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.

More *unofficial* Urban Terror news you can shake a stick at!

For the Urban Terror Community it has been a long…very long time coming, but the past 5 days have been a proverbial whirlwind of excitement. The community, well most of them except for a few asshats, have come alive and are really looking forward to our ’27 Days of Terror’ and the impending release. Of course, you must remember to ignore those asshats who will try to ruin everyone’s fun. Not going to happen this time, remember if you don’t like it, GO AWAY! Is that asking too much?

I am already beat and I have only provided four updates. I have the remainder of the ’27 days’ organized, so there should not be any interruption during this month. Although, my parents come into town on Monday, August 14, so there might be a day or two I miss. But fret not, if we miss a day, it just gives you a few extra days in which to catch up…haha. I don’t believe we will miss a beat, but that is my excuse if we do.

I am hoping there is enough interest from clans that we could start a new league as part of the Global Gaming League. This league has owns Clanbase and has a controlling interest in the gaming radio station, Inside the Game, of which I am employeed at. I have already spoke to the powers that be and with enough clans we could get a new North American league started that could eventually compete head to head with the Clanbase EuroCup. GGL calls their the AmeriCup. Some of this is just food for thought, but it could be a great idea, as we have many talented individuals who have organized and administered leagues with the OGL, STA, CAL and TWL.

While I cannot speak about “details” our business is making steps in the right direction. Not sure when, or if we will publicly comment on what we intend to do with our company or Trademark, ‘Urban Terror’ in the near future. But rest assured the base community we have established would definitely have a vested interest in future development. Urban Terror for Quake III Arena has provided us a great footing on which to move. Hopefully our future ventures will have us moving forward.

I still compare are development team to that of Splash Damage, although we are about 3 years behind them in terms of our planning and organization. I don’t believe when Sam ‘dokta8’ Hinton and I had a meeting at Activision after Quakecon 2000, we figured that Urban Terror would still be active 6 years later, or the development team would incorporate into an LLC. Actually, I am the only surviving member from 2000, but we were not looking “long term” in our early years unlike the “Q3F development team.”

I recall both of our development teams received a tour of the id Software offices and then sat down with Graeme Devine, Robert Duffy and others discussing our current project we were working on. While we did not have much in terms of presentation material, it was still neat to rub elbows with the big boys. the Q3F Team showed off a demo and provided them a presentation to id Software. Then again Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgewood is someone I really look up to and respect.

So, while Frozen Sand, LLC is playing catch up, you are never too late. We did spend some unproductive time during the life cycle of Urban Terror. We did announce a port to Enemy Territory, of which we decided to cancel for development reason. We followed that up with the ‘MX’ demo, which provided us some neat tech stuff and input/feedback from industry insiders. That also killed nearly 2 years of development on Urban Terror. But nothing is ever lost, not even that time. We did make some great progress, some of which may be seen in future development we do.

I believe I can speak for those on our development team that we are looking forward to the upcoming Urban Terror release. While I cannot say it will be perfect, we would love to put the “finishing touches” on a already great mod that has outlived its expected lifetime.

Oswald Rant: From Beta 1 to Beta 2

With the Beta 2 release of Urban Terror by Silicon Ice Development [SID], the development team looks to forge ahead and give their community a mod that far exceeds the expectations of any gamer. Created using one of the most powerful gaming engines available, the Quake III engine by id Software, Silicon Ice looks to have a very successful realism based mod to rival any in the gaming community.

Beta 1 was released August 5, 2000, while members of the Silicon Ice Development team were attending QuakeCon 2000 in Mesquite, Texas. On an invitation from id Software, the team shared a booth with Quake 3 Fortress, as each took time preview and demonstrate their projects. SID and Urban Terror were still relative unknowns at the time and were following in the footsteps of some very popular mods with cult-like followings, in Action Quake 2 and the highly publicized and successful, Counter-Strike.

Since many of the team members were strangers to “modding” it was a challenge to know what sort of reception Urban Terror Beta 1 would receive upon its initial release. Those of us attending QuakeCon were quite pleased to see gamers swarming to the booth, waiting in droves and a chance to play the mod. Looking back on the release, there were some fundamental mistakes that could have been resolved, providing for a stronger initial release giving us a better reputation. Looking back on our Beta 1 release, we agreed not to make the same mistake in future development.

For those in the community who were around less than one year ago when Beta 1 was released, I am sure you have not only see, but experienced the difference while waiting in anticipation for Beta 2. Silicon Ice Development takes great pride in their community and the mod they have come to support. To us, it’s the gamers that make the community great. We have continued to ask for input, in the form of suggestions, features and changes that could make the mod more enjoyable. We also released the mod to a group of internal beta testers, who provided valuable feedback and quality assurance. This to supplement the countless hours of team based testing in order to work out many issues and problems.

Silicon Ice Development is the driving force behind the creation of Urban Terror, but the community measures just how successful it is. While SID had an idea, gamers never failed to voice their opinions. As a development team, we took an active interest and listened to what they were saying. We continued to interact with the community, on our forums, in IRC, on ICQ and even on public servers. We were continually answering questions and providing feedback over the last ten months, which culminated in the release of Beta 2. Of course the most common question on the community’s mind, “When is Beta 2 being released?”

There was one minor incident that sparked some controversy during our development. That was the unfortunate leak of an internal build to the community. Looking back, that event was probably a blessing in disguise, as gamers not chosen by SID had an opportunity to experience our work and get a hands on demonstration of what was in store for Beta 2. We did everything in our power not to recognize those who were experiencing the build, as it was an early version, not meant for the gaming public. Through the period of the leak, there were rarely any negative comments that were received by SID. This was foreshadowing of things to come with the release of Beta 2.

A major component of any release is an official release date, something SID was hesitant to recognize. We had delays during previous beta development that had us overshoot our target date. We were bound by blood not to make the same mistake twice, as it weakens the credibility and report we have with our community. We continued to give a developer’s answer, “The mod is ready when we are done.”

We offered an internal build to Caryn “Hellchick” Law of GameSpy Industries and 3D ActionPlanet and Robert Duffy, programmer for id Software. Caryn had provided us with the female voices in Beta 1 and provides great insight into the community with her work. SID offered her the opportunity to play test the mod with a few of the team members in order to get her opinion and to provide us with feedback, which she gracefully did. She has been a support, since her initial preview of Beta 1 over a year ago.

Robert Duffy has been our main point of contact at id Software. We have play tested numerous times and received positive feedback on our development. Beta 1 provided Silicon Ice a platform from which to build, they must have seen potential in our development, as we were invited to QuakeCon. They have provided valuable support and answers to our team as we look to keep a strong working relationship with them through development.

June 1, 2001 was a day in which our expectations were not only met, but also exceeded when we released Urban Terror Beta 2. We were taken back by the over 500 gamers awaiting the release in #urbanterror on Enter The Game. The mod was officially released at 5pm and gamers flocked to FTPs in an attempt to download this much-anticipated beta. Now, a week later, the total number of downloads has exceeded 50,000! Based on GameSpy Stats, Urban Terror has jumped from #8 to #3 in terms of popularity with between 500-800 gamers online playing since the release.

Support like this from a community starved for a mod to take advantage of the power of the Quake III engine has arrived. Urban Terror Beta 2 has received overwhelming support and praise though out our community forums. A tough group to crack, the Shackers had many positive comments over at Shacknews. We feel very fortunate to be in the position we are since our release. We are already drawing up plans for our post Beta 2 development, which will include a multitude of bug fixes and additional maps in the coming weeks.

Silicon Ice Development would like to say thank you to everyone in our community for the patience and support for Urban Terror Beta 2. Be proud to know that you have had a hand in creating one of the best Quake III mods around.

id Myths

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and stumbled across this piece on the Quake3World Forums posted by Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software. He attempts to dispel three of the top myths surrounding id Software.

#1 id myth: Everyone drives a Ferrari.

Reality: Only John Carmack drives a Ferrari. While I assume Romero still has his, those two were the only id guys to *ever* have/drive/own Ferraris, unless one of them let one of the other guys borrow theirs (unusual and unlikely). [No, we did not see the Ferrari there during QuakeCon 2000.]

#2 id myth: Everyone who works at id is rich and that makes them all lazy.

Well, maybe only the jealous, the critics, and the cynics add the “lazy” part since they have no idea how much people here work.

Reality: Um no. How many former id employees left/got fired/moved on to become members of the wealthy retired? Answer: none. Tom Hall went to work for Apogee. Dave Taylor started his own company, which failed, and then went to work for Transmeta. Bear and American tried to start their own company but then ended up at Rogue and EA respectively. Sandy Petersen works for Ensemble. Sean Green still works at ION. Jay Wilbur took a few months off and now works at Epic. Brandon James works at Rogue. Steed works at Wild Tangent. John Cash works at Blizzard. Mike Abrash went back to Microsoft and now contracts on his own. Brian Hook went to Verant (where he apparently did cash out from the Sony buyout, but that’s not id-related). Anna Kang started her own business. Mike Wilson went to ION, then Gathering.

#3 myth: We worship Satan.

Reality: Paul Jaquays is a deacon at his church. Sandy Petersen is a devout Mormon. Not everyone is religious (like it’s anyone’s business but their own), but that demon stuff is wack. Just because Anne Rice writes about vampires doesn’t make her a blood sucking demon with super-human devil powers.

What else?

Todd Hollenshead

In more id Software news, the guys released a beta version of their newest point release, 1.27h. The fixes include:

-Fixed James model bug
-CD Key read correctly when starting from Q3A vs TA shortcuts
-Handicap exploit fixed
-Bot routing bug fixed
-Potential 20 FPS increase for some clients
-Sensitivity is back how it was

For further information, check out Robert Duffy’s .plan file. Look for the full 1.27h release in the coming weeks.

If you plan Urban Terror, then you have undoubtedly played the map, Docks by BattleCow. I had the chance to talk to Cow tonight and got caught up on his upcoming map which he calls, Uptown. Over the course of this week, I might give out some screen shots. Unfortunately, it was not the best compile, so the screen shots seem a bit washed out. But nonetheless, BattleCow’s map is looking great! IN his words, “Yeah it is kinda big…didn’t really mean to do that. There’s only four spawns though so people can guess the other team’s spawn and will have an idea of where to go look.” When I inquired what was left to complete, he responded, “The design is done, I think…just need to tweak the appearance.” For a sampling, check out today’s ‘Latest Action Fix’ featuring Uptown by BattleCow.

Today’s 6th Floor Link of the Day: “Book ’em Dano!” Okay, so we are not in Hawaii and this is not the 5-0. But it is your chance to check life behind bars, thanks to the jail cam which has been established in Maricopa County, Phoenix, Arizona. Check it out. Only bad part, you need to submit registration information.

Oswald Rant: Fair Weather Gamers

Compare today’s PC gamer to those people whom only show up and support their favorite sporting team when they are winning. Once the season is lost, they seem to disappear and “jump off the bandwagon,” only to resurface the following year with the same desire and intent, only to have this cycle begin again. This analogy can be used and pointed in the direction of those fans [or those claiming to be fans] of id Software, Quake III and the upcoming release of Team Arena.

After months of development and publicity, id releases a “demo” version of Quake III: Team Arena. While it comes as no big surprise, gamers in the community began to sling mud and take shots at id comparing Quake III: Team Arena to Unreal Tournament and their successful game.

Why is it that gamers are never quite satisfied? Finally they get to check out a long awaited demo or beta version of a game or mod. Inevitably nothing but &$%@ spews from the mouth as they are deleting it off the hard disk, vowing never to purchase or play it ever again. Nowhere is this more evident than in the mod community, but recently has reared its ugly head into the mainstream, directed at id Software.

The Quake3World forum thread, TA=UT? turned ugly quickly, as “id kids,” Paul Jaquays and Robert Duffy came to defend their integrity. “id, as a company and John as an individual has been incredibly generous towards the community…providing tools, information and pretty much laying the foundation…considering these are the things that make modifications possible in id games as well as other games, I would think people would appreciate the ability to do so instead of whining about it so much,” says Robert Duffy. Unfortunately, gamers take no remorse and feel the need to retaliate, vocally belittling a company such as id Software to feed their egos.

I have no problems with the direction id Software is taking in terms of development for Team Arena. I have no reason to verbally assault them for their dedication and effort to take Quake III to the “next level.” My point of contention, the way the 1.25 Point Release was distributed publicly, in beta form, not being backwards compatible to allow gamers and mod developers alike to play or continue development using the newest source code.

But unlike the gamers, the mod developers were a bit more tolerant and willing to ride out the wait. As of this writing, we are still waiting for the SDK, but Robert Duffy and Christian Antkow have provided a Mod Forum for developers to gather and discuss development. We are also being give the chance to sign an NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] with id Software, to gain access the upcoming source code, so we can have a head start in upgrading our mods to be compatible with the new point release, before Team Arena hits the shelves.

Without id Software, there would be no mod community for Quake III. Without a mod community, they would be just another software developer [possibly]. id Software is a special group of highly talented developers, who like mod developers will be scrutinized whenever possible when the mainstream does not like the directions or actions that are being taken. Unfortunate as it is, that’s real life and must be dealt with. Props to id Software on their development on Team Arena and their support for the mod community.