today marks the 20th year that UnrealSP.org has been online. To this day, our small community continues to be blessed by map releases and lifesigns from oldschool regulars (The Vale, Savage Land), gorgeous advancements of the medium by longterm community members (Resurgence) as well as stunning developments from previously unseen actors (Unreal Redux). For a game with a history like Unreal's - eclipsed on release by Valve's blockbuster Half-Life - this kind of continued activity is nothing short of a miracle, and I want to thank you all for continuing to visit this site and encouraging our modders and creators in their work.
Unreal and UT99 enjoy the presence of several high-profile fansites with OldUnreal and UT99.org. Our specific niche has always been single-player campaigns and single maps, as well as being a place of learning for the hows and whys of UnrealEd, UnrealScript and all the other technologies that bring such works to life. This will continue to be the mission moving forward, as well, and there are some things on the horizon that hope to bring a little more life and a return to form in some of our proudest disciplines, such as the editorial "games journalism" format of our main site.
So, what's in store for USP?
While all our old editorial content continues to be visible in the Legacy section of the site, work continues to be made - at slow pace due to real life concerns, but nonetheless at pace - on a refreshed and updated iteration. The various goals of that new and updated site are:
- A comfortable admin interface for staff to make contributions without having to touch HTML code, and without technical intervention by an administrator.
- A clean, readable layout inspired by modern "games journalism" sites, but retaining the traditional USP color scheme and flair.
- Technical back-end work to make the site more visible on search engines and hopefully bring more new arrivals.
- Full support for reading on mobile devices.
- Subscribing to RSS feeds of various content.
- The groundwork for a future system of user-submitted and user-curated reviews and articles.
- Viewing images in full resolution.
- Directly downloading reviewed maps from reliable mirrors (either UnrealSP.org itself or a trusted host; will approach UnrealArchive *and* UnrealArchives on that )
While my plans to have this initial release ready for this significant anniversary did not come to fruition, the system is very close to ready for public consumption and I am confident in a 2021 launch.
Regarding the forums, our spam-bot issue has miraculously been resolved for a while now, and mail sending has been restored, meaning that people can once again normally register and make use of the forum's functions, such as PM notifications and thread watching.
Along with the relaunch, a forum update is planned, where the newest version of phpBB will be installed, along with a not fully custom, but slightly tweaked pre-existing theme to help it approach the original UnrealSP design and vision a little. The forum URL will move back to "unrealsp.org/forums" and separated from the "main site", however full URL redirects will be established for all previous forum links, so that there will be no broken links anywhere on other websites or chats that may have linked to USP forum threads before.
Finally, there is the matter of the UnrealSP.org Discord Chat.
Discord is a modern fusion of IRC and Skype that allows both private messaging as well as public chat channels on all things. The UnrealSP.org Chat is a Discord "server", a collection of channels that any Discord user may join and partake in, with its own rules, format and moderation.
Sporting 300+ members and well over 100,000 messages sent, the UnrealSP.org Discord has been a hive of activity that one wouldn't expect hidden behind the otherwise sleepy forums. The community has been exchanging banter, modding tips, and showcasing screenshots, video clips, music bites and other works in all things Unreal single-player, and shows little sign of stopping.
While the forums will absolutely remain functional and enjoy full support of staff as the "OG" way of communication in the community, I continue to wholeheartedly encourage you and extend an invitation to join the Discord and come hang out with your fellow Unreal fans if you haven't already.
Join the UnrealSP.org Discord chat
(Note: A Discord account is required. Discord is available as a browser application, but also as a program for any platform like Windows, Mac, Linux, mobile devices etc.)
Again, thank all of you for still sticking with this game, and this site, for these many long years. Here's to a 2021 that puts the previous year to shame in all matters!