unreal tournament

Epic introduces the new Unreal Tournament, as the past looks on from behind them.

Epic hasn’t started making the next Unreal Tournament yet, but did outline their plans for development on a Twitch livestream. It’s an ambitious and very “2014” plan, involving harnessing the creative power of the Unreal Engine 4 community and embracing a Valve-like business model.

What project lead Steve Polge, lead level designer David Spalinski and community manager Stacey “Flak” Conley described in their short presentation was a small “core” of Epic Games developers (including Joe “Dr Sin” Wilcox and Chris Perna) will, from today, start work on a new Unreal Tournament. It will just be called Unreal Tournament, and Epic will put together a Deathmatch mode for it. Over time they will implement other classic modes like Capture the Flag.

The game will be PC only (well, Windows/Linux/Mac) and everything made by Epic will be free. Not free-to-play. Just free. They stressed that a couple of times to make sure people got it. “No microtransactions” was the promise from Epic.

For the rest of the game, the studio will be involving YOU, prospective Unreal Engine 4 coder and Unreal Tournament fan. Right now Unreal Engine 4 has a marketplace within it that can distribute demos. This will be expanded for Unreal Tournament, with the idea being that modders will be able to release their own stuff (either for free, or for a price) through this marketplace. Kind of like the model Valveuses for games like Team Fortress 2.

Epic would presumably take a cut from any paid-for mods being released, because otherwise they’re not going to make any money from this. And that would be strange.

This is all repeated in handy bullet-point form on the new Unreal Tournament wiki as well.

Here’s the plan:

  • We’ve created a small team of UT veterans that are beginning work on the project starting today.
  • From the very first line of code, the very first art created and design decision made, development will happen in the open, as a collaboration between Epic, UT fans and UE4 developers. We’ll be using forums for discussion, and Twitch streams for regular updates.
  • If you are a fan and you want to participate, create a free account and join the forum discussion.
  • All code and content will be available live to UE4 developers on GitHub.
  • The game will be true to its roots as a competitive FPS.
  • Development will be focused on Windows, Mac and Linux.

So what’s the catch?

  • It will take many months until the game is playable by gamers. This is real development from scratch.
  • When the game is playable, it will be free. Not free to play, just free.
  • We’ll eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists and gamers can give away, buy and sell mods and content. Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer, and Epic. That’s how we plan to pay for the game.

If you still have questions, ideas, abuse or anything else to share with the Unreal Tournament team, they are very eager to speak to and engage with everybody on the official forums.

Considering I went into this livestream fearing either an iOS version of Unreal Tournament or yet another game “revived” with a cut-and-paste free-to-play model, I’m pleasantly surprised. There’s no guarantee this structure will work, but it’s interesting, and also serves as a cunning way for Epic to train more people to use Unreal Engine 4. Many of the great things about Unreal Tournament over the years have come from modders, so this is the king of title for which a set-up of this sort may well succeed.

Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front drops in on 24 June

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