Not surprisingly, publisher GT Interactive was growing increasingly concerned about the game's long development cycle. The software publishing giant had risked a great deal of money on Unreal, and the pressure was mounting for Epic to stay on a schedule. As Bleszinski remembers, "[They] wanted me to give them a time estimate for how long it would take to create a map from start to finish - they wanted to chart it all out for us. But it's not that easy. A painter can't tell you how long it is going to take him to do a painting, and designing levels for Unreal is a lot more than just throwing ten enemies in a room and asking the player to mow them down."
Although GT's Ron Chaimowitz is now mum on the subject of delays, he agrees that "any time a title takes longer than anticipated to complete, there are frustrations."
A Victim of Exaggeration?
Even though the missed released dates were much-discussed in the industry (Wired magazine officially dubbed it "vaporware"), Rein is quick to point out that rumors of Unreal's delay have been greatly exaggerated. "Unreal turned into a kind of urban myth. People think we worked on it for four years, and that isn't true; People think that we were two years late, and that isn't true either."
The simple reality was that Unreal was not yet ready for prime time. As Bleszinski puts it, "If we had made our original ship date, Unreal wouldn't be the cool game it is today."
Next: The Maple Leaf Convergence