James Mcnicoll aka "Planck"
15th December 1952 - 7th April 2010
OFPEC Site Admin Planck joined the site in 2002, the early days of the Community. His forum sig says "I know a little about a lot, and a lot about a little", which is a surprisingly apt description. Planck had skills and interests in many areas, yet practiced his crafts relatively quietly and without fanfare. So who was he?
When Bedges, Planck and I sat down and started this interview almost a year ago, Planck was reluctant to answer the questions. It wasn't until recently that he responded to the questions that Bedges and I came up with. Planck didn't need that kind of recognition to feel great about helping someone out with their project, no matter the skill level of the person. Whether it be modelling or configs, or texturing or islands, there isn't a single aspect of the game that he didn't have his fingers into or some knowledge about.
Planck's breadth of knowledge about the game, his drive to be as accurate as possible, and his friendly nature will not be forgotten. The staff of OFPEC will sure miss such a great legend.
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do outside of the Community?
I'm just a father, brother, son, etc etc, like the majority of male humans, just another guy!
Born in Scotland, but widely travelled as my father was a member of the armed forces and was often posted to other places outside Scotland.
I'm basically retired from active working life for various reasons, but before that I also retired from work to be a single parent to my 3 sons, so I haven't been in active work for a while really.
What got you interested in OFP, and what were your first experiences of the game?
I first got interested in OFP when I got a demo of the game from a magazine cover disk.
Needless to say really, but that was it, instant addiction. I played that demo to death trying different methods and other tricks to change the outcome.
Your OFPEC profile says you joined in August 2002. Can you tell us a bit more about your history with the site?
I was just your normal member type person when I first joined, I just read posts and topics and slowly gained a 'feel' for the community and how things worked 'editing wise'.
After a few months I was confident enough to help other members with their questions and after even more months started submitting reference materials and tutorials for various aspects of the editing process.
You've probably seen all aspects of the Community from the beginnings of OFP to Arma2. What's your take on how things have developed?
Well, OFP was well received, eventually becoming less buggy with updates, this is what people forget with ArmA1, it started off the same way, but I suppose by then people didn't expect bugs to be there to the same extent as for OFP.
Eventually even ArmA1 has also become less buggy and we now have ArmA2 which has more or less followed the same development process.
All 3 games are still now very playable ... just remember they are only games.
I believe you've made an island, can you say a wee bit about it and why you made it?
Well, not entirely MY island, it is basically a copy of Malden from OFP.
I made a copy of the island, then went around fixing little imperfections like plants inside buildings, fences misaligned or poking into buildings, roads that didn't quite match up, putting streetlights in every town, making the lights less bright, building a bridge across to the training island from Le Port and various other little tweaks. I called it Similia, in fact I have a new version made for ArmA2 using the Abel .wrp file I worked on for CWR in ArmA1.
What else have you made?
Apart from working on the CWR mod, not a lot really in the way of addons, apart from minor little projects like a torpedo, for example.
I also made some bridge sections for OFP derived from the bridge section that came with OFP Resistance.
This consisted of 2 curved bridge sections and a sloped section.
I have just recently done the same for ArmA2 with the inclusion of the original Resistance bridge piece to complete the set.
I have made various reference works and tutorials in support of OFP, including a Manual and Tutorial for the very first island editor ever released for OFP ... WrpEdit.
A marvellous little program which I still use today and which helped in some parts in the work for CWR.
You're listed in the credits of the CWR mod; what was it like working with all those developers?
It was a good time working with my fellow CWR members, there wasn't that many of us and although we occasionally got the odd bit of advice or two from BI, we mostly had to work along on our own wits.
It must be said though that BI were busy anyway making ArmA2 and had provided us with material to help us along as well as some facilities, like an svn repository for the CWR data.
You've made a lot of corrections to the Biki command reference, and maintain a lot of OFPEC's reference material, especially the COMREF. Why do you continue to do this work? Is it something you enjoy?
I started building the command reference (COMREF) just after OFPEC's big crash, I wanted to preserve the command reference data OFPEC already had. It developed into a more robust version with added information and data and with the help and suggestions from various others, including good old Bedges, it has progressed to what we have today.
I continue to try and keep it up-to-date because I see it as essential in order to keep a separate source from the Biki; the Biki is open to anyone to edit and can easily be sabotaged, though it must be said that most changes can be reversed, nevertheless, I see a value in maintaining a second reference source, even if the OFPEC one was built first.
The Biki command reference I, along with a few select others, built up before it was then made open to the community.
I try to keep it as clean as possible, but as it is open to editing from almost anyone it is more of a problem. Surprisingly, it is still fairly clean and will hopefully stay that way for a long time to come.
It seems that folks are leaving the Community at almost the same rate as others are joining it. What keeps you motivated to participate in the Community?
I believe the community numbers are more or less static or slightly on the increase now, mostly I think thanks to CodeMasters' disasterous recent game release.
You were recently made a moderator over at the Bohemia Interactive Forums. How did that come about? Any juicy gossip?
Aye, interesting, I was asked if I would like to give it a try and I agreed.
However, no juicy gossip will pass my lips ... or fingers.
What's your experience of Arma2, and what's your PC setup?
I mostly only use ArmA2 in the editor, I'm not confident that my machine will work too well in Multiplayer as it is just a single core processor running here. Graphics card is an NVidia 8800 GTX.
That being said the game appears to run fine in the editor with very few problems.
If you had one message for the Community, what would it be?
Enjoy these games for what you can get from them. If you claim you get nothing from them, then maybe you should move onto something a little less demanding; if you claim they don't work on your system, then providing your system meets the specifications, there is something not correct with your system.
The fact that others with the same or similiar systems are having very few problems must tell you something.