Urban Terror: Close the Door

Since leaving the development team and Urban Terror, nearly 2 years ago I have yet to return to online gaming. The motivations for my departure and retirement were purely personal. For me, I had gone as far as I could with development as it was quite clear the game would never flourish as I had hoped for during the early years.

It’s quite rare I even bring the name, Urban Terror up because it’s a part of my past and I have moved on, leaving the community, the web sites and activities to others in order to cultivate. I still have an informal tie to the community as I continue to hold the rights to the domain name.

I happened upon a conversation today with an individual who is still around the community and as I understand it, the community and the game are not the same. I can’t speak to that, but can only surmise the problems plaguing the community/game now. While I never had a direct hand in any development, it was the community who drove the game to the success it had upon my departure.

Of course the development team was at the core of the community, with talented individuals leaving their mark and moving on. The early years were truly the “best of times” for me personally. Being courted by id Software, visiting their offices, participating in Quakecon, jet setting to Los Angeles for E3, being featured on Tech TV are just some of the highlights I take with me. Of course those days are all in the past and rarely do I even cast a glance at the newest PC games on the market because it’s “more of the same.”

With that said, there is still something to say about those individuals who continue to support the game after so many years. I have a few individuals in mind who, through thick and thin stuck it out with the development team. Not sure if I were on the outside looking in, like I was with Action Quake II if I could have continued for nearly 10 years even with a game I enjoyed

Being in the rare position I was, between the community and the game I had a unique perspective and seemed to get opinions from everyone. For many, I was the voice/face/name of Urban Terror, but never did I attempt to take credit. While I was involved, I left the real development/design to the talented individuals that knew how to code a feature, or create a model, uvwrap it and skin it. I was highly impressed with those who were level designers, but that was not my calling.
Unfortunately, it was “never quite good enough” for some. The worst place to be the day of a point release was on the community support forums. This was my domain, a place I controlled and supported and nurtured from the beginning. It was a unique feeling creating a community from virtually nothing to a strong community of supporters we had when I departed. I was amazed at the success and the ride I had been privy to.

Maybe my departure gave rise to someone with new ideas and new blood to bring something into the community to improve the game. While some may disagree I took a lot with me the day I left. Much of the unwritten history left with me. Many gigabytes of files continue to reside on my archived hard drives that will most likely never be accessed again.

Most of all I remember the people, behind every alias, either in game, via e-mail or on IRC there is a person. I was fortunate enough to meet a small percentage of these people over the years. The strongest bonds were between the long standing development team members. The same can be said for the long time supporters in the community, the people I entrusted files or hosting to. There were some great people behind the scenes who rarely got a mention. Maybe they hosted files or ran a web site or always put in a word of praise to the community, game or development team. While I will probably never communicate with these individuals again, they were a special part of the community and one of the things I held close though out my tenure.

Often times I was referred to as, “not a developer” because I did not provide any content for the game. While that is a true statement, it could not be further from the truth. I was a development team member and played an integral role that was often overlooked. Many individuals involved couldn’t or wouldn’t do what I did over the course of 10 years. While not the most important aspect of the game or community, I brought Urban Terror to life though the use of shoutcasting, when online gaming radio stations were still in their infancy.

My use of the radio medium introduced a new dimension to online gaming that was rarely seen previously. I attempted to stress the importance of the community, wanting feedback and information from supporters in order to strengthen the radio show on a weekly basis. By far, the most important portion of the show, aside from my bad, 80’s music was the development team update. This was sometimes a futile attempt to provide up to the minute information about development.

The second part of this new medium was acting as a commentator during online matches. I spent many hours a week dedicated to my radio shows and broadcasts. It would have been enough to just cover the match, but our community was something special and they deserved more. I had a pre and post game report, as well as commentary and sometimes guest casters on air.

This, to me was my calling for the game and it went a long way in the community. Yet some failed to see the connection. In the end I was burned out, tired. Maybe it was the years of abuse I took never really striking back or going off, unless completely necessary. A few examples spring to mind. When I initially got involved I wanted to see this development through to a defined end. For me, that will never happen as I dropped everything in a blink of an eye and walked away, never to return.

But, as I said early on the friendships you make will last a lifetime. The memories remain, but may fade as years go by. For the most part these were good times, never great, but good enough to keep you going for just a bit longer. Hopefully those involved now have an idea of where the game came from and of those who came before.

Oswald Rant: Behind the Release

Eight months of development culminated with the release of Urban Terror Beta 2.6 this past Saturday, November 9, 2002. The overall development cycle slid in at just over eight months, based on the previous track rate, this was about two months longer than other development cycles before a release. Speaking strictly from a “release” aspect, everything went off relatively smooth.

The release party began with a pre-release radio show hosted by myself approximately two hours [DOWNLOAD HERE] before the official release time. By far this was the most coordinated effort to date. Not only do I want to commend the development team who helped make the release successful, but also those admins and FTP hosts who were able to host our full and upgrade files. While I was shocked with some 300 people inquiring about hosting files or receiving files early in order to upgrade their gaming servers. Unfortunately, the team could not fulfill all those requests. The initial release just before 3pm EST had about 15 FTP sites to choose from, worldwide. I do want to extend special thanks to Zac of ZD Webhosting for hosting the files in order for admins and FTP sites alike to download from.

As for the actual release party, I can sum it up in a single word. Wow! The community from the Urban Terror Community never ceases to amaze me. Between #urbanterror and #releaseparty, we had over 1500 gamers checking out the release Beta 2.6. While #urbanterror was moderated for most of the radio show, the spam flowed free in #releaseparty, as there was some business to attend to and information to pass along in #urbanterror. Thanks to ETG for the support and assistance during the release party.

I also want to give props to TsN, the Team Sportscast Network for continuing to support Urban Terror and allow me to time to shoutcast the weekly, Urban Radio Show on their network, powered by Speakeasy. Before the release party, the development team was kicking around some numbers, but when I some 600 listeners tuned into the pre-release party it just went to confirm what the development team already know. Urban Terror has the best community support for any mod out there. Between the two server (high and low), there were relatively no lag or problems during the cast. Although, the TsN server guru, Juno asked I decrease the bit rate on the high bit server from 64 bits to 40 bits, in order to accommodate more listens and decreases chances to lag or skipping.

Unlike the return of Urban Radio the day before I was not really prepared to host a full show, partly due to all the work the development was doing leading up to the compiling of the final pak file and the packaging of the support files into the official zip files we would be distributing. Nonetheless, I was able to get a quick and dirty guideline together, along with some fantastic music from the “happy fatty,” Mungo Zen and host the pre-release party.

We had also made the decision to not release the files during the radio show, in hopes of limiting the spam in IRC inquiring about the development releasing the files. It also gave those a definite time in case they did not want to tune into the release party radio show. But when the links we made available, gamers responded and jumped at the downloads.

Leading up to and during the shoutcast, I was uploading the full and upgrade files to ZD Webhosting for those admins and FTPs that would either be hosting or upgrading their servers before we released the links. I do wanna extend my thanks on behalf of the development team to those people who helped support the release. There were absolutely no complaints about not being able to download the file or any sort of lag or lack of bandwidth during the initial rush after the links were announced.

Thanks goes out to Trainman at Midwest Mayhem, Tapper for waking Steve Gibson at Fileshack, [HV]Spawn, Majic of Barrysworld, Roger at Planetquake3.net, Bunny aka Q of FSK405, gleam for the phat Data Source link, Zac at ZD Webhosting, Cigar_Man of TLB, Drizzt_DUcan at Clanbase, DasGIB of urbanterror.de, [QV]Buffetti of urbanterror.it, nMX.SquiD at Thunderdome, Juha at eDome, Csan, Solanine of FuKnUt Beer and Bullets, Harmonieman over at eXtreme-players.de, illogical and Clanhosted and anyone else I did not mention for helping out with the early releases.

As with any release, there were a few minor issues we had to “deal with” and work through. I am speaking of a FTP that was made public before our “official” release time. But, with as good as everything was going it was really just ignored and we continued on without any hitch. I would have also like to have had enough time to get all the official links posted on the web site before making the announcement. I take responsibility for that, as the radio show was coming to a close and we were about 30 minutes prior to release, so I told the FTP sites to spam their links. The Urban Terror web page was then updated within thirty minutes for an on time release of Beta 2.6.