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TTT: Back from the dead, but what took so long?

Published: 2019-12-28

Author: Teddi

Just over 2 years since it went down, Trouble in Terrorist Town is back at [BB]! But seriously, what took so long?

The answer is fairly layered with the most obvious response being “lack of time, other priorities” and so on but it actually extends beyond this and can be broken down in to three fairly core abstractions.

Backups are Important.

First of all, when we had that big server maintenance every effort was done to back up all the things that otherwise weren’t backed up or not deemed critical whilst also racing against a clock. One thing we had to cover that TTT actually missed out on was backing up of the server.cfg & maps, meaning that there was a fairly stringent time cost to simply setting that back up. We weren’t so much starting from scratch in this area but our configuration set us apart from the crowd and dialling that back in is a case of trying to remember how it was. Furthermore TTT had been neglected with players responding accordingly (i.e. no players) so we didn’t see it as a priority.

Player tastes change

Secondly is how the community player-base moved on: here are [BB] we tend to do one thing very well whilst the rest gets neglected. It’s hard to tell sometimes if we’re following the players or if they’re following us (or even both) but typically there’s a correlation with how much work gets done on specific features vs just working on something for the hell of it.

An example of this is Surf, it was set up originally as arena-surf as that’s what I figured would be the most popular (and in 2009 that was often what was played the mode of the surf-types). Over time this evolved to a rudimentary skill-surf system which is now a full blown system due to external influences bringing players our way. Many of you that join us here at [BB] probably aren’t even aware that at times we were leading in one gamemode at some point in history. Be it RP, TTT, Deathrun (or these days Surf) and generally that’s when we’ve fleshed it out further and further.

What we have started to recognise is that players (old and new) are after another outlet and we have the perfect setup for that, so it’s time TTT gets dusted off.

A tiny point on player popularity

Something which we have to caveat the above with is for many years (2014 onwards) there were (and to a lesser degree still are) issues with servers appearing in the browser list. While this blog isn’t the time or place for it all you need to know is that for a while you wouldn’t (and even today under certain conditions) see every server available to you due to geographical filtering affecting this. This was pretty demoralising and impacted our work as we tried to work out why we haemorrhaged players.

Time is money.

Finally, the development cost. TTT around 2015 onwards started going through some rapid developments with the release of the net system. Although the net system had been released a few years earlier, the original author of TTT had seemingly faded in to the background and a community shift was looking to update and modernize it which started happening at a very rapid rate. The original edits to the [BB] TTT gamemode hadn’t been done a good job at keeping modified code clean and clear from the core TTT implementations so updates were hard. The lack of a decent diff tool at the time as well made this all the trickier.

Over time I caught up and the last major update I’d done to the TTT gamemode had been in April of 2016. Surf at this point had become incredibly popular and in August of the same year I’d gotten a new job which required my full attention so TTT more or less just fell to the wayside.

So what changed, why work on TTT?

Over time I’ve had many people come to me asking for something more combative and engaging. This tends to fall in to the category of roleplay (lets not go there) or TTT, with TTT often being suggested by old and new players alike. Development by the community has slowed on TTT meaning now is fairly opportune to go in, marry up our versions and make this work. It also lets us repair some of our errors with the benefit of hindsight.

And so what was spat out is still a clusterfuck in TTT terms but in terms of maintainability and compatibility with BBase as it stands today is so much better to the extent that we can add new features and fixes without totally breaking it or pulling our hair out. Massive shout out to those in the TTT community that added convenience hooks all over - it’s great to have standard hooks to call and manipulate stuff with.

Last night when we all played showed me that people still enjoy TTT and especially our flavour with the small enhancements. Maybe it’s the start of something big again with TTT, who knows!

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