Every once in a while we like to release a big, ferocious fish...err, news item.



E3 has been a ZOO! We have eight Unreal deathmatch stations set up in the GT booth and trying to get on one is not easy. I had to wait for 20 minutes and then finally kick someone off a machine just to show some people Unreal in software mode. GT has four computers running Power VR Second Generation and four machines running Creative Labs Voodoo2, so I want to thank Creative Labs and NEC Power VR for these great cards and, of course, GT for giving us a great space in their booth.

I haven't really had a chance to publicly thank GT for everything they've done, so I want to take this opportunity to do so. Everyone at GT has done a great job, but I'd especially like to thank Jason Schreiber (producer), Ken Gold (product manager), Alan Lewis (PR manager), Holly Newman (VP of marketing), Alynne Mills (VP of communications) and, of course, their boss, Chairman Ron Chaimowitz.

I saw the UK box yesterday and I really liked it. Unreal is now in full production in the UK so you folks over there should be seeing the English version on store shelves next week or the week after. We're hoping to get the German, Italian, French and Spanish versions out soon after. Our Australian friends can rejoice in knowing that the first shipment to Australia has gone out. I don't know what the actual on-shelf date is, but it will be "soon."

News from stores in the USA tells us that Unreal is selling out quickly. One retail store employee came up to tell me how his store got a large number of copies that were all sold the same day they hit the shelves. Apparently this is happening all over the place because my local store sold out in the first weekend as well. What people probably don't know is that we handed off the final Gold Master on MONDAY of last week and GT worked amazingly hard to get it to stores by that same Friday. It wasn't possible for GT to manufacture enough copies to satisfy the entire demand but they've been cranking them out ever since and hopefully now there's plenty of Unreal to go around. Despite having already agreed to pay for shipping, some stores even sent their own trucks to GT's warehouses to pick up their Unreal shipments hot off the assembly line on Thursday! Now that's dedication.

Speaking of dedication: Creative Labs gets an extra thanks for donating Voodoo2s, SoundBlaster PCI64 sound cards and Cambridge Soundworks speakers for our suite. These are being put to great use. Creative Labs has an amazing display specifically to show off Unreal's support for EAX (Environmental Audio Extensions). They have a special sound room where they're letting people hear Unreal's fantastic 3D audio support. Basically, you stand in front of a 21-inch monitor with two speakers in front of you and two speakers behind you. The sound is incredible, and it's all coming from the very inexpensive SoundBlaster PCI64 card! I can't even imagine how much richer this will sound when they release the new, and even more powerful, SoundBlaster LIVE! card later this year! Discrete four speaker 3D Audio has arrived and Unreal takes it to the max!

NEC held five-player Unreal deathmatches on giant projection screens. Big screens are everywhere this year. I was standing in the Intel booth talking to our rep and a five foot high Skaarj jumped out at someone playing on a giant projection screen mounted to the roof of Intel's booth! I knew Unreal would be in Intel's booth but what feels so weird is to walk around the show and come upon the booth of some company I don't even know and see someone playing Unreal there. For so long the only way a trade show booth was playing Unreal is if one of us from Epic was there to supervise. Everytime I see a PC running Unreal I want to go over, grab the keyboard and mouse, and give them a demo!

Tim Sweeney was standing by the NEC deathmatch competition taking notes on ways he can improve Unreal to be better suited for competitions and tournaments. If yesterday at NEC was any indication, Mplayer's Unreal deathmatch should have long lineups today! Tim has a whole bunch of things to do when he gets home including finishing the foreign language and shareware versions, and seriously improving Unreal's Internet play. He's gotten a lot of feedback and help from customers testing things and he wanted me to let you know he's really appreciative of the support and help, and that he plans to commit a considerable amount of time over the next few months to making your Unreal purchase an even better value. It's really gratifying when complete strangers come up to us and tell us how much they're enjoying the game.

I had a chance yesterday to see two of our licensees strutting their stuff. Klingon Honor Guard is looking fantastic on public display at the Microprose booth. One cool effect I noticed is that when your opponents bleed the blood get splattered all over the walls and the floor. It looks great! Behind closed doors, GT is showing The Wheel of Time by Legend Entertainment. All I can say is "WOW!" A lot of people are going to be completely surprised at how incredible this game is and they've still got almost a year left on it! It's great to see licensees building on Unreal's strong foundation. I can't wait to see what you folks out there do with the Unreal Editor and UnrealScript language once you've had some time to learn it. PC Accelerator magazine's preview issue dubbed the Unreal Engine the best one out there and it's no surprise now after seeing how much our licensees have been able to do with it.

Well that's about it for now. Today is Mplayer's Unreal tournament and tonight I'm appearing on CNN-FN's digital Jam show. If you get CNN-FN (the CNN Financial Network) be sure to set your VCR to tape the show at 8:00PM. Digital Jam is my favorite tech-oriented TV show and I am honored they asked me to appear tonight. I met Steve Young last year at E3 - he's an amazing host and I'm looking forward to meeting him again. I hope I still have a voice after another full day on the show floor.

If you're coming to E3 come and see Unreal at the GT booth.

Mark Rein,
Vice President,
Epic MegaGames


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