BU - All of the weapon changes seemed to be designed to level the playing field for each. Do you feel that a good balance was achieved for them?

James Schmalz - Yes, we felt we achieved an excellent balance in the weapons. Some people have strong preferences for certain weapons and become much more deadly with those weapons so those people might think there is an imbalance.

BU - I think of the Unreal weaponry as chess pieces. Each can be powerful in the right situation. Strategy is very important. Are there any weapons, if added, you feel would really add to the arsenal?

James Schmalz - I'm sure there are weapons that could be added to expand the arsenal but the range of the weapons we have covers all the bases adding more weapons would start to make things confusing.

BU - The player models appear to be a little smaller. Is this true, or is it the scale of the maps? If so, why?

James Schmalz - It's the scale of the maps. Many of the maps are outdoors and larger so it may make the characters appear smaller.

BU - Other than your own, is there a map that stands out for you in UT2003? (Either in design or game play)

James Schmalz - Any of the outdoor maps because they really add a new element to the gameplay with the wide open areas.

BU - Is there an element of the game that was cut from the final version that you'd like to see added in a Bonus Pack or future version?

James Schmalz - We wanted to get vehicles in the game but it didn't come together until close to the end of the project so we didn't have a chance to exploit it. It will be really cool to see what some of the mod makers come up with for the existing vehicle code that's shipping with the game.

BU - There are a number of maps that played a heavy role in the early publicity of the game. Some of those have been cut from the retail game (most notably DM-Gestalt, BR-ElectricFields, and CTF-LavaGiant). Will we see any of those in some form in the future?

James Schmalz - Two of those are Pancho Eekels' maps and he's very excited to get the chance to re-address those maps as he knows there's a large fan base for them. The reason some of the maps early on in development were cut was the evolving Unreal technology. Many of those maps needed to be recreated using the new technology or did not fully exploit the new technology. So we're re-working them and they will most likely be released in the future.

BU - How is Unreal Championship coming along?

James Schmalz - Very well, Unreal Championship will be in stores at the launch of Xbox Live on November 15.

BU - Are there things you've been able to implement on the X-Box (in either game play, aurally or visually) that you were unable to do in UT2003. (Due to hardware, audience, or general nature of console game play)

James Schmalz - All the Xbox Live stuff such as the voice communicator, broadband connectivity and Microsoft's Xbox Live features (i.e. friends list, optimatch, etc.) all of which are a fantastic addition to the gameplay.

BU - Can you tell us about your next project? Will it be Dark Sector? When can we expect the demo?

James Schmalz - LOL, already starting with the demo, that's funny! You're correct, Dark Sector will be our next project and we're really excited to jump back into full production on it. We already have a year's worth of pre-production done on Dark Sector so you'll be hearing more about this project soon.

Thanks so much for your valuable time!

Related Links:
Digital Extremes
Unreal Tournament 2003