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Jehar interviews the Brazen Team

All I see when I think about Brazen is the satisfactory reloading *click* of a shotgun... but it looks like the team has much more in store for us! We had a radio interview a few days back for the benefit of those who listened in (yeah, both of you!). Unfortunately, teamspeak mangled the voice volume levels in the recording, so it didn't turn out as slick as could be hoped. On the plus side of things, Paril went ahead and transcripted the entire interview, including all of the awkward uh's and hmms! For those of you who don't mind fiddling with some volume settings, the raw recorded mp3 can be found HERE!

Jehar: Alright I'm gonna go ahead and start things off by, uh.. if 

*some sort of sniffing hearable" 

Jehar: Are you snorting coke? 


Paril: Heheh.. no, I'm not. 

Jehar: Okay good. Okay, well I'm gonna start things off by saying welcome to Quake Expo, it's been going on for a little more than week now, and it's been going semi-successfully due to the efforts of Willis and of course the Tastyspleen team and everyone else who has been involved with kicking this off. And there's been a lot of exciting projects been going on including and not least of all the Brazen team which is doing some sort of, I dunno, mod for Quake2 or.. uh, some weird game that nobody plays anymore kind of thing. So to all of us Tastyspleeners out here, it is a mod as far as I know is concerned with single player, which I'm kinda curious to see how people react with that since Quake2 is primarily a multiplayer kind of community. Um, so before we get into any of that will you guys just introduce yourself real briefly and state your position on the team? 

Paril: Okay, uh, I guess I'll go first. I'm Paril, the development head. I do the programming basically, sometimes a little bit of animating and sometimes a little bit of modeling, but usually nothing perminent. I've helped out, well, I've DONE the designing with James and Skies here, and that's about it for me. 

James: Uh, hi, I'm James, I do mapping and I come up with a lot of ideas for mapping and such. That's about it. 

Skies: I'm Skies, I do a lot of the mapping and sometimes give ideas. 

Jehar: Good ideas is always a good thing. Well first off the bat, where did the project start from? I know it was a mod done by someone else and you guys are kind of revamping it and retooling it as far as I know but, how did you three guys get together? 

Paril: Well that's more of a.. complicated story. Skies and I have been friends for a while. We haven't really done many projects together, it was kind of a map deal that he came up with for projects a long time ago and that's kinda helped, I invited him, asked him if he wanted to do mapping for Brazen so that's how that came out. James I had met at the Quake2 café, he helped me test a lot of my mods because he was really interested in them and it was kinda neat because I was playing a lot of mods that Mr. Grim had made which was Brazen originally and uh, him and I played it for a little bit and I had mentioned that the source code was out and we kinda threw around the idea of continuing the mod, similar to what I have done to Dirty but that's kind of more than defunct than anything now because I kinda went played it again and thought you know "this is going to take a lot of fixing to be good again [after working on Brazen]".
But Brazen, I downloaded the source code, and it was a really good mod to take up. So we decided.. it was a mod for a while but then we decided to take it to a standalone. Kind of make it it's own freeware game, that's what we're going for is uh, an entirely freeware game still in the Quake2 universe, I guess you'd still have to have Quake2 to play the single player mission with all the monster models and all that still under their copyright, but that's the idea is a freeware game. The multiplayer.. the way it would work really is that the idea of this mod [/game] is a single player/cooperative, mainly cooperative game-style where you have very little limitations in single player such as being able to steal weapons right off of dead stroggies, and use them to save on your own ammo. You know, you've got reloading systems, akimboing weapons, using different weapon combinations like right-hand shotgun left-hand pistol, you've got a really advanced inventory system with weight-based movement and all that. And it's just a really neat idea. The multiplayer is just linear right now, it's just a kill each other sort of idea. The design is purely cooperative, I just threw deathmatch because, you know, that was kind of.. had to be there otherwise it wouldn't receive very well when I release it.

Jehar: Well I haven't, just up until today just how much of the focus was on coop, and this kinda rings true for me and probably peewee and other coop enthusiasts who really really like the monsters in Quake2, and really like the level design, and the asthetics of the Strogg, but as far as a stable and in feature rich coop mod, there has been a huge vacuum in that. I mean there's Coop or Die, but it.. sucks because you have to have the external server and everything. And of course the default Quake2 coop is totally broken. So having this kind of experience could really bring a lot to it. With that in mind, from the original mind, what has come along as far as ideas for really encapsolating the coop experience? 

Paril: Well, uh.. with the new mission we were gonna have a lot of, like, new.. uh, it's really hard to.. explain what we're gonna do with it but we wanted to expand on his idea of how cooperative was going to work. Um, the original mission we had [created by Mr. Grim] was using .ent files to basically redesign the Quake2 mission to be Brazen compatible, this included a lot of monster changes, there's checkpoints in this and all that. And it's really didn't play well.. we tried to play through it, to see if it's still compatible, but usually it isn't, and we come across problems and have to give ourselves weapons and you know, end up cheating because there's not enough around to share with everyone, especially with more than two players. So we're trying to split that to make sure that it's compatible with more than one player, because that's how Quake2 was designed, was around one to two players with cooperative and it's really hard to play it with more than that. 

Jehar: Did anyone have any comments on that?


Jehar: I'll take that as a no. 

James: No, we're good. 

Jehar: I was curious.. EGL has always been a.. I personally used it with as my main client for a long time until simple speed made me move over to AprQ2. But as far as eye-candy rich engines, it's always been actually decent and it hasn't been full of bugs and promised features that aren't kind of out of there, and Echon always kind of did a pretty good job at keeping it bug free and stable and making it run. How did that all play in to deciding to using that engine as a base? 

Paril: Well I've actually always been a fan of EGL and the first time I looked at the source code, I was really impressed by how he did everything. I thought, you know, this engine has potential. The problem was I know nothing about OpenGL, and I think that's where everything stems around my development in this engine being bad, because I'm always having to refer to Echon or LordHavoc or someone for help on this and I just don't have the experience in mind to know where things go so that's where a lot of problems stem but I was able to get bloom lighting and multisampling in with no problems so far, and it's been really good. What I like about EGL is that it was pretty small, it ran really good and it wasn't bloated with a lot of unneeded visual features that I noticed a lot of engines have, like bumpmapping and all that. Even if we did have it in there, we'd never use it, and it'd just be there and never used and it'd take up space, you know a lot of memory for that and that's kinda how I like EGL because it was a base engine for us to use right away. 

Jehar: Alright cool, yeah I was just making sure that the levels were all working, and uh.. Okay. Sorry about that, was just getting complaints about you being low, but uh, I think people just need to turn their volume up a little bit more 'cause, I just turned it on and it's a little bit faint but I can still here. It's.. it's cool. So uh, speaking of development, where are you currently in that? I mean how far along are you as far as you would like to be? 

Paril: Uh.. well, we're.. I'd say we're somewhere in the middle. We've got basically the game dynamics done, we need to finish a few things in the engine, bloom lighting still has a few problems. I had to actually scrap the code I have and use the one from OpenArena because it was really easy to use. It only took me like 5 minutes to get everything changed around to work with EGL. Other than that we have a lot of models that need re-modeling, I'm not sure when the modelers are gonna get to that but hopefully it's going to be soon. Once the models are done, we're probably going to be releasing it as a multiplayer first, while the single player is still in development and maybe release a demo of the single player, but um.. I've been really out of the loop for the mapping so maybe Skies or James can pick it up from here and tell us how the maps are going. 

Jehar: ...assuming they're still awake. 

Paril: Having a little trouble figuring out who's gonna talk. 

Skies: I'll go first. Basically where we are right now is still in development in the first mission, um heh, we've got a little bit more to go on the first mission, other than that we could probably use that for the demo, if, uh... 

James: We're still fooling around with a lot of ideas. 

Jehar: That's a good stage to be in. So this might be a little early to discuss this but how much of the game do you expect to be stock Quake2 assets and textures and models and things and how much do you plan on doing yourself? 

James: We planned on using pretty much all of the Quake2 textures that came with Quake2 

Paril: The problem we had with that is the whole copyright thing. We're still unsure of how it's going to work exactly. We might be using the demo assets and the pak1 assets but I'm not sure what we'll be able to do for this. But that's the same idea with the models, but we're getting most of the weapons and done re-mentioned.. oh, remodeled sorry. 

Jehar: Well there are the Quake2 retexture pack, which are technically fairy complete and I guess they would be concidered free wouldn't they? 

Paril: Yeah, actually that was an idea of mine, thinking maybe we could get permission from the paks from that one site and see if we can get that used in the final release. 

Jehar: Yeah and several people have done those like Jdolan and.. I can't even think of who else but they're definitely out there. 

Paril: Yep. So that's probably what our idea is gonna be for the textures. We're still.. on monsters models that is our big problem because the Strogg make up the entire Brazen gameplay and without them you don't have Brazen. 

Jehar: Right, and uh.. well you did Lazarus for a while which was notibly one of the few significant mods geared towards making Single Player a more consistant, and more better.. more gooder single player experience so how's that factored into this mod? 

Paril: Lazarus, well, the source code was really neat for that and I was thinking of integrating a lot of featured from that because Skies actually wanted some of them, I can't remember which one exactly, I think it was the rotating train for one, but he wanted some of those. The dynamics for the monsters, like, they're really good for hiding and all that but we tweaked up the AI too similar to Lazarus but even a lot more advanced so that they're actually, you know, good opponents in single player. 

Jehar: And how is.. well working with the other two guys, and this goes for you guys as well, how's.. have you run in any major difficulties as far as producing the content and working together simply over the internet as opposed to being physically together? 

Paril: Ooh, um.. James could probably have a lot more to say on that than I do because he's been basically my along-side tester since Brazen started and he's been in-game waiting a lot for me to apply my code changing to my debugging and he always complained that I debug too much, and never actually get to play and I'll be playing and I'll be like "Oh hey there's a bug here" and he'll be like "No don't fix it!". 

James: Well not don't fix it, but fix it later. 

Paril: Yeah, exactly! So we've been running from that for a while but I think we finally got that fixed out, but uh.. as apart for issues and mapping and that I'm not sure what they've run into for that so maybe they can fill me in on what issues for mapping so far. 

Skies: Well, um, I think the main issue is just having the virtual personality, well not really virtual personality but not being together as a team. We're on seperate computers in seperate places so it's a little hard to coordinate what part of the map or mission, which person is going to do or.. you know, stuff like that. 

Paril: Another thing has come up.. I forget what I was going to say now. Something about OpenGL.. oh yeah, um, all of our computers are a little different too, and mine's actually quite outdated, and heh, it's becoming to the point too where Brazen isn't able to run on my own computer when I have the visual stuff up so that I can play it. I was really jealous because Skies is able to run the game as 32 samples with multisampling at 100 fps, but I'm stuck at 1 fps doing trying that so I have to stick with 2 samples. But other than that we've been just going with the flow with whatever we have for mapping, they've been really good with that, James and Skies have been working really hard to really get these maps done, and I tested them out for them, and uh.. so far I like what I see, it really does remind me of the Quake2 atmosphere, and it's really doing pretty good for that. 

James: And my computer's even more outdated than his and I can't even RUN the game. At all. 

Jehar: And yet you have bloom. 


Paril: Yeah, well.. I kinda wanted it. Even though it doesn't.. well it runs good on here, but it's something I really really wanted because I was really impressed by bloom lighting. 

Jehar: Well me I came from the Doom community, where there's projects like Zdoom, GZdoom and Skulltag, and all these of these things focused towards giving mappers a lot more power as far as single player experiences go, and if you go to the community these days, it's still a multiplayer community but the powers that single player mappers have, there's just so much you can do with that. And that's something I couldn't help notice with the Quake2 community with the uh, predominance of the multiplayer aspect thrown in. So how do you think the bulk of current Quake2 players and Tastyspleens will like, will uh respond to Brazen, or have responded so far? 

Paril: Well that was kind of my idea. What I thought was that because there wasn't a lot of Quake2 single player/cooperative mods that did well, I thought that it would actually raise interest in there being an actual game based on the Quake2 mission, well it's not entirely Quake2 anymore.. well it IS, but it's standalone now. But um, so I'm really interested to see if people, you know, just to be curious to see how an actual cooperative/single player experience might work with Quake2. 

Jehar: Yeah, and a lot of that could be simply just because of the vacuum of there not being anything good. 

Paril: Exactly, yeah. And another, uh, I should probably add in here, and I mentioned this before, not sure if I brought it up again, the in-game entity editor, which is what I was working on earlier today because we were messing around with the maps. But basically there's an edit mode in Brazen which I improved a lot from Mr. Grim's one which was basically checking out entities to see what they did, but in this one you can actually add stuff to the maps and take stuff away dynamically. You'd be able to.. the focus for this was that you can have the compiled map with the brush models and all that and if we needed to add or remove something we can visually go in-game and add all the entities ourselves visually and test the maps out right after without having to recompile the entire thing, and if there's something you don't like you can turn the editor mode back on and just remove it, try it again, and when we get something final we can just append the entity string into the BSP and then we have the map right there. 

Jehar: Kinda similar to what we have in Doom 3. 

Paril: Yeah, yeah. That was something brought up, and I was thinking of making it compatible with other Quake mods, you know adding your own entity file sort of thing. 

Jehar: Yeah that would be pretty cool. And there are a lot of Quake2 projects going on right now that are branching off in the main codebase and kinda going into standalone stuff, still with the interest of being as widely accessable to everyone as possible.. Uh, so, with that, and especially with you working on a solo project, well cooperative really, how do you see the broad community standing today as far as Quake2 specifically goes, I mean this is Quake Expo and we have the Quake 1 and Quake 3 guys going on, and TastySpleen is hosting out this year of course and that side of things is really thriving, but overall, what are you basic views in all that? 

Paril: Uh, like on the Quake2 community in general? 

Jehar: Yeah. 

Paril: Well.. it seems to be mid-active, like I'm not gonna say that there's so many people working on new mods, but um, there's still a lot of stuff that's still being worked on, and throughout the past months, even year I've had three or four come and contact me and ask for modding help for Quake 2 because they wanted to get into it and there's two of them that actually stayed in there, there's.. Mango and Kevin, they actually stayed in here and there's still working on Quake2 related stuff. Kevin's booth is Corex over at Quake Expo. It seems to be alive enough for mapping, I've seen a lot of new maps at the Quake Cafe coming in, and uh, at some other communities. As for engine development, I don't see much going on beside Quake2XP and Berserker Quake2, and there's the Q2Kaos that I've never heard of before, and those seem to be going pretty well. It's alive.. but.. 

James: Definitely not dead. 

Paril: Yeah it's alive but it's not dead. 

Jehar: With the risk of annoying some people, what are your views on those engine that we're seeing at Quake Expo right now, Quake2XP and Berserker. What's your general opinion on them? Careful with what you say though.. 

Paril: Yeah, I was gonna say I'd rather not comment on them. I'm not really a big fan of these whole engines, packed with graphical features and shipping off like that, but I have viewed a few of them and it was really interesting to see what they come up with and I wanna try that Q2Kaos engine because it looks really interesting. 

Jehar: Is that the one with, uh, depth of field? 

Paril: Depth of field, yeah, that looks really really good. 

Jehar: Right, yeah, they seem kind of out of touch with people who are actually playing Quake2, so uh.. they have more of that portfolio feeling of it, let's see what we can cram in here.. Uhmm..  

Paril: Heh, yeah. 

Jehar: So there's just the three of you now, so are you looking to expand your team, or do you feel you're getting enough work done with the current number of things or what? 

James: We definitely need more members. We need animators mainly.. 

Paril: Yeah we're still working with md2, I know a lot of people are going to be criticizing us for that saying you know "md2's bad move to md3", but you know, for me, I've been working with md2 for a long time, I know the tricks to getting around vertice swimming, although you can't in total, there are ways to at least work around most of it so it doesn't.. it's not really bad, you know. Md2's still a good format, I like working with it because there's a tool dedicated right to it, Quake2 Modeler, I've been working with that for a long time, it's really cool. As opposed to Md3, where I'd have to use several different tools and, you know, I can't skeletally animate. Skies, you know, he's really into the whole format thing, and he wanted to make his own model format actually, he said he dubbed it mdx but I'm not sure how it's going to work so maybe we'll work on that later. 

Jehar: Yeah, there's always been a certain asthetic with the wobbly vertices that I kinda liked. 

Paril: Yeah, I kinda liked that, it made it look like it was moving a little more than it did, but we don't use idle animations in this, it's all the Quake3 sway sorta deal. To sorta take away the idea.. the visual of vertice swimming so no one complained about it I removed animations in total, and just made it sway around like Quake3 did, nobody notices it anymore. Skies, I'm not sure what he's thinking for new ideas for the mapping but I'm sure he can tell you about that. 

Skies: Well in the way of the mapping, I'd like to see better tools like for instance maybe a better map debugging tool, or just in-plain functions like keypads or weight triggers.. 

Jehar: Yeah speaking of that, how do you guys collaborate with mapping? I mean of course there's trading .maps around but is there's any sort of collaborative drawing program set up or anything of those sorts? 

Paril: Uh, usually.. 

James: Sometimes we use VNC, 'bout it though. 

Jehar: Oh that's nifty. 

Paril: That's definitely our main tool for that, you know, Skies goes on James' and shows him how to do something and James'll send him back an idea, and I've seen that happen a lot when I was on Skies VNC, but other than that we draw little sketches on MSN but they don't turn out well. 

Jehar: Yeah I've never really happy with those before. Actually one thing I was kind of excited about with id Tech 5 coming up if we wanna jump forward a few generations technilogically, was being able to map collaboratively within the map editor within a virtual network. 

Paril: Is this supposed to be a feature in Radiant or how is that supposed to work? 

Jehar: Well apparently they're trying to get away from Radiant itself, and kind of update things because I think they know by now that that has been an area that has slid over the years... and don't get me wrong, I do like using GTK Radiant but when you get into engines like Quake 3 engine and the Quake Wars engine and there's just so many extra layers with the mapping, it really gets kinda cumbersome... I didn't mean to kill the conversation. 


Paril: We're trying to work this out on MSN here.. 

Skies: I actually wanted to add something about the mapping. Eventually as I'm getting more into programming myself, I actually wanted to add an interface that allows me to work with an editor in-game so that you don't have to compile the BSP or anything. 

Jehar: Which would let you connect it over the network and work on the entities collaboratively, right? 

Skies: Yes, of course. It would be networked, it would also let me build the BSP structure and various other things. 

Jehar: Groovy. Would there be a hey, speaking of that, here's just a side idea that just popped in, if you can place entities can you place temporary blocks of entities like.. generic 64x64 blocks that you can place around that'll stack on top of each other so you can block out walls and stuff? 

Paril: Now this was an idea that James brought up a long time ago, well actually not a long time ago, but then I thought maybe I should make some sort of dynamic brush model for a map which was what I came up with, which was basically a fullbright BSP which was like a staircase or a box or something like that and then you could actually load those in in a func_wall or something like that, you'd just put the path of the model and it'd load that but I started writing it and I looked at how Quake2 loaded BSPs and how everything's kept in static structures and I thought "this isn't going to work, I'd have to re-write the entire thing" so I scrapped that idea for now. I'm not sure how it's going to work out later, I might decide to give a crack at it again. 

Jehar: Right, because there are... go ahead 

Skies: I think that the main issue that we do have to get over is the BSP structure. In order for me to do my in-game editor I'm going to have to re-write a lot of the portions of the BSP so it can be re-written dynamically and I think it has to advance further in that sense before we add structures like what Paril and James was talking about. 

Jehar: Well yeah and whenever you're compiling a map the BSP compile itself only takes like a second or two, it's the VIS and the RAD that takes all the time. 

Skies: Yeah exactly, but I was also thinking of adding, um, programmically dynamic lighting so we can just scrap the entire RAD process in the first place so that would open a whole new window of options. 

Jehar: Well... 

Paril: Like per-pixel lighting and all that. 

Jehar: Well I do like.. radiosity compiled lighting because there are things you can do with the bounces and with sunlight and things like that that take substancially more steps to do with the real time lighting 

Skies: Uhh, yea, that is true. I guess I could do both then, just have a.. -dynamic switch I guess. 

Jehar: ..Yeah! So yeah this is a little away from the mod itself but these are all things that'll definitely add to what people can do with single player maps. And personally as a mapper I think a lot of mappers if they're faced with being able to use these tools for that mod you're going to have a bit of incentive to make maps for the mod simply because they get to play with new toys. And, uh, this goes without saying but I'm really excited just to see a competant coop mod for Quake 2. Because it really just hasn't happened. Ever. 

Paril: That's what we're going for right now, is a fully working coop mod and make sure it works with more than one player, stuff like that so you know, we can have a [non-]linear gameplay. Actually another feature I wanted to add to, that uh.. I was going to add another feature which would of been, well will be, but basically a radio context menu kind of like Quake Wars but we're not gonna talk about Quake Wars because that's no where near.. well it is near but we're not going to go near that whole stealing aspect of that.. heh, but it'll be a context menu where you'll be able to, you know, call on your teammates and all that, because I do plan like multiplayer too, because a lot of people like multiplayer, and Brazen does play well multiplayer too, so I was thinking of adding like a capture the flag and a teamplay gamemode. 

Jehar: Well cool, uh, I think that mostly wraps it up. But before I cut you guys off is there anything you want to say about Quake Expo or any final words or comments? 

Paril: None that I can think of I don't think 

Skies: I would actually like to add that I'm glad to see that the Quake2 community is still.. there, I mean it's still alive after 11 years. 

Jehar: Well that was actually the reason I started to get into Quake2... (self-conceited automatic response of Jehar's childhood and how he became the awesome Quake mapper he is). And that's the way it happens, and it's that kind of community where you can collaborate things and add things in and that's the kind of people I want to be involved with. 

Paril: Well if there's any.. you know, anyone who does any modeling, texture work, anyone who wants to join our team, just drop one of us a line. You'll be able to find my email at the Quake Expo booth for Brazen, drop us a line we can definitely use your help, heh. 

Jehar: Great, I'll be sure to forward that along. And that concludes the interview per say, so I'm gonna go ahead and switch people on the radio back over to enjoying their music if they were. So to everybody, have a good night, and enjoy the Expo.