Bravo to Epic Games for porting Unreal Engine 3 to the iPhone

Don’t get mad at me—I wanted to go to GDC, but The Man said no. So now we’re relying on CNET to bring us word of Epic Games’ efforts to bring the Unreal Engine to the iPhone. You may not have even played Unreal for several years, but plenty of big games are based on the engine. Mass Effect and BioShock are based on versions of the engine, as is EA’s upcoming Medal of Honor. Just think: playing Unreal on your iPhone . It’s almost… unreal.

The engine is written entirely for the PC, and it goes from PC to Mac to iPhone. It’s quite a bit of work to port over, yes. Just think: on the PC, the engine can count on multi-core processors to drive the whole show. One core for this, one core for that. The iPhone 3GS, fast as it is (by smartphone standards), cannot compare with the likes of the Intel Core i7. Breaking news, I know.

It does seem that the hardest part is getting all those high-resolution textures down to iPhone size. Epic uses something called DXT to compress the textures, a technology that Apple doesn’t support on the iPhone. So Epic has to both shrink the textures beforehand and then drop the quality by quite a bit. Will you really care when you’re playing the latest FPS on your iPhone at a steady 30 frames per second? I doubt it.

This is the Unreal Engine 3.0 we’re talking about, remember, not some 1999 technology nonsense.