Sweeney was born to a father with a classified government job and a mother who raised three sons and worked in a flower shop. He grew up in an idyllic part of rural Maryland, swallowed all-too-soon by urban sprawl from Washington, D.C. In his youth, he built go-karts and dreamed of a career making complicated machines. His oldest brother Steve moved out to California to work in the early computer industry.
Having been programming games since an early age, Sweeney established Epic as a shareware company while he was a student majoring in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. Epic got its start when Sweeney created ZZT, the company's first game, released as a shareware in 1991. In interviews Sweeney has credited that game's success with fueling the early growth of his company. Sweeney later worked on the Unreal Engine, used in the Unreal series and multiple other video games of different genres.
In spite of his (self-confessed) social awkwardness, according to Mark Rein, Tim is not only good at programming, but he's also the main reason why Epic Games had always a strong lineup of talent, as he was a good recruiter. He's also, according to , vehemently opposed to patents, and a fan of sharing and opening information, a philosophy that is also shared by .
In 2005, Sweeney attended Wake Tech Community College Digital Game Xpo as a guest speaker. He showed a demo of the Unreal Engine and talked about 3D Buzz's book "Mastering Unreal Technology: The Art of Level Design". Wired magazine awarded him a Rave Award in 2007 for his work on Unreal Engine 3.
- Unreal Tournament
- Unreal II: The Awakening
- Unreal Championship
- Unreal Tournament 2003
- Unreal Tournament 2004
- Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict
- Unreal Tournament 3
- Unreal Tournament 4
- "Special Awards - Tim Sweeney, CEO and Technical Director, Epic Games, Inc.". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Takahashi, Dean (January 20, 2017). "Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney to receive lifetime achievement award at GDC". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Totilo, Stephen (December 7, 2011). "The Quiet Tinkerer Who Makes Games Beautiful Finally Gets His Due". Kotaku. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Rotenberry, Walter (April 25, 2005). "EPIC Games to Demo Unreal Engine 3 at Digital Game Expo in June". Cision PRWeb. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Fragmaster (October 22, 2002). "Tim Sweeney & CliffyB Interview". PlanetUnreal. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2019.
- Tim Sweeney @ Twitter
- Tim Sweeney (game developer) @ Wikipedia
- Tycho (August 1, 2003). "Epic's Tim Sweeney Interview". UnrealOps. Archived from the original on December 16, 2004. Retrieved May 7, 2019.