Still, in an IRC chat conducted yesterday featuring numerous members of Epic's UT3 team, Epic VP Mark Rein finally confirmed that the game will not feature cross-platform multiplayer--at least at launch.
"The biggest challenge in doing cross platform play is syncronizing [sic] the builds such that the build on the PC is 100% compatible with the build on the PS3," said Rein. "Unfortunately (or fortunately) when you [develop] games on console you have a lengthy certification process to go through each time you release anything new."
"We looked at how this would impact our ability to respond quickly to things happening at internet speed on the PC side of the equation and realized that this would not be in the best interests of our very loyal PC userbase," he went on, "because we would constantly be holding on to updates to wait until they passed cert on the console platform."
Rein was sure to note that the feature may see release later on, "after the game has settled down," but "even then the likelihood is small."
Sticking to Their Guns
"Our PC fanbase is of ultimate importance to us. They are our bread and butter," added Rein, possibly addressing post-Gears of War claims that Epic is now a console-focused studio. "We can't let them down or compromise their experience in any way to accomodate cross platform play."
Further addressing the subject later in the chat, Rein explained the heavy PR focus on the PS3 game. "We've been talking about the PS3 version a lot because the game is really something new for the PS3 customers and being able to do mods on consoles is pretty exciting to us," he said. "But we never forget that those mods COME from the PC community and the PC is still our lead platform for UT. So thanks for your continued [support]--you're going to see lots of cool things from us in return!"
The Demo and Technical Matters
Senior producer Jeff Morris confirmed that there is not yet a release date for the game's anticipated demo. "You'll know as soon as we do," he said.
Morris also confirmed that a Linux executable will be included with the game at release, with a Mac executable to be available soon after. Senior gameplay programmer Joe Wilcox indicated he does not believe an editor will ship for those platforms; he prompted Morris for clarification, but Morris did not have a definitive answer.
On the topic of the editor, one user asked whether UT3 will include a simple, stripped down editor similar to that of Halo 3's Forge. Rein used the opportunity to work in a slight dig at Bungie's tool. "You mean an in-game editor that lets you rearrange the furniture as opposed to the professional tool we actually made the game with?" he asked. "No, we give you the real editor we use and all the power you can handle."
In regards to DRM, an always-fiery issue among PC gamers, Rein declined to comment in detail. "All I can say is that we'll do what we think is right for the fans and for our business," he said.
Unreal Tournament will apparently scale to fully support quad-core CPUs, though there will not be explicit 64-bit versions of the game. "64 bit just hasn't matured enough to the point to make it worthwhile," said Rein.
One question centered around support for Unreal Tournament Video (UTV), which allows broadcasting and spectating of online matches. "No 'broadcasting' out of the box," responded Morris, "down the line perhaps."
Morris promised that Epic has done further work on anti-cheating systems, though he declined to elaborate on what methods have been employed, for security reasons--"it only helps the scumbags," he said.
It's All About the Gameplay
Old-school UT fans may be pleased to learn that, when asked about the game's general feel in terms of factors such as eye height and run speed, multiple Epic members compared the game to UT99, a common abbreviation for the original Unreal Tournament released in 1999.
When asked about what mutators will be available, various Epic staffers threw out examples such as Instagib, Low Gravity, Weapon Swap, Super Berzerk, Slow Kills, and the single-player-only Slow-Mo Deaths.
Level designer Stuart Fitzsimmons described Unreal Tournament 3's new dynamic music system, which is used in all gametypes except for Deathmatch. Depending on what the player is doing at any given time, different musical cues will be highlighted. "When [you're] more exploring in a Warfare map, [it'll] be subtle music," explained Fitzsimmons, "then when you grab a Redeemer [it'll] kick up a notch."
UT3 will include underwater areas in certain levels, with users able to fight underwater, but Fitzsimmons and level designer Ryan "Ictus" Brucks noted there are no levels designed around it. "We leave that up to the mod community," said Brucks.
UT3's Duel gametype was detailed; the simple mode will feature standard 1v1 gameplay with a player queue. At the end of each match, the loser is put at the end of the queue while the winner remains.
Just Be Yourself
Epic developers downplayed the influence that the massively successful Gears of War has had on its flagship franchise. "Generally Gears has a more desaturated look, whereas UT is all about color," Fitzsimmons pointed out. "UT is all about crazy environments."
Still, senior gameplay programmer Joe Wilcox pointed out that Gears' cinematic sequences had an impact on UT3, which is known to have a more substantial single-player component than any previous series entry. "Expect more story than you're expecting," Brucks added circuitously, with comparisons being made to the story in Unreal Championship 2.
For the full chat, include numerous questions about various gameplay minutia, check out BeyondUnreal's complete transcript.