Have you ever wanted to read an excessively long description of how TTT came to be? Here you go!
The first alpha version of Trouble in Terrorist Town was released on the 2nd of September, 2009. I posted it on the forums for a Half-Life 2 modification I had worked on in the past called Zombie Master (ZM).
Some players from the ZM community had been using the mod to play a completely different game. The concept probably sounds familiar: one player was the “Serial Killer” who had to kill all the others, who did not know the identity of the killer. To play this inside ZM required a bunch of things, from settings (enabling friendly fire), to admin presence (to pick the “killer” role and adjudicate), to the honour system (because the scoreboard would otherwise show who was alive or dead).
I joined some of these games once all these systems had been established, and of course found it to be a good time. The idea to make some sort of game that actually took care of all these rules automatically was a pretty obvious one. I had not used the Garry’s Mod gamemode system at the time, but I poked around in it and figure it could be pretty easy to make a gamemode out of this Serial Killer concept. I would have to recreate some Zombie Master weapons so we could play it on the same ZM maps, but GMod came with basic replicas of Counter-Strike: Source weapons, so I could start from there.
About two weeks later I had the basic gamemode ready with these core systems in place. It was using all these CS:S models for players and weapons, so I decided to turn that into an intentional choice by making CS:S the “setting” for the game. The “backstory” would be that the CS:S Terrorist team had Traitors in their midst, killing the other “innocent” terrorists.
As for the name, I wanted something that reinforces the weird premise and set a non-serious tone. “Trouble in Terrorist Town” has a B-movie vibe and alliterations are fun. This also informed my writing for the awards/achievements and other texts in the game.
This super-basic version got a positive response from the Serial Killer players and quickly replaced that improvised game. What followed was a period of many, many releases and iterations. For a while I was releasing new versions nearly every day. From what I recall, fundamental stuff like the end of round report and the traitor equipment was added in this period, along with more weapons and a ton of bugfixes. The player base was still primarily inside the ZM-adjacent community, with only a couple of servers.
Towards the end of 2009 I put up a basic website and started posting releases there instead of only in a forum thread. Around this time, Facepunch Studios announced the Fretta contest. The Fretta system would let a server run in a mode where players could vote for a gamemode, which meant servers were not locked into a single game and could support playing multiple shorter, smaller games. Now TTT did not fit into this very well, with rounds often taking 20+ minutes. Nevertheless I figured I could add Fretta-compatibility and submit TTT to the contest, as it would be a missed opportunity to have this by now pretty polished gamemode and not participate.
I added “Haste mode” around this time, to support shorter, faster rounds. I designed and added the Karma system as a way to discourage griefing, especially on a server that would not have primarily old-school TTT players. Detectives were added, originally called Loyalists, and got their own set of special equipment.
Mid-2010 the contest winners were announced with to my surprise TTT as #1. Later that year the gamemode was included in Garry’s Mod, as it still is. Ironically, most of the other winning gamemodes were never included (even though that was the intention of the contest) and the Fretta system was removed entirely with Garry’s Mod 13 in 2012.
I kept on developing TTT after its inclusion in GMod, doing fixes, balance tweaks, and some new features (like translation support). After 2010, development became more incidental as I had graduated university and got a job in software development. The game was stable and pretty much finished, with a decent amount of players. Many servers also had their own thing going on with custom weapons and pointshops, relying on the gamemode itself not changing wildly (which would break all the custom code).
Somewhere in 2012/2013 I noticed the website was starting to get a huge bump in traffic out of the blue. As it turned out, some streamers/youtubers had started playing the game and exposed it to a new audience. This got the game more attention and players than it had ever had up to that point, which is pretty cool. Of course unlike paid games, this did not really get me anything other than a sense of satisfaction, and I was still pretty much done working on the game. There was probably a moment there where I could’ve tried to make a commercial TTT 2 with a chance of success, but that never really appealed to me (see the relevant FAQ question).
That brings us to today. Other “social deduction games” have had their own streamer-infused hype cycle, it’s clearly a genre made for that medium. Some people are working on mods expanding TTT, but I’m involved in any of them. I’m still shepherding the occasional TTT community contributions. For TTT’s history, that’s probably it! But hey, it’s still around. If there’s ever a GMod sequel, who knows what will happen.
– Bad King Urgrain