Shoutcasting Returns!

Since last April, there has been no Clanbase coverage or Urban Radio shows due to my commitments to training at work. Thankfully, as you have read, I have fulfilled my obligation to training, became certified and the stress and pressure I was under the past year has subsided. This now allows me some free time to commit to Urban Terror and bringing the action to you.

Urban Radio on Sunday will mark the first show of 2008 and definitely not the last. I am planning more show coverage as the popularity of Urban Terror continues to rise. Of course, I look to the community for their interaction in making the show a success.

Next week, will begin shoutcast coverage for Clanbase Nations Cup XI. Like Urban Radio, I have been absent from Open Cup and Nations Cup action for some time. Coverage will be heard and possibly seen using Stickam Video. I am still working on getting the actual in game coverage set up.

Unlike previous Urban Radio shows, one of the unique features I introduced last year to the show was Stickam Video, giving gamers the ability to watch or listen it to. It really was a great feature and quite popular, more so than the audio side. The video side does have an IRC style channel for the show gamers can idle in, asking questions, poking fun at the host or discussion my comments.

Hopefully BladeKiller will become a regular co-host on Urban Radio, we even have the possibility to have guests online at a moment’s notice. Spellbinder will serve as the proverbial phone screener and assist or deter gamers getting air time. The ability to have guest was something that was not all that successful in years past, but we have all the bugs worked out (right Spellbinder?)

So join us Sunday for Urban Radio, it is sure to be a good time for all. Join us in #urbanterror as well on ETG or Quakenet and remember to read the topic channel for the most updated information on Urban Terror (!radio is very useful).

It’s Never Right

I’ve been involved far too long to honestly care about those individuals who feel compelled to do nothing better then bitch and complain. This is nothing new, it has been going on since our first release and will continue to detract from the great community we have. Yet that “vocal minority” loves any chance to rip and tear at the development team. I guess they should be thankful they didn’t pay $49.99 for Urban Terror. Not that we would care any more, or is that less? At least we would have your money. LOL!

Prior to the release it was a given there would be complaints about the weapons, namely the SR-8 and the SPAS. I can’t remember a time we have not had any complaints about these. Now some comments are constructive and well thought out and possibly provide some validity to their case. Others come across with nothing more than, “this sucks we want it like version .”

I don’t want to rip at QA for their fine job of assisting the development team in the version that was release at the beginning of April. You would think (remember logic does not apply) they would side with the development team, but there are some “objectors” who feel the need to speak out against how the weapons were implemented.

Even a better example is the current version of Uptown, originally created by Phil “BattleCow” Tasker (wow I still remember his name). The TEAM decided not to release this level because BattleCow had not sent us the updated file when we asked for it and we were not going to update it on our own and include it. Well, as we say, plans changed. After announcing on Urban Radio that Uptown would not be released we went back on our original decision and said we would include it in the 4.0 release.

This was excellent news for the community! Many gamers hate change, thus having an “old school” level would help them feel comfortable with Urban Terror after loosing so-called “classics” as Streets, Swim, Trainyard and Docks (atleast temporarily). I come from the standpoint of, if the level is not updated it won’t be included. Seems resonable. Sorry, but the original Streets was a shitty map, both in game and in an editor, moreso the later.

So Uptown is included and the OGers rejoice for they know the level and feel at home. But something strange happens, the complaints start to roll in on the level. Snipers this, spawns that, map is too small, blah blah blah. I am sure this could be one of those “I told you so moments” just I will refrain. In the time BladeKiller had to update, test and compile Uptown, she did a great job (as always, she really is an amazing woman!). But there are still many shortcomings on Uptown.

In my opinion, which is the only one that counts, because this is MY site, we should have stood by our original decision to release it at a later date for a few reasons. First, the level was never designed for CTF or Bomb mode. I do believe any level can be adapted and game modes other than TS can exist. Casa is an excellent example of this. But it dis not come without a lot of work and effort on part of the team and testers.

I remember pre-2.0 we tried to work Bomb mode into Urban Terror using Uptown as our test level. It failed, partially because we could not get the code fully implemented and partially because of the layout of the level. CTF is much the same animal. I do not believe this is a CTF level, nor should the game mode be included. Refer back to my comment about BK. This is not a reflection on the level designer, but the fact that we are forcing a game mode into a level that just does not seems to have any game play or flow to it.

Second, if we did not include Uptown in the current release it would have provided us more time to work new spawns into the level, possibly changing the level and game play for a game mode like CTF, but as it is now, CTF is unbalanced at best. The community has provided some positive feedback as to possibly fixes, many dealing with spawn points, but the fact remains to do it correctly, we would need to rebuild most of the level, as we are doing with Docks and as was done with Crenshaw.

Will this happen? I highly doubt it. We will continue to make minor changes to factors that contribute to spawn points in hopes of getting adequate game play. In order to have a “Casa like effect” we would need to add to the level in order to provide better mechanics for game play.

Just my two cents…not the opinion of the team

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.

Blood. Sweat. Cheers.

This is always an exciting time for the development team, as the hours tick down and we close in on release day. I wish I was scheduled different hours these past few weeks to offer up my services to BladeKiller because she has been the “heart and soul” of this development cycle. Without her strength, the mod would not be where it is right now, on the verge of release. I am quite sure she is a ball of stress and she works feverishly to get everything completed and packaged for the April 1 release.

Woekele has been a welcomed addition to the team. He works very well with TwentySeven and BladeKiller as the team continues to push forward. The same can be said for QA, many of the testers, for example [T]Stone seems to be around all the time and willing to lend his services to testing as a moment’s notice.

My stress level is starting to build as we get closer to Sunday. I am still working on coordinating the release and will maintain the files and provide those individuals with access in order to host the files. The release party on Urban Radio will get the festivities started. And if previous shows are any indication, I am sure many will be calling for the files even before the show begins. Patience my little minions, you will have to wait until the show is over.

The effort of the development team might go unnoticed once you finally drop into a server and play the new version of Urban Terror. Many countless hours of blood, sweat and more blood make it all worth it when the files are released and gamers are populating servers at a rising rate. Hopefully the decisions Frozen Sand has made over the course of this development cycle will help equate to a success and popular release of Urban Terror.

Many gamers ask me, or tell me, “Urban Terror is dead.” I beg to differ on many levels. Our core community is strong and I am sure they would follow us regardless of what game we were working on and offer up their services to help test. There are still leagues that support Urban Terror, so the competitive side of Urban Terror still lives, although it has been dwindling at a good rate, this release will give it a shot in the arm and I think we will see more clans participate. The functionality of the stand-alone files and the impending support of BattlEye means that ANYONE without Quake III Arena will be able to play the game.

These are just a few factors that lead me to believe the game will continue to see success in the community, on public servers and in leagues. Hopefully this will mean a larger community that continues to play and support Urban Terror for a few more years. The development team continues to support a game they love and I am sure the same will hold true for those in the community.

Urban Fools Day

Okay, so I am a few days late actually announcing the release of Urban Terror on my site. I figure many of you who visit already are aware of the date (time TBA) and are looking forward to the release.

As a gamer I am excited for this release. Sure there are other “prettier” games out there to play, but I still feel that Urban Terror has solid game play and that is what keeps many coming back for more. I don’t game as much as I once did, attending a LAN party on a weekly basis for 2 years, but I still enjoy sitting down and playing a game that will entertain and keep my attention. Hard to do, but it can be accomplished.

Aside from Urban Terror there have been some retail games that have made their way onto my HDDs and survived for an extended period of time. Going back “old school”, Quake II and Action Quake 2 were probably the first that kept me coming back for more over the course of a few years. It was Quake II that got me interested in PCs (as I was a Mac guy) followed by AQ2 and CTF that we played faithfully at our LAN.

More recently my attention has been focused on the console world. I bought the Xbox a few years back and had it modded, so I did not have to buy games, but rented and burned them to the 100+GB HDD I installed. For sports games, consoles are where it’s at, I never did like playing sports games on the PC. More recently it was my poor decision to buy an Xbox 360, which has been a real letdown overall. The games have not been impressive from a game play point of view. Either the controls suck or the game play just lags. Maddedn 07 is a prime example.

So while I love my PC and gaming, it’s much quicker to plop on the couch and kick out a few quick games of soccer or football than search for a server to play, say BF2 on. But I think Urban Terror will help renew that interest in PC gaming. While the mod was never the biggest, best or most popular it is something special. As a development team member for 7 years, the only original one remaining it holds a special place in my heart.

The longevity of games these days are really short lived. Developers and publishers are out to make a buck more than a good game. Ask INVIS about his experience working on Medal of Honor expansion pack. Da horror! If asked, “Would you like to be profiting from Urban Terror?” I think we would all emphatically say “YES!” But the reality of the situation is we don’t, haven’t and probably won’t unless we happen to score a development deal to create Urban Terror as a retail project.

So April 1 will be an exciting day for all. The development team members (God bless BladeKiller, woekele and 27) and community are all looking very forward to the release. It has been a very LONG time for everyone which culminates in a great professional package. No longer is Quake III Arena required. The possibility of BattlEye providing anti-cheat support could spur an entire new influx of gamers. So the prospect are looking very good for the game and community.