[page=A Friend Returns]
For everlasting years, all of us have had some kind of fantasy for machines or robots. We've clearly have loved the concept. The mod Counter Organic Revolution (COR) has surprised us all with their recently released production for Epic Games' Unreal Tournament 2004, a mod filled with fast paced action and full of transforming. Today, I am happy to announce the well done and polished, COR to be modDB's Mod of the Month of August. It's been so long since we have given this award, but I have a few things that need to be mentioned. What I expect from you during this article presentation is for you to keep your imagination open. COR simple lives some of our fantasies of robots and brings them to a playable game. While writing this, the only thing i have to say directly, from feature writer to reader is that I hope you will understand why I felt this to be the perfect choice for a Mod of the Month award.
[page=You Are So Very Special, But Why???]
I really hadn't heard of COR till just a month or two ago, and I didn't really look much into it either considering i had Unreal Tournament 2004 uninstalled for so long. But when I heard about the release, I instantly jumped out of my chair, and anxiously went looking for my UT2k4 CDs. It took me forever to find in my messy room, filled of CDs laying all over the place, but after the intense search it was found, each of the CDs were found scattered in various cases.
As I finished installing, the COR downloads were done, and I opened the mod up instantly. I tried searching for some servers, but wow, there were no servers with people in them to join (After this is posted I hope to see more people playing)! So i said "Okay, I'll try the tutorial" Assuming the mod was gonna be very technical and difficult. Surprisingly, the gameplay wasn't as difficult or technical the way I thought it would be at all! That's not a bad thing either, which means my run through the tutorial was pretty damn smooth. The tutorial runs through the background and story of COR. Within just a few minutes you're already trying out every CMR transformer. Each CMR in the tutorial has it's own level environments, for example, Harpoon is demonstrated in some kinda canyon environment allowing the player to easily try out the grappling ability.
A little while after I was done with the tutorial, I was of course ready to try out the full game. I was still excited to see how the transforming would affect gameplay in-game, and I was excited to see full blown intense action after seeing some of the videos, so I called up a friend of mine and we both loaded it up. My first impressions were.. Wow... I really didn't seem to realize the unreal technology was able to make such huge environments. My expectations for the engine went down a while ago since I really haven't seen anything all that great looking since Red Orchestra. So as my screen flashed into the game, i was already seeing lightning bolts in a very large scaled map full of hills with a long side of mountains seperating the two flags from eachother in a game of CTF. My friend and I were kinda confused, it was only us two at the time, and we couldn't find each other for about a good 10 minutes, cause neither of us realized we were on our own sides of the map. it was obvious this wasn't our type of map to play at the moment, so we rested on it (since it was 4:30 AM) and went to bed.
The next day I conducted my interview with three of the COR staff members, Mecha, Draxon, and Narkster. The interview lasted for a whooping hour and a half! It all went well, and shortly after, we all played together with the addition of a few people from the mod's community, and my friend Gdeep440 (who lurks around modDB occasionally). That day was a totally different experience in gameplay opposed to the night before. For one, I was playing with people who obviously knew what they were doing. The combat was intense, with all the CMRs blasting at each other or flying around all over the place. I remember after stealing the enemy flag, one of my teammates was Pulse (a CMR that can turn into a ship) used a tractor beam to carry me back to our base, succesfully capping the flag. The only thing I didn't like that much were the attacks that the CMRs had in their regular forms. It didn't seem so intense at times, and just the feeling was kinda boring, but that could be just me. Other than that the gameplay was really great I felt. By the way the CMRs are actually transforming (read the interview for more details), so it's really good to see a mod actually has taken it a step up for a robotic mod. Infact we haven't even seen that kinda technical detail in full games today (such as the various transformers games).
There is so much more for the community to see what greatness these guys have created, these our just the biggest things that come to mind. The COR mod has tons of environments and gameplay experiences even I have not seen yet. To get a better idea, i have combined this article with an interview as well, to continue the sweet flavors this mod presents.
[page=The Men Behind the Mod]
So my first question, the COR or the GHC? what are your opinions on the factions?
Mecha: There is definatley no overall team favorite, but each person on the team tends to have a favorite faction, GHC or COR, depending on their custom play style.
A lot of time and energy was spent in creating two highly unique factions with utterly different playstyles. The GHC is my favorite, I love flying around with Hellfire so much. Vector is pretty clever too.
The GHC is all military equipment, they have the biggest guys, and can really do a lot of direct dammage. Example: Scorch is the hover-tank and his special ability is a BIG turret that can hurl balls of plasma very far, causing maximal damage. The COR on the other hand, is very much movement and teamplay oriented. the people that play COR tend to be the sneaker crowd.
Draxon: Personally, COR is my fav! :) Big weapons are fun and all, but I really enjoy screwing around with Harpoon, and the versatility of pulse's grabber beam. Makes for a lot more challenging and interesting gameplay in my opinion.
Narkster: I think that I would have to go along and say COR as well, because I like to sneak around and wait for the right opportunity in a match. There are many players that are die-hard GHC fans though, so don't think they don't get any love
So please, don't hesitate now to introduce yourselves and your positions.
Mecha: Well my name is Chris Pope, I am the Lead Artist and fashion coordinator. Together, Matt and myself are the project leads.
Draxon: My name is Matt Tonks I'm the lead programmer
Narkster: I am Nick Herring, I do a little of everything, programming, PR, and QA
Mecha: And general crowd control :)
Narkster: My favorite.
How did COR get started? While planning, were there doubts that you would get as far as you have?
Draxon: Erm well, originally we tried to start something similar up in our highschool days. It was a mod for Quake III called MTOS that was roughly similar, but not developed at all...It lasted about two weeks, but it planted the seed.
Mecha: About 4 or 5 people from the MTOS days were actually on the COR project.
Draxon: Doubts? Sort of. WE all knew the dangers of doing a mod, and not getting anywhere. Especailly in the school environment that we are in, but I think the reason it got as far as it did is because we refused to let it fail. We've gone through ups and downs and in the end you just have to push through all the BS, but looking back I don't think I ever expected it to be this successful.
Mecha: We really took a lot of time to plan before and during production to make sure that we were able to release "something" by the summer of 2005. Like any other big project, a lot of stuff we wanted to do has been moved to the coming months.
So how long has it been since COR first started it's production?
Narkster: It is approaching a year
Draxon: We've been in production for about 10 months
How was making the CMRs transform? Are they actually transforming?
Draxon: So if by actually transforming you mean we didn't cheat, then yes. We went great lengths to design and implement the transformers so that they actually believably rotate and slide and such in a way much more similar to a toy than the cartoon. The cartoon just melts, we didn't take that route. As a result the characters require quite a bit of planning to get to work successfully, but I think it was worth it. As far as the tech goes I"ll just say that it was pretty challenging to get to work right, and is a bit of a challenge every time we add a new character because we have to align different rigs which is always difficult.
Mecha: Another thing to mention about tech is that nothing like this has been done as cleanly or as well by any other mods. From a design standpoint, doing believable transforming characters was a massive challenge, maybe a little too much work in retrospect. Each character took between 3 and 5 weeks to design on paper and more than a month to model, texture and animate each guy. Additionally, each character is truely unique, so nothing can be reused from one character to another. An example, in UT2k4 there are several characters that use the Malcolm base model, but replace the texture to create a new character. In COR this was not the case.
As of this current release we have three transformers for each team, what other kinds of transformers can we expect to see in the future releases?
Narkster: Chris can you hint to to the new CMRs that we are working on?
Mecha: In the next few months we expect to add two new CMRs to the lineup, both in the mammoth class, meaning they will be the biggest, baddest dudes yet. The COR faction will get Slug, a massive anti-gravity cannon vehicle. Slug's anti-grav cannon will shoot a big pulse of energy, and wherever that ball hits, it will create a temporary distortion in gravity, causing everyone around to float, making them easier targets. The GHC will be getting Hammer who totes the biggest gun in the game. In fact, hammer's artillery cannon is so large and powerful, he will be unable to move as a vehicle, as he will have some pretty hefty bracing.
When creating the CMRs and the COR mod itself, what are your influences? Of course Transformers is one of the main roots, yes?
Mecha: Gundam! Any anime we can get our hands on really. We get asked a lot about our inspirations actually. Everyone wants to know if we are big transformers junkies, but the truth is, our biggest goal is just to capture the fun that we had with transforming toys, and robots as kids. So stuff like go bots, Voltron, all of that stuff was fair game when brainstorming our style. As for gameplay, the inspiration was from quake 3 and tribes 2; Fast and intense, with a focus on team-oriented objectives.
Narkster: MechWarrior had a small part in the influence of the heat system.
How was programming the weapons and unique attacks into the mod?
Draxon: The weapons have a hint of your standard fps weapon design, sniper rifle, shot gun, machine gun, etc.. but they're all changed a little. The vehicle uniques are some of the more unique aspects of the game, and as such were more challenging to set up, dealing with limitations of what is exposed in script and still getting the effect we needed was challenging at times. Harpoon's swingline was especially interesting to set up :)
Mecha: As far as design, the hardest part was just to figure out some new and unique weapons to make the game fun. We didn't want the standard loadout of shotguns, rocket launchers, and sniper rifles. So while we have variations on those, everything is tweaked, visually and design wise. But a couple, the VPD and Interceptor are weapons you haven't seen before anywhere.
During the production of COR, how did the staff work together? Were there ever any major arguments or fights, or did it fly along smoothly?
Narkster: The team became really close during production. Like any team, we had people that left for certain reasons, but for the most part the team was very cohesive and communicated very well. We spent many weekends locked up in an appartment or conference room working on the project, trying to hit a deadline. We had our share of arguments, but none we didn't work through :) that's the important thing. Exactly, most of those involved design issues, because everyone has an idea, and our team was open to anyone's suggestions... Although some we louder than others ;)
What is the theme for environments in COR maps?
Mecha: COR takes place on the searing planet Tatalus IX. The terrain resembles mars a lot, very red and jagged, but we are playing with a lot of variation on the theme lately, everywhere from sandstorms to methane sea's
COR is currently having a mapping competition from what i understand, have you guys been getting submissions? If so, how have they been?
Narkster: The maps that we have received so far have been a mix, but for the most part we are excited about a few. I plan to get the playtesters on them, and we as a team will look at them and judge, but it is still early to say what its looking like because we still have around 10 hours till the deadline. Eventually the fight may leak out into space or even come back to hit the GHC's home territory, Earth
Lastly, what do you hope to see in the future of games and mods?
Mecha: I am very interested to see what developers are going to be doing to streamline mod creation in the next generations. The amount of effort that it takes to implement a total conversion for UT2004 is staggering to say the least. Now that we are getting more beautiful and complex artwork for new engines, its taking a lot longer to create art, so it'll be critical for developers to have a plan to help ease the pain on artists and level designers.
Draxon: As far as games go I'm looking forward to the next level of interactivity. I think Half-life 2 touched on it, but just barely. Games are just starting to be able to react intuitively based on what we've learned all our lives. things should react in a game as we would expect them to in real life, and I think we've just barely hit the surface of that. As far as mods go, they're really interesting because of the flexibility. There isn't a publisher over your heads making you do something that's going to sell, you're open to do whatever you want and I think that allows for some very creative ideas to happen. Unfortunately the big bad publisher also pays our salaries, so mods don't tend to get as much love as they deserve. I really am interested to see where modding goes after this next generation of engines come out, because it really takes a lot more time (art wise) now than it did in the past.
It was good to meet you all and speak to you about COR. I look forward to seeing you guys again.
[page=Farewell to the Article, Congratulations August]
It's been forever since moddb has had a fine Mod of the Month, and I'm very proud to say that the mod COR is awarded for August. It's a warm season to see a stunning mod reach down to us these days. It's been forever since i've had such interest in mods; all of them have seemed too generic for me, and I personally though the mod communtiy was doomed... But lately i've been proved wrong. COR is only the beginning of a big return for us all, and we will see many exciting mods to come down from the heavens.