Recently I came into (re)possession of an older Athlon XP PC I had lent out to my brother-in-law. After swapping out the hard drive and installing an OS, I debated what to do with it. I could turn it into a Web dev testing environment, but to be honest, in order to do so I would have to actually learn something that needed a whole separate system upon which to develop it, and frankly I have enough on my plate as it is.
After mulling it over for a bit, I decided to turn it into an Unreal Tournament server.
I’m not going to bother with an introduction to the game; if you don’t recognize the name then you’re likely not interested in first-person shooters in the slightest, which is fine. Might as well stop reading right now. It’s the standard Internet-based deathmatch game, of the same vintage as Quake III Arena. And while Q3 has many things to recommend it, I prefer Unreal Tournament in general, not the least reason being that the game does not require a CD key, either to install or as protection against piracy during gameplay. (I fully support Id Software’s right to protect their commercial investment. However, seeing as the game is now over 5 years old, it would be nice if Id would give up and abandon control of the game at this point, rather than forcing people to download pirated installers and CD-key-generating programs in order to play their game.)
Unreal Tournament runs just dandy on older systems like my recently re-acquired Athlon XP 1900 with a 200Mhz frontside bus, particularly in dedicated server mode, where the processor cycles required to run the fancy graphics aren’t an issue.
For some reason, I find myself particularly attracted to so-called “mouse maps”; gaming maps that are built around a common location—a kitchen, a bedroom, whatever—but where the players are tiny, perhaps three inches tall in comparison to the size of the room. While often very simplistic in their construction, I find these maps to be exceptionally cute.
I run the server in “low gravity” mode, which makes it easier to get around what can often be extremely large maps with lots of precipitous falls.
I use a lot of custom player and bot skins as well, to spice things up. If you’re the type of sociopathic technology freak who enjoys plugging other people over the ‘Net, you’ll find it even more enjoyable plugging people assuming the forms of Invader Zim, ED-209 or Eric Cartman.
Since it’s a 100% mouse-map experience, I have named my server, “Domestic Violence”. 😮
If you’d like to join the fun, all you need is a copy of Unreal Tournament (not Unreal Tournament 2003, 2004, Unreal MCMXVII; the original Unreal Tournament) or Unreal Tournament Game of the Year Edition. It can still be had for a song at various software outlets, such as GoGamer.com. Often you’ll find them in the “Big Cube O’ Outdated Games” displays at your local CompUSA.
After you’ve installed the game, you’ll need all the custom maps, models and skins I’m running. I’ve made them available for download at http://www.uncle-andrew.net/bin/ut/. Files that end in “.umod” can be double-clicked to install them (you might need to enter the path to your Unreal Tournament folder into the appropriate box during the install). Maps are somewhat trickier: they need to be unzipped and the contents manually put in the appropriate places in your Unreal Tournament folder. Files that end in “.u” go in the System folder, files that end in “.unr” go in the Maps folder, “.utx” go in the Textures folder and “.umx” go in the Music folder. There will sometimes be duplicates among the files.
I’ve also thrown some Mac updates up there, but to be frank, getting a working Unreal Tournament install together on a Mac will be problematic, though I’ve managed it myself. Should you decide to do so, you are on your own. 🙁
You can access my UT server by entering “www.uncle-andrew.net” into the “Connect to Server” window in UT. Password for the server is “spam”. I don’t post the address on the main UT boards, so don’t bother looking for me among the advertised servers. We’re open for business from about 5 in the afternoon until 1 in the morning most days. the number of live players is limited to 20, but so far we’ve never had more than 4 at a time. Attendance is—spotty. But perhaps that will change over time.
If you are interested in joining, do me the courtesy of sending me an email so I know you’ll be aboard, otherwise I might ban your IP in a fit of pique. I’ll also put you on a mailing list for news about updated maps and models. I promise not to send you any ads for herbal Cialis.
Hope to see you online sometime….through a sniper scope. 😉