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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
The Name of the Game
But what would the game be called? The developers fought forever about names, going through a number of options including Sin and Dark Earth - ironic, considering the fact that two PC games have since taken those names. Finally, "Everyone gave up," says Schmalz, and they settled on the pompous name Unreal. In retrospect, the name couldn't have been better - it was cocky, memorable, and indicative of the team's confidence that it was pushing into uncharted territory.

The first big wave of public interest in Unreal came in late 1996 when PC Gamer ran the first preview of the game.

Eventually, in early 1997, Epic would give the biggest demo possible to none other than Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

Epic basked in the glow of the publicity, but promoting its new title at such an early stage proved to be a double-edged sword. The developers were creating incredible expectations for Unreal and building the hype to pressure-cooker levels. According to Rein, it was a necessary evil. "To attract publisher interest, it was necessary for little Epic MegaGames to go out and show off its technology," he says, recalling the initial PR blitz. "If we hadn't done that, our deal would have been half of what it is. The good thing is that we always had these expectations standing over our shoulders keeping us honest, but the bad thing is that we showed our cards to the world ahead of time."

Bill Gates requested, and was granted, a secret meeting with the creators of Unreal.
The 51 Billion Dollar Demo
Showing their cards to the world ahead of time would present a number of intriguing demo experiences for the Unreal team members. They had potentially revolutionary graphics technology at their fingertips and everyone wanted to see it - from the biggest software publishers in the industry down to cult-heroes such as John Carmack and John Romero. Eventually, in early 1997, Epic would give the biggest demo possible, to none other than Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

This top-secret meeting - never before revealed to the public - took place inside the Microsoft compound in Redmond, WA. Rein and Sweeney met with Gates and a number of his leading developers to show them what they were doing with Unreal. After Sweeney discussed the technology and Rein ran a demo of the game, they sat down with Gates one-on-one to discuss their work. "He was really very gracious and complementary of the game," remembers Rein. For Sweeney, "Showing Unreal to Bill Gates was a very cool experience, and it drove home the point that if you work very hard for many years and strive to be one of the best in your field, you really can get there and see some great opportunities."

Next: GT Enters the Fray>