Fourth Anniversary Season
UArchitect on Dark Territory
RECIPROCITY: Hello and welcome to a new edition of what hopes to be an ever-expanding interview section. Today, we're going to talk to UArchitect about his newest project, a top-down SP deemed "Dark Territory". Firstly, what is Dark Territory? Furthermore, is it still being called that? I know you were thinking of changing it.
UARCHITECT: Dark territory is a top-down view shooter mod, which takes place in a dark and cybernetic future, there are issues with the name (a 2k4 mod with the same name) but I'm still not sure of a new name or if i will actually change it.
RECIPROCITY: What's the storyline going to look like? If there's any to speak of.
UARCHITECT: Well so far there isnt a complete/full story. The idea started years ago. I always wanted to make a game set in the future, dominated by super corporations and huge companies. The story will be based around this idea. I can tell you the little of the story that is planned, but it's very "in progress".
RECIPROCITY: A little inspiration from the relationship of the Tournaments and the Liandri Corp.?
UARCHITECT: Well the idea has been around with me since i can remember, but its sort of similar to that yes, though it wasn't my source of inspiration. :)
RECIPROCITY: Ah, must be my one-track mind at work. What inspired you to create the new mouse-based movement system?
UARCHITECT: Well, I like fps and shooters but lately there have been way too many *first-person* shooters and i wanted to try something different. Although it is mostly an above view, it has an adjustable camera system for third person (chasecam) which can be raised to the above view and lowered back down when you want.
RECIPROCITY: Sounds versatile. So is it more or less the perspective idea behind Alien Swarm?
UARCHITECT: Yes, basically. The same but adjustable.
RECIPROCITY: How will the camera system affect the way the game is played?
UARCHITECT: In several ways. Having this type of camera system comes with its pros and cons. First of all, you will have a smaller view (in terms of viewing distance) but a less restricted one. You can make it a more tactical view if you like. The player can see things behind and at the side of them In some cases you may be able to see over walls/fences while in the above view. All this can make minor differences to gameplay.
RECIPROCITY: Certainly sounds like mapping with account to all those perspectives would be challenging. How far along are you into the project?
UARCHITECT: Yes. Making maps for DT would be different from the usual mapping process for obvious reasons. It can be challenging at times but that's what makes it intresting. Trying out new things. :) As far as map progress, there are about 1 and a half maps. Currently I'm not concentrating too much on the maps because I'm still doing the codebase. Also, one of the most important features is the seamless level travel so it's best that I don't do too much.
RECIPROCITY: Hold on...seamless level travel? As in no load times, no awkward rendering gaps in between maps?
UARCHITECT: Well, you will still get the "loading" but it's seamless in a different way. I'll explain. You can no longer think of each map as "seperate". Although they may be several seperate .unr files, Dark Territory will allow you to travel back and forth between every single map without resetting the map or your status; think Half-Life 2. This means you can be in one map, kill some bad guys, blow up a bridge and go to the next map, and you're free to return back to this map. Everything will be just way you left it. This gives the player freedom to explore the game's universe. The player won't feel "trapped" in a linear level structure. I guess seamless wasn't the best word but it's all i could think of. :)
RECIPROCITY: Oh wow. That sounds like a really awesome feature.
UARCHITECT: This is probably the biggest feature as it's the one with affects gameplay the most. :)
RECIPROCITY: I'd assume as much. Knowing your SP experience with 7b, I'm confident that you're the right mapper to make full use of the system.
RECIPROCITY: Tell us about the visuals.
UARCHITECT: Because of the nature of the top-down view, it allows me to fit alot more polys onscreen at once, so areas will be very detailed. Dark Territory will feature many visual effects including (but not limited to): lensflares, weather system, surface-specific hitsounds, decals, hit effects and many other stuff. :P
UARCHITECT: Oh yes, grass and vegetation. :)
RECIPROCITY: Teh Grass Spreader is making a return?
UARCHITECT: Not exactly the same thing, but a slightly different system. The "grass spreader" had many flaws and it wasn't the fastest running script ever. So I've come up with a brand new system. where the grass and vegetation are create on-the-fly while your moving about. This way the game doesn't need to worry about updating and keeping an eye on grass that is offscreen. It runs alot faster so this will help alot as i can have even thicker grass!
RECIPROCITY: Your code work is unbelievable sometimes.
UARCHITECT: I try my best. I try to think of things that people haven't already thought up yet. Sometimes my ideas work sometimes they dont. :)
RECIPROCITY: All these new features sound like alot of work to make function in UT. Considering one could flip on most of them with the click of a mouse in UT2k4, why do you think you and most SP mappers are sticking with the old engine?
UARCHITECT: The old engine has the UnrealSP community behind it, and I think they will be for a long time. It's also due to the fact that UT2k4 doesn't have much sp content already built-in, meaning alot more work for those creating sp projects. There's also an issue of the native save/load which is broken (nice job Epic, I love your games but stop breaking the important stuff :P).
UARCHITECT: To be put bluntly, the broken save is a big kick in the balls for sp. :P
RECIPROCITY: Heh, I see.
UARCHITECT: Dark Territory also relies on that system heavily so I don't think I could ever bring it to 2k4. :(
RECIPROCITY: I don't think there's alot to worry about there. Like you said, most of the SP community is still with UT anyway.
UARCHITECT: Yep. It's a pretty strong community. We might not have the numbers but we care about our sp greatly. ;)
RECIPROCITY: Well, thanks for taking valuable time out of your day to speak with me. Would you like to add anything more before we call it over?
UARCHITECT: I think that's it really. :) I would talk about some of the new weapon ideas I have planned but most of them are still just "ideas" and I don't want to spoil the suprise.
RECIPROCITY: Do I smell an upcoming beta?
UARCHITECT: You can count on it. I will definately be releasing another short demo so i can get more feedback on it, so keep an eye out for that... :P
RECIPROCITY: Again, thanks for for the interview. The community will certainly be seeing more of you in the future.