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Unreal Engine's Mastermind Headed into AIAS Hall of Fame

Tim Sweeney's work on Unreal Engine has landed him a sport in the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. You go boy!

On Wednesday, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) announced that Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney will be the 16th inductee into the AIAS Hall of Fame. The AIAS noted his achievement in transforming the PC, console and mobile industry with the continued development of Epic's Unreal Engine, and the studio's Gears of War and Unreal Tournament franchises that have been "catalysts in the evolution of gaming."

"Tim’s vision has changed the face of gaming with the advent of the Unreal Engine and the commitment of Epic, as a studio, to bring both consumer and industry-facing technology to new heights," said Martin Rae, President of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. "We’re honored to add Tim Sweeney to our Hall of Fame. His unrelenting and innovative work on behalf of developers and gamers has created the imaginative games that help to drive the success of our industry."

Tim Sweeney founded Epic Games under the name Potomac Computer Systems in 1991 and released the studio's flagship game, ZZT. Eventually the company changed its name to Epic MegaGames and released a load of shareware including Epic Pinball (which I still have on a 3.5" floppy), Jazz Jackrabbit, Jill of the Jungle and a few others.

With a batch of titles under its belt, Epic really took off when it released the original (and classic) Unreal FPS on the PC in 1998 while simultaneously licensing out the core engine simply named Unreal Engine. The studio changed its name to Epic Games, moved to North Carolina, and continued to develop Unreal-based titles until it exploded into the console scene with Gear of War for the Xbox 360 in 2006 using Unreal Engine 3. Epic made industry waves again with the release of Infinity Blade for Apple's iOS in 2010, proving that its Unreal Engine could perform on three platforms: PC, console and mobile.

"I've had the pleasure to work alongside Tim Sweeney for nearly 20 years. Many people in the game industry are aware of what a brilliant technical visionary he is, but what they might not realize is that he is also a great leader and thinks deeply about how to use technology to empower artists and creatives to be successful and realize their vision - not only at Epic but around the world in the studios who license our Unreal Engine technology," remarked Mark Rein, vice president, Epic Games. "Tim's sense of fairness and doing what’s right, not just for Epic but for the industry as a whole, is also what makes him so admired among the people who know him. I am very proud to call him my friend and mentor, and am thrilled that I will be able to present this well-deserved award to him. I wish everyone in the industry could know Tim as I do."

The 2012 Hall of Fame Award will be presented by Epic Games Vice President Mark Rein at the 15th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. The Awards will be hosted by actor, comedian and game enthusiast, Jay Mohr.

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  • 11 Hide
    house70 , December 9, 2011 10:49 AM
    I remember back in the day when the only thing was Unreal vs. Quake. Which is better, more appealing, etc.
    I guess this have been settled, finally.
    Unreal Gold was the first FPS where I felt an actual immersion in that world. Not only the graphics, but also the soundtrack and the story. I could never forget the feeling when the player emerges from the wrecked spaceship into the outside world.
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    house70 , December 9, 2011 10:49 AM
    I remember back in the day when the only thing was Unreal vs. Quake. Which is better, more appealing, etc.
    I guess this have been settled, finally.
    Unreal Gold was the first FPS where I felt an actual immersion in that world. Not only the graphics, but also the soundtrack and the story. I could never forget the feeling when the player emerges from the wrecked spaceship into the outside world.
  • 2 Hide
    rantoc , December 9, 2011 11:22 AM
    Speaking about Unreal, still remember the part where you were about to enter a huge spire after exiting the ship... That huge level with full sight range was awesome compared to quakes 5x5 inches view range (it was suitable to the game thoo, adding to the claustrofobic feel!). Then unreal tournament came and it was great, after that i think Epic started to go down the drain...
  • -7 Hide
    lasaldude , December 9, 2011 12:17 PM
    "into the console scene with Gear of War for the Xbox 360 in 2006"

    I've never heard of that game "Gear of war" before???
  • 1 Hide
    happyballz , December 9, 2011 12:30 PM
    RantocSpeaking about Unreal, still remember the part where you were about to enter a huge spire after exiting the ship... That huge level with full sight range was awesome compared to quakes 5x5 inches view range (it was suitable to the game thoo, adding to the claustrofobic feel!). Then unreal tournament came and it was great, after that i think Epic started to go down the drain...

    Thats exactly how I feel about it, OG unreal - fantastic, OG-UT and the first development of mods (tactical ops etc.) and then its all trash since that.
  • 3 Hide
    belardo , December 9, 2011 12:38 PM
    Yeah, I remember when I first saw Unreal... going from inside to outside, the music, the colors. Unreal was a major reason I bought a $150 Voodoo1 card back in 1998 to run in my PII-300mhz system.

    I still have that game, playable on Win7. UT was a great multi-player platform with some of the best maps - still only for UT. The fun of being blasted by rockets as it throws your body up against walls, etc. Looking over the edge to see a planet down below. At one point, there were 500 very active servers. Nowadays, there are about 10~15 UT2004 servers and about 5 UT3 servers. Guess you won't see me on UT3.

    Too bad Tim Sweeney forgot where he started from... We had high hopes for UT3, and Epic/Sweeney ruined it. The game engine itself is solid and ran great. But they made UT3... un-fun. It came with mostly beautiful-but crappy maps... that were somewhat small, yet came with huge and fast vehicles.

    They took out the view-zoom feature, so you can see behind you when flying - an IMPORTANT feature if you're going to be giving other people "rides" with grappling hooks. The Game Menu interface was crap crap, storage of custom maps is a severe pain in the butt. So yeah, out of the 32 or so maps it came with, only 12 or playable. It took over a year before the players could make good and better maps, and there are some AWESOME UT3 maps out there now... but there is a problem.
    1 - maps are huge (25~50mb each), okay. but the downloading system sucks.
    2 - By the time good maps came out, most people have gotten bored playing the same 2-3 maps (per game type - that are GOOD) and have moved on.
    3 - because of map download issues and huge file size, most servers only run the standard maps! That nobody wants to play... and at the same time, many of the few remaining players want to spend the time DL the new maps.

    UT3 is completely fixable. Just like UT2003 kind of sucked... With UT4, they threw in 100 extra maps (130+ total), fixed the scaling and play issues and made it... FUN. I migrated off of UT-classic in 2 weeks.

    So the same this is what UT3 needs... turned into UT4. Include 125~150 AWESOME maps. Fix the functions that are need (Zoom) toss in some cool mods for people to play with. Sell it for $30 and perhaps WE WILL FORGIVE YOU. I have added 100 maps to my collection, most of them better than anything than Epic included in UT3.

    I guess I need to move on to modern warfare games... which are not the custom map/fantasy type maps of the UT universe. ugh.

    Thanks Epic, for killing our inner child.
  • 0 Hide
    Granter , December 9, 2011 1:13 PM
    as a graphic designer i'm looking forward for unreal engine 4.0, even tho as for now it looks like it wont be out for the next 10years. But whenever the releass i will hopefully have gotten my hand into epic studio so i can make unreal tournament the way it should be.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 9, 2011 2:00 PM
    Ooo-ba Da!!! Congrats Mr Sweeney - you the FUCKING man my friend! Watching those Skaarg wandering around and tormenting those pacifistic Nali on my old VooDoo3 3500TV - those were the days! They gave UNREAL away back then with the 3dFX video cards . . .

    Damn - I'm being swept upin a wave of nostalgia . . . time for lunch! Congrats!!!
  • 4 Hide
    Goldengoose , December 9, 2011 2:05 PM
    I haven't played a game since that required you to slam your space and ctrl buttons so much. I'm tired of this COD business of all realistic - i wanna jump around like an idiot and have bouncy castle fights.
  • 0 Hide
    NightLight , December 9, 2011 2:30 PM
    Quote:
    I could never forget the feeling when the player emerges from the wrecked spaceship into the outside world.
    I too remeber it well... and the music made it complete. Reminds me a bit of crysis, when you look over the mountain top and the sun rises :) 
  • 2 Hide
    shin0bi272 , December 9, 2011 5:12 PM
    Man Unreal tournament 99 was the entire reason I got broadband. Started playing UT after class with my MCSE teacher and some other students ... when my girlfriend started playing with us she finally said we should get broadband... so I have to thank the unreal games / engine for yanking me out of the dialup hell I was in. Also have to thank them for supporting physx and being the engine behind mass effect 1 and 2 (and maybe 3).
  • 2 Hide
    beardguy , December 9, 2011 5:31 PM
    The unreal engine is the shit! Many of the best games have come from it.

    Not only can it pump out some amazing graphics, but it runs amazing too.

    I can't wait for the next Unreal engine to come out ... props to Tim!
  • 1 Hide
    hausman , December 9, 2011 8:57 PM
    Epic Pinball was, er, epic. Very fond memories of that game.
  • 0 Hide
    giovanni86 , December 10, 2011 9:47 AM
    I'm actually having a UT tournament next month hahah. Awesome game, i still to this day play the UT99 n UT2004. I tried UT3 but it didn't have that awesome feel like the other two. Felt as if they were heading in Gears of War direction, the menu felt like a console port. I'm still waiting for a new UT game made by them specifically made only for the "PC"
  • 0 Hide
    SmileyTPB1 , December 11, 2011 12:18 AM
    Couldn't think of more deserving person to put in the AIAS Hall of Fame. Tim definitely has changed the industry for the better more than any other one person.

    Congratulations Tim.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 31, 2012 6:20 AM
    I'll never forget the day when PC Gamer or a similar print magazine published an article in the late 90s called "Game Gods" (or similar) and they took John Carmack and like 9 other senior level game developers in the industry together in a photo shoot, and I was ABSOLUTELY MORTIFIED that Tim Sweeney was not in the shoot! Perhaps Tim had turned them down, I don't know, all I know is that he belonged there and deserved the recognition as a game god that these other fellows were enjoying. Instead it was the level designer Cliff Blezinsky. who was heralded, but Cliff was tooled up entirely by Tim's hand and leadership.

    People have a lot of catching up to do, giving proper credit where credit is due.