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Legacy:Ucc Make Columns/0.6 Faith In The Mods Above

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ucc make (0.6)[edit]

part of the ucc_make_columns series...

Faith in the Mods Above[edit]

As games slowly evolve along, they get better graphics and sound, more involved and interesting gameplay, and they expand their own definition a little bit more. Wolfenstein3D had simplistic 2.5 dimensioned graphics with sprites. DOOM took that and gave it atmosphere and style. Quake took that and gave it true 3D, and so on.

Mods have been slowly evolving too, and have now become full-blown projects and occasionally commercial-quality games on their own. Mods are often attributed with elongating the lifespan of a game, an example being no farther than the obvious: Counter-Strike, which has kept Half-Life on the shelves years after it's prime. Sometimes in the case of Counter-Strike, it's a Total Conversion which adds a whole new game to the engine. In some cases, like Counter-Strike and also Tactical Ops, this can also end up being a whole new product. In some cases, as in Serious Sam or Max Payne, it quickly adds features to the game which make an established product that much better.

Unreal has always been a little ahead of the curve for mods. One of the reasons I bought the original game was because the editor came with it. It's adherence to UnrealScript (unlike the Quake series which has changed it's mod language over the years), it's modularity (anyone who doesn't see the mutator concept as ingenious is simply near-sighted), and easy access to professional-level code and samples makes Unreal one of the most versatile and powerful platforms for mods today.

Lately, the Unreal community has been talking about one thing - the recently announced fact that Unreal II (or Unreal Episode II or whatever it's being called now) won't have multiplayer features. This means that the much anticipated Expanded Multiplayer (XMP) won't be shipping with the game, as well as the standard multiplayer gametypes. Epic's and Legend's reasoning seems clear. Unreal Tournament 2(003) will be out first, and two games with similar multiplayer functions could create market confusion (a fact discussed by gamers since a sequel to UT was officially announced). Also, previews of the Unreal sequel have made two things clear. One - this game is going to be all about single player. Two - the much anticipated XMP had barely begun development, if at all.

Gamers, however, don't really like reading previews about something for some time only to find out it's not going to exist. Also, the way the information has been offered (in web interviews and forum postings) has only just now begun to answer some questions. The feeling of loss is understandable. While the two games might have duplicate functionality in the way of multiplayer, they will also have completely different sets of content, style and features. Unreal Episode II is to have different alien races, classes, and weapons from Unreal Tournament 2003, not to mention levels, characters and more. Does this mean that if we want to try out those new Izarian weapons against some Skaarj in a DeathMatch, we'll never be able to?

I doubt it. Unreal was the game that brought a new meaning to modularity for the gaming world. For the first time, a company might actually be expecting a mod community to pick up where the developers left off and provide features the gamers want. After all, who better to know what the gamers want than the gamers themselves? The netcode and basic functionality of multiplayer is in the licensed Unreal engine. Epic and Legend would do well to make sure that on Day 1 of the release, the mod community is given everything they need to start making new maps, new mods, and multiplayer gametypes. Most of us will be buying both games, and will have already been hacking away at UT2003. This strategy would mean that Legend could spend a minimal amount of prepping this information while still developing the killer single-player that the game will probably be remembered for.

Released early enough in the Christmas season, we could see rudimentary mulitplayer by New Year's.

Naturally some of this is speculation. So is the fact that Unreal Episode II's single player is going to seriously kick some ass.

So is my guess that XMP will still make it out in some form, at some time, even if it ends up getting it's own box. Legend knows it's a good idea. So do gamers. Selling good ideas is often good market sense.

We'll just have to wait and see. Personally, I have faith the mods will extend Unreal Episode II the way it deserves. I know I'm dying to see those great looking Skaarj models in my own Containment gametype.

Till next week readers...which will probably be on time. Lately, I've just been busier than Tim Sweeney's inbox.

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please reserve edits to minor changes and comments – RegularX

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RegularX: Wow. I don't think I've ever made so many false predictions in such a short space.