Beyond the Unreal add-on pack, the next obvious question is, what about a sequel? Concepts for the sequel are already in circulation, and GT Interactive will be the likely publisher. Chaimowitz says, "Our agreement with Epic is for Unreal and an option for a sequel, which takes us through 2000."
While not yet official, the potential of a sequel is tantalizing - perhaps to the developers most of all. Bleszinski is keen to explore more of the Unreal universe and delve deeper into the world of the mysterious Nali aliens. Schmalz can't wait to add more elements to the scripting and design a game without building an engine at the same time. "The beauty of the engine and its modular design is that we won't have to rewrite it for a sequel," says Schmalz. "We can redo parts of it or add new features, but the core scripting and other elements are there for the long haul."
The bar is continually being raised.
For Epic MegaGames and Digital Extremes, the future seems very bright. They are now being compared to the biggest players in their field, namely id Software (Doom, Quake) and 3D Realms (Duke Nukem 3D). But don't expect this newfound success to change their approach to the business. "There have been two things that have led to the downfall of game developers in the past," says Sweeney. "The first is growing too fast while taking on marginal new projects, and the other is not keeping talented developers happy, thus leading them to splinter off. We don't need to become a huge or complex organization in order to achieve our goals."
Will fame change the Unreal team? Jim Perkins doesn't think so. "I see the guys at Epic as being huge superstars, but they won't change who they are just because they are famous - they are great guys with incredible intelligence and a real love for gaming and technology." Still, they can't help but celebrate their success: Schmalz says he's thinking of buying a Hummer to deal with those harsh Canadian winters.