We have not done one of these in about 18 months, I knew
very little about Neokinesis so I fired some questions at him.
Here is the Member Profile for Neokinesis
The name neokinesis where did that come from?
This is a loaded question and I think there are three main parts that
contributed to the name.
The first would have been the more gruesome one, I was extremely sick as a young kid and diagnosed with a blood disease called A-Plastic Anemia. It is super rare and the only experimental cure at the time was Chemo and Radiation Therapy, which for perspective, is a lot like an extreme doze of the treatment they use now for Cancer Patients.
So, one day my body just quit on me and I was rushed to the hospital to discover I had, if I was lucky, weeks to live. Well that sucks, but I wasn't ready to give up even if the doctors said it was close to impossible. I later discovered that I was the 10th case in history of the prestigious Standford Hospital and luckily ended up being the 4th person to live. The recovery was long and difficult and being only 9-10 the next two years of my life were mostly spent inside of a bubble without contact with any/many of my before school and sport friends. I was unable to leave my home because my immune system was too weak and to pass the time would play a lot of video games.
Now the second part. At that time I began migrating over from chat avenues like AOL and IRC and into more gaming type forums. I discovered a program called M-Player which was basically Blizzard's Battle.net matchmaking system before anyone even knew what Blizzard was. It was a place you could go and meet people to play games online when online and matchmaking was still in its infancy. I liked it because it did all the LAN and IP configurations for you (if players today even know what that means) and was very user friendly. So I would go on there obsessively to play either Command & Conquer or Quake.
Well, M-Player required a SN and their password recovery in the beginning wasn't very good. In a weird glitch many of us had to create new accounts and I needed a new Screen Name. So I did what any young kid does, I made something up! I took the first letter of my first name, N. and the first letter of my last name, K. and tried to come up with something unique and exciting, but most importantly I wanted it to define my outlook about life (after all it was representing me) about not wanting to give up and to keep moving as if energized by propulsion.
Ok, Part three, I was (am still I suppose) a math whiz! I had some IQ test done when I was in like 2nd or 3rd grade and they told me my math comprehension was that of someone well into college. So while still in elementary/middle school I would take very advance courses for someone my age and soon discovered Kinetics, and interpreted it as the extension of physical energies.
There I had it, I needed a word like Kinesis but how about the N? (mind you, this was 10 years before the matrix) and that is how neokinesis "New Energy in Movement" was born. I have liked it so much that in the past 20 years I have managed to scoop up neokinesis as my SN on most other mainstream SN systems and even view ‘neokinesis' as a personal mantra about constantly improving and innovating.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Well, I covered the basics in the first question. I guess the overview of my life is that I was always very creative and although I liked being able to do things with that creative imagination, I didn't decide until much later that it was something I could do professionally. I think that a lot of the way I would find ways to recycle the things around me and the mentality to just get or learn as much as I can from any experience stemmed both from being sick and from coming from a poor family. When you don't have very much, I have found, you become much more appreciative of what you do have. Life is the same way, if you don't feel like there isn't much time left, it changes the way you experience the world. I feel very fortunate that I was able to overcome both the poverty and the health issues.
Because of both of these personal triumphs I have a very realistic perspective on the saying ‘you don't know what you have until it is gone' and believe it is important to Protect Your Dreams.
The most valuable lesson I have learned is to be constantly making goals, and to never give up on those things that make you the happiest.
Do you have an all time favourite video game and which game would be the first one that made you sit up and think wow?
The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening (GB), Super Metroid (SNES), or The Secret of Monkey Island (PC) are constantly battling each other for the number one spot on my favorite game list. I love classic games, especially top downs adventure and side scroll platformers. Their design and player objectives are very clear and the games evolve as they teach you the skills needed to overcome each new area. I think these generas don't get caught up in being too realistic which I find begins to define the line for criticism. As a game becomes more realistic, it is easier to view it with a critical eye because of the comparison that happens with real life. As abstract and stylized types of gameplay, my imagination is much more forgiving and accepting of what the game offers.
Monkey doesn't put limits on your time or your health. It is driven through a strong silly story arc and littered with word pun puzzles, and abstract animation tricks. The palette of actions is limited but in a way that allows you to think about all those simple action words much more abstractly. The game has a lot of imagination and dazzle in discovering a new world a lot like a young child processes a new cartoon. You eventually become part of the world by experiencing it's rules and start exploring with a new filter for your eyes in that place. Point and Click adventures are in my mind, the closest gameplay the world has to Peter Pan's Neverland.
Zelda is great because you have a character in a box like a maze and you move it around so you can either get out or overcome another obvious obstacle or character. It also uses many motivating gameplay tools like progress meters, inventory systems, and of course math and memory games as its core mechanics so everyone learns a little while playing.
Metroid has the same formula as Zelda but has a higher level of difficulty with gravity and physics. It is a much more immersive world because there is consequence, action, and reaction. You have much more control over the timing of a jump or duck. These simple things make the game much more alive. You feel the hit of a blaster because you have the ability to have dodged it.
I remember spending hour upon hour at the local arcade throwing 10 pences (English currency) into upright cabinets - games like Kung Fu Master, Donkey Kong, Pac Land, Shinobi and many many more. Then came the Hang On and Daytona & Afterburner games which cost more - I have seen the decline of the Arcade and watched the growth of Consoles and now the handheld and iphone.
Are you a fan of Retro Games and how do you see the future of gaming panning out with On Live and Handheld fighting against the home console?
I think there is a big history here to cover but it all involves cycles.
I love retro games! But my stance on how they are competing with each other here I think stems more on balancing the different ecosystems. Arcades in the States worked great in the 80s because the world was very cutoff from itself, as gaming was concerned. Where ever I existed was ‘My World' and had my town an arcade, I could be exposed to the games and the challenge of others that I might not have been able to experience. Sportsmanship on the streets connects people. If I went to a local park and hopped in to a pickup basketball game or played soccer with a stranger I was able to find a new challenge and possibly a new friend that was just outside my reach before. The Arcade blurred the line between counties. It didn't matter anymore that my opponent was a stranger and through a couple games a lot could be learned about who and where that person was from, based on the way they interpreted the rules.
With game networks, whether it be to experience competitive play or just to be exposed to games of the past, we do a lot of the same types of things as defined by the Age of Arcade. However, I feel that removing the player from the new location, and allowing them to bring the game to them has its disadvantages. When I went to the Arcade as a kid, I was in a new place and exploring new things, ideas, and peoples. My fear is that by having the shield of your own home or even your own console, your subconscious begins believing you are really inviting others into your world. I think this distorts the willingness to accept each other because we are not occupying real space, they are just a voice in my headset and it becomes hard to rationalize treating them with any more respect than the AI characters of the game.
Something that I never saw in an Arcade was someone Teabag the loser after a match or the growing borage of insults one might hear through a headset. Most games in real life end with well played, a hand shake, and sometimes even a hug. I like the idea of games bringing people together!
At the bottom of it all, we aren't ready yet but soon Game Communities will discover the need to be more accepting of each other. I believe eventually there might be a time and place when people have shed some of that protection and ego, and hopefully as systems become available with more overlap, the Community will be able to move beyond the Spec List of their computer or Hardware, beyond the reality of ‘Their World' and experience the challenges of other players in a purer form.
As for the Industries, most of them are still trying to define themselves as different, new, or improved because they have lost sight of the sportsmanship.
You have made some very nice looking maps on FC2 I have played some but not all of them, which is your overall favourite solo map and for what reasons.
Thank you! I think Serpent Alley is probably my favorite Solo Map. Although it was only my second map for FC2, I view it as a right of passage almost. I learned a lot while creating that map and was able to discover and overcome most of the reoccurring dilemmas of overcoming the Editor.
I discovered that you can't just use every object in the entire game in your level. In FarCry, you would pick a brushset and then use whatever you wanted from the list provided, in FarCry2 they have allowed you access to all of those brushsets and instead tax you for using each of the different items. Once I discovered using like items (especially texture) I was able to get much more complicated in what I was able to provide for my map. It is a logical way of thinking about the game but wasn't obvious to label the inEditor bar with a microchip icon. Serpent Alley has a lot of textures that are very different from each other to help separate the different areas and I struggled with the Texture Meter quite a bit while making it.
I also discovered the 10,000 points per grid issue. Had I made the map know with some of the new tools and techniques I have learned, I would have positions the level differently so that the grid intersections would distribute the level better. There is definitely an area that is very loaded but thankfully because of its verticality, there isn't too much tax on FPS.
Since publishing the map, I have written a very extensive Play-Through type Strategy Guide for Serpent Alley that I will eventually release. It outlines a lot of the strategies in overcoming each other areas like a tic-tac-toe game and how you can use any weapon (even flame throwers) to overpower and advance your team from one base to another.
Of all my maps, that is the one I have played the most, although there are some close seconds.
CO-OP This is a great way to build, If you had to pick 2 people for each theme who would you choose to be on the team for the following. An All Indoor Map / All Outdoor Terrain Only
I am a huge fan of Cooperative Map Making. I can't understand how Ubisoft could have dropped the ball with Player Signatures for FC2. It seems obvious that people would start connecting through mapping and eventually both want their names on a Map. (or even more mappers) I would like for the maps to have tracked who contributed especially with point displacements and time. If I could have looked at a map solo or coop and saw, Skorpius47 placed 30,000 of the points and spent 30 hours while making this and Mikk Q placed 10,000 of the points and spent 50 hours. It would have given me a much different perspective of what to expect with the map.
Since the community only has the Icon and the Name to orient themselves, it doesn't surprise me that certain names emerge more prestigious then others. It is almost like putting your own brand label on it
Unfortunately, although I map for 360, PS3 and the PC I am much more familiar with the 360 crowd. Each system has its own personality of Mappers, I am sure you have witnessed, I tend to like the easability of the Party System on the 360 which is what keeps me connected there. Your question is hard for me to answer because when I choose a team to Coop I try and find someone that compliments my weaknesses on a particular map. Had I to choose who's maps impressed me when choosing for the criteria you mentioned, I would probably go with Saint Simian or Tonto007 from the 360 Community that would surface for outdoor maps.
I really like one of Tonto007's maps in particular because of his attention to the organic details. The way the trees are places, the rock formations and vines, you can tell there is a passion to make it right. A lot of getting to the bottom of your landscapes pitfalls is major construction, but most of it is polishing. We need to accept that the terrain is as important a tool as any other in making the atmosphere of a map just right.
Saint Simian has released a number of maps but most recently, one called Gravy. I like the attention to detail that has been paid to the rocks formations at the water's edge. Although there are others, this map shows a stead dedication to understanding a natural fault line type area, with layers of sediment around being cut through a stream/river.
Bleach888 (I believe he changed his Screen Name) and Enfadel for Interiors. Bleach888 had a couple of really nice maps at FC2's launch which I believe helped teach the 360 community how to use the objects to great custom buildings and structures. Great maps stand out over time. Down and Dirty also has a great simple design with a mostly figure 8 shape but most importantly for interior maps, is easy to navigate. As an outside open world game, FarCry is easy to navigate in Single Player because of major landmarks, but when you bring the players inside, it is much more difficult for everyone to get their barring. Bleach88 has just the right about of simplicity.
Enfadel, I choose for a different reason. What I like about his map is the way he recycles assets to create different moods and settings. Dismalland, although an interior and exterior map, shows that he is looking beyond the box of FarCry and trying to break down the game modes. You can see how he creates a sense of adventure in arriving at each map which then propels viewers to look around and try new things and eventually the room is full of players there to do what they all want, fight.
What most Mappers forget is the balance between realism and believability. What is important to the player is that they recognize what you have made, not that it is a complete replica, but that it exists as it is intended. Once a mapper achieves that, they should move on to other areas to prevent poor FPS. It is easy to over-decorate and sacrificing something as small as a pestle, grass bunch, or pillbox can add up over the course of an entire map.
We have some of your FCIP maps in our database but I am unsure how many you made in total, is there anything which you miss from that game that was not in Far Cry 2
There are too many of my maps for me to count these days. I have mapped for every version of FarCry with an Editor. Although most people that playing say zip-lines and Predator mode, I come from a different direction and they may not be the usual answers...
Before I answer, I want to talk about FarCry's design and the gameworld it was born in. There was an aggressive balance in games and often times aftermarket mods would mix with mainstream games and you would find a lot of people becoming upset with the fairness of a game. Cheating was everywhere!
In the days of Doom/Quake for example, you used to be able to expand your viewing angle on your monitor so that you would see more of your peripherals. This mod made it really difficult to get snuck up on and although it allowed a heightened awareness of the gameworld, it gave you a huge advantage over opponents. This technology allowed the ability for some types of auto aiming bots later on.
Another thing that happened (and still does) was players discovered that graphic settings could also allow you to have advantages. Some players like full graphic everything, but this actually slows your computer down, so being able to reduce your processor strain sped up your gameplay and gave you and advantage. There have been some limiters on how this works in more modern games. Then however, by increasing and decreasing the graphic strain of your computer, you used to be able to create the same effect as a modern day lag-switch by rubberbanding the amount of information you were broadcasting and receiving when playing and causing out of syncs with other players.
Some games would let you adjust your fog and dropoff distances and graphics levels. With the right combinations you could have a long fog dropoff, mixed with simplified geometries and it would actually make the enemies stick out at long distances, especially for sniping. Like the grass and some objects disappear at certain distances in FarCry2, you could set your configuration to allow the whole world to disappear, as though playing through an occlusion block where only the other players appeared. This also made the game unfair for players with these extended options because of their video card's extending settings.
These things weren't considered ‘cheating' because they were contained in the regular code of the games and accessible through regular graphic menus. The confusion was that they often worked in reverse of how one might expect.
And the fourth thing I wanted to touch on, was actual cheating, where the Player would mod or type in a code to give themselves an advantage. Godmode, extra speed, jump higher, etc.
FarCry was innovative in that it created a game where the modes were affectively those cheats. So instead of the players complaining about how others could see further, wider, jump higher, or have extra strength, Crytek created a mode where you did all of it all in one place. Predator Mode tried to capture the feeling in a game where you are able to use all of these abilities. I think this is what broke the traditional box and internal levels and what paved the way for open outdoor worlds we are used to today. Only after they had given every player the ability to ‘cheat', could they make their game fair again.
So for me, although I thought Predator was fun, I felt like they had fractured the gameplay into two different worlds. One where you exist as Superman and another where you exist as Clark Kent.
This is why I welcomed FarCry2 and its dedication to true FPS within most of the real world rules and why I believe the Creative Direction was taken this way. It was like when Ubisoft took the game from Crytek, they said subconsciously, well you had your time to be silly and now let's be more serious about this. This made some players happier and earned it a bit more respect by not being a circus clown freak show of game modes, but it was very constraining for faithful fans of the first game.
The things I miss the most were the option to Throw Rocks instead of gernades/molotavs, and the ability to Place Traps. You didn't die instantly in FarCry which made reloading and combat dancing important. Sometimes a healthy rock throw could give you the edge. The formula for modern day games is to end confrontations quickly so there is less need for that in a more realistic game like FarCry2. I think having traps created a whole new level of gameplay. This allowed the player to bunker down and create forts. And in the then Superman world, it was nice to know you could be safe tucked away in a room or dark tunnel. Many games still use this safety net today with proximity mines and IED detonation type devices. Farcry2 has a wonderful stick IED option with remote detonation, but I think it could have still been expanded with proximity support. I would wager the reason that proximity was removed, was because it is sometimes frustrating when you get caught in your own mine or trap.
If you could take some time off what would be your perfect holiday for a 2 week slot ?
Great Question! My first thought is that I would lead a caravan of friends to a remote place where we can forget about our responsibilities and all have fun together as one giant family. But that is what I always do! Usually when I vacation I visit our family's property near Yosemite National Park. It is a great place to go on the weekends, especially for someone like myself who loves camping. If I want to go fishing there is a lake 300 feet from the house and a town with people and weekend festivals nearby. Fortunately, there are no immediate neighbors around since it's in the woods and the night skies are super clear at that altitude. I never get any time in my C5 anymore and I would love to take a trip on the road up those windy hills. Maybe go white water rafting and hike Half Dome again.
Lets talk Far Cry 3 - Back to the Tropical Setting (your thoughts)
I have mixed feelings. I don't know that Ubisoft shares my view of Far Cry being the ‘every addon' game and I anticipate that they may be returning to the Jungle for the wrong reasons.
What I hope and expect from FarCry3 are advances in the technologies, including 3D support which they experimented with for the AVATAR: the game. If you haven't tried this it plays like a hybrid of Beyond Good and Evil, and a 3rd person Far Cry Predator. I expect a lot of the core game elements to be similar to AVATAR the game, in that, it felt like the prototype for expanding both the FC and BGE franchises and was created at the Montreal Studio.
I expect the zip lines to return because of the need to travel across the terrain quickly, especially in a heavily populated terrain. This excites me a bit because I think it silently communicates that there might not be super-run and super-jump options. I actually know they are already in the game as we have seen them in gameplay demos.ï¿½ I hope there is support to disable the lines and/or reconstruct the zip lines if sabotaged. I am excited about destructible environments and player choice. If I catch you are zipping across a ravine, I just might decide to buoy knife the rope.
I hope that the use of traps return as they could be a great opportunity to accumulate XP using the new point system. I almost expect that this is an obvious extension of the FC2 world and a strong enough part of FC to have made a comeback. I miss traps and see tons of ways new traps could be expanded in a Jungle environment. You could dig ditches and the time could fast forward like saving in FC2. Maybe snares would help catch people like Arnold does in Predator!?
I believe that Ubisoft will be ‘doubling down' on including an Editor as it is a core staple of the FarCry Franchise. What I want from an Editor, is expansions and/or DLC support and Missionized Gamemodes. I expect the obvious things to be there, like favorite map lists, tunnels, and waterfalls, but the community needs constant support and the tools to expand the gameplay. FC2's business model had a 6 month post launch timeline for the most part, and with games that offer creative content, it is important for Developers to recognize the game is no longer out of the box, it's episodic, it's a social experience.
I am also expecting to see more then Jungle from the game, and a lot more Crazy Clan leaders, like the one shown in the Teaser who could exist from all over the world, not just the advertised islands. I want this kind of variety because what made the Multiplayer experience exciting was ways to create more places than the Jungle. It is also just good form, for variety. If you compare a map of mine like ‘Serpent Alley' to ‘Hobo Hodge Podge', you can quickly see how defining new areas through texture can be a much more useful tool then blanketing an entire level/game with one theme. Variety is the spice of life.
I took note of the use of the word ‘landmarks' in recent interviews and anticipate the layering of quests and objectives to and around these landmarks will help guide the player back to the overall storyline. I liked the immersiveness of having an on hand map in FC2 but found it annoying occasionally to be flipping back and forth all the time. I can hold a map and shoot a gun in real life. This goes for most games and is a constant obstacle to overcome with limited button combinations, but I would love to get a universal Melee that I can use in the heat of any moment. Halo really sets itself apart this way, where depending on your weapon your melee is different, and its always there for backup like your best friends in FC2.
The statement that single player and multiplayer will eventually merge into one (how do you interpret this)?
It is a beautiful thing and this is why I think so.
Recycling allows more of your budget stretched further. Game making is a business, and every time a game offers a choice to the player they limit the ability for their efforts to reach every player. Simply, if you have a game with a fork in the road, Path A or Path B, some players will choose A, some will Choose B, and some will go back and do both. Most of the time, players only choose one path and as a Developer it costs money to make both the A and B paths regardless if a player will see it. This is inherently the problem with Open World games, because by giving the player so much choice, they constrict their abilities to really focus on a strict story and level design. The sacrifice for freedom is less detail, that's just the nature of the beast. However I still prefer the freedom.
By the looks of FC3, they may be using the Clan Leaders as a way to propel the story in areas so that that as a player you are guided back to the main path. As level design is concerned, there are also a lot of tricks that can help in allowing paths A and B to intersect or even overlap each other. Being able to position your world so that players experience and interact with the different parts of the game in multiple ways ads depth. The idea is not new, Resident Evil 2 is a good example of recycling the environment to tell a different story. Any racecar map in FC2 that loops in on itself does the same thing, it's what makes the worlds work and easier to navigate. In linear gameplays, landmarks are not as important because the game is being fed through a straw but with verticality, revisit layering, and story foreshadowing there is a lot more bang for the buck.
To have a situation where everyone gets everything, enables the company to focus their spending on a better experience. Although I think truly mixing multiplayer and single player is still some time away, I anxiously anticipate it's arrival.
Jason VandenBerghe seems a character, I could see some saying that he is the real Definition of Insanity, he could easily be mistaken as an eccentric Rock Star / A Yeti Sasquatch type character or even an escaped lunatic - He sure seems fun and passionate about the game, Are we safe with this guy on FC3 (He seems the type who would be fun to sit with and down a gallon of Beer)
I would agree he is a character and very proud of his individuality and you can't really blame him! It's important to know what you have to offer and be passionate about how you are taking your next steps. I must admit I have come across Jason in the past, casually, on my first gig at Electronic Arts, doing freelance artwork for a Godfather Franchise. Although, we are little more than rare acquaintances, I remember him being just as quirky and passionate back then.
However I can't really build a fair judgment from seeing someone once, or being introduced to him another time. What I can say is that there were a lot of other people that enjoyed FarCry during the time we were both at EA. I recall going to school with many other Industry People and competing in FarCry map Contests while still studying Modeling and Animation in school for hobby events. Many of these other students later went on to work with and alongside him. Had Jason not played FarCry previously, it is possible he was exposed to it for sure then. Thinking about it this way gives me the most hope that he knew the franchise long enough and well enough to carry on in the expected footsteps.
As experience is concerned, he has certainly touched many other AAA titles in his career. The impression that he gave me from the interview with Sark seemed well rehearsed. Jason was ready to talk about the game, and should be, but when asked questions off topic he seemed to shield up. I don't need him to have every interviewers answer though, and where he answered confidently, I felt slightly reassured by his answers.
Fan Sites, there are many fan sites out there for Far Cry, generally you get a click of people attached to each site which can create rivalry. It would be good to see community sites get involved in projects where we all run a contest together and share the work load and information, Far Cry can have a dark side which often flows over, everyone shouting out to be heard and sometimes it can seem hard to get recognition.
Time zones and work make things hard and family / real life can make things difficult - can you see one big happy community propped up by a bunch of fan sites and everyone getting along, what are your thoughts on these fan sites.
The sad reality is that Ubisoft is a Developer not a PR Team. So the effort to sell the game comes pre-launch. Post-launch support is only a drain of resources and money for them.
What I think is needed to make a big happy family is sustainable security and less conflict of interest. By that I mean, there needs to be a place that is the expert source on all materials. It is in a Developers best interest to save money and maintain quality of brand. Naturally we think, go to the source, which in this case is Ubisoft. But as a Developer, their forums function is to collect data. Sure they sometimes help fix minor issues or answer questions about support and bug complaints but most Developers are only leveraging the information from the forums to make a later product(s) better, or put out fires with their current softwares.
There is hope though especially with the rise of Social Gaming. This new direction allows the consumer more weight in the development process because in Social Gaming, the title is constantly being worked on, and the game you play today is different than the same game you play tomorrow. I think its important to try and think about FarCry in this way. Not because it's a social game, but because it needs to be episodic to continue thriving. What drives the community past launch is attention, thanks, recognition, and something that says someone is still watching/listening. FarCry3 may not have too many DLC packs because of the way it affects matchmaking compatibility, but there is still hope. I would be overjoyed if they slated 6 releases over the following year and a half with release dates slightly further apart.
The Industry is shifting in a new direction. Previously, games came as they are, out of the box. But as we move forward and the Game Industry evolves, there is both the opportunity for later fixes, and a shift to evolve games after release. They have a huge opportunity to leverage that and give the players that are still there 6 months and a year out, more map space, more content, more characters, etc.
I think the fundamental problem with the forum communities is that the people there reading are the people most interested in getting their information out there. So you have the need for recognition from the get go. This puts a lot of pressure on the Developer to respond quickly because the players that are vocal on the boards, are even more vocal in the game with their friends and if they stop making maps, the game bleeds out.
Fansites definately have a place to help propel the success of a game both before and after launch but it really needs to come from the source. It is one thing to be recognized as the first and for most site for information on a specific topic, but shouldn't the Developer be the expert? If Ubisoft could organize something that was surfaced to the community more clearly and stay consistent in releasing new information as time went on, I could see this world being a better place. I love what FCMaps is doing but Ubisoft needs to say publicly that they approve!
There are lots of quiet ways they could do this, like donations, news, interviews and even accepting contest winners somehow. Imagine if FCMaps was suddenly contacted to help organize a group of individuals to visit the study and under NDA check out what FC3 has to offer. That head start they get helps propel the next wave of maps and Ranked contestants. That is a pretty impressive feat for a fansit but I think it is within the realm.
Absolutely we can be one big happy family but it is going to take some work. Communities coming together, PC, PS3, and 360. But most importantly, Developers embracing Fan Sites.
OWAB - a Good or Bad thing, It's been late for us on 360 but with PS3 we had quite a few contests over several sites which were always a success?
I don't think its too late on the 360 side. I think best contests I have seen from Fansites for these types of things involve staged entries, where they go out of their way to promote the contestants. MOTM was always something I strived for because of the unspoken precedence that was set with those awesome videos made by Papz for the winning map. But if that is the goal, FCMaps could up the anti by finding ways to get videos like that made for more of the contestants and then more than 1 person walks away with their piece of fame, their taste of victory. They don't have to say, they entered something and someone else win. They can say I entered my map and the site made this really awesome montage. We should all be supporting eachother. If you have a card, hook your friends up. Get them all in a room. Write a script. Start making silly movies. I think that's what makes the community fun. PS3 has a lot of that spunk left. I think 360s side got jaded when two or three great mappers all entered at once. There was always only one winner. This however is the nature of contest.
From the contests I have seen on the PS3 side, it is always very obvious who is most deserving. I personally like the close competition mapping as a competition brings. I remember years ago when Skorpius47 and I would battle back and forth. He got one, I got one, he got one. But instead of resenting each other like some have we became good buds and this time around, we got to enter an OWAB that we both worked on together. We are as hard on each other to get it right as we were on ourselves to try and beat each other back in the day. I think the gameplay shows, it is truly something out of the ordinary. When the individuals of the community can moved past the glamour of what they think the limelight is, and can see the reward of working together, that's when the really great stuff comes together.
fcmaps.net - Taylor who owns this site is looking at trying to migrate this baby to a faster area but the site is a non profit site apart from the banners which make him peanuts along the way - You made a generous donation which will be put towards getting a years worth of the site on a faster server, Firstly I would like to say thanks everyone is generally worse off with the present global recession so someone putting their hand in their pocket is like Christmas come early for the site - You are generally found posting in the Ubisoft Far Cry Forums, what made the decision for you to think I am going to help these guys out with the site maintenance.
This is probably going to sound really sappy but... I Dream bigger than one person. I have always been that way. I don't know how to want or strive for something I can do alone. My dreams include my friends and family, they include the whole world! Occasionally I come across someone that has a really great plan, and good intensions, and it makes me want to help. I have been told no, or you can't, so many times in my life, and what I have learned is that they are all wrong. Every goal I set I make because I am realistic with my expectations and I know my limits. But I go further than that, I am pushing forward and protecting my dreams by building a foundation of people that know how to get stuff done. I see the dream for FCMaps and I want to help. Instead of a regurgitating a million reasons why it won't work or why not to do something. I just say, do it! Let your passion help you keep going and your dedication remind you the journey isn't as long as it sounds. Let there be skeptics, I can say I helped, I did something. What you are doing is important and I support you/it/the site/and the FC community!
Thanks for doing this, there are many talented map makers in the world of Far Cry, what do you think of Spotlight Profiles and Creativity Showcases - any suggestions for the site.
I like the Spotlight Profiles personally because they help ground the shooting stars we all interact with regularly. It wasn't too long ago that even you were saying you liked my maps but you didn't know much about me, and through things like this you may learn more then you ever thought you would know. The more we all understand each other, the easier getting along and forging a future of awesome is going to be. Awards and Highlights from any site, if done respectfully, are worth a considerable amount of weight if leveraged correctly. As an individual looking to get ahead, they can help prove dedication over a long period of time, propel new ideas, create new friendships, and even, if you're lucky, open up doors for Industry Positions. I think this helps everyone, from the Professional to the Underdog.
My suggestions for FCMaps might include finding a method for consistency. Keep patting people on the back for contributing to the community, they are your life line. Organizing the content FCMaps is putting out so that it can be consistent and regular. MOTM was a great example but often times would run for 3-5 months and then stop for a couple, then rerun again. I would suggest when FC3 comes out handling that differently, so that the site can award winners, or maps they hold in high esteem honorable mentions whenever. By only choosing one member each month you pit mappers against each other. If there are more than 1 great things in a month, why not tell everyone about all of them.
Also, as a ‘News Site' of sorts I am sure there are struggles to keep things current for a game that is long since released but there is room to change the strategy to keep people interested. Matchmaking could be an addition for the site to keep the community charging forward. FarCrySoup offers a wonderful weekly play session with great maps. Showcasing Clan Stats could be a way to expand and self-propel some chatter. (although it might need more moderation) I hope that Ubisoft is listening closely to MW3 Elite App news and is organizing a place to also organize stats and clans, and keep records. Halos been doing it for years. Maybe Ubisoft should start by looking at places like FCMaps.
I see a lot of criticism from new and unknown mappers to be included. There are always going to be people with presence that cast shadows on others. Not everyone is a DeathWeaponXX or Mike G Live.
There was a thread on the Ubisoft forum called Needle in a Haystack where people could recommend maps and individuals that might not be known yet.
With things like MOTM, I like that the stance has been very calculated and strategic so far. Don't start giving awards to subpar maps. Make the rules very clear, judge consistently, and stick to your guns. Make it clear that FCMaps isn't just giving away air time to their dedicated fans. They are providing a service for everyone to enjoy by helping keep people connected.
But find ways to award every level of mapper, or community supporter. Remember everyone.
I know you have made FC2 maps on both 360 and PS3, have you ever tried on PC and if Far Cry 3 is graphically superior on PC with a more complex editor could you see yourself shift to that as your main platform?
(Ever tried Far Cry 1 or Crysis 1 editor on PC)
I have mapped for every system FC exists on as I own multiple copies of every game in the franchise, except the arcade shooter. I put a bid in on a cabinet once but someone outdid me. I expect the PC to always be stronger/faster, whatever you want to call it. But I recognize that the power there is superficial, in that, because my computer is fast doesn't mean others is. I don't like that because I have more RAM or a better Processor or Video Card that my game runs smoother. I want a fair fight.
I like the consoles better because there is a bar. I know immediately what all others will experience because it is the same configuration. The only way I would see myself mapping exclusively on the PC is if it was the only way to create levels that would touch all three platforms. So for example, if you make a PC map and checked some boxes for verification and it exported it to a 360 and PS3 Ubisoft run servers. I would start making maps for all three systems immediately. I can imagine this is the only way to work around PS3's and 360's weird server compatibility quirks. And the key to the future, I was surprised CE3 wasn't released to amateurs to do exactly that. Since Crytek dropped the ball, I would love to see Ubisoft be the first.
Bottom Line is that I love making maps because I enjoy playing them, and I enjoy watching other play them. Anything that makes it easier for me to have more players on my maps is a win in my book! I have a ton of maps for FC1 and Crysis.
How do you usually think up your maps, do you doodle on paper or just start building and see where it gets you or are you pretty strict and start with a game plan and strategy which you follow with military precision?
My ideas usually start with Strategy. Often times I am playing something and I catch myself telling myself I wish I could do blah. Those Blahs add up. I really like giving the player a sense of choice. I revisit this many times before making anything, during, and even after a map. I have this unspoken rule where every 5 seconds or less on a multiplayer map, the player must be given a choice. So if you imagine a web of choices connecting to objectives you can see it gets complicated quickly. Luckily, I have been making maps for a long, long time, so I have a pretty good feel for what it needs.
The next most important thing for me is probably Location. I like matching a location to the feel and mood of the type of gameplay I am going for. If I want the level to be stealthy I will create it one way, If I want players to run and gun or have sudden unexpected confrontations, I do another thing, etc. I think I do this because I am a very bipolar player, in that sometimes I want to use a flamethrower, sometimes I want to use a pistol or machete. Maybe it is time for missiles or a shotgun. When I build, I try and keep major paths obvious for the classes. I sum up what you do in each class and try and make sure there is a way to win using every weapon, against any weapon. I tell myself while building, even if it is for a gun I don't use, that for whatever reason I accidently used this as my load out. Maybe my friend picked the class and I don't want to die, no matter what I can't die, so how do I allow the level to let me use this weapon to my advantage. This seems like a pretty straight forward way of building but it's SUPER hard. Balance isn't as easy as a couple convincing sentences.
Many times those steps happen on paper. I draw well and like to doodle so I will jot down all kinds of layouts. From a sketch or picture I get an idea of the location. I start building the layout with an idea of the type of terrain the level might have later on. If the map doesn't work within the first 2 hours of building, I scrap it. Good clean obvious designs are easy to spot at all levels of development. Nothing frustrates me more than trying and trying and trying to do a certain thing and not feeling like its right. But I don't give up on those maps. I use those to challenge myself to think differently. There needs to be a sense of random to keep things from falling into line. This is why I like working with others.
If you get the combination right, they do something you didn't think of or didn't imagine and if passed back and forth enough times, overcoming their strategies to overcome your strategies can make really interesting maps.
Anything you want to say before this gets published on the site?
I miss my mom, R.I.P. Oct 7th 2010, and I wish she could have seen the headway I have made in the last year.