Designers converge for ‘Unreal’ tourney

Cyberbiz Brief

Several game and technology companies have joined to offer $1 million in cash and prizes to designers and directors who can use the level-creation tools of “Unreal Tournament” to create novel kinds of entertainment, both for games and more traditional noninteractive forms.

Graphics-card maker Nvidia joined with Epic, game publisher Atari and animation software company Alias/Wavefront to offer the prizes in 13 categories. Winners will have their projects displayed at the upcoming second Machinima Film Festival. (Machinima is the name for animated films made with game-creation tools.)

Epic’s level-creation tools in “Unreal Tournament” are used by game designers to create their own mods, or levels. Such mods can be extensions of the original game or, as has increasingly happened with “Unreal” and other top titles, become the graphical skeleton upon which designers create many kinds of games, simulations, short films and other kinds of entertainment.

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Contest offers $500,000 in cash to various category winners. The grand-prize winner also will receive a $350,000 license to the “Unreal” graphics engine technology.