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OhJay's blog




OJ sitting in a chair - Alpha update 1

posted 1 month ago

Hey everyone!



Welcome to the new edition of 'OJ sitting in a chair'! Apologies once again for the lack of a quality heading but the creative titles department hasn't shown their faces since the last time so I'm really just winging it at this point with the title creation...

Anyway, it's been a minute since I have written a blog, and I know I promised to be more regular with them, but between riding kangaroos whilst smoking cigars and fighting the losing battle of trying to retain my sanity there isn't much time left in the day so do forgive me.

In saying that, I thought it about time I put pen to paper (or in this case fingers to keys) and give you guys a little update on how we're going with the alpha. Everyone has been waiting patiently and not harassing us about release dates and what-not so I figure you've earned it. I apologise in advance though because it's going to get a little bit lengthy...

Let's start with the alpha survey. We had about 470 submissions, to begin with, and have whittled that number down to about 100 potential testers. Over the next few months we'll pick people from this selected group and gradually add them to our team of testers as we need them. Everyone who participated will receive an email telling them if they're on the shortlist or not. Just to be clear, being in this selection doesn't mean you'll get to play the game right now, but there's a good chance we'll eventually invite almost everybody on the list to the private alpha.

I thought it'd be polite for us to contact the people that don't go through to be an alpha tester as well - this way nobody is left wondering. So now I have the important job of emailing this good looking group of (500) people sometime in the very near future.

When you hear from us and have any questions, comments, or to comment on my general good looks, we'd love to hear from you. On the bright side for those that didn't make it through, at least you got a super cool email from your favourite game devs. Because we are...right? Right. ;)

What we were looking for is people with a certain set of PC specs/os's, ideally with QA experience - or are known to be helpful in a testing/QA environment, have the time to spare, and have team compatibility. Now I know all our active players are probably thinking they would be a great tester because they have played the game for so long and know it back to front. I would have agreed with you once upon a time, but not so much now.

After seeing how they test I now realize we don't need the best or most active players to achieve what we need; we need very technical and methodical people with as much experience in QA as possible because it's far from just jumping in for a quick game and noting any bugs you come across.

I know being an alpha tester is a bit special and everyone wants to see the game but I think for most people it'd be quite tedious and not that much fun. So for the majority of you that haven't been chosen - don't sweat it cause you're not missing out on much. When the majority of major bugs have been fixed and the game is running smoothly, THAT'S when you want to get in on the action - like beta testing for instance.

Also just so you know, thanks to everyone's hard work we are now up to our 4th major update since the addition of the alpha testers! Give yourselves a pat on the back guys.

Next up, let's talk Battle of the Artists competition. We have received a bunch of artwork from you guys and we love them all! JohnnyEnglish has been busy placing them all around the maps and they are looking simply fantastic. Please keep them coming! We were going to wait until the game is released and our artists can find out for themselves if and where their artwork is, and we still will, but to give you a little motivation and to show it's happening we recently released a picture of JE doing some interior decorating in a certain map you all know. Look below for those that missed it.

Remember, to submit any artwork you can post it on Facebook (either to the Urban Terror page or your own - but be sure to set it to public), Twitter, our Discord, our forum, or email it to me (Ohjay@urbanterror.info). Wherever you post it remember to please use the hashtag #battleoftheurtartists so we can find them.

Last on the list is our donation drive. It's been a few months since we have put the call out so what better time than now for those that can dig deep and help support the project. Every little bit helps and with donations of 20€ or more you get official donor status on our website and discord. To donate click here!

As a little surprise, I have managed to steal some quotes directly from our testers and out of the grasp of the non-disclosure agreement (I'm so fired), so I can bring you the very first impressions of Urban Terror 5.

Enjoy.

First impressions of Urban Terror 5

"The first things I noticed are the similarities in movements between 4.x and 5.x. The controls are highly intuitive to the Q3 era."

"As far as the way it feels, it's very similar to my familiar and loved urt. It's close enough that I feel like I can get used to it as a game. I'm a person who does NOT like change, and I think I can deal with it. Very similar."

"I wasn't too put off by the movement going from 4.x to 5.x, it was quick to pick up and at times even had more ease performing some jumps in resurgence than 4. All this despite having 1/4 the framerate I can have in 4.x."

"The first impression is amazing. It just feels like, ye, that's it.. that's UrT 4, but 5."
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Regarding movement

"The movement and jumping mechanics seem to be quite the same as in urt4"

"Is pretty smooth, but still feels different. I think this mostly comes down to the performance difference of a flat 126 fps in 4.3 vs whatever tick rate 5 runs at."

"The movements are very similar to version 4.x. My feelings are good in that way."

"The controls are highly intuitive to the Q3 era, but I definitely feel as though there is a lack of stamina or speed, I feel heavier."
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Regarding player models and animation

"I think dead bodies reacting to physics (when shooting them, walking into them) isn't needed."

"Overall good job, although I don't think I'm a fair judge given my shit sub-par framerate."

"The animations are fine. I'm aware that they're not finished. So far the only animation I've seen that fails is when the player bounces off a wall and feels like he's doing a forward turn. I've used all 8 models and I like them."
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Regarding gameplay and performance

"In 4.x, there is some kind of adjustments being made to compensate for ping.
As the shots are what-you-see is what-you-hit, but with a delay of ping before the damage is scored it has a different feeling."


"It has some noticeable performance issues. Other players models tremble a bit when moving and a 5v5 game is actually laggy, with players teleporting sometimes."

"UrT 4.x runs smoothly for me. UrT 5 when I'm 1v1 or alone it does as well. But combining 3v3 up to 5v5 + my slow IO + server ping / WIP issues ... I lag a lot"
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Regarding the maps and appearance

"It's absolutely beautiful. Physically, the textures, the graphics, even with everything turned way down low, it's really lovely to look at."

"Good job at replicating the layout/scale/feel of 4.x maps in the new engine. I feel like the increased fidelity achievable for assets (textures/foliage) makes them compete more with the character models for players' attention. This was less prevalent in popular 4.x maps."

"Still lots of errors in the maps themselves, broken doors, things we should be able to climb that we can't, and things we should not be able to climb that we can. Missing foot sounds...all of that fluff."
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

Private Alpha explained

posted Tuesday, 31 December 2019
Hallo everyone!

I know you haven't heard from me in a little while, and I'm terribly sorry about that, but i've had my hands full supervising these guys recently... making sure everything is done right you know... I turned my back on them for a second the other day and before I knew it they'd turned FrozenSand HQ into an inpenetrable fortress and were hurling water balloons via catapult from the roof at our unsuspecting neighbours...

Undoubtedly there are some of you out there that know bucket loads about developement, and all the power to you, but also some that know very little about development - so I'm going to start from the top and try to cover all the main bits as briefly and simply as I can. There is a link down the bottom that takes you to our forums if you want to chat about anything I have or haven't covered here.

The typical software release life cycle consists of several stages that describe the current state of the software at that time. They are pre-alpha, alpha, beta, and release. Variations of this general layout are possible, ie two betas.

The pre-alpha stage is where the core of the game is being developed. This involves lots of planning and design decisions, and the most basic features are added to the game. Testing during this stage is performed by the development team itself and other automated tests. After this is all done we move onto the next phase - the alpha.

During the alpha stage a game might be playable and contain many of the planned features, but there will almost certainly be plenty of incomplete features and bugs - some potentially even game-breaking. This is where a separate team of testers gets included to find problems and bugs as well as provide feedback for the developers. Generally, alpha software is not released to the public and is completed in-house, and would usuallly end with what is called a 'feature freeze'. This means that no more features will be added to the software after that point and is said to be 'feature complete'.

The next phase is the beta and usually begins when the software is feature complete, but might still contain some bugs. This is the point when it's potentially released for the first time and is available outside of the organization that developed it. A big part of this phase is focused on compatibility and performance on different systems, and is where you may see game development companies offering beta invites in some circumstances.

After all these stages are said and done the software can finally be released with (hopefully) no bugs and to the satisfaction of the users. This doesn't mean there won't be any future updates and it's forgotten about though, especially in this day and age and the existance of game platforms like Steam - it just means the software is stable enough to be enjoyed by the general public. Further updates can improve the existing features, add new content or even completely new features. All these updates still get tested by the developers and QA team before going live of course.

Now we know about the stages of developement I guess you could say we are kind of in the middle of the alpha and beta - utilizing some things that would be expected slightly later in development, such as the private alpha test groups - because we just don't have the people or resources to be able to work on development and bug fixing and proper quality assurance at the same time in-house. This is good though, because it will both help to speed things up, and also allows the community to have more input into the development process.

Hopefully this has gotten everyone on the same page and understand a bit more about where we are at.

We have selected our first group of testers to try out the game, and over the next few months we'll be adding more groups incrementally. QA needs to follow a strict procedure and the testers need to know exactly what they are doing - which takes setting up and training. So rather than having a thousand people pour in and just make a huge mess and send poor Slis crazy we'll instead add smaller groups incrementally, making sure they are trained and know what they are doing before moving onto the next group. We'll try to get a healthy number of people with different skill sets, gaming background, hardware setup and URT experience.

It's all very exciting isn't it! What are you waiting for? You can find the survey on the bottom of our news post, or click here.
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

OJ typing things!

posted Friday, 20 September 2019
Welcome to the new edition of 'News with OJ'!

Wait a second...I've just had word...we have a new title!

Welcome to 'OJ typing things!'

Really? That's what we're going with?

Those responsible for sacking those other people have just been sacked.

We will try again next week. Hard to find good help in the 'Creative Titles' department. No wonder they are down there in the basement.

Yes I know I know, I did promise a post a week but there has been some complications... I have just lost both my arms fighting tigers in Bengal and am now writing this from my hospital bed using my toes and a primitive version of Stephen Hawkings voice program. See the dedication I have for Urban Terror. Without a doubt definitely the hardest worker in FS...

Anyway, over the last few weeks lots of work has been done on UrT5 but today I'm going to talk about the design and then implementation process. Because after all that's why you are here, other than to read about my adventures in Bengal, right? RIGHT? Right.

So where was I...ah yes - the design and then the implementation process relating to animation. One of the things we have been talking about is the ledge grabbing and how we could make it better suited to us. Like, sure we know it's as easy as grabbing a ledge and lifting yourself up yeah. But what actually happens? Are we using both hands? Which leg goes up first? Do we have a gun in our hand still? If we put it away at what point do we bring it out again? Can we be firing from the ladder? They go into their technical garble talking about certain things triggering others whilst some sort of other checks are in play... that's when I start drifting off into my own world.

Lots of questions for such a small thing and to be honest I just don't get most of it and I'm not a stupid guy. So I won't go into much detail as I'll probably just make myself look silly.

I don't know if you know who HappyDay is but he is one of our coders and our lead developer. Used to be an artist and level designer but decided to go the coding route... you know, one of those guys that is pretty much great at everything he does. And Walker, well you know him - I've shown you some of his artwork before. An accomplished artist in his own right, go check him out on instagram - walkermasuda.art.

Anyway, I don't even know how it got started but all of a sudden I've seen Walker post this picture (below) of this girl ledge grabbing. And so it began...

Nek minnut...HappyDay writes up the first draft of what will be the code for the ledge grabbing. Like so:

1. Falling
2. Catching yourself with one arm
3. Start pulling yourself up; simultaneously bringing the other arm up
4. Getting one toe in the gap
- at this point we could do a check if there is a wall in front
- if there is, the knee rotates outwards
- if not, the knee can stay in a more natural, forward facing direction
5. Pushing yourself up with that leg
6. Standing position, right at the edge

This list is basically asking for 3 different animations. Falling, catching a ledge, and pulling yourself up. As I couldn't word it better I am going to directly quote one of our level designers and all round cool guy - Krasus.

"From this list, the animators then animate the animations for each specific pose. Usually you have a looping animation for situations where the player can stay in that state, like crouching, and then a transition animation for coming out of that state, like standing up. All the animations are done individually, so you have a falling, ledge hanging and pull up animation all by themselves.

Once they are animated, they are taken into the game engine where the individual animations can be blended together based on the coded conditions that trigger them.

To give you an example, when the player falls the falling animation will play, then when the player catches a ledge, the falling animation will blend into a ledge catching animation. If the player stays there, a ledge hanging animation would play. If they climb up, it would blend into a climbing animation, and if they fell down, it would blend into a falling animation."

Thanks K! He knows things that guy.

So this is going to be a two part uh...blog? Episode? Either way, when the animations are done and we have the final product or close to, I will do another post then going into the animation process a bit more and then comparing the design to the implementation in the final product.

If you guys want me to address a certain topic or have any other idea or feedback please email me (ohjay@urbanterror.info) or comment where comments can be found. While you're there join us on the official Discord to keep up on all the latest things.

Have I written enough to test your attention spans? I could continue but I will leave it here. If you keep your eyes peeled you might see some lovely pictures floating around of certain maps and their progress.

Until next time, I bid you adieu.

- OJ
comments: Feel free to discuss this on our forums

THE RETURN OF BAR-B-Q!

posted Wednesday, 14 August 2019
Hallo for another week!

As promised I am coming to you from the FrozenSand studios for another installment of 'News from Ohjay'!

Wait a second... did we really just call it that?

Apologies... the people responsible for coming up with that name have been sacked. We'll try for a new one next week. :S

Did everyone get the news this week? UrT5 private alpha will be out this year! HOLY MOLY. I was playing it the other day and it is coming along nicely. Real nicely.

I am also happy to announce the return of Bar-B-Q. He is back to reprise his role as the male voice of Urban Terror! He is the voice you hear when you call for a medic, flag exits, and lets you know "you're an idiot!".

When you see him let him know how happy you are that he's not as 'DEAD AS FRIED CHICKEN BABY'!

If you don't understand the reference get into the radio calls for a night and have a laugh. We used to have configs that would transform our keyboards into a bunch of shortcuts for radio call frenzies! Get amongst it!

As for game news - we have been fixing a lot of animations this past few weeks. Did you ever think about how the model moves when you input commands? Our Project Coordinator INVIS said it very well when talking about matching the movement of the character to how the animation works, "imagine the player is a capsule, we just move it around as we need to, and try to make the puppet in the capsule match the movement".

There really is so much that goes on behind the scenes that you would never even think about, so I'm going to highlight much of this stuff for no other reason than it's interesting as heck.

Anyway this is just about enough writing again. I am leaving you with an image from one of our resident artists - Walker. This is his impression of what Turnpike could look like. Obviously it's not a copy straight out of the map, but more what the scenery and background could look like. What do you think?

Drop me an email as always, or come have a chat with us on Discord!

Ciao!

ohjay@urbanterror.info
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Greetings!

posted Saturday, 03 August 2019
Hi guys!

I am writing to you from the FrozenSand studios down under in Australia, as the newest member of the team. Thanks for having me guys!

So while we wait for the guys to finish up the game...wait, I wonder if I'm allowed to say that...

Let's start again...

The team is nearly finished the game so while they do that I will be....Ahem...(nervous cough)

Anyway look, let's not focus on who said what ok...

I'll make you a deal. If you don't tell the big bosses that I let slip they are NEARLY FINISHED the private alpha then I'll start writing regular updates on our website and give you all the goss and nitty-grittys on everything Urban Terror. Once a week to start I think. We'll focus on members of our team and what they are up to, address commonly asked questions from you guys, or maybe just a topic of my choosing - you never know what surprises are just around the corner!

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any comments, questions or...ahem..complaints. I really don't want to hear the complaints but ok sure...let's address them too. I will add my email down the bottom, or feel free to comment where comments can be found.

I could rant however I know these are the days of short lunch breaks and limited attention spans so I'll keep it quick. You'll be hearing from me more often as we progress into the latter part of the year and head towards some exciting things.

Check out the pic below. Can you guess the map? Guess correctly and I might show you the new version if you're lucky!

Watch this space!

- Ohjay

ohjay@urbanterror.info

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