TUAW's Mike Schramm tracked down Epic Games Vice President Mark Rein and asked some questions on Epic Citadel [Free] and other things to do with the iOS platform. The whole interview is worth reading, but what really struck me is that the iPhone 3GS, not the iPhone 4, was what originally interested Epic Games in porting their engine to the platform:

Epic Citadel is most popular on the iPhone 4, but Rein actually says it was the iPhone 3GS that really sold Epic on the power of gaming. "The iPhone 3GS is a very powerful device," he told me, "and it was really the first mobile phone that broke over the line of something we could actually run Unreal Engine 3 on without making significant compromises." Of course, Epic Citadel is just a demo for the game code-named Project Sword, a full RPG title that Epic is releasing soon. And while I did ask, Rein didn't offer up a price or date yet.

Also of note is that Rein hinted that Project Sword, the Unreal Engine powered game unveiled at Apple's September keynote address would be more expensive than your typical iPhone game, even citing higher-priced premium titles that have succeeded on the platform.

If you haven't yet, now is a great opportunity to give Epic Citadel a try. The things the Unreal Engine is capable are able to do on iPhone hardware is absolutely breathtaking and will completely blow you away.

Now, to get back to waiting for more Project Sword details...

[via TUAW]

  • E_Domina

    If only this worked on 2nd gen devices

    • Anonymous

      The only reason it looks this good is because it doesn't. Like the poster above, I wish more developers dropped support for legacy devices.

  • Anonymous

    3GS should be the minimum requirement hardware wise. I'm getting a little peeved with developers not pushing hardware because people still have those old iDevices.

    I can understand that developers are in it to make money so they make it compatible with as many iDevices as possible but please don't hold back. These folks will eventually get a 4th Gen iTouch or iPhone 4. Do like Apple did with the transition from OS 9 to OSX and chop off support of the older stuff. Don't be like MS who still tries to patch and support old hardware/software.

    You can't make everyone happy so just push forward with innovations and let the slow ones catch up.

    • http://twitter.com/ScottColbert Scott Colbert

      With the amount of older devices in circulation, it makes no sense at all business wise to abandon them. Common sense dictates that.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, someone should have told Apple that it would be a bad idea business wise when they released new iPods and ditched old ones.
        The same goes for Sony when they killed of backwards compatibility with the PS3.

        Don't get me wrong, If I was selling games, I too would like to cater to the masses.
        I can be a cookie cutter company or an innovator depending on which business model I choose. Epic Games is the latter. When you start small, you want to please everyone. When you get larger, you can charge a premium and make it exclusive because you know people will pay.

        I have nothing against the older iDevices because I've had them but I knew when to get rid of them and get the new stuff. People should do the same if they like gaming on the iPhone or iTouch. We are a gaming crowd here right?

      • Adams Immersive

        If a game can be fun on an older device, then I’m all for it. Don’t abandon a great idea because it needs a new device, but also don’t abandon old hardware if the concept works well on them.Saying that if you “like” gaming you should always buy the latest does not make sense. First, because new hardware isn’t pocket change for many people, and second, because games are about fun, not specs or even graphics: those only exist FOR fun. If fun can be had with lower specs, it’s still fun.So I think people should feel free to game on older devices. And if that demand exists, developers should feel free to deliver the fun people want.(Note: I have an iPhone 4 and love to see games that push the limits. But I see no need to abandon those other devices on a large scale. Abandon them when the game—like this one—calls for it.)

      • Pooper

        Finally, someone who agrees with me. :3 I don't get how people treat their phones as a "real" gaming console and say that every game needs to use Unreal Engine or upgrade their hardwares. It's a freaking phone everyone, you don't need to have console-like graphics quality to get the fun out of it. xD

      • spiffyone

        with all due respect, perhaps the issue isn't developers not being keen on dropping support for legacy iOS devices, but Apple's very fast turnaround for these devices when they weren't REALLY necessary. Let's all be honest here: 3Gs was "under supported" tech-wise with apps because there were still TONS of 1st and 2nd "gen" devices out there in the wild, and Apple themselves were STILL selling those earlier gen devices to rid themselves of stock. Was the upgrade REALLY necessary, especially considering that most prospective iPhone and iPod touch buyers at that time didn't really care about the power of the devices, but rather iOS as a platform and the App Store access (and the cachet of owning an iPhone or iPod touch), and most iPhone owners real complaint wasn't the power of the devices, but being tied to AT&T? No, not really. But Apple went that way, and the result for game centric buyers who bought the devices was that while they got a few gems made for their devices, most developers didn't go "exclusive" or bothered to "supe up" their games for 3Gs because, well...all those 1st and 2nd gen devices out there were FAR more numerous, and why pass up on them?

        I still say Apple shouldn't be be looking to the phone manufacturer companies when looking at their upgrade path, but to the game console companies which usually go with longer life cycles before coming out with new gen devices. No, I still don't think Apple is in DIRECT competition with Nintendo or Sony (iOS mobile devices are in the mobile platform market, DS and PSP in the portable game system market: different markets), but that doesn't mean they can't gleam some aspects of that other market, particularly the longer life cycles before releases of new hardware. Hell, tbqh, there are developers out there who don't think they really tapped all they could out of 1st gen iPhone and iPod touch devices.

        I'd really like to see at least 3-4 year life cycles for these things BEFORE Apple starts rolling out major upgrades. It would probably be better for them business-wise too, tbqh. Lower manufacturing costs over time, and they won't have to really drop prices that much. Hey...it works for Nintendo ; )

      • Anonymous

        Actually it makes very good business sense for Epic to require more recent hardware.

        They've basically said that they plan on exploiting the limits of what the platform can offer and they intend on charging a premium price to do so. This kind of thing is only possible when you focus on hardware that's capable.

        If you add to that the fact that the install base for older hardware is shrinking (since it's not being sold any more) it absolutely makes sense to focus your future releases on more current hardware.

        What money they won't make selling the product to a 1st or 2nd gen iPod Touch user, they'll make up for by being able to charge more for what will amount to a more robust title.

        It's also a title that will continue to be a showpiece as more users enter the platform over the holiday season and through the first half of '11 since all of these users will be on newer hardware.

        That's not to say that at some point Epic couldn't release a game of some kind that is fully compatible with all iOS hardware.. just not this title.

      • trent

        premium price is the answer: $30 and up. Those why who have an Iphone 4 are more likely to buy, still 3gs should be compatible. They can always lower their price a year later for those who upgrade their phones late.

    • Anonymous

      Apple knows exactly how many Gen1 devices are still around and whether or not those people are still buying Apps. Let's face it, the big spenders on apps probably still aren't hauling a gen1 iPhone around.My guess is that once the iPhone 5 rolls around and even people who bought the 3GS can get a new phone off contract that support for earlier devices will finally die off.You are right though, the fact that most games could look like this if developers ignored earlier devices makes me very sad (I say that as a 3GS owner who wishes my games looked better).

    • ltcommander.data

      Both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 use the PowerVR SGX535 GPU and a ARM Cortex A8 CPU while the iPhone 4 has to push 4 times the number of pixels. Clock speed may help along with 512MB of RAM, but when push comes to shove, I think the 3rd gen devices, particularly the 3rd gen iPod Touch, will be able to put more effects on screen than 4th gen devices.

  • Anonymous

    3GS should be the minimum requirement hardware wise. I'm getting a little peeved with developers not pushing hardware because people still have those old iDevices.

    I can understand that developers are in it to make money so they make it compatible with as many iDevices as possible but please don't hold back. These folks will eventually get a 4th Gen iTouch or iPhone 4. Do like Apple did with the transition from OS 9 to OSX and chop off support of the older stuff. Don't be like MS who still tries to patch and support old hardware/software.

    You can't make everyone happy so just push forward with innovations and let the slow ones catch up.

  • Silentcorp

    I'd pay premium prices for Epic Engine based games. Give me some ports of 360 games that don't kill all the features/levels/player count and I'm happy!

  • ltcommander.data

    Was the iPhone 4 even available when Mark Rein first demoed UE3? I don't believe so. As such I don't see why the iPhone 3GS being the device that interested Epic in porting UE3 to iOS is such a big surprise.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah thats cool - if a game is good enough then premium pricing will work - I'd fork out a fair bit just for the original Unreal for iPhone / iPad

    I played that game on a system barely capable of running it back in (?) 2000 or so

    The Unreal 3 engine is even better, but I still found original Unreal game the more compelling game than Unreal tournament

    Either way, I'll probably get anything running Unreal engine - esp for iPad

  • Aer2

    the merit of the price premium will be dictated by the quality of the game, not the amount of time/effort it took them to come out with something.

    if they expect every iPaddian out there to fork out $20 (asstimating) for an 8 hour rpg experience, i think they'll be disappointed in their sales.

    you give me a 30 hour rpg experience and i'll happily pay for extra dlc, even after the game.

  • Jason

    Hope we get a nice big console-esque game for like 20 bux

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cat-Astrophy/100000838113704 Cat Astrophy

    Killer apps sell new hardware. Stop supporting legacy stuff, make good programs, and people will buy new hardware to buy your product.

  • http://www.mooedia.co.uk Tom - mooedia

    It's gonna be interesting to see what the games like when its released. Im seriously looking forward to it. This along with RAGE are gonna be 2 titles I def pick up. So what if they are classed as premium games. As long as they have premium content then Im happy.

  • Plagiarismcleaner

    This is very interesting game but the problem it is supported by limited devices.
    http://www.mojanemojan.com/

    • http://www.mooedia.co.uk Tom - mooedia

      Yeah this may be but it is about time someone out there developed a game that takes full advantage of the higher specifications of the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4. This is that title.
      Its only 1 of many games that are being developed for the iOS platform. Take the new Modern Combat 2. This works well on all devices according to reviews along with comments section of the Touch Arcade announcement. Yet this is an excellent game. There does however need to be more games pushing to use as much of the advanced hardware as possible.
      I would prob be a bit cheesed off if the title was announced and didnt work on the iPod that i owned or the iPhone I had. But then, if there were enough of these higher end titles I would prob consider upgrading.
      I cant wait to see if the gameplay matches the style and graphic quality.

      • Masterpaul123

        I don't see how modern combat 2 can work on all devices... It Laggs on my iPod touch 4g.

  • Crish

    The pricing should match the content and from what we´ve until now, Project Sword is nothing to get excited about gameplay wise. graphics are outstanding for sure.

  • Exile

    I wonder how big the file size of Project Sword will be.

    • http://www.mooedia.co.uk Tom - mooedia

      That's a very good point. If FIFA 11 was 800mb then I would think that this would be close to 1gb

  • Frumius

    John Carmack was so full of himself showing his new game tech off... I watched a vid of his presentation. It looked cool, but this looks like it blows it away. To be fair, that video was poor internet video of a screen on a stage showing someone walking through an environment made by his new engine, so I probably don't have a great idea of the true quality. Nonetheless, Epic Citadel looks much better than anything Carmack/Id has shown me.

    Sorry, I don't recall a web address, or what Carmack's tech is called -- what struck me most was how FULL of HIMSELF he was! Turned me off.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Uhh, I've spoken to Carmack a number of times and he's not full of himself at all. I think you might be confusing him "being full of himself" with him actually knowing what he's talking about and being on the forefront of game development for 20 years now.

  • lol

    good, now turn that to a real game and not just to a graphic tech demo, I bet you will see less details when a real game will have to be implemented, that is all PR to me, an empty code with full of pre-rendered texture, good luck to port Xbox360 games on the iPhone 3gs lol

  • Homelessboy

    I HOPE EPIC PUT THEIR AWESOMES GAMES OVER 60$!!!!! People who can not afford it do not deserve the magic of Unreal Engine!!! Go Epic! GO!

  • Josh

    In my book pretty graphics do not dictate a premium price, gameplay does, and Project Swords gameplay looks dull as.

    • Paul

      Totally agree man. The gameplay looks like gamelofts dungeon hunter but a little worse. The graphics may be good but on my iPod touch 4g the framerate reaches as low as 10 - 15. I'd rather play a smooth arcadegame like fruit ninja than a laggy masterpeice that bores me in a minute.