Interview with VorteX and his team mate Mean_Person, guys behind Arcade Quake and Deluxe Quake
Conducted by motorsep
motorsep: Could you briefly introduce yourself (age, location) and how did you get in modding for Quake ?
VorteX: I'm 23 years old and I live in Yaroslavl, Russia. The first game of Quake series for me was Quake II, after that I tried Quake I. It was a way darker than Q2 (especially because I found the gamma slider only by the end of episode 1, when I started playing I became upset because the game was totally dark). I began modding for quake in 1998, can't remeber exact date. I was trying to make lightning shaft a bit longer. Then, using winqcc, I made a super-cool-whole-new-mega-weapons mod (every quake modder did it i guess), but I lost it when my hard drive crashed. Quake modding was abandoned for few years because I was hooked to Diablo II modding and Doom 2 map making. Somewhere in 2002 I got back to Quake. There was no Internet at that time in my area, so I modded just for myself and my friends. That was a nice time.
motorsep: What was the most interesting aspect of modding for Quake for you? (art, level design, coding, etc.)
VorteX: Heh, it's hard to make a choice. I think it's coding for now, especially because mods became more ambitious than before. The most addictive thing in quake modding for me is integration of several aspects, it's like a game in the game: you make characters, then you make home for them, then code their brains. And in the end you kill them :P !
motorsep: So basically you enjoy all aspects of modding.
VorteX: Yep, while making Arcade Quake, I have been switching from one task to another. Like a week of coding work, then modeling stuff that was in my mind while I was coding, then mapping, some other modding stuff and then back to coding. When I work on the same aspect for too long, I become to tired of it and the I hate it :). I made 100+ potions for my Diablo 2 mod in an image editing program, but I grew so frustrated with it that I erased all of it from my HDD.
motorsep: I see your point :) It does get boring sometimes when you work on your own and don't rotate tasks.
So how did Arcade Quake come across?
VorteX: Honestly speaking, AQ wasn't planned :) I wanted to get creative after long exhausting Deluxe Quake re-texturing session and some troubles in real life. I made short demo with player moving in 2D styled level. When I distributed first alpha on QuakeGate, people loved it :) So I got hooked.
motorsep: Why 2D ? Was there a particular game that inspired it?
VorteX: Long time ago there was a game called Doom2D, created by Prikol Software in 1996. AQ concepts was inspired by it a lot, with new tricks inspired by other cool arcade games such as Contra for example. Other things were invented by us. Quake is a prefect modding platform and we decided that first true 3D action game should be revamped as 2.5d-style arcade.
motorsep: Tell us a bit about Deluxe Quake. What is it about? Is it a derivate from another mod or standalone project?
VorteX: No, it's not standalone. Deluxe Quake has rich development history, it started as TC for quake named "Netherworld". Later on it was renamed as DarkMaster, add-on featuring new history but intersecting Quake story. After year of development we have no man power to make such a ambitious project, so for now it is large-scale quake content revamp project. There was 3 sourcecode based for DQ, each started when concept has been significantly changed, all of them featuring graphics and gameplay improvements, for example Quake3-style animation (which was coded in 2003). The goal of Deluxe Quake is to provide an author's pack that is pretty faithful to original Quake content. It contains a lot of content from famous media revamp projects, such as Quake Retexturing project or N30g3n3S1s models, or MonkeyRat's new weapon models - all heavily altered in many ways to look as solid content pack.
motorsep: What is DarkMaster project?
VorteX: It is not a 'project' currently, just a bunch of concept media and ideas. DarkMaster like DQ has long history, it is postponed currently. A 100+ page design document was created for it, arts, a lot of texts. However, until we have man power to make it, it is remained on hold. It will be standalone project. Single player action is performed in a parallel dimension and the protagonist will be an undead minion. The game focuses on strong storyline and non-linear gameplay, similar to Hexen. It is still in concept stage for now. Our lead designer, Andrey [Picasso] Shatalov, spends a lot of time making art for the design-document for Dark Master. Some of concept art will be published soon at our QExpo booth.
motorsep: Sounds exciting! I can't wait to see concept art from DM :) Let's get back to AQ and DQ. What kind of difficulties have you experienced while working on those mods?
VorteX: Speaking of DQ I guess our main enemy is complexity. Project is too ambitious - bring together to what a lot of people dedicated a lot of time. That is why it is not released yet. Many content revamp projects suffer from one thing - the content they add does not fit the game ideally, or fits badly when combined with other content revamp projects. Bringing them together, styling them is a big piece of work, and not really very creative one. DQ also has special technical difficulties since we decide to use Q3BSP maps for it. They are partially solved with the use of new version of q3map2 we created specially for Deluxe Quake (and other darkplaces-related mods that will use q3bsp). We have tried to get DQ as much universal as it can be - one of tools we made for it (besides q3map2 fs-r) is SourceScanner, a tool which scans all .qc source files for special tags and extract a .def/.fgd/.ent file from them to use with a level editor.
Speaking of AQ - there are not that many difficulties we have experienced in relatively short development time - about 7 months. Some of headaches have been already solved with his 'big brother' - DQ. The general difficulty was a level design. When we started messing around with it, it was hard to go in 'arcade mood' with 3D environments.
motorsep: How many people is in your team?
VorteX: Core team is quad-of-persons - me, Q'linar - our mapper and storyline co-writer, Picasso - artist and Mean_Person - game designer and modeler . Also I want to mention Mikhail Naumenko and his group GloomTek. He makes soundtracks for both projects. He has created a five tracks for DQ and his music is in AQ and it's deathmatch trailer. GloomTek also did research for music theme for Prophecy: Return of Blademaster, but as our team, he was unable to contribute to this project a lot due to very busy work and life schedule.
motorsep: Do you still play Quake?
VorteX: Yes, but not a lot. I like to play single player maps.
motorsep: Do you have any particular favorite mod for Quake?
VorteX: I would say my favorite mods are Nehahra and Shrak. Second has ingenious concept. Also I like Operation Urth Majick and can't wait for Feral release.
motorsep: What do you play nowadays besides Quake?
VorteX: Recently I re-played Clive Barker's Jericho and Take No Prisoners (this game rocks!), two months ago - Blood Omen: Legacy Of Kain. I like games with strong concepts. Last week I got S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky and had no time to play it because of Arcade Quake preparations.
motorsep: What do you think of DarkPlaces engine as a platform for indie game development?
VorteX: I think it more than possible. Darkplaces is an excellent engine, although it still needs a lot of optimizations to be quite fast, but thats because of its utterly insane features count. With AQ we made a stake on that - a lot of subsystems are designed to be very well extensible and modular, like the menu system, scripting system, physics, animation system. I think we will make an indie game when AQ will be finished.
motorsep: Can you give an advice for modders who just starting out?
VorteX: Keep up all good work. Take care of good QC coding - try to research all cases for particular task before you actually will begin coding it. This way you will achieve minimal number of rewrites. Unite! Group of modders can do a lot more than single individual. And the last thing - play, play, play and play Quake!
While I was interviewing VorteX, one of his team mater showed up online and was kind enough to give a mini-interview. Please welcome Mean_Person.
motorsep: Could you please tell us about yourself a bit and how did you end up with VorteX?
mean_person: I am 23 year old and I live in St. Petersburg, Russia. I can say that I met VorteX accidentally. At the time I was looking for a project where I could apply my modeling skills, Quake2XP looked pretty attractive and I decided to join the team. At the same time Q'Linar spotted me and persuaded me to join RWG (Razor Wind games, the name of the team of VorteX).
motorsep: What is your current position at RWG ?
mean_person: My main responsibility is 3D modeling. However, due to lack of man power in our team I am filling in for level designer and 2d artist for Arcade Quake. Also VorteX was kind enough to let me be a co-designer of the game.
motorsep: From all that variety of fields you participate in, what is your favorite thing?
mean_person: Without a doubt, 3D modeling is my favorite and it's followed by 2D art. Currently I work on layout of DM map for AQ.
motorsep: Could you show us your work, please?
mean_person: It is an exclusive level that being made only for QExpo. Surprise, let's put it this way. The only thing I can say is gameplay will be different from what you saw in demo video and it will be based on performance of various tricks.
motorsep: Sounds very exciting :) We will be waiting for AQ to be release ASAP ! How about samples of your work that are not related to AQ?
mean_person: Sure thing. You can play Duke Nukem 3D : HRP and pay attention to environmental models. Those are done by me. Also I made Reconcar and hot easy-going chicks are product of my work too :) I would like to show to you some models from DQ
motorsep: How long have you been into 3D art?
mean_person: I have been working with 3D since ... well, I began to produce more or less good models from 2004 ;) The ability to participate in RWG allowed me to gain more experience. It's been a long road to master my skills and I am still learning.
motorsep: Would you like to say something to beginner who decided to take on 3D art?
mean_person: Don't give up! That's the main thing. Also I would encourage you to be open to new techniques.