Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

In 2010, Epic Games released the Epic Citadel tech demo to show off what the Unreal Engine could do on an iPhone. Now, it's re-released that same demo running in a web browser on Flash 11, for you to have a look yourself. Epic also showed off Unreal Tournament 3 and Dungeon Defenders running in Flash, with only a moderate performance hit.

Head on over to the Unreal Engine site to visit Epic Citadel. You may need to install the test version of Flash Player 11.2, if you don't have it already.

"For the same piece of content there is definitely a penalty on Flash in terms of CPU performance," Epic's Mark Rein told our roving reporter Andrew at GDC, but the Flash version of Unreal Engine 3 still runs around 70% as fast as the regular. Given how much more portable and accessible it is--the Flash Dungeon Defenders only has a 15MB initial download--it's a reasonable hit, and Rein noted he can still run DD on his lowly Macbook Air.

Epic again showed the Unreal Tournament 3 Flash demo it used to unveil Flash support, but has no plans to release it. However, Rein told us, "We want to do the Samaritan demo on Flash."

Epic Citadel isn't simply a fancy display of something Epic might do--Flash is now an official supported platform of Unreal Engine, thanks to Flash 11's GPU-accelerated 3D. It should almost certainly be a standard feature of Unreal Engine 4, which Epic plans to unveil this year.

As befits the Game Developers Conference, Epic also whipped together a trailer showing off the various shiny features the Unreal Engine 3 has to offer developers in 2012:


Unreal Engine maker Epic Games wants to get Samaritan quality visuals working in Flash.

That's the long term goal, Epic VP Mark Rein said during a GamesIndustry International attended presentation at GDC.

The Samaritan tech demo, below, was revealed by Epic Games at GDC 2011. It was designed to show what developers would be capable of with next-generation graphics technology.

Then, Samaritan took three GTX 580 Nvidia cards and a large power supply to run. At this year's GDC, Epic ran the demo on a single, unreleased Nvidia card and a 200 watt supply. This, Rein said, was a "big step forward".

Rein also showed off Dungeon Defenders running full screen in Flash as well as it does on PlayStation 3. "This isn't your father's FarmVille," he said.

He then showed off the Xbox 360 version of Unreal Tournament 3 running in Flash to hammer home his point.

Graphics technology has, according to Rein, advanced faster than Epic predicted. Unreal Engine 4, which is being shown to partners under NDA at GDC, is "blowing people's socks off". Rein expects a public showing later this year.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Tribes Ascend dev on the decline of twitch shooters: blame “multiplatform” development">Tribes Ascend thumbnail

"People have maybe forgotten about the adrenaline rush of the old school shooters like Quake, Unreal Tournament and, of course, Tribes." Executive producer on upcoming free to play shooter Tribes: Ascend, Todd Harris, misses the twitch shooters of old.

We asked him why he thought they were less popular these days. "I think a lot of it is the multi-platform consideration," he said. "Games have this huge marketing spend so many of these shooters look to go multi-platform, meaning not just the PC but at least two consoles as well."

Todd says controllers don't offer the same freedom of movement as a mouse and keyboard, making it harder for devs to put an emphasis on raw dexterity: "The control scheme on the consoles does limit somewhat the speed and the twitch in which a game can operate – I mean your turn distance is only so far."

"That’s not to say that someone couldn’t make a fast twitch game for those consoles," says Todd, "But it’s easier to go to a lower common denominator - not having to turn as fast, not having to look 360 degrees in an instant - to make more of a hide-and-seek style, corridor-based, tactical shooter," he says.

You should be excited about Tribes. It's superb, and currently in closed beta. Luckily, the latest issue of PC Gamer comes with a beta code and 350 gold - that's enough to unlock a specialist class or pimp out one of you existing ones. Subscribe, or grab your copy of the March issue.

If Epic makes another game in the Gears of War franchise - highly likely give its success - the developer will make sure it feels "fresh and new".

"In the future, who knows?" Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski said during a VGA press conference following the announcement of Fortnite.

"We could be faced with the console transition at some point. We would certainly love to make more experiences in the Gears universe. If we get around to it, I want to make sure we switch it up sufficiently so it still feels like Gears DNA, but it feels fresh and new."

Xbox 360 exclusive Gears of War 3 launched to critical and commercial acclaim. It sold over three million copies worldwide during its first week on sale. The franchise has generated over one billion dollars in sales.

Bleszinski once again stressed that Gears remains closely linked to Xbox maker Microsoft - casting doubt on the possibility of the franchise ever appearing on a Sony console.

"It's technically capable, but we have a good deal with Microsoft, so that's the home of Gears for the foreseeable future," he said.

"Business is business man. We could speculate about anything. What if streaming online services decided they wanted to make a great deal with us? Then Gears would be a streaming game. But as of right now, Microsoft's been an amazing partner for us."

Bleszinski said he hoped the stonking success of Gears of War 3 would help drag the announced movie project out of "development limbo". "It's still in a little bit of a movie development limbo right now," he said, "but hopefully with the success of 3 we'll see it poke back up."

During the press conference Bleszinski was asked about the future of Unreal, an Epic-owned franchise that has gone dark in recent years.

The outspoken developer said he would love to reboot it - but the chances of him doing so seem low.

"I will tell you right now, if you could magically double Epic's team temporarily and just build another game like that I would love to do it," he said.

"I've had all sorts of crazy ideas. I think it would be amazing to reboot the original Unreal with a Fallout/Skyrim vibe, where it's more about exploration than it is about action, and more RPG elements.

"But we're a slave to our success with games like Gears and Infinity Blade. Thankfully we're able to craft a new IP with something like Fortnite right now."


Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney is to be the newest member of the notable AIAS (Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences) Hall of Fame.

Sweeney's name will rank alongside the likes of Nintendo icon Shigeru Miyamoto, id Software mastermind John Carmack, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime and Sims creator Will Wright.

The AIAS acknowledged Sweeney's "technical innovations" in Unreal Engine, which powers many of today's biggest games, as well as his work on the Unreal Tournament and Gears of War series of games.

He's the nerdy backbone of Epic Games, in other words. The posh term for this is technical director.

"Tim's vision has changed the face of gaming with the advent of the Unreal Engine and the commitment of Epic, as a studio, to bring both consumer and industry-facing technology to new heights," said AIAS president Martin Rae.

Sweeney receives his AIAS 2012 Hall of Fame Award in February. Colleague Mark Rein, Epic Games vice president, will present him with it.

"I've had the pleasure to work alongside Tim Sweeney for nearly 20 years," Rein said.

"Tim's sense of fairness and doing what's right, not just for Epic but for the industry as a whole, is also what makes him so admired among the people who know him.

"I am very proud to call him my friend and mentor, and am thrilled that I will be able to present this well-deserved award to him. I wish everyone in the industry could know Tim as I do."

Sweeney founded Epic Games a hundred years ago in 1991. Back then he made games like ZZT and Jill of the Jungle. And he also put together the first version of Unreal Engine.

That fledgling foray into engine middleware is a far cry from today's Unreal Engine 3, middleware champion of this, the seventh video game generation.

Today, Tim Sweeney concentrates on Unreal Engine 4 - a technology that could shape the next decade of big-budget video games.

A last word on the AIAS Hall of Fame: "The AIAS Hall of Fame is bestowed on game creators who have been instrumental in the development of highly influential games and moving a particular genre forward. These individuals demonstrate the highest level of creativity and innovation, resulting in significant product influence on a scale that expands the scope of the industry."

Last year's AIAS Hall of Fame inductees were BioWare doctor bosses Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk.


Gears of War developer Epic may be making five new games right now, but a new Unreal Tournament isn't one of them.

"Unreal and Unreal Tournament continue to have a huge influence on the studio here, even though we're not currently working on an Unreal IP project," boss Mike Capps told Forbes.

Capps' comments are sure to disappoint Unreal fans buoyed by the Epic president's July admission that the developer had neglected the franchise in recent years.

"It's been a long time since we shipped an Unreal game, and it's an awfully loved franchise that we hold pretty dear here," Capps told IndustryGamers two months ago.

"We haven't been giving it the attention it deserves because we've been focusing on Gears of War and we're still a relatively small company.

"At some point you wonder why we don't rename the engine the Gears Engine or something," he joked.

"We've been sort of focused on making new properties, which you've seen with Shadow Complex, Bulletstorm and Infinity Blade, but sometimes I think just as a businessman that maybe we should be spending some more time with our existing franchises."

Capps' latest comments pour cold water on that suggestion. Still, Unreal has helped inform Epic's recent games, including the Gears of War franchise.

"Epic's core game making philosophy of 'when everyone says it's done, keep polishing!' came from our experiences with Unreal Tournament," Capps said. "That's the beginning of our quality-focused studio DNA."

Capps revealed at GDC Europe last month that Epic was developing five games. While these remain unannounced, one appears to be the next game from Bulletstrom developer People Can Fly.

Discussing Bulletstorm, Capps said: "We learned that People Can Fly can make a really fun project, and we learned how to work together well - and that's going to show in what they're doing next."

OTT shooter Bulletstorm failed to turn a profit for Epic, despite glowing reviews.

"The studio has shipped AAA content," Capps said in July. "The next thing we do with People Can Fly will be great."


PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to Epic on Unreal series: “we haven’t been giving it the attention it deserves”">Unreal Tournament 3

Epic president Mike Capps has been talking to Industry Gamers about the neglected Unreal series, admitting that "we haven't been giving it the attention it deserves because we've been focusing on Gears of War." That doesn't mean we'll never see another Unreal game, however. In fact, Capps says it makes financial sense for Epic to revive the series.

Unreal Tournament 3 was the last game Epic made, released way back in 2007. "It's been a long time since we shipped an Unreal game," admits Capps, "it's an awfully loved franchise that we hold pretty dear here."

"We've been sort of focused on making new properties, which you've seen with Shadow Complex, BulletStorm and Infinity Blade, but sometimes I think just as a businessman that maybe we should be spending some more time with our existing franchises."

A return to Epic's revered core titles would make sense given that Bulletstorm was a financial flop. Capps told Kotaku that People Can Fly's energetic, over the top shooter didn't make any money. That doesn't mean Epic will be dropping the studio, however. "The next thing we do with People Can Fly will be great," says Capps.

As well as developing and publishing games, Epic have been focusing heavily on developing the Unreal engine and licensing it out to third party developers. The Unreal name is starting to seem a little out of date. "At some point you wonder why we don't rename the engine the Gears Engine or something," jokes Capps.

Epic are currently concentrating on finishing Gears of War 3, a series that hasn't been seen on PC since the first outing. Would you like to see another Unreal game?

Epic has admitted to neglecting its best-selling Unreal franchise in recent years.

President Mike Capps told IndustryGamers that its decision in recent years to focus on the Gears of War series and new IPs had left its flagship FPS brand in the shade.

"It's been a long time since we shipped an Unreal game, and it's an awfully loved franchise that we hold pretty dear here. We haven't been giving it the attention it deserves because we've been focusing on Gears of War and we're still a relatively small company.

"At some point you wonder why we don't rename the engine the Gears Engine or something," he joked.

Though he stopped short of confirming work on a new entry in the series was underway, he did add that a sequel would probably make Epic's bank manager happy.

"We've been sort of focused on making new properties, which you've seen with Shadow Complex, Bulletstorm and Infinity Blade, but sometimes I think just as a businessman that maybe we should be spending some more time with our existing franchises."

The last outing for the IP was Unreal Tournament III on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in 2007, which won an 8/10 from Eurogamer's Kristan Reed.

PC Gamer
title="Permanent Link to The Ball trailer bowls us over">

A shiny new trailer has been released for the indie first person bowl-em-up, The Ball. Read on for a round up of what the game has to offer, as well as the trailer, which is literally full of ball-to-the-wall action.

The Ball started out as a mod for Unreal Tournament 3, and was the runner up in Epic's Make Something Unreal mod competition. The mod's creators formed Teotl Studios and started developing a followup using the freely released Unreal Development Toolkit. Now the standalone retail release is just around the corner, and the team have released a brilliant new trailer showing off the weird aztec vibe, and the dinosaurs, and the giant monkeys, and also the ball itself.

But this is no ordinary ball! Oh, wait, it is, actually, but it just happens respond unusually to your hand held ball manipulation device known only as 'The Ancient Weapon'. You can use the weapon to control the ball and crush your enemies. If the full game is anything like the original mod then mix of puzzles and horribly violent squashing should prove thoroughly abs-orb-ing.

The game's out on October 26th and is available to preorder on Steam right here. The game's being published by former Make Something Unreal competition winners, Tripwire Interactive which is why if you preorder on Steam, you also unlock The Ball's protagonist as a playable character in Tripwire's excellent shooter, Killing Floor.

Finally, if you fancy checking out The Ball's original incarnation as an Unreal Tournament 3 mod, then that's still available for download over at ModDB.


Gears Of War Composer On Life Support On October 6, Gears of War composer Kevin Riepl tweeted that he thought someone "roofied" him while out drinking. He'd blacked out. "Somethings effed up," he added. "Like literally. Something knocked me out." Within days, Riepl was on life support.

By the following day, Riepl was in the hospital from where he uploaded this photo. The game composer tweeted that all his tests came back normal, but was having an MRI to check if there were any issues with his heart.

Riepl is best known for his work scoring Unreal Tournament games, the first Gears of War and the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines.

On October 10, Riepl's wife Tracy tweeted (via his account) that he was on life support and needed blood transfusions. As of several hours ago, Tracy tweeted that her husband was "still sedated while on life support but was more responsive to family in the room". Riepl has young children.

Gears Of War Composer On Life Support "Lastly, I wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your positive vibes, thoughts and prayers," Tracy added.

No word yet on what the cause is. Riepl is scheduled to go into surgery tomorrow night. Here's hoping it is a success.

kevinrieplmusic (kevinrieplmusic) on Twitter [Twitter Thanks, Ralph!] [Pic]


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