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  Unreal Update from Mark Rein

Unreal is not finished yet. When it is we'll be shouting it from the mountain tops. Anyone who thinks they know the date Unreal will ship is pulling your leg. Even we still don't know exactly when we'll be done but we're pretty sure that it will ship within the first half of this year which means before the end of June. Reports that it's coming "any day now" are greatly exaggerated. We're definitely getting close but we're not that close. Our plan is still to finish the FULL version of the game before we address the shareware version.

Progress has been amazing in the last few weeks. We've got the final sky code in and let me tell you, it's breathtaking! I don't want to give any details about it other than to say that it's extremely realistic. James and the level designers have been "tuning" the weapons to get the feel just right. Now that James has the menus in, the game is really starting to look complete. If you had the chance to play Unreal at the Respawn multi-player gaming convention in Toronto you’ll be happy to know that we’ve implemented several of the weapon-tuning suggestions we got there and the improvements are very noticeable.

We've completed about one-third of the required performance optimizations and the build we have this week runs faster in software rendering than previous builds ran through hardware 3D acceleration! Of course hardware performance is also faster now and there is still more to go. I can not stress how significant having MMX is. If your budget allows only an upgrade to MMX and you're interested in maximizing Unreal performance be assured that MMX makes a HUGE difference to the performance of Unreal. There has been a lot of misinformation in the press about MMX and a general under-delivery of good MMX-enhanced software. But don't let that deter you. Unreal is probably the most MMX-optimized game ever made thanks to the efforts of Erik de Neve. If you're into Unreal and you want maximum performance then you want to have MMX even if you have a good supported 3D card. Thank you Intel!

Even if you don’t have a supported video card (other than 3DFX and PowerVR PCX2 we’re uncertain exactly what cards will be supported) at least you can count on Unreal’s spectacular software renderer to deliver a fantastic experience none-the-less. Some journalists have commented to me that Unreal looks better in software than most other games look in hardware. We realize not everyone has super PCs and we’re doing our best to support the broadest range possible. If you have a 32Mb (RAM) Pentium 166 with MMX or better you’re probably going to be happy with Unreal’s performance. People with systems lower than that will have to make some tradeoffs in resolution or detail. Unfortunately anything below a Pentium 133 is probably going to provide an unacceptable level of performance. If you’ve got a system below a 166MMX then try the shareware before you decide whether or not you’re going to buy Unreal. We want to be honest with our customers about performance. It’s just too common for games lately to ship with minimum specs on the box that don’t provide acceptable levels of performance.

We’re currently working on implementing some detail switches that allow you to tailor Unreal to the system you have and turn features on or off depending on the level of computing power and memory you have. Let me provide one example of this: Unreal levels are huge and our textures are very detailed so right now running Unreal on a system, even a fast system, with anything less than 64mb of RAM can produce big slowdowns as things get shuttled back and forth from disk to memory. One of the detail switches Tim is implementing is the ability to leave out one or more of the higher levels of mip-mapping which drastically cuts memory usage and will allow Unreal to run in nicely on a typical 32Mb system. It won’t make a huge visual difference but it will could make a huge performance difference if you don’t have a ton of RAM.

On Monday I played Unreal on a Pentium II 300Mhz dual Voodoo2 SLI system owned by Myscha (T. Elliot Cannon, one of the Unreal level designers) at 1,024x768 resolution and it was spectacular!

So what does all this mean? If you if have a kick-ass machine Unreal will take it to the max and if you don’t we’re working hard to make sure Unreal still delivers the best graphics you’ve ever seen.


It's Unreal

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