It’s Out! Finally!

I think things are slowly returning to normal. This past weekend has been outstanding. As many know Silicon Ice Development released Urban Terror Beta 2.6 yesterday. It was a very long and tiring day for those on the development team who took part in the release party festivities. Mad props go out to all of SID, especially Density who was a real trooper the last few days when it came to the code base.

If you missed Friday and Saturday, we held back to back, Urban Radio programs. Saturday’s program, the Urban Radio Pre-Release Party was out of control. You can download and listen to the shows from the Radio tab. Thanks to the guys at TsN Central we had enough bandwidth to accommodate nearly 600 listeners! Now that is support! It was an excellent time for all, as we discussed the upcoming release, new features, weapons and support features for the mod. Things such as the kick ass Urban Terror Manual. Course I am pimping it, cuz I spent a few months working on it. My contribution to Beta 2.6…hahah.

As for the mod itself, the Beta 2.6 release was very successful! The servers are increasing in numbers, gamers are at an all time high and everything…well most everything is going well. There are bugs and we are aware of many of the common issues that the community is bringing out attention. Of course they are catching things we had fixed, yet something seems to causing problems. So, SID is working on it.

As for the level designers, thanks to Dragonne has updated the def file for Urban Terror. This def file has new keys for the doors: gamemode_open and gamemode_shut. You put the game types that you want the doors locked open or locked closed in those keys I mentioned. If you are not sure what we are talking about, then load up ut_rommel in Team Survivor and CTF and you will notice the tunnel system is locked out and you cannot access it in TS. But in CTF they are open. Nice, huh?

Many mixed responses on the new levels SID released with Beta 2.6. One person will bad mouth ut_uptown and then the next person will praise the changes. It is like that for many of the updated SID levels. The same can be said of ut_riyadh, seeing as those two levels have stirred some controversy in the mod. Guess some gamers do not like change.

As for new levels, the community has responded very to the new levels. Mines by Bar-B-Q is a very popular level, many enjoy the ambiance of the level. Yet a few have had a hunkmeg issue with it. Others seem to like WU’s offer called Turnpike, as it offers fast game play and some excellent texturing.

I think by far, the most popular level was RabidCow’s Twin Lakes, version two, that SID decided to include in the distribution. RabidCow has spent months working, tweaking and improving the original level. All his hard work definitely paid off as Twin Lakes is just visually amazing. You should check out the sky box. WOW! The big trees are well, just freaking huge! The texturing is the highest quality, along with many great features. Check it out!

New Levels from SID

Ooooh, where should we start? How about with a “confirmed” rumor that the new point release for Quake 3, 1.32 will be out next week, as reported by RogeR over on Planetquake3. Of course I have been mum on the entire cloud surrounding the point release, since I did sign an NDA with id Software and was not going to compromise anything that I knew. So, the community has been digging that news, as is SID.

As promised, we are going to show off some of the work that the level designers of Silicon Ice has been up to. Some might know the name, WU. He is a level designer, who has been around the dev team from the beginning. Actually a long time member, but his only level he really did, that still remains is called Beachhouse. Maybe some of you heard or have seen screen shots of it. It was never released, due to missing textures. WU has been hard at work on a new level we featured in our ‘Latest Action Shot’ a few days ago. The level is called ut_turnpike and is a industrial/urban type area that features an overpass. Currently it only supports TS and TDM, as he told us, but he is going to look at adding CTF spawns and flags.

We will keep tabs on the progress of this level. No decisions as to when we will see this level released for Urban Terror. Also, if you check out the action shot today, Bar-B-Q [coned] has been busy, as usually. When he is not out with the [PIT] crew coning gamers, he is actually mapping. His new level is called ut_mines and features and semi-abandoned series of mines. Interesting level, some nice work, perhaps his best to date. Yeah, I know its tough to beat Rommel…we will be feature more shots of this level soon.

Ever wanna see BIG…I am talking BIG trees? Soon you will, thanks to ydnar and RabidCow. No further information on that…yet. But the screen shots I have seen are highly impressive. RabidCow, again on the cutting edge of level design and development. Props man, Twin Lakes is going to be amazing! We will present some screenies on that level soon as well.

Now, I don’t even know why I am going here, but I have been at it again, dabbling in GtkRadiant. I am going to blame Kostas this time around. I saw his level and got the bug to go back in and see if I was “skilled.” Hahaha…let’s put it this way, I have a full layout. If this work gets past the initial stages, it will make it’s way into a CTF level. Way too early for any sort of screen shots. Of course, we have seen me do this in the past. So, right now, don’t hold your breath.

Coming tomorrow, meet rustyTNT from |d’angels|, down in Australia. We will tell you about how her interview came about for the continuing Fem Fatale Series, right here on The 6th Floor.

House Cleaning!

Thanks to the popularity of Urban Terror, the time I have to work on The 6th Floor falls into the “weekly” category. Not to fret, I come bearing gifts this week. To start off the week, check out the newest 6th Floor Poll which begs the question, “Strafe Jumping or Sprinting?” You make the call, then make the vote!

Also I got around to finishing a new Oswald Rant. This time we get to “think different.” No, not as in queer, but as in Macintosh and the valuable support they lend the mod community. That is when a development team decides to create their mod so it is able to run on a Mac. So check out, Think Different: Urban Terror.

As I mentioned last week, unless you were under a rock, Silicon Ice released their Beta 2.3 version of Urban Terror. This was mainly a map pack, but did include a few changes. The community seems to enjoy the new levels. They also continue to find more errors and inconsistencies in some of the levels. One of the most notable would be ut_rommel by Bar-B-Q. Interesting that Rommel has probably been the most discussed level in the Urban Terror Forums. There are some performance issues that have arisen since its release. Bar-B-Q is quite aware of that, along with the numerous errors. He is currently working on a revision for an update. Many seem to enjoy Rommel.

I was able to test the latest build of Rommel last like at the Netzwerk Terror LAN, here in SoCal. With teams at 8 v 8, the map was terribly crowded. We were set up to play CTF, which was probably a mistake with 16 gamers, due to the narrowness of some of the areas. In order to break up the this corner, there was a new opening added this area. There are a few routes to take to get to this area, which is somewhat of an intermediate area. A considerable amount of killing and carnage takes place in here.

If your team is successful in getting to this point, you proceed to the ladders and the death defying sprint across this tightrope which leads to the other side of the river.

In nearly 2 hours of game play the blue flag, at the base of the bombed out church was grabbed once, while the blue team made it across the bridge once. No caps! It became TDM with set spawn points. This is not the final version, as Bar-B-Q is looking to work on the layout to provide the community a more solid Rommel.

For those who want more information on creating and naming your own textures, check out this bit of information from some guy I know.

– Q3A doesn’t accept all JPEGs and TARGAs, only a subset.
– Textures can be any size, but will appear blurry unless their dimensiona are a power of 2.
– You do not have to write a shader for your textures unless you are making use of special effects.

I wrote something about this in this forum some time ago, but I’m too lazy to look for it, so I’ll just repeat it:

Here are some general guidelines for making/using your own textures with Q3A (or Q3A:TA, etc.):

 

  • Always make your texture dimensions a power of 2.
    If you don’t, the Q3A engine scales them to a power of 2 when it loads them, and that can blur detailed textures.

 

  • Always save the “master” copy of your texture in a “lossless” format.
    Each image manipulation program usually has its own proprietary format that preserves layers, etc., and that’s usually the best to use.
    In particular, do not save your master texture as a JPEG (.jpg), or each time you load and save it, you will lose more and more detail.
    (This is because JPEGs are a “lousy” format.)
  • If you don’t need to use alpha channels (texture transparency), save the game texture (not your master texture!) as a JPEG.
    Use the highest compression you can that will allow the texture to still look good.
    Don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of compression, but compress it as much as you can while maintaining the quality you want.
    Remember that JPEGs are expanded when they are read in, so compressing a JPEG does not save any texture memory; it only makes your texture file (and the .pk3 file) smaller.
    Do not use “progressive encoding” when saving as a JPEG, or some versions of the editor will crash when trying to load them.
  • If you need to use texture transparency, save the game texture (not your master texture!) in a TARGA (.tga) file with alpha channels.
    Note that if you want to make the entire texture have the same transparency, you should save as a JPEG and use a shader to implement transparency.
    Save as a TARGA only if you need parts of the texture to be more transparent than others (e.g., a grate, chain-link fence, etc.).
  • IMPORTANT! Never never never place textures in the “standard” texture directories.
    The best place to put them is in a directory that has the same name as your map.
    For example, if your map is named “bloodbath.bsp“, place the textures in a directory named “textures/blood_bath“.
    So, if your texture is named “wall3.jpg“, place it in “textures/blood_bath/wall3.jpg“.
    (Note: Do not use spaces in your texture or directory names.
    In fact, to be on the safe side, use only lower-case unaccented letters (a-z), digits (0-9), and the underscore (_) in your names.
    Also, do not use directory names over 8 characters long unless the parts are separated by an underscore (e.g., use “textures/blood_bath/wall3.jpg” instead of “textures/bloodbath/wall3.jpg“).
    (It seems to be OK for the texture names themselves to be over 8 characters long without underscores (e.g., “textures/blood_bath/myverylongnamedbloodywalltexturenumber3.jpg“).
    Also, note that the 8-character-long problem doesn’t happen to everybody.)Make sure you preserve the directory structure when making your .pk3 file (i.e., if you list the contents of your .pk3 file, the texture should show up as “textures/blood_bath/wall3.jpg“).

Quote of the day comes from SwedeXX on the Urban Terror Forums: “I may be ‘dead as fried chicken, baby’ tonight, but you’re ugly. Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up in perfect health, but you’ll still be ugly.” Enough said. Thanks Swede!!!

Give it to me Wet!

So what’s better than two chicks getting it on? Two chicks named Evelyn and Meela getting it on knives in each hand. Very cool scene in the latest movie, The Mummy Returns. It you liked the first one, then definitely check out the return! It was a good flick, lord knows I had to get from behind this computer!

Onto what you came to The 6th Floor for. Details, the scoop and why the hell hasn’t Silicon Ice Development has not offered a release date. Let me answer the latest question first. SID is not entirely finished. As many read on the Urban Terror Forums or on the web site, there was a new internal build released, build_14. This build fixed another 50+ bugs which the testers had submitted to the bug database. Looking at the extensive list, nothing really jumps out as ground breaking in terms of development.

Based on the screen shots released yesterday, there were two new maps which were released in this build, ut_revolution by WetWired and ut_docks by BattleCow. First the skinny on Wet’s creation.

Believe it or not, this level actually started out as a remake of Bot Killer’s Beta 1 level, Trainyard. Looking back at some of the shots WetWired sent me, not much of the original level remained, with the exception of the foundation, which featured two channels, one with water and bridges perpendicular to those. The project then shifted gear a bit, and a few of the SID level designers, namely Tub and NRGizeR were each going to do a separate portion of this new creation that was called Revolution. WetWired took his time and decided to make this entirely his own project. While a culmination of those three designers would have produced a great map, I don’t think anyone is discouraged by the new screens from what now is, ut_revolution. Here are some more shots from WetWired’s upcoming level:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3] | [SHOT #4]
As for ut_docks, many have spent countless hours fragging on this seaside level which was created by BattleCow. Believe it or not, it was his first ever attempt at a level. Hahaha….funny thing, I went back last night and loaded up Alpha6, which was a prerelease for SID before Beta 1, just to get this screen shot. Anyway, for Beta 2, BattleCow, has completely retextured and redesigned a few areas in Docks, to increase the game play and flow of the level. For example, the bar on the waterfront is no longer accessible. This was partly due to the rising FPS in this area, by eliminating the interior, it allowed for a bit higher rate. I really don’t think it will hinder game play. This level is sure to turn some heads, as it is a beautiful level! Check a few more shots out from ut_docks:

[SHOT #1] | [SHOT #2] | [SHOT #3] | [SHOT #4]
Some news from the Urban Terror Community. As most of you know, there has still been no word about the fate of Warhammer of ISPGN. This means no quality FTP site to download files and maps. While we could pick up the slack here, we use FilePlanet.

Sixpak over at Mobilized Forces has some new screen shots courtesy of SID from ut_revolution Check them out, if you still have not gotten your Revolution fix. Sixpak as has started broadcasting live music from his site, which features music from Mark Klem, better known as the “Mad Mississippian” or throughout the community as Bar-B-Q and a band who contacted me to advertise for them in our maps using billboards, Creeper Lagoon. Give it a listen as you read through the forums! Now WinAMP compatible!

Next up the weird and the whacky over at Rubber Ducky. *SQUEEK* No Fear, that little bastard caught me in a true, real world moment. At first I was, “Oh damn, did I get caught with a finger in my nose picking a winner?” Then he showed me this screen shot. Hahaha….oh well, hard at work, but needing to stuff my pie hole. No go check out “The Ducky” and see what he has conjured up.

Finally, for the level designers out there….while SID is still working on releasing the important files you will need for you Beta 2 maps, including .def files, entities and textures, news from Linga over at LevelEditing.de. “Hi Oswald I’ve just finished 700 photo based textures. Check them at my page, http://www.levelediting.de/index.php3?site=texturestudio.inc and tell the SID mappers from my textures if you want. Most of them are based on photos I’ve found on the WWW but some are easily ripped textures from other texture pages like Jeremy Engelman.” So give it a look.

Interview with Mark “Bar-B-Q” Klem

With the release of id Software’s Quake 3, and the creation of Urban Terror by Silicon Ice, gamers are taking to realism mods faster than ever these days. Here at The 6th Floor, we would like to give some background information on some of those people who have chosen to work on this project.

One of the most highly talented figures on Silicon Ice Development is that of Mark Klem. Better know throughout the Action Quake 2 and Urban Terror community as Bar-B-Q [a shout out to The Pit!]. Along with being an accomplished level designer, Mark has released three albums over on MP3.com featuring his music. He also lent his musical talent to create the current Urban Terror theme song. Recently I sat down with BBQ to discuss an array of topics. Check out what makes Mark tick. He really does love cats.

Oswald: Let’s jump right in with both feet. Your first map for Urban Terror is called Rommel and is based on the final scene from Saving Private Ryan. How’s the development coming along?

Bar-B-Q: First of all, I want to set the record straight. The map is really not called Rommel, that was just a code word for the map until I figured out exactly what the hell the real name of the town was. To be historically correct, the map will be named something along the lines of ‘Boulogne’ as that is the actual name of the town. My cat bit me today and I punched it in the face real hard.

Oswald: How do you see the maps for Urban Terror progressing? Are there areas which level designers should concentrate on more than others. And what roll does the community play in create fresh new levels for Urban Terror?

Bar-B-Q: The maps are progressing extremely well, which scares the hell out of me, simply because by the time I actually get my map finished we will have too many high-quality standards buzzing around. I won’t mention any names, but the maps that I am seeing for beta 2 are…..extremely exceptional. My cat bit me again just now. I did a combination of high punch and drop-kick on him.

Oswald: Since the buzz word in the realism community seems to be Counter-Strike, give me an impression of their levels? Do you find yourself saying, “Damn, I wish Urban Terror level designers did that?”

Bar-B-Q: The CS maps were really well done, I guess. I haven’t even played it but a few times and that was for reasons unknown. I still don’t know why I played it, but this cat is about to die.

Oswald: What does the community favor more: team created levels or community created? Why?

Bar-B-Q: That’s a tough question. Some things are best left unsaid. This would probably be one of them. But I would say that if I were the average player with a dead cat, I would lean more towards good quality, community-created maps. Why? Because there are many dedicated players out there that just want to have their voices heard and one sure way to do that is to make a map. I can think of about 500 really good community map-makers for Urban Terror and would graciously name them one by one, however I’m about to emboss my foot in this cat’s ass.

Oswald: I am going to throw some words at you [DUCK!] associate them to whatever comes to mind. No I am not a shrink, I just play one on The 6th Floor.

Bar-B-Q:

Navy Seals: Seems like a really dedicated team, can’t wait to see what they have there.

id Software: Yeah, that’s not even remotely funny.

dokta8: That’s remotely funny. Actually, great guy, awesome coder, great guy.

quality maps: Very real, very now.

Beta 1: Sucked

Silicon Sanctuary: mmm…music is good, like hot wangs!

Oswald: Before I really knew you, I heard your music and was hooked. What got you started? Do you have any plans to include your music in upcoming Urban Terror levels?

Bar-B-Q: Good music got me started. Then I tried to make my own music and make it as original as I could, which is very hard to do today, as noted by present musicians. I did a game soundtrack for a game made by a prominent force at the time and had this strange notion that I could make it in music one day dedicating my time and work into game-type music. That didn’t happen at all and I am regretting spending the time on it now. But then I reworked a lot of my material and put it on an mp3.com site and with the encouragement of thousands of fans, I didn’t even know I had, I am very proud to share those works and tons of new material with them as I get the time to work on it. I greatly appreciate all the support of tens of millions of people that sent me all those emails. If you’re curious, that address would be www.mp3.com/markklem. At this time there are no plans whatsoever to make music for Urban Terror maps.

Oswald: You also created the Urban Terror theme song. Tell us about? Do we foresee any other musical features for Urban Terror in the near future? And how does this song compare to your previously released albums?

Bar-B-Q: The Urban Terror theme song is probably what got me on the team in the first place. I worked long and hard on it, trying different things, trying new things, new to me any ways, and when it was all done, I even made a vocal version of it. I was very happy with the end-results and it remains one of my very favorites even now. I would do another piece for Urban Terror at the drop of a hat if needed. I was working on a remix a few months ago, but my time has been taken away by work and my map and sounds. But I plan to finish it and release it ASAP anyway. All this cat has to do is bite me one more time.

Oswald: You worked with Jim Dose, now of id Software while at Apogee? Do you keep in touch with him? Has he offered any ideas or comments on Urban Terror?

Bar-B-Q: I hold Jim in the highest of regards. He is an outstanding and very ‘down to Earth’ person. When we were at QuakeCon2000 he took me riding around in his cooly BMW Z3. Very nice car. We talked about stuff, joked about things, had a really good time. The last time I talked to him was on the phone from his New York office back in the early 1990’s. This was the first time I had met him in person and it was a total rush. He gave me a fully autographed copy of Quake3 and FAKK2. We talk to each other with e-mail now about twice a month. If I need some advice or some information, he never hesitates to respond. Jim is good people 🙂 The cat is not.

Oswald: What does Silicon Ice Development need to focus on to take Urban Terror to the next level? Do you see it as having the potential to rival Counter-Strike in terms of volume or quality?

Bar-B-Q: Rivaling Counter-Strike. Man, that’s gotta be hard to do. They now have funding and all, and sometimes I wonder how long they have had funding before ‘one point oh’. We might can come close one day, it all just depends. There are a lot of factors involved. The Half-Life engine is 50 years old and one that I don’t want to play, personally. They have a good animation system, and that’s what has really kept them alive. We will see what the future holds.

Oswald: This last one is for you, anything you would like to share, comment on or p1mp. The floor is yours.

Bar-B-Q: Actually I would like to say to all our players, Thanks so much for your support and dedication and all of your feedback on the mod. No cats were harmed in this interview…much 🙂