Friday, November 30, 2012

State of TCPRelay, and Natural Selection 2

It's been a while since my last update here. If you're wondering why I haven't been updating TCPRelay lately, it's mostly because there was no demand for improvements or fixes for it. Also, I work as a systems analyst and that involves a lot of programming, so it's also a matter of being burned out too.
Anyway, here's a few ideas for the next versions of TCPRelay I have written down:
  • Stream delay: I'm not entirely sure this is possible without inspecting the stream data, but this is definitely worth checking out.
  • A way to fetch server lists from other services (, YouTube, ustream, ...). Also enable users to add their own lists, keep them between sessions and share with others.
  • Improve localization support and allow users to translate TCPRelay to other languages.
  • Fork into TCPProbe -- basically TCPRelay with packet inspection and manipulation capabilities through .NET plugins. Could be useful for network development.
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment.

On another note, I've been looking for a strong, competitive FPS that's reminded me of the old, but fun formula of Unreal Tournament and Quake: fast-paced action with insane movement skills and pinpoint aiming accuracy required. Unfortunately, since 2007 (when UT3 was released), there was not a single memorable FPS that followed the formula and caught my interest, turning me off from the genre. I went on to other games, including World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Borderlands 2 and several casual and indie games. That is, until last month.

Natural Selection 2 was developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment and released on October 30th. I haven't heard much about the game until then, but instantly got addicted the moment I got into a multiplayer game. It's an amazing blend of RTS and FPS with a surprisingly friendly community -- the complete opposite of most popular games such as Dota 2, LoL and Starcraft 2. People in NS2 actually help each other out, newbies ask questions and learn tricks and tactics from veterans (there's even some pro players giving out "classes" for free on their servers! See here and here); there's no split between the n00bz and the pros. Teamwork and coordination are absolutely required to get somewhere. Trying to Leeroy Jenkins your way into the enemy base *will* get you killed, unless you happen to be an Onos fighting against a bunch of rookie marines (and even then, if they know how to press the fire button and move their mouse to follow a giant suicidal gorilla-rhino-thing around, you *will* go down).

I highly recommend NS2 to anyone who has been yearning for something other than the generic "realistic" war shooter #235 with killstreaks and "realistic" gunfights, or anyone who enjoys either the FPS or RTS genres at all. It may not be as popular as LoL or Dota or SC2, but it's definitely competitive and interesting to watch. Refer to this topic on the UWE forums for a list of streams/YouTube channels/whatnot on NS2 competitive play. Oh, and it's cheap on Steam -- just 25 bucks.

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