T H E   G A M E S P O T   N E T W O R K
Blinded By Reality: The True Story Behind the Creation of Unreal
Part One - In the Beginning
- Introduction
- Action Aficionados
- From Carpet to Foot
- Tools of the Trade
- Sculpt Your Own World
- Virtual Recruitment
- The Name of the Game
- GT Enters the Fray

Part Two - Virtual Development

Part Three - Reality Rises
Behind the Games
By Geoffrey Keighley (editor@gameslice.com)

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.

James Schmalz
Being a game developer has never been mainstream, and back in those days, it certainly wasn't glamorous. The self-dubbed "Epic Apartment" in Rockville was about as bland a development studio as you'll find. But it was the think tank where Epic MegaGames founder Tim Sweeney housed his ace developers as they burned the midnight oil trying to polish their latest games.

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."

Cliff Bleszinski
Thus the story of Unreal begins. Although the concept would change from caves to castles, and the graphics would transpose from rough lines to luscious textures, four years later, Schmalz and Bleszinski, along with ace programmer and company founder Tim Sweeney, would have arguably the biggest PC game of the year on their hands.

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...

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