View Full Version : For all of you that say Xbox 360...

09-01-05, 08:35 PM
-Sucks without an HDD.
-Sucks because in only has DVD.
-Can't play MMO's without the HDD.

Epic begs to differ.


Unreal Engine 3 and the Xbox 360 Hard Drive
By: César A. Berardini - "Cesar"
September 1st, 2005

Now that Microsoft officially announced the two Xbox 360 SKUs, the Core and Premium Edition, it has been revealed that Xbox 360 games must work if the detachable hard drive is not present. Although developers can take advantage of the hard drive to speed up loading times, Microsoft has worked with developers for the past year to assure all Xbox 360 games work without the hard drive.

This caused a big splash in the community and raised one major concern: Will developers be able to fully utilize the hard drive if it is mandatory that games work without it?

Considering the fact that in addition to Gears of War, Epic Games also develops the Unreal Engine tools and technology, which has been licensed by several game companies, we wanted to know how does the lack of a hard drive affects an Unreal Engine 3-powered game.

We had the chance to interview Mark Rein, Vice President of Epic Games, to discuss the implications of the recent announcements and how Unreal Engine 3 deals with an Xbox 360 Core system.

How does the "virtual" lack of a hard drive affect the Unreal Engine 3? Would that force Epic Games to cater the UE3 to the lowest spec SKU, in this case the Xbox 360 Core System, or would you allow the developers to take advantage of the hard drive when present?

Mark Rein: We’ve designed the streaming system in Unreal Engine 3 with the expectation that we wouldn’t have a hard drive at our disposal so there’s nothing that needs to change at this point. Developers can take advantage of the availability of a hard drive in numerous ways. That’s not really an engine issue but more about what a particular developer decides the functionality of their particular game should be. I would certainly expect many games to be able to take advantage of the hard drive.

As soon as we heard that Microsoft informed developers to not rely on a hard drive, being mandatory for games to work without one, we wondered if that kills the Seamless World Support feature found in the UE3 that allows the engine to anticipate the content that will be needed and stream it in advance?

Mark Rein: We designed our streaming system around the optical disc. While we would have loved to have a hard drive on every machine getting 512MB of memory, rather than 256MB, was a far bigger win for us. The additional memory allows us to produce scenes with truly next-generation visuals and provides room to buffer the data that is being streamed in.

Unreal Tournament 2007

You revealed at E3 2005 that in the case of Unreal Tournament 2007 the game will continuously stream content not only to allow big worlds such as those featured in the Conquest mode, but to also have matches starting right after the previous one ended. Hypothetically, could all this still be possible on the Xbox 360 without a hard drive?

Mark Rein: Hypothetically this should be possible on Xbox 360 but thus far the majority of the effort on UT2007 has been aimed at the PC where we would naturally expect systems to have more available system memory. Also I should clarify that the idea is to load the next map while you’re watching the scoreboard which appears when a match is completed.


The Unreal Engine 3 is being used to develop massively multiplayer games like WEBZEN’s MMOFPS, Huxley. Can an MMO that uses the Unreal Engine 3 work without a hard drive?

Mark Rein: You could certainly design an MMO to work around not having a hard drive, and I know of one unannounced MMO, using Unreal Engine 3, that plans to do that.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

09-01-05, 11:32 PM
Wow!!!.. Nice interview.. :)
FOr the record Valve and other developers(japanese) are the ones that are really concerned about the lack of harddisk.

Hats off to teamxbox.. THey asked the same question 3 times.. :D but in diferent ways trying to get something from them about the HD controversy. :) Thats the way interviews should be.. lol!

Interestingly they were a little unsure in some of their answers.. thats why the questions were similar. Epic Hypothetically is not sure about whether this will be an issue for every other developer. But fortunately they will not have any with the game in question. However UT2k7 is a multiplayer game. SO it doesnt have as much content as a heavy single player next generation game. I will have liked more to hear about GEARS of WARS.. If in anyway the lack of harddisk will make their console version more limited than the PC . And simple yes or no.. and why will be enough for me. But im really curious to hear those developers doing a MMORPG game in the console how they plan to upgrade the game with new content,new levels ,new features like games like WOW or everquest2 do it on every week.because those updates are HUge. Hypothetically i forsee the controversy to continue for sometime. :)

09-02-05, 02:47 AM
I'm surprised a PC developer isn't as worried about the lack of a harddrive. It seems that most of developers criticisizing the lack of a harddrive are ones that are used to working on either the PC, or the original Xbox, or both, since they're the ones that seemed to assume that they'd always be able to rely on the harddrive. Personally, I think the lack of a harddrive as a standard sucks, but as long as it's capabilities are taken advantage of I don't care as much. Though I wonder how it will affect games in the long run.

09-02-05, 05:32 AM
I was more focused around the point of the fact that Epic can pull off those kinds of visuals AND have seemless environments without the use of an HDD. It makes you wonder what some other developers are doing...

Yes, I guess that it's not a terribly good thing that an MMO won't reqire a HDD, but that was just more to prove a point. We all know there are going to be a lot of MMO's that NEED the HDD.

09-02-05, 05:47 AM
Ok, Seamless enviroments do not need an HD, they never did. The PS2 proved this, what will happen is that the system will get a huge loading time prior to entering the game. One way developers are going around this is by loading the initial part of the game first, then once in the game they continue streaming the data that is needed.

MMO's wont require an HD but then they will end up like EQOA on the PS2, small patches and almost no content additions due to the limited space of Memory Cards.

Another flaw is that due to using normal DVDs its very hard to fit the new graphics quality on a single disc. So imagine the new GTA being multiple discs on the 360 because of this, SA already was a DVD9.

This interview is good but it only discusses the UE3 and a large majority of the developers are NOT using it so this doesn't mean anything in regards to the issues at hand, only if the developer is using the UE3.