Legacy:Ucc Make Columns/1.7 UT's Last Stand
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UT's Last Stand
The hype machine for Epic's latest piece of software wizardry is thumping pretty hard now. Unreal Tournament 2003 looks to be the bad boy on the block once it (or its mythical demo) is released into the anxious hands of gamers. With DOOM III a bit off and Quake 4 not even in design stage, UT2003 won't have much to stand in its way to be the dominant engine on the scene (and with a list of Unreal licenses a mile long and rumors of id deciding not to include certain networking features it might last longer than people expect).
When UT hit those few years ago, nobody expected it to be a Quake killer. Nobody expected a "Quake killer" to really exist, although they like to toss the term around a lot. Surprisingly, UT survived admirably against Quake 3 in virtually every review and product shootout. It's endured to this day to match Quake 3 in terms of features, popularity and even in mod development (tips hat to the Tactical Ops team for going commercial).
While it may never have "killed" Quake (who would want to kill such a fine piece of engineering anyway?), UT has put up an amazing fight and offered a viable engine alternative for gamers and mod makers alike. Epic has managed to keep pace with id in virtually every measurable way.
Except for one.
Epic's never released any of the internal source code to their engine.
id has released the original DOOM, Quake and Quake II code. Anyone is free to use the code for their own purposes, including commercial ones, as long they don't distribute the copyrighted materials (maps, textures, models, etc.). To witness the power of such a movement (other than being able to play DOOM on almost every Linux box known to man), take a gander at the Quake2maX project ( http://modscape.telefragged.com/q2max/q2max_feat.shtml ) which has continued to add high-end features to the aging Quake 2 engine. The MODScape team has tossed in features like cel-shading, animated skins and a new particle system, making the Quake2maX engine one of the more technically intense ones available right now.
For people who think that yesterday's technology can't be used to create tomorrow's game, remember that Half-Life was actually created using the original Quake engine, and by the time Valve was done the engine resembled the Quake 2 engine so much that most everyone (even some game magazine editors) still assume it uses the newer code. Now, the new Bond game will be using an engine based on Valve's so modified that it doesn't even resemble Quake 2.
A modest proposal goes out to Epic. Release the 436 build of the Unreal engine. The new games and licensees are using a version of the engine suspected to be so revised that the old code shouldn't pose a financial or security threat. With the release of 436 into the "wild", Epic would be ensuring that the games that made them an industry legend would live on in the hands of coders which could learn from it, expand it, and eventually port it to platforms we haven't even seen yet. Total conversion mod projects would have far more flexibility in their creations. The mod community could fix old bugs, add new features and create games unlike ever before.
Heck, if Epic wanted to be completely crazy about it - they could put in the 436 source code with a copy of UT2k3.
The next few months will be the last stand of a great engine, but by releasing the code - that stand could last much, much longer.
please reserve edits to minor changes and comments – RegularX