Changes in the Wind

There has been a small union between Urban Terror and The 6th Floor. I will now supply the 6th Floor Poll on the main page. Kinda cool. Next, I want to say thanks to everyone who has made this site quite popular. As the counter reads, I finally surpassed 50,000 hits! I guess we can call that a milestone. One on which I am going to build on.As for the changes. I may or may not keep the Action Quake 2 information available here. I am going to convert this over to an Urban Terror map site. There will be a plethora of things for mappers and those interested in Urban Terror. Although I will not be giving away development team secrets, I feel I can be more myself here. As for the information I have on AQ2, I will turn the reviews over the AQMD. This transition may not happen overnight, but I expect to follow through with this plan.The recent news on Urban Terror, well there still has been no beta released. Although Preacher has put a call out for some help:

“Silicon Ice Development, makers of Urban Terror is in need of more animators!!! Nobody quit or was removed from the team or anything like that. The simple fact is our animators are over worked. This in no way, shape or form will effect our beta release. BUT! We would like to have as much done as possible before our release. So if you have some skills animating models, and you really know your stuff. E-mail us as soon as possible. Please have some work ready for us to review.” So if you are good at what you do or your name is Paul Steed, then contact us and we will review your work. Unless your name is Paul Steed, then you are “in” with the development team =)

Oswald Rant: Realism in Mods/Games – An Oswald Rebuttal

This is in rebuttal to the Planetquake Staff Writer, Spyke, who’s absurd comments and lack of knowledge have once again come to the forefront to draw incomplete conclusions about realism in mods. To understand completely where both sides are on the issue, check out the article at, The Gauntlet on Planetquake, in which Spyke and Lee’mon battle over “realism in mods and games.”

As many of you already know, Action Quake 2 is based upon “realism” and the motto, “All the speed of your favorite action film, without the cost of a ticket.” This mod seems to have started the “action” craze which has recently exploded with many mod developers battling it out for street dominance. The A-Team originally had unique idea, which they “breathed life into” by giving us, the players a chance to act as our favorite action hero. Unfortunately, Spyke leads us down that other road of realism called “life” and believes mods such as Action Quake hold no basis when it comes to gaming.

I was actually okay with most of his arguments against Lee’mon until it came to the map in question. The map is titled, Teacher [When I Killed the Teacher] which was masterfully created by Mats “Ruskprick” Holm, who hails from Sweden. For those who play Action Quake 2 on a regular basis and are around the community, we all know of his work and attention to detail when it comes to mapping and texturing. He definitely is one of the best!

While I can agree with the thoughts most share when Columbine is mentioned, I definitely take offense to his thoughts regarding the author and his map, Teacher. Spyke was turned onto the map through a friend who stated “It was, supposedly, a fairly close replica of Columbine High School.” Honestly, I do not see how your friend can determine this. We can surely write this ridiculous statement off as being merely a rumor which hold no weight at all in this argument.

Spyke thought, “Oh, sure, BS”. Then we played it. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in my life, and not in a good way. Some sick f*ck took it upon himself to construct this map, complete with broken school furniture and disturbing messages scrawled in blood on the walls. We ran through the map for about 5 minutes and decided it would be impossible to play in, as well as just plain wrong. This is where realism completely crosses the line. Introducing realistic situations into games that are clearly non-realistic will only lead to trouble.

Where shall I begin?? How about with some dates to back up fact from fiction. Ruskprick completed the map, Teacher, in October, 1998 and was subsequently released in March, 1999. The Columbine Tragedy in Colorado took place April 20, 1999. Unless Ruskprick is Nostradamus and can predict events before they happen, I feel the two events have nothing in common, except what people like yourself want to read into it, just to force the issue.

You then consider Ruskprick, “Some sick f*ck,” which seems not only to degrade him as a person, but all the effort and work he has put into this outstanding looking map. This strikes me as being very unprofessional and is doing the author a terrible injustice, for a site such as Planetquake, who reigns supreme upon mention of anything Quake related.

Thanks to the powers that be in the Action Quake 2 Community, I was given the opportunity and authority [or lack thereof] to be put in charge of The Action Quake Map Depot which supplies all the “officially released” maps for the mod. Teacher was released before I took charge, but that still does not mean it was wrong to release this or any other map of this fashion. Case in point, we released the map, JDCS [Fraggin in the CJD] by [FA]Joka from Germany, in February, 2000.

While it drew some mixed comments on the AQMD forum and through personal e-mails to me and the staff, many players accepted the map and supported the release of the map. There were still some who thought we, of the AQMD Staff, were wrong in releasing this map, based on the the Columbine incident. After all the hype had subsided, we considered our options and decided to stick to our decision and the map still remains available for download.

What does all of this mean to us as people who play “the game of life everyday” or who play Action Quake [or any other real life action based mod] as a way to “escape reality?” Nothing at all. Thankfully, most people are able to distinguish between what is real, such as life, from what is computer generated and provided to us as a form of entertainment. Action Quake 2 is based on the premise of “real life” environments as opposed to a distance planet in a far off galaxy, where the players tote akimbo pistols or an assault rifles instead of a plasma rifle or railgun, killing people as opposed to the Strogg. If we cannot have our escape from reality in one form or another, what can we have?

Look at the growing popularity in “real life” shooters coming to the forefront of the gaming industry. Games and such as SWAT3, Delta Force 2, Soldier of Fortune, Team Fortress 2, give the player something real they can relate to. Mods like Action Quake 2, Action Half-Life and the upcoming Action Unreal Tournament and Urban Terror will provide the same opportunity to many more fans, who want to experience something different. Even if “Realism, as a whole, is done very poorly in ACTION GAMES,” as Spyke claims, it still feeds the adrenaline rush that players like myself get when played. It’s the thrill of the chase, the team play and tactics used, to dispose of your enemy before you take a bullet between the eyes. Give us our “reality,” there are many out there who are attracted to what it has to offer.

Oswald Rant: To Hell, with Action Maps

Preface: This is a rant, but unlike its predecessors, I feel it has a different feel to it. I am not here today to scream down the bad maps, comment on illegal textures, rant on scripts and cheats or even bitch about newbies and their ridiculous questions. Today is a reponse to Hellchick and the entire Planetquake Staff for their choice of maps: Quakeham Asylum, Sludge, Inc., Crack Down, Church of Doom, Altar of Kumanru and Urban3 to represent Action Quake 2 during Map Week at Planetquake (my warm and cuddly host =)

Like many of you out there, I was shocked…taken back…elated…floored, down right pumped up when I saw a post, outside of The 6th Floor making the Planetquake Daily News that related to Action Quake 2. PQ was presenting a feature titled, ‘Map Week” and ‘Map Pack Two for Action’ kicked off the festivities for Tuesday, representing Action Quake 2. This of course peaked my interest, so I furiously continued to click to investigate further. I finally came to what I was looking for…The Motherlode! The maps which were “the favorite picks” of the Planetquake Staff and their map week event. I took a single glance at the six, individual maps which were included and was quite disappointed by the way Action Quake was being depicted.

The comments I left on the daily news, here at The 6th Floor did some justice for those of us who “live, breath and sleep Action.” Damn, now I sound like a fanatic! Or is that a cyber geek? I received further feedback via ICQ, e-mail and posts on the AQMD forum regarding these maps, which helped spawn the reponse I left. Later that evening, I received e-mail from the PQ Site Director herself, Hellchick regarding the news I left on The 6th Floor. This by no means brought any closure to the situation, as most agreed, the choice of maps could have been improved, but as Hellchick told me, “I think the problem is that there’s SO many good maps for Action Quake 2 that it was tough for me to narrow my choices.” That statement alone sums up many maps which are available to supplement Action.

With that e-mail and a few other comments, I decided to think a bit longer and harder on a more mature reponse, instead of an all out offensive on Hellchick (Fact: Did you know she even did the female radio voices for them?) and PQ (my loving host). I decided what doesn’t hurt us, The Action Community, can only make us stronger. The Action mod is being p1mped by the site that started it all, Planetquake. There is no reason to go calling for heads or to continue marching on, like some witch hunt. In effect, PQ is doing what Suislide and the A-Team unsuccesfully attempted last year, when trying to promote Action Quake in PC Accelerator. Unfortunately, we know how ugly and out of control that situation got. Why have another similar incident?

Hellchick went on to say, “these were our favorite picks, which is why they were credited to those who picked them. My opinion is certainly not the deciding opinion of the AQ2 community, as evidenced by your reaction.” I will consider my initial reaction as an over reaction, not only are Action maps being p1mped by Planetquake, the mod is being seen by more prospective players who may say, “Hey this mod kicks ass! I wanna check it out!” I myself, like most of you, have your individual opinions as to the maps you and/or clan enjoy week in, week out. I know my clan. Netzwerk Terror does. Believe me, I get an earful when I insert new maps into the rotation they dislike. Sort of like getting mass amounts of unfavorable e-mail, unfortunately it is on a personal level and I cannot just click delete.

The eternal flame of Action Quake 2 continues to burn brightly, even as better looking “action” based mods are showing up, using the newest engines. As long as there are people dedicated to keeping the Action going, the game will never die. Planetquake does their part, by giving web sites like The 6th Floor, the spotlight every so often in their, “Site of the Day,” or mods like Action, “Mod of the Week.” Thanks to Planetquake for bringing the Quake Community’s attention to Action, even if for a brief minute in their “Map Pack Two for Action” as a salute to a long running and successful mod, Action Quake 2.

Oswald Rant: Battle of the Textures

In my previous rant, I was upset with those people who wanted to sacrifice quality for quantity, when it comes to creating and releasing Action Quake maps. Where does that quality start? After establishing your layout and design for a map, it is taken to a new level when you begin to apply textures to your brushes. Many people do not have that skill when it comes to creating a complete map. We are fortunate enough to have some people who excel in creating unique and realistic textures, which add believability to any map. Unfortunately, there are others who believe in borrowing textures from popular games by big named companies to give their map an authentic feel. While loaded with “eye candy”, these maps are considered unofficial because they do use illegal texturing without the consent of the games manufacturer.

Most people who create textures give their approval to use any texturing, as long as they are given credit for creating the texture in the readme.txt file. Many adhere to this policy and go on about their merry way, creating more mediocre maps. Back in the early versions of Action, SLAT Software created the map, Armyterr, which used a texture from Unreal by Epic Games. The texture was consider illegal, because SLAT never gained the approval from Epic, thus the map was removed from the AQMD. This texture, along with others from Unreal have reemerged to rear their ugly heads, causing debate though the community. Gerbil’s map, Urban also carried an illegal ‘Coke Cola’ billboard texture, without authorization from that company. This texture was later changed to ‘Cool Cola’ and permitted to remain as an official map at AQMD.

Recently, textures from Xatrix’s controversial game, Kingpin have begun showing up on maps, some of which have yet to be released by AQMD. In my opinion, these maps should not be released, due to the illegal textures and the possbility of copyright infringement. One map even went as far to title their map, Kingpin! Where the hell is the creativity and originality in that? Even though Xatrix has disbanded, changing their name to distance themselves from Kingpin and starting on future projects, does this give mappers the right to use these textures? In my opinion, no, the textures should be not be allowed.

I did get in touch with MexicanRadio over at Lead Pipe Studios regarding an unused Kingpin texture pack which is now circulating around the mapping community. Here is what he told me, “…after checking with Interplay, he sent them to me. I haven’t heard from anyone, and Lead Pipe had over 1200 hits in the first day after posting them, so if they were illegal, I’d probably know about it by now.” How’s that for a grey area concerning textures?

There are numerous other examples of maps that have been released by AQMD, which include illegal texturing and thus infringe on copyrights. Those maps include Lavatube by the Gimp, Brickyard by KaRRiLLioN, Mxcity by [tBd]NRGizeR and Camel by The Riddler & Mindmaker. Along with these maps, there are also folders that reside in the ‘textures’ directory such as ‘duke3d’, ‘rampage’, ‘redneck’ and ‘unreal’, which include illegal textures. All of those folders contain textures directly from that specific game, all of which are should not be used.

I receive emails daily, in which someone asks me, “Why can’t I use Kingpin textures?” I usually respond with, “last time I checked, copyright infringement was illegal.” So what would make using copyrighted material acceptable? Just get a response from the company, which says you have their approval to use that specified material. We did just that for The 6th Floor, Ellusion and I drew up a letter and emailed it to GT Interactive, Epic Games, Interplay and Xatrix. I received a single email back from Tim Sweeney at Epic that read, “We don’t give people permission to copy our textures, models, or sounds for use in other games.

Why would you assume any other company is going to have a different answer? They won’t. So until further notice, which will not be soon, steer clean of any texturing from which is illegal. It may get your map recognized, but not for the right reasons. Is this being too drastic? Possibly. But why have something as minuscule as texturing ruin the game we love, when there are other alternatives available. It happened to the Quake 2 mod, Generations, as id Software had infringement problems with the mod. We don’t want this fate to happen to Action Quake.

Oswald Rant: Quality Not Quantity

After reviewing Action maps for the past 6 months, I have begun to draw some conclusions on maps in general. First, there are far too many mediocre and down right bad maps available for Action Quake2. Secondly, I realize scoring for The [old] 6th Floor was far too lenient and my reviews only adequate. Finally, in an attempt to get quality maps exposure, The [new] 6th Floor will concentrate on that small percentage of maps which exceed in the standards we have set forth and we will not hesitate to exploit maps which are far less inadequate.

Currently AQMD has released 135 “official” maps to the Action Community. This number will only continue to rise. After experiencing and reviewing these maps, there are 25-30, approximately 25% of the maps which we consider worthy enough to be reviews. How did we come about this? It’s our site we can do whatever the hell we want, that’s how. Actually, this is based on our review criteria and an overall agreement on those maps.

There are just too many bad maps being played on a majority of servers. You have seen those map rotations, which have urban as every other map. Who is to fault? The mappers? Players? Server Ops? Consider this, authors submit their maps, they sit for a week or so at AQMD’s Test Matrix. The author gets his clan buddies to give his map high marks, then begins complaining because it has not been released. Maps which are submitted for official release, go through some basic standards: zip structure, r_speeds, lower case file name (for Linux users) and a read me text. Nowhere does it say maps have to have an ingenious layout, unique texturing and a good, strong game flow.

Mappers usually put their blood, sweat and tears into a map, in hopes of getting it released. But when they submit crap and it is released, they think they have done no wrong. When in reality, the map is lacking from the beginning and the author goes on to create another map, with no improvements. Good maps are getting lost in the shuffle of all the horrid maps floating out there. Mappers expect their maps to get some attention and exposure on servers, most don’t.

Now, I can see you sitting there, reading this saying, “Okay, so what the *uck are you thinking? What maps do you think are good?” here is a sampling of maps which are unique and considered to be better then the norm: urban2 by Gerbil!, actcity2 by CryptR, kumanru by Shmitz and city by Ruskprick, just to name a few. Disagree if you must, but this is my rant and our site. Create your own if you don’t like what we say.

What is the solution to getting better quality maps? If I knew this, I would not be ranting. One possible solution is map standards. These standards could be used as a guideline a map must be created by is a possibility, but not so stringent that it is impossible to get a map released. These standards should be used as a guideline for mappers to follow. Some of you actually have a clue and know how to create excellent maps. So for you, continue submitting your work. But for those of you who can “talk the talk”, but not “walk the walk,” examine our reviews of maps, ask questions and either create a great map or don’t bother submitting it.