Oswald Rant: The Buzz Over Beta

Now that I am actively involved, as a developer in the up and coming Quake III mod, Urban Terror, I get to view life from behind the scenes. Gone are the days of surfing the gaming sites and checking out mods. It is all work and rework, to turn our plan and your ideas into a new mod. Beta testing seems to have now trickled down into the mod sector. No longer is it just for the “big boys” who develop games on a larger scale. Even use lowly mod developers run into much beta testing. Do we need it? Is it warranted? Continue reading and you decide.

It’s a busy Saturday morning, as the Silicon Ice Development team is formatting machines and installing software, with the help of id Software monkeyboy, Eric Hill. The venue. QuakeCon 2000. The Developers Hall. The team is preparing to show its mod, Urban Terror for the first time to developers and gamers alike. Anticpation is running high, as the door are opened and the hall is filled with wide eyed gamers gawking at the latest and greatest from developers like Raven Software, Activision, NVidia and Discreet, just to name a few. The computer slowly fill up as gamers are introduced to Urban Terror. They begin to see the advantages of beta testing.

While the realism venue has recently become active, Quake III still has a void, which is in dire need of being filled. All those Quake II players who lost themselves in The A-Team production, Action Quake 2, have been yearning for a Quake III realism mod. Unfortunately The A-Team decided to transgress to the Unreal Community for their new project, leaving the realism door open. Currently, no fewer than eight development teams are at different stages of their production as they all work toward a common goal. To fill the realism void for Quake III.

Silicon Ice Development does not consider themselves better than competing teams creating their version of a realism mod. We are though, trying to take development to a new level, by gaining the interest of the gaming public and involving them in the creation of Urban Terror. We have attempted to offer development information not only on our web site, through the use of screen shots, previews and interviews, but also through the Urban Terror forums. Instead of “guessing” what the gaming public wants, we want the gamers involved in the development of our mod. By doing this, we hope to have a knowledgeable fan base, ready to accept our beta release and offer a much valued critique.

Team members have been taking an active interest, providing information and previews of Urban Terror. We have offered to go “in-game” with gaming web sites to show off our development and answer questions. No longer are we trying to envelope our mod development in a shroud of darkness. Our forums have been very active, with team members participating, sharing information and responding to many of the questions and topics raised by interested fans.

We have attempted to “raise our standards” and take a professional approach to our development which we believe has ignited interest in Urban Terror. Our fans have offered some great support. One fan created our first Urban Terror trailer, which caught the eye of id Software. More recently, we have been receiving great looking artwork from fans wanting to contribute to the mod’s success. Even at this early beta stage. We have had offers from numerous international [outside the U.S.] web sites and magazines, who want in on the action. Need I mention all the e-mail? The support and interesting and been amazing!

As Lee’Mon stated, “…too much competition can be a problem”, and I tend to agree. The success and staying power of a mod is usually related to the interest it spawns and fan base which is attracted. With numerous mods, all touting similar development, the fan base has the potential of being dispersed between different realism mods. We have examined the community and are creating a mod based around Action Quake 2 and Counter-Strike, while implementing our concepts and designs, with the fans in mind.

Silicon Ice Development and Urban Terror would not be where it is today, if it were not for the good press and coverage we have received on many different fronts. Thanks to sites like PlanetQuake, GameSpy, Telefragged, and a host of others, who have followed our coverage and got the word out.