While the Unigine game engine may not be as widely known or used as the Unreal or id Tech engines, its capabilities and features have been increasing at an incredible rate. Last year there were two tech demos released by Unigine Corp to demonstrate the capabilities of their proprietary engine -- both of which were very impressive -- but since then their software stack has picked up a slew of new features like improved physics and multiplayer support. This year they are slated to release a new in-house game / tech demo that will be even more impressive and will go head-to-head with the latest high-end commercial game engines. Through all of their game engine development work, they continue to support Linux gaming, so we recently carried out an interview with them to learn more about their current and future work.
Answering our own questions plus those asked by readers is Denis Shergin, the CEO of Unigine Corp, and Alexander Zaprjagaev, the CTO of Unigine Corp. Among the topics discussed in this interview are their current and future projects, views on Linux gaming from a studio point of view, Linux software they use in developing their game engine and graphics, support for newer technologies (such as OpenGL 3.x and OpenCL), and various technical details about their game engine.
Michael: Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions. If you would, please begin by sharing some brief details about your involvement with the company and on the history of Unigine -- both the company itself and the game engine.
Denis: Unigine history started from a set of 3D demos by Alexander Zaprjagaev in 2001. We were university friends with him, so I with my sister (she is a designer) helped him to create and maintain the Frustum.org website in Russian and English (now it is available here), which contained his works under GPL. There was a period of time when we tried to get donations for this open source project, but the attempt failed (the money wasn't enough even for hosting payments).
Meanwhile Alexander decided to make something bigger than just tech-demos (moreover he already had a lot of experience with 3D graphics and physics simulation at that time), so Engine_v0.1 had appeared in the beginning of 2004 (Alexander quit his job previously in 2003 to focus on his own work). Later that year we both realized that it's time to make a big commercial product out of it, so I also quit my job and joined the team as a CEO (because I had management experience from other projects), while Alexander became the CTO. At that point we had no money, no jobs, no investor and no ready product :) But we were full of energy and we trusted each other, so it was a great starting point.
There was a lot of hard work (I don't even want to remember some of those numerous sleepless nights full of bugs, writing documentation and trying to keep all the team together), but in the end we've got the first commercial release (Unigine v0.3) in May, 2005. At that time we were a team of five people, working for the idea.
There was another story of the following 4 years (they were filled with very hard work also), and now Unigine is a mature full-featured technology. Our development studio is in Tomsk (a city in Siberia), Russia. We are independent, there are no outside investors behind the company, so we are free to do things the way we think is right.