Since its inception in 2008, the Dubai World Game Expo has been the annual showcase for game developers in the Middle East. In the last few years many western studios have taken an interest and have come to sponsor or give panels, including CryTech, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Epic Games.
Epic had a large presence at DWGE 2010, showcasing their latest development tool, the Unreal Development Kit. Their booth featured a workshop with tutorials on the basics of the UDK, and representing Epic at DWGE were Jay Wilbur, Vice President, as well as Markus Arvidsson and James Tan – two of the independent developers behind UDK-based game The Ball. I sat down with these fine gentlemen to discuss a variety of topics including Unreal Engine 3, the UDK, and games development in general. What follows is my conversation with Jay.
The Slowdown: The Unreal Engine has a long history of licensing and modding; how did the decision to launch the Unreal Development Kit only come about now after all these years?
Jay Wilbur: So, all the while, we’ve always made our games open and available for people to mod – Unreal Tournament 3, going back to the original Unreal. People would be able to use the tools to make their own mod. But that locks those creative endeavours to the game, so somebody else would need to own that particular game in order to play the mod. With the UDK, we’ve freed developers to create standalone applications, turn it into a standalone playable entity – asset, I should say, and then deliver it to anybody who wanted to play it. They wouldn’t necessarily need to own that game in order to play it. So the goal was basically to have more people use Unreal Engine 3 in the development and also have more people be able to play the end result.