ONS-ArcticStronghold ONS-Crossfire ONS-Torlan

BU: ONS-Crossfire and ONS-ArcticStronghold were created by Psyonix, correct? Did Psyonix contribute any additional level design?

The three initial maps were ONS-Torlan by Streamline and Hourences, ONS-Crossfire by Robert Horvat (Nathillien Thilsa), and ONS-ArcticStronghold by Eric Evans (Swartz). Psyonix directed all of the Onslaught map development, but the mapping was mix of the above mappers working remotely and the mappers we had in-house – Ben Beckwith, Nate Overman, Alan Willard at Epic, and Peter Respondek to name a few. In the end it became a highly collaborative effort as we moved all the maps on-site to finish up and polish.

BU: The Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo reached as high as the third or fourth most played game online. Onslaught made up, by one account, about 70% of the game time logged online with the demo. That's a pretty stunning success! How do you feel seeing your vision turned to such a successful reality?

It’s totally awesome. I’ve been so excited to release it. We worked on it for more than a year and it just kept getting better and better. You know that you’re working on something really special when you still look forward to the daily play sessions after months and months of playing it over and over again. I can’t wait to play the full game with the public and I really can’t wait to see all the maps and mods people make with it.

BU: Was Psyonix involved in the creation of the custom node setup editor, or in the creation of the link/node concept? (If so) What kinds of setups did you find that worked well (or didn't work well)?

The original concept of base vs base led to us to placing PowerCores in each base. We needed something the other team had to destroy in order to signify a winner. The gameplay was really lacking though as each team would spawn, and immediately run to the other PowerCore and attack it. I wanted to spread the fighting out to different parts of the map so the battle fronts weren’t always centered at the bases. I was inspired by the node systems in games like BF1942 and Planetside, but at the same time I knew we needed a unique implementation for Onslaught. I wanted the gameplay to create a limited number of battle fronts that would focus the fighting in different areas on the map, but at same time I wanted the battle fronts to change location so you aren’t always fighting in the same area. From there I came up with the current node/link system and a week later we were testing with nodes. I remember that time specifically because that was the point in which people stopped saying “Wow, this game has a lot of potential to be fun” and started saying “Wow, this game is really fun”.

I particularly prefer link setups that have a single node linked to the main base. I like the idea of pushing your way across the map and taking the last node before the core. It causes you to enter a final showdown where the other team can only spawn at their base and fight like mad to defend the core. Torlan default is my favorite setup but there are completely different link setups that I like at different times. It’s interesting how different link setups on the same map can radically change the gameplay. We found that the smaller maps with fewer nodes were the most fun to play. A favorite map around the office is ONS-Frostbite which has only a single node by default. I find that link setups with a single choke point can be fun if you feel like a having lot of close quarters combat, but some people find them to be frustrating. It really depends on the kind of gameplay you prefer.

Matt Oelfke created the custom node editor. He was contracted by Epic and worked on Onslaught in collaboration with Psyonix. You can thank him for a great deal of the Onslaught AI support.

BU: No doubt Onslaught will receive heavy support from the Unreal mapping community. Any tips on good level design for the gametype? Anything to avoid? What types of maps would you most/least like to see for it?

I recently wrote up a tutorial on map design for Onslaught on the Psyonix website. We’re going to be adding a lot of useful modding and mapping information for the community. I would really encourage mappers to keep their maps small and tight for Onslaught and not to compare the gametype too much to BF and other vehicle games out there. Onslaught really plays much differently as it is all about getting in quickly and fighting furiously. The best maps will be the ones that capitalize on this.

BU: Have any of the Psyonix team played the game online with the public? Have you seen anything that surprised you, or that you did not anticipate people would/could do?

Absolutely! Everyone at Psyonix plays online with the public. We can’t wait until everyone has the full game. We also stay active on the forums and listen to the community as much as we possibly can. The entire development process was dramatically influenced by the community.

BU: What is next for Psyonix?

More Unreal Engine-based games! I can’t divulge our next project quite yet, but we should be able to announce this soon.

BU: Anything else you'd like to add?

Beyond Unreal is great! We all really appreciate your support of the Unreal franchise and UT2004 and I especially appreciate the opportunity to do an interview for you guys.

Thanks for the kind words, Dave, and thanks for talking with us!

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