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‘Epic’ interview (zing!) with Tim Sweeney

Late last night—or early this morning, if we’re going to split hairs—I was toying with ZZT, as well as the marvelously peculiar Jill of the Jungle trilogy. Each was an early-90s offering from Epic MegaGames, and each was designed and programmed by Tim Sweeney.


Jill of the Jungle is a platformer with puzzle elements. As Jill, you battle giant crabs, frogs, bright red birds (or moths?), and evil fish. Perhaps it isn’t so well known as Jazz Jackrabbit, but it was quirky and original (and shareware!), and the hero was a girl, so of course as a kid I beat the game several times.

The inimitable Benj Edwards recently interviewed Tim Sweeney—now Epic’s CEO—and it is a fantastic read. They devote a lot of the discussion to Sweeney’s earliest, ZZT, before discussing Jill of the Jungle, Xargon, and Epic’s relationship with 3D Realms (née Apogee).

A brief explanation of ZZT, from Edwards’ opening paragraphs:

And the game that started it all for Sweeney was ZZT. Released in 1991, ZZT is a text-based action/adventure/puzzle shareware title with a built-in game editor and scripting language. Think LittleBigPlanet in text. Sweeney’s experiences with ZZT led directly to Epic’s success with Unreal Engine, which inseparably integrates game engine and editor much in the same way ZZT did.

A must-read.

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