Organizers for the 2017 Game Developers Conference have announced today that Tim Sweeney will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award on March 1, during the 17th annual GDC Awards starting at 6:30PM. Sweeney, currently CEO of Epic Games, is known for starting the then shareware game publisher Epic MegaGames in 1991, and the creation of ZZT, which led to an explosion of user-created worlds. Epic MegaGames went on to release Jazz Jackrabbit, Epic Pinball and Tyrian during the '90s in the PC shareware space.
Perhaps most important of all, however, Sweeney kicked off the Unreal Engine tools business by developing the first-generation engine for the first Unreal game back in 1998. The Unreal Engine, which has had four major iterations now, has gone on to serve as the foundation of numerous AAA PC and console video games, such as the BioShock series, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Assassin's Creed, the Batman: Arkham series and many, many more.
Notably, Sweeney has also been outspoken as a proponent of open development platforms, taking Microsoft to task for its Universal Windows Platform, and more recently voicing concern over Oculus' approach to the VR market, saying that the Facebook-owned company is operating in a similar manner to Apple, which is the "wrong model" for VR development. In part for these reasons, GamesIndustry.biz had named Sweeney among its own People of the Year list in 2016.
"We'll just give Sweeney this little nod of approval. It's not often gaming executives go out of their way to pick fights with ex-partners for the betterment of the industry," we wrote in December.