Oswald Rant: The URBAN Legend

Most all of the players who consider themselves, “old timers,” have seen Action grow from a rough, incomplete beta version to a highly successful Quake 2 mod. From the early beginning, players have come to associate a single map with Action Quake 2. That map being, Urban by John “Gerbil!” Parish. This is “the” city map which started the frenzy of city layouts. I give credit where credit is due and Gerbil! deserves his fair share for creating a highly successful, but over hyped, map series. A series so blown out of proportion, it is legendary. A map series which I have dubbed, “The Urban Legend.”

While the early versions of code for Action Quake was still being written, players took their ideas for maps, an editor and basic Quake textures and began a sort of new revolution in FPS gaming. These pioneers began creating maps for a mod they enjoy playing. Gerbil! was hot on the scene and created a map called Urban. This map has seemingly been the cornerstone of Action since the early beginnings.

Urban is a straight forward, no-hold barred, city layout based on a square city block, filled with high rise buildings. By todays mapping standards and quality, Urban is consider average by most. There is nothing special, which sets this map apart from the pack. But for those who are still die-hard Action players, they still demand Urban! The demand has recently sky-rocketed based on The CLQ rankings, that Urban is played over 1.2 million minutes in a two week!

With the sort of success that Urban drew, one would think that creating a map which could rival Urban would be difficult. Gerbil! though, made it look easy. His city design seemed to pick up where it left off. Urban2 was his next attempt, which proved to be a smashing success. I consider this to be the best map out of the four map series. While there are many players who vehemently deny this map is due credit, there is a completely different ambience created when you spawn. The darkened rooftops and sparsely light streets make this map a challenge, even for the accomplished player.

This map seems to have lost a bit of its mystic with the creation of IRVISION, making the auto-monkeys a bit more dangerous with their “spray and prey” tactics, but snipers will always dominate this map. In my expert opinion, Urban2 was a vast improvement on the original Urban, in many areas. Thus, the “legend” grows. But how does one improve on a so-called “legend?” How about by creating a sequel to the sequel. Urban3 is born.

The Urban series took a turn for the worse with the release of Urban3 and subsequently, Urban4. The quality and unique styling seen in Urban2 seemed to be lacking in Urban3 and Urban4. These success of these map rest solely on namesake alone, not the quality or game play, which made the series a success. The “legend” seems to be growing stronger for some damned reason. Urban2 and Urban3 are consistently ranked in the Top 5 maps, based on The CLQ rankings.

What spawned this rant you ask? The fact that maps such as Riot2 by Ellusion, which is probably the best overall map created (although Ell won’t agree with me) and Beer by WetWired are ranked much further down the rankings then Urban4. Yet Urban4, which was released mid December is getting ready to crack the Top 10. I guess this all goes to show that maps are based more on popularity, then actual design and creativity. This is unfortunate, since the many maps and authors will not get their due credit. Leaving us begging, “Will any map ever dethrone Urban?”

A New Map at the LAN

Although the map riot2 by Ellusion is still currently in its beta2 stage, the map is very impressive, both from a aesthetics standpoint and game play. I was permitted to beta test it this last weekend at the Netzwerk Terror LAN, with the help of 17 of my closest friends. When was the last time you play Action with 18 total players? It was great fun and full of non-stop fragging.

Riot2 is the follow up to one of the most successful unofficial maps I have ever played. This map, as I am sure some of you are aware, is not available here, at AQMD, because it was never submitted. It was available The Mapzone, but it seems the file is listed, but the map is not on the server. I had a chance to play his follow-up map, currently called Riot2b2 (b2 as in beta2). There were a few minor changes from the beta1 version, which fixed a few visual inaccuracies and a few spots which made for prime sniper spots.

This new map he has created is not nearly the size of his original release, but that does not affect the game play. We started out with 9v9, all weapons represented (that was a first)! The play depicts a city layout similar to the initial release. The streets twist and wind through back alleys and buildings. There are even a few elevated areas scattered through a few buildings, none of which really give a sniper much of advantage, due to the lack of objects to hide behind.

There are many “landmarks” in which to learn the city, such an bar, fast food restaurant, import & export warehouse, recording studio, weapons shop, post office (closed due to robbery), newsstand and a subway (looks great and includes a moving subway car).

In my opinion, this map ranks, more then his first release, Riot in the upper echelon of maps released. Hopefully, it will make it to the Test Matrix after a bit more beta testing. Keep an eye out for this one! I’ll keep you posted as to the status of it. If you are curious where Riot falls in according to The CLQ, it comes in 21st, with 64,190 minutes played and 18,299 frags.

A New Beginning

After weeks of continued problems and no updates, there is a new change on the horizon. I received email from Ellusion (my host for The 6th Floor) in Scandinavia regarding the status of the host computer. Some names, emails and places of business have been removed for privacy.

Hi there Oswald, I’m terribly sorry for the problems you’ve had with the 6th floor in my absence and hope we can find a way to solve this. As you might have been told, lightning got the better of the ISDN centrals where I live, but that’s not the entire reason why I have been offline for so long. You see I work as a webdesigner, and the last 6 months I’ve been working for a firm called XXXXXX. This is the same firm who owns the ActionQuake.com domain and it’s server. It turns out the man behind XXXXXX is quite the little scammer, and now owes me quite the amount of money. Money I would otherwise use to pay my living and phonebills. I’m sure you can see the picture here. XXXXXX will be presented to my lawyer this Monday, and until I can get an explanation of what his intentions are, I will have little control over what happens with the server. Again, I’m terribly sorry that you had to be caught up in this. It’s things like this you never see happening before one is in the middle of it. You could try and send him a mail just asking what’s up with your access problems (xxxxx@xxxxxx.xx) , or if the situation is that you want to remove the site to a better suited location for now, I could try and get into the server to retrieve everything you would need. Should you decide to move the 6th floor, I can probably pull some strings at PlanetQuake if Telefragged isn’t interested, should you want that. As much as I want to keep the aq.com domain alive, I hope you understand it’s difficult for me under the current circumstances. Let me know what I can do to help, and I will try my best to work this out for you, seeing as I feel responsible for the situation I’ve unknowingly put the 6th floor in. On the brigther side of things, I love the work you’ve done with the site so far, the reviews and work with AQMD. You seems to have shapen up the AQMD in quite a way, so much in fact that I’ll probably submit an upcoming map 🙂 If you want to take a look at Riot2 which we’re currently testing for bugs now, let me know and I’ll send it to you.Sincererly,Per ‘Ellusion’ Nyhaug

As I mentioned before I have had quite a few inquires on what will happen to The 6th Floor