QA: The Circle of Trust

While my web site is not directly related to the continuing development or support of Urban Terror I do bring up some related items from time to to. Over the years our development team, formerly known as Silicon Ice Development has learned quite a lot as is relates to development. One area we originally did not put too much thought into prior to version, Beta 2.0 was that of quality assurance testing. The development team was the testing team, so needless to say those first few releases were spotty at best with many bugs. Just look at the readme from any version prior to 1.27.

I can still recall lining up gamers, both in Europe and North America to act as testers for the upcoming Beta 2.0 release. It was an exciting time, as we were about to provide an upcoming release to a closed group of gamer in order to get their feedback and input. We must not have put too much thought into this testing because we had numerous problems that arose from the formation of this group.

The first problem was that of the files being freely distributed by a few gamers, who were supposedly trustworthy individuals. Chalk that problem up to a learning experience and something that was not address until a few years later during development. It was a simple fix too, but we missed it early on in development. I recall connection to a Beta 2.0 server before we officially released it being played by gamers who had “obtained” a copy of the beta. While their comments were not all positive, it really did not play into the overall success or failure of the eventual release.

More recently, with team members who have now been together upwards of 3 years we have a more stable ground on which we develop and communicate. Sure the development cycles have gotten longer, such as 3.7 to the upcoming version, as we failed [or didn’t plan] to release a version during 2005. During this time we have had a more dedicated group of gamers from the community anchoring our Quality Assurance Team.

This group, while not grossly huge plays an important role in the overall development of Urban Terror. Along with play testing and bug hunting, it is the QA Team who provides changes to current features, for example the weapon damage values. The development team has become more “open” in changes brought to them by the QA Team. It is this sort of working relationship that will help bring about another successful release.

We do not try to please all the gamers, be it in the community or on the QA Team. We would die trying and still not achieve the goal. We do have a solid cross-section of gamers who participate, from the hard core, “pro” gamer to those who, well play like me. Sucky! Nothing wrong with this sort of spectrum of gamer, as each will look at the game a bit different.

There have been gamers in the past who would not be pleased regardless of what was said or done. It’s unfortunate those individuals must go a different direction and not be taken serious. Most will go looking for their “5 minutes of fame” by mouthing off and playing down a release. We have seen it before during development of those “gamers” trying to grab the attention. As if they think it will get them noticed or get anything changed, it won’t

Regardless of those outside the “circle” the development team has been upfront with all the impending changes that will be implemented in the new version of the game. This is what The 27 Days of Terror was all about. I have done a good job [so I think] on not sugar coating bullshit and presenting it to the community. Last week’s Urban Radio show was a no frills Q&A show that answered those questions from the community. Outside of not directly answering the standalone question and breaking down each change to the weapons, the community was very supportive on the upcoming version of the game.

Since that show and our announcement of releasing a standalone client the future looks great for Urban Terror and the community. How long will this success last is anyone’s guess. One year? Two years? Regardless of the level of success the release will bring new blood to an old, but supportive community. Thankfully with those gamers within our circle of trust [QA] and the best gamers in the community Urban Terror will continue to live on and thrive.

Employees Subject To Inspection

Supposedly airport employees are being held to the same security standard as air travelers once in the sterile area. The sterile area is defined as the boarding area, concourse beyond security. Employees are not allowed to bring the banned “liquid items” into this area now. Makes sense, I guess.

I now see these pink notices posted at many of the doors I now swipe through in order to access the AOA [ramp area]. Until the TSA enforces employees to go through security I won’t bother with the hassle, not worth my time. This seems somewhat counterproductive if you ask me. They will claim employees entering the secure area are subject to inspection, but they don’t make all airport employees go through security.

So technically, I could not walk from my office with a cup of coffee in my hand, upstairs into the terminal. Does it happen? Sure, I guarantee it does. I have recently received e-mail saying we should be “sensitive” to passengers and not have visible liquids, like water or coffee when in view of the public.

So what happens when I walk through one of the secured, but NOT security screened doors with a soda in my hand on the way to work. Would stopping me and confiscating my soda actually prevent an act of terrorism? The flier does not allow for “subject to inspection” rules while on the AOA, as far I can see. They continue to create more stringent rules as a reaction to foiled terror plots.

Shall we take bets on what they next items they will confiscate. I understand that mobile phones could be next, as there will be some sort of electric field inside the plane that would render mobile phones/devices inoperative while airborne or at times when this items should not be used. Remember that mobile phone you have could blow up an airplane.

What Happens in Vegas…

As mentioned I was headed to Vegas this past weekend for our fantasy football draft that is held at The Palms. Usually it is poolside in our cabana, but this year the start of the draft was pushed back until 5pm due to one owner who had to do pictures with his kid’s sports teams on Saturday and was not able to get in on Friday, like myself. As mentioned, it is usually a 3-day weekend, arriving Friday and departing Sunday morning or early afternoon. This year was the first time I actually stayed the night. Honestly, I had no choice as there were no flights departing at time we would be done.

I was planning on taking an 1045am trip from San Francisco, with a 2 hour layover in Fresno and then on to Vegas, arriving about 415pm. I got lucky when I arrived at the airport and made my way around security [more on that in another post] and to my office. There was a trip leaving in like 15 minutes and there was one seat remaining, which I was given, so I quickly made my way up to the gate and seat my ass down, ready to go. This was cool, because after out minor mechanical delay I got there about 1230pm and was poolside by 115pm.

I took at $25 cab ride to The Palms and called up to the suites where we were staying. No answer, so I headed poolside. As I walk out the door I see my group waiting for their cabana to be made up. I had not even said hello to all the guys and a drink was pushed into my hand. This is sort of how the weekend went. Since I was not really planning on staying, I did not bring a change of clothes or bathing suit. But not to worry, my buddies picked me up with shoes, a shirt and a suit. As mentioned, I was poolside by 115pm at the cabana ordering a Long Island Iced Tea.

for the next 3 hours we lounged around and hung out in the pool. As I told my wife, this is the only time during the year I really get to hang out with guys I grew up with and talk about the past and growing up, along with bullshitting about football and life, in general. The drink flowed through out the early afternoon hours from sweet drinks to Coors Light. This for starters.

A couple of the guys went to check out the blackjack tables, I headed inside for a bit to see if Roulette was worth playing. I guess when no one is at the wheel, not much good is bound to happen. I blew $40 on the slots and quit, went back outside for more sun, pool and beer as we waited for the last owner to arrive.

To be honest, the pool scene is not me. Never has been. But I tell you what, compared to my buddies, I look good! Most of these guys are into their mid-30s like myself, but all have developed a beer belly over the years. Even those [which is most of them] who were athletes! Thankfully my gut was nowhere as “developed” as theirs. So I felt right at home with a bunch of pale white guys with a beer in my hand.

Once the last owner arrived, he was a few drinks behind, so a round of Patron Silver tequila was delivered to the cabana and shots passed out. While he now had one drink in him, it was not long before he had caught up with us and we were ready to draft.

The draft is the main reason we are there. It does make for a great weekend event, but there are more of us with kids and families these days. I think we only have two bachelors in our group at this point. We pulled playing cards to see who would get the top draft and what the remaining order would be. I pulled the 3 card, not bad as it was one of the higher choices I have had recently. The draft itself lasted about 3.5 hours, so we pushed back dinner reservations from 9pm to 930pm at The N9NES Steakhouse.

Now I had heard about “The N9NES” but never did experience it or eat at it. I must say their steak was some of the best I have ever had. I chose a 16 ounce fillet, rare. OMFG! It was tender, juice, the best! No other way to describe it. At that point of the night, I started in on scotch and water after countless drinks and only a half of a cold steak sandwich while poolside. So any food that was put in front of the table was devoured. Unlike those other upscale restaurants, The N9NES was jumping with activity and loud. Too loud for my taste actually. It was mainly the music, but it was bearable. After appetizers, and our meal, which was ala carte and numerous rounds of drink, dinner was over. The damage was close to $900!

It was now time to gamble, hopefully not all the money you brought, away. I am nowhere the high roller these guys are. Hell, I am the same guy who said, “damn a $5 roulette table, thats too much for me.” Haha…so I find it rather funny I took a seat with two buddies at a $15 blackjack table. I find it even funnier that I told my wife I won some money, but then went back and dropped a $50 bet and hit blackjack! That is when I called it a night, about $375 up on Las Vegas. It’s nice to go home, but even nicer when you win money and not loose it to the house.

So that was the trip, all in all a great time being in Vegas, hanging with my buddies, talking shit, drinking, eating and drafting football. Not sure 3 days is in my future when this rolls around next August, the last weekend in the month, but rest assured we will all be looking forward to it. Oh, by the way most of the weekend was comped. I don’t ask questions and don’t want details, but it has something to do with how much money some of the guys spend playing in the casino.

Fantasy Football Friday Debut

Today marks the start of a new weekly feature on T6F, it’s called Fantasy Football Friday. Each week I will post fantasy football related material prior to the weekend games. Today, I talk about the draft because this weekend I spend Saturday in Las Vegas for our 22nd year playing fantasy football. As the commish, I am in charge of the draft and will fly in with our draftboard. Thankfully I will not be carrying the coveted, ‘Tidy Bowl Award’ which is awarded to that fantasy team, in our league that comes in last place, the cellar, the shitter. The guys I play with I grew up with, played sports with and now that we are a few years old, some of us are none the wiser when it comes to fantasy football. So, along the way you will learn some of these characters, as I talk fantasy football each Friday. I look forward to another interest draft, as there are always some surprises and great moments at the draft. Alcohol does the damnedest things, doesn’t it? Enjoy FFF #01 – Draft Day 2006-2007.

Urban Radio Returns! Again!

…or the first time since December 31, 2005 Urban Radio will return to the air on Inside the Game on Friday. For infrequent readers of T6F, this is an online radio show I created about 4 years ago in support of the Quake III mod, Urban Terror. I have been fortunate to host some 100+ episodes of the show and tomorrow is a special day as we get back in the saddle and provide oodles of information for the gaming community.

Over the course of the past 12-18 months, there has not been much information the development team had to pass along. The show was once a weekly part of the community, but due to personal reasons and life priorities the show was not able to be maintained and I had to stop producing it. But with all the information we have had coming out of the development team, it seems Urban Radio could provide another spark to an already excited community, with the new version of Urban Terror near release.

We are in the middle of ‘The 27 Days of Terror’ on the site, but there has been no new information for two days, after we introduced a game feature called ‘powersliding.’ I figured such an exciting feature needed a little “extra time” to be absorbed by the community. That and the fact I was busy working on the radio show, which should prove to be the missing part of the 27 Days equation.

Hopefully all the musings in the community, on the forums and IRC will equate to a great radio show! It is my intentions to hopefully start up the show on a regular basis every Friday in order to bring the community up to date on the latest in the community and from the development team. I can already guarantee we will a release day version of Urban Radio. Stay tuned for more details.