Story of a tree

Once upon a time

A long time ago in the year 2001, a man named Lloyd Morris started to work on a Capture the flag map for Quake Ⅲ Arena. This map was named Tempest Utopia, a map he described himself while he was working on it as a “jungle warfare CTF map set on another planet just prior to a storm”. Well, said like that the scenario fits well the Unvanquished universe, doesn’t it?

Tempest Utopia screenshots
Tempest Utopia screenshots

Despite “generating the longest single-map thread on Quake 3 World from some teaser images” (quote from his website) and despite working on it for a lot of years, it looks like this map was never released. For this map he built several custom models, including all the foliage and rock textures. Lately Lloyd joined Splash Damage and we can read about him and his map on their website:

The shortest time he’s ever taken to build a map was 1 day. The longest is 7.5 years (and counting) for his CTF Tempest Utopia. It is said that should he ever complete this map, the dead will rise from their tombs, and Enemy Territory will be released as a free standalone download. No, wait!…AAAAGH!

Around the year 2004 another great mapper named Simon O’ Callaghan was working on an impressive Quake 3 deathmatch map named Pyramid of the Magician. SimonOC also worked at Splash Damage at this time and met LloydM. Amazed by LloydM’s plant and tree models he asked him to reuse them in his map and LloydM gave the permission and SimonOC retextured some.

Pyramid of the Magician map
Sock’s Pyramid of the Magician map on Quake Ⅲ Arena

Unlike the Tempest Utopia map, the Pyramid of The Magician one  got released for the delight of players. Some time later, someone ported that PoM map to the Tremulous game under the Temple name. And later again around the year 2007 a guy named Ben Scholzen and known under the DASPRiD nickname released the 1.0 version of his well-known and nice map named Ancient Remains. Ancient Remains offered a whole new layout while reusing Temple/PoM vegetation models and textures for outdoor places…

Ancient Remains map
DASPRiD’s Ancient Remains map on Tremulous

In the year 2008 a man named Cody Jackson and famous under the Supertanker nickname started to work on a Tremulous map named Station15, a map depicting a space station featuring a garden. Supertanker thoughts the tree in Ancient Remains was awesome and added it to his map. Then the Unvanquished project came to life and the Station15 map eventually became an official Unvanquished map and was entirely retextured.

Station15 map
Supertanker’s Station15 map on Unvanquished

In the year 2015 an Unvanquished contributor known under the Keziolio nickname redid from high resolution photos some vegetation textures including those for the tree, but the model still was the one by Lloyd Morris.

While we were building repositories for assets Supertanker relicensed his maps under the Creative Common Attribution Share Alike license, we also took a very close look to our files and to their origin. That’s how we discovered how started the story of that tree. But if we were safe on the texture side, what about the model?

Station15 map edited within NetRadiant
Station15 map edited within NetRadiant, featuring the notorious tree model

Fortunately after all those years Lloyd Morris was still reachable and we asked him the permission to distribute his model under the CC By SA license and he kindly gave the permission we needed.

As you see, building a free and open source game is an exciting story on itself ! That’s amazing to see how we build stuff over other great guy’s work ! Not only our engine gets its lineage in a renowned engine from Id Software, even the smallest bit of asset like a simple tree model has its own story with many great people crossing their paths. Because the care for open source is the care for people and their work there was also a man to find the people, to take care of what they did and to tell the story.

News from the assets front

On a the assets side, we are proud to announce that all the maps and textures by our nice mapper named Jack Purvis and well known under the EmperorJack nickname are now relicensed under the same CC By SA license. EmperorJack is well known for the Plat23, Thunder and Forlorn maps alongside the ej01 textures that were made for Forlorn.

Since EmperorJack derivated some textures from a well-known provider we had a diplomatic talk with a representative from that provider. Despite their usage conditions looking permissive at first look they pointed us a special and explicit clause they have written against open source licenses. But they were fair with us and kindly gave an exception to allow EmperorJack to license his work under the By SA license with the condition we don’t associate their name to our work to ensure no one will mistakenly believe they distribute stuff under open source licenses. Yeah, that’s sometime how the world works.

Forlorn map
EmperorJack’s Forlorn map is now entirely free

One texture in the forlorn map (the snow texture) had a similar issue with another provider but in this case we decided to reuse the one from the chasm map instead.

We have another good news to tell you: Scott Coxhead also known as Cr4zy relicensed his Tech texture set to CC By SA 3.0, that’s great ! Scott being a nice guy, he also gave permission to distribute those textures under the GPLv2+ license to please our dear friends at Xonotic.

Tech on Station15 map
the Station15 map also features the Tech textures, here the on boxes and on the trims as well as on large pipes under the grating

That’s a texture set we ship since a long time that was initially made for the Unreal Tournament 3 modding scene but that fits very well in maps using other technically-themed textures like the ones by Philip “Blazeeer” Klevestav (the PK01 and PK02 sets). Don’t worry if the readme file in the Tech downloadable zip still references the old legal terms (it was left as is) but the license is now clear. You can also find those textures in our repository.

Chris807’s models
Chris807’s models : rocket pod, reactor, repeater, turret, medistation, grenade…

We also worry about our prolific model contributor Chris807, a great man who did some of our awesome human buildable models and some incoming weapon models. Christopher is a talented hard surface artist and freelancer from Vienna. Badly we have not seen any sign of life from him since a long time and his own personal domain name just expired which does not sound very reassuring. Not only his disappearance is worrying us because he is a great guy but he also is the last one we are waiting for an answer in our attempt to unify our model licenses. If you know him we would be happy to get news from him!

Tools, tools, tools

Oh, and great news! After some years of development (and some continuous testing) the Urcheon repository is now hosted by the DaemonEngine Github organization, an organization thoughts for cross-game projects built around the Dæmon Engine. The Urcheon tool is a build tool to reproducibly build assets from their repositories, handle model conversion, texture and sound compression and map compilation based on editable profiles. This tool was written with our assets repositories in mind but is meant to be reusable by other projects if they follow a similar method of working.

Cute granger
Our cute granger needed a gardening toolbox

This is not the first tool written with Dæmon-based games in mind. Indeed Unvanquished developers and contributors contribute to existing projects like the NetRadiant level editor and the q3map2 map compiler. We also write tools to make contributor’s life easier. We already published Sloth, a tool to automatically produces shader description files and Chameleon, an interactive and visual tool to retexture a map taking cares of proportions when replacing textures with alternatives having different resolutions.

Beware, Urcheon is still a bit experimental and makes use of some very specific and uncommon tools…

Let’s go further, and let’s pave the way for the future and beyond! battlesuit