Flashback Friday: Shoutcasting

tsnStarting in 1999 I became an avid gamer while living in Chicago with a roommate who introduced me to the PC game, Quake II. The rest, as they say is history. Never in my wildest imaginations did I think I would find so much enjoyment, meet gamers, developers and friends from all walks of line brought together because of video games, which has become a culture. In 2000 on an invite from id Software attended my first LAN event, QuakeCon as an amateur developer for Silicon Ice Development, the team behind the Quake 3 modification, Urban Terror.

Since that time and experience my online persona, Oswald or Oz, was taken in many different directions, but one thing remained constant. Video games were the central focus. Looking back years later on what I accomplished, makes me wonder what could have been. Riding a wave of success in 2000, our first meeting with Activision, on the heels of QuakeCon didn’t quite go as planned, but it could have changed my life.

Running the development team as a project coordinator and promoting the game as public relations, I met with some interesting opportunities. Trips to Boston, Colorado Springs, Irvine and Los Angeles were just some of the requests as part of an online community known as shoutcasters. As defined by Liquipedia, “a caster is a person dedicated to the broadcasting side of esports, providing commentary for games. Casters often double as hosts for tournaments, conducting interviews and player introductions among other things.” Over nearly 10 years I worked with two online stations, TsN, the Team Sportscast Network and Radio iTG or Inside the Game. Both featured some of the same personalities and brought video games to life through their knowledge and coverage.

While this was the next step, it was an unknown personality (to me) named, Blankz aka “DJ Too Pimp For You,” who interviewedme in May, 2001, while part of Silicon Ice Development that got me interested in shoutcasting. It wasn’t long after the interview that I preempted Anything Goes with my own 80’s radio show called Radio Oz. It was really nothing more than playing tunes on request from the 80’s. Very little talk or conversation but that all changed.

itgRadio Oz as it was know morphed into Urban Radio, which debuted on December 21, 2001, which featured music and information on the game Urban Terror. While not at the apex of development, the radio show was a success with the online community. The two hour show was written and produced by myself each week through 2008 and featured prominently during release cycles that brought new game files to the Urban Terror community. This took support to the next level and broadened my horizon as a shoutcaster.

On May 7, 2002 I began providing commentary and coverage for ClanBase, one of Europe’s largest and most respected gaming leagues. Coverage began with Urban Terror, which my was expertise providing Open Cup, Nations Cup and ladder based gaming. Along with CB I provided limited coverage of CAL, FMFS, OGL, STA and TWL but my first love was European coverage.

With a falling out at TsN, I followed a small group of devoted casters who built a new station, Radio iTG or Inside the Game. The format was similar, associated with specific online gaming leagues and LAN events, but the format wasn’t all games, all the time. We were able to expand and do individual shows, Just Push Play was born.

You can now view the online archives and download any show.

Shoutcasting Returns!

Since last April, there has been no Clanbase coverage or Urban Radio shows due to my commitments to training at work. Thankfully, as you have read, I have fulfilled my obligation to training, became certified and the stress and pressure I was under the past year has subsided. This now allows me some free time to commit to Urban Terror and bringing the action to you.

Urban Radio on Sunday will mark the first show of 2008 and definitely not the last. I am planning more show coverage as the popularity of Urban Terror continues to rise. Of course, I look to the community for their interaction in making the show a success.

Next week, will begin shoutcast coverage for Clanbase Nations Cup XI. Like Urban Radio, I have been absent from Open Cup and Nations Cup action for some time. Coverage will be heard and possibly seen using Stickam Video. I am still working on getting the actual in game coverage set up.

Unlike previous Urban Radio shows, one of the unique features I introduced last year to the show was Stickam Video, giving gamers the ability to watch or listen it to. It really was a great feature and quite popular, more so than the audio side. The video side does have an IRC style channel for the show gamers can idle in, asking questions, poking fun at the host or discussion my comments.

Hopefully BladeKiller will become a regular co-host on Urban Radio, we even have the possibility to have guests online at a moment’s notice. Spellbinder will serve as the proverbial phone screener and assist or deter gamers getting air time. The ability to have guest was something that was not all that successful in years past, but we have all the bugs worked out (right Spellbinder?)

So join us Sunday for Urban Radio, it is sure to be a good time for all. Join us in #urbanterror as well on ETG or Quakenet and remember to read the topic channel for the most updated information on Urban Terror (!radio is very useful).

Stop the bitching!

Holy hell! Would those gamers in the Urban Terror community who continually think they are owed something stop the god damn bitching! Let’s rewind to the week before April 1, if I recall it was a Saturday and I was on the air with Urban Radio. If memory serves me correct (if that doesn’t the recording of the show will) I announced that the development team would be releasing a stand alone client using ioQuake 3, which would allow gamers not owning a retail copy of Quake III Arena a chance to play Urban Terror. This WAS a big point of contention prior to this announcement because requiring a retail copy of Quake III Arena would effectively target a smaller group of gamers. So the stand alone was a breath of fresh air and there were many excited gamers, both inside and outside the community.

That same day it was also announced by myself we would NOT be providing any anti-cheat for the stand alone version of the game. Why? Well, last time I checked our development is for Urban Terror, not an anti-cheat. Secondly, most anti-cheat programs are third party development and run concurrently or as part of the game. We made this clear (as mud for some) that it was not OUR responsibility. Yet some gamers feel we have neglected this fact and think it was our responsibility to take protective measures for our game.

There was an announcement made the following week that Sable, developer of BattlEye was going to code an anti-cheat for Urban Terror (Thanks to woekele for busting his ass on this!) There was some code started for the anti-cheat, unfortunately last week Sable announced he would not finish the program as his priority had changed and was moving on to a project for financial gain. Since that announcement the community (okay, some) have gotten their manties in a serious bunch and have hoped on the “It’s the dev team’s problem and their responsibility.”

To those individuals I call “bullshit!” We have busted our asses for 8 years on this game. The game, not an anti-cheat. It is not our job as developers to include an anti-cheat. PunkBuster was nice when it was supported for Quake III Arena, but even then it was not a fail safe. There were still issues discussed daily about the number of cheaters in the community.

Yet maybe gamers forget our responsibility to the community. That was to develop a game they helped have a hand in. Maybe the development team did get too involved in the community and now you all (okay, most of you) are spoiled by how you are treated by the development team. We have been very open about the development and the direction things were going. But recently there has been as increase in hostility towards the team, most of which is unfounded.

So will leagues taste success without an anti-cheat? In my opinion I think they will. ClanBase has finally decided to give it a chance as they open leagues on April 19. This does means gamers who take on the role of admins will have more work in front of them. Demos will be required and if any question arises regarding a player, their score of the possibility of cheating, them these demos will be requested, reviewed and a decision rendered. Hopefully STA keeps a close eye on ClanBase. Maybe they too will take off their manties, grow a pair and see that io version of Urban Terror can be played on a competitive league without an anti-cheat.

Beep! Beep! the Union

So after my first trip to the Oakland side of the bay, I thought it was very cool taking the local rapid transit (aka BART) to visit my, now wife. I thought it would be cool to actually drive (operate) the trains that came and went at a given station platform. Well, today that “dream” (if you want to call it that) came true. I was the operator behind the button and made the choo choo go.

Okay, so it was not really my dream, but I was able to operate two trips before the train operator union found out and said that I (and my two other cohorts) were not allowed to. Ah, well, fun while it lasted and funny, but nothing happened. As if anything would of happened. But it was fun to a degree, still don’t think I could do it as a regular 9-5 sort of job.

So after a few inquiries and phone calls to my training manager about this union issue, some changes were quickly implemented. Instead of starting at 0530, which was “doable” I now have to be to work by 0315. That means waking up when some of you are going to bed at 0105! Yeah, “oh” as in OH MY GOD ITS FREAKING EARLY!!! I don’t think the local 7-11 will even be serving donuts yet! Although I can rely on Del Taco being open. LOL.

So 9 days and counting before this OJT is over and we take one more written exam and two check outs in order to pass. Personally, the check outs seem to be a real waste of our time and BART’s money, but I am not making these training decisions. So all is well.

On a Urban Terror related note, I might be bringing coverage to the Clanbase Finals on Wednesday, if so news will be posted on www.urbanterror.net. Stay tuned I will know more tomorrow (Tuesday).

Shoutcast Comeback?

I know some have caught bits and pieces of what I do…well, what I did during my free time in the gaming community. I am a member of Inside the Game, an online, gaming related radio station. Of course there are times we stray from the standard format for something a bit different. For me, it was an all 80’s show called Just Push Play. But that show has not aired for some time due to a lack of time. The same can be said for my online gaming coverage live from Clanbase, the BEST league in the world. While there I covered Medal of Honor and Urban Terror.

With some free time today, I was able to get the shoutcast setup nearly online. I was able to move around a few monitors (whoever thought you would see the day you use 4 monitors?) and make some room and get my compressor, mixer and microphone set up. This is a good thing. I was also able to test the gaming sounds, microphone and music from my server. So far all is moving along at a great pace, but as Monday rolls around, I am sure I won’t be spending all day in front of this keyboard until Friday, at the earliest.

I am not even sure I will have time to cast, even on the weekends, but at least I will be set up if the chance rises. I still maintain an open communication with Lagus over at MOHAA for Clanbase. Not sure how their leagues are going this season, since I have not cast for some months. The next piece on the agenda is to get the audio/video server, aka the “media box” online. It will do nothing but process the audio from the mp3s and the video component in order to do some live videocasting!

Exciting time, not sure when or if it will all work out, but thought I would keep you up to date. Who knows maybe JPP will return before the end of the year, even if it is just a bullshit fest on a Friday night with requests.