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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.

Alpha 5 is alive

Image - Alpha 5 is alive

The Jailbreak team has a new internal version of Jailbreak 2003: as of yesterday, we're on Alpha 5. The list of updates from the preceding version is the longest yet, but the best bits are probably the team tactics HUD and the dedicated Arena HUD.

You've already seen the standard fireball death (but here's a reminder screenshot), but Alpha 5 adds classes for other spiffy execution methods which mappers can use.

I've also given our Press Center a little bit of a revamp. And finally, Mychaeel is off this week for a well-deserved break. So if you want the secret access codes to our moose petting zoo, now is the time to ask!

A small news update regarding Jailbreak III

Image - A small news update regarding Jailbreak III

Some of you may already know that we're about to establish a second fraggin' event, similar to our 'Sunday Lockdown' but held at a different day. For now we call it Wednesday Parole as it takes place every wednesday over at80.86.190.72(Sexmachine's Jailbreak Server – Password: utjb) starting at 8PM UTC. Feel free to join us today and make sure to check out Rob's screenshots from last thursday.

The monsters are back!

Image - The monsters are back!

The Jailbreak team are certainly quick off the mark. No sooner is the awesome Epic Bonus Pack released that they're hard at work, adapting the pack's monsters to new work slaying captives in our Jailbreak jails (thanks Wormbo for the pic!).

It just goes to show that although Jailbreak 2003 is a completely new codebase, lovingly designed from the ground up, we're keeping the things that made UT Jailbreak great. Who could forget getting speared by Slith in JB-Phasma, or getting your feet gnawed off by pupae in JB-Hydro16?

On the subject of the new code design, I plan to trap Mychaeel in his secret bunker and threaten him with stale pizza (pepperoni and moose milk mozzarella) until he tells me everything, so I can tell you. Don't tell him. Stay tuned.

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