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
Sculpt Your Own World
The decision to create an easy-to-use editor that would actually include the 3D game engine was another key development. As Rein explains, "The building tools and the engine Tim made are one and the same - they work in tandem so the integration makes things a lot easier. Lots of companies have one guy working on the tools and one guy doing the engine, but that leads to confusion. You can't see where the engine ends and the editor begins with our product. It's seamless." With the editor, users could easily create their own levels, a key selling point of the product and a big competitive advantage over other engines.

As development progressed, the number of special effects incorporated into the engine grew by leaps and bounds.

"The Unreal engine has raised the bar on what action gamers expect from future products."
- John Carmack, co-founder and lead programmer, id Software

But creating such cutting-edge technology was taxing. Sweeney sums it up by stating, "3D engine programming is often three months of hard and mundane work followed by a revelation and three hours of coding that creates a dramatic leap forward." And what a leap forward it turned out to be. According to Carmack, "The Unreal engine has raised the bar on what action gamers expect from future products. The visual effects first seen in the game will become expected from future games."

Unreal's level editor, created by Tim Sweeney, is one of the most powerful ever created.
But visuals are only one fraction of the equation that yields a hit game. Epic still had to sculpt the game environment - that mysterious mix of sci-fi and medieval castles that was the original vision for the shooter. Molding the game and its story into an unstable technology base would prove to be extremely difficult. As Tim Sweeney remembers, "Level designers must build levels before they know how the artificial intelligence works, before the engine is running at a decent speed, and before major software errors are fixed. Everyone must make lots of guesses about how the pieces will fit together and do lots of reworking when those pieces don't fit."

Even with the difficulties, Schmalz and Bleszinski became increasingly convinced that the potential for their game was almost unlimited. "Quickly, my focus shifted from doing a game that was going to do well to doing a number one game," recalls Schmalz. "We wanted to go all the way and pull out all the stops." But the team was still small, and it needed to move beyond the core group of developers to seed the engine with enough creative talent to let it blossom into a full and immersive game. Time to take out classified ads? Not quite.

Next: Virtual Recruitment>