Unreal mod contest heats up

GDC-goers get a glimpse of user-made mods in action.

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SAN JOSE--In promotion of its ongoing $1 million dollar modmaking contest, Unreal creator Epic Games and hardware company Nvidia demonstrated three user-made mods at the Game Developer's Conference.

The contest, which began last year, challenges amateur modmakers to devise a variety of mods for Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004. The contest has a number of categories and will award prizes for the best first-person shooter mod, the best level, the best character model, and the best vehicle, among others. Prizes will include computer equipment and cash.

Epic and Nvidia demonstrated three mods at the show. The first was Troopers, the Star Wars-based mod based on the classic trilogy. In Troopers, you'll run around an Imperial hangar filled with gigantic four-legged AT-AT walkers while shooting stormtroopers with a blaster rifle.

The second mod is called Air Buccaneers, and it's best described as pirates with hot air balloons. Players fly around in hot air balloons armed with old-fashioned cannons. Working as a team, they have to maneuver and fire broadsides at the enemy, much like the naval combat in the age of sail. One player will have to reload the cannon, while another will adjust its aim. Still another player will fire it.

The third and final mod shown was Red Orchestra, a World War II-based combat mod that is very reminiscent of Activision's Call of Duty. In it, you'll run around battlefields using realistic World War II-era weapons. To maximize the challenge, the developers have removed the aiming crosshairs, thus forcing you to rely on the iron sights of the weapons, much like a real soldier would. And with the introduction of vehicles in Unreal Tournament 2004, the developer plans to upgrade the mod to include drivable vehicles, as well as bigger maps to accommodate them.

The contest began last summer, but the big news is that Epic told us that they expect to conclude the contest by the end of this year. There's still time to enter, though, as the contest is still accepting entries. For more details, check out the contest's Web site.

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