We want to thank Steve Polge, and the folks at Epic, for taking time out to answer a few questions and relive a moment or two of the development time of Unreal Tournament 2004. Officially released on March 16, 2004, Unreal Tournament set the gaming world on fire with accolades from the press, huge online numbers, and the continuation of the Make Something Unreal contest.

Let's get into it, shall we?

BeyondUnreal: Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004 were released within a relatively short period of time. What were the primary reasons for releasing a new game in the series so closely after another?

Steve Polge: We felt that there was an opportunity to add some really new and different gameplay to UT using the existing technology, by adding vehicles and game types focused on vehicles. We also wanted to bring back Assault which we (as well as many fans) really missed.

BeyondUnreal: A huge part of the success of Unreal Tournament 2004 was the addition of vehicles and the Onslaught gametype. Looking back, what about Unreal Tournament 2004 do you think _didn't_ work? What would you like to have changed?

Steve Polge: We're really happy with how the big changes to UT2004 - Onslaught, Assault, vehicles, and the improved single player ladder - worked out. Assault and Onslaught each have a gameplay issue I would really like to have addressed.

With Assault, it's the problem that in many maps, the game play tends to get bogged down in spam fests around certain chokepoints. We spent a lot of time trying to improve this issue, but it is difficult to prevent this and keep assault from becoming too complicated for casual players.

With Onslaught, the problem is that once one team has a significant advantage, it's often difficult for the other team to mount a comeback. This is particularly the case on node layouts with only a single node connection to the powercore (which is a good layout for small player counts, but not for larger player counts). We tried to address this by providing multiple node layouts, but unfortunately people tend to play with the default layout.

We're working on some new game play mechanics to address this issue for the next Unreal Tournament.

BeyondUnreal: What are some of the more interesting assets of the game (maps, models, weapons, vehicles, etc) that got cut?

Steve Polge: The Phoenix bomber was originally going to be a drivable vehicle (the code is still there in the shipped version), but we were unable to make it fun to use and balanced in gameplay. There were also a couple of *huge* onslaught maps that got cut, like ONS-Thor and ONS-Rise. They were cut because of performance issues, and because they weren't very much fun to play, but they did look really cool.

BeyondUnreal: Below you'll find a shot of ONS-Thor and ONS-Rise that Steve mentioned above. The third shot is an old shot of ONS-Dria.

ONS-Thor ONS-Rise ONS-Dria-early