I write code.
Yes, Sierra pulled the plug on the old master server. It is high time for lithfaq.com, the home of the new master server! To continue playing AvP2 just as you played it before this day, you'll only need to download and install this particular modification:
That screenshot was taken minutes ago. Our project was a success. Although there are still things to be improved, we have acheived our goal, to allow players to continue playing the game as they used to. AvP2 gets to live past this day.
This is how it starts:
Not that this was not expected. Heck, it is something Oracle feared when we started the AvP2 Fortress project. So, Sierra decided to pull the plug on the master server for 21 games, including Aliens Vs. predator 2.
A master server is a specialized server, where all Internet game servers register themselves in order to be visible by the client. What happens is, when you create an Internet multiplayer game, the game server contacts the master server and says something like "look at me, I am running this type of game mode!". The master server then stores the broadcasted information, like the IP, port and game mode for that server. When a user selects "Find Internet Games", the game client first contacts the master server and retrieves the list of game servers from the master server's database.
So, if a master server is taken down, the clients can't "see" any available Internet game servers for that particular game.
This leaves pretty much only one option for AvP2 players out there: build and maintain a community master server. And this is what Project "Savior" is aiming for: a master server for AvP2. Bare in mind that if you change both the game client and the game server, the protocol of registering a server or retrieving the list of available servers doesn't have to be the same protocol as the original master server used. Heck, this way you can use a plain web server!
So, it starts by an announcement of pulling the plug on the AvP2 master server. We hope it will finnish by the project releasing the components needed to use a community driven master server.
Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Herr_AlienI enjoy playing CTF games and will attend LAN parties for this purpose. Oh, and I will happily play AvP2 over a LAN as well. So how cool would it be if AvP2 supported such a game mode? It's actually been a long standing gaming dream for me with a great deal of appeal. Then late in 2007, the Planet AvP forums became a springboard where such a notion was proposed; and being interested in creating content for it, I pledged my support for the Project by promising to build a map for it. Later, the Alpha tests started appearing and the feasiblity of the whole thing became apparent as critical features were demonstrated and worked. That was when my li'l ears really pricked up. This 'AvP2: Fortress' thing was actually going to work and it was then that I became very excited about it. I had worked earlier with Herr Alien - he had a major input into 'Under the Hunter's Moon' - among other things, the critical feature of AI characters following the Player were his innovation. So my confidence in his ability to pull this thing together was already elevated. Now the proof of concept was evident and the decision to throw myself into 'AvP2: Fortress' became my next big modding commitment for a period of 5 months. Starting in late May 2008, a revised version of 'A Lesser Fate' was to be the flagship map for the Project. It was the first of 4 proposed CTF themed maps. Easy enough to make, these maps were also to be accompanied by 2 Assault maps. I knew that Herr Alien wanted to get the mod completed by late August 2008, so six fully featured maps in just 4 months was a tall order. Luckily, (for me) a delay in the proposed release of the mod not only allowed for additional tweaking and polish of those maps, but also provided an opportunity for a seventh map to be constructed that would support both CTF and Assault modes. I am very happy with the work I have contributed to this mod. The maps are the best they can be for the timeframe in which they were built in; and above all, working with Herr Alien once again has been a joy. With its imminent release in just a couple of days time, I am looking at the future of the mod. I am hoping that it will be a hit amongst AVP2 Players as 'AvP2: Fortress' does offer a unique gameplay experience - Mixed species team based Objectives in a popular and established 'fortress' style environment. An SDK is being distributed with the mod so anyone who wants to create their own content for it can do so. As for myself, I can securely say that I will be endeavoring to create additional content for the mod in its post release period. Please enjoy 'AvP2: Fortress' - it was a great and satisfying mod Project to work on. A special expression of gratitude towards Herr Alien for his time and dedication to get this mod off of the ground and completed within such a short time frame. Congratulations! We did it.
WindebiesteShould I make a long speech? Nah. Gonna go with this: Mod is stable, looks good, balanced quite well (except I still don't like the big pounce , but I might be the only one). I could have contributed with Attributes, since I do know quite a lot about that stuff. I could have done much better job than I did now. More testers should have been every weekend, but we did quite ok with the amount we had. Could still have been more though. Thanks to Herr Alien for paying attention to my opinions and fixing the unbalanced stuff. Thanks for Windebieste for creating lovely maps (Gunnisson is still my favourite, but it still is missing the swamp ). Also thanks to everyone who contributed to the mod. More people sure made the mod-building easier and bug searching also. Looking forward to see if the mod will have regular servers up with players on the upcoming year. I'm afraid though that Aliens: Colonial Marines will take some regular AvP2 players away, but I still doubt AvP2 will die.
I found myself in an interesting situation the other day. While working for the AvP2 Team Fortress mod, I noticed that I was lacking a sound effect for one of the new abilities. The type of sound I was looking after was going to be used for the ability of dropping magazines on the floor. These magazines would act as distractions, much like the already famous COD4 moment, where a kid get's distracted by a poster.
Anyway, here I am, having the model done, having the skins cropped from the great resource the Internet can be, getting stuck with no sound effect. I tried Google, and then the various results I got from it, but no good: I found sound FX-es for tearing paper, for folding it, but none for dropping a damned magazine on the floor.
Fortunately, after a while, it hit me. I took my mike, placed it on the floor, started Audacity, took a magazine and started dropping it on the floor. I did something like 8 drops, and the second or third (can't remember) turned out good enough to make an impact sound from it. All in all, after 10 minutes or so, I got myself an original soundFX.
That got me thinking. I am aware that it's not feasable to build everything from scratch; heck, the engine you're using in your mod is a very good example of re-using components. When making maps you are using mostly textures that came with the game. And if you do need "special" resources (like fire arms sounds) Google is indeed your friend. However, shouldn't we invest a bit more time and create those resourses ourselves? Wouldn't that teach us something a bit more valuable than simply grabbing it from the first Google search result?
And by asking that question I don't mean "let's all buy AK47's and M16's 'cause we're making a Vietnam War mod". I mean instead of downloading models from turboquid.com, let's either build them (and learn something while at it) or serach for the right person and hire it for your team (and learn some team management). And as added bonuses, you can avoid situations like these:
Are you supposed to give up just because the resource you're looking for is not available on the Internet?
I think that the BitTorrent protocol is a perfect example where the gun is blamed for the crimes commited, instead of the actual criminal. An escape goat, if you will. In this case, the crime is making and distributing illegal copies of games, movies, music and pretty much anything that can be turned in digital format. Obviously, such practices ended up investigated even by the FBI. But that's not the entire story. The BitTorrent protocol is used for a lot of legal downloads:
Further more, because of the bandwidth reduction it provides for the person distributing the file, you'd say that all organizations would switch to use this protocol. Except the fact that it's hard to charge money for each download. Because once the torrent file is out, anybody can download the game/film/music album, and the copyright holder has no controll over the distribution. And if you're trying to make some money from the game/film/music album you've released, then this is a problem. The problem is actually so big that a lot of people use the protocol to (guess what!) download copyrighted game/film/music album otherwise they'd have to pay for.
But in case of mods, you're not supposed to sell them anyway. So, how comes that you don't see that many torrent files related to mods?
"To torrent, or not to torrent", that is the Question!
So, we did some beta testing last night, since I wanted to test (online) some of the bug fixes I bragged about in the latest news entry. The following lines contain the relevant parts of the conversation I had with Moose_Head:
<< Server >> i'm back New client, id 2, for a total of 2. << Sonic-Boobs! >> groovy Removing client, id 2, leaving 1. << Sonic-Boobs! >> eh?
I was running the game in windowed mode. When doing this, sometimes the game window looses focus, and because of this the HUD manager can't be initialised. At least that's what the error message says. That made me abort the game, and try to join again.
New client, id 2, for a total of 2. << Sonic-Boobs! >> hello again << Herr_Alien >> kill me
This has nothing to do with the alien incubated victims, saying "Kill me".
<< Herr_Alien >> so, friendly fire off works ok << Sonic-Boobs! >> seems so
At this point I was happy this bug was fixed, since it was pointed out by Vemarkis quite early, in the second beta.
<< Sonic-Boobs! >> no score? << Herr_Alien >> you're blue. << Herr_Alien >> you need to touvh the blue base << Herr_Alien >> the blue flag << Herr_Alien >> in the red base << Sonic-Boobs! >> Good idea
Note to self: make the game rules available in more places: the web site, the readme, perhaps also a game manual. But make them available in as many places as possible, to avoid these kind of situations, where you got the yellof flag and, instead of touching your own flag (in the enemy base), you hop arround in your own base, near the enemy flag.
<< Sonic-Boobs! >> aww man, lol I had no sniper ammo
I swapped teams to red, and waited for him to try to score in the red base. While respawning I was curious if his flag status got reset:
<< Herr_Alien >> do you still have the flag icon on? << Sonic-Boobs! >> yup << Herr_Alien >> good << Sonic-Boobs! >> you fixed it? << Herr_Alien >> I hope so. << Sonic-Boobs! >> heh, what was wrong? << Herr_Alien >> I needed online testing to actually verify this << Herr_Alien >> a message was sent to all clients, signaling the respawn << Sonic-Boobs! >> ahh << Herr_Alien >> and I always interpreted it as my character being respawned << Sonic-Boobs! >> :O << Herr_Alien >> now I also check the client ID << Sonic-Boobs! >> cool << Herr_Alien >> it's a long story ...
A similar flag status issue happened when the netgun would target and net the flag carrier. And yes, I wanted to test that too:
<< Herr_Alien >> i need you to get netted in the sentries << Herr_Alien >> to see if the flag status remains << Herr_Alien >> .... where are you going?
He was basically chasing me arround, somewhere in the no-mans-land. The sentries were already set up in the red base, so I was quite intrigued, what was he doing?
<< Sonic-Boobs! >> Where are YOU going :) << Herr_Alien >> i'm just following you << Sonic-Boobs! >> I though you were going to deploy net sentries << Herr_Alien >> i did that << Sonic-Boobs! >> i didnt know
So, we headed full speed to the red base. I had 2 sentries deployed there, so Moose_Head ended up on his side pretty soon:
<< Herr_Alien >> how's the flag status? << Sonic-Boobs! >> gone << Herr_Alien >> damn ,,, << Sonic-Boobs! >> just kidding! << Sonic-Boobs! >> :D << Herr_Alien >> ...? << Sonic-Boobs! >> I was joking New client, id 3, for a total of 3. << Sonic-Boobs! >> Its there Removing client, id 3, leaving 2. << Sonic-Boobs! >> :D << Herr_Alien >> i was going to kill you so that I could take the flag and try it
I was also going to kill him only for joking about the flag status ... He's a funny guy. Funny like "Ha ha ha :)", not funny - weird ...
<< Sonic-Boobs! >> haha << Sonic-Boobs! >> going to menu .. brb << Sonic-Boobs! >> back
By the time he got back, I swapped for a blue predator engineer and placed a couple of netgun sentries in his base. I was really curious about the flag status, so I changed back to a red runner, grabbed the flag and entered his base:
<< Herr_Alien >> yes! the flag is there! << Sonic-Boobs! >> I know :) << Herr_Alien >> now I can die happy :)) << Sonic-Boobs! >> hehehe
Moose is a good friend of mine, so he was more than happy to shove a copper slug at speeds exceeding 10km/s in the skull of my alien runner. I guess that's why he felt ok to laugh ...
Object class: Trigger, dims (10240.00, 16.00, 10240.00) Loaded world: worlds\multi\1flagctf\facing_fortresses Running world << Herr_Alien >> you got hurt while falligh through them << Peek-a-Boobs! >> Peek-a-Boobs! << Peek-a-Boobs! >> no slugs! :( << Herr_Alien >> "I have many bullets to spare!" << Peek-a-Boobs! >> I dont
The Pyro (the character Moose decided to play) doesn't have slugs for his shotgun. He can pick some up, if a human engineer decides to drop ammo, but no one was around. Meanwhile, I (as a heavy) was carrying a 600 bullets minigun.
<< Herr_Alien >> funny ... the > Respwan< button doesn't work
He killed me, and managed to find a bug in the process.
<< Peek-a-Boobs! >> Ras mentioned something about that << Herr_Alien >> but I'm shown as dead << Herr_Alien >> weird << Peek-a-Boobs! >> when I played him << Peek-a-Boobs! >> youre dead! << Peek-a-Boobs! >> ZOMBIE!!!!! << Herr_Alien >> yeajh << Peek-a-Boobs! >> Team 0 << Peek-a-Boobs! >> :P << Peek-a-Boobs! >> kill me << Peek-a-Boobs! >> oh shit
It's really not a major issue, since besides displaying on the F1 and TAB, everything else seemed to work ok:
<< Peek-a-Boobs! >> when I aim you show as being on the red team << Herr_Alien >> i am red team << Herr_Alien >> hmmm << Peek-a-Boobs! >> press tab and you are grey ... << Peek-a-Boobs! >> can you hurt me << Peek-a-Boobs! >> yup << Peek-a-Boobs! >> :) << Herr_Alien >> so we are different teams ... << Herr_Alien >> what do you know ... << Peek-a-Boobs! >> eh << Herr_Alien >> i scored << Peek-a-Boobs! >> I saw << Peek-a-Boobs! >> yeee ha! << Peek-a-Boobs! >> I was too nice << Peek-a-Boobs! >> :P << Herr_Alien >> still zombie ... ... << Herr_Alien >> sentries don't shoot me ... << Herr_Alien >> hmm ...
Translation: the sentries for my team don't shoot me, so basically their targetting mechanism works ok, even with me being a zombie.
... << Herr_Alien >> better? << Peek-a-Boobs! >> cheers
He was charging the two sentries, and he got hit. Meanwhile, I changed to blue medic, to see if the red sentries would target me. They did, but before having them shoot me, I managed to drop a health pack for Moose, hee needed it.
<< Peek-a-Boobs! >> now you are blue << Herr_Alien >> so, everything works but the F1/TAB << Herr_Alien >> flag respawned, 2 minutes are over
It's fun, testing with your friends. And speaking of the beta campaign, it seems that all our beta tester positions are filled. And it feels good :)
Yes, this blog entry also revolves arround the AvP2 Team Fortress mod. Thing is that the mod takes up most of my free time, so until it get's released, it'll be the focus point for all my blog entries.
Anyways, beta 5 will bring several major changes, some of them being already fully implemented, others being a work in progress.
One of them is the smartgunner.
If you hear the name of the weapon for the first time, the smartgun is actually an iconic weapon in the Aliens universe; you can see them being used by Drake and Vasquez in "Aliens" ( Youtube.com ). Since it actually appeared in one of the Alien movies, the weapon looks like a very good choice for a second heavy weapons class.
But there's a catch: you see, the smartgun is usefull also because it can track targets automatically. And this would enable a heavy using it to detect even cloaked predators: the enemy spies become visible and much more vulnerable. To tone this disadvantage down a bit, I decided to make the detection radius smaller, from 50 meters to 20. This is (by coincidence) the detection radius for the motion tracker, and since the smartgun detects only moving targets, it all makes sense.
While toying with the tracking system for the smartgun, it suddenly hit me: tracking should take into account the team the player is in. What started as a small adjustment for the smartgun turned into something much bigger:
The TODO list for the mod is much bigger than this. However, the features I mentioned here seem to be of a greater magnitude, so I just had to talk about them.
Although it was uploaded a bit later than announced (20:15 GMT as to the scheduled 20:00), beta 3 made it's way to the download page. The server went up immediately after that, configured for a run through the CTF game mode and maps. Since we didn't have the full team of testers joining, we went on and started to check out gameplay features, one by one.
Having all CTF rules tested, we decided to have a shot at the Assault game mode. I spawned initially as a red predator engineer, and I started to place sentries.
From the first attempts at reaching the objective, we started to get the feeling that indeed, Assault is a team oriented game mode:
<< Herr_Alien >> a sentry can imobilize across the bridge << Herr_Alien >> range too big? << windebieste >> can't get engineers in without a team << Herr_Alien >> yep << windebieste >> needs a sharpshooter to take out the sentry << Herr_Alien >> the issue would be to detect it ...
But that raised another question:
<< Herr_Alien >> ok, let's go << windebieste >> why am I standing on this rock? << Herr_Alien >> because i thought it would make a nice spawning point
<< windebieste >> Huh... backon this rock again. << Herr_Alien >> where are you? << Herr_Alien >> yes! ... << Herr_Alien >> you don't like the rock? << windebieste >> I think this rock likes me << Herr_Alien >> ha ha ha :))I should have taken screenshots, seeing windebieste on that rock somehow connected (in my head) to the image of a bird keeping it's eggs warm, so that they would hatch.
<< windebieste >> ammo, flares and goodie!(I dropped some ammo in front of him, I though he could use some extra roockets, but it seems he liked the flares better)
<< Herr_Alien >> hide behind trees << windebieste >> back on my rock againThe netgun sentries caused him to fire his rockets close. Too close, actually.
<< Herr_Alien >> they can't shoot through the tree trunks << windebieste >> where is it? << Herr_Alien >> it's under a tree << Herr_Alien >> i just can't see it through the steam << Herr_Alien >> i'll be bait << Herr_Alien >> you take it out << Herr_Alien >> but get closer using treesThis time we were lucky, and we managed to take the sentry out. In the red base I placed the remaining two sentries to net anyone around the selfdestruct mechanism. Needless to say that both Windebieste and I got netted, and it took us about 20 - 30 seconds to free ourselves and get away from the guarded zone. In normal situations, we wouldn't have 30 seconds, the defending team would have "sent us towards the light". But this was not the case, so after taking out the sentries we were once more the witnesses of the ship being blown to pieces. I went back as a red predator engineer, to place the (by now hated) netgun sentries, to see how good the defense mechanism can be. I switched then classes and became a blue runner:
<< Herr_Alien >> it worked << windebieste >> cinematic played OK... this time. << windebieste >> back on my rock again. sweet << Herr_Alien >> ha ha ha :)) << Herr_Alien >> belive it or not, there are 4 spawn points for each team, on this map. ... << Herr_Alien >> the steam helps the defending team << Herr_Alien >> trees. Definately hide behind tree trunks. << windebieste >> meanwhile, back on my rock << Herr_Alien >> ha ha ha :)))But that wouldn't last long. I tried to take a jump over the river, to get behind the sentry gun and take it out. I wasn't that lucky. Actually, according to the game, I "made a mistake":
<< Herr_Alien >> the runner can make mistakes ... obviously << Herr_Alien >> hey, I took over the rock! << windebieste >> you're welcome << windebieste >> hey ma, I found a pretty blue bug in the forest, can I keep him? ... << Herr_Alien >> yeah ... << Herr_Alien >> meanwhile I'm helping a rock baby to hatch .... got spawned on it again. ... << Herr_Alien >> so, that bug you mentioned << windebieste >> back on my rock << Herr_Alien >> yeah, you keep it warm for a while ...Suffice to say that somehow, the game seems to favor that particular game start point, since the next two respawns placed us again on top of that rock.
<< windebieste >> Hmmm.... nive view from this rock << Herr_Alien >> ha ha ha :))
I have to admit, although Beta #3 has only one Assault map, (the "Gunnison County Forest"), the gameplay promises even more fun than CTF, and an even stronger team coordination. Basically, the attacking team has to protect one or several engineers all the way from their own base to the enemy base. Although it might look like the defenders have an advantage, suffice to say that besides the human engineer, the attackers can also use a predator engineer. Further more, the attackers can place sentries of their own, on the other side of the river, to keep the defending engineers from placing sentries of their own.
All in all, with the bugs Vemarkis pointed out in the first beta fixed, Assault became my favourite game mode: full of fun, challenges and with a great demand for team coordination.