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$1,000,000 NVIDIA Make Something 'UNREAL' Contest

by Thomas on June 6, 2003 @ 7:16 a.m. PDT

Epic Games and Digital Extremes, co-creators of the award-winning Unreal game franchise, along with NVIDIA Corporation, Atari Inc, AMD, and Alias Wavefront today announced the kickoff of the "$1,000,000 NVIDIA Make Something Unreal" contest. The contest, backed by a grand prize worth US $400,000 and one of the largest overall contest prize purses in the video game industry, rewards and publicly recognizes talented individuals from around the world who can create the ultimate game and entertainment mods (a new game or add-on created with tools from the original title) based on the best-selling Unreal Tournament 2003 and upcoming Unreal Tournament 2004.

Entries can be made in 13 categories, including "Best Mod," "Best Character," "Best Use of 3D Sound," "Best Real-Time Non-Interactive Movie (also known as Machinima)," and more. Contestants can find contest information and qualifications, including a full list of categories, and sign-up for the contest today at

"This contest is not just about creating the best mod for UT2003 and UT2004. It is intended to tap the talents of a wide audience of aspiring game developers and artists," said Mark Rein, vice president at Epic Games. "We hope that the contest will act as a catalyst for those talented individuals who might not have tried their hand in the game arena before, but want to get in and have the appropriate skills to create amazing mods for Unreal Tournament 2003 and 2004."

Published by Atari, the Unreal games series has reached stellar success over the years, not only in retail sales but through the tremendous support of savvy PC gamers around the world who have leveraged the game's engine to create mods that extend, personalize and enhance the life of the game. To date, game mod'ers have created everything from a virtual tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral to an evolving archive of thousands of add-on mods, each with a different look and feel.

"The mod'ing community has boomed simply because the Unreal Tournament Game Engine gives gamers and aspiring 3D artists a flexible, easy-to-use and feature-rich toolset for content creation," said Bill Rehbock, director of developer relations at NVIDIA. "This contest is an opportunity for us to reward this community for its efforts, as well as drive more attention to the art and science of mod'ing."

Steve Allison, vice president of marketing at Atari, adds: "This is a great opportunity for digital artists to show off their talents, whether their field is graphics, film, audio, game design or technology. In addition, the contest rewards them with one of the largest prizes ever to hit the entertainment software industry -- $1,000,000 in prizes, including a license for the Unreal Tournament Game Engine that has driven some of the top games in the market."

"$1,000,000 Make Something Unreal" Contest Details:

From June 2003 through Spring 2004, the "$1,000,000 NVIDIA Make Something Unreal" contest is broken into three phases, each offering a chance to win prizes. The first prize announcement will take place in Winter 2003. Grand prize winners will be announced at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) held in San Jose, CA, in March 2004.

In addition to cash prizes totaling US$500,000 and the ultimate prize of a commercial Unreal Tournament Game Engine license (valued at $350,000), contestants can compete for more than $300,000 worth of high-end PCs featuring the combined processing power of NVIDIA's GeForce(TM) FX graphics, the NVIDIA nForce(TM)2 platform and AMD Athlon processors, and more than $30,000 worth of Maya® Software, the leading 3D modeling, animation and rendering software used in many high-end game and Hollywood production studios.

As an added incentive for students, 50 of the 100 computers given away in the "$1,000,000 NVIDIA Make Something Unreal" contest will be awarded to the 5 most deserving schools, as chosen by the judges, whose students or faculty submit entries in the contest. For aspiring film-makers, the contest also offers a "Best Real-Time Non-Interactive Movie (Machinima)" category. Selected mods from this category will be showcased at the Machinima Film Festival 2003, a next-generation film festival celebrating the art form of Machinima (see

"In addition to winning some awesome prizes and cold-hard cash, winners of the contest may even follow in the footsteps of mod authors who entered the first Unreal mod contest in 2000 and had their winning entries professionally published; as was the case of the highly successful Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror game, whose lead is currently employed by Epic Games," added Rein.

In order to make the contest accessible to the widest audience, Epic Games contracted with Jason Busby at to create the website, which contains more than 100 hours of free downloadable Video Training Modules (VTMs) geared toward educating users on how to program and build content using the Unreal Tournament Game Engine. The site includes links to web tutorials, forums of information, free online classes, and free Video Training Modules that systematically guide users through the learning process on the many aspects of Unreal technology. Busby will be working with Epic to host UnrealEditor training seminars in the USA and United Kingdom.

Entrants can improve their chances of winning by entering in multiple judging rounds, provided they make improvements to their mods between rounds. Contestants will need to ensure that their mods are freely available for download and work with Unreal Tournament 2003, which is available now at retail stores, or Unreal Tournament 2004 (coming this fall).

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