Archive for March, 2016

UT4 Bright Skins and Player Visibility

NATO_chrisjm: The community is enormously fractured, and while things like visibility are universal the views on possible solutions are wide. It doesn’t help when the devs make a firm statement such as ‘we don’t want brightskins’ a chunk of the community yell at them that it’s going to be a failure if it’s not included. Feels like there’s a lot of distrust coming from the community right now, which doesn’t encourage the devs to open up.

Overall a well thought out and put together post.

Player visibility is one of the key points epic could have handled better during Unreal Tournament 4 development. There was a lot of noise about difficult to see players and Epic repeatedly stated that they did not want to go the neon bright bright skins route and would solve the “problem” using other methods. This seemed acceptable for many players and the ones it was not fine for was more from a “we don’t trust you or your track record*” rather than “that is impossible” point of view. Of course there was a minority (often vocal) that refused to accept that there was any other way to do it, but lets ignore them. Player vis was an aspect where epic could have easily won points from the community by actually implementing something, even to the point of pushing it a little far (to win supporters) and dialing it back at a later date. They did open up about this point.

However nothing was done. Then some community members created threads comparing methods of player highlighting – followed by bright skin mutators (not a problem) and then Epic finally pushed something useful in the last few builds. This is not to say that the community brightskins spurred Epic to put their own solution in place. Are the new Epic skins perfect? No. Is it good enough for shells? Probably, they are a huge improvement on shells on a map like chill. Are they good enough for meshed maps? Probably not. But it is better than one of the previous Epic visibility changes that was along the lines of “slightly changed XYZ by 1.27% to improve player visibility”. When they make changes to something that is essentially zero change it is hard to think they will implement anything… or approach it at such a slow, teeth pulling rate.

But they have only implemented changes recently. They should have done it months ago.

This is different to weapons being considered OP by large swathes of the community – you could create a game with a weapon that is ridiculous and if that is epics vision then, whatever. You could also create a game where all the players are black. But to straight up state that they want to address a problem in a specific way then do nothing? Or the equivalent of nothing (slightly changed XYZ in a single build). It is understood they are a small team but it was/is a fairly large point that they specifically commented on – and their track record has been poor on this aspect of the game from 2k3 onwards. So if they were planning something it would be important to show us rather than just say “Yeah we don’t like bright skins but you will have to deal with it until we get around to doing something”.

Maybe points from the community don’t matter, or whatever, but this is not an aspect like crap mouse input that is difficult to track down, diagnose and fix, if that is even possible as it may be the underlying engine that they lack control over.

*This was reasonable and further highlights why this would have been a good place for epic to start winning the support of the community. If the current red/blue visibility was in game.. 12 months? 6 months? ago when this was a hot topic it would potentially have gotten more people on side.

Unreal Tournament Visibility Track Record

So for new comers, players that never paid attention to this or just curious bystanders some explanation may be in order. It was easy to see players in ut99. It was very difficult to see players in the base game of 2k3, so epic implemented shoulder mounted lights – horrible sprites that sort of solved the problem. utcomp came along and added glowstick style bright skins as well as force model which was accepted by the competitive community. 2k4 came around and epic put their own version of bright skins in, which was probably acceptable, but once again no force model (from memory).

The whole visibility saga was replayed in ut3 in a similar manner.

Not sure this is 100% how it played out but it is roughly there. Not learning from past experience is most certainly one of Epics more annoying traits.

Unreal Prime – A community driven ut4 mod

Calling Unreal Prime a “mod” is somewhat of a disservice – perhaps a better word is vision. Unreal Prime is the vision of ut4 that a group of community members have – and they are in general backed by the competitive community as well as players who are dissatisfied with Epics vision of the weapons. The general idea is to recapture our past loves on the new platform. Perhaps like a less hardcore CPMA for Unreal Tournament 4. Wail sums it up :

Unreal Prime is all about (re)capturing the best of every UT game, the fun, the skill, the innovation, and bringing it all together.

Initial setup includes changes and tweaks to the majority of the weapons, however talking to a few of the members other modifications (movement along with other aspects of the game) are not out of the question down the road. Wail has declined to provide damage numbers, which is somewhat irritating as weapon combinations and stack estimation is an important part of weapon selection. One key factor that will keep many players happy is faster weapon switching. All the weapons have tweaked visuals and modified skins, which differentiate them from the standard Unreal Tournament 4 weapons.

Shock Rifle (Sapphire Shock Rifle) – On the surface the shock appears roughly the same, albeit with different weapon effects. The key points to note here are changed damage values, rates of fire as well as a smaller combo radius. The changed damage values allow two shotting fresh spawns. Max ammo has also been bumped up to 50 (currently 32 in the Epic build) and the combo cost has been decreased to three ammo. Overall it feels fairly similar and allows closer, faster combos while also allowing users to shoot multiple cores and pick one to combo at close range, which is not really possible in the epic build. It also offers superior primary hitscanning – the vanila shock rifle is out DPSed by the enforcer.

Mini Gun (Something) – The Unreal Prime Minigun is a step away from the tradition of slow/fast similar firemode weapon. With his changes Wail has managed to include a high/low rate of fire weapon along with a load up/ super high rate of fire projectile weapon. Primary fire works the way one would expect – a wind up, high rate of fire weapon that deals low damage per shot and gives reasonable accuracy to medium range. Secondry fire steps away from the traditional ut alternative mini and instead loads shots into the barrel – which can be held for a period of time and then released at a very high rate of fire. These shots are fast moving projectiles and are messaged by a series of pips below the crosshair. Finally the primary firemode can be put into overdrive, by holding down secondary. This causes the mini to shoot even faster, with more spread. This tertiary fire mode is particularly suitable for close range combat as its spread renders it inaccurate at longer ranges.

Link Gun (Repulsor) – At first glance Wails Link Gun gun appears very similar to the Epic implementation. It sports a shaft with limited range and it a high rate of fire projectile. Both these firemodes have been tweaked, the projectile mode is less effective than its Epic counterpart, putting it firmly back in the shitbucket, similar to most high ROF projectile weapons (past UT titles link/pulse, Quakes plasma/nail guns). Primary feels stronger, possibly due to higher tick on the damage or possibly because the other weapons are generally weaker overall. To many players it will seem about the same. However Wail has added a combo move that can be used for short range shotgun type damage and also for boost movement. Finally the secondary projectile fire mode can be used for wall climbing, similar to the plasma gun in Quake Live. The pull mechanic from base UT4 has been removed.

Rocket Launcher (Trident Rocket Launcher) – The Unreal Prime rocket launcher is a shout out to the Unreal Tournament 2003/4 rockets with a subtle aftertaste of the earlier titles grenades. Three simultaneous rockets are available in both spread and group fire modes. Accessed in the same way as previous titles (alt fire during loading) the different fire patterns are messaged to the user via a triangle around the crosshair. Grenades are also available and loadable to three and they all shoot at the same time.

Flak (Rebel Flak Canon) – Flak has the least changes usage wise and mainly has much toned down stats, damage, shard collision reduced and range on secondary reduced. The secondary range reduction sounds like a nerf but it opens up more up and over type shots that were previously not possible.

Sniper Rifle (Saint Sniper Rifle) – Like the Flak the Unreal Prime sniper is a tweaked version of the base UT4 weapon. It also features an ambient hum similar to the Quake Live rail gun while also having an audible weapon switch noise played for other users nearby.

Overall reception of the weapons has been good and due to community feedback Wail is planning on further tweaking his babies. Nice work!