Unreal Tournament’s Livestreams Are Exciting For Fans/Me

It would be fair to say I was pleased to hear that Epic were working on a new Unreal Tournament. “Fair to say” in that nothing has ever been more true and “pleased” in that I danced around my room. The 2004 edition is a little over ten years old and still easily one of the finest first-person shooters ever made. From weapon balance to movement models, it’s damn near perfect and my love affair with it continues to this day. The new version promises frown-causing community development and an eyebrow-raising commitment to being totally free outside of a user marketplace. Now that the project is a few months old, they’ve ramped up the interaction with weekly livestreams.

There’s been three so far, but this one from last week grabbed my attention most effectively. In it, the team showcases some of the concept art that has been submitted by the community so far, including this incredible Shock Rifle. I was honestly surprised by both the quality of work being produced by outsiders and the enthusiasm of the developers for it. I’d (foolishly) dismissed the idea of involving fans in development as a gimmick to generate interest and headlines, but not something that would be paid more than lip service.

There’s some great passion on show from the development team too. I loved the eight minute conversation on which of the Lightning Gun or Sniper Rifle – two weapons that serve similar purposes with minute, important differences – should make it into the game. Despite the incredibly early stage of their project, they’ve clearly got a mind for the sorts of details that long-time fans of the series will be interested in. As further example, there’s an entire forum set up (with 148 threads and counting) to discuss movement and how it will impact weapon design and map making. There’s all sorts of other details scattered around the forum from the very active devs, so I recommend taking a dive if you’re interested.

Here’s the Twitch channel where the livestreams take place, and the YouTube one where archives are uploaded. They’ve also started podcastising them, which you can subscribe to on iTunes. The folks over at Polycount (who you may remember from a TF2 item update) have a contest running for concept art, with various prizes for their’s and Epic’s favourites. If you haven’t checked it out already, Nathan’s interview with Epic from May is long, detailed and interesting.


  1. Spacewalk says:

    Aww, who’s a pretty… whatever that thing is.

    • Niko says:

      Pwetty wittle wifle?

    • Lemming says:

      A very stylised Skaarj, I’m guessing. I haven’t seen one since Unreal, so I could be wrong.

      • LionsPhil says:

        You must have seen the UT2004 ones, surely.

        (Technically the UT99 GOTY ones were supposed to be hybrids.)

        • Lemming says:

          Nope, the whole UT/Quake 3 Arena thing totally passed me by. My FPS multiplayer reached a peak with Quake 2 LAN deathmatch and I just didn’t care for what was being touted as arena shooters from that point (mainly because I’d left college at the time and what was ever going to beat LAN deathmatch? Nothing, that’s what.) I’ve always been a “single-player first” guy since then, save for the occasional dabble in Counter-Strike.

    • marina says:

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  2. bill says:

    Isn’t it a bit weird to get your fans to do all the work for you? Will the maker of that shock rifle get anything if it makes it into the game?

    • SickBrick says:

      If you watch the livestream, you’ll see them mentioning that he’ll get in the credits and they mention payments too, though that’s still pretty unclear.

    • Clavus says:

      The game is completely free. Fans get to shape their ideal UT game and Epic gets more people interested in Unreal Engine development. Win – win for everyone really. It’s not like this format would work for any game, but UT looks like a perfect fit.

    • Baines says:

      The fans were making a new Unreal Tournament already. Epic had said it had no plans to make a new UT, so fans united to make their version. Epic said great, that they’d love to see it, but warned that the legal side said that fans couldn’t use any official UT assets, characters, or the like.

      Then Epic out of nowhere (right about the time the community project had released a very basic proof-of-concept demo) made an announcement that they had an announcement about Unreal Tournament. Then Epic announced that it was making a new free Unreal Tournament, and would rely on the community for content and support.

    • P.Funk says:

      People who are successful at making items for TF2 and CS:GO and the like make a killing. If there is a monetary system to be involved there is a precedent for content makers earning serious bucks.

      The other side is that if there is no money to be made because the content creator is creating something for its own purpose, to have it exist. The vast majority of the hordes of game modders don’t make any money and maybe get donations to support file sharing. Why do so many modders make massive game altering mods? Why would they? Answer that question and you’ll understand why this project has an appeal to some people.

    • fatgleeson says:

      I think its a great way to keep Epic in check so to speak. The kind of person who would contribute to the game and spend their time creating something for it obviously cares about UT. I think I’d prefer playing a game ‘made’ by adoring fans with Epic’s guidance than one by a purely paid team (not that paid employees wouldn’t put their hearts into it either)

  3. Taidan says:

    Did you follow any of Star Citizen’s “Next Great Starship” competition, Ben? A lot of stuff that the community teams were producing was at least on-par, and in some cases far beyond what you’d expect from professional modelers/artists.

    Here’s a quick video of the finalist’s ship, as it appeared in the Crysis Engine: link to youtube.com (Exterior only, but the interior is also worth a look.) The final 5/6 ships were all very good, as were the weapons that almost all of the teams produced as an “audition”.

    **Edit** Quick video of second place, too: link to youtube.com

    • plsdeleteme says:

      That’s exactly the first thing that came to my mind!
      Even the CIG devs admitted that they went back and revised some of their own models because the competition ones put them to shame.

  4. balinor says:

    I always thought the original UT was the best personally. The later ones just never captured me.

    • Fenix says:

      I agree with your first sentence. UT’99 was so fresh and different and dynamic for its time it was my favourite game for a long time. I did enjoy UT2k4 though, it was very well designed and developed for a fine balance. Maybe if it was my entry point to the series I’d have loved it as much as I loved ’99.

      UT3 though, didn’t do much for me. It had little to get me excited and the campaign was rubbish.

      I will follow development of this one from afar, I like what they’re doing and wish them luck.

    • Stardreamer says:


      UT99 was amazing. Every subsequent release was a watering down of that game until, in the end, we got the heavily streamlined-for-consoles UT3 running on the “I’m going to load up a level, drop you into it, then pop the textures in while you’re watching” Unreal Engine 3 that didn’t sell until Steam dropped it to £5.

  5. Tei says:

    Nintendo thinks people don’t want to watch people playing nintendo games.

  6. XhomeB says:

    That Shock Rifle looks flat out AMAZING. It’s incredibly difficult to make a gun “feel” right on the screen, but the creator of this piece of artwork nailed the look, the position, the shape.
    Incredible work. Love it.

  7. grundus says:

    Vlambeer do streams of Nuclear Throne development, I think it’s a really nice touch. So many early access games – Next Car Game, Interstellar Marines to name a couple – are so quiet that I worry I’ve wasted my money (the latter was from a bundle, the former I bought with trading card funds… Never mind), but Nuclear Throne was almost worth buying early to be ‘involved’ in all of the development so far, if you know what I mean. Coming to it a year or two later when it’s 75% off would make it a lot less special, in my opinion.

    Anyway. More of this kind of thing for early access/otherwise publicly developed games, please!

  8. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    It all looks promising, and I check the UT forums every couple of weeks.

    It’s a shame that they’re charging $20 per month for the editor. I made a couple dozen UT and UT2004 maps, got pretty good at it. I’d love to work on this UT, but there’s no way I am going to pay them $20 a month to do so. I know there are a fair number of people who feel the same way. It’s too bad, really.

    • HadToLogin says:

      In those $20 whole magic is hidden. You buy it, make map, and then you think “damn, I already spent money, I guess I’ll put $1 price tag on it.

      And epic gets money.

    • ngw says:

      You don’t actually have to pay every month, just on months where you want to receive updates.

    • TrentTech says:

      It’s not $20 for the editor for the new UT. It’s $20 for the whole Unreal Engine 4, including the complete source code, which is astoundingly good value, it even includes full source code for the new game as it’s developed. To get that for UE3 you would have had to pay a 6 or 7 figure sum. As NGW said you don’t even have to keep paying it every month, you can cancel your subscription as soon as you have downloaded it and keep using it til your hearts content, even sell games you’ve made with it, the only difference when you keep paying for the subscription is that you get very regular updates. If you cancel you can pay $20 again at any time to get the latest updates to the engine and then cancel again if you so desire

      Whether they include an editor with the actual game is currently unknown, but currently they’re wanting input and contributions from fans who are also developers, whether it be professionals or hobbyist, which is why they’re doing it as part if the engine subscription. When the game is finished they may well include the editor with the game to allow people to make levels without being subscribers. Either way, if they do require people to be engine subscribers to make levels and mods, $20 is nothing given what you get for the money and the opportunity it provides.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        It’s great that I get access to UE4 to make my own games and the source code and all those other nice things. Thing is, I don’t really care; I don’t want to do any of that stuff, I have no use for it. It’s great that I only have to pay $20 for the game and then $20 again every time they change anything that would impact the level (which is hopefully more than once a month…) but there are plenty of great games that I can get for less than $20 and still design for anyway.

        Yes, I do want to work on UT4. Yes, I realize that I am not entitled to do so. It just seems like a shame that Epic has decided to gate off the game to a significant number of people who would like to help, but don’t have money to just throw at them right now.

        • Baines says:

          To be fair, when Epic decided Unreal Engine 4’s licensing scheme, they had no plans to release an Unreal Tournament 4.

          Now that Epic has seen fan interest (and that the fans were uniting to make a spiritual successor on their own anyway), they’ve decided to make an official UT4, but are stuck with the Unreal Engine 4 licensing scheme that was already implemented. I’m sure Epic isn’t exactly crying over the situation, though, seeing the chance to get more people paying the monthly fee for UE4.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        If all I want is a replacement car door handle, offering me a brand-new car for 80% off is not actually a good bargain. If you charge for something that used to be free, and add a bunch of stuff that used to be expensive but which I don’t want, it’s nothing but a loss for me.

    • cHeal says:

      You’re comparing apples and oranges. The €19 is to get the full source to UE4 with editor suite AND early access to the new UT, which is intended for developers not just people who cannot wait for the game to come out.

      Once the game is released I am very much certain that the editor suite will come free with it as it has in previous versions. This is almost a certainty given the fact they want to make money from user created content..

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    No fluff pages today? You know. Bargain fluff?

    • Vendae says:

      Maybe they hoped we wouldn’t notice after the saleslide of past days, but WE DO. We want Cassandra and buckets and plushies.

      On serious affairs: They tend to mess with time and the column so you never know, this is what I learned.

      • Ross Angus says:

        Amen. I miss my Saturday bargains.

      • Stardreamer says:

        Didn’t Cassandra say she was trying to kill the column in favour of something better?

  10. Distec says:

    I have memories of endless headshots with the original Sniper Rifle baked heavily into my memory. Please give me more of that instead of the Lightning Gun.

  11. rockman29 says:

    Lightning Gun every time…. screw the sniper rifle!

    • plsdeleteme says:

      I hope you feel better, now that you have been told that your complete post was bollocks.

  12. Jraptor59 says:

    Oh neat, another Unreal from a giant, well funded company that can afford to develop it!
    Hey, instead, let me pay them $40 for a beta or alpha (that makes me so cool) spot!
    Look at me, I’m a Mr. Tester Man! Pro-Gamer.
    Of course, they never have to finish the game or fulfill any of their promises and they still get to keep the money.
    Oh, and BTW, don’t give me a finished game for God’s sake! Rip a bunch of content out then sell it to me as DLC (snicker, snicker)!
    Today’s gamers have destroyed the entire quality gaming industry. Game publishers don’t even have to try anymore and the suckers actually buy crippled games with the excuse of DLC and think they are “special” if they get called alpha or beta testers. The worst offenders are the companies that are COD 10, etc., with no real story, just a couple of random maps and guns for $50, that people run around shooing each other in the head or testicles and laughing. Like hamsters in a maze. Makes me sick.

    • Distec says:

      Hey what’s going on here.

    • Alphus says:

      you know it’s free right?
      Please don’t comment if you don’t know what you are talking about.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        If this were an RPG, that comment would probably have a big “CRITICAL MISS” written all over the screen.

        With the UT announcer doing a voiceover.

    • Beelzebud says:

      The game is free, jackass, which makes everything else you said completely irrelevant. Before ranting, you should at least make sure you have a grasp on the basic details of whatever it is you’re bitching about.

  13. Skab says:

    Polycount stuff is all over Dota 2 as well. Valve loves those guys.

  14. PopeRatzo says:

    I hate “free”.

    Because…ain’t nothin’ free.

  15. PikaBot says:

    Those minute, important differences being that the sniper rifle is great and the lightning gun is completely rubbish, yes?

    • The First Door says:

      Not to be confrontational, but I disagree with you completely! The brilliance of the Lightning Gun is that it means snipers reveal themselves when shooting, so they can’t just spam without getting a bunch of rockets in the face.

      Then again, I always thought sniping in UT was boring compared to all of the other weapons. Give me a rocket launcher which can fire six rockets at a time, or flak grenades, or deadly goo any day!

      • PikaBot says:

        This is true, but it combines this with being both weaker and harder to aim than the sniper rifle, with the effect that nobody in their right mind would ever use the lightning gun.

        • The First Door says:

          True, but that’s likely why I preferred it! I always thought that UT99 was a little too skewed towards sniping, so I quite liked it being a little nerfed in UT2K4. I think it was especially important with the bigger Onslaught maps too, or else there wouldn’t have been any point in doing much but sniping. Still, each to their own, I’m just happy it’s happening at all!

    • LionsPhil says:

      So long as you mean the UT99 sniper rifle.

      Which was great fun with the akimbo mutator and that game’s gigantic head hitboxes. Zoom? Who needs to zoom?

      The 2004 one was a weedy abomination that sounded like some cheap plastic part had broken every time it fired. It actually made me prefer the lightning gun.

  16. Jimbot says:

    That Shock Rifle looks OK but a bit too… I don’t know… Pulse-Rifle-y? I prefer something a little more outlandish. While the gun design in UT was never insane, it did stand out pretty well and each gun looked completely different. It helped identify which gun a person was carrying. Well, that and the sound design and the radically different projectiles.

    Just thin the gun out and make the barrel longer and I’d think that one would work. But that’s just my preference!

  17. Scumbag says:

    Duel Enforcers or cancel the project.
    This is not a request, it is a demand!

    • Ringwraith says:

      They were a bit disproportionately powerful though.
      Don’t get me wrong, favourite weapon to use by far, but they were a bit silly, and even used fairly-common minigun bullets!

      • Scumbag says:

        They were, just being INTERNET ANGRY because I can be.
        Getting Twin enforcers was not always too easy unless there were a large number of players / a few noobs like me around.
        Never really felt the twin assault rifles from UT2004 were good mind, even with the grenade launchers.

  18. The First Door says:

    That really is quite a lovely Shock Rifle and I hope it gets into the new UT. It makes me quite ridiculously happy that I can say something like that again…

  19. Droniac says:

    I love that they’re making a new UT and I only hope it’ll be great. I’ve been a fan since the UT99 demo and played each version a great deal. I’m sure I’ll play this one a fair bit as well, so I hope it gets the attention UT3 deserved after it was patched.

    That being said, the notion that UT2004’s weapon balance was anywhere near perfect is silly. I played that game almost as much as UT99 and have competed in nearly every game mode, other than vCTF. And its weapon balance is by far the worst I’ve seen in a FPS, ever. It was so bad that only shock/lightning were viable and all other weapons were tosh by comparison.

    Now UT3 does have near perfect weapon balance. It had some small issues, like dual enforcers allowing for reverse spawnkilling, but they’re relatively minor compared to pretty much any other FPS.

  20. Polyanna says:

    You had me at ONS-MasterBathRenovation-2014.