In conversation with Epic Games' Mark Rein Unreal Engine 4 support for Oculus Rift and everything else, and thoughts on nextgen

Epic Games isn't just offering up its ubiquitous current-gen game creation tool Unreal Engine 3 to Oculus Rift developers, but also its next-gen tool, Unreal Engine 4. Epic Games VP Mark Rein told Engadget as much during an interview at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, repeatedly stating he's "super bullish" on the Rift, all the while rocking an Oculus pin on his exhibitor lanyard. "Oh, for sure," he said when we asked about UE4 support for the Rift. "We're working on that now." The Rift dev kit was demoed at CES 2013 running Unreal Engine 3's "Epic Citadel" demo, and Epic's offered support to the Oculus folks since early on, making the UE4 news not a huge surprise, but welcome nonetheless.

The next-gen game engine was being shown off at GDC 2013 with a flashy new demo (seen below the break), as well as a version of its "Elemental" demo running on a PlayStation 4 dev kit (shrouded behind a curtain, of course). Rein was visibly excited about that as well, unable to contain random vocal outbursts during the presentation. "It's a war out there, and we sell bullets and bandaids," he jokingly told us in an interview the following day. The quote comes from coworker and Epic VP of business development Jay Wilbur, and it's fitting -- Epic only makes a handful of games, and the company's real money comes from game engine licensees. In so many words, the more platforms that Unreal Engine variants can go, the better for Epic (as well as for engine licensees, of course). "It's a good place to be -- we try to support everything we can. We have to place some timed bets on things that we feel are gonna be the most important to licensees, and also to us where we're taking games. But because the engine is portable -- it's written in C++ -- a licensee can take and do whatever they want," he said.

During the presentation the day before, another journalist asked if Unreal Engine 4 would work on Nintendo's Wii U -- a console that straddles the line between next-gen and the current one in terms of horsepower. "Hahahaha, no," he responded, which sent a wave of laughter through the room of journalists. But that's not technically true, he admitted the next day, walking back his gaffe. "You heard the stupid gaffe yesterday about the Wii U," he said. "If someone wants to take Unreal Engine 4 and ship a game on Wii U, they can! If they wanna ship an Unreal Engine 4 game on Xbox 360, they could make it happen." While that game might not look as pretty as it would on a "true" next-gen console, the new engine is scalable to a variety of platforms, including mobile.

Despite UE4's next-gen bent, the engine is built from the ground up with portability in mind. For instance, the UE3 demo running in Firefox was described as just the beginning -- Epic plans to get UE4 running in browsers in the not-too-distant future.