Happy 13th Birthday!

Hard to believe they grow up so fast. Today is 13 years that my web site, The 6th Floor has been online. What is even more amazing is the transformation the site has taken over all those years. Originally opened as Oswald’s 6th Floor Map Depository in support of map reviews for the Quake 2 modification, Action Quake 2. While I have all the original content archived, the Way Back Machine has no records dating back to 1999 when I was hosted at my ISP, The Loop when I lived in Redondo Beach, CA.

While I don’t remember exactly when the moved happened, I made the hosting jump to Planetquake, which worked to my advantage, allowing more gamers to be exposed to my rantings. The relationship with Action Quake 2 would last until June, 2000 when I would start looking in a different direction for The 6th Floor. Interest in Action Quake 2 was waning and new PC games, such as Quake 3, Half-Life and Unreal Tournament were the games on the horizon. I wrote a few pieces and compared some of the upcoming “mods” that were being developed using the Quake 3 engine, which could possibly replace Action Quake 2, since the development team was moving to a different game engine. Enter Urban Terror.

I was fortunate enough to start my 10 year relationship with this mod, which led to many great memories, trips, people and a hell of a lot of wasted time in my life. I don’t regret any of it. Hell, I met the girl I would marry playing Urban Terror! The 6th Floor started supplying a week poll question to the Urban Terror web site in early 2000. The relationship I had with some of the early developers, Brian, aka Preacher and Sam, dokta8 got me on the fast track and more involved with the development team and the modification.

The 6th Floor was also my base of operation when it came to ‘shoutcasting’ or providing commentary for online gaming. I aligned myself with TsN (Team Sportscast Network), followed by Radio iTG a few years later. I would be the only caster to provide coverage for Urban Terror at Clanbase. I also introduced gamers who played Medal of Honor to shoutcasting coving the MoHi (invitational league) followed by further coverage at Clanbase. I even ran my weekly 80’s show, Just Push Play off here.

Based on this story, I closed the door on my participation on the development team in 2008. Either I don’t have all those years updated, but at any point I made a quiet exit from the entire online gaming and Urban Terror scene. Since that time my has been my own. The site when stale for periods, but reemerged as my personal blog.

Gone but not completely forgotten is all the gaming related material, but more recently I have focused my efforts on using this as my journal talking about my life. Amateur radio seems to take front stage at times, as does fantasy football when the NFL season rolls around. But there is much more that I continually add to T6F. Since changing my diet (aka lifestyle) I have been promoting the success I have had in just 3 months.

If nothing else my site gives me the freedom to do whatever the hell I want to do. While I vowed I would never participate in “social networking” my site and participation existed long before Facebook, MySpace and Twitter came along. I still enjoy posting daily bits of information, relevant or not. As for the social networking aspect, I do link each post I make at Facebook for “friends.” Never once did I think I would still own my domain name and actively update The 6th Floor. I am glad I have and look forward to many more years!

Thanks to everyone who has supported my site over the years!

Oswald Rant: Community Mappers

I take much pride in what I have accomplished on The 6th Floor. What began as a small, unknown map review site for Action Quake 2 has grown to become a popular fan site for Urban Terror. While I never expected this to happen, nevertheless I am glad to be part of the community, offering my services, opinions and reviews.
I receive quite a few e-mail and ICQ messages from gamers in regards to the reviews I write on The 6th Floor. Seeing as it’s my site, I guess I have the right to post whatever I want without input or comments from outsiders. Some of the recent comments have attracted my attention, unlike previous ones. The comments go a bit like this. “Don’t you think your review of [insert map] was a bit hard, wonder what [insert map author] will think?”

While I review maps and write corresponding reviews for the Urban Terror maps, I have the utmost respect for anyone who decides to accept the daunting task of creating a map. While you might tell yourself, “Oh I can do this. Just toss a few brushes together and slap some textures on it.” There is much more that goes into a successful level design and its not as easy as you may think.

Why is it there is such a disparity between Silicon Ice Development created levels and third party, community created levels? I believe part of the success of the SID levels come from experience. More than anything else, it helps to have level designers like, BBQ, Gerbil!, NRGizeR and WetWired, all of whom have previous experience from Action Quake 2 and know their way around an editor like QERadiant.

If I am “too hard” on mappers, then maybe they should try and obtain feedback and criticism from those in the community who create levels. Of course you ask the every day player about a new map and they will surely, fill your ear with nothing but lies and misconceptions about your newly created level. Community developers must pay more attention to details, as many minor problems add up in the end. Things such as textures placed backwards, portions of the map scaled incorrectly, overlapping textures. These are but a few of the common mistakes that mappers continue to make.

What do I think of the overall quality of the community maps created for Urban Terror? Many of them need work. A few of the level designers were smart enough to toss a ‘beta_’ tag on them, in hopes of receiving feedback, which to improve their level. But very few seem to take any feedback and apply it to their map. It becomes the battle of “quantity” over “quality” in terms of maps for Urban Terror. I would rather see fewer maps, which were continually tweaked and modified until they something other than average.

In the end, hopefully the community knows and understands that Silicon Ice Development is there to help them improve upon their levels. The community can be a valuable source for information, if you are able to extract the constructive criticism from the nonsense. If you want your level to be recognized, then spend the time and go the extra mile when creating it. Good, quality maps are imperative to any mod’s success. Urban Terror is no different.