Ten Years eXpanded MultiPlayer: A look back and a little surprise :)

Two days ago, U2XMP had its 10th anniversary!

We thought we’d take the opportunity to reminisce about some of the history of the game and show you a little something we have been working on 🙂

U2XMP was released in a time when it was common to provide demos for your game. On December 5th ‘03 a demo for Unreal II: The Awakening’s multiplayer content was released, followed by the full release only 4 days later. The developer released one final patch at version 7710 on January 20th 2004, including many bugfixes as well as improving the ingame server browser, adding functionality to easily track artifact-campers and fixing the infamous vehicle-turret-dismemberment bug.

“r u havin’ a giggle m8?” – A blue Ranger commenting on his Raptor’s attitude

Around this time XMP had it’s golden days. Large EU and US scenes had been developed, which each participating in regular matches and tournaments as well as met online occasionally to eagerly discuss how bad the other was at the game, and how they should GTFO because the high pings made it impossible to hit each other. A nice man with a seductive baritone voice named Liuokin started XMPTV, where he streamed matches and did live commentary, providing entertaining footage for the community. This was long before streaming services like Twitch.TV existed, and serves as a testament to the passion and goodwill we felt for our game. Some will remember the infamous “talk like pirates” episode.

Several map packs were released by the community. There were the AlienPod Map Packs (including the until the last days of XMP often visited XMP-APv2-Miasma-FMI and XMP-APv2-RGB), the Community Bonus Pack, German Forum Pack and Community Expansion Pack. In 2004 EQ², the pope of U2XMP, released the BSE Raptor Race modification. It contained several maps from the main multiplayer part, but modified and equipped with a racing track on which players could compete. EQ² also released smaller modifications for the game like health bars which appear over the heads of your teammates and the very useful map vote mutator. Furthermore he is the one to be credited for enabling people to get a hold of the latest U2XMP installer (long, long after the game’s death) combined with several custom maps in the Community Edition Installer, still being hosted at http://xmpcommunity.com/ .

Let us remember some of the great clans which were around back then:

European:

  • High on Coffee, ]HoC[
  • [X-Ray]
  • The Bullit Catchers, TBC
  • .pot.
  • overCruel, oC
  • Dead Cows Strike Back, .:ÐÇsß:.
  • Clan 1, [1]
  • Thor’s Hammer, tH
  • Twelve Monkeys, ¹²M
  • Dark Side, [Ч]

American:

  • .kbs.
  • LNS
  • NBK
  • xTended Frags, xF
  • Shadow, §
  • Voodoo, =vD=
  • Alpha, /\º
  • Baptized By Fire, [BBF]
  • Cold Blooded Xecutioners, (¢ßx)
  • Drug Gaming Clan, +D+
  • International Assault Squad, *=)IAS(=*
  • NoBull, {NB}
  • Omníscient Gaming, ºØmníº
  • [pet]  (GGRRRR*)
  • eXecutioners, [_X_]
  • Year 4 Thousand, ¥4K

* comment by the editor

On January 16th very sad news was posted on the web, stating that Legend Entertainment had been shut down by it’s owner, Atari. This left us with a game which 10 years later still has some very glaring issues (being able to boost to the moon with vehicles by quickly getting out and back in again | not being able to switch weapons in rare occasions | no demo recording functionality). Soon the game had lost its master server, resulting in severe drop in player activity, and effectively cutting off new players before they could even play their first game. Fortunately, it wasn’t long until ]HoC[Omen and .:ÐÇsß:.EQ² got to work on a new master server, which is still functioning today.

Ten years later, a french player named Dusty is still hosting a regular U2XMP server, and EQ² is hosting a mod he did all by himself for fun and never showed the public. “EQ’s Conquest/Aircraft Server” hosts a phenomenal achievement. It is a recreation of the Conquest mode from Battlefield 1942, with the popular map “Wake Island” and a whole load of custom aircraft vehicles.

A flying vehicle from EQ²’s Aircraft mod

Long time after the game went quiet and everyone was playing Battlefield or Team Fortress, a Facebook Group and a Steam Group had emerged, urging veterans – who were in mourning everyday because they had to eventually move on and play other games that were not U2XMP – to flock together once a week and play a match or two of the one true game. Sadly but not unexpectedly even this initiative abated after it’s high, where we had a 9v9 U2XMP game in May 2012!

.kbs.crisis can’t believe this miracle

We also want to remember Free Monkey’s initiative to port U2XMP to Unreal Tournament 2004. UTXMP was a total conversion for UT2k4 and had everything that was in U2XMP, and also featured bots and demo recording. Sadly it didn’t click with the audience and never really picked up.

A ranger lurking about in the foggy cave of UTXMP-Rampant

In November 2007 Unreal Tournament III was finally released (previously titled Unreal Tournament 2007 but Epic decided that UT 2003 didn’t happen). In the beginning of the following year Aksen started a thread on the Beyond Unreal forums, stating he had created a mutator for UT3 which featured basic XMP movement like sprinting and boost jumping. 

Despite all of this, there has never been a wholly spiritual successor to XMP, and this is something the world truly needs. Not another port, because this has already been done. This is something only we can do, because we have such a love and passion for the game. And we HAVE been working on it now for over a year. We will capture the adrenaline and strategy of U2XMP in UDK:XMP, utilizing simple custom assets. Once we have achieved this, who knows what we can do from there.

Announcing UDK:XMP – an effort to bring the mechanics and gameplay of U2XMP to Unreal Engine 3

I (Saiboat) wanted to start working on a game as a hobby  for a long time because I was unhappy with most new games that had been released. I didn’t want to start from scratch  with creating a proprietary engine and all that jazz so I quickly settled with UDK which is awesome for this project since it includes a cut-down version of Unreal Tournament III which has a lot in common with the XMP gametype and you can easily learn from that by looking at the UnrealScript code. When starting to figure stuff out in March 2012 I learned a lot by reading the UDK forums hosted at http://forums.epicgames.com/forums/366-UDK and asking questions there. I quickly remembered that Aksen had already been working on doing something XMP-like with UT3 (see above) so I contacted him and asked if I could use his UnrealScript code for the movement side, to which he happily agreed. He was very eager to hop onto the project, too,  and to help move it forward. Not anymore as a coder so much as a sound engineer. As we progressed and got more and more of the core gameplay elements in, additional ex-U2XMP-addicts got interested in our project and started to help out here and there. We got NBK-RED who did some mapping for us and who has acquired the Oculus Rift dev kit (UDK already has support for this), TBC-Zephyr who created some conceptual artwork since we do not plan to re-create the XMP-look and our newest member is [pet]skunk who is a modeler and has already created a new model for the tech’s field generator!

UDK:XMP

Here’s a list of features we have implemented so far:

XMP game logic:

  • 4 artifacts, each team starts with 2
  • Each team has their own amount of energy
  • Energy is added by energy sources
  • Players spawn at deploypoints
  • You can cycle through different deploy points (forwards AND backwards)
  • Register and unregister yourself at a deploypoint to spawn there
  • Hack energy sources and deploypoints for your team
  • Steal artifacts from the enemy by walking through the artifact node OR directly touching the artifact you want, giving you the opportunity to acquire the one power-up you want
  • Drop artifacts (throwing them in front of the player), pick them back up by walking over them
  • Artifacts have realistic physical interactions with the world (also get boosted by jump pads)
  • Artifacts can be returned by auto-return OR picking an artifact of your own team up and carrying it back to your base (this feature has to be tested – is it enjoyable, does it break the game?
  • If a team has 4 artifacts in their node, they have won the ROUND. we have implemented round-based play. instead of having to reload the whole map, everything resets automatically and you can play another round.
  • Heal / resupply / re-shield other players by “using” them

XMP movement:

  • Dodging; walljumping; boost jumping; dodge-jump-dodge way of moving around without re-dodge delay (can start dodge while still in air after dodge-resetting-jump); sprinting; sloping; mantling(!); stamina + skill bars and recharge functionality

Weapons and items:

  • Ammo clip system, reloading system
  • Ranger: sniper rifle (only 3 zoom levels), Pistol, Grenade Launcher, Health Pack
  • Gunner: Rocket Launcher, Trip and Land Mines, Ammo Pack
  • Tech: Shotgun, Machinegun Turret + Rocket Turret, Field Generator (Force Walls!), Shield Pack

Additional notes:

  • Custom sounds for the Jump Boost for all three classes for 3 different types: float, ascend, descend
  • Custom “no energy for jump boost” sound
  • Custom generator ambient sounds
  • Lots of bot stuff done, atm in unplayable state because of need of a real map with good pathnodes etc. Architecture like UT3 bots (squads, objectives)
  • 3rd person camera with delay for coolness factor, button to switch 3rd person sides
  • Payer menu in Scaleform (flash-based HUD), choose class, team, and respawn!
  • Scaleform HUD taken from UT, information about artifacts, time, stamina, skill, weapon name, shield and health
  • Scoreboard, scoring for kills and capturing artifacts
  • Spectating freely or certain players is possible
  • Demo recording works, doesn’t crash the game 😀
  • Replication has been thought of throughout development, everything listed here works on server (also effects replication etc.)
  • Some sounds are temporarily taken from u2xmp, like artifact related stuff or weapon sounds
  • You can capture artifacts by THROWING them into the artifact node
  • Ugly particle effect while hacking/healing 😛
  • Announcements of important things on hud
  • Concussion-jump-like behavior of Rocket Launcher rockets

What is missing as of now:

  • Obviously a lot of items and weapons and sounds
  • Artwork of any kind, modeling, mapping (only Field Generator model)
  • Vehicles (we can use the Scorpion from UT for now)
  • HUD needs to display information about team energy and energy sources
  • Energy levels per team are there but have no effect on items/capturing artifacts etc.
  • Proper scoring system, Stats per player
  • Reviving team mates
  • Server browser; experiments with Steam have been successful
  • More HUD/Map orientation support
  • Hackable doors and such, manned turrets

We are all busy with real life, studying, and work, and have been working on this as a hobby. We would love to welcome new members who can offer what this game needs: UnrealScript coding, creating/animating models, mapping etc.

Please tell us what you think. We are excited to get your input!

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