A peek at Unreal Engine on Palm Web OS

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Palm surprises everyone (including Epic Games) by having a working demo of the Unreal Engine running on the company's Web OS.

SAN FRANCISCO--While at the Game Developers Conference, we just got a peek at Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 running on a Palm Pre Plus. It's the same technical demo that's been shown off on the iPhone, both at CES back in January and on Wednesday at Epic's talk about changes it had to make in order to get the engine running on Apple's iPhone OS.

According to Epic Games' Vice President Mark Rein, with whom CNET spoke earlier on Thursday, Palm was only given a test version of the Unreal Development Kit two weeks ago and just managed to get everything running well enough late Wednesday night to share it publicly at the show.

The one big thing that holds promise on Palm's Web OS over what was shown off on the iPhone is that users can keep a game running in the background while they multitask to other apps. In the case of the Unreal Engine demo, the thumbnail for the game refreshes once a second, so you can still see what's going on in that game while using other application cards. Neither Palm or Unreal would say whether that can be increased without eating up too much battery life.

Epic's Unreal Engine is what powers many of today's popular PC and console titles like Gears of War, BioShock, Mass Effect, and of course Epic's Unreal Tournament. What the company builds for its own games, it then licenses out, meaning other publishers can use it on their own titles.

It remains a ways off from being in the hands of mobile game makers, but the company has made it clear at GDC that it's now one of its priorities. Though based on the various technical differences between Palm's Web OS and Apple's iPhone OS, developers could end up with some very interesting challenges in trying to port games--something Epic Games is likely working to make as simple as possible.

Below is a quick and dirty video of it running from Palm's GDC booth:


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