Friends of Terror

It is still hard to believe there is a group of dedicated individuals who have the desire and make the effort to keep Urban Terror alive. The fact we still have a very strong and dedicated community is a contributing factor to the longevity and success of the game.

I have been fortunate over those years to meet (yes, face to face) with many individuals on different levels as it relates to Urban Terror, from the invite to Quakecon in 2000 and 2001, to LAN parties in NoCal, SoCal and Colorado Springs and an appearance on TechTV (when it was around). There have been closed door, sit down meetings with Activision and id Software, which was more of a “wow factor” for me at the time since we did not know where we wanted to take Urban Terror.

If I knew then, what I know now, Frozen Sand (at the time, Silicon Ice Development) could be mentioned being on par with Splash Damage. Those guys had their shit together! They also had an amazing group of talented individuals. Not saying our development team hasn’t, because we have had over the years many contribute to the game.

Meeting gamers, executives, sponsors and personalities alike have been some of the best memories I have had. I mention this because I was able to meet Lt1 (aka Rob Bergman) last night, as he flew into NoCal for some training. Now, it’s not often that an opportunity arises, which will have gamers come in contact with each other, let alone team members. Remember, outside of meeting INVIS, BladeKiller and RabidCow I have not met the other talent on our team. But we have all worked together for nearly 4 years (if memory serves me correct).

It’s always interesting to put an alias to face, face to a voice and a voice to the online persona. I flashback to Quakecon 2001 when I was employed by TsN and our station was covering the event. I wanted to meet WarWitch, who at the time covered RtCW and was just an amazing announcer, complete with an entire online persona. With his voice, I expected something other than I got. Here stands a short, maybe 5′-5″ guy with a dark ponytail. Really blew my mental image of him, but nonetheless a great person and top class shoutcaster!

LAN parties are always interesting, especially when they were Urban Terror specific. Now I attended a weekly LAN in SoCal and Urban Terror was still rather new, but when our group made the transition to Quake III Arena, we played it every weekend. I did attend the .223 LAN in NoCal in 2003, which was also the first time I met Hottlipz face to face (little did I know we would marry a year later), along with many gamers from .223 and some other local Urban Terror players.

A few larger LANs featured Urban Terror and I was fortunate enough to attend those as well. Once in Los Angeles, where I was on hand to award the winner a custom Urban Terror case that was specially designed and constructed in Australia. I was also fortunate enough to attend EverLAN in Colorado Springs a few years, once when they did use an older version of Urban Terror.

Again, it is the people who make the game. I could sit here and rattle off a list of people who I have met and known over the years. I would love to have the time to go on a world tour just for Urban Terror. I know it sounds silly (Oh, remind me to talk about my East Coast trip!), but I think it would be a great time! I am sure there are enough gamers worldwide, I could shack up with, drink beer with and game with that could easily fill one month of travel.

The itinerary would include a trip south to Los Angeles and a stop by the GGL offices, where Epileptic Gaming transmits from, because djWheat is still Inside the Game. From there it would be on to Phoenix, Arizona to hook with Blankz, also of iTG. You can blame him for getting me involved in shoutcasting, thus the reason I can’t say Euro names correctly. I would fly to Colorado and check in with Spellbinder, because he has been a long time friend. This would be a coordinated trip to stop in Mesquite, Texas for Quakecon and countless people I know at that event including: Evil John, Tapper, Precious Death, the guys at id Software, especially Robert and of course, just to keep the list short Splash Damage.

The East Coast swing would include a stop to visit with Ghozt, AGBD and Fragging Newby. Hopefully we could find MFDoom, yes the now married Doomy and Capt. Porno. I went shooting with these guys and hung out with them years ago and it was one of the most memorable trips. Especially when you don’t know dick about some guy who goes by ‘A Giant Black Dude.’ Maybe a quick stop over in Florida to kick the shit out of BasiLisK.

The European tour would start with a stop in Portugal, why? Because I still feel they are the best community of gamers going for Urban Terror (yeah flame me, then fuck off, it’s my website and my opinion). From there it would be on to England to see Dick Dastardly and his flatmate, Qster and lord know who else we would find in and around the UK.

A trip would not be complete with traversing he frozen tundra of Sweden, Denmark and Finland (sorry Norway!). Definitely stop by House Valhalla! Many in the Danes and Swedes on the list who have been supporters for many years. A tour of the Rhine, well, Germany to meet Warbird (aka Wolfseye), since he has become a good friend.

An intersting stop would be Slovania, because of SLOfaca, Blaz especially and many of his countrymen have been wonderful to cover and talk to over the years. The Netherlands would mark one of the final stops, to meet “Whoa Keeley” or woekele. I need to forgive my lack of knowledge, but I would want to hook up with J0E and Preat of Then again I would hope J0E is not nekked getting into the shower.

I could go on and on about the names, faces and places. But it would be an endless cycle. It has been many years and gamers come and go, but it is interesting to note how many names return to Urban Terror saying something like, “this is the only game I come back to play.” Hopefully this sort of comment is typical through out the community. It has been one helluva ride over the years and hopefully there is more in store for our community and us, as a development team.

Parting shot, I must apologize for not mentioning dokta8, Sam Hinton, one of the original coders. He was a big influence on me, a great friend and the one who got me involved.

More *unofficial* Urban Terror news you can shake a stick at!

For the Urban Terror Community it has been a long…very long time coming, but the past 5 days have been a proverbial whirlwind of excitement. The community, well most of them except for a few asshats, have come alive and are really looking forward to our ’27 Days of Terror’ and the impending release. Of course, you must remember to ignore those asshats who will try to ruin everyone’s fun. Not going to happen this time, remember if you don’t like it, GO AWAY! Is that asking too much?

I am already beat and I have only provided four updates. I have the remainder of the ’27 days’ organized, so there should not be any interruption during this month. Although, my parents come into town on Monday, August 14, so there might be a day or two I miss. But fret not, if we miss a day, it just gives you a few extra days in which to catch up…haha. I don’t believe we will miss a beat, but that is my excuse if we do.

I am hoping there is enough interest from clans that we could start a new league as part of the Global Gaming League. This league has owns Clanbase and has a controlling interest in the gaming radio station, Inside the Game, of which I am employeed at. I have already spoke to the powers that be and with enough clans we could get a new North American league started that could eventually compete head to head with the Clanbase EuroCup. GGL calls their the AmeriCup. Some of this is just food for thought, but it could be a great idea, as we have many talented individuals who have organized and administered leagues with the OGL, STA, CAL and TWL.

While I cannot speak about “details” our business is making steps in the right direction. Not sure when, or if we will publicly comment on what we intend to do with our company or Trademark, ‘Urban Terror’ in the near future. But rest assured the base community we have established would definitely have a vested interest in future development. Urban Terror for Quake III Arena has provided us a great footing on which to move. Hopefully our future ventures will have us moving forward.

I still compare are development team to that of Splash Damage, although we are about 3 years behind them in terms of our planning and organization. I don’t believe when Sam ‘dokta8’ Hinton and I had a meeting at Activision after Quakecon 2000, we figured that Urban Terror would still be active 6 years later, or the development team would incorporate into an LLC. Actually, I am the only surviving member from 2000, but we were not looking “long term” in our early years unlike the “Q3F development team.”

I recall both of our development teams received a tour of the id Software offices and then sat down with Graeme Devine, Robert Duffy and others discussing our current project we were working on. While we did not have much in terms of presentation material, it was still neat to rub elbows with the big boys. the Q3F Team showed off a demo and provided them a presentation to id Software. Then again Paul ‘Locki’ Wedgewood is someone I really look up to and respect.

So, while Frozen Sand, LLC is playing catch up, you are never too late. We did spend some unproductive time during the life cycle of Urban Terror. We did announce a port to Enemy Territory, of which we decided to cancel for development reason. We followed that up with the ‘MX’ demo, which provided us some neat tech stuff and input/feedback from industry insiders. That also killed nearly 2 years of development on Urban Terror. But nothing is ever lost, not even that time. We did make some great progress, some of which may be seen in future development we do.

I believe I can speak for those on our development team that we are looking forward to the upcoming Urban Terror release. While I cannot say it will be perfect, we would love to put the “finishing touches” on a already great mod that has outlived its expected lifetime.

Where’s the Creativity?

For those that know me, you know I am not too excited about the PC games that have been released during the 2005. That is not to say there were not some good titles depending on what gaming web site you read. For example, GameSpy’s 2005 Top Ten has some rather obscure titles on there, but also includes title you would expect to see.

In a Variety piece by Peter Bart titled, Creative engines turn creaky in ’05 states the media has been “upbeat for the media world” but end of the year statistics tell a different story.

Now I have been saying this for at least a year that the creativity in the electronic entertainment industry has been lost. I sit here and ponder what the last truly unique and creative game I played. Nothing comes to mind. Sure, there have been some great and enjoyable games I have played recently. I can cite Dice’s Battlefield 1942 as one of the games. I do think it leans toward being “revolutionary” in terms of being a MMOFPS (Is that an acronym?). Going back to 1999-2000, I think Counter-Strike changed the way gamers played online games, that game was a phenomenal success in the mod community for Valve’s Half-Life.

I guess there many other examples, bits and pieces of “technologica” that were features in games, not necessarily top titles. But these days, where has that creativity gone? From Variety, “Video game sales are sagging badly despite the heralded introduction of the Xbox 360.” Stating it’s a Microsoft product says enough, doesn’t. Especially those Windows users who have not made the shift to Linux. I don’t think you can slough off PC sales on all gamers waiting for the heralded release of Xbox 360. That might weigh in to some degree.”…only three of the top 10 games were actually released during 2005 — the rest were holdovers.” Now, I don’t know who’s top ten list they are using but all the games listed in the GameSpy article were released in 2005, beginning in March. I have sent an e-mail to Mr. Bart to inquire about his facts (I’ll report on that soon). But it is safe to say that video game sales are down and the numbers are there to support it.

In 2004 retail sales of video games, which includes portable and console hardware, software and accessories, reached more than $9.9 billion – a decline of less than one percent when compared to $10 billion in the previous year. “Compared to the same time last year, this November showed an 18 percent dip in retail sales to $696 million. Hardware sales dipped even lower, falling 21 percent from last year’s figures to $456 million,” from the latest NPD Group data released (12/15/05).

It comes full circle with gamers wanting more out of their game when they plunk down $50 (and more) on a game these days. In my opinion the quality, along with creativity for their titles has been rather non-existent. These days it’s “all about the franchise.” You know those titles, Quake, Madden, Grand Theft Auto and The Sims, just to name a few. I rant and rave about the bottom line with developers and publishers being all about making money. I guess some don’t give a shit when it comes their final product.

Gamers will be gamers, or lemmings, buying what is hot and avoiding what it not, based off reviews and conversations with other gamers. Hopefully some of these developers, like a Splash Damage, can actually introduce something unique and revolutionary when it comes to their first retail title. Why? They come from humble beginnings in the mod community of Quake, so seeing them progress and work to achieve their position today is something rarely seen.

As for me, I will continue to be stingy with what discretionary income I have to spend on upcoming to so called “hot titles.” But for now, I don’t see anything that really needs to find a home on my hard drive.