Epic Games has just announced that a new, community-driven Unreal Tournament is in the works. The announcement was made by the game’s senior programmer and project lead Steve Polge, the lead level designer David Spalinski, and community manager Stacey Conley during a Twitch.tv live stream.
Simply called Unreal Tournament, Epic said that the game is being made on Unreal Engine 4, and that the entire development process will leverage the extremely active and passionate UT community. Epic is encouraging outside developers, gamers, fans and anyone with an interest to join the newly founded Unreal Tournament forums to provide feedback and get involved in the game’s development. “You’ll feel like you’re a part of the decision process,” Polge said during the stream.
And now for the kicker: the game will be 100% free. Not free-to-play, but rather free. All future content that Epic develops for this new Unreal Tournament will also be free. There will be no microtransactions either.
The monetization comes in the form of a community marketplace, where new skins, mods and entire new game modes developed by the community will be available for purchase. Epic will take a percentage of all transactions. Furthermore, those wishing to develop content for this new Unreal Tournament will need Unreal Engine 4 Tools, which costs a monthly subscription.
“This is new ground for us,” David Spalinski said, “We’re expecting some speed bumps and things along the way that we weren’t expecting at the beginning. But we’re going to make sure we do our best to include everybody.”
There is no publisher attached to this game and the entire project will be driven by a dedicated development team at Epic Games, as well as the community. Being able to provide updates, new content and user-generated additions means that Epic Games needs control over the systems running the game. Consequently, this new Unreal Tournament is only coming to PC, Linux and Mac – there will be no console versions. This is actually a completely obvious move when one considers just how rigid Sony and Microsoft are with their consoles and systems; a project with this level of community involvement would be impossible on hardware that is as walled-off as the current and last generation console systems are.
Development of this new Unreal Tournament has only just begun. In fact, the team at Epic has literally only started working on things today, 08 May. There are plans to populated a Wiki with design and discussion documents so that community developers and fans can access the inner workings of this Epic Games team. They hope that this level of transparency will help community developers to streamline their own content for inclusion in the game.
The development team has chosen to focus on getting the straight deathmatch game mode up and running first. From that they can begin fine-tuning weapon balances and the like. Once deathmatch is up and running, that can be used as a springboard to bring other game modes into Unreal Tournament.
It’s still very early days, and there was no mention of a tentative release schedule at all. That being said, you can head over to the new Forums to join in the development discussions. If you’re interested, then head over here to check out Unreal Engine 4 Tools.