Home Page: www.cliffyb.com (seldom updated)
email: email@example.com (rarely answered)
Cat-Scan Contest: www.cat-scan.com (always illegal)
Tales From The Hellmouth: www.hellmouth.org
CliffyB's Ownage: www.planetunreal.com/cliffyb
DISCLAIMER: I am simply setting the record straight on what this mod does and why Epic does not support it or encourage its use.
Lag has been a factor in network first person shooters like UT and Q3A, since the original release of QuakeWorld. When I first saw ZeroPing for UT, I thought that a mere modmaker had finally managed to do what the Sweeneys and Carmacks of this world could not do - get rid of lag once and for all.
Being a lowly game designer and knowing absolutely nothing about the way network code works, I was forced to consult the wisdom of some programmers at Epic - Jack Porter, Brandon Reinhart and Steven Polge. What I learned disturbed me deeply, as the ZeroPing mod for UT is rapidly gaining popularity online.
To explain why ZeroPing (âZPâ) is unfair, we have to examine the way a network game works.
In a regular game of UT or Q3A, the server is God. The outcome of all gameplay is decided by the server. When you press your strafe key, your client sends a message to the server to tell it that you just started to strafe. Your computer performs 'prediction' - performing the strafe move locally on your UT client. Most of the time the server agrees on your final position, but sometimes it's necessary for the server to correct the client's location slightly. There could be an explosion nearby which transfers momentum to you, or there could be another player which blocks your strafe.
The position of other players is a different story. The server sends the location of other players to your client, and also sends information about their current direction and velocity. This information takes a period of time to reach your client. This time is about half your ping time (as your ping is calculated as the round trip time from your client to the server and back again). Your client predicts their location based on this information, until you get the next update on the player's actual position from the server.
So the world you're running around in on your UT client is an approximation of the game running on the server. Say your current ping is 100ms. The location of other players is not always exactly correct, as you only know where they were 50ms ago, and where they were heading. They might have changed direction and you won't know for another 50ms.
When you press the fire button, a message gets sent to the server to let the server know that you fired. In the case of instant hit weapons like the UT Sniper Rifle, the server does a line trace to see if you hit anyone. This is fair, because the server knows exactly where each player is, and has the most recent information about their position. It can make a fair assessment as to whether you really hit the guy or not.
What ZP does is give that judging responsibility to the client. Using the approximate information the client has predicted, the client checks to see if the guy was lined up with your crosshair and tells the server "yep, you hit him". While this might seem great to the camping bastard firing the sniper rifle, it sucks if you're the guy he's firing at. Because you know full well you hid behind the pillar in time, but because the camper doesn't have the latest information on your position, he thought you were in full view.
To demonstrate how unfair this is, I'll describe an extreme case of potential ZP exploitation. You see a room full of guys on your screen. You quickly unplug your Ethernet cable. Your client can no longer receive any information from the server, so it keeps predicting these players running in a straight line with the velocity the server last sent you, until they hit a wall. You can then walk up to them at your leisure and blow their heads off with the sniper rifle. Then, quickly plug your network cable back in. Your client will send the message "I killed these five guys" to the server, and the server will believe you.
ZP makes bad players with bad network connections think they can play really well, at the expense of everyone else in the game. If you want to clean up using ZP, join a server in eastern Europe. You'll whup ass because you'll be so lagged out.
Ping is a fact of life; you can't make it disappear (and still have a fair game) with a few lines of UnrealScript trickery. While I commend the efforts of the author to attempt to make a smoother online experience, I believe that anyone who is serious about their gaming wonât use this mod.
NEW EMPLOYEE ALERT!
Welcome aboard, Warren Marshall!
Ah, GDC. What can I say? I love this industry.
I've updated www.cliffyb.com with a link to my written materials for my GDC lecture "The Art and Science of Level Design."
I hope you find it helpful!
Upon reading Jack Kroll's editorial, one might infer that he believes the only medium that can convey emotion to the user is film.
Emotion is in a person's head and heart, not on the screen.
When film first came along, proponents of live theatre were skeptical of its ability to convey emotion. After all, the audience was not watching live people acting, they were watching pre-recorded images that were being played back on a flat screen. How could this medium possibly ever cause a viewer to cry because of the death of a character, or become excited by conflict?
How then, is it possible, to be brought to tears by a novel? To feel excited by a song? To be titillated by a sensual painting? A novel lacks the smile of an actress. Most great paintings lack photorealism yet are still able to evoke emotion from the viewer.
I have been playing electronic entertainment all my life. I was born and raised on it. I have shed tears at stories of love, I have thrilled to battles won by brave warriors, and I have had crushes on digital princesses.
Is it pretentious for a designer to consider himself an artist? No. In fact, his medium is the most innovative and exciting new frontier for artists everywhere. If a character dies in a film it can tug at the emotions of the audience. However, in a game, if a character dies who has saved the gamer's life then the gamer feels responsible. This creates an emotional bond that no other form of media can. If a sexy femme fatale crosses her legs in a digital interrogation then the player has the choice of whether or not he's going to risk being thrown off the case for pursuing her. In film, the viewer just sits there and watches. The most emotional entertainment experiences for myself, and a generation, have occurred during titles such as "Lunar," "Final Fantasy," and "System Shock"
An active form of entertainment can create far more emotion in the user than a passive form. In gaming, the story is driven forward and defined by the user's actions. He commits himself emotionally more, because he's investing his own time and ability into it.
Games are no longer child's play, they are the freshest and most exciting medium of artistry for the new Millenium.
I'm speaking at the Computer Game Developer's conference this year.
Last year I did a round table on 3d shooter design that went pretty well, so I figured this year I'd take a stab at a lecture.
Those interested in learning my opinions on where the role of the designer, as well as many common and advanced design techniques are welcome to attend and hear me run my lil' mouth for an hour or so. ;)
The session is 4404 and is listed at
I'm speaking at the same time as Dave Perry of Shiny Entertainment. I hear he's a good speaker. I'm going to have to sabotage his talk by bribing more people to come to my lecture! Muhuhaha!
After the conference I'll be posting my written materials on my website at www.cliffyb.com. It will be the debut of something useful on my personal homepage.
I'd like to welcome abord our two new artists, Steve Garofalo and John Mueller.
I expect great things from them.
We need more servers running this Mod. This is going to be some ass-kicking stuff if these guys manage to implement even 1/4th of the features they have planned. It is amazing how much a mod like this can change the gameplay of any of UT's gametypes. I'm especially impressed with how well Assault plays with Infiltration.
In other news, I'd be a liar if I said the snow here hasn't slowed down the forthcoming free-release Epic Bonus Pack.
For those of you who are patiently waiting for this I can tell you that all the content is ready to go and we're testing it.
I'M STUCK AT HOME!
I lived in Boston long enough, I don't want to shovel my driveway every winter!
Those of you in the San Fran Bay Area on the 21st can go see some Cat Scans on display in an exhibit called "Emotionally Annoyed." Which I suppose that makes me, now, by association. Grrrrrr.
>>Jeeez, textures are becoming more popular than Penis pumps at homosexual blanket parties.
Why does Billy Wilson know these things?
Eavy, a UT mod author, has resurrected one of my favorite gametypes for Unreal1. Darkmatch was largely thrown into Unreal1 as an afterthought, something experimental, but this UT mod is now the real deal.
It's like Hide and Go Seek in the Dark... with Guns!
Scientists revealed today that 90% of the average developer lifespan is spent downloading porn.
WARNING: Obligatory Marketing Oriented Update Ahead!
The Make Something Unreal Contest is back and in full swing!
Today, January 4th 2000, the Make Something Unreal Contest is now accepting submissions for the Best UT Deathmatch Level/Map category! You have until January 18th to get your submissions in for a chance win a share of the $7,000 being given away in this category alone!
Not submitting an entry? You can still take part! Register yourself as a judge so you can vote on all the submissions and also have a chance of winning Voodoo3 graphics cards, Aureal sound cards and more in our monthly random drawings!
If you're running a UT competition I'd strongly suggest using these settings:
Official Epic Games Tourney Settings
One on One
Weapons Stay- OFF
Game Speed- DEFAULT
NO BOTS (duh)
Game Setting- HARDCORE
Mutators- NO REDEEMER, NO POWERUPS
Frag Limit- 20
Time Limit- 10
Suggested 1 on 1 Maps (my personal opinion)
Malevolence (to be released in upcoming free Bonus Pack)
Oh, and if you haven't downloaded the free CTF maps that Digital Extremes created then you're seriously missing out.
These are 2 top notch maps created by 2 of UT's best level designers and they're above and beyond commercial quality.
I'd love to see more servers running these maps online!!!
Shit I'd love to see more servers! Yeah!
[PIMP HAT ON]
Brandon Reinhart is maxing and relaxing in NYC with Pseudo online. Check it out! I mean, the guy flew up there and dealt with all sorts of crazy flight delays to please his fans. :)
Also, Phase 2 is beginning soon of the "Make Something Unreal" Contest. Make cool stuff for UT and make cash!
Who'd have thought?
Next up we have an online beating that Epic and DE handed out to our publishers GT Interactive in UNREAL TOURNAMENT to be aired on the 22nd on Pseudo.
Oh, and dig this:
(Sheah, like anyone can frag me.)
[PIMP HAT OFF]
I enjoy perusing the forums where UT gamers get to
voice their opinions. I consider it part of my job as well.
However, I feel the need to clarify some confusion that
I've noticed in regards to the maps that we chose to ship
with in UT.
Give me a chance to address some of these concerns, and
use my plan file for Good.
1. "Just because you make a spaceship or a boat doesn't
mean it plays well!"
You seem more Old School. I'd suggest playing the
following maps then:
These are maps that were made just for the gameplay, the
architecture is dictated by the gameplay. These maps are
more traditional, mazey DM.
2. "These maps are bland! I don't want a cramped mazey
bland area; been there done that! Show me something new!"
I'd suggest playing the following maps then:
The Unreal Engine handles interior and exterior
spaces extremely well and maps like Peak and
Hyperblast really take advantage of this. These
maps are original, you get to frag in really
exquisite environments. Sure, they may not be
the ones you play in a tourney, but they sure
have that "wow" factor.
3. "These CTF maps aren't symmetrical! These
CTF maps are too tight!"
The issue of symmetry is something we really
beat ourselves up over when making the UT maps.
At the end of the day we went with a mixed
selection; some maps were symmetrical while
others weren't. The asymmetrical maps required
a ton of testing and we feel that they're pretty
well balanced. For instance, in CTF-Command the
blue base has a slow lift and long ramp to get
to the flag, but there's a back entrance you can
access fairly easily if you're good with the
translocator. In CTF-November there's a long
winding staircase to the blue base, but once you
get the flag you can just drop right out of it.
In the red base there's a long pipe leading to
the flag that you have to run through to get in
and out of the base.
If you'd prefer more open CTF maps then I'd suggest:
CTF-Face and CTF-LavaGiant
These maps also play extremely well in low-gravity
mode. Remember, dodging is very useful in low-grav.
You can zip around maps easily using it.
Oh, also, server admins: Please don't run TURBO
assault servers. It kind of kills the point of the
game where you can destroy the assault target in 8
seconds flat. :P
One of the reasons we wound up with over 50 maps in
UT (besides having some really hard working level
designers) is because we wanted to make sure we
appealed to the broadest audience possible. Some
people like the gimmicky maps, others like the more
traditional DM maps, others prefer to fight in realistic
locations. It's all there! If you don't like playing
one kind of map then give the game a minute as the server
will cycle to one you probably dig.
Hard to please all of the people some of the time or some
of the people all of the time.
p.s. Dig this:
Something is really distressing me when I browse the server
list in Ubrowser in UT.
Many server admins think that just because a map shipped
with the game that it is ok for dozens of players to play
Deathmatch maps like "Fractal," "Oblivion," and "Stalwart" are TINY and
are meant for one on one, no more. When you run a server with
a 32 player limit and add these maps to your cycle list you're
just ruining the play experience for those who are trying to
find a good local server.
CTF maps like "Niven" are meant for 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 CTF,
nothing more. They're not even in the default map list, this
is for a REASON!
So, please, don't cycle these maps unless you're keeping your
max players very low.
A lot of people have asked me where I got my p1mp necklace.
Clay from QVT made it for me, custom job!
We're considering having Clay make more depending on demand.
[I thought it never rained in Dallas BTW.]
Updated UT demo is out.
PATCH from last version:
In addition to oodles of misc. improvements,
(new pulse skin, menu changes, optimizations, etc...)
Steve has also increased the player's drawscale
slightly as well as their ambient brightness.
Notice how much easier players are to see now.
In other news, check out the addition to my office:
Burn baby burn! Disco inferno!
Idina Menzel...great stuff. She played Maureen in "Rent"
on Broadway and boy can that girl carry a tune.
I don't know whether or not I'm more excited or disturbed by the fact
that Blue and Loonyboi are ahead of me in NGworldstats.
Yes, you too can run an Unreal Tournament Demo Server!
We're bottlenecking on servers out there... the servers that are up are
spilling over with gibbage... host a game! Be a l33t UT p1mp! Help us
out! I'll let you touch my shiny shirt at e3 next year! =)
For those of you who are curious- you can adjust the gamespeed to crank
up the action in UT. You can also adjust the amount of Air Control...
These features are great to add variety to your game!
Okay, here are a few gameplay related notes on the demo that should help
you whup ass like I do around here. :)
This is on by default in CTF and Domination. If you want, you
can turn it on for deathmatch when you start a server or a practice
session. You can use it to get to hard to reach spots, telefragging
opponents, or you can just leave it in a spot you want to return to
later. Once you translocate, you can switch back to your previously
selected weapon by doing the following: When you hit ALT FIRE to
translocate, keep it held down. While it is held, you'll translocate,
then hit regular fire again. You'll switch back to your last weapon
The Melee weapon. The regular fire charges up as you hold it.
Simply keep the button held and walk up to and touch someone (while
still holding the button, it takes 2-3 seconds to get to a full
charge.) This will cause serious damage. If they're wounded or are
lacking armour, chances are you'll kill 'em. You can use the regular
fire to "impact jump" to higher areas at the risk of some damage.
Simply charge the tool, look down, jump and release.
The alt fire can deflect non-trace (hitscan) projectiles if
you time it right. It also damages foes but is more useful for
defense rather than offense.
It is a handgun. (duh) Regular fire is slower but more accurate,
alt fire is less accurate but faster. You can get 2 of them for John
Woo action. They suddenly become VERY useful at that point.
Similar to the ASMD- the gun is INSTANT HIT, even though the
effect sears the air after the shot fires through. Regular fire does a
good amount of damage and imparts a LOT of momentum on foes. If you are
playing DM-MORPHEUS, it is very useful for knocking people off the
skyscrapers. Alt-fire shoots slower moving plasma balls. You can combo
this like in Unreal1 by shooting the alt fire blob with the regular fire.
Regular fire- more accurate, slower, alt fire- less accurate,
faster. Eats up a lot of ammo. Pretty useful when you have the Damage
Regular fire- fast firing plasma balls. Very strong, but you
have to lead your targets. Alt fire- Lighting shaft of plasma. Has a
limited range but is very useful, especially with the Udamage. It is
like a knife through butter when you have the Udamage and use the
Regular fire- fires rockets, hold button for up to 6, at which
point it auto-releases. Alt fire lobs grenades, you can hold the
button on this mode as well. IMPORTANT- If you are one of those who do
not like this feature, you can turn it off now under
OPTIONS-PREFERENCES-INPUT. However, bear in mind that those who learn
and get used to the way the gun works will probably smear you. If you
keep your crosshair on a foe then it will turn red and a beep will
sound. Your rocket(s) are now homing, so let em fly. Finally, if you
start loading up regular rockets and you hit the alt fire button while
you're doing this your rockets will be released in a tight pattern
instead of fanning out.
-Dodging defaults to on. You can easily turn it off. I'd suggest
getting used to it. It took me a couple of months during Unreal1's
development, and now that I'm used to it I don't fall into lava or
dodge accidentally. I use it well and I'm able to escape attacks quickly.
Bear in mind that dodging in low gravity will give you great momentum,
it is an easy way to zip around. Also, Dodging forward will make you
-Feigndeath is bind-able in the regular menus. When you are faking,
your name will not show up on other people's HUD's when they have their
crosshairs on you. Oh, and remember, feigning death with the shieldbelt
on is just dumb.
-Throw weapon is very useful in team games. You can bind this in the
menus as well. When you hit this key you'll throw your current weapon
out... use it to hook up your buddies with guns. It also has other
interesting functions- one time in a firefight Alan was coming after me
and I threw my gun into his hand (the Flak Cannon, it has a longer
weapon switch time than many of the other guns) and I was able to blast
him while he was confused and switching. It was like an action movie
where one guy throws his gun to the other guy, says "catch" and shoots
-Weapon Prioritization is in the main menus and is very easy to
navigate. Just drag your fav gun to the top, and the gun you like the
least to the bottom. You can prioritize the translocator and impact
hammer as well. I'd suggest making use of the SWITCH BEST WEAPON binding
option, as this will switch to your highest priority weapon in your
priority list when you press it. Very useful. [This is also another
way to put the translocator away once you teleport.]
-Map cycle lists
The default deathmatch map cycle list cycles Phobos and Turbine.
Morpheus is a wide open low grav map that may not run as well as
the other 2 maps online, and if you want to cycle it you'll need to
modify the map list when you're starting your server/practice session.
-Jump boots are extremely useful in this space station map.
-The central courtyard is one big clusterfuck, and if you go for the
hidden shieldbelt down there you'll need those boots to high tail it
to a higher level.
-There are another pair of jump boots out near the armour/health
vials/minigun, and you can use those to jump up on the outside of the
space station and surprise foes.
-Also, remember that you can "lift jump" in UT. It works like this-
when riding a lift, and it is almost at the top, hit JUMP and you'll
catch a lot of extra air.
-If someone is controlling the tower in Phobos where the Damage Amp
is, you can lift jump over them and spray down hot lead as you're
falling towards them, they'll never know what hit them.
-Phobos CAN be played one on one, but you may spend a fair amount
of time hunting.
-The Amp can only be accessed by impact jumping. Yes, the bots will
go for it. :)
-There is a great camper spot up high somewhere near the highest
-The shieldbelt is hidden behind a shootable wall in this map.
-Make sure you use audio cues in this map. They'll give away your
foes' locations all over the place. :)
-Turbine can be played one on one without feeling too large.
-The Shock Rifle's regular fire is damned useful on this map. You
can knock people off the buildings easily.
-Beware of combo-move monkeys on this map that hang out in the
-Impact jumping will give you a hell of a vertical edge on your
foes. Try impact jumping and unloading rockets like mad on your
foes as you're coming down.
-Pulse gun is very useful on this map. The alt fire will work
wonders on a floating target.
-Morpheus can be played one on one without feeling too large.
That's about it for now. Make sure you play with the mutators;
low grav instagib CTF is pretty nuts. :)
WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!
In other news, check this out:
Let's spam this poll in favour of the contest!
Also, in UT demo news... the cool people over at
Gamekey have set up an alert system for the demo.
On Monday I'm speaking at the GDC Raleigh.
If you're in the area and have 90 bucks to spare, the GDC roadshows are
worth checking out.
How damned cool is that?
Can you say "MCNASTY?"
I think you can.
Dan Sarkar, artist supreme, created this little "motivational" image
for all you developers out there.
I'd like to welcome James Green to the Epic team!
James is a great modeler/animator/artist who has cool hair and a cool
Plus, he hates the sunlight just like the rest of us. He'll fit in well
You can check out his previous work at:
I never played the first System Shock, but I really enjoyed the second
one. Some great storytelling, pacing, and detail in it. Like Brandon,
I disliked the end as well. No one should try organic levels until we
have tons of polys/nurbs/real curves/etc... :)
Anyways, I had to mention that Tracie Spencer is a talented foxy lady.
Her CD is rockful.
In other news, finding someone to marry you who won't put all sorts of
religious crap in your ceremony in the South is like trying to find a
needle in a haystack.
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