Counter-Strike/Day Of Defeat userconfig.cfg and the neverending quest for a Libre Software business model regarding games

Baby you can come along too, but I'm getting drunk without or without you! - Gettin' Drunk by the Beat Farmers

I played to most of the famous first-person shooter (FPS) of the 1990’s and some of the 2000’s: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom II, Duke 3D, Quake, Half-Life, Medal of Honor, even the less famous like Redneck Rampage (shipped with a wonderful country/rock-a-billy/psychobilly soundtrack; still not kidding, I would even consider going to Reverend Horton Heat gig that will take place in France in a few days if I was rich, which I’m not) etc… But I played regularly for years only to a few of them.

Duke 3D was unmistakenly fun and definitely made the best out of numerous hours of LAN games. Counter-Strike’s (CS) gameplay, however, remains unique. Obviously, the rendering engine was technically modern enough (Duke 3D is fun, but you do not need to aim target in 3D, you can destroy a target up in the air while aiming the boardwalk ; in Doom II, you cannot even jump). But that’s not just it, no, the game really leads to team play. The two teams, counter-terrorists or terrorists, both have an obvious objective (blowing up a bomb, freeing hostages, etc) and each teammate that goes down is out of the game for the round. So unlike in Medal of Honor, Quake Arena, etc (where one player does not equal one another), any player matters. To some players, this a drawback, they rather have unlimited lives, moving fast, dying fast, respawning fast, moving fast, dying still fast. To me, it is part of what makes this game aside from the others FPS. Based of the same rendering engine (the one of Half-Life), Day of Defeat (DoD) and Team Fortress (TF) both provides some kind of team play also well thought but way more conventional (capture the flag, mainly), with respawn. Day of Defeat takes place during World War II while Team Fortress is kind of cartonish/fun, somehow reminding me of Duke3D.

Counter-Strike with Source engine, still not outdated

Half-Life² was eventually published with a new rendering engine called Source. And it is a good thing they also released CS, DoD and TF renewed with this new engine, so these good games kept up with the trend. Despite the fact that the map oilrig (a mode where you had to protect a somekind of VIP) disappeared during the transition to Source, CS gameplay was unaffected. And I continued playing from time to time to CS. I still do.

Today, I found out that I no longer had my userconfig.cfg. In CS, you need to buy weapons at the begin of each round. And, clearly, when a round begins, you have no time to fool around, wasting precious seconds by looking at each possible weapon. You have to take the best you can get in the fastest way possible, which meaning having shorcuts. Such shortcuts are not provided, so you have to write them in a userconfig.cfg file. As, unfortunately, we are not speaking of Libre Software here, everything is really poorly documented, you have to google around. So here comes my cstrike userconfig.cfg:

// ---------------------------------------------------------------
// shopping: commands

// gun
alias buy_gun "buy p228; buy secammo; buy vesthelm;"
// shotgun
alias buy_shotgun "buy xm1014; buy primammo; buy vesthelm;"
// cheapeast decent
alias buy_cheapest "buy mp5; buy primammo; buy vesthelm;"
// assault rifles
alias buy_cheap "buy galil; buy famas; buy primammo; buy vesthelm;"
alias buy_expensive "buy ak47; buy m4a1; buy primammo; buy vesthelm;"
alias buy_scope "buy sg552; buy aug; buy primammo; buy vesthelm;"
// equipment
alias buy_protection "buy vesthelm; buy vest"
alias buy_fb "buy flashbang; buy flashbang"
alias buy_he "buy hegrenade"
alias buy_smoke "buy smokegrenade"
alias buy_defuser "buy defuser"
alias buy_ammo "buy primammo; buy primammo; buy secammo"
alias buy_equipment1 "buy_protection; buy_defuser ; buy_ammo"
alias buy_equipment2 "buy_protection; buy_fb; buy_smoke; buy_he"

// shopping: binds

bind "F1" "buy_equipment1"
bind "F2" "buy_equipment2"
bind "F3" "buy_gun"
bind "F4" "buy_shotgun"
bind "F5" "buy_cheapest"
bind "F6" "buy_cheap"
bind "F7" "buy_expensive"
bind "F8" "buy_scope"

// ---------------------------------------------------------------
// communication: commands
// unfortunately, we have no variable to say exactly where we are
// so it is meaningless to provide much details

alias waitalot "wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;wait;"
alias w "waitalot;waitalot;waitalot;waitalot;waitalot;waitalot;"
alias msg_enemies_none "radio3; w; slot4"
alias msg_enemies_few "radio3; w; slot2"
alias msg_in_a "say_team (A !!!)"
alias msg_in_b "say_team (B !!!)"
alias msg_bomb_here "radio3; w; slot3; w; say_team The bomb is here!"
alias msg_yes "radio3; w; slot1"
alias msg_no "radio3; w; slot8"
alias msg_follow_me "radio1; w; slot5"

// communication: binds

bind "KP_END" "msg_enemies_none"
bind "KP_DOWNARROW" "msg_enemies_few"
bind "KP_PGDN" "msg_enemies_plenty"
bind "KP_LEFTARROW" "msg_in_a"
bind "KP_5" "msg_in_b"
bind "KP_RIGHTARROW" "msg_bomb_here"
bind "KP_HOME" "msg_yes"
bind "KP_UPARROW" "msg_no"
bind "KP_PGUP" "msg_follow_me"

// EOF

In Day of Defeat, the userconfig.cfg matters less, as you do not have to buy weapons. However, the communication shortcuts can be of use, especially as in DoD:S, unlike in CS:S, you have access to the variable providing your location on the map. Here comes my dod usercfg.cfg making use of the location %l variable:

// ---------------------------------------------------------------
// communication: commands
// at the contrary of CS:S, we have the location
// variable (%l) that enables us to
// provide detailed info

alias msg_enemies_none "voice_areaclear; say_team %l clear"
alias msg_enemies_ahead "voice_enemyahead; say_team Enemy ahead %l"
alias msg_enemies_behind "voice_enemybehind; say_team Enemy behind us at %l"
alias msg_enemies_left "voice_fireleft; say_team To my left at %l"
alias msg_enemies_right "voice_fireright; say_team To my right at %l"
alias msg_enemies_machinegun "voice_mgahead; say_team MG at %l"
alias msg_enemies_sniper "voice_sniper; say_team Sniper at %l"
alias msg_enemies_grenade "voice_grenade"
// do not use voice_backup here because it may provide to much insight to the other team
alias msg_needhelp "say_team I NEED BACKUP AT %l"
alias msg_comeon "voice_gogogo"

// communication: binds

bind "KP_END" "msg_enemies_left"
bind "KP_DOWNARROW" "msg_enemies_ahead"
bind "KP_PGDN" "msg_enemies_right"
bind "KP_DEL" "msg_enemies_behind"
bind "KP_LEFTARROW" "msg_enemies_machinegun"
bind "KP_5" "msg_enemies_sniper"
bind "KP_RIGHTARROW" "msg_enemies_grenade"
bind "KP_HOME" "msg_needhelp"
bind "KP_UPARROW" "msg_comeon"
bind "KP_PGUP" "msg_enemies_none"

// EOF

And this dichotomy between CS:S and DoD:S, both based on the same rendering engine, definitely illustrates how frustrating proprietary software can be. If %l exists in DoD:S, it cannot be complicated to implement in CS:S. It is not really an issue of time, if anybody was able to read the code, edit it and redistribute the modifications made, there would have been an user willing to spend this time. I know I would.
But it is not and so we just have to rely on CS:S publisher that does not show much interest in developing further CS:S.

eduke3d and STALKER COP: lights, shadows, objects, textures, no room for comparison

Clearly, there is no recent and great piece of FPS that is Libre Software that I know of. We just get old rendering engine GPLed: Ken Silverman’s Build (Duke 3D/Shadow Warrior/Redneck Rampage/etc engine), Id Software’s id Tech 3 (Quake III, MOHAA, Call of Duty/etc). Even if it is nice that this code is freed at last, I have the sad feeling that they would not be freed if their authors felt their code could be someday improved enough to compete with their own new rendering engine. So no business can be based on these rendering engines, and we’re stuck with Libre Software looking like cheap obsolete products. It may sound harsh, don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the work being done on eduke32, that’s nice, and I’m not criticizing the efforts made. Still, it cannot compete with what is being published as proprietary sofware. Even games with somehow outdated rendering engines like STALKER Call of Pripyat are way ahead.
When Half-Life² was published, there was hope: their business model seemed to implies releasing frequently data (episodes – levels, including artwork). They could have freed their engine. But they didn’t and I guess they just failed to see any profit in doing so – well, I could say that now CS:S would handle %l 🙂

I’m wondering if we’ll ever see brand new games published as Libre Software. The only people that have the cash flow and the motives to do so could be ATI or NDVIDIA, the hardware producers. But they may has well just continue to work as they currently do.

(PS: and I’m not even going as far as expecting these to run under a GNU-based operating system)

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