Witchcraft. Seriously, just witchcraft. I've been playing games for decades now, and I've got a pretty good grasp of technology and development techniques, yet still the occult is the only explanation I have for what Epic Games and Chair Entertainment are pulling off with the recently unveiled iPhone version of the Unreal Engine 3.
You've probably already read mine and Justin's ebullient geek-out over the Gears of War dev's Epic Citadel tech demo. If you haven't, click here. In short, Xbox 360 in your pocket. But now, via an iPhone 4 promo video, the first tiny snatch of footage from the game proper has appeared.
It's only a few seconds long, but it's a pretty significant few seconds. Firstly, it shows the first in-game characters we've seen so far (the currently available demo is a beautiful but entirely unpopulated affair). And it shows that they look fantastic. And secondly, it gives a rough impression of how the game is going to work, or at the very least adds credance to my early guesses.
Many, myself included, were worried about how a triple-A action-adventure would control with the iPhone's touchscreen limitations. From the screen furniture and camera framing in the footage shown, it looks like the combat elements will take place via a dedicated set of separate game mechanics rather than blending with the twin-stick, first-person navigation we enjoyed in the demo. There are no clues as to whether they will play out in real-time or via a turn-based system, but either way, I'm now breathing a little easier than I was before.
Despite Epic boss Mark Rein's comments earlier this week, I still believe that portable gaming requires a very different design philosophy than that of 'big' console games, so I'm very interested to see how Chair make the overall game work. But it's excited interest, without a doubt. What do you reckon?