CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

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mikel
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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by mikel » Mon 4. Nov 2019, 19:40

EmanReleipS wrote:
Mon 9. Sep 2019, 22:58
... to many more years together! :cheers:
:cheers:

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Pegasus
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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by Pegasus » Tue 5. Nov 2019, 07:14

Thank you to everyone who helped out during the Halloween Zombie Maps escape situation!

With your participation, the rampaging beasts were finally worn out and recaptured, and they are now safely headed back to CEONSS lockdown, where they belong. Maps previously incapacitated during the breakout have also been cleared for duty by our modding staff and are now ready to resume their previous place on the roster, too.

There is, of course, one other item of interest to talk about.


As most of you have no doubt already noticed, the CEONSS roster is being infused with a growing number of 2019CAE-suffixed edits these days. Justifiably, this development has got some people wondering as to what purpose, scope and impact to previously established versions of replaced maps this plan might aim for. Well, this newfound, post-wrangling calm seems as good a time as any to explain, so here's what's going on.

All these 2019CAE entries are Anniversary Edit(ion)s of maps that can be considered highlights of the server's 10-year history in curating (and later also producing) ONS content, both in terms of popularity and gameplay quality as understood at the time; the C can stand for "classic" or "community" or CEONSS itself, it's up to you, really. The absence of the -C tag in their filename is intentional, as that tag has become the server's established seal of quality approval.
The CAE maps should not be understood to be the result of the slower, more collaborative/deliberative usual process used to produce upgrades that typically remain on the roster until an even better edit succeeds them months or years later. Instead, this growing commemorative batch aims to preserve most of the old maps' quirks, warts and other peculiarities - in other words, to respect their overall "vision" and offer an as-is experience of them - while offering the minimal usability "safety net" of upgraded n' fully stocked lockers, link beam-catching nodes, and scorpions that aren't deathtraps on wheels, so as to soften any potential "culture shock" for newer members who might never have played those classics before. Think of them as antique cars that got a soapy water scrub, after spending years inside a dusty garage, before they can participate in a weekend rally event :).
Their intended presence on the roster is similarly short in scope: they'll grow as a set for a bit more and as fast as we can crank 'em out, each replacing a counterpart if one's already on the roster, and remain there until the end of the server's 10-year anniversary celebrations on November 23rd. After that, all of them will get pulled back. Antique cars aren't fit for everyday commute, after all.

In case anyone's wondering whether the point of all this effort is to just manufacture some entirely ephemeral n' disposable nostalgia bait, the answer is a twofold no.
For one thing, a community reaching 10 years of presence in gaming is a remarkable achievement, and, in our book, every member who's been along for most (or all) of this journey is entitled to a celebratory effort befitting that sense of pride and joy. By this logic alone, it's worth being able to hop across fond memories of matches and good times of old with edits that convey a simple message: "Hey, remember me? Wanna have another go, for old times' sake?" It's a gesture of appreciation to every oldschooler still around, and maybe an education to younger fragmates, too :p.
For another, although hastily assembled and with plenty of quirks still left in 'em (perhaps even because of that), some of these maps could still spark further interest in our community's modders to roll up their sleeves and do some proper, modern CEONSS standards-abiding work on 'em so that they can legitimately claim a spot on the server's roster. Constructive feedback offered ingame or on this msg.board's CEONSS Public Server section could also influence things in terms of some of those maps making an actual comeback, so don't hesitate to speak up if you care or have some applicable suggestions about 'em.

With the CAE concept now hopefully clear, over a dozen of 'em already out, and perhaps another dozen in the works, all that remains to say is enjoy, have a good time and thank you for sticking with us!
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]M[
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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by ]M[ » Mon 11. Nov 2019, 08:23

Great to see these classics on the server again :thumbup: ...have had some really good, fun games the past week or so, notably with Crossfire and the pre-tankmeup version of Nevermore - didn’t get to play Dawn, but will hopefully get a chance still this week!

I’ve always hoped we could keep the classics on the server, though with the few necessary updates for contemporary public ONS, eg: the upgraded weapons lockers - it’s a good intro for newcomers, brings back quite a few old faces and helps to bridge the generational gap... ;)

Much thanks and props to all involved, as ever, for their work in keeping CEONSS a fun & fair server - and, of course: Happy Birthday! :clap:

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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by Pegasus » Wed 13. Nov 2019, 22:49

It slipped my mind at the time due to focus on other celebration-related affairs, but 10 years and 10 days ago was when CEONSS.net and this message board first became active and started housing discussions about improving and expanding the server - November 3rd, 2009. Fittingly, the first public post was Heinz laying out the Forum rules, six days later, on November 9th.

Time flies, huh :)?
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EmanReleipS
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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by EmanReleipS » Sun 24. Nov 2019, 12:33

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of UT99, the first game in our favorite franchise. Unfortunately this date also marked the end of our month-and-a-half-long celebration.

Thank you to everyone who participated and who contributed to making this celebration a special occasion. In particular, thank you to Peg for diving deep into the editor to give us many special edits for this event. I hope you all had a great time and many gg's. Let us know if you want to keep any of the special -CAE edits.

:cheers: Here's to many more years!
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CEONSS' 10 year anniversary

Post by Pegasus » Mon 25. Nov 2019, 06:42

A server and community managing to reach the 10-year milestone is a pretty remarkable feat by online gaming standards. I'd be remiss to not acknowledge that a lot of people and a lot more hard work are responsible for that success, and deserve our gratitude for their part in it, but since I did that five years ago and at sufficient length, I won't subject you to an encore of that. Suffice it to say that I stand by every word in that post, and would extend the sentiment to everyone else who's joined the CEONSS team - and community - during the last five years to a commensurate degree as well; the server's only growing better thanks to all of your work, goodwill and company! Instead, for the rest of this post I'd like to share with you a thought that's been brewing in my head for the last year or so, regarding how the gaming industry's recent evolution relates to this game and our experience with it.


By any standard, Unreal Tournament 2004 can be considered a staple "AAA" (Triple A) game of its time: it was worked on by over 60 people across 4 studios, featured the latest version of the dev's game engine, it got multiple physical releases (and a GoTY version) across OSes and storage media, it received broad media coverage and reviews by dozens of publications, and it was favourably received by critics and a community of hundreds of thousands (even millions) of players across hundreds of servers.
UT2004 was a full product stored on a physical medium (CDs or DVD), and it delivered to players a single player and multiplayer Arena FPS gameplay experience across about a dozen gametypes, some tutorials and cinematics to buttress that experience, multiple characters/groups with unique audio and animated taunts, online match & stats support tracking that's lasted at least 13 years, ingame voice chat, text-to-speech and music player support, the ability to launch or host your own server and a way for the game to find n' browse such servers collectively, a general-purpose, built-in level editor (Unreal Editor) and a scripting language (UScript) that offered vast modding potential, as well as about 15 months of patching, extra content and extended support by the game's developer - all available out of the box and for the total, one-time cost to a consumer of a standard price tag for a PC game.
This value proposition fueled the emergence of hundreds of different servers, each with its own community and unique preferences that competed with each other by experimenting with the rules and content of the game, changing, bug-fixing, or outright creating entirely new gamemodes, mutators, player models, vehicles or other assets - or even self-contained games in the cases of Red Orchestra and Killing Floor - through new mods n' maps. Tens of thousands of maps by hundreds of amateur authors were swapped around costlessly, without hindrance and got tried out by millions of players in a massive experiment in game design that helped many of them become game dev professionals later on and made many servers popular, unique providers n' curators of specialized content.
Epic, the dev/publisher itself, tried to spur all this growth on as much as it could, and as part of its already established relationship with its playerbase, by offering support via msg. boards and plentiful, detailed modding guides for budding bedroom creators, not being preoccupied with the game's moddability potentially producing competition against their own future expansion plans, or whether UT2004's ongoing life, through the hundreds of autonomous servers, might bring it in direct competition with later installments of the franchise. What mattered more was planting the seeds and fostering a vibrant, diverse and thriving ecosystem of distinct gameplay hubs that came out of them, along with cultivating any e-Sport potential and interest in professional dev employment from the more enthusiastic, Unreal Engine-fluent modders.

Fifteen years later, this ecosystem may impressively, if stubbornly, live on in servers like CEONSS, but industry norms and practices have radically changed across the online gaming landscape, and none for the players' benefit.

The fear or lost sales by people returning their bought game back to physical game stores to get credit for something else that started collectively haunting console manufacturers some 5 years after UT2004's release would mean that, if it got released around 2009, it would've come with a one-time online voucher that, once the first purchaser would type it in to activate the game's online functionality, returning it later on would leave subsequent used-game buyers with the need to purchase a new voucher for ~$10, effectively discouraging a lot of people of few means looking for a good bargain from getting to know the game. The Downloadable Content (DLC) and MicroTransactions (MTs) fads that swept across the industry only a few years later might've seen ever more characters, taunts and animations being dangled in front of players, if UT2004 had released around 2011, all in Epic's hopes of taking a few more $5-a-pop bites out of the proverbial apple.
Had the game released a year or so later, the producer would probably be tempted to also include on-Disc Locked Content (say, more models or groups, perhaps an extra weapon or vehicle) that consumers would need to pay more to unlock and then be able to flaunt to their less affluent online fellow players, instead of being able to do so by completing legs of the single player tournaments. Push UT2004's release ahead for another year or two, and former Epic head Mark Rein would probably have seen the game's moddability as a good opportunity to impose a Marketplace in the middle of all custom content transactions, introducing a profit incentive and forcing all players and servers to only allow dissemination of mods that players n' admins have bought from modders, while Epic would be sitting pretty in the middle and getting a 10% cut from all transactions, Valve/TF2-style. Clever, huh? Oh, and the game would probably also have an "always online" mechanic, where (re)installations would be limited, tied to specific hardware, and require phoning home first to be approved by the publisher by way of some server that could face downtimes, or even be shut down completely if the game didn't sell well enough to warrant ongoing support, thus rendering the game inoperable.
But wait, it gets "better"! Had UT2004 been launched three years ago (I know, title would be kinda weird :p), the few players that might've decided to pore through the game's EULA might have been enraged to also find the publisher claiming all recorded and uploaded ingame clips by players to online video hosting services like YouTube as derivatives of its own IP, so as to exclusively benefit from their potential monetization, and, concordantly, they might've seen Epic start claiming or taking ingame footage from UT2004 down. Much more importantly by this point, there's no chance a game like UT2004 would've included software that allowed players to run their own servers or create their own maps; the servers would all be centralized and either owned by Epic, or by some third-party web service renting virtual resources to the dev/pub as needed. The prospect of modding would've been seen by AAA dev/pub execs as an affront to the "recurrent spending" business model, so the only customization option players would be offered would be different weapon/vehicle skins, outfits or accessories, all parts of $5 MTs. New maps would similarly be major, tri-annual events, requiring even higher purchases, and splitting the player base between haves and have-nots, for as many years as that would be viable.
Lastly, had the game launched a few years ago, it probably would've only had half the gametypes, it would require massive Day One patches to get visuals rendering properly and the gameplay to be somewhat balanced, it wouldn't have supported older Windows OSes, never mind Linux or Mac, it would probably be bloated enough to take up most of a Blu-Ray's 50GB capacity, with loading screens displaying ads for further MTs (or other product placements), and the weapons each player would be able to access in the same map would be determined by the amount of ingame currency they'd have earned (or bought with real money) and/or the lootboxes they'd have gambled on, hoping to finally find the Classic Sniper Rifle they wanted instead of getting the fifth Grenade Launcher with another stupid skin. On the plus side, the built-in Twitch streaming support and the inevitable scandal breaking across games media halfway through the game's first year about the dev's internal hellish and discriminatory working conditions would probably have distracted many from how dispiriting and grinding their daily routine in the game would be starting to feel, while waiting for the much-touted "UT roadmap" to deliver maybe one or two new maps before the next holiday.
With the kind of execs and project leads that "organically" rose through the ranks, both as players and game makers themselves, who understood what would make sense to propose to a gaming customer and what practices would make 'em balk in disgust, who took pride in their work n' valued ongoing trust between them and their loyal player base, long gone and now replaced by shareholder/board decree with generic, parachute-in MBAs, clueless and uncaring about this nascent industry's particularities, whose tunnel vision only extends two fiscal quarters down the road, and whose priorities begin and end with maximizing profits at the cost of sustainability, morality or reputational harm; there'd also be no need to worry about any kinda ecosystem to maintain or grow. Ecosystems are for tree-hugging hippies (read indies), after all, and these guys have a slave galley to run. At least until it goes down and they bail on their golden parachute/raft to head for greener pastures and do it all over again.


Maybe it's an epiphany, maybe it's just what common sense looks like when one gets older and patterns become easier to recognize, but reading for years about what's become of the video game industry and its "AAA" business model has led me to the following conclusion: UT as a franchise, and UT2004 in particular, weren't as popular and emblematic because they exemplified everything the current AAA business model stands for; they were successful and are still alive exactly because they are a repudiation of every part of that design and management ethos. If you want to know what big-budget capitalism can do for games, look around at the so-called AAA titles releasing these days - and probably despair. If you want to know what a much more independent, bottom-up, communal ideology looks like when implemented on a virtual setting instead, where money isn't the ordering principle and people aren't exploited, grab yourself a copy of this old game and join this evergreen, ever-expanding community. The more the merrier!

Happy 10th Anniversary to you, CEONSS, and Happy 20th Anniversary to the entire UT franchise! Long may you both be around to shine the light of a better way to create and sustain games as a passion.


PS:
EmanReleipS wrote:[...]In particular, thank you to Peg for diving deep into the editor to give us many special edits for this event.[...]
Happy to help. Hope everyone enjoyed the party :).
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