like, ha ha, really?! We're going to challenge you on that! Are you really confident? And sure enough, they have stuck with their word, and they have embraced it and supported it. I mean, Jack [Tretton, president of SCEA] even talked about it on stage at E3, which was very kind of him. So they're right behind this idea of real, honest to goodness user created content. And the Xbox 360 is a closed system, so the question is how do you get user created content - not stuff that's gone through a certification process - how do users bring content onto Xbox 360. We don't know the answer to that, and we're too busy right now working on the PS3 version, and the PC versions, to sit down with Microsoft. So when the game is done and it's out - it might end up being Christmas or some time in the New Year - we'll sit down with Microsoft and say OK, how do we do mods on your system, and then we'll have to make the changes to accommodate that. So to be honest, we don't know.

Kikizo: Do you think it's going to be the game that really kick-starts the PlayStation Network? Because quite a few people have been playing Warhawk, but it hadn't really got going like Xbox Live has yet.

Rein: I hope so, I mean it's a great game, and in plays really well over PSN. One of the things that we can do that's really unique about this game, and it's one of the benefits of the version, is that you can run a PC server, and say, "serve PS3 users". So we could theoretically, if the game's popular, go out and get a bunch of really high quality, high bandwidth servers, stick them in places that have really good bandwidth, and run dedicated servers so the game has lots of servers. So that's a clear benefit. The other thing is obviously with the mods. The customers are going to decide how popular the game is. It won't be our hopes and prayers - we've done our job in making the best game we can, and the users will decide if this is the big game for them online. But I hope so, it's a great game to play online, and it's an equally good game to play completely offline - against bots or on a LAN. So who knows, we'll have to wait and see.

Midway brought in some 'honeys' for the recent UT3 launch

Kikizo: How much effort have you put into campaign mode? Obviously everyone knows this is a multiplayer game, but...

Rein: Multiplayer STYLE game! Ahhh! That's one of the perceptions that holds back UT, is that people think it's a multiplayer game - it's a multiplayer style game, that is a great multiplayer game, but is also a great play-it-by-yourself game. Well the whole point of the campaign mode, let's be upfront, it's not Gears of War. It's not that big, epic, story driven game. The idea behind the campaign is to teach you how to play it, to introduce you to all of the concepts in the game, and to actually take you through and let you play. And in this case, it should have a bit of a story wrapped around it, some cinematics wrapped around it, it has the bots which have this really great interesting banter between them, and I just think it's balls of fun - I want you to tell me the same thing - I'm just really enjoying the campaign, it's a fun way to learn the game and get into it. And then you can go off and play instant action or play online or do anything you want there. You basically get to play through nearly every level in the game, if not every level - it depends how you do, of course. And I think we've done a good job on it for what it is to UT, as opposed to a Halo or Gears of War or the big story driven shooter type games. So I think we've done a really great job.

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