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.
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."