GDC 08: Epic admits UT3 hindered by deadlines, console friendliness

GDC 08: Epic admits UT3 hindered by deadlines, console friendliness - Image 1We’ve probably all heard this before, especially all the UT fan outcries after the release of the Unreal Tournament 3 Beta demo in late fall last year. Epic Games admitted that the third installment of the series considered god of the multiplayer shooter arena isn’t perfect, especially the console-friendly UI used for the PC version of the game. The game company explains at the full story.

GDC 08: Epic admits UT3 hindered by deadlines, console friendliness - Image 1 

Over at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Epic Games‘ Michael Capps, president, and Jeff Morris, senior designer, discussed in a panel entitled “UNREAL TOURNAMENT 3 Postmortem: ULTRA KILL!” what difficulties the company faced in bringing out Unreal Tournament 3 (Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox 360).

Both spoke about the UI interface – obviously made to support consoles – which PC fans have often hurled bitter words with at the official UT forums.

Morris admitted that the UI of UT3 had its issues. In order to be friendlier to consoles, the interface incorporated a page per page progression, which wasn’t exactly as intuitive as the older Unreal Tournament installments (i.e., UT99’s UWindows UI).

A petition banner made by Felarian01 for a better UT3 UI - Image 1 

UT forums user Felarian01’s petition banner

For those experienced with the interfaces of UT99 and UT2k4, the new interface was often considered a waste of time and clicks for gamers trying to jump immediately into a game. And the senior designer attributed this fact to why the game isn’t as great as it should have been.

Capps even went as far as to say that the interface was “f*cked,” which were really the sentiments of many beta testers when QJ.NET previewed the UT3 beta demo.

For PC fans of Unreal Tournament 3, the user interface was second to none in the ranks of negative feedback, aside from the fouled up camera height level, and the tricky mouse aiming controls. Weapons, balance issues, plump character models then populated the other portions of list of gripes, though not all were addressed with UT3‘s first patch. So, the community is picking up that task by themselves.

Sample screens of UT3 with UWindows mod - Image 1  Sample screens of UT3 with UWindows mod - Image 1 Sample screens of UT3 with UWindows mod - Image 1 
Samples of the proposed UT3 UWindows design by Felarian01

Morris then mentioned how many other features never went into the game, since they had deadlines to meet. The funny thing is, the deadlines were self-imposed by Epic, and they really tried to press themselves for a simultaneous PC and PS3 release. That didn’t actually happen, we know, but it was close enough.

As a quick note, another non-panel discussion with VP Mark Rein unearthed that Epic Games considered Unreal Tournament 2003 as a “misstep.” He said that the UT2k3 was developed by an “external team.” Many have claimed that the 2003 version felt a half-baked game.

With many things noted to have gone missing with UT3, would Epic consider Unreal Tournament 3 – or at least the PC version – as another misstep? We’ll probably find out soon, as UT3 isn’t as popular as it’s predecessors UT2k4 (multiple Editor’s Choice awards) and UT99 (multiple Game of the Year awards) were years ago.

Buy: [Unreal Tournament 3 (PC)]
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Buy: [Unreal Tournament 3 (PS3)]

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