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Unreal Tournament (1999) Environment Style Breakdown

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    Unreal Tournament (1999) Environment Style Breakdown

    Hello all,
    As an exercise, I decided to do a breakdown of the level environments seen in UT99.

    My feeling was that most of the levels are derived from one of three buckets (or their hybridization). What I like about this, and why I chose to look at UT99 as opposed to 03/04 or UT3 is the reuse and hybridization factor.

    Main Styles
    A High Tech
    B Ancient Ruins
    C Industrial Facility

    Hybrid Styles
    A+B= Space Castles
    A+C= Mid-Tech Facility
    B+C= Derelict Facility

    Please keep in mind that the names for these are just descriptors for this exercise.

    Take a look at the attached image, and let me know in this thread what you think about this assessment, as well as what your favorite style bucket is. Ultimately, I'd love to see this project utilize environment styles that can mix and match content to create hybrid styles.
    Attached Files
    David Spalinski
    @spazinski
    Epic Games

    #2
    It's pretty accurate. I actually loved the mix of industrialized and ancient feeling environments. It was like the tournament went out to the far reaches, the most extreme locations they could find (like around volcanoes/lava pits, in the sweltering jungle, some ancient ruins with steep drops etc).

    "Misc" could probably be called Urban/ghetto environments. That was actually an important one, as it lent to the dystopian feel in a way that an empty factory doesn't immediately suggest. You can do a lot with urban environments to suggest the state of the world and create backstory, via the graffiti and whatnot - the only problem is them tending to be overcluttered visually at times.

    What has probably said UT the most to me over the years has been the spacecastle type places, they were unique, matched the music created by Van Den Bos and company heavily, and also the movement choices such as dodging and lowgrav. Seeing a giant planet hovering overhead gave a feeling of awe. The old school castles and ruins worked too and I'd love to see them return.

    I think that we've all seen our share of factory type environments by now, some other types of places we haven't seen much of could be cool whilst not straying from the formula too much. A prison, for example or some other kind of place with lots of big halls, like a spaceport, or shopping complex (with the shops boarded over or empty)... etc.
    Last edited by HenrikRyosa; 06-03-2014, 11:38 AM.

    UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
    Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by David Spalinski View Post
      Hello all,
      As an exercise, I decided to do a breakdown of the level environments seen in UT99.

      My feeling was that most of the levels are derived from one of three buckets (or their hybridization). What I like about this, and why I chose to look at UT99 as opposed to 03/04 or UT3 is the reuse and hybridization factor.

      Main Styles
      A High Tech
      B Ancient Ruins
      C Industrial Facility

      Hybrid Styles
      A+B= Space Castles
      A+C= Mid-Tech Facility
      B+C= Derelict Facility

      Please keep in mind that the names for these are just descriptors for this exercise.

      Take a look at the attached image, and let me know in this thread what you think about this assessment, as well as what your favorite style bucket is. Ultimately, I'd love to see this project utilize environment styles that can mix and match content to create hybrid styles.
      I love all these styles and combinations, brilliant. It's part of what made UT feel like UT, hard to put to words. Part nostalgic no doubt. Great job!

      I hope we will never see maps with any resemblance to human/earthly historic archetype icons, themes such as Egyptian, Asian etc. ever again.
      Unreal Tournament - G.O.T.Y. 1999
      .: 99 Gaming Social Club :.
      Everyone welcome on IRC Quakenet #99


      Comment


        #4
        Yeah staying away from earth for as many maps as possible is probably a good idea. Then you're not limited to what looks "convincing for earth". And really, when there were no obvious signs of things we recognize, I tended to imagine it was another planet anyway. Like the Skaarj or Nali homeworlds.

        UT4 modding discussion: irc.globalgamers.net #UTModders
        Contrib Digest | UT2341 - Henrik's UT4 Dev Blog | Twitter

        Comment


          #5
          It seems that to a very large degree, most of the same texture sets are shared across maps that belong to the same category. For instance, most of the maps in category A make heavy use of the UTTech texture sets.

          I'd wager that these categories don't reflect as much conscious decision making - to make these specific categories of maps - as they are simply natural reflections of the texture sets that were available to map authors at the time.
          Dueling Flak Cannons
          We see the shells falling
          Together, we die

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            #6
            Thanks for this, David! It's a very helpful design philosophy!


            Perhaps this thread could get a sticky?
            Last edited by Joen; 06-04-2014, 04:10 AM.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Loeder View Post
              I love all these styles and combinations, brilliant. It's part of what made UT feel like UT, hard to put to words. Part nostalgic no doubt. Great job!

              I hope we will never see maps with any resemblance to human/earthly historic archetype icons, themes such as Egyptian, Asian etc. ever again.

              Actually there was one Egyptian theme map for original UT that was pretty good.

              http://www.mapraider.com/maps/unreal...emple-of-Horus

              But I agree with you regarding the "styles and combinations being brilliant and part of what made UT feel like UT". I'm hoping for a wider variety of BSP-style materials in the next UT, than what UT3 had, as I believe it will help with a wider variety of map themes. Original UT had such a great variety of map themes. UT3 not so much ( same tan colored stair step material appeared in too many maps ). Although, I did like the Asian theme map DM-ShangriLa, it's not a theme I'd want see multiple times in multiple maps.

              Comment


                #8
                I don't like this, and it very well reflects the thing I really liked least about UT1: everything is an industrial facility! More than two thirds is some variant of "tech facility", and it gets boring really fast. The first few are memorable, after that I get the feeling "oh, another tech facility, go figure". And UT1 had even three sets of "UTTech" packages which were added on top of the Unreal textures...

                Mixing and matching is a great idea, but the "buckets" should be sufficiently small. In the environment preponderment thread, all kinds of environments were mentioned, and they would certainly not all fit in a graph like that. Variety is key. I feel that each map should be memorable, have some sort of an edge, a sort of an Unreal factor. A Nali temple that makes use of lava, a frozen waterfall level, a deep-space Drakk platform, a low-gravity Gen Mo'Kai forest, a Skaarj mining facility, a Nakhti megalopolis etc. etc. In that sense, UT2004 was really good in comparison.
                Unreal Tournament 4 eXpanded MultiPlayer (UT4XMP) efforts
                My website, listing all my Unreal series mods and mutators

                Comment


                  #9
                  Nice breakdown. My favorite would be ancient ruins, high tech, industrial facility. In that order.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Awesome breakdown. For me the maps that had the most visual impact were the ones that mixed styles. The derelict facilities felt like they had a backstory built right in, while the contrast of a floating space castle made the whole level pop. I will say I was a huge fan of the skyscraper levels as well those had a sense of place that was hard to find in a lot of the other maps, which felt like you were fighting underground.
                    Mike :aka: thatscrawnykid
                    Artist for Chaos: UT

                    Comment


                      #11
                      It seems to me, not many people think in what style one or another map.
                      It does not matter.
                      The map should be interesting, stylish... and only !
                      Tried to play UT2k4, UT3 – not that ! Now Play UT. Always waiting UT2 !

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Neorej View Post
                        Thanks for this, David! It's a very helpful design philosophy!


                        Perhpas this thread could get a sticky?
                        This thread should definitely get a sticky because it is one of the most important feature sets of a new UT, alongside with music, movement and weaponry.
                        Unreal Tournament - G.O.T.Y. 1999
                        .: 99 Gaming Social Club :.
                        Everyone welcome on IRC Quakenet #99


                        Comment


                          #13
                          David you have hit the hammer on the nail head when it comes to recognizing the various environments which made UT amazing - this is something which is touched upon by GameSpot's recent spotlight on UT99 being the best game ever, a spotlight which can be verified by fact.

                          With the exception of Facing Worlds, the Space Castle concept isn't that appealing to me, nor is Ancient Ruins, but some great maps have been developed for them, and the concepts behind those maps are great. The diversity of levels and settings without unecessary background information is really what makes UT great. Additionally, I hope you're not forgetting about some of the great Assault map environment like Overlord, loosely based upon the invasion of Normandy, OceanFloor where you attack an underwater research facility, Frigate, Mazon, and Rook. Some of the assault custom maps took environmental concepts to completely different levels. If you're interested in looking at those environments for your research feel free to PM me.
                          Purveyor of Unreal Tournament.

                          <khxmz> thanksgiving is about being thankful for what you have nvz, not asking your favorite game developer for more hats

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                            #14
                            I'm not thoroughly convinced.
                            Most UT maps are somewhat different in their style, owing to different bsp shapes and lighting methods, and taking influence from multiple texture packs.

                            This breakdown neglects the urban maps, like Crane and Morbias, but also Condemned, that have just enough assets to be a full theme of their own. There's nothing stopping one from hybridizing them with others, as with Stalwart and StalwartXL that are urban/industrial blends.

                            The maps in the 'space castle' category are a hodge-podge of all three, some completely lacking space/high-tech textures (apart from the skybox).

                            'Natural' environs occur solely in Ancient Ruins, which tends to result in plants and terrain being underrepresented in UT's map list.

                            Pyramid, Fetid, and Dreary likely belong in misc more than the stated 'misc' examples.

                            HallofGiants is just a space/high-tech map with a stupid amount of green in it.

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                              #15
                              Favorite Styles: A & A+C

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