Uncategorized

Pariah: James Schmalz Interview

We recently got a chance to fire off some questions to James Schmalz of Digital Extremes about their upcoming Unreal Engine powered game called Pariah. Pariah is set on a futuristic Earth with an anti-hero character that is a doctor of all things. The game is the first big venture outside of the Unreal Universe for DE Team. As with all things here at UO I tried to come up with interesting questions. Here we go..

    • How did the idea of Pariah come about?

 

    • When we first started brainstorming on Pariah, we really wanted to do alot with vehicles, ala Twisted Metal Black (remember this was 3 years ago). Then we started adding other things and prototyping alot and eventually it turned into what Pariah is today. We also knew we wanted to have a very storyline driven single-player campaign so it was important to get the gameplay nailed down so we knew what we’re dealing with to move forward on building that aspect of the game.

 

    • Why not something new in the Unreal Universe?

 

    • We’ve been working with Epic on their Unreal franchise for a long time, but ultimately Epic owns the Unreal franchise and we wanted something to call our own so we now have Pariah and soon, Dark Sector.

 

    • What is exciting about starting something non-Unreal?

 

    • Starting something new really gets the creative juices flowing. You’re not limited to the expectations that fans have for an established brand and you get to explore all kinds of new ideas and possibilities. Although, you do have to keep your head above the clouds and make sure you’re still making something that is marketable and will sell well, so there’s a fine line.

 

    • How much of the UE is modded for this game?

 

    • We started with the UC/UT2003 engine and added alot on top of it since then including the Havok physics engine which you’ll notice on the ragdolls, the vehicles and many destructible objects in the game. In addition we did alot of performance enhancements and added some really nice graphics enhancements such as particle effects, distortion effects, pixel shaders, vertex shaders, bump-mapping and more.

 

    • What is your favorite weapon, character or vehicle from the game?

 

    • Hmmm..there are alot of good ones in there but I guess if I have to pick one it would be the grenade launcher and its upgrades. It starts out as a very competent grenade launcher that does quite alot of damage on impact or timed explosions if a target is missed. When you upgrade it, it becomes even more useful as you’re given a detonator so you can time explosions to your advantage. And my favorite upgrade on it is the fragment attractor. Basically it now has mag grenades and when one is shot out it collects lots of metallic debris as it hurls through the air; once it reaches its destination it explodes in a frag-ful of glory shooting the debris everywhere! The longer it flies through the air the more debris it attracts and the more deadly it gets…nice!

 

    • When is the PC version of the game due out?

 

    • Look for it on May 3rd.

 

    • Will it have more content then the Console version?

 

    The content is basically the same in both versions of the game however we’ve already got a ton of stuff started for potential release to the community after the game ships if it’s successful.

As you can see a couple of nice teasers to keep us occupied until the game comes out in less than three weeks! A big thanks to Meridith and Mr. Schmalz from Digital Extremes for hooking us up with this interview and as always thanks to you for stopping by the site.

Synthetic Benchmarking: Good or Obsolete?

A-KO recently told me about a discussion on the Guru of 3D forums regarding the ATI/NVidia Driver cheating debate.  I wanted to chime in from an avid Unreal gamer’s POV.  The discussion of who does what with their drivers for 3DMark Scores’ sake is no longer valid in my opinion.  The days of Futuremark, or any other ‘sythentic’ gaming benchmark, are gone.  While the benchmark is fun to use and watch, it is no longer relevant in ‘real world’ gaming.  Here is why..

When 3DMmark and other synthetic benchmarks first made their way onto the scene gaming was completely different.  These benchmarks used more Open GL tests and very few D3D ones.  This was a direct reflection of the state of gaming at the time.  Just prior to the benchmark coming around the biggest problem in the gaming community had to do with the original Quake and Open GL.  With the advent of Open GL some gamers had the ability to ‘see through’ the water and kill opponents that couldn’t see them.  Was this cheating?  No, it wasn’t because the code was there but not all cards could support this feature. Now just because it wasn’t cheating didn’t mean it was fair.  However things were about to change in the gaming world.

As the gaming community moved from Open GL to Direct3D, the hardware changed as well.  Now all cards that started coming out supported ‘3D Gaming’. Since there were two main formats you wanted to see what card did the best in which format. This is where synthetic benchmarks got their fame and fortune.

With two major formats you needed something that could push the card and tell you what will happen.  When PC Mag’s online benchmark was originally created it tested how your card did with 8, 16, 32 or 64 megs of textures.  The benchmark keyed on what your card CAN or CANNOT do as opposed to what they THINK it should do.  This was important because you wanted to determine what features you should turn on while playing in the game.  These features directly affected your game play online due to the amount of frames your computer could produce.  That is no longer the case today as most games are running the current D3D format and graphic engines have completely changed as well.  Now there are non-important features such as the ‘Rag Doll’ effect that has no impact on the game play and is purely for looks.

Since this is pure eye-candy and you only need to have it if you want it and your PC can support it.  So for Futuremark to try and emulate both current games and ‘future’ games and try and dictate how a gamer plays is not very wise.  How can one benchmark emulate several different engines and how gamers will play them?  The answer is it can’t, the only real way to tell how your card is going to do in a certain game is to run it in that game.  What is the point of getting 10,000 marks if you go online to play your favorite game and you get 30fps in the real game?  I’ll tell you what will happen, you will get beat by someone that is getting a smooth 75fps avg while your machine is bogged down on a frame rate killing map.

So in essence people should not be mad at ATI or NVidia for trying to ‘gain’ an advantage in a benchmark.  You should be mad at them for wasting time they could be using on making the driver better in games you play now, all while keeping their eye on the future.  In the end if you like Futuremark use it.  However,don’t go to a forum and bitch because your rig is fast in the benches but sucks in real world games because that will only get you flamed.

Map Review: DM-Stalwart ][

Welcome to my first Unreal Ops Map Review. I will be using SwitchyB’s criteria for reviewing maps. I would like to note that my review is based on a player’s perspective. I have mapped with the unrealed, but my skillz are not up to par with most of the Unreal mapping community.  Before you start please review SwitchyB’s criteria.

Map:  DM-Stalwart ][
Author:  Xxyz 
Number Of Players:  2-3
File Size:  3.80 Megs
Reviewed By:  Meatbelly
Review Date:  12.31.02

Reviewer’s PC: 
CPU: Pentium 4 2.53
Memory: PC800 Rdram 256MB
Graphics Card: GeForce 4 Ti4200
Game Settings:
Resolution: 1024×768
Color Depth: 32-bit
Frame Rate: 50 fps – 70 fps
Items:
Adrenalin Capsules:  Yes
Double Damage Amp:  No
Health Stations:  Yes
Health Vials:  Yes
Keg O� Health:  Yes
Shield Pack:  Yes
Super Shield Pack:  Yes
Weapons:
Flak Cannon:  Yes
GES Bio Rifle:  No
Ion Painter:  No
Lightning Gun:  No
Link Gun:  Yes
Minigun:  Yes
Redeemer:  No
Rocket Launcher:  Yes
Shock Rifle:  Yes

 

Level Design (20/20):
DM-Stalwart is a level for Unreal Tournament created by Alan �Talisman� Willard. This is one of the levels UT shipped with and an old favorite of mine. Xxyz decided to remake Stalwart for Unreal Tournament 2003 and boy am I glad! The level design is pretty much dead on to the original. Xxyz add his own touches by replacing the Star Fighter in the bay from UT to the Bulldog in UT2003. Gone are the days of plain wall and floors. Xxyz has given Stalwart the new high polygon UT2003 look!

Weapons and Items Layout (19/20):
The weapon placement is almost identical to the original. Any UT player will be able to locate the Flack, Shock, Link, Rocket Launcher, and Mini with no problem. The Adrenaline capsules are placed in a very logical manner except for the ones placed on the top structural beams. I still don�t know how to get to them.(Update) Xxyz let me know that you use the Shield Gun to obtain the capsules. But I really don�t see the advantage of taking the time to reach a minor powerup that can be located in easier spots. The super powerup placement is essential in creating strategy which I will cover below.

Strategy (18/20):
The strategy of DM-Stalwart is to collect the major powerups and grab your favorite weapon. It is pretty cut and dry. One factor that will keep experienced players ahead of the rest is the placement of the Keg O� Health and the Super Shield Pack. Both powerups require the player to double jump to reach them and it is harder than it looks. Overall, this level ,much like Gael and 1 on 1 Alpu2, will allow the player with the true skillz to shine.

Bots (15/20):
The bots can be quite challenging at the higher playing levels. I had played several matches at Godlike and the bots were reasonably difficult. The only problem with the pathing is that the bots don�t seem to recognize or be able to access the two major powerups (Keg O� Health and the Super Shield Pack). I am not sure if this is a game flaw or a pathing flaw, but they don�t seem to be able to double jump and reach the goods. The default number of bots for this map is one. This is an understandable decision considering the size of this map. Xxyz notes in the readme that single player games are not recommended. I would have to agree and recommend playing this level online.

Bugs/Issues (16/20):
The only bug I found with DM-Stalwart] [ was a small buzzing noise. I am not sure if this was caused by the conversion of the .ogg file or my computer�s configuration. This is a very small bug considering the old school flava that the original music from UT, Strider, provides. This issue should not discourage any player or administrator from downloading and cycling this map.

Overall:
This level deserves a spot on anyone�s server. The fact that it is old school should sell the level itself. I hope Xxyz decides to fix the small issue with the sound and I wish him the best of luck with his future projects. Whether a remake or an original I will make sure to follow his work. Thank you for bringing back the Unreal Tournament flow.

UEd3 Tutorials By Rachel Cordone

In this tutorial I am going to cover the properties of emitters and show you how to make various effects with them. Feel free to skip the first section if you are only trying to make one effect in particular.

There are 4 groups in the xEmitter’s properties that we need to go into to fully understand how to use them. Here is a pic highlighting what I will be covering here:

Display

The two properties under Display that we are concerned about are Skins and Style.

Skins – Tells the emitter what texture to use for it’s particles. Textures specifically made for xEmitters are in the EmitterTextures and EmitterTextures2 packages, although you can try other textures for unique effects or special purposes.

Style – Sets the texture’s properties. Here is an example using a lense flare type texture:

<- None, Normal Particle

<- Masked

<- Translucent

<- Modulated

<- Alpha, AlphaZ

<- Additive

<- Subtractive

Modulated may look like Normal, but it’s similar to Translucent. The whiter the part of the texture, the more it shows through. For most applications you will want to use Translucent.

PclEmitter

bSuspendWhenNotVisible – This turns off the emitter when you are not looking at any of the particles. Keeping this set to True lowers the resources needed to play the level.

mChildName – Assigns a Tag to particles produced by this emitter.

mDelayRange – Sets a time delay range between each set of particles produced.

mLifeRange – Particles die out at a random time between these two values.

mMaxParticles – The maximum number of particles that this xEmitter will have onscreen simultaneously. If this number is reached the emitter will wait until one dies out before producing another.

mParticleType – Sets the type of particle produced by this xEmitter.

 

PT_Sprite

PT_Stream

PT_Line

PT_Disc

mRegen – If set to true, the emitter will regenerate particles as they die out.

mRegenOffTime – Sets the range for the time that the emitter is Off (does not produce particles).

mRegenOnTime – Sets the range for the time that the emitter is On (produces particles).

mRegenRange – Sets the range for number of particles per second that the emitter produces.

mSpawningType – ST_Sphere – Particles travel in a straight line that can be adjusted with movement properties.
���������������������������ST_Line – Particles appear along a straight line path and do not move.
���������������������������ST_Explode – Particles shoot out in random directions.
���������������������������ST_ExplodeRing – Particles shoot out in a ring pattern from the emitter.

PclMovement

mAirResistance – Sets the acceleration rate for the particles. A positive number will cause them to slow down, a negative number causes them to speed up.

DirDev – Direction Deviation. Set this to create random variations in the particle’s direction along the XYZ axis.

mMassRange – Causes the particles to be affected by gravity. Negative numbers cause them to be repelled.

mPosDev – Particles start at a random position along the axis between this radius.

mPosRelative – Setting this true makes the PosDev relative to the emitter’s direction instead of the XYZ axis.

mSpeedRange – Sets the particle’s speed range.

mSpinRange – Sets the spin rate for the particles.

 

Thermal Take G4-VGA Video Cooler Review

I am going to start this review off with something different.  Instead of a company tracking us down to do a review we had to go out and hunt this one down.  The item we are talking about is a G4-VGA Video Cooler made by ThermalTake.  I had heard about this product through some online friends.  Since I already had an old Volcano 6 and it is still in my machine I thought we would give this item a glance.

There are two reasons one should look into getting one of these coolers if you have a GeForce 4 Family card.  First and foremost is the some manufacturer’s stock coolers are very bad.  For instance one of our regular readers, Old Iron, had his Visiontek Ti 4200 stock cooler fall off and not only destroy his video card but his motherboard as well.  The second reason is that with the GeForce FX not out until February or March it is important to squeeze some extra power out of your card with games like Unreal 2 coming out soon.  That is where the G4-VGA comes in…

                          

The container that it comes in not only shows you the sharp looking Copper heatsink, it shows you the memory heatsinks as well.  The kit includes the heatsink/fan combo, 2 small RAM heatsinks, 2 large RAM heatsinks, double sides heat tape, thermal paste and a power adapter.  Let’s move on to the specs for this thing…

 

 Fan Dimension  50x50x10 mm
 Cooler Dimension  68x60x18 mm
 Rated Voltage  12VDC
 Started Voltage  6VDC
 Rated Current  max. 0.28AMP
 Power Input  3.36W
 FAN Speed  5500�10% R.P.M
 Air Pressure  3.3mmH2O
 Max. Air Flow  10.6CFM
 Noise  29dB(A)
 Bearing Type  One Ball
 Life Expectation  50,000 Hours
 Connector  3Pin

 

As you can see it not only looks good but it is built to last for a while.  One of the first things I noticed was the weight of the heatsink.  I am so used to cheap stock ones that I forgot how heavy the good ones are.  Now before you freak out and wonder if it will break your AGP slot don’t fret.  I just meant that it is noticeably heavier than the stock one.  Here are the layout specs for the G4.

Does it work?  Is it loud?  Well continue on and lets find out!

I thought not only would I show you what it looks like done but what my Visiontek stock cooler looks like as well.  The picture to the left is the stock and the one to the right in the ThermalTake.

                          

The interesting thing about the layout and temperature differences lies with the way the cooler blows the hot air away.  If you click on the right picture you will get a better shot of how the plastic top works to distribute the air in two directions.  I tested the cooler the recommended way with the exhaust blowing across the RAM and with it blowing out toward the plug-in and AGP sides.  My reasoning for this is that since I am trying to cool the RAM more than the core I wanted the exhaust to not come near the RAM.  To show you how powerful this setup is, the reversed way raised my MoBo temp noticeably.

Would the temp difference from the MoBo make up for the extra heat on the RAM?  The answer is heck yea!  The cooler took heat off of the core so well that I dropped by MoBo temp by 9 degrees Fahrenheit!  After trying out the RAM heatsinks in different combinations I was able to determine that with my setup there weren’t enough heatsinks to fit all the RAM on the board.  The reason being is that the sinks were just too long and not useful for my particular card.  This is probably the ONLY complaint that I have about this cooler.  I quickly fixed this by taking a Hacksaw and cutting the smaller heatsinks into multiple parts.  This worked like a charm and you can see this in the second picture.

                          

Well does it give you an increase in core/memory speed.  Once again the answer is most definitely yes.  With my stock setup I ran my 4200 at 295/515.  My MoBo runs normally at 113.8 with a room temperature of 72 degrees.  Running 100% stable at 305/533 with the G4-VGA my new temp is 105.6.  The ironic thing through this is that it just dawned on me that my CPU runs a couple of degree’s cooler as well.  Normal idle temp on my AMD XP 2000+ (a 1900 overclocked to 1.68 Ghz) is around 121 degrees.  As I write this article with Photoshop, FrontPage, mIRC, Windows Media Player 9, one IE6 windows and WS_FTP running my CPU temp is 118.4 using this old Volcano 6.  This is very impressive to say the least.

What about gaming performance?  Well I ran tests on the new core using 3DMark 2001 SE and of course UT2003.  The reason I still use 3DMark is that it is a good way to judge driver version changes.  Unlike Hardware sites that run generic benchmarks and the UT2003 Flyby I test my rig in real gaming conditions.  I was just about able to eek out the magic 11,000 mark barrier with my score of 10,931.

Now for the important benchmark, UT2003 and all of its graphics glory.  First of all I run UT2003 at 1024×768 with high detail textures and everything but physics set to normal.  Physics for some reason or another are a major resource drag especially when you have a lot of bots or players in the match.  My magical map for benchmarking is CTF Magma.  This is the best looking but most taxing map UT2003 has in its arsenal.  To truly test your Stat FPS you need to start a match with no bots as the AI takes away juice that could be feeding the video card.  Most people play online with real people so AI is not needed in this test.  Standing on the ledge of the castle just left of the health vials facing the middle will tell you everything.  Think your rig is sweet?  Well what it does here is that it shows off its true muscles.  My particular setup now gets 62 fps solid and that is up from 58.

Think a couple hundred 3DMark Score or 4 – 8 extra FPS isn’t worth $15?  Well look at it this way, with the temp drop I got on the CPU and MoBo I was able to overclock the system a little more as well.  Not to mention what could happen if your stock heatsink/fan falls off like it did to poor Old Iron.  My first product was the Volcano 6 and it is a solid product and the G4-VGA does no less.  Now that I have reviewed the G4-VGA I am very much looking forward to see what ThermalTake can do in the future.  The cooler definitely earns a Fanboy Approved Award!

 

PS.  If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself drop by their website and get one online.

UeD Tutorials By Rachel Cordone

Advanced xEmitters and xEmitter Properties

In this tutorial I am going to cover the properties of emitters and show you how to make various effects with them. Feel free to skip the first section if you are only trying to make one effect in particular.

There are 4 groups in the xEmitter’s properties that we need to go into to fully understand how to use them. Here is a pic highlighting what I will be covering here:

Display

The two properties under Display that we are concerned about are Skins and Style.

Skins – Tells the emitter what texture to use for it’s particles. Textures specifically made for xEmitters are in the EmitterTextures and EmitterTextures2 packages, although you can try other textures for unique effects or special purposes.

Style – Sets the texture’s properties. Here is an example using a lense flare type texture:

Texture Examples

<- None, Normal, Particle

<- Masked

<- Translucent

<- Modulated

<- Alpha, AlphaZ

<- Additive

<- Subtractive

Modulated may look like Normal, but it’s similar to Translucent. The whiter the part of the texture, the more it shows through. For most applications you will want to use Translucent.

PclEmitter

bSuspendWhenNotVisible – This turns off the emitter when you are not looking at any of the particles. Keeping this set to True lowers the resources needed to play the level.

mChildName – Assigns a Tag to particles produced by this emitter.

mDelayRange – Sets a time delay range between each set of particles produced.

mLifeRange – Particles die out at a random time between these two values.

mMaxParticles – The maximum number of particles that this xEmitter will have onscreen simultaneously. If this number is reached the emitter will wait until one dies out before producing another.

mParticleType – Sets the type of particle produced by this xEmitter.

Particle Types

Particle Types

Particle Types

Particle Types

PT_Sprite

PT_Stream

PT_Line

PT_Disc

mRegen – If set to true, the emitter will regenerate particles as they die out.

mRegenOffTime – Sets the range for the time that the emitter is Off (does not produce particles).

mRegenOnTime – Sets the range for the time that the emitter is On (produces particles).

mRegenRange – Sets the range for number of particles per second that the emitter produces.

mSpawningType – ST_Sphere – Particles travel in a straight line that can be adjusted with movement properties.
                           ST_Line – Particles appear along a straight line path and do not move.
                           ST_Explode – Particles shoot out in random directions.
                           ST_ExplodeRing – Particles shoot out in a ring pattern from the emitter.

PclMovement

mAirResistance – Sets the acceleration rate for the particles. A positive number will cause them to slow down, a negative number causes them to speed up.

DirDev – Direction Deviation. Set this to create random variations in the particle’s direction along the XYZ axis.

mMassRange – Causes the particles to be affected by gravity. Negative numbers cause them to be repelled.

mPosDev – Particles start at a random position along the axis between this radius.

mPosRelative – Setting this true makes the PosDev relative to the emitter’s direction instead of the XYZ axis.

mSpeedRange – Sets the particle’s speed range.

mSpinRange – Sets the spin rate for the particles.

Advanced xEmitters and xEmitter Properties Page 2

PclVisual

mAttenFunc – ATF_LerpInOut – Produces a slow fade in to full brightness.
                          ATF_ExInOut – Fades the particle in then out or double fades, based on the mAtten properties.
                          ATF_SmoothStep – Fades the particle in then out based on the mAtten settings.
                          ATF_Pulse – Produces a fade in and out, unadjusted.
                          ATF_Random – Particles jump to random brightness levels.
                          ATF_None – Particles are constantly at full brightness.

mAttenKa – Sets the fade in value for the particles (0-1).

mAttenKb – Sets the fade out or second fade value of the particles.

mAttenuate – Set to false is the same as ATF_None.

mColor Range – Sets the range of colors for the particles (random color between the two).

mGrowthRate – Setting this positive makes the particles grow larger over their lifetime. Negative values make themshrink.

mLifeColorMap – The color of the particle will follow the texture input:

mNumTileColumns – Set this to the number of columns in the Skin texture used.

mNumTileRows – Set this to the number of rows in the Skin texture used.

Important: ONLY set these values as a whole number greater than 0, otherwise it will crash the editor.
The game selects random tiles to display each time a particle is generated, to make effects like fire and water more realistic.

mRandOrient – Particles start at a random rotation.

mSizeRange – Particles start at a random size between these two values.

Example uses of xEmitters

Random Card Chucker

Steam/Fog

Torch/Fire

Fireworks

Water Stream

Waterfall

Rain

Thanks for reading and trying this one out.  I hope you enjoyed and learned something new.  I will have many more as we delve more into the wonderful world of Unreal Editor!

Rachel

UnWheel Mod Interview

Thanks to Kenneth “Shrimp” Watson for giving his time to set down and do this interview. Also thanks for answering my questions in full and giving almost every little detail I wanted to know.  Here is the interview…

r3v:   First of all, can you tell me a little about yourself, such as name, age, where you are from, job, how long you have been modding, and other mods you have worked on in the past?

Shrimp – My name is Kenneth Watson, I’m 19 and from South Africa where I’m a software developer for a small development firm. I’ve been making maps for Unreal Tournament since it came out a few years ago, and that gradually turned into creating mods as well. I’ve done serveral mutators for UT, as well as the Monster Hunt mod.

r3v:  When did you/yall start this mod?

Shrimp – UnWheel’s initial development started at around mid-January 2003

r3v:  Is progress on the mod going faster or slower than you expected?

Shrimp – I think things are going at a reasonable pace at the moment, at the end of every weekend there’s at least one thing you will notice updated or new.

r3v:  How many different car/trucks are you going to be able to choose from?

Shrimp – There are currently 5 trucks and 5 cars. Also, the plan is to have each player maintain their own ‘garage’, their own version of each vehicle. Players will be able to create custom vehicle setups and alter things like the vehicle skin, suspension stiffness, ride height, etc., to suit specific maps or surface types.

r3v:  Are you planning on making any game modes/gametypes? If so, what type?

Shrimp – UnWheel won’t work with UT2003’s standard gametypes, so a completely new collection is going to be created. To start with, we have one where players must rush around the map toward checkpoints, once a checkpoint is scored, another random one is chosen somewhere else in the map. This creates a really frantic game as everyone is constanly trying to keep up with the changing checkpoint locations. There’ll also be a race mode, where checkpoints must simply be completed in order, rabbit, where players try to keep posession of a flag for as long as possible to earn points and “Dummy Run” where players try to drag/transport as many rag-doll dummies (rather than human courpses) across the map as fast possible. There is also huge scope for many more in the future.

r3v:  Are yall gonna be makin maps strictly for UnWheel like Freestyle?

Shrimp – Yes, all the maps are going to be totally new, and due to the scale and style of the maps you won’t be able to play standard UT2003 gametypes on them.

r3v:  Will this be a totally diffrent download or will it be added to UT2K3?

Shrimp – No, UnWheel’s gametypes will be selectable like any other standard UT2003 gametype.

r3v:  What are some of the main programs you are using for modeling?

Shrimp – SupermotoXL has used ZModeler ,www.zmodeler.com, a low-poly modeling application which seems very good for vehicle work, for his designs. FuSiON is using Maya to touch up the models and make them available in ASE format for importing into UT2003.

r3v:  Will you have a beta of UnWheel?

Shrimp – Yes. At the moment we’re working on creating a ‘demo’ version, so mappers can have a nice vehicle to play with until the real thing comes along a bit later.

r3v:  How many hours a week do you spend on the mod?

Shrimp – I’m not sure of exact hourly figures ;-), but I try to get in at least an hour or more after work each day, and as much time as possible on the weekends. I probably spend more time driving around that I should though 🙂

r3v:  Are you looking for more help?

Shrimp – At the moment a skinner would be really nice, and after we have released the demo, we’ll be looking for some mappers.

r3v:  Any final comments you would like to add?

Shrimp – I’d just like to thank SupermotoXL for the rights to use his excellent vehicles, and FuSiON for the great work he’s done in converting and tweaking them so they look great in UT2003.
Thanks a million for the oppertunity to chat about UnWheel with you, I really hope everyone enjoys the final product as much as we are enjoying creating it.

Once again thanks Shrimp for letting me perform this interview. Also thanks to the UnWheel team for making such a great mod.

r3v

UeD Tutorials By Rachel Cordone

Unreal Editor Beginner Tutorial

So you’ve decided to start making levels for Unreal Tournament 2003, but have no idea where to begin? This basic tutorial will get you far enough to start making maps of your own, whether you are a complete beginner or already proficient in another 3d program. Although it might seem overwhelming at first, with enough practice and studying you will be able to make anything your imagination can come up with. Let’s get started!


Before You Even Open The Editor

Obviously, you have to have the game installed to make levels for it. Be sure to stop by the Official Unreal Tournament Site to download the latest patches and other important fixes for the game. You might want to download the official Bonus Packs as well, to give yourself more materials to work with. In addition, make sure you have updated drivers for all of your computer hardware.

The Unreal Tournament series is incredibly customizable, and you may want to get a few extra programs to get the most out of the editor.

Paint – A Paint program is incredibly useful for making your own textures and character skins, as well as the level preview screenshot that appears when you select a map in game. Any program that can save bitmaps will work, you can also find plugins for a few that can save to the file format UT2003 uses, DDS.

3D Modeling – Mainly for making static meshes for UT2003, a 3D modelling program such as 3D Studio Max or Maya can also be used to make characters and weapons, although some programming skill is required to import these into the game. A free Personal Learning Edition of Maya is included on Disc 3.

Now that we have everything we need to get started, let’s open up the editor. The program can be found in the UT2003 System folder, named UnrealEd.exe. For convenience I like to place a shortcut to it on my desktop. If everything is working properly it should start up without any problems. If it does not start up feel free to email me and describe exactly what happens with your computer specifications included. If you are using an illegal version of Unreal Tournament or your operating system I will not be able to help you, and any questions you have will be forwarded to my recycle bin.

Navigating The Editor

Your first look at the editor might be incredibly overwhelming, but I will guide you through the interface to give you a better idea of what everything does.

Important Note – The one question I get asked more than anything else is, “My screen is all white!” This error is quite common, and is easily corrected. First, click on View >> Viewports >> Close All, then View >> Viewports >> Configure. Make sure the first one is highlighted for now and hit Ok.

Important Note 2 – Do not press any buttons until you know what they do, this tutorial assumes everything is still set at default and you might accidentally change something that should be left alone.

The four main windows of the editor are our viewports. The three grey ones are set by default to display the Top, Front and Side views, while the window with the black background and blue grid is our 3d viewport. At the bottom left of each viewport is a 3d axis display, and the eyeball icon with the red arrow pointing from it represents our 3d camera’s position. At the top of each viewport is the toolbar we can use to customize the displays or select different ways to look at our level.

Right now we only have to worry about how to move around in the viewports. For the 2d viewports, navigation is simple. Holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse moves us around, while holding the right mouse button moves us around at twice the speed. Holding both mouse buttons allows us to zoom the view. Moving the mouse up zooms out, and moving it down zooms us in. For people with a scroll mouse, the mouse wheel can be used to zoom as well.

Navigation in the 3d view takes a little getting used to. Holding the left mouse button moves the camera as if it were a person walking on level ground. Up and down moves the camera forward and backward, while left and right turns the camera left and right. Holding the right mouse button makes the camera act like a person standing still and looking around. Up and down makes the camera look up and down, while left and right make the camera look left and right. Holding both mouse buttons allows us to move the camera while it continues to look straight ahead. Up and down moves the camera up and down, while left and right moves the camera left and right. Take a little bit of time to practice moving around in the viewports until you are comfortable with it.

The Top Toolbar

Now we’re going to take a look at the top toolbar, where a lot of what you will use is located.

The first section of the toolbar is pretty self-explanatory. It has buttons for Create New Level, Open Level, Save Level, Undo and Redo buttons, and Search For Actors, which will make more sense later.

The second section of the toolbar has all of our browsers.

Actor Browser – Actors are anything in the level not used to create the architecture. They include weapon and item pickups, path actors for the AI, and emitters used to create fire and other effects. After you are able to create basic rooms we will come back and take a closer look at some of the Actors.

  Group Browser – As your level gets more complicated, you may want to learn how to separate things into groups to make things easier to see and make rebuilding your level faster. This browser is used to look through your groups.

  Music Browser – Obsolete in UT2003. Do not try to open music files here, it will crash the editor. Music files for UT2003 can be played using Winamp or any other player supporting Ogg Vorbis files.

  Sound Browser – This is used to look for ambient and triggered sound effects for your level.

  Texture Browser – This is where we find pictures to apply to surfaces to make them look like a floor or wall etc. In here we can also import our own textures to use as well as create effects with our textures. IMPORTANT NOTE – NEVER resave a texture or static mesh package that comes with the game or add your own textures or static meshes to one. Doing so will cause version mismatches and levels that use them will be unplayable online.

  Mesh Browser – Obsolete in UT2003.

  Prefab Browser – Obsolete in UT2003.

  Static Mesh Browser – Used to look for static meshes to put in our levels. Static Meshes are premade pieces of architecture that have a higher number of polygons than BSP architecture, which we will learn about in part two of this tutorial. This browser can also be used to import static meshes made in another 3d program (.ase or .lwo files). At the top of the viewport the number of triangles in the mesh is displayed.

  Animation Browser – Used to view animation sequences for the weapons and characters.

The third section of the toolbar has buttons for opening up the 2d shape editor and unrealscript editor (beyond the scope of this basic tutorial), and buttons for viewing actor or surface properties.

The final section of the top toolbar has all of our build options.

  Build Geometry – Rebuilds all geometry, even if it is hidden. Does not calculate lighting or paths.

  Build Lighting – Rebuilds all lights, even if they are hidden. Uses the current geometry to calculate it, does not take into account changes that have not been rebuilt.

  Build Changed Lighting – Recalculates lighting for lights that have been changed. Saves time over a complete lighting rebuild.

  Build Paths – Builds paths for the AI to navigate the level.

  Build Changed Paths – Recalculates paths for nodes that have changed.

  Build All – Builds geometry, lighting and paths according to the current build settings.

  Build Settings – Contains optimization settings which for the most part should not be changed. Also has an option to only rebuild visible actors.

  Test Level – Saves your level to a temporary file and runs it in the game.

  Help Button – Non-functioning.

Advanced Properties

The last section for part one of this tutorial will cover a few options that can be changed in the Advanced Options menu. Click on View >> Advanced Options to bring up the menu, then navigate to Editor >> Advanced. The most important property here is AutoSave, this feature saves you a lot of rework from crashes or other errors. I always make sure AutoSave is set to True, and AutoSaveTimeMinutes is set to a reasonable value, the default being 5. As you are working on your level, the editor will automatically save it to the maps folder as an Auto file, numbered 0-9 in sequence. If the editor crashes before you have a chance to save your level, the easiest way to find the most recent Auto file is to open the UT2003/Maps folder, right click and choose View >> Details to see the one that was saved at the most recent time. Reopen the editor, and open that Auto file. If everything looks normal, save it as the level you were working on and continue from where you left off.

The only other option I want to cover for now is UseAxisIndicator. If you don’t like the axis indicator in the bottom left of the viewports, use this option to turn it off.

In part two of this tutorial, we will learn how to manipulate the Active Brush, and create our first room. Let’s keep going!

Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software Interview

Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software Interview

I recently had a chance to talk to Randy Pitchford who is the President of Gearbox Software.  I met Randy this past summer at Microsoft’s Halo Fanstock in Dallas, TX.  Several Halo Fansite webmasters and myself got a chance to eat dinner with him while we were down there.  I didn’t know that he had worked on Duke Nukem 3d and several other big name projects before he founded Gearbox.

Can you tell us who you are and what company you work for?

I’m the President of Gearbox Software.

How did you break into the gaming biz?

My father put me in front of computers most of my life. He taught me CP/M and how to program in Basic when I was in fourth and fifth grade. I immediately started using what I was learning to make games – simple ones at first. This kind of behavior continued mostly as an obsessive hobby that captured time from the other things I did things, like go to school. My first industry job was with 3dRealms – working on Duke. That was a crazy time in this business…

What was it like working with some of legends of gaming back then?

There are lots of cool stories from that time, but we’re making new stories every day. I still work with some of those gaming legends. Frankly, some of these new guys we’re getting are going to be the game dev. legends of the future. They’re smart, passionate and know what quality is.

What is your favorite memory/story from that era?

The first time I met Tom Hall, I didn’t know who he was. We hit it off pretty quickly, which is surprising because I was in a discussion with him where I felt I needed to explain to him how id Software got its name. Tom, of course, was one of the original id guys…

How did Gearbox managed to snag a tasty project like Halo PC?

I’m still trying to figure that out 🙂 It probably had something to do with timing and our history / experience. Mostly luck, I think…

Was is hard to port the game to the PC?

Yes!

What is better about the PC version?

Keyboard and mouse, High resolution, Scalable support for wider range of hardware (more people can play now), Internet multiplayer, cool new stuff (weapons, maps, vehicles, game modes, features, etc.)

What made it in that you wanted to? What didn’t?

I’m really pleased that we were able to really get a true client/server networking architecture written that knows how to deal with latency and bandwidth. We’re tuning that core system to improve the experience now that we’re seeing how it works in “the real world”.

I wished coop could’ve been re-written for network play before launch. The cooperative model on the Xbox was designed to support split-screen, but not system link modes (like the competitive multiplayer modes in Halo do) – as a result, adding networked coop to Halo for Windows would have taken far more coding and architecture reworking, significantly pushing out the launch of the game.

Will we ever see Halo PC Co-op?

Maybe. We want to do it and have spent resources figuring out how to do it and working on it. We know how to do it and understand the risks involved now. It’s a tricky problem and doing it could change things about the game so I don’t want anyone to be expecting it. If it never happens, I don’t want anyone to be disappointed. If we do eventually get it in, I think it would be great.

Gearbox is known for it’s hands-on approach to it’s fanbase. What ideas do you have to keep this going in the future?

I’m really proud of the team we have here – these are the smartest, most capable developers I’ve ever worked with. But, amongst us there are only so many hours in the day. We depend upon the customers to tell us what they want and to give us feedback about what they’ve given us. It’s difficult to hear, because some customers don’t always have nice things to say, but we do our best to stay objective and listen. The guys here all strive for quality. It’s important to them to understand what their customers’ idea of quality is.

What is the possibility of Gearbox porting Halo 2 over sometime in the future?

We’re really busy supporting Halo right now, so that idea is beyond the radar. We’re working on improvements and new things that will make Halo better and better – especially on-line. We’re all playing the game and are having loads of fun and we’re really amazed and surprised at the support and demand there is from the community – but we always want to make things even better. That’s why we programmed the auto-update feature – we wanted to make it easy and convenient to improve the game over time. The kinds of improvements we’re making could only have been discovered from the great feedback and experience we’ve got now that the game has been launched to the world.

Finally, what is your favorite weapon in the game?

My favorite is the Fuel Rod gun and the Flamethrower – In capable hands, these are serious weapons of mass destruction.

I want to thank Randy for taking some time to talk with us.  I am very much looking forward to Gearbox’s future projects.

Tycho

Weapons Preview

In keeping with an Unreal Ops tradition we are happy to bring you a new Weapons Preview.  This time we take a look at the weapons that are from the upcoming Single Player first person shooter Unreal 2: The Awakening.  To do some background for this article I had to break out and dust off the old Unreal CD.  After playing for a little while I realized just how great the game was and how much the weapons that were used we pretty crazy and fun.  They were definitely a little of a head of it’s time.

Let’s look at the list of weapons that were in Unreal 1:

Dispersion PistolAuto MagStingerASMDEight BallFlak CannonGES BioRifleRazor JackRifle and the Minigun.

Interesting enough a lot more weapons from the first one, in a different incarnation for a few, made it back into the sequel.

The weapons list for Unreal 2 is as follows:

The T-13 Dispersion PistolM32 ‘C.A.R’ Combat Assault RifleMagnum Pistol, M406 Grenade Launcher, M700 ShotgunRocket LauncherDrakk Laser GunShock LanceSniper RifleSpyder GunTakkraGun TurretRocket TurretField GeneratorsFlame Thrower and of course Grenades.

Having 16 different items in your arsenal is a good thing considering that your enemies armor ranges from light skinned Izarians all the way up to heavily armored Skaarj and Marines.  The funny thing is that with all these weapons you would think some of them may not be very useful or as powerful.  The opposite is true in U2 all of the weapons in the game have different types of value on the many different types of missions.  Some of the older weapons that are brought up from U1 are distinctably more noticeable in power than the predecessors.  Along those lines you will be quick to notice that the new weapons were specifically designed with Legend’s new Particle Effects System in mind.  That makes some of these weapons not only great to look at now but will definitely influence weapons that are created in future games.

What about super weapons?  At this time there are no ‘Super Weapons’ in the game.  Now before you complain about that let me just say that you can use the weapons in conjunction with each other like never before.  Some of the weapons single handedly change the thought process of gaming.   For example the Alt Fires on the Takkra and Flamethrower.  What do they look like?  Well unfortunately I don’t have screenshots of all of the weapons at this time but I did manage to dig up more than I thought.  Let’s take a look.

T-13 Dispersion Pistol
The Lepew Corp Dispersion Pistol comes a long way from its debut in U1.  The primary fire is a small energy pulse that doesn’t pack a whole lot of punch but does not run out of ammo either. The secondary fire however is a different story.  You may remember that in U1 you picked up add-ons to the DP as you went along in the game.  This slowly built up the intensity of the weapon until it was pretty powerful.  This is similar to what the secondary fire does now but you ‘hold’ the fire until you build up a very powerful energy pulse.  The weapon doesn’t fire very fast but if you run out of ammo for the CAR it does come in handy.

M32 Combat Assault Rifle
The M32 Combat Assault Rifle or C.A.R for short.  Is also nicknamed ‘Duster’ (Depleted Uranium Standard Tactical Assault Rifle) is not only its acronym, but also for the uranium dust it ejects from its chamber during its cleaning cycle when the gun is reloaded.  The primary fire mode of this weapon is a small shell that is comprised of a Uranium Shard that penetrates light enemy armor very well.  The ammunition is technically “depleted uranium” – think of it as the standard alternative to lead bullets for this time period.  Given its high density it packs a big punch. It’s also known to kick up lethal uranium dust on impact. The secondary fire is a shell of 5 shards that forms into a small Flak shell the has explosive results.  The rate of fire on this weapon is very fast and can take enemy health in a hurry.  One thing to note about this weapon is that you can tell the detail that was put into this game because this weapon has a very and unique sound to it.

Magnum Pistol
The Magnum Pistol is a larger version of its smaller Auto Mag brother that was in U1.  The primary fire on this weapon is a larger shell that, like the CAR, is comprised of a Uranium Shard.  The secondary fire of the pistol is a quick 3 shot response from the gun.  While not as accurate as the primary it different comes in handy when a Medium Skaarj comes up close to gut you with his knife blades.  I did not get a chance to really use this weapon so I don’t know of how much power it punches with compared to other weapons.

Unreal 2 Weapons Preview

M406 Grenade Launcher
The M406 Grenade Launcher is of the more complex weapons that you will find in the game.  The GL is not only bulky and not pretty but it is different one of the most powerful weapons in the game. This weapon only shows you that Legend put a lot of detail into every facet of this game.  This weapon does what no other GL did before it.  It offers the possibility of using 6 different grenades during the course of the game. 

The primary fire launches the grenade and if you hold down the primary in increments you can launch the grenade pretty far depending on how long you hold the fire down.  The secondary fire is used to cycle the GL through all of the grenade types you have at the time.  The different types of grenades are as follows.

Fragmentary:  Large shell that is filled with Carbo Steel that explodes in a very deadly and random way.  This is one you obviously don’t want to use close range.

Incendiary:  Fires small balls of fuel and flame that explodes in firework like fashion.  This weapon is great because whether it scores a direct hit or not there is a chance that you will set your enemy on fire.  One of the first examples of how great the new Particle Effects System works.

E.M.P:  EMP grenades use a small magnetic pulse blast that renders anything electric unusable for a short amount of time.

Concussion:  When this grenade goes off your enemies will feel it.  The blast from the grenade’s explosion launches a shock wave that will hit the enemy and do some pretty good damage.  *See Smoke Grenade*

Toxic:  A grenade that explodes into a toxic and corrosive cloud that eats through any type of armor.  Good for all areas but works best in close quarters.

Smoke:  A grenade that explodes into a thick cloud of smoke that is slow to dissipate and difficult to see through.  The great thing about this grenade is that it shows off the new Particle Effects System pretty well.  You can see this when you fire a smoke grenade and then use a Concussion grenade.  The Concussion’s shock blast will rip through the smoke and disperse it exactly the same as it would in real life.

M700 Shotgun
The M700 Shotgun packs a pretty mean double punch.  The primary fire on this weapon is a blast of small Uranium pellets that do a substantial amount of damage.  The secondary fire of this weapon has duel usage. Not only does it fire Uranium shrapnel but once the shrapnel makes contact with something it starts on fire.  So enemies take double damage from the weapon.  The only drawback is that the rate of fire on this weapon is much slower than that of the Combat Assault Rifle.

 

Flamethrower
The Flamethrower has come a long way from the original concept shown at E3 in 2001.  Another weapon that shows off the Golem effects several different ways.  The primary fire on this weapon is a large Napalm fueled fire stream.  As you know Napalm also has ‘sticky’ abilities.  Which means that it will stick to an object and burn until all the fuel is gone.  This not only looks very cool it has deadly effects.  The secondary fire is pretty revolutionary as far as first person shooters go.  The alt fire lets you spray the Napalm without setting it afire.  This works well if you want to lay a trap.  For example you could spray it on the ground by a key choke point and then draw your enemy into the area and use your CAR to ignite the flame.  It is times like that you wish you could hear what they were thinking.  This feature is also great for adding considerable damage to the Boss Monsters.  You can spray it on them and then switch to a powerful weapon for double damage.  Kudos to the team at Legend for coming up with this one.

Izarian Shock Lance
The Shock Lance comes to you courtesy of the Izarian race.  The weapon consists of a long lance that has three blades at the end.  The primary fire of this weapon is two small energy balls that have the ability to bounces off objects until till they hit their target.  While the balls themselves don’t do a lot of damage the rapid fire and ability to go around corners makes up for it.  The secondary fire is a small EMP blast that can do a small amount of damage to any electronic equipment.  This feature comes in handy when you need to take out Gun Turrets or Field Generators.