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Interview von [acid] mit swelt, dem Lead Designer von CPMA.

( Hi swelt. Most of the people in the CPMA scene will probably know you already. Would you please introduce yourself to the ones who haven't heard of you yet?

(swelt): Hi acid! My name is Rich Jacques, I'm 30 and I live in Bath, in the UK. By day, I work as an IT Specialist for a major IT Corp. By night, I've been playing online games since Quake 2 with a few different clans. A few years ago now, I got totally wrapped in Challenge Promode and started playing with a clan called Nobles. From there I got into making maps and "the rest is history". I'm the lead designer for CPMA and I've made a whole bunch of maps for CPMA (and 3 1/2 for Doom 3).

( How did get into CPMA and especially mapping?

(swelt): I almost let CPMA pass me by. I was really turned off by the "Q3 sucks, promode rulz" spam that plagued XSReality around the time of Promode 1.0, so I ignored it and carried on with what I was doing. Before CPMA, I was playing competitive Rocket Arena with Clan X. At the time, RA3 was a cheaters paradise and so, together with some others, I started trying to convince people in the UK to use this "other mod" that supported rocket arena gameplay and maps: CPMA. Around the same time, I went to an Insomnia LAN - one of the biggest LANs in the UK - and some people (ix mostly) started voting Promode 1. It was like an epiphany, I really loved it. The speed, the physics, the weapon balance - I was hooked.

As for mapping, it came from necessity. Nobles were getting CPM TDM up and running, with Drex and Empy running the BWCPML, but we kept finding that there weren't enough TDM maps that really worked. I set about learning Q3Radiant so that I could make us some new playing fields. I read a bunch of tutorials on forums, then set about building maps. I started with a remake of DM4 (tip: good way to start mapping, a remake - saves you thinking about layout when learning to make architecture), then moved on to nodm2 (still played today as CPM18).

( What attracts you of CPMA?

(swelt): The first thing that really grabbed me about CPMA was the physics. When I went from playing Q2 to Q3, it really bugged me that the trick jumps seem to be all but gone. I'm not talking about the amazing stuff the hardcore trickers do, I'm talking about tricks and manoeuvres that real players use in real matches. In CPMA, I could see that there were so many possibilities - and it was so much fun too.

What keeps me with CPMA is the complete package. Over the years, CPMA has evolved to an extent where I honestly feel it is the best 'Quakesque' FPS game with the best features and game experience to support the player and spectator alike.

( A lot of people went disappointed by Doom 3 or Painkiller, probably because at least Doom 3 was extremely hyped. What's your opinion towards the recent first person shooters and how do you explain the many disappointments?

(swelt): As a regular reader of ESR, I was more affected by the non-stop Painkiller hype than the Doom 3 hype. By the time the game came out I was almost sick of it. I enjoyed playing the single player - it made me hark back to the original swathes of monsters in Doom 1+2. But the multiplayer... what's up with a game where you spawn with a weapon that deals 200 damage, and where the 2 best weapons are combined into one uber-gun that gives you health back for using it?! I played it for a while, I tried to like it, but with the netcode not allowing for 4v4 TDM and the maps making 1v1 pretty shoddy, I soon gave up.

As for Doom3, I don't know why everyone has given up on it so quickly. There are some things I strongly disagree with - well mostly headshots - but I think once you get away from using the maps that came with the game and get a competition mod with just a few extra features, Doom 3 could be a decent platform. Of course, that would also require the netcode ramping up to support more than 4 players...

I guess both these games suffer from 2 problems:

- the new trendy physics push network and server load beyond the curve but neither development house has put in the work to really optimise. Who cares if the player moves with correct skeletal animation and conforms to a real-world physics model when I can't play with more than 3 goddamn players?!

- key design decisions from the single player game were carried forward into the multiplayer. With Painkiller, the decision to push the RL and CG into a single weapon didn't harm the SP game, but it's just foolish in the MP. With Doom 3, it was an issue of maps - Splash Damage kept a consistent look and feel with the SP maps that resulted in the box-door-corridor maps that give us the CSish gameplay that is making Doom 3 so dull to watch.

( At present threre doesn't seem to be a shooter that was spread so much like Quake 3 or Counterstrike. Everyone was playing at least one of them. What must developers in your opinion do, to make their new games as addicting as they were in the past?

(swelt): CS was a phenomenon. Take the most popular SP game ever, give it a downloadable mod that has a fairly simple learning curve, that encourages players to learn by making them watch after they die, that runs on any old PC, that has a realistic setting that the masses can relate to... winner! I don't think we'll see 'another CS'.

Looking to the future, I was quite encouraged by what I've seen of Tribes:Vengeance. With T:V the developer hired a couple of guys who really knew the original game, who understood the competitive scene and brought them onboard to work on the design. The game has built in features that the community had added itself with scripts, making those features available to the newer players. They've coupled that with a single player campaign to teach newcomers the fundamental techniques before getting online. Where they've 'newbified' it has been removing unnecessary complexity - not by giving spawning players enough firepower to wander around and get random frags (hi q3/pk!).

But to be realistic, hardcore players need to understand that it's simply not a commercially viable proposition to make a game that is tailored just to suit them. Companies make games to make money. The current FPS model only has the single purchase as revenue (unlike MMORPGs with the subscription model, where the real money is), so they need to make a large number of sales to get back the investment. You get large sales by making your target audience as wide as possible... do the math! As always, I expect the future for serious FPS gaming will lie in mods.

( And now for the last question: which upcoming shooter do you expect to have the greatest impact in the gaming world and why?

(swelt): I don't think Doom 3 is necessarily dead. Time will tell, but from what I can see the engine is very flexible and would make a good platform for a modification... but only if you can get decent internet performance for 8-12 players. Half-Life 2 will undoubtedly have a pretty big impact, even if it is only to split the CS community sending crowds of ex-CSers into the wider gaming scene ;o) Again, might be a good candidate for a mod. I'd like to see T:V do well, but I fear they don't have the bucks to give this game the promotion (and Linux server) it deserves. And coming in from leftfield, there's Halo2... any FPS game that has 1.5 million copies pre-ordered in the US alone is going to have some kind of impact - who knows, it could even widen the potential FPS audience. It's going to be an interesting time for FPS gaming - but I think it'll be a while before I give up playing CPM TDM Pickups :o)

( Thanks for the interview :)

(swelt): Thank you. A quick shout out to #nobles, #cpmpickup and #promode o/


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