Recently I started questioning why would a group mod a game like UT2K3 when there's an engine like Torque available for truly not much? Torque is $100.00 USD per developer; I paid $50.00 USD for UT2K3. You gain unlimited rights to the engine until you hit $500,000.00 in revenue (heh! That'd be me making a mess in my pants) and there's a sizable community that's grown around it. I don't have the engine yet but it might be my Christmas present to myself, just to play with it and see what I can learn from it.
I came up with some fairly solid reasons why someone would want to stick to UT2K3. The community is fairly close knit here - I've received lots of help from folks and I've tried my best to return that to those I can. UT2K3 is sort of like a RAD (rapid application development) environment for a game. You can get it up to speed quickly, make small changes, and test in quite a fast manner. You've got the support of Epic. UnrealScript is a hell of a lot easier to work with than pure C++, and Epic already has an excellent OOP hierarchy in place that makes changing things simple as pie.
The only downside to UT2K3 (and there's arguments about whether it's a downside, I'm not bothered by it but there are those who are bothered by it) is the openness of UnrealScript. At some point I wish Epic would allow for the official obfuscation of the code, if nothing else to stop cries of "nice CTRL-C there pal!" Frankly there's many ways to skin a cat but in UnrealScript there's maybe only one or two. I dread the day when someone says "that's my code!" but it's not. I'm probably going to go off half cocked. Yes, yes, yes, I know the arguments and I'm not going to go back over them here – there's plenty of posts on it in other areas. However, this does remain one area where an engine like Torque would hold weight over UT2K3. That's my point.
Oh, and UT2K3 is probably a bit more advanced than Torque but honestly I couldn't guarantee that until I saw the engine in my hands and was able to do a comparison that way. For now we stick to UT2K3 - this was just a thought I had today. Figured I'd write a bit about it in my journal. Engine choice is a big decision for many mods – consider how many mods are made on Half Life simply because of the player base that's there. Screw the technical specifications, you get 1% of the Half Life player base and you're fairly successful.
Torque's graphics engine seems to be nowhere as advanced as UT2K3's. I'm sure that comes from two years of idleness on it's part - then again the demos I had probably didn't show it at it's fullest capability either. The editor used for mapmaking is Worldcraft which is difficult to go back to once you've become accustomed to UnrealEd. (Recently played with gMax and realized the interface similarities between it and UnrealEd. Suddenly understood why UnrealEd is the way it is.) The community is nice, and large, and there's a ton of information in the forums, it has it's own scripting language (a bit more powerful but a bit more obtuse than UnrealScript), and it's compilable. That said, it's nowhere near as fast to prototype or develop in, there's not the same number of systems prebuilt into the code as in UT2K3, and the community seems more centered around for profit games than not for profit games.
If you're considering UT2K3 modding but want to check all the options out check out
- [Crystal Space]
- [Reality Factory]
- [WorldForge]. WorldForge is aimed at MMORPGs, but I know a few mod authors who are trying to write a RPG in UT2K3, so..
In the end we are sticking with UT2K3.
Mychaeel: I've seen somebody publicly and earnestly claim that DM-TokaraForest, bundled with UT2003, had been knowingly shaped after an old Unreal Tournament map of his by Digital Extremes (or Epic) because that map had also been situated in the treetops. – Some people will always claim that they've been ripped off, but in doubt it's the responsibility of the accusant to bring proof of plagiarism.
Trystan: Aye, innocent until proven guilty.