Unreal Tournament Map History

Neohuman: I believe duels in UT99 never used the belt. I never remember having either of those available when playing on the main duel servers or with the old “pros” and this is what Ut2k3/2k4 was based off. Interestingly ASDF seems to be designed around a polarity between the belt and the chest piece, and I think it’s done well. Still I agree with you that the belt is overly important, but at this point rather than removing it I may still lean towards making players spawn with some armor. I’m not too sure which I prefer, deck with belt or deck without. Here

ut99 was generally played with amp/invis/keg* disabled. Referred to at the time as “EU rules”. Generally weaponstay was off but I do recall watching some old German demos of horny playing with WS on.

*not on any duel maps, let alone dm maps in general.

US/AU/NZ* played with the default “remove powerups” mutator. AU/NZ changed mid 2000 and played with EU rules. So much better. Bit more trivia – wcg2001 (first wcg) announced rules in line with EU ruleset (plus a retarded map list that included maps never played like peak and koos). This generated all sorts of fun discussions because NA played without belt. A few weeks before the event (after qualifiers had been run with this ruleset) the organisers backflipped and changed to NA rules. Oh the shitstorm that resulted was amazing.

*Probably others too. But the majority played with EU rules.

ut99 map list around 2001:


This is not all encompassing and I have probably missed some, but overall at some point between release and 2003 when ut2k3 was released these were played fairly heavily compared to the rest of the DM maps.
The belt is not overly important. The “amount” of armor any of the items give is fairly irrelevant in and of itself. The problem, if you want to call it a problem, is the disparity between in/out of control play.

I guess you could say that the belt is “too much” but this is only because when the in control player has belt+jacket under control (not difficult given their spawns) and the out of control player is working with thigh pads only. So rather than nerfing belt, because really big armor is required for big hitting weapons, give the out of control player options for equalising stack

Of course other maps were played but these were the “better” ones. The duel map pool so to speak. I say better and not awesome because I don’t really think any of them were that great. Epic were very clever with their design and all of ut99 worked kind of ok. Most of the maps were large and balanced oddly for duel. For instance curse had belt vs thighpads. Tempest was a gigantic +back affair due to its size and while not directly related to items this is an illustration of problems that existed. All the maps could have used tweaking – things like addition of jacket (curse), addition of belt (malevolence) and so on. Size wise these maps were ok, with the outliers (tempest/viridian) being a bit large/small. Connectivity wise they were ok with some oddness like the upstairs sections of curse and codex being super campy and difficult to access.

And as a community we could have fixed the maps. Since we could edit the maps it would have been fine to fix them up, release them as dm-deck16][-communityedit and play them. Provided license terms allowed it. We could have fixed spawns – I don’t even remember the specific spawns that were problematic. Or we could have used third party maps. For all the hype ut gets for being open to modifications the ut99 duel community was solidly against it.

There was a community duel map pack released at some point, probably early 2002? At the time I thought this was awesome, however in hind sight while the maps themselves looked awesome – both layout and design wise – they highlighted, or rather should have highlighted problems in the ut99 ruleset that ended up carrying across the next three titles. We choose not to see them. Maybe a better way to express this is that we did not notice because overall these maps went unplayed.

When designing the “main” DM maps in ut99 Epic stuck to a very narrow set of rules for pickups. All weapons would be represented at least once. Many weapons would have two packs of ammo at each pickup. Not all but it was very common. Armor was restricted to one per type maximum on DM maps if added. This meant no maps with two jackets, no maps with two belts, no maps with two thigh pads. This system worked very well and gave an ok FFA experience, an ok TDM experience and an ok duel experience across the board. Looking back I think that Epic intended the smaller maps, stalwart, morbais, fractal, fetid and so on to be the “duel” maps. This is not based on anything – one cliffyb interview discussed duel strategy on fetid? It always felt like Epic were never sure where 1v1 should live.

The 1on1 map pack. I consider this to be a very problematic group of maps. While not widely played at time of release up until 2k3 came out all of them were heavily different from what was traditionally played in ut99. They did fix some problems with the standard ut99 duel maps – most of them had all three armor items as well as a nice load out of vials. If they lacked an armor it was belt. Even if they did not have all three armors the pickup layout was superior to standard duel maps. This is what triggered my interest in them originally. They received rave reviews at the time, and for good reason as they were very polished maps, good layouts, nice architecture that was textured well. Item loadouts made sense. They flowed nicely. Technically they were better than Epic maps. I wanted to play them but noone in Australia was really keen more than an initial look. I think the mappers were influenced by quakeworld and quake2 custom maps since the maps displayed more in common with these games than most ut99 maps.

So what was the problem? Why could maps that fix problems (weird armor balance on official maps, less than ideal flow) and weapons while looking good and flowing well cause issues?

Overall these maps were too small for the duel ruleset adopted in ut99 that carried into future titles. Either NA or EU. Not hugely too small, but the lower end of the spectrum when it came to appropriate duel map size. When the game was heavily in one players favor comebacks were hard. The existing/traditional ut99 duel map pool had its own problems for sure but they just worked. These maps took the problems (which I never saw discussed*) and amped them 2-3 fold, simply by being too small.

Too much flow, too easy to go around, no areas to back into etc

Davidm 1on1 ut99 map pack

You can check out the pack here.

Plus they received amazing reviews. This was the main problem in my opinion. They received good reviews, touting their excellence. All of them. Other mappers went out and created similar style maps, many of which also received similar glowing reviews. These maps were setting the benchmark for maps to come in future iterations of the game.

The problem is they did not really work very well with the ut duel ruleset. Noone really played them all that much, especially not at a competition level when the game was super active. This is not because they were bad (they were never played enough to be called bad yet they reviewed well) but because there was heavy push back against third party content for duel, tdm and ctf. CTF eventually came around but by the 2k3 release duel had not changed. I had them put on our local duel servers (long live IPGN) and played them a bit, however because I was OP at the time and stomped most people I did not see the problems.

So we had this fairly significant set of maps that were rarely played / not played at a high level and were considered awesome. They influenced community mappers going forward into future titles. On top of this they influenced Epic mappers or community mappers that went on to work for/at Epic. 2k3 was released without duel maps. The maps we played were horrible. 2k4 was released and.. it had dm-1on1 maps. A fairly significant number of them too. Thats cool! I was really stoked for these as ut99 had dm maps we played duel on, 2k3 had horrible maps and 2k4 had maps specifically for duel! Yay. Upgrade. Epic noticing duel.

Surprise, surprise, they were similar to the ut99 community 1on1 maps in size and style. However because they shipped with the game this time around they actually got play time. And they were not good for duel. They were small, which in and of itself was not a crime but combined with weaponstay off they were very one sided and unplayable. Weaponstay adds a lot of depth and is one of the saving graces of ut duel, but maps need to be large enough for weapon stay to matter for the out of control player.

Here are the 2k4 maps.
DM-1on1-Mixer (UT2003’s Epic BP)
DM-1on1-Serpentine (UT2003)

I played them. I wanted to like them. There is only one in this list that worked and you all know which one it is. It just happens to be one of the larger maps from this list.

These maps shaped the future of ut duel from when they were released to today. They are not great and maps based on their style are only passably ok for duel. They tend to exacerbate the problems that ut duel has, rather than mask them like the older ut99 maps did.

And they shaped the world of unreal tournament custom maps in an irreparable way – all the way to ut4.

*Most discussion back then revolved around EU vs NA rules. Essentially belt vs no belt.

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