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.”

Urban Terror. The Real Deal?

While I was not around when the concept for Urban Terror was originally conceived, I was a few months late to the party, but was able to become a member of the development team prior to the end of 1999. I have experienced much in the lifetime of Urban Terror and honestly I never thought I would be talking about it in 2008. Who would think a game concept from a teenager would see so much success in the future.

The future. Success. Just how successful has Urban Terror been? We were invited by id Software to Quakecon in 2000 and 2001 in order to show off our work on the game, as well as host a few round table presentations for gamers to attend. We met personally with members of id Software including Kevin Cloud, Robert Duffy and Marty Stratton. After the 2000 event, myself and Sam, aka dokta8 were invited by Activision to their Santa Monica offices to talk about the future of Urban Terror. Both of these events were the proverbial “feather in the cap” sort of experiences.

The Activision meeting would have been more productive IF we actually went in with the idea there was going to be a future for the game. Unfortunately, in 2000 the developers were really nothing more than enthusiasts who enjoyed developing the game as a hobby. Looking back, we probably did more harm than good for any future the game could potentially have.

The mod has been featured in worldwide publications from the UK, France and here in the US, as well as some of the newspapers and countless web sites wanting interviews. Again, a taste of success, but nothing that really put more then a temporary spotlight on what we had achieved.

Urban Terror was never as successful as Counter-Strike, then again very few games will EVER reach that status again, especially coming from the mod scene. It makes me wonder, the tenure we have with Urban Terror, the strong community support and now the ability to play Urban Terror without paying for Quake III, why are developers/publishers not taking notice?

In reality Urban Terror is a small fish in a big ocean, a REALLY big ocean. We have seen many retail games come and go with success so short lived it makes your head spin. Maybe I shoulder the responsibility as Project Coordinator/Public Relations saying I have not met expectations that were set. Of course, we were not incorporated until a few years ago, when Urban Terror was already established and the founders of FrozenSand, LLC now have a direction and goal they want to pursue.

That goes back to the question, why is Urban Terror not getting noticed? Part of it stems from the aging Quake III engine,we definitely had some good use out of the engine, but maybe we should start looking for a new, next generation engine to move the game to.

Urban Terror has never been heavy on the artistic side. With that said, I take nothing away from BladeKiller or the others who have spent years, countless hours and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get the game looking like it does. But the fact is, developers and publishers want a game heavy in art assets. This is something we did hear when our demo was played by some professional developers.

Over the years we have concentrated more on game play, which you think would play a prominent role among developers, but I can’t think of any game I come back to other then Urban Terror because of the game play. This is echoed by gamers in the community, some who leave and return version or years later because of the game play. Now, if we were heavy on the art assets, would Urban Terror get the notoriety it deserves?

Nothing is ever just handed to you on a golden platter. We have been given nothing, but earned everything over the years. Our hard work, effort and commitment to Urban Terror, the community and most importantly to our fellow development team members makes us thankful for the success we have achieved. Who knows, maybe with v4.x release series we will be able to promote the game more heavily and possibly get some developers/publishers/bags of money interested in what we have to offer, not only in the game but as a development team.

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.

Urban Radio Returns! Again!

…or the first time since December 31, 2005 Urban Radio will return to the air on Inside the Game on Friday. For infrequent readers of T6F, this is an online radio show I created about 4 years ago in support of the Quake III mod, Urban Terror. I have been fortunate to host some 100+ episodes of the show and tomorrow is a special day as we get back in the saddle and provide oodles of information for the gaming community.

Over the course of the past 12-18 months, there has not been much information the development team had to pass along. The show was once a weekly part of the community, but due to personal reasons and life priorities the show was not able to be maintained and I had to stop producing it. But with all the information we have had coming out of the development team, it seems Urban Radio could provide another spark to an already excited community, with the new version of Urban Terror near release.

We are in the middle of ‘The 27 Days of Terror’ on the urbanterror.net site, but there has been no new information for two days, after we introduced a game feature called ‘powersliding.’ I figured such an exciting feature needed a little “extra time” to be absorbed by the community. That and the fact I was busy working on the radio show, which should prove to be the missing part of the 27 Days equation.

Hopefully all the musings in the community, on the forums and IRC will equate to a great radio show! It is my intentions to hopefully start up the show on a regular basis every Friday in order to bring the community up to date on the latest in the community and from the development team. I can already guarantee we will a release day version of Urban Radio. Stay tuned for more details.


Feast or famine here on The 6th Floor…but after however many years I have had this site up, I am sure many come to expect that. It is not that there is no news out there. One can ALWAYS find news! Actually today, I come bearing, well, nothing at all. From the land that we, the level designer make, things are sort of in a lull. There are projects that are being worked on, as I continue to scan the Level Design Forums. Rest assured when SID releases the new .def files with some updated features, level design will take off again.

I have seen some screen shots recently of SweetnutZ [remember him?] and his latest project. You might remember hearing it as “the snow map.” We featured it here on the floor a few months back. Well, let’s just say, that this is “Raven quality” work he has done on this, now-titled-but-will-remain-untitled level. Some excellent work.

I have also completed my first full layout. Yes, I know only three years into this damn project and I finally am on my way to releasing…err…re-releasing a level. I have spent the past two days rebuilding NRGizeR’s level, ut_streets from the ground up. It has taken some time and after looking at the original .map file. Oh my god, what a nightmare! Although it was not nearly as bad as Trainyard was. At least NRGizeR knew to add hint, clip and trigger brushes. Screen shots? Uh, yeah, right. Not yet, as I have one small portion of the level actually textured, that allowed me a single “teaser” that I shared in #urbanterror yesterday. Maybe you saw it, maybe not.

Finally, the best news has been saved for the last. The new point release has brought PunkBuster to the Quake III and Urban Terror Communities. The long wait it finally over. My only suggestion. OPEN THE README132.TXT file and follow the instructions before asking a stupid question. Oh wait, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people…or something like that which brings us to our last bit of news.

The OGC bot is no more. Boo hoo hoo. I am just heartbroken for this hack. As post on the hack’s web site, “There has been a licensing problem with releasing modified quake3 SDK files. Apparently, mods can only be released in binary form, and not source form. This means I will need to rewrite alot of the Q3 SDK code OGC uses. However, once this is done, all the source will be 100% owned by me, except for the GNU crypto stuff which is also under the GPL, so can be included.” That is a no no…hahah PUNK BUSTED, BITCH! I’m out…

PS – Damn, forgot to mention, the entire reason I did this news bite. There is a new rant posted titled, Busted Punk! that talks about PunkBuster, Urban Terror and cheating. Check it out!