It is unfortunate that some “gamers” (if they can be called that) no longer respect their community, the game or development team. Respect is not something awarded or given out at the end of a round. This is a quality that must be earned. Some disregard this quality altogether and go about their business as if they are doing nothing wrong.

There is always a small percentage of individuals who feel they are above everyone else, from those on forums who claim they are never heard to the so-called “pro” gamer who can do no wrong and is always right. Many gamers are respectful when it comes to the community, the game and especially the development team.

While it is unfair to emphasize the development team, it is necessary. All gamers should respect each other, of course that does not happen and I am sure every gamer have had their own personal experience they could relate to.

I single out the development team because unless you have walked a mile in our shoes you have no idea what it takes behind the scenes to achieve what we have achieved. It is understood this is voluntary work and none of us have received monetary compensation for the thousands or hours and many years of development and service to the community.

Incidents have occurred in the past that have tested the patience of the development team. Many of these have done nothing but to frustrate the team, making us reconsider continuing development. Sometimes these are the actions of a select few, but they end up ruining things for everyone. Thankfully we have not taken that drastic of action…yet.

Some gamers must have no conscience either. You have read and heard many rants from myself regarding those who want to update or modify old levels that we no longer support. Unless there is express consent from the level author or the development team, you do not have any authorization to update a damn thing!

The same goes for all the files that were created for Urban Terror. From the readme.txt included in the latest release,”Use of any file contained within the mod is illegal without permission.” But, just like those who feel they are above everyone when they modify our levels without consent, these individuals are just as bad when they mod much of our work.

It really is a sad state of affairs when all respect has been lost between the so-called gamer, their community and the development team. Recourse to these offenders? Hopefully gamers will see through the facade of these fakes and continue respecting those integral parts that make up the whole, which is Urban Terror.

Why is it…

…that gamers all think they know what is best? You don’t! The argument I always hear is, “you don’t play the game enough.” Which, I’ll agree I don’t because I have a family, a job and many other real world responsibilities to take care of. As do many others in the community. I also hear, “let me help, I played since the start and know exactly….blah blah blah” Oh, you do?

I guess 9 years of development and the team still is clueless when it comes to how we should development and promote the game of Urban Terror. One could say we are still learning and we have no idea how to get over this hump. Okay, so I am being a bit facetious with those last two comments. But I had an IRC discussion with a gamer who came at me with, “I played it since start know exactly what u need to change to make it really popular again.”

Whoa money, slow your roll. Correct me if I am wrong, but currently there are more players playing then ever before. Yes, even a larger percentage of gamers playing then back int he 2.x days. I was told, “there was always at least 10,000 [gamers]”, which is not true, Quake III Arena NEVER had that many gamers. Hell, Counter-Strike brought in about 75,000 at times. So we must have done something right along the way to be here 9 years later with gamers at a record high.

Checking GameSpy Stats, we still are the top “mod” (game) for Quake III Arena and rival other retail games such as Soldier of Fortune 2, BF 1942, AA and even ET: Quake Wars. The gamer to server ratio is much higher then any previous version as well. Again a testament to the community.

In this conversation, I will give the anonymous individual one point. In a recent poll when asked what version did you start playing Urban Terror, an overwhelming majority began with 4.x. So there are many new gamers being injected into the community. Again new gamers are not going to have the perspective many old school Urban Terrorists will. This gamer has been around since 2001 and is a good player, but his rational to make it “really a great game” and “a lot more popular with the right adjustments” is a bit skewed.

Many within the community, especially those who were never asked to participate in the quality assurance testing will usually point fingers saying they could have done a better job or how did QA miss this or that. Having an upcoming release, “carefully tested by a few group of very good players” is not how we approaching testing. We cannot cater to the so-called “pro gamer” we must development for a common denominator in the community. This is why the QA team has never been stacked with only clan gamers because you must take into consideration all skill levels and abilities.

The idea of tweaking weapon characteristics does not excite the development team or the community. There is always a collective groan when we mention we are tweaking a weapon. Look at the ruckus raised with a minor change to the SR-8. Have some freakin’ cheese with your whine! So adjusting recoil, damage or spray in order to reward a gamers aim is not going to be met with open arms.

I think many gamers would agree the weapons are acceptable (outside the thoughts on the SR-8) with the latest release. Could there be some changes? Sure, there is always room for change, if that change will truly be beneficial. I don’t think reducing damage and modifying the recoil on weapons will bring new gamers into the community. Sorry, neither does the team.

We have some definite winners when it comes to future ideas, but none of those will be implemented until we know for sure we can be reward with bags of money. Sure these ideas might not be meet with open arms by all, but then again what idea ever is? These ideas are nothing new and have been used in many other games, but it is something that gamers seem to drool over and yearn for more. Just like increasing your post count to see a new tag under your alias other than “Urban Loser.”

Owed What?

Why is it that some gamers think they are owed something in return for playing a game? I have never understood this. Some of those same messages are alive and kicking today in Urban Terror as well and have been for some time.

I can recall Action Quake 2, when the development team announced they would no longer support the game because of the bitching and complaining from the community. The game had lost its luster and was no longer enjoyable. Hmm, sound familiar?

If you waste a hard earned $60 on a retail game, you have a right to bitch, but unlike mod development your voice will usually fall upon deaf ears. While not every mod team approaches their work the same way, in a small, close community change is possible. No guaranteed, just possible.

Regardless of your tenure playing/supporting, respect is something that is earned, not only as a developer, but as a gamer. You cannot walk in, announce your presence, throw a few fresh words and ideas out and expect it to be well received. Urban Terror, as an example has a well informed and supportive community. Why? Because the developers took an active roll and earned the respect of those gamers. The is true some individuals in the community, not necessarily gamers, but admins and those who support Urban Terror.

So knock the chip off your shoulder, relax and enjoy your game. There is no sense walking around a community you frequent tossing around accomplishments and achievement, wanting to know what you will get in return from others. Above all have fun, that is what gaming is all about.

QA: The Circle of Trust

While my web site is not directly related to the continuing development or support of Urban Terror I do bring up some related items from time to to. Over the years our development team, formerly known as Silicon Ice Development has learned quite a lot as is relates to development. One area we originally did not put too much thought into prior to version, Beta 2.0 was that of quality assurance testing. The development team was the testing team, so needless to say those first few releases were spotty at best with many bugs. Just look at the readme from any version prior to 1.27.

I can still recall lining up gamers, both in Europe and North America to act as testers for the upcoming Beta 2.0 release. It was an exciting time, as we were about to provide an upcoming release to a closed group of gamer in order to get their feedback and input. We must not have put too much thought into this testing because we had numerous problems that arose from the formation of this group.

The first problem was that of the files being freely distributed by a few gamers, who were supposedly trustworthy individuals. Chalk that problem up to a learning experience and something that was not address until a few years later during development. It was a simple fix too, but we missed it early on in development. I recall connection to a Beta 2.0 server before we officially released it being played by gamers who had “obtained” a copy of the beta. While their comments were not all positive, it really did not play into the overall success or failure of the eventual release.

More recently, with team members who have now been together upwards of 3 years we have a more stable ground on which we develop and communicate. Sure the development cycles have gotten longer, such as 3.7 to the upcoming version, as we failed [or didn’t plan] to release a version during 2005. During this time we have had a more dedicated group of gamers from the community anchoring our Quality Assurance Team.

This group, while not grossly huge plays an important role in the overall development of Urban Terror. Along with play testing and bug hunting, it is the QA Team who provides changes to current features, for example the weapon damage values. The development team has become more “open” in changes brought to them by the QA Team. It is this sort of working relationship that will help bring about another successful release.

We do not try to please all the gamers, be it in the community or on the QA Team. We would die trying and still not achieve the goal. We do have a solid cross-section of gamers who participate, from the hard core, “pro” gamer to those who, well play like me. Sucky! Nothing wrong with this sort of spectrum of gamer, as each will look at the game a bit different.

There have been gamers in the past who would not be pleased regardless of what was said or done. It’s unfortunate those individuals must go a different direction and not be taken serious. Most will go looking for their “5 minutes of fame” by mouthing off and playing down a release. We have seen it before during development of those “gamers” trying to grab the attention. As if they think it will get them noticed or get anything changed, it won’t

Regardless of those outside the “circle” the development team has been upfront with all the impending changes that will be implemented in the new version of the game. This is what The 27 Days of Terror was all about. I have done a good job [so I think] on not sugar coating bullshit and presenting it to the community. Last week’s Urban Radio show was a no frills Q&A show that answered those questions from the community. Outside of not directly answering the standalone question and breaking down each change to the weapons, the community was very supportive on the upcoming version of the game.

Since that show and our announcement of releasing a standalone client the future looks great for Urban Terror and the community. How long will this success last is anyone’s guess. One year? Two years? Regardless of the level of success the release will bring new blood to an old, but supportive community. Thankfully with those gamers within our circle of trust [QA] and the best gamers in the community Urban Terror will continue to live on and thrive.

Urban Radio Returns!

Urban Radio is gearing up for its first show since the final day off 2005. I find it hard to believe it has been over 8 months since I last was on air with Urban Radio. Unfortunately, life takes some turns and when they do you must make sure you don’t run off that road. It’s not all that bad, over the course of 8 months there has really not been much happening in the Urban Terror community. More gamers leaving the game then coming in. Not surprising considering the game is 6 years old. A feat I never thought I would see.

I guess that is a bit of a testament to the core group of gamers we have. But it seems to be more then that too. It’s also the friendships you make along the way. Aside from the team members I have worked with for 2-4 years, there are the gamers I have gotten to know. And one I married! So, I guess the game does hold a “special place” for me.

So Urban Radio comes back on Friday, August 25 on Inside the Game with a Q&A show based on community input. We are nearly half way through The 27 Days of Terror and going strong [if I am not crashing the web site]. Community support has probably been the strongest we have seen in nearly 6-8 months. But that does not equate to a success…yet. The decision to bring back Urban Radio is because of the community.

It will be interesting to see how strong the support for the show is, not only listeners who tune in, but those who visit the site and even download the recording after the fact. This will be another measuring stick for the upcoming release of Urban Terror. I am looking forward to the show, getting back behind the microphone and giving the community the latest news and note from Urban Terror.