Epic catches up with a veteran of the Make Something Unreal development contest

Unreal Diaries: MSUL 2013 – where are they now?

[This feature was published in the July 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

Epic Games recently crowned Dead Shark Triplepunch as the overall winner of Make Something Unreal Live 2013, a development contest in which their competitive multiplayer game Epigenesis proved to be a favorite of judges and consumers attending the Gadget Show Live.

To glance in the rearview mirror Epic caught up with a couple veterans of previous competitions to find out what they’ve been up to since earning their MSU stripes.

Naturally, the first stop was Tripwire Interactive, the talented folks who created the original Red Orchestra game as part of the $1 Million Nvidia Make Something Unreal Contest. After picking up their Unreal Engine licences, the team built out the Unreal Tournament 2004 mod into a full commercial release, and then grew their community with free content packs and an award-winning sequel. They also shipped Killing Floor, a
co-op survival shooter which has also enjoyed a steady stream of add-on content.


Tripwire just released Rising Storm, the latest milestone in the Red Orchestra series, and PC Gamer magazine says the new game is “so absurdly fun.” We asked Tripwire president John Gibson what keeps his team ticking.

“The Make Something Unreal Contest really helped us get our foot in the door, and starting out with a full Unreal Engine licence allowed us to realise our dream of turning our mod, Red Orchestra, into a full commercial release,” said Gibson.

“As a company that develops military first-person shooters we realised very quickly that we had stepped into one of the most competitive genres out there. The great thing about using the engine is that it has allowed us to ‘punch above our weight’ when we are going head-to-head with the industry titans.

“This was really highlighted last year when Red Orchestra 2 won the PC Gamer Multiplayer FPS of the Year award, beating out Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Even though our competitors had teams 10-to-20 times our size, the Unreal Engine gave us the foundation to create something amazing even with a smaller team.”

Tripwire has also used their commercial success as an opportunity to help up and coming developers. “We do a lot to foster modding for our games, including running mod competitions with cash prizes, and in some cases, shipping the modders’ content as an official part of the game.

“This has allowed us to introduce the tools to a whole new generation of modders, and many Tripwire employees have come from the Unreal Engine mod community. With Rising Storm things have come full circle as the game was co-developed by Tripwire and a mod team that got their start making mods for our first commercial release.

“It hasn’t been an easy path, but now ten years on from our mod beginnings, and with millions of sales under our belts, we hope that we can be an example to other teams to show that with hard work, determination and great tools like the Unreal Engine that anything is possible.”


One such team that is learning this very lesson at the moment is Commando Kiwi, winner of Make Something Unreal Live 2012. Producer Jonny Robinson shared what has been keeping him busy since releasing Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain for iOS.

“One of the biggest highlights for me is that I’m now working at Jagex as a community coordinator, and when I’m not at work, I’m still refining my Unreal Engine 3 skills for our new project, Zenith. All game studios use some sort of SDK and for me UE3 offers the fundamentals.

“I would strongly recommend to anyone with the passion for becoming a developer that they start with the Unreal Engine, as a good majority of studios look for expertise with it, plus it’s a great laugh to play with. My advice to new developers would be this: the internet is your friend when it comes to studying new skills.”

Indeed, those are wise words of advice coming from one of the industry’s rising stars.

To download the free version of the Unreal Engine, visit www.unrealengine.com/udk.

To read all of Develop’s Unreal Diaries, visit our archive

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