Epic discusses 'Samaritan' tech demo, PC gaming

Epic Games Europe boss Mike Gamble and senior technical artist and level designer Alan Willard discuss misconceptions of the PC platform, the technology of its 'Samaritan' demo, and more.

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During GDC 2011, game and engine developer Epic Games revealed a tech demo called 'Samaritan' that was meant to showcase the company's hopes for the next generation of games.

In a recent interview, Epic Games Europe boss Mike Gamble and senior technical artist and level designer Alan Willard discussed the intention of the tech demo, the misconceptions hurled at PC gaming, and their thoughts on photo-realistic graphics in games.

"...Nobody wants to go home, sit down and play their own life, I think that's one of the mistakes that a lot of people assume," Willard told CVG when asked about photo-realism in games. "If it doesn't make the game better, if the particle system look great and characters look great but if it does that at the expense of making a fun game that's a trade-off that shouldn't necessarily be made."

Willard noted that everyone wants characters to look "really good" but games like BioShock Infinite and even Epic's own Gears of War 3 manages that feat, without treading the uncanny valley of photo-realism.

As for Samaritan, the tech demo was not meant to announce a new game. "It was exactly what it was meant to be. Here's our vision of what we want to do and here's the best way we can express it, by taking these designs that we've come up for and putting it together as the experience that you saw," Willard said.

When asked whether or not PC is seeing a "rebirth" as console cycles are drawn out, Gamble was quick to point out that there's a "massively thriving community of hardcore gamers on the PC still." The PC platform, Gamble says, is not in trouble; however, it is now different.

"It happens every so often, we've been having the same talks since Windows 95. It goes up and down, the consoles are here and the PC is in the trough, then the PCs are here and consoles are down there." Gamble notes that, that is how performance works and just the fact that how PC games are delivered is one factor.

Digital distribution on PC is an important element to that platform and, as Gamble says, it's not as "trackable as it once was." Just because it's not sitting on a shelf somewhere, "it doesn't mean it's gone." The pair also discussed how some games are just better suited for the PC platform, like the RTS genre, and the "vibrant" marketplace offered by Steam. When questioned whether or not Epic would ever focus on a PC-exclusive title, Gamble clarified that "If a publisher wanted us to do it and it was the right thing to do then sure."

"There's nothing prohibiting us from making a PC game," Willard said.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 4, 2011 6:45 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, Epic discusses 'Samaritan' tech demo, PC gaming.

    Epic Games Europe boss Mike Gamble and senior technical artist and level designer Alan Willard discuss misconceptions of the PC platform, the technology of its 'Samaritan' demo, and more.

    • reply
      August 4, 2011 6:59 PM

      I just wonder what kind of rig was running that...

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      August 4, 2011 7:27 PM

      I posted about this before in the chatty, but I'm still waiting for the REAL decision makers at Epic (CliffyB, Mark Rein, Michael Capps) to be more enthusiastic about PC releases, preferably without Microsoft or Epic holding the reins, forcing their title onto GFWL or Origin.

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      August 4, 2011 7:57 PM

      Haha, "When questioned whether or not Epic would ever focus on a PC-exclusive title, Gamble clarified that "If a publisher wanted us to do it and it was the right thing to do then sure.""

      What it actually means, "If a publisher wanted us to do it and we could make crap tons of money then sure."

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        August 5, 2011 12:43 AM

        I thought his response sounded honest and fair. That said, no publisher is ever going to want them to do a PC exclusive with the way the market is currently.

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      August 4, 2011 9:39 PM

      so.. what ever happened to Unreal 3??

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        August 4, 2011 10:28 PM

        Unreal 2 happened.

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          August 5, 2011 4:31 AM

          Unreal 2 is one of the best SP FPS's. Easily top 20.

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            August 5, 2011 6:49 AM

            Certainly one of the more original, with some awesome weapons, doesn't hold up fantastically well though. That said, the last mission was one of the most memorable things I've ever played and I WISH more games copied it.

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      August 5, 2011 12:48 AM

      Willard hit the nail on the head with his comment about photo-realism. Photo-realism in videogames would be about as awkward as a comic book made up completely of photos of real people. I'll take a stylized, artistic look over realism any day.

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        August 5, 2011 1:29 AM

        I completely disagree. If you looked at the textures for Max Payne 2 they looked awesome because they looked real. There is a certainly a place for style, but not everywhere. bah humbug giving us willards a bad name

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          August 5, 2011 6:45 AM

          Pro tip: The textures were photo sourced but Max Payne certainly had its own art style.

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      August 5, 2011 2:10 AM

      Xav, it's GDC 2011...

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      August 5, 2011 1:31 PM

      sick of prerendered crap from unreal. Anyone remember the prerendered bullshots for unreal 3. Then when it was finally released it look not even remotely like the screen shots. Its funny they are still releasing bullshots for the gears games when the game it self looks no where close and is grainy and low res on the xbox.

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        August 5, 2011 4:13 PM

        Hey, hey, heh, don't B talking shiz about my Gears of War, or else I might have to rev my Chainsaw and cut U up!

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