Epic Games: I'm Not Sure What Lessons to Learn From 'Paragon'

"If we didn't have 'Fortnite' perhaps we could have continued to experiment with 'Paragon'," says Tim Sweeney

The powerful replay engine coming to Fortnite was built on the bones of Epic Games' now-canceled Paragon, Epic founder Tim Sweeney told Glixel during an interview at the Game Developers Conference this week.

And while Epic Games is giving away all of the assets from its MOBA-like game Paragon to developers, players and creators of all sorts to do with as they will, there’s not much else that came from the extended in-house game experiment, Sweeney said.

Video Replays
Epic doesn’t call the video system coming to Fortnite in the coming weeks a killcam because it’s a much more sophisticated system, one that was originally built for the now moth-balled Paragon.

“It’s an evolution of the replay system we built for Paragon,” Sweeney said. “We added some new features and will continue to improve that over time.”

The hope is that the system, which captures play data and lets a person replay it while capturing the game with an in-game camera and a number of robust features, will be used in a variety of ways, not just showing replays.

“You can image some of the things you can do,” Sweeney said. “Right now it’s a tool for reassembling clips, but eventually it could work live. A streamer could play a match while a sport-caster could show what’s going on.”

Sweeney said he hopes that people will even use the system for creating things like machinima. It could evolve in that direction in the future. It’s essentially a camera system.”

The system is coming to Fortnite in the next couple of weeks, likely with the 3.5 update, he said.

Paragon Art
The only other thing to come out of Paragon was Epic Game’s surprising decision to release all of the assets and art for the game for free public use. That means anyone can take the robust art, including 20 fully-rendered 3D characters, and create their own games with them. Even, if they’re able, a full recreation of the original Paragon game.

“I don't think anything like this has happened at this scale,”Sweeney said. “Certainly nothing like this for a triple A game. The Paragon characters are all state of the art.” Sweeney said he expects to start seeing early screenshots using the assets very soon.

Lessons Learned
With the prolonged creation of Fortnite and then then, less-than-a-month creation of its incredibly popular Battle Royale mode, Sweeney says the team learned some important lessons. Chief among them the need to be agile when experimenting with gameplay.

But Sweeney struggled to find an uplifting message in Paragon’s lengthy development and experimentation.

Paragon was a game that a lot of people had played and was widely respected for its quality and production values,” he said. “But after someone downloads the game and plays for one month a very small fraction of them kept playing. We ended up with a very small fanbase who really loved the game. But we were never able to satisfy a large amount a large amount of those early players. It was a great tragedy. We put our heart and souls into the game and tried really hard.

“I’m not sure what lessons to learn from Paragon. We achieved some great things, but it’s real hard to diagnose what happened there. If we didn’t have Fortnite perhaps we could have continued to experiment with Paragon and found some magical direction, but that’s really impossible to know.”