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Urban Terror Blogs



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HappyDay


Dragon Reborn - Raise Your Flags

posted Thursday, 07 July 2016
It's been a (long) while since my last blog post but I haven't been inactive. As you might have seen in chump's post, we do have new flag models for Urban Terror. Here's some behind the scenes info from me on the topic of flags, dragons and logos.

Let's start with flags

They are very similar to the old urt 4.x flags. They consist of a pole, a simple, rectangular flag cloth, pointing to the side and a golden ornament at the top. When I was working on the flags, I considered changing the shape to something more like a banner, the flag cloth hanging down from a horizontal bar. Possibly adding a second, smaller triangular cloth or other variations. Ultimately I stuck to the old, proven design. Different banner versions can always be added later for map specific flags. This time around, thanks to Unreal Engine 4's wind system, the flapping of the cloth is determined by wind sources placed in the map. It is the level designer's choice how the flags behave in each part of the map. Inside, without wind, they might just hang down, while outside they flap like a chicken that is being chased by an angry fox. Here's a short demo showing a moderately strong wind effect.


New to the game are also two cords and tassels hanging down the pole. I think that makes the flags look a bit more interesting and adds a feeling of preciousness and aesthetics to the otherwise rather simple design. The cords consist of a few physics bodies that react to gravity and any obstacles. So they will move, when a player bumps into them, or has a flag on his back and is running around.



Logos
In case you don't have a clear picture of the old 4.x flags in your mind, here's a screenshot to help you compare. As you can see, the logos have slightly changed. The blue team, the Urban Terror Response Team (UTRT) still has the three bullet shells on the striped background, but now resembling the UrT logo a bit more.
The logo of the Red Dragons has changed from a white dragon in side view to a gold and black dragon in frontal view, which in my opinion looks far better. I took both designs from nounou's awesome concept art. Here's one of them, added for your pleasure.

There also needs to be a neutral (grey) flag for some game modes, but I haven't found the time yet to work on that.

Dragon
The ornament on top of the red flag is UrT's iconic red dragon, which received a major update. Here are two in-game shots.

The old dragon was very low poly and had rather skinny limbs. Nonetheless, the pose was quite dynamic and I used the same pose for the updated dragon. The old model was used as a base for dynamic sculpting in blender. In accordance with the new logo on the flag, I added some more horns and spikes, adjusted the wings and added a few tiny fins on the back and tail. A toothless baby dragon, that couldn't even scare your grandma was reborn as a mighty predator, worthy to be symbol of the ferociousness, with which the Red Dragons fight for what they believe in. The high poly model ended up with about 12 million tris. I had to reduce tris count several times during the sculpting process. Editing became somewhat slow after a while (should have bought more RAM). Still, I enjoyed working on the dragon a lot, this was one of my favorite projects so far.

After the high-poly model was done, I used remeshing algorithms and manual adjusting to create a low poly model, which is used in-game. I baked a normal map and an ambient occlusion map from high- to low-poly to fake most of the detail. The model used in the game has about 8500 tris.

Apart from a very awesome flag ornament, we also could use a larger size version of the dragon as a statue in some maps, lobby screens or similar places.

This concludes my little blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating the new art.

Have a happy day! :)
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Zenity


Movement Update

posted Saturday, 23 January 2016
Over the last few weeks I have been working on some movement related features.

TL/DR:



In my mind, Urban Terror movement is primarily defined by two words: "Quake" and "Parkour".

The Quake heritage is obvious, but what exactly does "Quake like movement" really mean? When boiled down to basics, what makes Quake movement special is that it's heavily physics driven. Quake never had any sort of fancy movement system. There's no dodging, no double jumps, nothing but WASD and a jump key. Yet the simple whacky physics create gameplay so complex, that Quake movement is considered the most skill based of all. In game design, this is called emergent behaviour and the result is the holy grail of "easy to learn, impossible to master". So when I add movements to Urban Terror, I try to keep this in mind and follow the same pattern. Movements which are easy to execute (no extra keys required) but are driven by physics so that advanced players can bend it in unforeseen ways.

"Parkour" is the perfect real world equivalent to our crazy ass movement, but it has always bothered me just a little that actual Parkour is in fact more agile and advanced than ours. Vaulting and Wall Running are two movements in particular that make perfect sense in a Parkour environment, but I also wanted to implement them in a way that doesn't feel scripted but heavily physics based to fit in with the Quake style. I am very happy how this turned out, and I think that both will become very natural additions to Urban Terror once players had a chance to get used to them.

I am also experimenting with additional legacy Quake physics (similar to Challenge Pro Mode), like ramp jumps and bunny hopping / air control. You can see both in the video, but notice that they are extremely toned down so they don't overpower the usual Urban Terror movement but instead create subtle additions to it. Bunny hopping in particular still needs a lot of testing and feedback so there is no telling if it will actually make it in the end. But ramp jumps are pretty subtle while still being a blast to execute, so I think that those will be fairly uncontroversial.

I appreciate the irony that Urban Terror on Unreal Engine could well become more Quake-like than it ever was on the actual Quake engine.

What About Jump Maps?

Of course we will try to maintain 99%+ accuracy for basic movement (this includes circle jumping, wall jumping, powersliding), but the reality is that most jump maps will have to be updated for HD either way due to minor differences in the engines which are not worth changing (we will only port the bugs which are actually fun :)). Furthermore we cannot stay stagnant if we want HD to be a true resurgence rather than just a monument to days long past, so jump maps will have to evolve along with us. Of course this is not an ideal situation (especially for high score tracking), but we will work with the jump community to make the process as smooth as possible. If you are working on a jump map, please don't hesitate to reach out to us!

That said, one reason I wanted to put a lot of work into movement early on is that hopefully we can get it to a point where we won't feel the need to make significant updates to the movement system for a long time to come.

What About Action Mode?

In a previous blog I hinted at the possibility of an alternate "action mode" that would increase the overall speed and drop all pretences of being tactical. However, after experimenting with this it just doesn't feel right, mainly because the existing maps are not suitable for it. In the end, I think that adding subtle amounts of pro mode style movements to stock Urban Terror is the better approach. Instead of an "action mode" however I could imagine to make infinite stamina a proper option for all game modes. Right now stamina is the one thing that reigns in all the crazy movements and maintains a tactical element to the game. So playing without stamina is very much like playing "action mode", just one that still feels like bona fide Urban Terror. I do think this option would be justified since sometimes we just feel like mindless fragging, whereas other times we may feel like deploying a slightly more deliberate approach.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this update and like I said in the disclaimer of the video:

DO NOT PANIC!

This is still early days, and if there's a time to make radical experiments, then it is now. :)
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

New Year's Development Update

posted Saturday, 02 January 2016
Things have been rather quiet from me the last few months, which is mainly because I've been unusually busy. But lately things are getting better and HD is progressing really well, so it's about time for a quick update.

I have nothing big to talk about this time, as most of the work has been on details and putting things together. Turnpike is coming along really nicely and is probably the best example for a classic map that received the full HD treatment. FrankieV is doing a cracking job on it.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the new stuff. Note that the gun has no recoil in this demo, that's obviously going to change. Everything else is work in progress as well. The weapon itself is a stock model, but I like it a lot so I expect that it will make it into the game. Also this is medium quality since my PC is not the beefiest. Don't mind the music, just having some fun. :)

Surface Effects

One thing I've been working on is integrating the obligatory surface effects including customizable footsteps, impact effects, bullet holes, and impact sounds for each material. UnifiedTone has been recording the footstep sounds. I tried to show some of this in the Turnpike video, but this video gives a more detailed overview of the current capabilities:

Activatable Objects and Prompts

Another new feature you can see in the Turnpike video is activatable objects that are hooked up to the game's Activate button. This is accomplished via a simple Blueprint interface and also allows the mapper to set custom prompts, which will helpfully appear on the screen as you get in range of the item. Combined with the virtually unlimited potential of Blueprints, there is very little that you can't do. Want to make a Duke Nukem style flushable toilet, helpfully prompting you to "take a piss"? Knock yourself out!

I expect that we will release this and other map objects together with a mapping guide in a simple mapping kit fairly soon. This definitely wouldn't be the worst time to begin learning UE4 and start mapping for HD. :) Glory and fame awaits!

Quo Vadimus?

2016 is poised to become a fantastic year for Urban Terror with 4.3 around the corner, and HD shaping up nicely. I've had a few personal epiphanies myself, and have never felt more motivated to work on Urban Terror or more optimistic about its future.

I absolutely believe that there is a demand for a no-strings-attached shooter that is simple enough to get into to be a great casual game, while offering a high enough skill ceiling and consistency to be a viable esports title. The kind of game you get hooked on because of its simple yet satisfying mechanics, and then stick with it as it gradually evolves year by year. No subscriptions, no pay to win, no yearly $60 update plus DLC. Just fragging with style, pure and simple.

This is Urban Terror.

Happy new year!
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Gost0r


A coder's journey begins

posted Monday, 30 November 2015
Hey everybody,

I think it's time to introduce myself. My nick is Gost0r, I am playing and enjoying Urban Terror since 2008 and so far I've been involved in several community projects related to the game. Somewhat, about a week ago, a new journey has started for me when I decided to join FrozenSand, but the most curious and nosy players would already know that :P
I come from a programmer background, I'm currently still studying computer sciences in Germany. So far I havn't been into a serious game development project, but I was just biding my time :)

For now, I've been fiddling into the existing Unreal Engine 4 codebase and my first impressions were very positive. I was quite impressed about the state of development FS had already reached. Gameplay and physics wise I was really happy that I could really find some of the UrT q3 movement feelings and I'm sure that can only get improved with time.

In the very recent days I've been focusing on the Item system, but well images speak louder than words, so please enjoy this short preview:



Not much to show yet indeed as I didn't spend much time on UrTHD development for the moment being. Visuals are not to be taken in account in the video: medkit is still shown on Sarah's back even when she "technically" doesn't have a medkit. I displayed debug messages on the top left so you can see when she does or does not have a medkit in her inventory. The messages recognize that items are picked up and dropped, so it's working as intended.

All I can say is that I'm delighted to be able to work on this game which has been by my side for a good chunk of my lifetime and I learned to love so much.
Let me conclude this short introduction blog by saying that I'll try my best to keep you updated with my works as I go further down the road :)
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums
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Barbatos


[WARNING] Malicious ghost clients

posted Saturday, 28 November 2015
Hi,

We've had several reports of ghost clients connecting to servers in order to fill them up, always from the same IP address.
There is a cvar which is able to prevent this kind of attack:
sv_clientsPerIp

Server admins, if you are experiencing these attacks, please set the sv_clientsPerIp cvar to a low number such as 2. It will only allow two clients from the same IP address to connect to your server at the same time.

This cvar is currently set to 0 by default, which means no restrictions at all. We will update the default value for the 4.3 final release. Bots and local clients are not affected by this cvar.

Thanks

Zenity


HUD, Domination, Menus, and More

posted Monday, 27 July 2015
It's been over two weeks since my last post, so I figure it's about time for an update.

Progress has been very fast, but I've been focusing on getting a hang of the engine in various areas while laying the groundwork for future development. As a result there hasn't been anything in particular to showcase yet, since most of the features are still in half-done state. That said, here's a quick rundown of what I've been working on:

Gameplay

I have focused on adding some missing combat features like fall damage, limping, locational bleeding, and a primitive bandage function. Not much to say here really. Fall damage and limping behaviour are almost identical to Q3UT, whereas bleeding and bandaging will likely be changed a little bit.

Also thanks to HappyDay's measurements, I have been able to tweak various other aspects of the physics to make them more identical to Q3UT. This includes the exact dimensions you can fit through, or steps you can climb up on.

Domination

Domination is the first game mode I have been implementing. Most of you probably know what it is, but for those who don't here's a quick description:

You fight over control for three flags on the map. If you control more flags than the opponent, then every five seconds you get points based on how many flags you control more than the opponent. Your team also gets a point for every kill. When you die, you quickly respawn randomly in the quarter of the map which has the least enemies.

It's a very simple mode, and I think it will be one of the best modes for new players to make their first steps with Urban Terror. It's very easy to understand (go to nearest flag, kill people) and the punishment for death is manageable. That said, simplicity is not the only thing the mode has going for it. It also creates very balanced match ups on practically any type of map (which is very useful for Urban Terror's diverse range of maps), and in a competitive setting it can offer a surprising amount of depth which mainly centres on strategies to hold two of the flags at the same time. Due to the random respawns it also provides quite dynamic gameplay and does not suffer from the spawncamping issue.

It's not quite done yet, but I am very happy with how easy and fast it was to implement the basic game rules in UE4, and we'll be able to finish it quickly once we are ready for testing. Another reason I started with Domination is that I believe that it's the best mode for early testing, since it focuses the action and does not require advanced teamplay.

New Player Model

The art team around FrankieV and BladeKiller have done a fantastic job working on a new high quality player model (starting with Sarah) and I've been working with Frankie to get it into the game and hook up the animations. There is still a lot of work to be done of course, but it's coming along really nicely as you will see in the video further down. :)

HUD UI

I have also done some work on the HUD, mainly re-creating the health/stamina bar of 4.x. This is probably by far the most complex element of the URT HUD, so I wanted to get it done early. My goal for the design was to stick with the current design but give it a bit of an HD treatment. I think it turned out very nicely, although I'm sure that it will receive further touch-ups. You could already see it in action in HappyDay's jump video, but here are some "close up" shots:

Menu System

Finally, I've started working on a new menu system and the basic framework for our customisable character models. This is still extremely early work in progress of course, but at least we can choose maps and characters already.

This video provides a quick glimpse of most of the new stuff:

Action Mode?

One thing we discussed is the possibility of an "action mode", which would essentially be to Urban Terror what CPMA is to Quake 3. Urban Terror 1.x began as a much faster paced game than what is is today, based on the spiritual ancestor Action Quake 2. Right now there seems to be a lot of support for increasing the pace of the game within the team, so this is something we may want to explore.

An action mode could have features like no stamina, faster base speed, CPMA style air control, and ramp jumps. In other words, it would lose all pretences of "tactical" movement in favour of mad skill based carnage.

Of course there is the concern of playerbase fragmentation, so we are not going to add such an option lightly. But this seems to be a good time to give it a whirl and simply see how it goes. If it looks like it could cause a serious split in the community, then we'll probably want to go back to the drawing board and see if we can come up with a better compromise.

Right now this is just a thought experiment so it may not happen after all, but I think it's certainly interesting to mull over. I also appreciate the irony that UTHD on Unreal Engine could become more Quake-like than Q3UT ever was. :)

What's Next

One thing we are still missing is a test server and the ability to connect to it, so I will prioritise this as well as fixing any missing bits that stop us from having a decent game. This shouldn't take too long, so hopefully we will soon be able to show some actual gameplay and then we can build on that.

As usual, I will keep you updated!
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

HappyDay


Working on Uptown #02 - Wall Lamp

posted Saturday, 25 July 2015
Here's another video of me working on uptown. All the positive feedback of the last video motivated me to do more. This time there are some annotations and the end is at normal speed. This episode features a simple wall lamp that's used throughout the map. The whole process took a bit more than an hour (+ 1h of me trying stuff, that didn't work, which I cut out).
Enjoy.

comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums
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Working on Uptown #01 - Street Pavement

posted Sunday, 19 July 2015
I've been thinking about making videos of me working on uptown for quite a while now. Finally, here's the first of hopefully many videos. This one shows me modeling part of Uptown's street. I initially recorded myself talking while I was working on this but it just sounded too awkward, so I decided to speed the video up and add some intense music. This is the result.

Let me know what you think of this kind of video format.

comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Uptown HD Jumps 1.0

posted Thursday, 16 July 2015
With the recent work Zenity and Barbatos have done on the movement system it's time to show some jumping skills. We're not quite where we want to be yet, but the game definitely starts to feel like Urban Terror. The jumping is close enough to urt 4.x to do some of the most iconic jumps on uptown. With a little more tweaking (and more jumping practice on my side) things will feel smoother in future videos. You can also check out some of the progress I've made on recreating uptown for HD. At the moment the map looks quite messy and not very pleasing to the eye but that'll change, too.

There's not much more to say at this point except: enjoy the video.

comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Zenity


Hits and Hops

posted Friday, 10 July 2015
Since my last post, I have been working on implementing spread and recoil. Here's what it looks like so far:


(Of course all assets in this video are either placeholders or work in progress)

I've tried to stay close to the current behaviour, without any major experiments. A couple things of note though:

- In Q3UT, increasing recoil will make your crosshair jump towards the left and right, so it never actually points at the position you are aiming at. While I do think this is a useful feature to "feel" the increasing inaccuracy of spraying, and you would not be able to hit anything by directly aiming at it anyway once it gets so bad, it doesn't feel really good to me. So I tried to replace the left right movement with a camera roll which still conveys the lack of accuracy, but does not actually move the crosshair from where you are aiming. This feels really good to me so far.

- I have also added the option to set a random seed for each weapon. This means that spray patterns are always identical and while this still won't allow you to perfectly control a spread like Counter Strike (which wouldn't be a good fit for the game IMO for various reasons), it will allow some sort of control and reward experience. By and large though, you are still much better off burst firing.

In the end of the video I hop around a bit to show the state of wall jumping and powersliding.

Hits?!

Also some people mentioned the issue of "hits" in general, so I thought I'd quickly share my thoughts on this. I believe there are generally three areas which can potentially lead to faults with hit detection. From least to most significant:

1) Random Spread

Sometimes you just have bad luck... Urban Terror has extremely accurate weapons, so as long as you tap or burst your shots, you will hit what you aim for. Spread escalates quickly though, so you can get the situation where you just barely miss your first couple of shots, and then your spread already becomes large enough to make you miss most of your shots. This can lead to the odd situation where you aim is almost perfect, yet you don't hit anything. Hit detection in Urban Terror can be extremely unforgiving due to the relatively small hit boxes coupled with a relatively fast movement speed.

We can counter this by making it more obvious when the accuracy goes down (especially for players who don't use an expanding crosshair).

2) The Hit Mesh

ARIES was way ahead of its time, and there's no wonder it had some growing pains. These days I believe it works very reliably, and that's quite remarkable considering the technology it's based on.

That said, UE4 makes life a lot easier for us in this regard. Instead of per-poly hit detection on a low poly model, we use the physical asset for hit detection, which uses simplified shapes and is of course very well tested. The physical asset follows the reference model perfectly, as you can see here:



3) Netcode

Finally and most importantly, network code is always fickle and things can easily go out of sync. This becomes even more true with small and accurate hit models. No matter how well designed the network code is, there is always a chance for inaccuracies caused by flakey network conditions or server performance issues.

Fortunately, there is an option which sidesteps all those headaches: Client side hit detection.

Now before you throw eggs in my face, hear me out. Client side hit detection has become more popular in modern games, for one simple reason: When the client is compromised, then all is lost already. Allowing a compromised client to mess with hit detection sounds scary, but the truth is that this kind of hack would be the easiest to discover, not to mention incredibly boring for the cheater. With every random hack featuring perfect aimbots and wallhacks, there is just no reason any more to be concerned about this. Of course servers still do basic verification of each hit and any obvious tampering would be very easy to spot. The bottom line is that when in doubt, the client is trusted that a bullet was actually a hit.

One commonly perceived downside is the effect of getting hit behind walls, but this is also an issue with server side lag compensation, and it pales in comparison to missing shots. It is also up to us how lenient we want to be with this, e.g. whether to reject hits if the target has moved behind a wall by the time the hit arrives at the server.

The giant advantage of client side hit detection is simply this:

Perfect hits. Always. Without exceptions.
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums
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