Epic to launch new tech as consoles arrive, but its own games may take a little longer

Unreal Engine 4 ‘will support indies sooner’

Epic Games is building its next generation games platform with independent games studios in mind, an executive at the company has said.

Mike Capps said there were lessons to be learned from the launch of UE3, a games engine that – despite its unparalleled success with triple-A studios – had failed to swiftly embrace indie and mobile games development.

“What we’re doing with Unreal Engine now is a lot different to what we were doing about seven years ago when we first started using the tech,” Capps told Develop in a new interview published today.

Epic released the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) in November 2009 – four years after studios began licensing Unreal Engine 3. UDK is free to use for non-commercial purposes and has become hugely popular with semi-pro developers and game design students.

“There was no Unreal Development Kit even four years ago, and I think it’s been real successful in getting people used to our technology,” Capps said.

“Should we have done that from day one with UE3? Yeah, maybe,” he added.

“I’m not sure if we’re going to do it straight away with Unreal Engine 4, but if you look at what we do now with UE3 – y’know, push a button and your game is built for mobiles – we could have done that before and we didn’t spend much time on it. How much that will figure into Unreal Engine 4 is up to us.”

Capps said he wants Unreal Engine 4 to have a “vertical solution” – to be useful for both mobile and triple-A projects.

“In the past few years I think we’ve learned a lot about our technology and how it works for indie studios. How our tech works for iPhone games, for high-end triple-A studios and for a couple of guys who make a cool UDK game over the summer,” he added.

“We’re going to apply all these lessons we’ve learned with Unreal Engine 4, and I think you’re going to see a lot of difference with UE3 within the first six months from launch.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Capps said he wanted Unreal Engine 4 to be released far closer to the launch of the next console generation than Unreal Engine 3 had.

“I think a year from a console’s launch is perfectly fine for releasing a game, but not for releasing new tech. We need to be there day one or very early. That’s my primary focus,” he said.

“For us as a game-maker, we aren’t keen on shipping games day one because there’s not much of an install-base, or at least not one as big as it’s going to be. But with engines, that’s a different story. We want to deliver our tech as early as possible even though our first big marquee game might not be on there for twelve or even twenty-four months from a console’s launch.”

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