The Bottom (Front?) Line:

At the end of the day, running the mod was hugely stressful. It was stressful for every single member of the team at some point or another – but that is how games development is. Red Orchestra won all the awards it did because of the team, not in spite of it. We may have gone through many evolutions internally, but the actual quality of the work, and the commitment to that team was superb from all the contributors.

It has been said many, many times before – but one of the keys for us was in having a generally shared vision of what we wanted to create, how it should look, how it should feel – and how it should play. One of the huge advantages for mods over retail games is simply that we could try new stuff. If it didn’t work, we could drop it again before releasing. No screaming from the Producer about wasted budget – we didn’t have any money anyway! If we released a version with a new feature in it that bombed, we could simply “listen” to the community and pull it or re-write it in a later version.

And, with all said and done, it was hugely enjoyable. If it hadn’t hit individuals’ personal aims too, the mod would never have been completed. Of course there were the disagreements, rows, shouting and major league sulkies – but most of the time it genuinely was a huge collaborative effort. A really strong team was born out of it all. The final result has been the forming of Tripwire Interactive in Feb 2005, with a good number of that mod team making the transition in one shape or form.

Red Orchestra won a string of awards and has been the single most played full conversion mod for Unreal Tournament 2004 for more than 2 years. Epic should be mildly happy, as it induced a good number of people to go out and buy UT2004, just to play the mod. As a full-on Combat Sim, Red Orchestra has started to cross and blur the boundaries between WWII-based “shooters” and the hard-core Tank Sim world. We reckon we’ll go on breaking those barriers down. Key to that is the fact that we have a heavy realism bias, with armor accurately modeled and the use of machine-guns and artillery in a realistic fashion, mixed with the mayhem of close-quarters infantry combat. We find that the more patient, thoughtful gamers will be playing the stand-off, supporting roles, covering the “young guns” storming the building; then the careful ones can move in too, hold the building while the objective is taken. Everyone scores points. Everyone gets to play their style of game, without one or other utterly ruling the other.

Red Orchestra: Combined Arms

Developer: Tripwire Interactive LLC
Number of mod staff: 40-50 all told
Development timescales: 2 years
First Released: V1.0 – August 2003
Latest Release: V3.3 – May 2005
Total budget: $0.00
Effort invested: 10-20 man-years effort