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Robert Julian Powers - User Experience Designer in Louisville, Kentucky

The Unreal Gaming Market Place

I’ve always loved games and have played just about ever system since Pong….Yes I’m that old.

Years ago I bought Unreal Tournament 2004 and became a total addict. The matches were typically 10-20mins long, and I could play many matches, without loosing interest. Shortly after I became extremely interested in making games through the Unreal editor. I had some experience modeling and skinning in 3DS Max so I gave it a try and pumped out a couple of Assault style games. I was extremely pleased in that the level received good reviews and gained popularity on some of the servers.

One of the most rewarding experiences in making the game was the ability to watch others play it. Unreal is an incredible game engine in that you can watch someone play in first or third person. From a psychological standpoint it was interesting in watching how users interact or conduct themselves not knowing that someone is watching them.

There are so many variables to take into consideration in designing a game. The game has to be difficult, but not too difficult. It needs to be long, but not too long. The puzzles should vary and the environment should be rich. In the end, everything should be optimized to remove lag or latency. Basically you are the god of your own world.

The level went through many revisions, and finally was bug free. The level did not include bot pathing, but at the time I don’t think my little system could have handled all the calculations needed for pathing because it was a large level. Regardless, it worked on a 32 person system and I was extremely pleased.

Had I the time or resources($$$), I would make games continuously.

Thinking about this recently I came upon an idea. Why doesn’t Epic create a marketplace for game designers similar to the Apple store. Users can create and sell their levels, characters, or mods rather than give them away. This gives incentives to gamers to develop additions to the game. It took me about 6 months to develop my level working nights and weekends. As I get older, building levels for free just is not an option.

A couple of times I actually thought about contacting Corporate America to sponsor my level design. In turn I would add virtual billboards in game, but I never got the nerve to do it, and to change out the billboards, the level would have to be continuously rebuilt and re-distributed to various servers. There needed to be some way to quickly and easily change out this virtual advertising, and the Unreal engine just did not allow this.

It seems now that Google may use my idea.  I will be watching intently to see how this turns out.

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