Compatibility: Made with Patch 2.1. PS3 version is available.
Make Something Unreal Contest Top Ten Finalist for "Best VCTF or Warfare Map", "Best Graphics in a Map", and "Best Use of Physics" (Phase 3)
_N_ here first. As you can see, this map is a collaboration between myself and Andrew Czarnietzki. Whereas I had experience with UT3 and its gameplay but limited modelling skill, Andrew, on the other hand, is tremendously experienced in modelling, but had limited experience with UT3’s gameplay. It seemed like a perfect match, so we teamed up to create a new and interesting map for you guys:
In terms of Gameplay (my focus on this map) as with previous maps, I wanted the map to be based on a solid VCTF foundation, but with a few new gameplay innovations for players to experience as well. The map has a tight, VCTF-Kargo kind of feel to it where there is a balance of areas for both vehicular combat and foot combat. While the map description says it's ideal for 12-24 players, it's still quite scalable to 32 players due to the many areas to explore and possible flag routes to take.
In terms of new dynamics, we first came up with the idea of force-fields throughout the map to change flag routes, which eventually turned into the energy bridges that could be turned on and off as a way to dynamically spoil a flag-carrier's route and forcing him to re-plan on the spot. Locking flag carriers out of the bridge controls was developed later as a great way to force flag carriers to be a little more clever with their escape plans. However, it also had the added advantage of promoting teamwork because the lock-out can be overcome if a friendly teammate were to activate the bridge for you instead. In general, the goal was to reward planning, creativity, and teamwork to help make a flag capture (though you can still go all Rambo-style if you want : ).
Originally, we had the idea that destructible environmental objects (breakable glass in particular) might make for some cool visuals and player interaction. After playing with it in the BSP prototype version of the map, though, it quickly became clear that this had enormous potential as a fun and interesting gameplay mechanic too! After much gameplay testing it eventually ended up as a key feature of the map. Sure, gibbing the flag carrier is fun, but shooting out the glass floor or deactivating the energy bridge under his feet sending him to fall to his doom (or perhaps into the waiting claws of a teammate's scorpion claws) is somehow just as satisfying, if not more so. While getting out-dueled by an opponent is annoying, getting outsmarted by an opponent truly gets one's blood boiling! : D
Some important points to note:
Control panels near the bridges activate by getting close to them. To disable a bridge, simply shoot it's control panel display, or press the "USE" key from a short distance, and it will shut down (great way to stop a flag carrier escape, or clear a bridge of enemies before reactivating it and safely crossing yourself : ). When an enemy takes your flag, your security bridges will shut down automatically to try to keep him from escaping, and he will be locked out of the bridge controls as long as he holds the flag.
While it may seem like the underside has only a single exit, look carefully. With a gun and some jump boots, you can "make" yourself an exit to the centre of the map. It also serves as a stealthy way to sneak into the enemy base, just watch your step!.
The upper support structures that keep this facility Hanging from the cliff are not just to look at. With some exploration, and skillful jumping/impact hammer jumps (or a manta, if you like) you can use it as a daring flag route. Be careful not to get shot off though, there' isn't exactly a lot of cover up there, and it's a long way down ; ).
The middle fountain, isn't just for looks either, there's few pickups on it too accessible via jump boots, scorpion self-destruct, mantas and hammer-jumps. Explore the level thoroughly to try to find all the tucked-away powerups that will help you on your way.
While the upper walkways are mostly safe from vehicles, watch out for mantas but also for scorpions from below that may shoot out the glass at your feet to drop you to their level. Also, scorpions can get to the second floor via the station in the middle. Try to catch them on the glass or energy bridges if this happens ; ).
The back of the fountain may seem like a quick flag carrier route, but be careful, strong currents can make it dangerously slow to get across, and you'll be a sitting duck while you navigate the current. The hoverboard might be a bit faster across the water as it's not affected by the current, but that naturally carries its own large set of risks.
Be sure to try out the map with both Greed and Titan!
Anyways, I'll turn it over to Andrew now to touch on the visuals of the map.
Greetings, everyone! I have to say I've been a long time fan of the Unreal Game Engine. What seems like an age ago, I started making hacky little mods for something now called "Unreal1", and have since built a professional career and company around what is really more of the same work (if only on a much different scale!). While I love my company, we're in the Serious Games sector - which is great fun in its own right, but there is a notable lack of rocket launchers in this field. The chance to combine my graphics and Unreal experience with _N_'s gameplay / design experience was far too good an opportunity to pass up. While I am looking forward to having evenings again, building this map has been a lot of fun - may you enjoy playing it as much as we did making it.
Regarding the graphics, I hope that when you open this map you notice that there is something unusual about the lighting. The lighting in this map is provided by a lightmapping toolset called pureLIGHT, which I helped design and produce over the last few years of my professional life. We have recently spun pureLIGHT off for use in the games industry - for more information about pureLIGHT, please visit the pureLIGHT website:www.purelighttech.com
Besides the lighting, I also hope you enjoy the various visuals details in this map. The visuals here draw from many inspirations (Sid Mead's style of design, 70s science fiction in general, my own background in abstract sculpture). A goal of mine at the start of this project was to create something unique; something that would out against the other UT3 maps as well as most games in general.
I wanted to go with architecture that is both open and light, while still providing interesting cover and forms for gameplay. (I have had some great skate-park moments in this map with hover-board and vehicle alike!). I also tried to balance curves and organic shapes against hard edges, hopefully making the environment feel more like a real structure than random organic shapes.
An important part of this map is the background, and how it interacts with the player's perspective and sense of scale. I also wanted to consider what "day" would look like for a planet with an unconventional sun. I'm not sure if this is really a "black hole sun", but it's definitely something out of the ordinary. (Whatever it is, you probably wouldn't want to be sunburnt by it though...)
The materials used in this map were an interesting choice. I went with a very minimalist white stucco (it has a subtle texture if you get close) to highlight the lighting, and really drive home the light ethereal feel of the map. While this white does show characters, vehicles, explosions and decals very well, I still wanted to contrast it with some strong color; hence the thick foliage, rich blue sky and raw stone. Feeding back into the idea of making the map feel like a real environment, I hope the exposed stone communicates that the structure is partially carved directly out of the cliff itself.
Overall, I had a lot of fun building this map. The gameplay is fantastic (thanks completely to _N_ on this) but if you get the chance between frags, stop and take a look around!
Any feedback, positive or negative (but hopefully informative) is appreciated!
PS3 version not yet tested so we need PS3 testers and feedback! Stealth Bender was replaced with a Scavenger and custom audio replaced with in-game audio for the PS3 version (was necessary in order to cook it). Also glass particle effect was scaled back to hopefully reduce PS3 performance issues.