I got the chance to speak with Jeff Morris of Epic, Senior producer on Unreal Tournament 3.
I want to thank Jeff and Alex at Highwater for making this interview happen.
GVK: What is the background and setting for the game?
JM: Unreal Tournament 3 takes place in a science fiction universe of fast action and over the top carnage. You start on the planet Taryd, but before long you’ll be seeking your vengeance off planet as well.
GVK: What can you tell us about the A.I. in the game?
JM: UT has always had a unique challenge in that our AI opponents are trying to mimic human players, not say German soldiers in WWII. This type of AI is a specialty of Steve Polge, UT3’s lead designer and programmer. He created the Reaper bot way back for Quake 1 and making opponents that are virtually indistinguishable from human players is a real strength of our AI.
GVK: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?
JM: Earth is a world filled with diverse environments and Taryd is no different. As you fulfill your mercenary duties, you’ll pass from one corporate nation state to another. Some are very Asian themed, others high tech. Some levels look right out of midtown Manhattan and others like nothing people have ever seen before.
GVK: What are some of the weapons we will see?
JM: UT has a HUGE arsenal of weapons and many were updated for UT3. The rocket launcher can now pop out grenades forinstance, which is a nice tip of the hat to its functionality in the original Unreal. Our new vehicle squadron contains most of the brand new weapons, running the gamut from fixed duration welding beams to a diverse pallet of deployable hazards.
GVK: How will vehicles be used in game and what will players be able to ride in?
JM: Warfare is our new gametype that emphasizes vehicle combat and UT3 delivers this frantic gameplay in spades. The Axon vehicle squadron is comprised of semi-traditional hardware, including tanks, transport vehicles, aerial fighters, etc.
The Necris squadron,while balanced against the Axon, actually comprise of lots of radically different designs. Tripods, vehicle that can become invisible, and ones with multiple stances that effect their offensive capabilities are all available.
GVK: What enhancements have been made to the gaming engine?
JM: Unreal Engine 3 includes loads of improvements over UE2, not the least of which is the spectacular visuals. Things that used to require great amounts of programming experience like mods are now much easier to approach using our visual scripting language UnrealKismet.
GVK: What forms of multiplay will the game include?
JM: UT3 offers a range of gametypes from the classics ike deathmatch and capture the flag, to our vehicle focused gametypes like Warfare, and even hardcore ones like the 1 on 1 Duel gametype.
GVK: What sort of enemies will players face?
JM: In the single player campaign you’ll encounter 4 different factions, starting with the armed forces of the Axon corporation and ending with the evil undead assassins, the Necris.
GVK: The scope of the game sounds amazing, what are some of the biggest obstacles you see in creating the game, and what are your biggest goals for the game?
JM: When you work with popular franchises, it’s critical that you innovate and appeal to players who perhaps passed on the lasttitle, all the while ensuring you include what fans of the previous games enjoyed.
I like to use a ‘rule of 1/3rd”, namely keep 1/3rd of the game roughly the same, improve substantially 1/3rd and innovate “out of the box” for the final 1/3rd.
GVK: How difficult was it to play balance the weapons in game?
JM: We’re fortunate in that many of the weapons are franchise favorites and have long established matchup results against other weapons. A key element to balancing the new Necris vehicle squadron was that they fulfill similar roles as their Axon counterparts, all the while playing as differently as possible.
GVK: Does the game offer any rewards/ranking system?
JM: Definitely. You can see how you rank up against everyone playing or just your friends.
GVK: What differences will there be between the PC and Console version if any?
JM: Not much. The console version is a little slower and the collision cylinders are a little larger, but other than that all thecontent and gameplay is identical.