Late one night - or early one morning, depending on how you look at it - four years ago, the story of Unreal began. It started in the unassuming town of Rockville, MD, when a Mariachi band started to play in the apartment complex that housed game developers Epic MegaGames.
At 5:00 a.m., the last thing three game designers wanted to hear was the cadence of Mexican pomp seeping through their walls. After all, in the gaming world, 5:00 a.m. isn't when the rooster cock-a-doodle-doos; it's when the lights finally get turned out after an intense night of programming.
That night, young Canadian-born game designer James Schmalz had made a decision. He was ready to show fellow designer Cliff Bleszinski the first working prototype of his new game. It would be the follow-up to his previous effort, a surprise-hit pinball simulation called Extreme Pinball. Although the demo of his next game was merely speculative research at this point - little more than solid lines flying around on a grid onscreen - it was the first step toward Schmalz's goal of creating what he called "a Magic Carpet-like environment where you fly through caverns with robots."
Getting there wasn't easy. Obstacles were everywhere - from uniting a battalion of developers scattered across the globe, to withstanding the scathing criticism of the press, to competing with companies ten times their size.
But succeed they did. This is their story...