Future Development

December, 1999. That was the year I became a member of the development team working on an unknown Quake III Arena modification called Urban Terror. After 8 years there are a dedicated few who still turn the gears that drive continued development of the mod. Based on the figures, the number of players today are just as strong, almost better than years back, when v1.27-v2.0 were at their high points. That is a testament to the support of the development team that the product is still a quality product, even if the engine is outdated. It is also a testament to the gaming community, not only those who make the core but also the new gamer who is welcomed into the community.

I have the utmost respect for the folks I have known for years who founded FrozenSand, LLC. They are a highly talented group, who given the resources could really take the Urban Terror concept and go retail with it. Unfortunately, game development is not that simple. Venture capitalists are not found on every street corner ready to thrown out millions in development costs for an unknown potential in return.

Unfortunately my current position on the team has faded. I’ll be the first to admit I never played a big role in actual development, I make that no secret. I never learned to code anything past Basic and Integer on my old Apple computer. I have no skill to create models or turning a blank model into a highly detailed character. I did give level design a shot after loading up Radiant. Unfortunately, time is one thing you need as a level designer in order to create a quality level. Time was something I did not have much of, but I did learn quite a bit. I never considered myself an expert, but I could tell a good level from a piece of shit.

So what did I do? Initially I took over running the public relations side of development. This I was good at, still am, but nearly 9 years later the game sells itself. It does not need much promotion (regardless of what some individuals think). Of course when a new version is released, the information will make the rounds on some game related web sites.

Gamers in the Urban Terror community are treated considerably different than in other community. Of course you would think some have never played an FPS game and don’t feel they need to take the time to read some basic instructions on how to set up your keys for the game. Somehow that responsibility ends up falling on the development team. Why, I still don’t know. Overall the gamers make the game an enjoyable experience and go out of their way at times to assist new gamers in the Urban Terror experience.

So after all these years what does the game need? Why do we continue to see “request for new features” those days are long since gone. There are very few features that need to be added to improve the game. I do think the best thing would be to put this version of the game to rest by finishing development (which has ALWAYS been a goal of ours), take a break and work on a new project. Gamers out there always ask, “but what happens to Urban Terror?” As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” But at this point it is the community that keeps the game alive, not the development.

Many of those involved for years have received no pay and have put up with lots of bullshit, to put it bluntly. We continue to believe we have a great game that will continue to taste success, but for the health of the development team we must move on, especially if we want to take our talents to retail.

As I have written before, what does the future hold for FrozenSand? I don’t know. We have some different ideas kicking around. Sure there were ideas to port Urban Terror to Enemy Territory, followed by working on a concept demo (MX was the working title) in order to showcase our talents. While neither of those panned out we still have other ideas that could not only benefit the development team by those in the community we have created.

We continue to hear and read different rumors as to what we doing. While I won’t confirm or deny what our next move is, I will say we look forward to working on projects in the future. As for Urban Terror, hopefully we see it on an updated game engine with improved graphics and the same style/speed of game play.

Friday on the Floor

Hell yeah! It’s Friday. Strange how we always look forward to Friday and the weekend. For me, its somewhat immaterial, since my days off rotate each week. But rest assured, you will be able to find, Hottlipz and many others tonight on Hottie’s 6th Floor Hideaway. You can also join IRC, #the6thfloor on ETG and then log on to the Team Speak 2 server and have a rocking good time!

Everything is on track to return to shoutcasting (as an independent shoutcaster) Clanbase matches around February 16. I am looking forward to providing, what I think was the best coverage of the best league. Quick shout out to Tidus (my favorite Frenchie!) and Lord, who continues to do an outstanding job at Clanbase. You guys really know how to run a successful league!

As many of you know Silicon Ice Development dropped a bombshell on the Urban Terror community a few days ago, announcing their official intent to port Urban Terror over to Enemy Territory. I am sure you all want more information from me, seeing as it was my name attached to the post as to what that news on www.silicon-ice.com really means. Well, there is not much else I can tell you that has not already been said. The main point, that we are trying to stress is two-fold.

First, this was not a “spur of the moment” decision by the development team. This idea has been topic of conversation for many, many months. Second, I think I can relate to the Macintosh users are pissed with our decision to move to Enemy Territory. As I posted numerous responses to questions on the Urban Terror Forums, that nothing has been set in stone for Mac development. Currently, there is no Macintosh support for ET. Will it stay that way? We will have to wait and see. We have talked to relevant parties and “nothing has been ruled out.” Let’s leave it at that. Any official information on the move to ET will be posted on www.urbanterror.net.

I also present a new rant today here on The 6th Floor. Today’s topic revolves around server administration. I am no expert, but I now have a taste of what’s involved. Read what I have to say about servers, admins and gamers in today’s rant, In Control.

The 6th Floor server map cycle has been updated recently, you can check out the server page and see what new maps are included in the map cycle, along with the server side settings, such as cap limit and time limit. So, far the response to the server has been excellent. One minor request, this is paid for out of pocket by myself. If you enjoy the server and want to donate to the server, please use the PayPal link on the server page. Any donation is appreciated. Thanks. Enjoy the gaming!

Oswald Rant: A Look Ahead

It has been some time since I have put pen to paper…err…fingers to keyboard and get some things off my chest that fall under that category I so lovingly refer to as Oswald’s Rant. Over the past year, it was not only things that got under my skin, but reviews of LANs and just happenings centered around gaming. But to start 2004, I thought I would try and look into the future as it relates to Urban Terror and SID.

While I do not promote The 6th Floor as a SID sponsored site, this is my web site and has been since I registered the6thfloor.com back in 1999. Since that time, I have made a transition from Action Quake 2 to Urban Terror. So I thought I would take a few minutes look at potential happenings in the community. Of course all of this is pure speculation, until it is made official on their the Urban Terror or SID web sites. Then again, I do have some inside information.

Let’s go back to 2003, August 9 was the 3.1 release of Urban Terror, as usually it drew some criticism, as any release ever does. But it did beg the question as to “what’s next?” We finished out the year playing 3.1 and to be honest, the community was probably shrinking in size. The development team had continually stated, “we are not giving up on Urban Terror.” They have stood behind every release, even as community members continued their insults and complaints. Those seems to linger more than the positive comments and support for the mod and team. But those negative comments are the ones that we build off of.

To open 2004, the community was probably surprised at such a non-event release as Urban Terror 3.2. The patch was released Friday, January 16, with an excellent turn out in both #urbanterror channels on ETG and Quakenet. Not the biggest release, but one of the best in probably the past 12 months. Again, this is from MY eyes, not that of the development team.

With eleven months left in the year, what is left for Urban Terror to accomplish? The development team started as a virtual no name group of avid gamers wanting to give something back and create a mod. Since that time, the mod has grown and expanded and we have brought many hours of enjoyment to those Quakers who enjoy playing a realism based shooter. So what is left? Many gamers continue to ask for the source code, in order to make “their” version of Urban Terror. I recall The A-Team made their source code for Action Quake 2 available after they abandoned the community and the project. As for SID, don’t plan on getting your grubby little hands on our code. Sorry to burst your bubble.

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that SID has been talking to id Software since 2000 and our first roadie to Mesquite, Texas for Quakecon. But recently, the lines of communication were brought back to life and discussions about a project were reintroduced. Many gamers want to see the legacy (we do have a legacy, don’t we?) to live on with Urban Terror and not die when Quake 3 dies. And no, I don’t think Quake 3 is dead, still many gamers playing the game. The increasing problem is finding a retail copy of the game, which makes the fan base a bit stagnate. Are their solutions? There sure are.

Splashdamage, began their amateur career as a group of avid gamers, playing Quake 3 and wanting to do more. This group created Quake 3 Fortress and was invited to Quakecon 2000 in Mesquite, Texas. At that time, their vision was much further along than that of SID. They were already in the planning and proposal stages when they met with Robert Duffy and a few other members of id Software. Since their Q3F days, they have gone on to release Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, which is one of the most highly successful stand alone releases to date. While I don’t know all the details behind the evolution of ET, it was released free to the any gamer. Nothing to buy, so their fan base is relatively unlimited. How many gamers can pass up a free game, with no strings attached?

Now why do I bring up Enemy Territory? I do so only because there has been talk last year that SID could possible port the game to ET, which would further Urban Terror and gain an entirely new fan base, while still supporting their current gamers. When you look at the upcoming game releases, like Quake IV and DOOM 3, two of the more notable games that have been mentioned to us, you see these are still slated for a late 2004 release (pending any delays). Not to mention, if SID went commercial, we would not have to put together capital in order to purchase the new engine. Have you ever heard rumors of how much these game engines run? Let’s just say you would need to win the lotto to help pay for it.

I do believe Urban Terror will continue to provide hours of entertainment through 2004. Many gamers cannot stay on the “leading edge” of hardware technology, as it is continually changing and improving. But finding a retail copy of Quake 3 will start to cause more issues as the years continue to add up since its original release. The mod is still supported throughout the world by leagues such as Clanbase in Europe and the Team Warfare League in North America. The development team is still in full support of the mod, which reflects on the support from the community. Lastly, I continue to hear many comments from gamers saying it is still the most fun they have had playing online. Even as new games enter the retail sector, especially the WW2 or realism based shooters. Many say they continue to return to Urban Terror.

So, the future does look bright for Silicon Ice Development and Urban Terror. Now that 2004 is here and we have a very good release in Urban Terror 3.2, we can look forward to a 3.3 release. After that, there are many doors open for the development team.