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Epic’s Mark Rein Talks to OXM-UK About Natal

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Mark Rein, VP of Epic Games, was in Brighton, England, for a game development conference recently, and OXM-UK got a chance to sit down and talk to him about the previews that Microsoft gave for Project Natal at E3 this past year as well as where he sees Natal fitting into Xbox 360 game development. A few nuggets from the interview are below. The most important part of the interview, in my opinion, is the following statement:

[W]e are going to work with Microsoft to make [UE3 Natal development ability] available to Unreal Engine licensees who want to make Natal games. So, if you want to make a game on Natal, you want to get a big headstart and use the same tech as Microsoft, come talk to me. We are the unofficial engine of Natal, or maybe the official, I don’t know. In other words, we consider ourselves the “economic engine of Natal”. You want to make money with Natal, come talk to us, we’ll help you.

Wow. If Epic were a publicly-traded company, then I would go rob a bank to be able to buy that stock. Epic partnering with Microsoft to make Natal games is HUGE for Epic and for Microsoft. The Unreal Engine is arguably the industry’s most widely-utilized engine (Epic is currently working on Unreal Engine 4), and Microsoft has such a large fan base that this has the potential for big things in the coming years, as I don’t see Natal significantly impacting the market until holiday 2010.

Rein also loosely alluded to the possibility of Natal integration into such gaming franchises as Gears of War, Call of Duty, and Halo. He feels that integrating Natal into those types of games can ‘simplify the controls’:

I want to do a hand signal that tells my friend, “Go over there.” Instead of even saying it on Live, I just want to motion, “Go over there.” Or if I want to throw a grenade, I just lift my right hand off the controller, throw the grenade, then put my hand back on the controller.

I think that it could work well. I don’t think a complete Natal integration would work well a la squeezing the trigger on the gun, meleeing an enemy, or even reloading, but grenade-throwing and giving hand signals would seem to work well enough.

Overall, great move for Epic. Can’t wait to see what happens with Natal. I just hope that they don’t overcharge for it.

Source: Official Xbox 360 Magazine – UK

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