Interviews

Interview: 'We're more Epic than we've ever been'

Mark Rein on Unreal Engine 4, Fortnite and being next-gen ready

Epic's impressive Infiltrator demo was one of the stand-out demonstrations of next-gen tech the 2013 Game Developers Conference.

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With Unreal Engine 4, the North Carolina tech vendor wants to focus less on raw tri-angles and - like Sony's PS4 mandate - instead emphasise how a jump in hardware power can streamline the often painful process of crafting high-fidelity video games.

But with Cliff Bleszinski, Rod Fergusson and president Mike Capps all having departed the Gears of Wars studio within the last 8 months, many fans will be nervously awaiting indication it hasn't sacrificed its heritage of creating triple-A games in the process.

CVG met with Epic's ever-enthusiastic vice president Mark Rein to discuss this and more...


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The Infiltrator demo was running on the same spec system as last year's Elemental demo, correct?
Yes.

The obvious question then is: will it also eventually run on PS4?
You may draw your own conclusions (laughs). What was it Kevin Spacey said in House of Cards? 'You may think that but I couldn't possibly say.'

Last year you told me Epic was pushing platform holders hard on their next-gen console specs. Did you get what you wanted with PS4?
Yeah, we're really pleased with what we got - at least so far from Sony. Tim Sweeney is really the best person to ask that question but he's over the moon with it. This is a phenomenal piece of hardware and we're going to do amazing things with it.

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Infiltrator runs on the same spec system as last year's Elemental

How important is it that next-gen consoles are essentially comprised of off-the-shelf PC parts? Will that ensure a smoother transition for developers?
It's really important for us because we know the PC, we know the evolution of the PC and we work closely with those vendors on those parts. There's nothing that we have to guess about - we know what the processors can do, we know what the CPUs can do and we're using those same parts on the actual development hardware that we use. It just makes it a lot smother and it also means we can build on our particular strength.

It's a smart thing to do. They're going to benefit from it - there won't be that whole 'how do we make this work', there's just going to be 'wow, what can we do with this?' And we'll do great things.

I think it's a very smart move on Sony's behalf to build this sort of enhanced PC architecture and then put so much in it. Let's not forget it has 16 times the memory we had in PlayStation 3 - that's not insignificant. Knowing that every machine has that... we can do crazy, ridiculous stuff with that.

The other exciting thing is that... when you think about Windows, even Windows for most people is tied to about 2GB of addressable memory space. This really opens up beyond what most PCs can do, because most PCs are running a 32-bit versions of Windows.

It's like giving you the world's best PC. 'We're going to make it super convenient, we're going to make it easy for you to get games on there, we're going to start the games running while you're downloading them and we're going to perform your updates in the background.' You're not going to turn this thing off... you're just going to sleep it and it's going to come back on.

The kind of stuff that they announced that they're doing, the level of convenience and things like that... they're making a really perfect gaming PC.

I'm sure that Microsoft will be doing something along those lines. I've always said that the things in the next-generation that aren't just brute force hardware are all about the service and simplicity of the experience - the things that make it as fun and easy to get a PS4 game as it is to get a game on your iPad.

If anything, they [next gen systems] are probably going to exceed that. That's going to be good for gamers - a really high level of convenience. Then to have it combined with amazing hardware specs that everybody will have, at I'm sure will be a reasonable price... it will be good for everybody.

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