Mark Rein is always welcome here on CVG. He's never short of opinion, always insightful and absolutely guaranteed to be entertaining.
In our latest chat in sunny Birmingham the Epic boss discusses the launch of Unreal Tournament III, what it means for UE3 (and PS3) and how the PC games industry might be looking up.
We remember seeing UT III at an E3 show years ago. You must be pretty damn relieved to finally get it out the door?
Rein: (laughs) Well it's a labour of love so you take your time and do it right. That's the only way to ship games these days. The users demand so much out of games; they really want a great gameplay experience, everything to work well, they want it to be fast - and especially with UT.
Our players have such a clear idea; they want a weapon to work like this, and the firing rate like this and the flak cannon to do this much damage. They have very clear ideas of how they want everything and it's up to us to get it right, do a good job and make the right decisions.
It just takes time. Plus there's a lot of content in this game; there's something like over 40 maps. It's insane how much is actually in this game; we have two complete sets of vehicles now, we have new weapons and most of the levels are completely new designs. It just takes time to put that all together.
And what does the release of UT III mean for the engine?
Rein: On the PlayStation 3 that's really important. That kind of brings us to what I like to say "version 1.0" where we're shipping a game with it and it's in really great shape.
It's shows off what the engine can do and don't forget that Unreal Tournament III is a lot more taxing on machines than Gears of War was, in terms of polygons and the amount of stuff going on the screen.
It really is a testament to how well we've managed to get our arms around the PlayStation 3 and Sony's been a great help there.
So there it's been important but it's not so much as important on the PC because everybody knows we're good on the PC and we shipped Gears of War as well.
On the PlayStation 3 I think it's really important to get that first one out there to get the experience of actually shipping a game and optimising a game to run on that platform.
Why did you decide to lead on PS3 rather than 360?
Rein: The main reason is for the mods. They told us from the beginning that PlayStation 3 was going to be an open system. We were like "oh yeah? We'll test your assumptions on an open system, we'll let users create whatever they want!" Sure enough, Sony's lived up to its word 100% on that.
You can go create any mod on the PC - and it's got to fit in the memory because you can go crazy - and you can take that, stick that on the internet, you go download it, go into the community menu and you're playing mods on PlayStation 3.
To us that's a really important part of what makes UT what it is. We've had great mods in the past, we have lots of people out there creating really great stuff and we wanted to bring that to console - that's a completely new experience.
Most of these console games you see with some sort of editing function is really just rearranging the furniture. Here users can create almost any kind of new content; maps, models, new textures, new materials, new visual scripting, vehicles, weapons; almost anything we can make in the game, they can do.
Does the influx of mod community content make your job a bit easier?