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[Tipeee] Developer News - March 2023

posted 19 days ago
Information: This Developer News was originally sent 6 months ago to people supporting us on Tipeee. I write these posts with my own words, every month, mostly showing internal development screenshots/videos and explaining the latest features in the works on the upcoming Urban Terror game on Unreal Engine 5.

If you are willing to support the development and maintenance of Urban Terror, the posts are available on Tipeee for as low as a 1€ tip. From now on I'll also repost them here with a 6 months delay. Enjoy the read and let us know whether you like them or not!
Hi there,

This month was a bit quiet on my side so I will focus on the work of the other team members!

The Thingley project is moving forward at a very nice pace. Lizart has completed the modeling of many buildings already as shown the previous months. He has gotten the help of x-dcx-x and Markinho this month, who built a beautiful church for the map as you can see on the screenshots. Lizart also did several walkthrough videos of the current state of the map on Unreal Editor. I can't wait to watch it become alive once the textures and props get added!

Ever since we started working on Urban Terror 5, we've been using the Genesis 3 framework for the character models and animations. The framework provides base male and female characters, and we then put our own animations and character skins on top of them. The framework allows for many things such as body morphing, facial animations, organic bends and articulations.
The Genesis 3 framework is quite outdated now as Daz3D provides the version 9 of the framework nowadays which is far more advanced and provides many new functionalities. FrankieV and Neon are therefore trying out the G9 framework in a separate branch of the project to assess whether it would be worth moving the project to it.

It's important to try to stay up to date with the various frameworks and technologies we use. The goal isn't to release UrT 5 one day with many outdated stuff under the hood! We'll see over the next few weeks how this develops!

- Barbatos

[Tipeee] Developer News - February 2023

posted 1 month ago
Information: This Developer News was originally sent 6 months ago to people supporting us on Tipeee. I write these posts with my own words, every month, mostly showing internal development screenshots/videos and explaining the latest features in the works on the upcoming Urban Terror game on Unreal Engine 5.

If you are willing to support the development and maintenance of Urban Terror, the posts are available on Tipeee for as low as a 1€ tip. From now on I'll also repost them here with a 6 months delay. Enjoy the read and let us know whether you like them or not!
Hey everyone!

First of all, thank you again for your continued support. I know I say it often but it truly has become vital to the survival of the current infrastructures supporting the game. With the everlasting increases of energy costs our monthly expenses have continually increased (for the same service!) over the months, from about 90€ per month of expenses to 106€ per month today. Your Tipeee donations are pretty much our only source of revenue nowadays and they cover our monthly expenses to host everything (website, forums, auth server, build server, test server, master server, storage and backup disks, etc.).

This month I feel a bit ashamed, huh. Last month, I was happy showing you Urban Terror 5 running fine on a MacBook Pro 2023 on the Arm64 architecture... only to notice a few days later that this wasn't really the case. I was in fact unknowingly compiling the game to run on Rosetta, which emulates the old Intel x86_64 architecture on Arm64. Well, this is still useful as we now know that the game can run on older Mac architectures without too much trouble, but this isn't really our target hardware. Our primary goal for the Mac platform is to allow players using the current-gen (2020+) of Apple laptops and desktops to run the game smoothly.

As you can imagine, switching to compiling for the Arm64 architecture did bring its fair share of compile errors and crashes, which I spent several days fixing. The team is currently running Unreal Engine 5.1.1 (latest stable release) but Epic have done some substantial fixes for Unreal Engine 5.2 (which is still in development today), so I decided to rebuild the engine on the current WIP UE 5.2 to get the latest changes. I'm now able to cook and package the game, run it with Steam, as well as launch the Unreal Editor and play from there. UE5 is still quite unstable on this platform though, and my Editor crashes several times a day, but we're getting there! I hope Epic can keep on improving the developer experience on this platform in the near future, because this MacBook seriously rocks and it's a joy to work with it.

Mr.Yeah has made some progress on 2D sketches for the new loadout menu and he's currently gathering opinion from the rest of the team. The main goal is to take from the legacy UrT what worked really great (the simplicity of the menu, the speed at which you can change your gear) and improve upon it. I quite like it so far! Once we've settled how the menu should look like and work, Mr.Yeah and Holycrap will start the implementation into UrT 5.

Neira is currently obsessed with boxes so he made quite a few variants (see the attached screenshots). They'll now be added to "common assets" that are available to be used on various maps depending on the mappers needs.
Lizart is fascinated with blinking lights so he's made all sorts of blinkers. Watch out for epileptic seizures!

Unfortunately the sky issues (see the attached screenshots on Turnpike where it's clearly visible) are still not fixed on Epic's side, they seem to be affecting many projects using forward rendering such as UrT5. We hope that those issues will be fixed very soon as JohnnyEnglish got quite depressed about them distorting his maps, which understandably isn't really motivating for him lately.

Neon is still fiddling with learning animations but we'll talk about it next month!

- Barbatos

Urban Terror has its first ever Professional Developer!

posted Sunday, 16 January 2022
Hey everyone!

There's some great news that I'd like to share with you! But first, to add some context... (there's a tl;dr at the end of the blog post!)

I've been feeling uneasy with my current full-time job as Software Developer for a little while now, and I think it really began during the first covid lockdown period that lots of us around the world had to experience in early 2020. At the time I was made aware that, as I had not a key role at the company (which is kind of true!), I needed to stop working, stay at home during the lockdown and enjoy getting paid 92% of my usual salary... doing nothing. Well, not being allowed to work for my company. For two entire months.
At first, I felt a bit disheartened, especially since most of my close colleagues were working every day. Also, in a split second all your habits and routines are gone, and you are flooded with an insane amount of free time which you hadn't prepared yourself to deal with.

We even saw this on Urban Terror, where the number of players quickly tripled during the whole lockdown period and beyond. It appears that lots of us took on the opportunity to use some of that renewed free time to dip toes into some cool old games! :)

It took me a few days, but I ended up realizing the amazing opportunity I was 'offered' and started working on a lot of various projects on which I could not make significant progress earlier due to a lack of time. Urban Terror 5 was among those projects, and those two months were one of my most active period as a developer of this game since 2011. The cherry on the cake being that... I absolutely loved it!

In the past year or so, I've thought about what happened during this lockdown and how I felt regarding my involvement in various projects. I've always wanted to spend more time on the development of UrT5, but it's never been an easy task when already working 45+ hours a week on a demanding job which already requires a lot of coding on a daily basis.

I'm therefore happy to announce that I'll be the first part-time developer to professionally work on Urban Terror 5! I'll be staying partly employed at my current company for at least a year, splitting my time 50%-50% between my new freelance work and my current employer. It is a one year experiment to see whether I like and can sustain working on the game professionally and potentially full time in the future.

Of course this will last only if losing half of my paycheck is somehow made sustainable in the long run. I'm currently fortunate enough that I don't have to worry about this in the immediate future, but I'll quickly need some other source of income to make this experiment last as long as possible.

In that regard, I have decided - with the blessing of the FrozenSand team - to try out creating a Tipeee page. Tipeee is an easy way to support your favorite projects (and developers!) with small, automatic monthly recurring tips. If you feel like supporting my work on Urban Terror 5 and making it a sustainable situation, thank you! Even a 1€ recurring tip will make a difference. I have detailed on my Tipeee page on which parts of the game I intend to work on during the next few months, check it out!

I am very excited to start this new journey on this game I've loved for over 14 years and many more to come!

Have fun

tl;dr: I'm going to professionally work part-time (50%) on the game starting this year. You can make this sustainable by supporting me on Tipeee!

Jump Mode in Urban Terror 5!

posted Wednesday, 10 June 2020
I can't believe it's been 5 years since my last blog post!

Reading my past posts and watching the associated videos really made me realize how much we have achieved in the past few years. Urban Terror 5 is starting to look and feel better than we could have hoped back in 2014 when we scrapped the Urban Terror HD project, switched to Unreal Engine 4 and started everything from scratch.

This year we kickstarted the Private Alpha of Urban Terror 5. The feedback from testers has been overly positive so far, especially regarding movement mechanisms as well as gameplay, which are in my opinion at the core of what truly makes UrT a unique and enjoyable game. Of course, there is still a long road ahead, and testers keep us busy with a lot of bug reports and suggestions. However, opening up the game to a bunch of players outside of the development team after more than 4 years of backstage development, and getting some useful primarily feedback had a net positive effect on the overall mood and motivation of the dev team.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has given me the rare opportunity to work almost full time on Urban Terror 5 for over a month, which was a really nice, new and enjoyable experience for me. I would definitely like to work more on the game, but it is quite challenging when having a full time job and IRL occupations. I have some leads I'd like to explore to spend more time on developing the game while keeping a part-time job, but this will be for another blog post. :)

I've worked on various areas of the game in the last two months, from the usual bug fixing to more interesting stuff like implementing an in-game console, voting system, match mode features as well as... the Jump Mode!

Jumping has always had a special place in my heart, being of the things that made me stick to Urban Terror when I discovered the game back in 2008. Jump Mode also happens to be the first major feature I implemented in UrT HD in 2011 when I joined the development team. It was then ported to UrT 4.2 in its sixth release.

So here we are, Jump Mode has made its way into Urban Terror 5!

The primary focus was to port the features from UrT 4.x, such as position saving and loading, teleporting to other players, ghost players, custom stamina regeneration settings, speedometer, jump timers, etc. I also added a new feature allowing jumpers to race against their own best time (you can see such thing in the TrackMania racing game for example!).

Now that this is done, the next step will be to look into adding some other cool new features to improve this game mode. I can't say for sure that those will ever make it into the game, but I'm looking into implementing checkpoints for timed jump runs, as well as objects to collect or shoot at while jumping to get more points. I'd also like to make it possible to race against a map's best ever time.

If you have other ideas of new features to implement for this game mode, please do not hesitate to share them on the official UrT Discord or on the forums!

Here is a little video of the Jump Mode in action, on a new jump map for Urban Terror 5 called SkyLines, by JohnnyEnglish. I'm also doing some jumping on the map Uranus, which we ported from urt4 over to Urban Terror 5.

As a bonus, I recently implemented corner clipping (also called corner cutting) in Urban Terror 5. Jumpers know how cool this quake3 bug-which-became-a-feature is, so I'm glad we could port it to urt5. Alpha testers are loving it! If you don't know what corner clipping is, it allows players to pass through wall corners or thin objects without losing velocity (when done properly), instead of sliding along the wall and losing all speed. It makes for a faster gameplay when mastered! You can see some examples of corner clipping on Turnpike at the end of the video.

Please don't hesitate to let me know whether you liked this blog post or not!
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

[WARNING] Malicious ghost clients

posted Saturday, 28 November 2015

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:

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.


Urban Terror 5 Physics - Part 3

posted Friday, 12 June 2015

Soooo I've been working exclusively on Urban Terror 5 physics the last few weeks and I'm now happy enough with the result to show it in a video. :)

Please admire my Movie Maker skills:

Of course there is still a lot of work to do, especially on powerslides and walljumps, but the movements are really starting to feel nice which is a good start. Our goal is still to make the movements feel like 4.x so... let's get back to work! :-)

NB: sorry, Movie Maker and YouTube destroyed the quality of my video... Do you have any free software to recommend me?
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Urban Terror 5 Physics - Part 2

posted Sunday, 08 March 2015
Hey there!

It's been a long time since my last blog post about Urban Terror 5. For many months I had to use my crappy computer with 4GB of RAM and an old Core2Duo. The real-time UE4 editor was very slow to run, so was my progress... especially when you work on game physics. :)

But good news! I invested in a brand new computer. It has a i7 4790K CPU and 16GB of RAM. And trust me, it isn't too much for the very greedy UE4 editor! And although I still use my old GPU (ATI Radeon HD 5770), Urban Terror 5 and the UE4 editor both run very smoothly.

Here is a little video I recorded today to show you the progress I made during the last four weeks (set the quality to 720p 60fps):

As you can see I worked on ledge climbing, ladder climbing, player booting/kicking and head stomping. All of them are still a Work In Progress but I'm quite happy with the result for now. I'm now going to continue working on wall jumping, strafe jumping as well as powersliding.

More to come!

Urban Terror 4.3

posted Saturday, 03 January 2015

I hope that you had a good time with your family and friends for Christmas and the new year!

A few days ago the information about a new version of Urban Terror 4 was leaked and we immediately started to see a lot of rumors about it, so we thought it would be better to just make it official. :)

We are currently working on a new version of UrT called Urban Terror 4.3.0.
Warning: Before giving some details about this new version, I want to make something clear: this does NOT mean that we are dropping the development of Urban Terror HD and it doesn't mean that this development will be slowed down by 4.3 either. Most of what we added to 4.3 was already partially or totally finished work but was never released.
We have several aims for this release. The first one is to clean up and repack the game. 4.2 was getting messy with a lot of duplicated files and assets leading to bigger and bigger packs. A new major version is the perfect occasion for a clean up. We also decided to drop the complicated naming of the versions ( for a more simple one (4.x.x) which also means that we will do releases less often because we want to take more time to QA test them.

We are also planning to release a new version of the Updater, including a lot of bug fixes and improvements compared to the one released with Urban Terror 4.2. Making an Updater / Launcher accessible to all players, having all kinds of internet connections, computers and operating systems is a really huge challenge but we believe it is worth the try.

A new game mode will be introduced: the Gun Game. We already did a public beta of this game mode last year but the development was put on hold for a while. It is now ready for a release so expect it to be available in 4.3.0!

Here is a non exhaustive list of our other plans for Urban Terror 4.3:
a new gear selection menu with real time visualization of the player and its gears
several new weapons: .44 Magnum, FN P90, Benelli M4 and more...
unlock of the cvars sv_fps and snaps
menus improvements
and more!

There isn't a precise release date for now. We don't want to repeat the mistakes of early 4.2 releases so we are going to take our time to polish this version. You can expect Urban Terror 4.3.0 to be released in the first quarter of 2015 though. :)

We are very excited about this release and we really hope that you will enjoy the new features as much as we do!
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

UrT 5 Physics : WallJumps (part 1)

posted Thursday, 24 July 2014
Hey everyone,

The last few weeks I've been busy setting up our development tools for Urban Terror 5 on UE4 (Github, SVN...) and watching Unreal Engine 4 tutorials and I must admit that the learning curve for coders is quite high... but it's even more challenging so I'm enjoying it so far. UE4 is really an awesome engine and everybody in Frozen Sand is impressed by its abilities.

My main issue is that I do not have a powerful enough computer to run the Unreal Editor + Visual Studio so I'm currently looking to buy a new rig. Holblin was kind enough to lend me his (super awesome) computer for about two weeks while he's on vacation so I was able to start working on the game code.

Our main focus for UrT 5 is to try replicating UrT 4.x physics and feelings, so the top priorities of the upcoming months are the walljumps, powerslides, stamina and so on.

I started working on the Stamina and the Walljumps. Here is a little video showing my progress so far. Please do not forget that everything is still in a _very_ early stage of development and will keep being updated for months.

The adjustments to fit to UrT's velocity / speed will be made later with the help of talented players and jumpers.

That's it for now! We've had a few meetings with Nounou and Kalish to design the new HUD for UrT HD and it starts being really close to what we imagined. I might drop a screenshot or two on Twitter and Facebook in the coming days.

By the way, I am looking for new talents to join the development team, particularly mappers and texture artists. If you are skilled and motivated please do not hesitate to PM me. :)

The story behind Urban Terror 4.2

posted Sunday, 29 June 2014
It all started in March of 2012. At this time I was actively working on Urban Terror HD on things such as improvements for the Match Mode and a new game mode called Jump Mode.
We were really worried about the health of Urban Terror and its community. We could see the number of players falling from day to day.

The community was absolutely in need for good news about HD and our negotiations with id Software to get a contract were not going anywhere. We were told for several years that we would have a (relatively) cheap contract for a multi-platform game and what we got after the long wait was a two-years-only Windows-only expensive and restrictive contract. We couldn't sign it.

We were stuck. We couldn't work on our HD engine anymore and we couldn't release new alpha versions. It's been a really hard time for the whole Frozen Sand team because we understood we were going to throw away all the work done on HD. This bad news from id Software and the decreasing amount of players on 4.1 killed the motivation of everyone in the team.

From my coder side of view I didn't want to throw away all the work done on HD and I knew we were able to port some parts of it to the version 4.x of the game. This is when the idea of doing a 4.2 version began. I suggested it to the team and everyone was ok but I had to handle doing pretty much everything code-side because there was no other active codebase developer at this time.

I had a big problem though. The source code of Urban Terror 4.1 had been lost years ago and all I got was an old-4.2 mod code that was very experimental in a lot of areas. It had to be debugged and cleaned up a bit in order to be used as a good start. It took me a while to find and fix hundreds of bugs with the help of the Quality Assurance team. Then I started adding improvements and bug fixes done on HD and at the end the changelog of 4.2.001 was quite big and I started being satisfied with it.

In May of 2012 we were close to the date of the French LAN of Urban Terror in Paris and we thought it would be great to introduce it here and let everyone test it to gather more feedback. The day of my birthday (yay!) we officially announced for the first time Urban Terror 4.2 and its changelog. I had only a few days to prepare a pack of 4.2 for the LAN with a few more last minute fixes. We were all really excited about this event.

In June I went to Paris with holblin and other volunteers from the French Community staff and we installed 4.2 on more than 80 computers for the LAN. I was in charge of the dedicated servers during the whole event (eek!) so I had to install and manage up to 8 servers.
It was a cool event despite some crappy computers on which people had FPS drops. A large majority of players were really cool and I gathered more feedback than I could ever think.

The LAN convinced me to continue the development of 4.2 after its first release, but we needed an easier way to update the game. I started working on an Updater which needed to be multi-platform as well as available for server administrators. You cannot imagine how hard it is to make it work for everyone on every platform. It was a HUGE challenge and despite it's bugs on some machines I'm still really happy with it. At the time of writing this blog entry, the Updater has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on the official website. I had to learn a new programming language and a new framework to develop the Updater so I have no regrets at all. Shout-out to Kalish for the great Urban Terror-themed design for it. By the way, it is open-source so do not hesitate to help fix bugs if you want. :)

Just before we dropped the development of HD on quake's engine, Kalish was working hard on the Authentication System. I thought it would be great to "beta test" it and asked him if I could port his code in 4.2. He was ok (it took me a while to convince him though!! :P) and he started helping me do it. We ended up working literally days and nights on it in June and July.

We all started getting really excited because the LAN event was a success and the authentication system and the Updater were working after weeks of intense work. It was going to be our first release since 2007 or 5 years! I had stopped all my other personal projects for months to get it done, I worked on it every single day for 4 months and I couldn't delay it anymore, I wanted it to be released. We wanted it to be released. This is when we made a huge mistake. We announced a release date. We should NOT have done that because it put a huge pressure on us from the community, and we were not ready. The game needed to be tested a lot more by the QA team, the authentication system needed more work and Kalish asked us to delay the release but I didn't listen. I wanted it out now. I didn't want the community to be disappointed by delaying the release.

This was a freaking mistake. The release was a disaster. There were bugs with the hitmesh that we didn't catch with the QA team as well as a huge bug in the authentication server. If I could go back in time I would slap myself for being hasty and I would postpone the release.

Anyway, I don't have a time machine (yet). :) So we had to move forward. It took Kalish one month of hard work to fix all the bugs with the authentication server. Today I still feel bad for doing this to him because he had even put aside his IRL work to fix the auth server.

Fortunately more awesome coders and artists stepped in to immensely improve 4.2 over time and I think I can now say that I'm proud of what 4.2 has become. I learned so much from my mistakes. Now I am always the guy at FS saying "no no don't release now, test it one more week!". :P I guess it taught me to be more patient and wise and it will be useful when the time of releasing Urban Terror HD will come.

There is so much more to say but I think it's enough for this blog post. Do not hesitate to tell me if you want more "behind the scenes" articles!


Note: this is an x-post from my personal blog.

If you want to read more from me, you can visit my website and follow me on Twitter.
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums
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