Talk about Gunreal…
1/First of all, hello, and thanks to Dario Dinatale, designer of Gunreal, for answering our questions.
Dario D.: Thanks for having me.
2/How did the idea and the desire for Gunreal come about ?
Dario D.: The idea first came back when I was playing UT2004 Onslaught, when it first came out. It had personally always bothered me just how flimsy and weak the weapon sounds and effects in UT2003 were, and I felt like it could have just been so much better. Over the years, I had played games that had one or two weapons that left an impression on me – like the awesome Minigun fom Aliens vs. Predator, or the Slig’s machinegun in the first two Oddworld games.
I also loved the Rocket Launcher from Quake 3, and the classic UT Flack Cannon – but I felt like all of that was missing from UT2003 and UT2004, because there just wasn’t a weapon that I really loved the power of using… and it was really a shame for me, because this was a game who’s soul was simply guns, guns, and more guns, and yet none of them had any real sense of power that left my heart beating in any way. Instead, you could be out in an open field, and barely hear someone firing his weapon ten feet away from you.
So, one day, while playing ONS-Torlan, I got the idea to try starting a mutator that would redo the weapon sounds and effects, and alter a couple things I didn’t like, such as the player scale and movement speed. So, I found a programmer on the official UT forums, and got started working on it, but pretty soon somehow ended up making entirely new weapons… and the rest is history.
3/Who is currently involved in the mod’s development ?
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Dario D.: The team consists of myself, and three programmers: Roman Dzieciol, from Eon and Thievery UT fame, Nick Rhead, creator of Quad TDM and several gametypes, and Eric Blade, dedicated Land of the Dead modder.
4/We see many interesting things in the trailer, but describe to us a bit what the principle of Gunreal is. Is it Deathmatch, Team-Games, or what ?
Dario D.: It essentially takes all of UT2004’s maps, gametypes, and characters, and makes a new game out of them. The main concept is to evolve the formula of an arena-style deathmatch game by redoing the combat, flow, and overall presentation with something completely new.
5/Compared to UT2004, what essential changes can we expect from the gameplay, visuals, and sound effects ?
Dario D.: The first thing you’ll notice when you play is that you move slower, but with the ability to sprint. It’s very much like Half-Life 2 in that regard, which I think nailed player movement almost perfectly. You also feel taller in the game, and have a very natural sense of height. After playing perfectly-scaled games like Thief, which make you feel like a real 6 ft person in a real world, it always bothered me how I kind of felt like a 2 ft midget whenever I was playing UT, and flew around at ridiculous speeds. In fact, sometimes, when someone would ask me what I was playing, I’d say, « Crouching Tiger Flying Gunfest », because people around me would make fun of the fact that 99% of the time, everyone in UT was flying through the air, double-jumping, and spinning tornadoes around each other, trying to kill each other in what looked like a combination of an insane cat-fight, and a Hoover Vornado commercial.
So, Gunreal pretty much grounds all the combat, and it feels a lot more like Half-Life 2 when you move around. We’ve also added player clothing sounds, like any realism game, so that you can hear your belts and chains rattling, and really feel like you’re throwing your weight around when you move. It’s also very customizeable, so you can change its settings right from the Shopping Screen’s « quick-options » panel, and hear yourself wearing different types of gear, or turn it off entirely.
As for visuals, we’ve redone three important elements of the game: the weapons, the interface, and the special effects. Each of these elements you can see very clearly in the trailer, so there really isn’t much that I need to say about them.
Then, the last thing we’ve changed – which I strongly believe can be more powerful than the best graphics, though it’s soooo under-done and neglected nowadays – is the sound. The trailer doesn’t capture the audio in it’s full fidelity, but when you actually play the game, you’ll notice very quickly that everything just sounds a lot meaner and more dangerous than UT2004. I spared no expense to make, remake, and re-remake the sounds until I personally thought they just couldn’t be any better given my available resources, so I’m hoping all the 5.1 speaker enthusiasts out there can take a field-trip once Gunreal is released. Hoping.
6/There are 14 new weapons. Do they all have various firing modes? How many guns can we carry in our inventory at one time ?
Dario D.: Every weapon has an alternate fire mode, and takes up a certain amount of space in your Inventory Belt, like some RPG’s. Because of that, you can carry different amounts of weapons depending on how big they are. Usually, that means you can carry 2 large, expensive weapons, and 2-4 medium or small ones. You can also pick up weapons off the ground, so that you can cash in and sell them… or… you know… use them.
7/Can you give us any details on the money and shopping system ?
Dario D.: I don’t want to elaborate too much on the shopping system’s specifics, but it’s good to understand its purpose and goal, because it’s the most important feature in Gunreal, and entirely new to gaming. Basically, the goal of the shopping system is to allow the game to have more than just the typical shooter elements. I wanted to create a system that lets you play with the uninterrupted flow of a hardcore shooter, the strategy and reward of an RPG, the tactics of a spec-ops game, and the variety of play style of a class-based war game. The shopping system lets us take aim at each of those things by changing the way you approach a shooter. But, how the game actually changes once you toss in Gunreal’s shopping and money systems, you just have to wait and see for yourself, because it would take a small book to properly explain it.
8/Doesn’t the need to always stop and shop cool the intensity of the combat? How have you managed to make that intuitive ?
Dario D.: The flow is quite different in-game than what you’ve seen in the trailer. There, you see me often switching weapons at the Shopping Terminals, so that I can showcase each gun, but that’s not a smart way to actually play. Usually, depending on their play style, players will only shop when dead – an ordeal that can take as little as 3 seconds once you’re used to it, unless you use the Re-Buy button, which makes it almost instant. When you’re alive, you have the ability to shop at a Shopping Terminal just the same, but this is purely for tactical reasons, and not required at all… especially in the middle of a fight, in which it’s suicide.
At times, you may want to sell expensive guns that you’ve picked up off the ground, buy more ammo, or even just protect yourself for a second using the Shopping Terminal’s destroyable shield, but it’s ideal to buy your weapons and ammo while dead, then go fight without ever feeling like you must stop-and-shop. Needing to stop-and-shop only happens when you forget to buy enough ammo, or when a tank rolls by and you suddenly get some clever idea.
9/Do you intend to add bots in this version ?
Dario D.: If you mean our own custom player models, no; the UT2004 bots already fit the theme and visual style of everything just about perfectly. Same with the maps. Making new ones would just be extra work with no benefit, because everything is already a perfect fit, and we would also like to release Gunreal before Y3K.
As for our own custom bot A.I., yes, we’ve modified it so that the bots can make use of everything in Gunreal. They can shop, come back to buy ammo, and use the weapons like they own them.
10/Is there anything you would like to add ?
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Dario D.: Yes. I haven’t mentioned the Gore System yet. I am ashamed. While I have a moment, it would only be fair to warn you before you make any mistakes: all mothers, sisters, wives, and girlfriends should not be allowed near the computer while the gore system is enabled. They will strap you to a chair, and threaten to tickle you if you cannot explain why you would want to continually detonate corpses with the Rocket Launcher, just to watch the gore. Instead, you should just get a large door-lock, a refridgerator, and maybe a portable toilet so you don’t have to be bothered while re-wallpapering your favorite maps. It’ll ruin your life, but it’s worth it.
The future of the mod
11/Can you give us an approximate date for the release of Gunreal ?
Dario D.: Fall 2007 is all we know at this point. Right now, we’re finishing up the last two weapons that are not shown in the trailer. Then, during beta-testing, we’ll be adding a deployable turret to the game as the last major feature. I’m really excited about it, because I think it’s going to add a whole new dimension to the strategy involved, especially in team-games.
12/If the mod finds its audience, do you think you’ll make a new version for UT3 ?
Dario D.: It’s certainly on the drawing board, but more as a retail game than a mod. I want to get publisher support behind the game design document first, because next-gen graphics require a lot more people in the art department, and I want it to be good and more original – not just another Gunreal. A singleplayer campaign wouldn’t kill anyone either – I already have the story written out – but that’s all just speculation at this point. Only time will tell what Gunreal becomes in the future.
13/Unreal.fr would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, and we look forward to seeing your future work. See you soon.
Dario D.: Thank you, and I hope that future work gets to you shortly.