Epic's Mike Capps has said the developer's high-end Unreal Engine works better on iPhone than you might have expected, and there's a "big plan" in the making for its rollout in games for iDevices.
Capps explained to Gamasutra how close the iPhone version of UE is to its more powerful console counterparts. "Everything's supported. The difference of course is that it's not quite as powerful a graphics processor as on the Xbox 360, so you'll probably do some custom content work, but you're using the same tool chain of UnrealEd and Kismet and the same phsyics tools and everything," he said.
The major plus is that iPhone, it turns out, is a dab-hand at high-res, detailed textures. "It actually turns out that we get really high-resolution textures, which is the first thing you'd think about how "we're going to have to dumb that down." But you don't, because you've got so much memory on an iPhone," said Capps.
"You've got 16 gigs of flash memory, which is way better, faster memory than what most people have generally on a home PC. So that stuff works really well. It's the big environments that get really complicated on the rendering tools for iPhone. But yeah, we've got some tricks for it," he added.
Capps says there are big plans for the engine. "We've got a few of our licensees using it now, who've been testing it with us. So we'll roll it out to existing licensees and then start opening up. I think [Epic VP] Mark Rein has a big plan for how they're going to roll it out and make sure everybody's using it."
And the demand from publishers is already huge, says Capps. "It kind of surprised us honestly, that we'd be talking to one of the big-tier publishers, I don't need to say who, and they're porting games and they're making tens of millions of dollars making fantastic games on iPhone. We had no idea that business was growing so fast, and they were so excited to be taking existing IPs built on our engine over to the mobile space."
If you have an iPhone 3GS or 4, you should get on the App Store and download the free Epic Citadel tech demo, which shows off what US can do on your little pocket device. It's pretty impressive.