It’s Never Right

I’ve been involved far too long to honestly care about those individuals who feel compelled to do nothing better then bitch and complain. This is nothing new, it has been going on since our first release and will continue to detract from the great community we have. Yet that “vocal minority” loves any chance to rip and tear at the development team. I guess they should be thankful they didn’t pay $49.99 for Urban Terror. Not that we would care any more, or is that less? At least we would have your money. LOL!

Prior to the release it was a given there would be complaints about the weapons, namely the SR-8 and the SPAS. I can’t remember a time we have not had any complaints about these. Now some comments are constructive and well thought out and possibly provide some validity to their case. Others come across with nothing more than, “this sucks we want it like version .”

I don’t want to rip at QA for their fine job of assisting the development team in the version that was release at the beginning of April. You would think (remember logic does not apply) they would side with the development team, but there are some “objectors” who feel the need to speak out against how the weapons were implemented.

Even a better example is the current version of Uptown, originally created by Phil “BattleCow” Tasker (wow I still remember his name). The TEAM decided not to release this level because BattleCow had not sent us the updated file when we asked for it and we were not going to update it on our own and include it. Well, as we say, plans changed. After announcing on Urban Radio that Uptown would not be released we went back on our original decision and said we would include it in the 4.0 release.

This was excellent news for the community! Many gamers hate change, thus having an “old school” level would help them feel comfortable with Urban Terror after loosing so-called “classics” as Streets, Swim, Trainyard and Docks (atleast temporarily). I come from the standpoint of, if the level is not updated it won’t be included. Seems resonable. Sorry, but the original Streets was a shitty map, both in game and in an editor, moreso the later.

So Uptown is included and the OGers rejoice for they know the level and feel at home. But something strange happens, the complaints start to roll in on the level. Snipers this, spawns that, map is too small, blah blah blah. I am sure this could be one of those “I told you so moments” just I will refrain. In the time BladeKiller had to update, test and compile Uptown, she did a great job (as always, she really is an amazing woman!). But there are still many shortcomings on Uptown.

In my opinion, which is the only one that counts, because this is MY site, we should have stood by our original decision to release it at a later date for a few reasons. First, the level was never designed for CTF or Bomb mode. I do believe any level can be adapted and game modes other than TS can exist. Casa is an excellent example of this. But it dis not come without a lot of work and effort on part of the team and testers.

I remember pre-2.0 we tried to work Bomb mode into Urban Terror using Uptown as our test level. It failed, partially because we could not get the code fully implemented and partially because of the layout of the level. CTF is much the same animal. I do not believe this is a CTF level, nor should the game mode be included. Refer back to my comment about BK. This is not a reflection on the level designer, but the fact that we are forcing a game mode into a level that just does not seems to have any game play or flow to it.

Second, if we did not include Uptown in the current release it would have provided us more time to work new spawns into the level, possibly changing the level and game play for a game mode like CTF, but as it is now, CTF is unbalanced at best. The community has provided some positive feedback as to possibly fixes, many dealing with spawn points, but the fact remains to do it correctly, we would need to rebuild most of the level, as we are doing with Docks and as was done with Crenshaw.

Will this happen? I highly doubt it. We will continue to make minor changes to factors that contribute to spawn points in hopes of getting adequate game play. In order to have a “Casa like effect” we would need to add to the level in order to provide better mechanics for game play.

Just my two cents…not the opinion of the team

I’m Back!!!

I’m back!!! It has been sometime since I have provided a worthwhile update on The 6th Floor. Now that QuakeCon 2001 is over and the Urban Terror 2.3 Beta is released, I will be able to focus a bit more attention on providing the quality reviews the community is looking for. The site is currently under some development, as I move from HTML/CSS to ASP and better way to present the information that has gathered here since 1999, when I opened the doors to The 6th Floor.

The most recent news was the announcement by Silicon Ice Development releasing their highly anticipated map pack, which has become known as Beta 2.3. While there are only minor code changes in this version, it does introduce 8 new levels to terrorize, along with 3 updated levels from NRGizeR. I feel this map pack will provide hours, hoping months of action for the Urban Terror community, as SID begins development on the next beta version. No speculation on its completion date. New levels include SweetnutZ and his first Urban Terror map, ut_casa. I stick by my guns, texturing makes the map, this is no more evident than in this level. The newcomer to SID, dotEXE seems to have created a much needed mirrored CTF level titled, ut_riyadh. I really do think the CTF players will quickly find this to be a favorite. Same fors for the snipers, better keep your head down.

Bar-B-Q finished up ut_rommel, which seems to be getting mixed reviews on the forums. It is not your typical Urban Terror level, but does play quite well. BattleCow was able to get his level, ut_uptown finished, and GottaBeKD was able to complete work on the elevator, that this AQ2 style level finally was released. ut_pressurezone is the latest creation from Gerbil!, who had considerable success for Action Quake 2, but has been suffering a bit of design block in his levels. Pressure Zone is quite an impressive looking underwater base, but from the preliminary comments I hear, there are more issues with spawn points. Something SID has been working on to remedy. Let me also say, these usually effect the TDM game.

Tub is back with a map and a half. His latest work is called, ut_austria and continues the European type village genre. Also pay attention to the impressive model of Michelangelo’s David, created by Meaty and skinned by BladeKiller. The level, ut_village also reappears for the first time in Beta 2.3. There are some issues with this level still. While Legomanser did some of the updated work on it, NRGizeR provided some insight into reducing the FPS.

Finally comes ut_alleys from Bot Killer, which was a map we had seen months ago, before he played Houdini and disappeared. But, he is back with a map that should play a bit like ut_pressurezone as many of the areas are tight. But this map does play on a few different levels. It is also quite large.

You can check out all the sexiness of QuakeCon 2001 over at theUrban Terror web site, as I provided a running diary of this year’s event and what Silicon Ice Development did while in attendance. Check it out!

The review for ut_casa should be ready in a few days. I am trying to get adjusted to the daily routine. Unfortunately being away at QuakeCon, I have been unable to keep up with all the happening on the Level Deesign Forums, but I can guarantee you, one of the other guys like LORDofDOOM or Mungo Zen are on top of it.

Urban Terror Review: Docks by BattleCow

Docks by Phil “BattleCow” Tasker
| Phil “BattleCow” Tasker | Score: 4.4 | By Oswald |

A small riverside town has been taken over by gangsters. The lucrative port has been transformed into a drug trafficking center under the dubious guise of a fishing company. The residents have long since relocated after the heavy hand of the mob gripped the townspeople to tightly. The gangsters have come under heavy investigation and the evidence has finally mounted sufficiently to have the lead gangsters arrested. You are the veteran leader of the most elite S.W.A.T. team in the world. Your team moves through the streets and you see the nervousness on the faces of your young lieutenants. You stand steady and poised as you send hand signals to your team. Can you make the town safe? Can you rid the town of the mob? Can you reclaim The Docks?

Texturing [5.0]  
Docks is one of the more diverse maps when it comes to the texturing found through the level. Many different textures and methods were used to bring the waterfront setting to life. Much of the exterior setting contains a multitude of brick, metal and concrete textures, finished in either red or washed out and dirty gray, which complement the surrounding areas. Many of the textures really accentuate the different areas that make up Docks. The overall quality of the texturing has been vastly improved over earlier versions of this level. Docks is one of the best looking levels to play.

Ambiance: [4.5]
While the darkened night sky helps to set the overall tone of the map, the lighting and limited sound help to carry the map. The glow of orange of flames rising from the burning trash cans cast a warm glow over the confines of the buildings, while the streets lights cascade a veiling of cool white light.The interiors are well lit, as box light lines some of the walls, giving off a vibrate white glow. One of the problem areas in the earlier versions of Docks has been corrected. That area being the inner corridor that allows gamers to overlook the streets from behind a window, or run up a ramp to access the rooftops. Along with the texturing, the new lighting helps to make this area more playable and player friendly. The only use of sound comes from the gentle lapping of the ocean water as it slapping against the docks and concrete supports.

Creative Spark: [3.5]
It is fairly obvious to see the straight forward and simple design of Docks and the influence from Action Quake 2. While being able to produce a higher quality city layout does prove to be successful, the map has some interesting effects that make you stop and look. For example, the light, low layer of fog that rises above the waterfront is quite an impressive effect. There are areas of Docks which makes you stand up and say, “Wow!” BattleCow, does allow gamers to access a considerable amount of Docks, again this goes back to his Action Quake 2 playing days, when he was notorious for strafe jumping. Overall, BattleCow has really turned up the overall quality and spark, with his continued work on Docks.

Construction: [4.0]
There have only been minor modifications to Docks, since it debuted in Beta 1 and was upgraded in Beta 1.27. Beta 2 introduces some new aspects in which the level was designed. The game layout, produces a great flow pattern. From the multiple routes through out the level to the minor choke points, gamers will continue to find advantageous routes the prove to be successful when trying to take or hold a position. Like other maps of its kind, Docks does seem to suffer from a scale problem. While it does become challenging to create a map that is scaled to proportion, there are some obvious signs, such as cardboard boxed which come to eye level and doors which tower over the models. These are both features which could have been resolved Nonetheless, the construction does provide for some solid game play.

Playability: [5.0]
Ranking up there, in part with the ambience, the game play is one of the best features of Docks. Isn’t that was gaming is all about? Being able to play a well designed level which does not suffer from dead zones or a lack of game flow. Once you learn the tricks to some of the more refined areas in Docks, the map is a real treat to play. BattleCow does a good job, providing alternatives when it comes to making your way though this waterfront design. Much of the action takes place near the ‘Tick Storage Company’ and the entrance to the ‘Pier 17’ entrance sign, but battles are known to escalate and usually spill over into the more intricate portions of the map. While a sniper may feel at home with Docks, one must always be wary of their back, as often times the enemy unknowingly will be able to sneak up unannounced. Wide open areas and many lines of fire prove a level does not need to all show!

6th Sense: [4.5]
So what makes Docks such a well rounded map? It’s the overall flurry of action which takes place round after round. While the game play is fast, tactics and support from teammates does come into play requires players to stick together as a single, killing unit. Once you learn the ins and outs of Docks, the level becomes quite enjoyable to play. The action is furious most of the time, which does not give you time to “stop and smell the roses.” As I have eluded to many times before, there is more to a map than just the texturing. In this case, Docks is carried by the layout and design BattleCow has developed.

Final Score: [4.4]
[Oswald] This level had a complete texturing facelift for Beta 2. Being one of the original maps for Urban Terror, Docks has always had a place in the development teams heart. Now the community begins to see what “quality” is, thanks to the effort of BattleCow, as he shows us some of his talent for mapping. The level was modify in order to increase playability and flow. Two thumbs up for the changes! Easy designs which are successful, usually lead to further well designed maps. We look forward to playing BattleCow’s next level for Urban Terror, while keeping in mind the challenges he faced with Docks.

The great thing about progress

You know what is great about modding? You can go back and see where you started and the progress that was made. That is no more true than with Urban Terror. What began as a map addon pack, seems to have taken center stage in the Quake III Community. While SID and Urban Terror might just be an opening act for a large, more popular act, let’s take a look back at where some of these levels began.

BattleCow, as I mentioned last night created his first ever level called Docks. I will cut him some slack, and knock off what I show you in a minute to inexperience behind QERadiant. Docks is NOTHING like you have seen recently, being a first map, you can probably understand some of the common problems [if you are a mapper] that you can encounter. So, let’s check out a few old shots of Docks:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3]
I think we can look back and laugh at this creation. Much has changed from this version which was in Alpha6. Just look at the layout, areas which were open. Wow, what do you think? Should we bring that back? Hahaha. Yeah, didn’t think so. But remember, from the beginning, I don’t think any one thought Urban Terror would achieve what they have to this point in their [almost complete] Beta 2 development. For Beta 2, BattleCow decided to give his level a face lift. The name was changed to ut_docks, along with completely new texturing and some modification in layout. Here are even more shots from the new and updated, ut_docks:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3]
Next up, we check out NRGizeR. No, not that damn pink bunny, but that Level designer who was quite successful in Action Quake 2. His early level for Urban Terror was called Streets of Terror. The only real terror, was how it looked. I can remember spending hours playing this on a LAN. Looking back on it now, I can do nothing but laugh. I am not sure if these have been seen before, but they just go to show how far, even Streets has progressed. This is what Streets of Terror began as:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3]
While there have still be some criticism aimed at NRGizeR and ut_streets, he really has turned this map into a well playing level. Of course to get closer to perfection, he would have to start from ground zero and rebuild it. Knowing what he knows now, I have no doubts he would erect one helluva city. Give him time, I am sure he has plans. Here are some of most recent shots of ut_streets:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3]
As Silicon Ice Development moves toward Beta 2, I will continue to dig through the archives which I have on CD and pull out old shots our players, weapons, maps and anything which shows just how SID has come together and put in one helluva an effort for Beta 2.

Oh yeah, one final note, the registration for QuakeCon 2001 open today at 9pm Eastern Daylight Time, so head over there and wait patiently as you hit the refresh key to get enrolled. SID is attempting to make an appearance there for the second year in a row. More details on that later…

Give it to me Wet!

So what’s better than two chicks getting it on? Two chicks named Evelyn and Meela getting it on knives in each hand. Very cool scene in the latest movie, The Mummy Returns. It you liked the first one, then definitely check out the return! It was a good flick, lord knows I had to get from behind this computer!

Onto what you came to The 6th Floor for. Details, the scoop and why the hell hasn’t Silicon Ice Development has not offered a release date. Let me answer the latest question first. SID is not entirely finished. As many read on the Urban Terror Forums or on the web site, there was a new internal build released, build_14. This build fixed another 50+ bugs which the testers had submitted to the bug database. Looking at the extensive list, nothing really jumps out as ground breaking in terms of development.

Based on the screen shots released yesterday, there were two new maps which were released in this build, ut_revolution by WetWired and ut_docks by BattleCow. First the skinny on Wet’s creation.

Believe it or not, this level actually started out as a remake of Bot Killer’s Beta 1 level, Trainyard. Looking back at some of the shots WetWired sent me, not much of the original level remained, with the exception of the foundation, which featured two channels, one with water and bridges perpendicular to those. The project then shifted gear a bit, and a few of the SID level designers, namely Tub and NRGizeR were each going to do a separate portion of this new creation that was called Revolution. WetWired took his time and decided to make this entirely his own project. While a culmination of those three designers would have produced a great map, I don’t think anyone is discouraged by the new screens from what now is, ut_revolution. Here are some more shots from WetWired’s upcoming level:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3] | [SHOT #4]
As for ut_docks, many have spent countless hours fragging on this seaside level which was created by BattleCow. Believe it or not, it was his first ever attempt at a level. Hahaha….funny thing, I went back last night and loaded up Alpha6, which was a prerelease for SID before Beta 1, just to get this screen shot. Anyway, for Beta 2, BattleCow, has completely retextured and redesigned a few areas in Docks, to increase the game play and flow of the level. For example, the bar on the waterfront is no longer accessible. This was partly due to the rising FPS in this area, by eliminating the interior, it allowed for a bit higher rate. I really don’t think it will hinder game play. This level is sure to turn some heads, as it is a beautiful level! Check a few more shots out from ut_docks:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3] | [SHOT #4]
Some news from the Urban Terror Community. As most of you know, there has still been no word about the fate of Warhammer of ISPGN. This means no quality FTP site to download files and maps. While we could pick up the slack here, we use FilePlanet.

Sixpak over at Mobilized Forces has some new screen shots courtesy of SID from ut_revolution Check them out, if you still have not gotten your Revolution fix. Sixpak as has started broadcasting live music from his site, which features music from Mark Klem, better known as the “Mad Mississippian” or throughout the community as Bar-B-Q and a band who contacted me to advertise for them in our maps using billboards, Creeper Lagoon. Give it a listen as you read through the forums! Now WinAMP compatible!

Next up the weird and the whacky over at Rubber Ducky. *SQUEEK* No Fear, that little bastard caught me in a true, real world moment. At first I was, “Oh damn, did I get caught with a finger in my nose picking a winner?” Then he showed me this screen shot. Hahaha….oh well, hard at work, but needing to stuff my pie hole. No go check out “The Ducky” and see what he has conjured up.

Finally, for the level designers out there….while SID is still working on releasing the important files you will need for you Beta 2 maps, including .def files, entities and textures, news from Linga over at “Hi Oswald I’ve just finished 700 photo based textures. Check them at my page, and tell the SID mappers from my textures if you want. Most of them are based on photos I’ve found on the WWW but some are easily ripped textures from other texture pages like Jeremy Engelman.” So give it a look.