Friends of Terror

It is still hard to believe there is a group of dedicated individuals who have the desire and make the effort to keep Urban Terror alive. The fact we still have a very strong and dedicated community is a contributing factor to the longevity and success of the game.

I have been fortunate over those years to meet (yes, face to face) with many individuals on different levels as it relates to Urban Terror, from the invite to Quakecon in 2000 and 2001, to LAN parties in NoCal, SoCal and Colorado Springs and an appearance on TechTV (when it was around). There have been closed door, sit down meetings with Activision and id Software, which was more of a “wow factor” for me at the time since we did not know where we wanted to take Urban Terror.

If I knew then, what I know now, Frozen Sand (at the time, Silicon Ice Development) could be mentioned being on par with Splash Damage. Those guys had their shit together! They also had an amazing group of talented individuals. Not saying our development team hasn’t, because we have had over the years many contribute to the game.

Meeting gamers, executives, sponsors and personalities alike have been some of the best memories I have had. I mention this because I was able to meet Lt1 (aka Rob Bergman) last night, as he flew into NoCal for some training. Now, it’s not often that an opportunity arises, which will have gamers come in contact with each other, let alone team members. Remember, outside of meeting INVIS, BladeKiller and RabidCow I have not met the other talent on our team. But we have all worked together for nearly 4 years (if memory serves me correct).

It’s always interesting to put an alias to face, face to a voice and a voice to the online persona. I flashback to Quakecon 2001 when I was employed by TsN and our station was covering the event. I wanted to meet WarWitch, who at the time covered RtCW and was just an amazing announcer, complete with an entire online persona. With his voice, I expected something other than I got. Here stands a short, maybe 5′-5″ guy with a dark ponytail. Really blew my mental image of him, but nonetheless a great person and top class shoutcaster!

LAN parties are always interesting, especially when they were Urban Terror specific. Now I attended a weekly LAN in SoCal and Urban Terror was still rather new, but when our group made the transition to Quake III Arena, we played it every weekend. I did attend the .223 LAN in NoCal in 2003, which was also the first time I met Hottlipz face to face (little did I know we would marry a year later), along with many gamers from .223 and some other local Urban Terror players.

A few larger LANs featured Urban Terror and I was fortunate enough to attend those as well. Once in Los Angeles, where I was on hand to award the winner a custom Urban Terror case that was specially designed and constructed in Australia. I was also fortunate enough to attend EverLAN in Colorado Springs a few years, once when they did use an older version of Urban Terror.

Again, it is the people who make the game. I could sit here and rattle off a list of people who I have met and known over the years. I would love to have the time to go on a world tour just for Urban Terror. I know it sounds silly (Oh, remind me to talk about my East Coast trip!), but I think it would be a great time! I am sure there are enough gamers worldwide, I could shack up with, drink beer with and game with that could easily fill one month of travel.

The itinerary would include a trip south to Los Angeles and a stop by the GGL offices, where Epileptic Gaming transmits from, because djWheat is still Inside the Game. From there it would be on to Phoenix, Arizona to hook with Blankz, also of iTG. You can blame him for getting me involved in shoutcasting, thus the reason I can’t say Euro names correctly. I would fly to Colorado and check in with Spellbinder, because he has been a long time friend. This would be a coordinated trip to stop in Mesquite, Texas for Quakecon and countless people I know at that event including: Evil John, Tapper, Precious Death, the guys at id Software, especially Robert and of course, just to keep the list short Splash Damage.

The East Coast swing would include a stop to visit with Ghozt, AGBD and Fragging Newby. Hopefully we could find MFDoom, yes the now married Doomy and Capt. Porno. I went shooting with these guys and hung out with them years ago and it was one of the most memorable trips. Especially when you don’t know dick about some guy who goes by ‘A Giant Black Dude.’ Maybe a quick stop over in Florida to kick the shit out of BasiLisK.

The European tour would start with a stop in Portugal, why? Because I still feel they are the best community of gamers going for Urban Terror (yeah flame me, then fuck off, it’s my website and my opinion). From there it would be on to England to see Dick Dastardly and his flatmate, Qster and lord know who else we would find in and around the UK.

A trip would not be complete with traversing he frozen tundra of Sweden, Denmark and Finland (sorry Norway!). Definitely stop by House Valhalla! Many in the Danes and Swedes on the list who have been supporters for many years. A tour of the Rhine, well, Germany to meet Warbird (aka Wolfseye), since he has become a good friend.

An intersting stop would be Slovania, because of SLOfaca, Blaz especially and many of his countrymen have been wonderful to cover and talk to over the years. The Netherlands would mark one of the final stops, to meet “Whoa Keeley” or woekele. I need to forgive my lack of knowledge, but I would want to hook up with J0E and Preat of FROServers.com. Then again I would hope J0E is not nekked getting into the shower.

I could go on and on about the names, faces and places. But it would be an endless cycle. It has been many years and gamers come and go, but it is interesting to note how many names return to Urban Terror saying something like, “this is the only game I come back to play.” Hopefully this sort of comment is typical through out the community. It has been one helluva ride over the years and hopefully there is more in store for our community and us, as a development team.

Parting shot, I must apologize for not mentioning dokta8, Sam Hinton, one of the original coders. He was a big influence on me, a great friend and the one who got me involved.

Oswald Rant: Stingy Mod Authors

While I cannot hold my tongue until Friday I felt a real need to express my thoughts on the recent question posed over on PlanetQuake’s Rants n’ Raves. Stealthc posed the question, “Why are mod authors so stingy?” With the help of dokta8 we attempted to answer this question and give futher incite into our development.

Stingy? Uncooperative? Unwilling? Unresponsive? These words probably best describe the attitude or response you get when you attempt to correspond with a mod development team. Now that I have experience as both a gamer and developer, I have a better understand of why development teams are so protective of their work. Unfortunately as a gamer, we rarely see the big picture in terms of development plans and sometimes feel the mod team is leaving us in the dark.

Why do we have a stingy attitude and not release our code? That is best answer by Silicon Ice Development Lead Coder, dokta8, “Bah. People who want source code released will kill the development of the best mods. You reckon Gooseman [Counter-Strike] would have spent hours on CS coding if everyone else was ripping off his hard work? Nup. I wouldn’t do Urban Terror.” He goes on to say, “I mean, yeah, we spend 6 months developing beta 1.0, and we release it, and while we take a break to develop 1.2 some guy takes 1.0, fixes the bugs in 4 weeks and has a more popular mod straight out of the can. I’d have to be a complete moron to spend 6 months developing a mod for that.”

When it comes to our community, we respect those who play our mod. Urban Terror is as much the community’s mod as it is our. We have a very open and working relationship with our gamers. The development team is highly visible on the forums and game servers to help promote the mod. You must do everything you can to foster development in order to gain popularity and work your mod into the mainstream of the Quake III Community.

Feedback and ideas are what help to spawn new and improved versions of mods. While any development team has the final say in what features will be add and how the mod turns out, many of those same ideas come from a knowledgeable and experienced community. For Urban Terror, we keep a running list of ideas that have been brought up, not only by Silicon Ice Development but by the community. Strangely enough, the two groups think alike. I wonder why? Because we are all gamers at heart and know what we want in our favorite mod.

We have had numerous groups approach us and ask to use our code base as the basis of their planned mod. Of course we respectively denied their requests as our development is just beginning to rally make progress.

Merry “fraggin” Christmas!

Merry “fraggin” Christms!!! Just finished ripping open the presents and was quite happy with them this year. Now I have 48 episodes of The X-Files to watch, as I was giving the first two full seasons on DVD. ROCK! I get to celebrate Christmas again tomorrow morning down in San Diego with my parents as well. Tis the season twice this year!

Now its time to deck the halls with more Urban Terror cheer. As you should know by now, the latest version of Urban Terror was released this past week. Beta 1.27 is now available for download on the Urban Terror  site and right here on The 6th Floor. Overall the new beta has been met with resounding acceptance and positive feedback. SID seems to have taken many of the criticism and comments from the community and taken that to heart for Beta 1.27. Why the servers are a bit slow to upgrade, some not until January, gamers are saying they are playing more Urban Terror now than before. It also looks as if the p1mp on PlanetQuake on Thursday from Pappy-R about the new release introduced some new players to the community. We always welcome new players. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or e-mail me or another team member when you need help.

Work on Beta 2 has already begun. The coding team, which all the necessary tools from id Software has started recoding the mod from scratch, which, “will let us iron out many of the bad little things that have accumulated in the code with over a year of coders coming and going, and learning how stuff works” says dokta8, lead coder for SID. The level designers are still awaiting the release of the new version of GtkRadiant which will include the new terrain tool which should improve the maps! Many gamers and designers alike are waiting to see more rolling terrain. These two items along with new features, models and game play modes will take Urban Terror to the next level.

I have been working hard on my current mapping project, ut_reactor. But there are some areas, such as a large and wide open tri level atrium which does not really excite me too damn much. I may remove it and remap that section. I have mainly been using the outstanding textures from evil_lair over on HFX. If you have not seen these textures, you should. Very high quality and work great in any map! Depending on how it goes today, I may share some screen shots later. Here is a forklift model I asked Meaty to create for me for my map. Check it out!We alos have a new holiday poll up. So go vote, damnit! While you are there, take a look at the result of last week’s poll. It seems many of you are content to wait it for the Beta 2 version of Urban Terror. We thank you for your support. And to those who want it in the next week. Yeah, sure. We are good, but not that good…

It’s Alive…Alive!

You know the story of Frankenstein, it started out as a small science experiment, but turned out to be a big, bad mutha! That is what Urban Terror is turning into. With thanks to Hellchick and Pappy-R over at PlanetQuake, they got together with dokta8, GottaBeKD and myself for a pre-release beta, especially for them. After downloading the necessary files and configuring keys, they took this beast for a spin.I turned out better than I expected. Hellchick laid it all on the line this morning in her article, “Let the Terror Begin!”. She gives us her thoughts and insight into our upcoming release. The preview kicks ass, so check it out! Thanks Hellchick!I am also been receiving considerable amounts of e-mail on Urban Terror this past week and especially today. The support has been more than we have expected, considering where we are at in the development stage. I think we are now being held very accountable to the level of success we can achieve. As for a beta date, there should be an announcement later this week, if everything goes as planned.

Oswald Rant: Urban Terror Development Team – Coders

Two of the more important team members are dokta8 and GottaBeKD. These fellas take all that unrecognizable information known as code, something you and I as players know nothing about and turn it into a mod. Consider these two guys the “heart and soul” of them mod because without them, a mod is only a vision.

Dokta8 is the Coding Team Leader who is “working on a PhD thesis at an Australian university, and using Urban Terror as a way to procrastinate.” He has been playing Action Quake 2 for a while, and has always dabbled in mapping, but never bothered to upload anything to a map archive. “Most of my background is in areas you guys wouldn’t be interested in,” says dokta8.

dokta8 on dokta8, “Personal interests? Hmmm. Graphics, drawing (the old way, with graphite and paper), coding as a hobby, sociological analysis and research, writing (but not my thesis). Actually, I’m interested in lots of things. If I could create a new software thingy from scratch, I’d create some kind of virtual world platform so that I could access a *real* cyberspace. I’d love to have a program that let me enter a Quake-like world where I could walk around, chat with people, build things, fly aircraft or play a simulated military operation in a single huge networked world. If you’ve read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, you know what I’m talking about.

GottaBeKD is the other coder on the development team. He is in his third year of a Computer Science – Software Engineering degree, but this is the first project for him in the Quake community, or any game for that matter. “I’ve had some experience programming other Internet applications and databases,” says GottaBeKD.

As for personal interests, it’s all Urban Terror for the last couple months, and for a few more I would imagine. Well, and school of course. I play Action Quake 2 when I can as GottaBeKD, or [H^K]theSrike, although theres not much time for that now.

I think most of the team would say that their previous interests have been overrun by Urban Terror as that is definitely the case over here.