First off, tell us who you are and what you do for the mod?

My name is Chris Pope and I am the designer and lead artist for the COR project, a UT2004 mod featuring unique transforming characters. My biggest role on the team is to guide the look and feel of COR as a whole and to ensure that we have a consistent and unique style to our work. I occasionally get a chance to model the COR faction characters and do a little 2D work.

Briefly describe your mod.

Counter Organic Revolution, or COR for short, is a total conversion for Unreal Tournament 2004 that is focused around the age old question, "What if we were robots that could transform into vehicles?" COR is a largely outdoor, heavily team-based game where players find themselves in the middle of a robotic revolution. Each faction has its own unique transforming characters, or CMRs, and a playstyle that is suited to that faction; The GHC are a human controlled, militaristic faction being sent to quell the uprising of construction and mining robots in the COR faction. In addition to transforming, CMRs store heavy weaponry in their forarms that they use to pummel the opposition. Everything in COR revolves around the generation and dissipation of heat. Ammunition, shielding, items, and even vehicle special abilities all require the player to manage their CMR’s heat.

What is the inspiration for the mod?

At its very roots, COR has been inspired by the creativity and technical wizardry of Japanese robot manga. The goal of COR has been to capture the excitement and imagination that we all felt when playing with these transforming toys, whether they be Transformers, Gundam, Voltron, Rockwars, or anything else. While COR is inspired by toys and comics, a great deal of work has been put into creating a truly unique and compelling universe, and to find a technical and distinctive style of our own. When we sit down to design a new character, we look at everything from comic books, to pictures of middle-age armor, to detailed diagrams of modern artillery.

As far as gameplay goes, we have looked at an equally broad base of games for inspiration. While COR is most accurately described as a team-based FPS, its hard to rule out calling it an adventure game, a driving game, a flight sim, or even a fighting game for that matter. Instead of making a traditional FPS game with transforming characters we are really trying to raise the bar in gameplay above all else by looking to several genres and asking "what parts of this really belongs in COR?"

What was the best part of attending GDC - the coolest thing you saw; how did they react to COR?

So much happened at GDC this year, it’s really hard to pick anything out as the best. While in San Francisco, our team got the chance to meet with several developers, publishers, and even other modders, to see what they thought of COR. While some meetings were really relaxed and informal, others were very private and focused. Meeting with Steve Reid from Red Storm was one of the highlights of the trip, as he gave us a very formal critique of our progress thus far, letting us know what was good, what was crap, and ideas on how to push COR even further. The coolest sight of the trip was most definitely the UE3 demonstration at the Epic "booth". Its kind of exciting and stupefying to see how our current technical limitations are melting away with each generation. Overall, GDC was an excellent experience for our team to go out and meet people in the industry and to get some great and enthusiastic feedback on COR.

Compare and contrast the different modes that CMRs can transform between.

There are three distinct forms in COR, a vehicle form, a humanoid form, and an emergency shell form. The player pilots a multi-functional CMR suit, which they can transform from humanoid form to vehicle form at any time. The goal is for players to learn the strengths and weaknesses of both humanoid and vehicle forms and learn to exploit their opponent’s forms as well. Humanoid form allows the player to use their CMR’s dual-arm weapons from a first person view. This humanoid form is well suited to combat, however it is slow to dissipate heat and players will move much slower as humanoids.

The CMR’s vehicle form is used mostly for reconnaissance or support fire. CMRs in vehicle move much faster than their humanoid forms, and also have special abilities unique to each character. Pulse, for example, is a flying helijet with the ability to lift and transport extremely heavy objects via a tractor beam, but he can only use this while in his vehicle form. Vehicles also feature much quicker heat dissipation, making them ideal for hightailing it from a loosing battle or just bursting through a fiery roadblock.

Finally we have the Eshell, our version of a pilot. The Eshell is the actual “intelligence” that pilots the large transforming CMRs. The GHC faction uses humans to pilot their CMRs whereas the COR faction uses small intelligent robots to pilot their CMRs; these pilots are known as Eshells, and for a good reason. Eshells are extremely small, about 1/3 the height of an average CMR, and also suffer the disadvantage of moving slowly, having no shielding, and only a single weapon for protection. Besides saving you from impending CMR death, being in Eshell form allows players to sneak into really small areas that aren’t available to CMRs and also lets players hijack enemy CMRs – this can be really handy as you can steal CMRs that aren’t normally available to your faction.

How will multiplayer work?

COR is an objective based game, and really focuses on getting players to use teamwork to accomplish goals. Each CMR has its weakness against opposing forces, so players must work together to overcome their weaknesses as a whole. The unique qualities of each CMR makes for a very dynamic and open-ended gameplay, allowing players to really forge their own solutions to problems. An example of this is the utility found in Pulse’s tractor beam; if harpoon is exiting the enemy base with a flag, Pulse can swoop in and lift harpoon up to a higher area, leaving the pursuit in the dust. Pulse can also use his beam for things like tossing enemies into hazards, or dropping hazards onto enemies.

With COR we are really striving for a story-oriented multiplayer experience. When complete, Linear Multiplayer Progression (LMP) will incorporate a story element with the gameplay, giving players the power to determine the conclusion of the battle on Tantalus IX. Depending on events and outcomes of the current map, the next map and its story will be dynamically affected. When we get a large base of LMP maps done, you will hear much more on the workings of this gameplay mode.