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Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney to receive lifetime achievement award at GDC

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games.


As CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney has been a graphics wizard and a leader of the game industry since the 1990s. And he hasn’t been afraid to rattle the cages of the powers that be, as evidenced by his clash with Microsoft over the openness of Windows during the past year.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, will receive the lifetime achievement award at GDC 2017.

Above: Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, will receive the lifetime achievement award at GDC 2017.

Image Credit: Epic Games

For his work, he will be honored with one of the industry’s highest honors: the Lifetime Achievement award at the 2017 Game Developers Choice Awards on March 1. The award is an accolade awarded by Sweeney’s peers in the game development business.

Sweeney started Epic Games (then known as Epic MegaGames) as a shareware publisher in 1991, and he also published ZZT, a simple shooter title that enabled user-created worlds. But his lasting impact came with the creation of Unreal in 1998 and the release of the Unreal Engine in the same year.

The Unreal Engine has been used by thousands of game developers to create games with outstanding 3D graphics. Unreal Engine is the backbone graphics engine that has become an indispensable tool for creating high-end video games, and Sweeney was the main architect of the first-generation engine.

Sweeney is a shy, geeky leader. But he has tangled with Microsoft over the future of Windows and whether the operating system vendor was trying to close off the historically open PC platform in order to pursue an Apple-like path to greater profits.

When I asked him last May about why he went public with his dispute with Microsoft, he replied, “I spent 18 months emailing, meeting, and badgering Microsoft about this behind the scenes. There are a lot of great people at Microsoft who share the idea that Windows should be open, but there are also some bean-counters here and there.”

Sweeney has also done his best to be a seer. At the VRX virtual reality show in December, he gave a speech about how to build the Metaverse, the virtual world envisioned by Neal Stephenson in the novel Snow Crash in 1992. That novel’s vision of a pervasive cyberspace where we live, work, and play has inspired many a startup including Second Life maker Linden Lab and Stephenson’s current employer, augmented reality glasses maker Magic Leap. Sweeney’s recipe for building the Metaverse was practical, and it also spelled out the need for it to be open, and not owned by one company.

Sweeney also worked to make the Unreal Engine extensible via UnrealScript, a spiritual successor to his object-oriented scripting language for ZZT. This simple way for non-coders to get complex creations made easily led to extensive and creative player modding of games – one of the earliest blossoming of user-generated content.

The engine has gone through four major revisions, and it has enabled Epic’s own titles such as Gears of War, Paragon and Fortnite, as well as notable independently created games such as Rocket League, Abzû, Astroneer and ARK: Survival Evolved. The engine is now being adapted by non-game development teams across the automotive, aviation, architecture, VR/AR, complex data visualization and film sectors.

Sweeney joins the roster of previous Lifetime Achievement Award recipients which includes Todd Howard, Shigeru Miyamoto, Warren Spector, John Carmack, Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meier, Ken Kutaragi, Ray Muzyka, Greg Zeschuk, and Peter Molyneux, among others.

Recipients of the Lifetime Achievement award are chosen by the Game Developers Choice Awards Advisory Committee, which includes notable game industry leaders such as Mark Cerny (Cerny Games), Doug Lombardi (Valve), Angie Smets (Guerrilla Games), Amir Rao (Supergiant Games) and Jade Raymond (Electronic Arts). In 2012, Sweeney also won the lifetime achievement award at another peer group, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

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The fall TV heavyweights are back, and this week that includes AMC's The Walking Dead, returning for season number eight. Sports fans can get ready for NBA action, while gamers can finally get a fresh taste of Gran Turismo. South Park's long-awaited game is finally arriving as well, while Spider-Man Homecoming tops the 4K Blu-ray list and Netflix premieres season two of Miranda Sings' Haters Back Off. Look after the break to check out each day's highlights, including trailers and let us know what you think (or what we missed).

Blu-ray & Games & Streaming

  • Annabelle Creation (VOD)
  • The Dark Tower (VOD)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (4K, 3D)
  • Girls Trip
  • Samurai Jack: The Complete Series
  • Serenity (4K)
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
  • Apollo 13 (4K)
  • Barry Lyndon
  • American Gods (S1)
  • Stranger Things (S1)
  • Gran Turismo Sport (PS4)
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 4 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Episode 2 (PS4, PC, Switch)
  • Let's Sing 2018 (PS4, Wii)
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Xbox One, PS4)
  • Elex (Xbox One, PS4)
  • Dungeons 3 (Xbox One, PS4)
  • Megaton Rainfall (PS VR)
  • Rogue Troper Redux (PS4, Xbox One)
  • WWE 2K18 (Xbox One, PS4)

Monday

  • Colts/Titans, ESPN, 8:15 PM
  • Lucifer, Fox, 8 PM
  • The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 8 PM
  • The Voice, NBC, 8 PM
  • 9jkl, CBS, 8:30 PM
  • Dancing with the Stars, ABC, 8 PM
  • WWE Raw, USA, 8 PM
  • Supergirl, CW, 8 PM
  • 3 Hikers, Starz, 9 PM
  • Valor, CW, 9 PM
  • The Gifted, Fox, 9 PM
  • Kevin Can Wait, CBS, 9 PM
  • Me, Myself & I, CBS, 9:30 PM
  • Scorpion, CBS, 10 PM
  • The Brave, NBC, 10 PM
  • The Good Doctor, ABC, 10 PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11 PM

Tuesday

  • The Mindy Project, Hulu, 3 AM
  • Patton Oswalt: Annihilation, Netflix, 3 AM
  • Slasher (S2), Netflix 3 AM
  • Celtics/Cavaliers, TNT, 8 PM
  • Rockets/Warriors, TNT, 10:30 PM
  • The Flash, CW, 8 PM
  • Finding Your Roots, PBS, 8 PM
  • The Voice, NBC, 8 PM
  • Lethal Weapon, Fox, 8 PM
  • NCIS, CBS, 8 PM
  • WWE Smackdown, USA, 8 PM
  • The Middle, ABC, 8 PM
  • Fresh Off the Boat, ABC, 8:30 PM
  • DC's Legends of Tomorrow, CW, 9 PM
  • Black-ish, ABC, 9 PM
  • Bull, CBS, 9 PM
  • The Mick, Fox, 9 PM
  • This is Us, NBC, 9 PM
  • Inside the NFL, Showtime, 9 PM
  • Fantomworks, Velocity, 9 PM
  • The Mayor, ABC, 9:30 PM
  • Brooklyn Nine-nine, Fox, 9:30 PM
  • The Mane Event (series premiere), BET, 10 PM
  • Undercover High, A&E, 10 PM
  • Cyberwar, Viceland, 10 PM
  • Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, ABC, 10 PM
  • Law & Order: True Crime, NBC, 10 PM
  • NCIS: NO, CBS, 10 PM
  • American Horror Story, FX, 10 PM
  • The Challenge, MTV, 10 PM
  • Tosh.0, Comedy Central, 10 PM
  • Weediquette (season premiere), Viceland, 10:30 PM
  • 90s House, MTV, 11 PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11 PM

Wednesday

  • Chance, Hulu, 3 AM
  • Freakish (season premiere), Hulu, 3 AM
  • 76ers/Wizards, ESPN, 7 PM
  • The Blacklist, NBC, 8 PM
  • Empire, Fox, 8 PM
  • The Goldbergs, ABC, 8 PM
  • Survivor, CBS, 8 PM
  • Lucha Underground (season finale), El Rey, 8 PM
  • Riverdale, CW, 8 PM
  • Speechless, ABC, 8:30 PM
  • Dynasty, CW, 9 PM
  • Modern Family, ABC, 9 PM
  • Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 9 PM
  • Seal Team, CBS, 9 PM
  • Star, Fox, 9 PM
  • American Housewife, ABC, 9:30 PM
  • Timberwolves/Spurs, ESPN, 9:30 PM
  • Mr. Robot, USA, 10 PM
  • Shannara Chronicles, Spike TV, 10 PM
  • Criminal Minds, CBS, 10 PM
  • Chicago PD, NBC, 10 PM
  • Designated Survivor, ABC, 10 PM
  • Liar, Sundance, 10 PM
  • Are You the One, MTV, 10 PM
  • Channel Zero, Syfy, 10 PM
  • You're the Worst, FXX, 10 PM
  • Garage Squad, Velocity, 10 PM
  • South Park, Comedy Central, 10 PM
  • Broad City, Comedy Central, 10:30 PM
  • Rosehaven (season finale), Sundance, 11 PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11 PM

Thursday

  • Bomb Scared, Netflix, 3 AM
  • I Love You America, Hulu, 3 AM
  • Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 8 PM
  • Superstore, NBC, 8 PM
  • Gotham, Fox, 8 PM
  • Supernatural, CW, 8 PM
  • Chiefs/Raiders, CBS, 8:30 PM
  • The Good Place, NBC, 8:30 PM
  • The Eleven (series premiere), A&E, 9 PM
  • Arrow, CW, 9 PM
  • Scandal, ABC, 9 PM
  • Van Helsing, Syfy, 9 PM
  • The Orville, Fox, 9 PM
  • Will & Grace, NBC, 9 PM
  • Great News, NBC, 9:30 PM
  • The Walking Dead: Behind the Dead, AMC, 10 PM
  • Chicago Fire, NBC, 10 PM
  • Better Things, FX, 10 PM
  • The Mist, Spike TV, 10 PM
  • Bong Appetit, Viceland, 10:30 PM
  • The Rundown with Robin Thede, BET, 11 PM
  • The Timeline, NFL Network, 11 PM
  • Desus & Mero, Viceland, 11 PM

Friday

  • Haters Back Off (S2), Netflix, 3 AM
  • Wheelman, Netflix, 3 AM
  • The Day I Met El Chapo (Episodes 1 - 3), Netflix, 3 AM
  • Red Oaks (S3), Amazon Prime, 3 AM
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, CW, 8 PM
  • Macgyver, CBS, 8 PM
  • Once Upon a Time, ABC, 8 PM
  • Tackle My Ride, NFL Network, 8 PM
  • Jane the Virgin, CW, 9 PM
  • Marvel's Inhumans, ABC, 9 PM
  • Active Shooter, Showtime, 9 PM
  • Z Nation, Syfy, 9 PM
  • The Exorcist, Fox, 9 PM
  • A Football Life: Sam Mills, NFL Network, 9 PM
  • Tough Guys, Showtime, 9 PM
  • Superstition (series premiere), Syfy, 10 PM
  • The Walking Dead: Walker World, AMC, 10 PM
  • Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus, Cinemax, 10 PM
  • Superstition, Syfy, 10 PM
  • Tracey Ullman's Show (season premiere), HBO, 11 PM
  • Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents, Comedy Central, 12 AM

Saturday

  • Too Funny to Fail, Hulu, 3 AM
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, BBC America, 9 PM
  • The Walking Dead: The Journey So Far, AMC, 9 PM

Sunday

  • The Toy Box, ABC, 7 PM
  • Outlander, Starz, 8 PM
  • Shark Tank, ABC, 8 PM
  • The Simpsons, Fox, 8 PM
  • Falcons/Patriots, NBC 8:20 PM
  • Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access, 8:30 PM
  • Ghosted, Fox, 8:30 PM
  • Wisdom of the Crowd, CBS, 8 PM
  • Outlander, Starz, 8 PM
  • The Walking Dead (season premiere), AMC, 9 PM
  • Family Guy, Fox, 9 PM
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, CNN, 9 PM
  • Poldark, PBS, 9 PM
  • Ray Donovan, Showtime, 9 PM
  • The Deuce, HBO, 9 PM
  • The Last Man on Earth, Fox, 9:30 PM
  • NCIS: LA, CBS, 9 PM
  • Talking Dead (Season premiere), AMC, 10 PM
  • Good Behavior, TNT, 10 PM
  • Madam Secretary, CBS, 10 PM
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO, 10 PM
  • Ten Days in the Valley, ABC, 10 PM
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling, CNN, 10 PM
  • Unsung Hollywood, TV One, 10 PM
  • Vice Principals, HBO, 10:30 PM

[All times listed are in ET]

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