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Vol. 2, Issue 12
February 14, 2000

It's Not Easy Being Green

An interview by Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon



randon "GreenMarine" Reinhart was one of the original members of the Orange Smoothie mod team, those wacky guys that brought us the OSP Tourney Mod (an early prototype for NetGames USA's ngWorldStats) and their infamous Potato Gun in addition to other things, but these days, he's best known for his work at Epic Games, where he was one of the programmers on Unreal Tournament. He is currently hard at work on the Playstation 2 version of the UT engine

Name, rank, and last time you fought in the Mordain wars?

Well, if you want me to write some bombastic crap, we should probably do the interview later, since I don't really feel like it now....

I have to be in a certain mood.

That last interview I did, the guy sent me the interview and I wasn't going to do it since he was throwing me a bone. I'd rather just burst into that stuff when people aren't really expecting it and I've just come off of a Bal-Sagoth listen or something. I left the interview and came back later when I felt like writing something odd.

Feel free to use whatever I'm writing in your interview. That might make it more interesting. A realistic interview instead of me being odd. Shrug :)

How did you join Epic and what position do you currently hold?

I'm a programmer. I was asked by Tim Sweeney to do contract programming for Epic a little over a year and a half ago. After my contract period they asked me to move to Raleigh and I've been here ever since.

To date, what's been the best part of working on Unreal Tournament? Are there things that come up (such as feedback) that make you look back and say, "Damn, we hit it right on there"?

The best part of working on UT has nothing to do with the game, its the work environment. Epic is an amazing place to work, its probably the most liberal game company in the industry. I'll come in to work at two in the morning or something and a bunch of other guys are already here making content or playing games. I've made some really good friends here.

As far as "hit it right" parts of the game. I dunno. There were things that you know are working out well and things that don't. You cut the ones that don't. With UT, it was a very gradual progression. I can't even remember when the game stopped feeling like Unreal and starting feeling like something unique.

At two in the morning? Was that only during crunch-time or is it a regular thing?

It’s a regular thing. None of us live on base-24 days. The married guys tend to stick to a recognizable pattern, but the rest of us work until we are too tired, sleep (either at home or at work), and come back when we are done.

I bought new furniture for my apartment, but I haven't bought bedding for my new bed and its been a month or so. I just sleep on the mattress. Before that, I slept on a foam pad for a year. My money goes into savings and investments because I don't have time to spend a lot. I don't watch TV, which gives me a bunch of extra time.

I do have spare time, but its mixed in with the work.

Wow. Do you have a computer at home or is that just a silly question?

No. If I worked at home, I'd have a computer there, but I'd rather work at the office. I can listen to my music as loud as I want most of the time and I can easily communicate with the other team members. If I want to get away I'll go home and read.

Let's talk about Unreal Tournament on the Playstation 2. What kind of hurdles are you looking at in terms of the code you're responsible for?

I was responsible for everything Playstation 2. I got script execution up and running and the game running in Wireframe. We then starting to shift our focus more on PSX2 so Tim took the rendering code and I implementing minor things like input and so forth. You can actually play UT completely on the PSX2 right now. Its not very fast though. I'm not into graphics programming and I'm really not into low level programming, Tim is much better. He faces the big challenges of working out a fast rendering strategy and making necessary changes to UT's renderer.

Its strange though...our UT project is completely playble, but without fast rendering. The exact opposite of most game development projects :)

What do you know to-date about the control systems (input) that will be available? Are you able to plan ahead?

Adding extra features for new types of controller is pretty easy. Right now we are focusing on the Dual Shock and Dual Shock 2. I'll add support for the older non-analog controller also. The input code is more or less done for now. As we get more into the gameplay side of things, input could change. (And things like...menus to select your configuration and so forth).

What do you think of other FPS games that have been ported to consoles, in terms of interface? Do they adequately capture the first-person shooter feel, or will you be trying to better that?

I'm not really that impressed, but what can you do with a pad? A hardcore first person shooter doesn't really work that well on the console to begin with. The audience is alot different. We all play a lot of games though, so we'll probably come up with a bunch of good configs to choose from (or customize). So far I like using the left analog stick for strafing, the right for looking, L1 for duck, L2 for jump, R1 for fire, R2 for altfire.

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Credits: Illustration © 2000 Rowan Crawford. This interview is © 2000 Russell Lauzon & Brandon Reinhart. All other content is © 2000 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. So don't do it biznitch.