Rejoice, all you die-hard fans of first-person shooter games. Epic Games just confirmed that it is planning to release a new "Unreal Tournament" for free - not free-to-play, but completely and utterly free.

There is a distinction between free and free-to-play. Free means anyone can play the entire game without having to pay for anything at all. Free-to-play, on the other hand, means much of the game's content will be playable at no cost, but players will have to pay small fees to access additional content. For example, a free-to-play game will require you to make a microtransaction of, say, $10 to buy more energy and play more matches.

There is nothing of that sort with the next "Unreal Tournament." The catch? It's not going to be playable anytime soon, at least not for many months, because Epic is going to build the new game from scratch, allowing all "Unreal Tournament" players to get involved in every step of the development.

"From the very first line of code, the first art created and design decision made, development will happen in the open, as a collaboration between Epic, 'UT' fans and Unreal Engine 4 developers," writes project leader Steve Polge in a blog post.  

Work on the latest "Unreal Tournament" begins Thursday, May 8, with a small group of "veterans" starting on the code. Anyone who wishes to participate can simply create a free account on the Unreal Engine forums and contribute. Epic will also make available all code and content on GitHub.

The new game in the works will initially focus on a classic deathmatch mode before expanding to include Capture the Flag, Onslaught and other modes standard in the series.

Players will be able to create their own content, such as maps, characters and weapons and sell them in the marketplace or give them away for free. All content made by Epic, however, will not cost a single dime.

"Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer and Epic. That's how we plan to pay for the game," says Polge.  

This is the first time Epic or any other game developer has taken the open-for-all approach to development. Polge admit that is has not yet figured everything out.

"Things will probably definitely go wrong from time to time, and when they do, we'll have to work through them together. There will be a lot of tough decisions to make, and not every feature will make it into the game," says Polge. "But if you're a fan of 'Unreal Tournament,' a UE4 developer, or a future modder - or if you just want to learn how we make games - we hope you'll join us. It's going to be fun."

The new game will be made for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is unclear yet whether the development team will come up with a game for consoles.

Along with the code for the upcoming "Unreal Tournament" game, Epic has also made public its Unreal Engine 4 development roadmap on Trello to allow anyone interested to view and vote on proposed improvements.

"Our hope with being more transparent in our development processes is that we'll generate more value for developers working with UE4, both in understanding what's likely to appear in upcoming releases and also in having more context around how the engine is being built (and a little bit of the why)," explains Ren Davis of Unreal Engine. 

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