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A Chat With Epic's Ryan Gordon
March 18, 2004 | Tuncer Deniz

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Epic Programmer Ryan Gordon burst onto the Mac scene last year with the successful port of Unreal Tournament 2003 to the Mac. A man with many talents, Gordon then went on to port America's Army to the Mac and has just completed work on the Mac version of Unreal Tournament 2004.

IMG recently spoke with Gordon to get his thoughts on UT 2004, the Mac, Mac OS X, and more.

IMG: Well, first off, we know practically nothing about you. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself. How you got into programming? And how did you end up at Epic?

Gordon: Well, okay, here's the 60-second history of How I Got Here.

I grew up just outside of Philadelphia, went to college in Charlotte, got stolen away from my dreary Enterprise-Java-Enabled-Three-Tier-blabhlahblahblah job by Loki Software where I worked on porting games to Linux. When Loki went belly-up, I spent about three months sleeping, then started working as a freelance contractor for several gameshops. The first thing I did, post-Loki, was Serious Sam for Linux, which was the result of a cold-call to Croteam (yes, this really happens). Now game developers call me out of the blue. Life is good. :)

Most of my time is spent working on various projects (frequently to the detriment of the rest of my life), or maintaining, a site I run to encourage open source development (gaming or otherwise).

IMG: Your first foray into the Mac programming was Unreal Tournament 2003. How did you end up with that project?

Gordon: Actually, it wasn't my first...I did some work for NASA with the Unreal Engine on MacOS 9. There is an Unreal-based package from Perilith called "Unrealty", which is used for modelling real estate in a 3D environment...NASA used it to model the International Space Station (not the real one, just as a walkthrough sort of thing), and they wanted to be able to run it on their Macs.

This is your tax dollars at work, folks.

If you want to see it, it's a free download from

Epic brought me on originally to work on UT2003's Linux dedicated server, and it sort of spiraled out of control from there: a Linux client, then a Mac one, then 64-bit versions...I basically handle all the non-win32 stuff right now. It's a lot of work, but a lot of it can be reused by Epic's licensees as a starting point for their own Mac/Linux/Win64/BagelToaster efforts. This obviously worked out well for America's Army, and several other Unreal-based Mac ports are benefitting from this work, too.

My portability work goes directly into Epic's source repository, and is distributed as a standard part of the Engine to licensees now. When you get a new Unreal codedrop, you just have to copy it to your Mac and type "make", so having a functioning starting point makes the decision to port to the Mac much more feasible.

IMG: Now that you've completed Unreal Tournament 2004, how do you think it turned out? What's cool about the 2004 version of the game?

Gordon: How did it turn out? We friggin' NAILED it. Say what you want about UT2003, but I think all will be forgiven this time around.

The cool stuff has been rehashed a million times already, so here are the highlights as I see it:

1) Assault mode is back.
2) The sniper rifle is back, for all you dirty campers.
3) Onslaught mode...vehicle warfare done (imho) right for the first
4) More maps than you can shake a stick at.
5) VoIP, compatible between Mac, Linux, Linux64, Windows, and Window64.
6) Other stuff. Go try the demo, and then buy the game!


Archives  Features  A Chat With Epic's Ryan Gordon