A look under the hood

Over the last few weeks you've seen some of the cool effects we're preparing for you; but now it's time to go behind the scenes and see how it's all being put together.

It all begins at the drawing board, where the basic designs are sketched out, and the colourful cartoon characters you know and love first spring into life: Mitch, HexMachine, Torque, TheSpoonMoose and the rest of the gang... oops, wrong script there.

Work began on Jailbreak 2003 several months before Unreal Tournament 2003 was released. By looking at other next-generation Unreal games, or demos like XIII, it was possible to set out the form of Jailbreak's gameplay code: which classes did what and how they were to interact. As coder Mychaeel puts it, when the game was released, "those specs had literally only to be translated into UnrealScript code."

So how did this actually work? Well, you can see the original design document on the Jailbreak Developer Network. Rather than adapt our UT code to a new game, we decided to start from scratch. This was partly because Jailbreak III had too many legacy issues: introducing new features often meant having to jump through hoops to ensure old maps and mutators remained compatible, simply because those features hadn't been envisaged earlier. Time to wipe the slate clean!

"The redesign also gave us the chance to introduce new ideas directly into the design's foundations," says Mychaeel. Code has been designed to be modular, both on a technical level and in the way Jailbreak 2003 presents itself to users. A core game type provides Jailbreak's gameplay and bot support; mutators deliver features like release protection or the ever-popular llama hunt; extra packages contain mapping props to let mappers spiff up their Jailbreak maps.

Next week: how the redesign has made for radical new concepts in Jailbreak maps: mixed jails, multiple switches, open arenas.