A lot of games give away the story even sometimes in screenshots. We definitely don't want to be one of those games and I think people will be really surprised when they see some of the elements of the game that haven't been discussed or shown.
Weapons are one example. Because the game's generated so much excitement, based on how beautiful it looks and a couple of the trailers we've shown, we've been able to pretty much keep the weapons under wraps. Everybody's seen the three or four guns and some grenades and things that we've shown. We will gradually reveal more and more but the idea's not to reveal everything.
The multiplayer testing sounds intriguing though? We haven't heard too much about that before.
Mark Rein: Oh yeah, it's a lot of fun. The multiplayer has - well I don't want to pigeon hole it by saying it has a Counter-Strike feel to it - but imagine a more tactical Counter-Strike, where team work is absolutely essential, where cover is absolutely essential and it's just a lot of fun. We've had eight-player matches, they go on for a long time and everyone's really enjoying testing them out.
Of course you're now considered one of the premier next-gen engine developers in the world. How is work on Unreal Engine 3 developing?
Mark Rein: Our license program is going really well, but more importantly engine development is going extremely well. We've expanded the team recently and just added another tools developer. Tools are really the cornerstone of Unreal Engine 3 and we're now working on the multi-threaded renderer which is a vast performance improvement over where we've been in the past and an absolute necessity to take advantage of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. We will probably have that in a very early showable form at GDC and we should deliver to licensees soon thereafter.
Unfortunately, right now the renderer is at the stage where we're making a big change to it, we can't show little pieces of it, it has to all be done and then you have to put the content back in. So we figure sometime after GDC, we're gonna be pretty much done in the production stage. We are obviously continuing work on the other pieces of the engine and it's going well.
As a company do you ever feel a tension between being an engine developer and a games maker? Is there ever any conflict or do you always see yourselves going forward on both tracks?
Mark Rein: Oh, good question. The only conflict that happens in that situation really is that the pressure with the engine is not just to satisfy ourselves into making a great game and not just to satisfy our publisher, but there's a lot people who are dependant on the technology. So if there's any tension there it may be that sometimes we over-compensate on the engine side by borrowing resources from the games team. The crucial thing is to make sure the important features are done, not just when they're needed by us, but also by our customers. So it's an internally satisfying situation as well when we're able to do that.
But I think we're well positioned. I don't think it's possible to be a really good engine provider and not be a consumer of your own work. I think that's a fallacy, the idea that you can create a company that never puts these things into practicable motion and never really finds out how well the engine runs or what kind of performance is needed for real games, for shipping the titles.
I don't ever really see us as being a separate engine company from a games company, I think those two are very well intertwined. We often tell people, 'We put in the features that are important to our games', because that way we know that they work, we know that they're getting torture tested, that our developers are using them every day and that they're getting full attention. We know when it comes time to ship, our publisher will see our entire set of features which includes what we do for licensees. So it gives us an advantage. We try also to maintain an engine which is extensible for licensees.