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* I want to put things in better order on this page and explain some things a bit more detailed but haven't got around to doing it yet.
I thought it was sad that allot of custom files are vanishing every day for all old-school pc games with mod support and i chose Tactical Ops: Assault On Terror as the game i would make sure nothing more gets lost. Also the fact that Unreal, UT99 and TO were one of the first pc games i played however both Unreal and UT99 already have large file collection websites.
The file archive was first online on the domains TacticalOps.tk and TacOps.tk in 2015 and 2016. Early 2017 i decided to purchase a domain since i wanted host a server with all custom maps and therefor needed a http redirect with lots of space and faster speeds then most free web hosts could offer. Also unlimited bandwidth would be a requirement especially since i wanted to make the redirect public.
Between the downloading and collecting of files in late 2015 i started the Tactical Ops Channel on YouTube, both trying to show simple guide videos with downloads links in the video descriptions and to show that there are still servers and players online. A few other TO players have also contributed many videos to the channel, view the About page on the channel for more info.
In 2015 i saw that allot of TO websites went offline and there were only a few left. I thought if this continues then in a few year all custom files would be vanished from the internet. With the main focus on custom maps, i started to download all files i could find from the internet. Searching with Google and Bing for multiple days i found all remaining websites and downloaded all files. After this i started to download maps from servers before i realized i could download complete server redirects from both TO and UT99 servers.
When i was sorting all custom maps a few problems were encountered such as allot of maps included files that would overwrite official TO files, maps with different files with the same name, maps with missing packages, filenames with spaces and other http redirect incompatible characters and this all had to be fixed. Since allot of the old map downloads had missing files and some even corrupt files there was decided to repack all maps and mappacks to seperate files with all packages included.
One of the biggest breakthrough was finding a stash of old "hidden" redirects from long forgotten TO servers by a game-server host who still had all their redirects online. Also i found a public 90+ GB UT99 redirect with various old TO maps and other TO redirects which i downloaded completely. This combined with all the maps downloaded from the last few remaining online websites and all online game-servers i had quite a stash of files to start an archive with.
At one point i came across the site tactical-ops.org back in 2016 that also started a project to repack all maps into induvidual downloads. I found some new maps there but they stripped all readme files from the maps. Which i then tried to track down and add afterwards. In the end of 2017 i also came in contact with the LST Crew and they gave me acces to their map collection and redirect so i could download everything they had which also led to many new maps. I also have been contacted by some old TO websites such as Spielwiese and old server admins who send me their map collections.
Luckily with the large collection of packages it was also possible to find certain lost packages that were missing from all old TO maps and mappack downloads. The missing packages that got permantly lost over time have been recreated to make all those maps playable. I did the easy ones and the difficult ones i couldn't repair were done by of mapper "Sp1r1tSuxor".
The collecting, testing of all maps and repairing of some maps was very time consuming. Luckily the sorting process of repacking all maps with all required packages, the removal of modified official files, the removing of duplicates and checking of different files with same names could all mostly be automated with help of various programs. (7-Zip, MyMapManager, AntiTwin, BatchFileRenamer)
The map screenshots was something i decided to start early 2018, but realized quickly it takes allot more time then estimated to start every map and find optimal screenshot position. In summer of 2018 at 1200 maps screenshotted i stopped since at that time i was adding allot of new maps to the collection in folders once completed. Then almost a year later in May 2019 i started again and did another 450 screenshots. In July 2019 "Spike" contributed 300+ map screenshots and completed the S folder and started on the B folder. In October 2019 "Sp1r1tSuxor" submitted 100+ map screenshots and completed the B folder. Now the total count is 2120/2600 maps screenshotted and only maps in * folder are remaining.
In the summer of 2018 a project was started with the help of "Sp1r1tSuxor" to convert all the old maps that wouldn't work on TO 3.4 & 3.5. Currently over 300+ maps have been converted and less then 5% remains but the work on those maps grinded to a halt. In about 2 weeks of constant converting and repairing textures i managed to do most of the easy ones. The difficult and time consuming are all repaired by "Sp1r1tSuxor" in the period afterwards. After this it seems "Sp1r1tSuxor" took it upon himself to convert allot of the old SWAT maps, he has currently done 90% of those. He also converts UT99 maps and even makes brand new maps in 2019.
When i was first testing the server the only mapvote with support for more than 1024+ maps had to rebuild the maplist after every map change, this meant after every map change you had to wait 2 minutes before the next map to load.
For this reason in 2017 i built a server with an Intel G3258 "Pentium Anniversary Edition" CPU, these little Haswell based cpu's could be overclocked even on a non Z87/Z97 motherboard chipset with the proper bios. So i bought a cheap H81 motherboard and delidded the CPU and was able to run a maximum cpu frequency of 5.2Ghz on 1.53v.
The motherboard didn't allow memory overclocking i was stuck to DDR3-1400 @ 7-7-7-20 timings, i bought an oldskool low timings DDR3 kit to squeeze out every bit of performance to try make the mapvote run faster. For storage it was using an old Samsung 830 Pro 128GB SSD.
Too bad loading the map list would still take 60+ seconds... after every map the server would just be loading and most players would leave.
After passing 2048 maps this mapvote would crash and i even ran 2 servers for a short time with all maps split up over 2 servers...
Untill one day randomly searching google i found updated version of MapVoteUL that supported up to 4096 maps and didn't need to reload the map list every map change. This changed everything and now the server was actually usable and didn't require an insane CPU frequency to fix the super slow map change. (Since the server is only single threaded)
At the beginning i hosted the server from my home, a year later it was hosted 1.5 years from the place i worked, afterwards a short time period from my home again. Now its running from a VPS in Germany. Below some pictures of the delidded CPU with too much Liquid Metal paste and picture from the Case. Had a nice Arctic Freezer 11 Low Profile Cooler and didn't look that bad in an old Acer case.
• Creators of SWAT Mod, TO Mod and TO:AOT Retail versions and its patches
• All people who have hosted (and are still hosting) TO websites and game servers
• All the mappers who made the maps and all those who made other custom files
• Spielwieseserver.de, tactical-ops.org, the LST Crew and all others who shared their files
• "ScHlAuChi" for sending me his TO, TO:AOT and TO:C files
• "-(V)(V)-" for making the Quick Join Tool and have it support the Fixed Pack folders by default
• "Sp1r1tSuxor" for converting and repairing many of the old TO and SWAT mod maps
• "Spike" who contributed 300+ map screenshots to the file archive
• The players who keep this awesome game alive
Thanks for reading,
jo0Oey aka joeycracknl