With the recent announcement of Tribes 3, BU interviews Conquest Marines, a UT2003 mod that has a very similar goal as what Tribes has, and it has one more thing T3 won't have - it's free!

Off the bat, can you introduce yourself and your mod?
     Conquest Marines is a futuristic team based multiplayer mod for UT2003. It's team against team battling it out over large scale outdoor maps. Players have multiple weapon choices, varied inventory, and vehicles to fight with. We think the Unreal engine is a great platform for us to build something really special on and our goal as a team is simply to produce a great mod. That statement actually breaks down into two goals - the mod has to be cool to play, but equally important for us is getting it released.
     My role in all this is two-fold. First off, I'm basically responsible for making sure that Conquest Marines keeps moving forward. I try and coordinate things so that everybody working on the project has what they need to allow them to focus on what they are good at - modelling, mapping, skinning, design, whatever. As the team is getting larger this is starting to involve a lot more e-mail and forum posting - luckily the team are all dedicated and can take a lot of the decisions for themselves.
     The second part of what I do involves developing the code - I'm the only coder, and this is my first experience working with the Unreal engine so it's a real challenge to keep improving the functionality and making our designs a playable reality.

Is this mod similar to planetside in theroy? Will there be a persistent world implemented?
     That's not something that we'll be looking to do in the first implementation (we don't have the financial muscle for a start !). I think the idea behind Planetside is great and I'm really looking forward to when it's released. From our point of view though a game of that kind of scope is simply too large for us to think about attempting right out of the gate. Our aim is to work on this project in a series of more manageable stages - at the end of each stage we will release what we have and then take some time to refine our design and re-evaluate where we go from there.
     Initially our effort will be focussed on getting some self-contained Gametypes out there, things like CTF, Assault, and Deathmatch. Once we have those released we'll start introducing some of the new gameplay ideas we've come up with. The focus though is on taking this development stage by stage and making sure we don't get into a situation where we disappear for six months because we can't finish what we set out to complete.
     In all of this we're keen to make sure we have enough room to allow us to respond to what players of our mod tell us they want. One of the great things about working on a mod is that you can build a much closer relationship with the people that play your game - there's no big corporation sitting behind us telling us what's too risky commercially or what we can and cannot do. Building a community around Conquest Marines is something that we are committed to achieving as we progress.

How will vehicles be implemented? Will they be a necessity?
     We really feel that vehicles add a lot to the online gaming experience. Riding in a vehicle online with a bunch of other players on your team is a real buzz and something that I think definitely needs adding to the UT2K3 game world. Having said that - it's not straight forward.
     The first time I played around with the Bulldog in VehicleDemo I was blown away by the Karma physics - it's an absolutely fantastic engine. If anything it probably provides too much for what we want - in our situation we can sacrifice some of the physics realism to ensure that the multiplayer network performance is up to scratch.
     So the route we've taken is to build our own vehicle code - it's definitely a risky strategy and we may end up in three months time saying that it's all gone wrong and we can't have any vehicles in CM. So far though development has gone really well and we have our own vehicles (the Jetbike, Gun turret and Assault Buggy) running over a network. We're actually just entering a new phase of testing that's going to give us a really clear idea of what's feasible with vehicles in the live environment.

We are not done yet, check out page two!