PlanetJailbreak

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What are the scores?

Image - What are the scores?

You thought the Jailbreak III scoreboard was pretty damn cool, right? Well, it's a piece of crap compared to what we're working on for Jailbreak 2003. And I mean that in the best possible way – this takes the work of art that was the Jailbreak III scoreboard and adds a dash of slick and a smidgen of spiff.

And all this is from just a screenshot. Yup, you're seeing as much as I've seen so far. I dread to think what silky-smooth animation Mychaeel is cooking up right now in his moose-proof underground lab. I say dread because when the Jailbreak team sees it, we might all keel over and die in amazement. And then there wouldn't be a Jailbreak 2003. We're dicing with death each time we download a new alpha version here.

In other news: PC Zone Magazine (UK) reviewed Jailbreak III Gold recently: "... an essential in any UT fan's library. PC Zone verdict: 83%." I kinda think they liked it!

Twohundredandsixtyfour!

Image - Twohundredandsixtyfour!

Good news for all you screenshot junkies! Thanks to Robin 'Rob' Pamart we have a total of 264 screenies to show off. So please make yourself comfortable, enjoy the pictures and don't forget to join our next Sunday Lockdown if you like to become the Jailbreak playmate of the month.

Sunday Lockdown 2003-03-23
Sunday Lockdown 2003-03-30
Sunday Lockdown 2003-04-06
Sunday Lockdown 2003-04-13

A look under the hood: part 3

Image - A look under the hood: part 3

Bot support has been a thorny issue of late. Two high-profile mods have treated it in very different ways: one switched to another engine, citing UT2003's bot code being poorly implemented as the reason; while another didn't include it at all in their major release. So what's Jailbreak's take on it?

Bot support is an important part of the design of Jailbreak 2003. Because Jailbreak is similar to standard Deathmatch from the bot point of view, we don't have the problems suffered by sports game types: we can take advantage of most of the low-level bot code that comes with UT2003 already. That includes using the GameObjective class for the release switch, and making full use of the squad system.

The main challenge is getting bots to set the right priorities at the right time. UT2003's team game types keep a bot's general orders to attack or defend fixed throughout a game; in Jailbreak players however constantly have to weigh conflicting priorities and make a smart decision about attack, defense, or even flight. Of course bots shouldn't be "cheating" and know more than human players could, so part of Jailbreak's bot code exclusively deals with making educated guesses about other players' whereabouts based on openly available information.

As for squads, we carry along bots teaming up when they're following the same objective — more or less: too many players in one place is usually not a good idea in Jailbreak. On a technical level though a squad is the instance immediately telling a bot how to behave, combining programming hooks that were previously distributed on the game type and the base bot code itself. Jailbreak constantly juggles bots between attacking and defending squads and has separate squad types for bots in jail (making them idly stroll around or take up hammer fights with other players) and in the arena.

One question remains: when are you going to get to see all this for yourself? Well, Mychaeel has this to say about progress on our Alpha versions: "I'm particularly pleased with the fact that I have had to spend only relatively little time with fixing bugs in Jailbreak despite the fact that we're close to being feature-complete. It seems that the time spent on laying out project's design beforehand is really paying off there; and anyway designing software is a lot more fun than debugging it, after all."

Sounds positive. And if you simply can't wait, you might be interested in joining the team. We're holding an IRC chat for any prospective members, on enterthegame.com channel #utjb, this Friday 11 April at 21:30 UTC.

A look under the hood: part 2

Jailbreak is one of relatively few mods that don't change everything about the game: it's a gametype mod, period. That means no new weapons, player models or startup menus. No, Jailbreak is all about the gameplay.

Surprisingly, Mychaeel thinks this made certain aspets of coding Jailbreak harder: "It required thorough understanding of UT2003's software architecture since Jailbreak hooks into the game at a much higher level than a mod that strives to replace all content by its own. But that in turn lets us maintain a high level of compatibility to third-party UT2003 content — gameplay-altering mutators, new weapons, player models, voice packs and so on." See? You can play Jailbreak with that moose player model you always liked.

Epic have taken a far more modular approach to their class architecture in UT2003, and we like to think we've made good use of this. The first shock a mapper might get is that there's no longer a dedicated class for the Jailbreak release switch: the generic GameObjective class does the job. There's huge potential in this, as mappers can subclass in any way they like: the switch can be touchable, shootable, or something completely crazy, as Mychaeel suggests: "if somebody was to develop a GameObjective subclass that has attackers win a game of chess before allowing itself to be triggered, that would be instantly usable in Jailbreak." This approach also means that there can be more than one release switch per team. We've not yet seen what sort of gameplay this could give... but we're looking forward to it.

The mapper is also given far more flexibility in the matter of jails and arenas. These are no longer zone-defining actors inheriting from ZoneInfo. Instead, for the jail class (JBInfoJail) the area of control can be defined by the zone they are located in, or several zones or volumes by means of a tag (and they can hold members of both teams, too). Arenas don't need to control any area at all. An arena is just two players who can't hurt or be hurt by other players. They can be isolated in a separate area of the map, but they can just as easily be in the thick of the action, or in a place that can't easily be zoned off. (You can thank me for that wacky idea...)

Next week: bot support.

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