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Nico A.

Conceptual MultiPlayer idea

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Okay, I'd like to throw in one idea. Open the spoilers for several disclaimers.

Spoiler

1) I know ideas are a dime a dozen - and I guess aspects of my idea are kinda unconventional.
2) I haven't been part of this community for a looong time, I don't have a clue about current plans and state/health of the Dark Mod community.
3) I doubt what I suggest is close to technical feasibility. Nor have I any idea about the implementability. I might look into that though, because at least I find the following idea of mine interesting ;)
4) I never really played multiplayer games. My idea below is purely hypothetical, might already exist in this exact form, might be interesting in my head but totally boring to MP veterans... ok... enough excuses for now.

Here it goes.

Imagine
1. a real-time, online Multiplayer for Dark Mod (or similar 3D-first-person-medieval-theft-style game inspired by thief)
2. every real person has an account with a virtual money balance as acquired by playing the game
3 however, if one's virtual character dies, so does the account, and then the money is gone. One can decide to start fresh with a new account though.
4. top players and their accounts are listed somewhere on the games central website, bla bla bla, so there is motivation to have a long-lived character with a lot of money

So far so good (?). Now for some gameplay specifics:
5. there are maps, of course. Everyone is free to design Maps. (since availability of maps is certainly one of the bigger bottlenecks, the initiative for someone to submit a map should be rewarded, or at least not made difficult).
6. There is an official entrance for the map, where the guards enter. And then there is a (or several?) inoffical entrance(s). There thieves might enter. The map creator is responsible for making sure both types of entrances (official and inoffical) exist. (As with single-player maps, the map creator should make sure there are official and inofficial routes throughout - in other words, an interesting, explorable, thief-style map).
7. The map creator is also responsible for making some riddles, which potential thiefs must solve in order to get into the map. Riddles should be hard (only solvable with a "hacker-mentality" - think of the cognitive tasks thieves face when trying to get entrance to a complicated system) (or, metaphorically speaking - the thieves play out their own version of a cutscene before a heist - of course only in their mind, not with a video :) )
8. The goal of the guards is to, well, guard a specific object (or keep thieves from achieving a certain objective) for a certain amount of time. If they succeed, they will be paid accordingly (or rather the player's accounts)).
9. Per map, there is a maximum number of guards. This number is defined by the map creator. Also, the map creator equips each guard. Before a map starts, each guard position must be filled. If more people are interested than open positions exist, there will be a competitive selection procedure (maybe one-on-one fights in a "sandbox" mode against contestants? Or a quiz how well they are familiar with the map they want to guard?)
10. Importantly, the map creator CANNOT specify routes of guards. This is up to the players playing the guards.
11. Even more importantly - the group of guards do not know when of even if thieves will appear. This should encourage patrolling-style behaviors automatically.
12. The entrance riddle of thieves should be difficult. This is the main trade-off for the lucrative prize, together with the high guards:thieves ratio.
13. Within the map, there is no chat. People (guards and thieves) should only be allowed to cooperate via game-play elements. Therefore, guards writing letters should be possible, but thieves might steal this information within the map. (maybe talking is also possible, but this should be audible in a realistic way - thieves should be careful to not raise their voices and were they want to speak)
14. When the set time for a map is done, the players may decide each time if they want to play for the guards or the thieves next time.

All in all, I believe this gameplay style would offer trade-offs for each party (guards, thieves) to make it difficult for both but balanced. Going back to the disclaimer: I'm aware that the online, real-time nature of my suggestion is difficult to implement at best, impossible at worst.

But then, why these specific ideas? I believe such an approach could circumvent several dangers Dark Mod is facing:
- rather unrealistic/easy AI --> not an issue here, because there is no AI, only natural human intelligence.
- small ratio between map playing time : map creation time (not so much an issue as maps may be reused, but the feel for the mission is kinda new each time)
- this might inspire some opening up of the community to new players, or encourage people to hand in maps, with the prospect that they might be used in a real-time, MP, higher-stakes scenario.

So! I think I'm ready now being torn apart by you guys :)

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There's nothing particularly wrong with such ideas for multiplayer Dark Mod-like games, but it doesn't make much sense to try to base the implementation on the Dark Mod code itself. The proposed game you describe would be so completely different from the Dark Mod that the existing codebase would be entirely unsuitable as a starting point — for example, TDM does not have any functional networking code, whereas much of the code which does exist is for things like AI patrols and the light gem which would have little or no usage in your game.

If somebody wanted to implement this they would be better off starting with a more modern game engine which already has viable network-based multiplayer, and then implementing the more Thieflike mechanics on top of this (you could even import TDM models and textures if there was a suitable format conversion available). I seem to recall there was an attempt to do something like this in Unreal Tournament many years ago, although I don't know what happened to the project.

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@OrbWeaver this makes a lot of sense, thanks! I heard about Thievery before, don't know why I never tried it... let's give it a shot!

Ok then, since I agree that the TDM engine is not the most suitable for a MP project, this thread can be moved elsewhere I guess. But please don't delete it 😪😪

Edited by Nico A.
One should read before answering I guess

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Multiplayer would be awesome. It should be up to mappers to make their own maps fit for it once we have the basic functionality. But generally I think there should be two basic types of gameplay, coop and competitive (thieves v. guards).

In the coop style, loot, objectives, and all the player events, etc., are shared across players, and they should be able to play any FM released, so there are already over 100 maps to play coop style out of the box.

Competitive style should track stats for each respective team. (It'd be better to do it in a general format, to define however many teams you want.) And then the stats are shared for a team, so loot could be shared for the thief team, and thief-kills or 'captures' (how did Thievery do it?) would be shared for the guard team.

Aside from that, the gameplay should be as hands-off as possible to allow creativity among mappers to make up their own kinds of FMs for it. That's my vision, and I hope it happens someday. I'd love to play TDM FMs coop style. It's so fun doing it for T2 FMs. (Thievery is fun, but T2 coop is even more fun.)

In that respect I disagree with Nico that it should be a very specific type of new gameplay, we should keep our existing gameplay as far as possible. And with that, I disagree with Orb that it'd be better to start on a new engine. We already have the game, so IMO it's better to just stick with the game we have and just add the networking part and the minimal UI needed to make it multiplayer, and then hand it off to mappers to go from there. TDM is by far the best base for a MP thieving game IMO. Why reinvent the gameplay wheel when we already have the whole game in place now?

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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4 hours ago, demagogue said:

TDM is by far the best base for a MP thieving game IMO. Why reinvent the gameplay wheel when we already have the whole game in place now?

What specific technical aspects make TDM most feasible for a TDM MP version? This questions sounds strange I guess. But as OrbWeaver pointed out, TDM is optimized for AI and visibility depending on static/dynamic light (reflections). So of course, that's needed in your coop description. But in your competitive style MP idea, is there also AI? (Again, I have no MP experience in general ^^)

And on a related note, how ensure that real-player guards experience the same visibility that the thieves' light gem indicates? I guess light settings in the game have to be really low? Or should the thieves in complete shadows be actually invisible until the player guard comes close enough - event though player guards don't see complete darkness but ambient lights?

Without much knowledge about game engines and the TDM structure in particular, it's impossible for me to say if TDM is the correct platform. But it seems so, if:

  • maps do include AI
  • the MP mode should be seen as an extension of TDM rather than a semi-related side project.
4 hours ago, demagogue said:

In that respect I disagree with Nico that it should be a very specific type of new gameplay, we should keep our existing gameplay as far as possible.

See my last bullet point above. In order to get a quicker version of MP in place, one should not start with unconventional, harder to implement ideas. However, IF there is a MP in place sometime with TDM, esp. a competitive mode, I'd love attempting to implement the idea above as another possibility :)

Alternatively of course, I might have a look into OS game engines - and how to export assets from TMD and import these to the new engine in a streamlined process. In the unlikely case of ever finishing such a mammoth project, I think the TDM should decide if it should carry a "TDM" label then.

 

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One thing to note in general: no matter whether you're integrating MP into TDM or start a new project, it's going to take a lot (I mean, seriously, a lot) of work to get something playable. And judging from the activity in this forum, I think there is a high probability that you'd end up with fairly empty servers - which is the death of any MP game. While I'm sure the idea of having an MP thief game, I'm not sure the player base is there to justify the enormous effort it'd take :)

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1 hour ago, cabalistic said:

One thing to note in general: no matter whether you're integrating MP into TDM or start a new project, it's going to take a lot (I mean, seriously, a lot) of work to get something playable. And judging from the activity in this forum, I think there is a high probability that you'd end up with fairly empty servers - which is the death of any MP game. While I'm sure the idea of having an MP thief game, I'm not sure the player base is there to justify the enormous effort it'd take :)

Good point! I guess when tackling on such a task, one needs to find different rewards whilst doing it. Like, completing a project that has taught a lot of programming/server/... lessons on the way. So then, even when it becomes a ghosttown, it was not all for nothing.

Also, the way I imagine is not that people meet randomly on servers. Rather, I think a few people make an "appointment" in these forums here and then 5-15 people play a map maybe once a month or so. That's how I imagine it, again, I could be completely off (I have no experience on which to base my estimates on).

Edited by Nico A.
I thought of another related point. Also phrased it more cautiously.

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Quote
 

What specific technical aspects make TDM most feasible for a TDM MP version?

We may be thinking about this from opposite ends. The technical aspect that makes it feasible is that there's already a game there. The alternative (if you want a new system is) you have to completely remake the game, and keep in mind TDM has been in constant development from 2005 to 2020, so it has 15 years of work put into it. Between taking an existing game and adding multiplayer and taking empty code and adding a game and multiplayer, it's obvious to me that the former is the shorter path, acknowledging that "shorter path" is still probably more than a year of work for a dedicated person or few people.

Let me back up too.

If you want to play multiplayer right now, you can already do it with Thievery and Thief 2's multiplayer mod.

Thievery has the same problem cabalistic just mentioned; it's geared towards competitive gameplay, and you're not going to find enough people to make for good games. So it's kind of a dead game, since without a good group of people there's nothing to do with it.

But my experience wtih T2MP is that coop is different. For coop, you're not waiting for people to join servers, you're contacting a friend or two directly and asking them if they want to play a map coop with you. It's something you play with your friends. And that can still happen even if people aren't joining servers.

So that leaves you with two options, either play T2MP, which by the way is not compatible with New Dark. So you're really playing a 20 year old game with it.

Or put multiplayer in a new engine. And then you have two options, branch off of TDM or start from scratch on a new engine. And my original point was just that, between those two options branching off TDM is the shorter path. I suppose one thing to consider is that you could try to port a lot of the TDM code into a new engine. But I don't know if that's even going to save you much time.

It's true that TDM's code does not have multiplayer in mind, and it will be an issue at every turn. But for me the two choices are recreate an entirely new thieving game thinking about multiplayer from the start (a 5+ year project for a large team) or walk through the TDM code with a fine-tooth comb and retool it for multiplayer literally line by line. In my understanding, that would also be a massive project, but now we're talking about a project for one person over a year and a half, instead of 5+ years for a large team. So that's the case I was trying to make. I'm not saying it's an easy thing to pull off. But I think it'd be worth it for coop style, since I know I'll always have a few friends that would like to play it coop style with me.

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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6 minutes ago, demagogue said:

But my experience wtih T2MP is that coop is different. For coop, you're not waiting for people to join servers, you're contacting a friend or two directly and asking them if they want to play a map coop with you. It's something you play with your friends. And that can still happen even if people aren't joining servers.

I agree with your post almost 100% except for this point. I think your falsely equating coop/comp with friends/strangers-over-servers. How about you make an appointment with friends and still have a competitive mode - namely when it is not shown/known who plays which character in the game? Think the werewolf game, for example (or any semi-cooperative game for that matter).

Edited by Nico A.
Added example to make my point clearer

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Yes you can do that too. But then the difference is most good coop games are with 1 or 2 other people and most good competitive games are 6-10 people.

But actually I was thinking of a different point which I made in my original post, which is just that, if you're going to do multiplayer at all, you may as well make it have a coop mode and a competitive mode so it's not even a debate. That's the best of all worlds, because then you can still play with it whether you can just arrange a game with 1 other friend or with 7 or 8 friends/strangers.

Edit: The other great thing about coop is that we already have 100+ maps to play coop style for free, because you just spawn every participant as if they were the original player, and most existing FMs will be coop friendly as long as events that happen to one player happen to all of them. Occasionally there will be progress-closing events that might lock other players out. But even in those cases, when it happened in a T2 map, we'd just open the map in an editor and change that one element, like as easy as putting a ladder or tunnel for other players, so it'd be multiplayer compliant.

Whereas with competitive maps, you really must make the map to play comp style, so there won't be near as many maps to play. But then you only need a few good ones for it to be fun, since every game will be unique.

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Agree. My point above was not to point out a short-coming, but rather a positive point (i.e. no need to offer just one mode).

Anyway, I might as well get started forking (not even sure if that's the right term, that's how noob I am) TDM and start crafting about. Don't imagine I ever finish, but I'll try to keep it orderly in case anyone wants to ship in/take over.

Edited by Nico A.

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Good luck! The more research you do up front the easier going it'll be.

 

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Awesome, this will come in handy.

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On 4/22/2020 at 8:22 AM, Nico A. said:

And on a related note, how ensure that real-player guards experience the same visibility that the thieves' light gem indicates? I guess light settings in the game have to be really low? Or should the thieves in complete shadows be actually invisible until the player guard comes close enough - event though player guards don't see complete darkness but ambient lights?

In order to ensure that guards cannot "cheat" by ramping up their brightness, you could make the thieves transparent and link the degree of transparency to the light gem. Completely dark would equal transparency 100%, completely lit 0% transparency. The scaling would need some work, as the thieves will already be harder to see, when in the shadow, so 50% transparency in the shadow may already make them basically invisible.

But this reminds me of one big problem that a multiplayer TDM has (that I remember from other discussions about the multiplayer): apart from the multiplayer infrastructure/code, you need a player model with working animations for all the actions a player can make. This is another huge chunk of work. But if you have a working basis, you may find someone willing to work on that.

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Yes and it's already lost to the sands of time, which is another reason to not go the independent route. If somebody built off the TDM base, there's a better chance it will get picked up and continued if one person can't do it alone.

2 hours ago, Destined said:

In order to ensure that guards cannot "cheat" by ramping up their brightness, you could make the thieves transparent and link the degree of transparency to the light gem. Completely dark would equal transparency 100%, completely lit 0% transparency. The scaling would need some work, as the thieves will already be harder to see, when in the shadow, so 50% transparency in the shadow may already make them basically invisible.

But this reminds me of one big problem that a multiplayer TDM has (that I remember from other discussions about the multiplayer): apart from the multiplayer infrastructure/code, you need a player model with working animations for all the actions a player can make. This is another huge chunk of work. But if you have a working basis, you may find someone willing to work on that.

As for the transparency point, that's exactly how Thievery works, and it works great. You should watch some videos of it in action (I put part one of a series below). It's fun.

You can see other things they had to do too, like flashbombs whiting out guard's screen, footprints sticking out a bit more, uh, a few other things.

As for the second point, for the game just to work, it's okay for the animations to be kind of basic, just the minimum to signal what the player is doing.. Possibly the basics already there might be fine. Thief2 also has super basic player animations, but it doesn't really matter to enjoy the multiplayer experience, since the other players can still do all the normal thief things. And if it works, you can expect people will improve the animations over time, so it can get released & people can start playing with it well before you've got perfect animations. In my understanding, the biggest task isn't animations but having player events shared across multiple clients for literally every system. But even for that, I think once you've done it for one system, it will be easier to do for the others.

 

 

 

 

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What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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The earliest MP-related posts in this forum. I only did a quick search and might missed important discussion points, but hopefully not. Will search for newer posts later
(Disclaimer: selected for relevance IMHO and edited for conciseness - click on the quote's link to find the original posts)

On 1/27/2005 at 5:09 AM, New Horizon said:

A multiplayer Thief inspired mod is already being produced over at Black Cat Games. It's called Nightblade. :) We've chosen to focus only on single player as they are sure to produce an amazing product.

On 1/27/2005 at 1:06 PM, Dram said:

I must add to this. I saw that nightblade has torches that cannot be taken out. Sadly it is no longer like thief. (...) (it also has no real-time-dynamic-lighting)

On 1/27/2005 at 7:04 PM, Guest Jarvis said:

The thievery formula is probably one of the best multiplayer thief formula's out there. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than most people give it credit for.

On 5/28/2005 at 5:21 PM, Demigod said:

Since quake4 uses the same engine as doom3, just with some opts and custom work (vp's and scripts etc) thrown in it’s not really a big change is it? The fixes and changes to net code are patchable, as Id have always done ala quake 3 and 2

If you want massive multiplayer then the quake wars engine (Doom3 + mega texture + net code change) would be better, there the net code has (seemingly) been changed quite a bit from doom3 in quake 4 it hasn’t, sure it has more modes which can be modded easier than adding them in, but other than that its the same basic code base.

I cant see this being a big change and in all honesty It would probable be possible to backport your work from quake4 to doom3 and vice versa, though any custom code from quake4 you use would have to be rewritten or changed, just as some of blackcats ut mods work on ut2004 and 2003.

On 6/23/2005 at 11:57 PM, obscurus said:

The Dark Mod would certainly look very nice for this kind of thing, but I don't think that Doom 3's multiplayer code would be up to it (although Quake 4 might do the job nicely - I wonder if the Dark Mod would work with Q4 with a little tweaking?)....

On 6/24/2005 at 2:28 AM, obscurus said:

As far as I know, D3 would just take a lot of coding to get a decent multiplayer experience out of it, whereas it is a relatively trivial task to do what you are suggesting with UT2K4 + Nightblade. It should in theory be possible to port the Dark Mod to Quake 4 and add multiplayer stuff with little difficulty (but I am a mapper, not a programmer, so I could be wrong).

On 10/6/2005 at 5:03 AM, Dram said:

Alternatively you can try Thievery, which is a thief multiplayer mod for UT, however, even that is starting to show it's age. The devs of thievery are now working on nightblade for utk4

On 11/7/2005 at 1:23 PM, bardic said:

So the base mod won't have any, but anyone who feels the need to mod the mod could do it themselves and release a multiplayer version of the Dark Mod. At least Doom has multiplayer support, no one has ever been able to make a multiplayer mod for the previous Thief games because those engines didn't support it at all.

On 1/15/2007 at 4:42 PM, Gildoran said:

Don't forget that for a multiplayer mod, we have to understand the netcode and design around it. I don't really know how D3's netcode works or what the caveats are, and I'm assuming that's also the case for our other programmers

On 8/6/2007 at 5:44 PM, greebo said:

There is a rudimentary mechanism for multiplayer map cycles in Doom 3. It basically consists of parsing a .cfg file for the desired map order.

On 7/27/2008 at 10:14 AM, Komag said:

Indeed we all hope the best for Nightblade, it has always been a promising project. :) They are more focused on multiplayer, whereas Dark Mod is focused on single player

(... lot of talk about Nightblade so far. I don't know it, maybe I should also look into this.)

Edited by Nico A.
tidying up

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Nightblade looks pretty decayed to me. The link on the download page is dead, its forum is archived (newest post from 2010), and the game never even left the alpha phase.
Bringing that back to life would probably be more an act of creation than necromancy as there does not seem to be anything left to revive...

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I mentioned this already, and forgive me if I sound like I'm repeating myself, but if it's going to be like a year of work no matter which engine you pick--okay, maybe you can save a month here or there or get some slightly better feature with this or that engine, but still it's a massive undertaking whichever one you pick--the number one reason I thought it'd be best to pick TDM wasn't really because it's the best option for multiplayer, but if it did have multiplayer, then you'd have over 100 maps to play coop style right out of the box. And my experience with T2MP is that if a FM is great for single player, it's almost always also great for coop, and I imagine comp too (because players just take the place of already existing guards, so the level is already built with thieves vs. guards in mind).

I can't tell you how much fun it is to coordinate how you're going to rob a mansion together with a friend, and when the unexpected happens, you can run to your friend's aid. When I'm playing single player and I get caught, I'll be tempted to restart, but if there's another person there, you want to game on because either they're coming to help you out, or you're watching your friend get chased across the grounds and it's hilarious. And so many of our maps are so good. I can't imagine someone spending a year making multiplayer on another engine and we only get 3 maps, when we could have all of our great maps to play with a friend! It may be extra work on the multiplayer side, but so worth it IMO.

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For what it is worth. I worked on Nightblade and yes, that project is now quite dead. Originally it was going to be a UT2004 mod which was designed to replace the aging Thievery mod however, UT3 came out in the interim so it was switched but unfortunately the project's development dragged and eventually canceled. I can tell you that a tremendous amount of work was completed but there was still a lot more work to be done.

This link will take you to Nightblade's UT2004 alpha release database. It's playable.

http://www.thievery-customs.com/

Nightblade.jpg

Edited by Jetrell
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3 hours ago, freyk said:

Yes, i loved Thievery UT (never played nightblade)
the unreal map I retextured, is still after 17 years there on that site 🧓👴😳

Are you also the author of "The Illhaven Saga"?

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No,  Kew created that. and I "updated" one of his maps by retexturing the map and gave it more thievery ut ambience (by placing thieveryut objects in it, added background music).
I love using the unrealeditor. Darkradiant is to me very difficult to use.

In Thievery UT i loved to play solo and co-op style and did not like the versus mode.

a video of solo play in the spoiler:

 

And made got a bloopers video:


Edited by freyk

Info: My portfolio and darkmod graphical installer
Amnesty for Bikerdude!

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5 hours ago, freyk said:

No,  Kew created that. and I "updated" one of his maps by retexturing the map and gave it more thievery ut ambience (by placing thieveryut objects in it, added background music).
I love using the unrealeditor. Darkradiant is to me very difficult to use.

In Thievery UT i loved to play solo and co-op style and did not like the versus mode.

a video of solo play in the spoiler:

  Reveal hidden contents

And made got a bloopers video:

  Hide contents

 

 

  Reveal hidden contents
 

 

I see, thought for a moment that you were Tim "Kew" Jervis, sometimes people switch or have more than one online alias.

I agree with you, love using the Unreal editor and playing co-op. Those were some fun times, hard to believe it's been 17 plus years.

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