Who are you and what do you do?
I am a humanist, and I do human things. Or maybe the other way around. I'm a big believer in ideas and thoughts, and tend to get stuck on that level instead of taking practical action - I'll cheer or boo from the sidelines though, depending on the situation.
I enjoy expressing myself creatively, and I believe video games (especially ones that allow for community content) are fast becoming the next big way of doing that, one way or another. So far, I haven't made terribly much money being creative, so I've patched the holes with some translation work.
How did you first get into Operation Flashpoint?
Like many others, I picked up the demo when it came out back in 2001 (probably came with one of those PC Gamer demo CDs), and was immediately blown away. The idea of entering a jeep and driving it, and then sitting in the back of a truck driven by someone else while listening to your fellow soldiers chatter, and then entering the confusing battlefield like the total noob I was... consider my mind blown. I've been a follower ever since.
We've heard from lots of people that the early days of the Community was a time of discovery, and that OFPEC was at the forefront of editing knowledge. What are your main recollections from that bygone era?
During the early days, there was no such thing as a BIKI or even a COMREF - everything was being discovered with little to no help from BIS. The only thing we had to go by initially was a tiny little tutorial in HTML form that was hidden somewhere on the CD, describing a very simple mission where you were supposed to kill a truck full of enemies with your sniper rifle while protecting your UAZ (I've always named the player unit "aP" thanks to that tutorial). However, by the time I arrived on the scene a lot of work had already been done, primarily reverse-engineering the demo and then the missions and campaign.
What OFPEC provided was tutorials and a very friendly forum for editing questions of all kinds. It also became the home for the Unofficial Command Reference, which was based on Lustypooh's original work and contained all the known commands and documentation on how they worked.
What I remember particularly well was that when BIS finally did come out with an official COMREF, the unofficial one was still better for a long time simply because it had a lot more comments and examples than the official one!
Your first posts in the database put you in the staff right at the beginning, by which time you were already describing yourself as the "OFPEC Old Timer". What was your first staff position at OFPEC, and were you involved in the concept-5 site - or even LustyPooh's site?
snYpir was the one who elevated me from forum junkie to staff member; I believe I became a moderator for the General Editing forum as my first staff position. I never knew Lustypooh, nor the concept-5 site, as far as I can remember. snYpir also bestowed me the title "OFPEC Old Timer", although I didn't feel like an old timer at the time: it was all so new to me!
What other staff roles have you held during your time with OFPEC?
Before becoming a general moderator for the forums, I worked as a mission reviewer for a sort of sister site to OFPEC. I can't remember its name, sadly...
It was www.opf-missions.net, formerly Karl's Place - they do say the memory is the first to go...
Oh right! Karl! I rememberrrr. You can add that as an ed. note, for sure!
This was before the "Depot" system came in and OFPEC started reviewing its own missions. I continued to work as a mission reviewer directly for OFPEC and the Missions Depot (or as it was initially known as, the Command HQ) once it was established. Aside from my general moderating, this is what I did most of the time. I reviewed Devilchaser's legendary Operation Firelord, for example, and I was there when THobson's Abandoned Armies was new!
Aside from tirelessly helping members with their editing-related problems, you've produced a few resources, among them RUG High Dispersion and RUG Armour. Can you tell us a bit about each? What was the inspiration for them? How easy (or difficult) were they to make?
My biggest contribution to the ArmA/Arma 2 editing scene is probably RUG DSAI, inspired by the OFP total conversion ECP's (Enhanced Configuration Project) excellent Dynamic Sound AI. Originally it was just supposed to be a script suite, but it turned into an addon simply because it was easier to use that way. Sickboy, of course, was the one to turn my clumsy addon handling into something a lot more streamlined and pretty. This was for ArmA, but I later converted it into Arma 2 as well. RUG DSAI was a long and difficult project, but it was mostly scripting - something I enjoy doing in my spare time anyway (unlike addon configs. Hate those things).
RUG HD was also inspired by an OFP-era addon, namely JAM (Joint Ammo & Magazine). More specifically, RUG HD mimics the High Dispersion weapons JAM contained alongside its 'regular' weapons. These weapons turned the sniper-like OFP AI into a much more manageable foe by creating exact copies of each JAM weapon, except with a much higher dispersion. This is basically the same thing I did with my RUG HD addon - although I don't think it caught on in quite the same way, unfortunately!
RUG HD was easy enough to make, except I had to go through about a bazillion lines of code and fight the goddamned config.cpp at every turn to make it work, despite the rather simple changes I made. I also scripted a Module system that "applies" the HD weapons, which I think is quite a nifty way of making it work rather than simply plopping down "HD" soldiers like in OFP.
RUG Armour was a useful script back in ArmA for a while, mainly because it allowed you and your squaddies to be something other beside "alive" and "dead" on the battlefield. That was also my intention with it, to simulate getting wounded, rather than just dying straight off. Of course, you could also use it to become nearly invulnerable, or just Terminator-tough, which was an added bonus. In Arma 2, you can use the First Aid modules for the wounded state, and there are certainly better ways to make yourself tougher than the funny little engine quirk workaround I had used as Armour's basis. Check it out if you're interested ;)
RUG Inventory was something that, as far as I can tell, has never been used so far, despite its (in my opinion) limitless potential. Basically this script suite added a fully working, RPG-styled inventory to your mission, where any object or unit could be a container and where you can easily and (imho) intuitively create new items without having to actually delve into scripting. It also implemented weight and worth for the items, contained a bartering system where you could sell and buy things (including weapons, Arma 2 items, and ammo), and so on and so on. Fully scripted, no addons needed. I also made it work for other things, just for fun, like a virtual inventory for "skills" instead of actual items, even implementing "leveling up" by "buying" new skills (without editing the inventory scripts themselves, mind). Anything you can imagine, really. I also added a set of really simple commands for adding, removing, counting and comparing inventory items. But, alas, alas, it was clearly not meant to be. This suite is something I'm very, very proud of, and I've been toying with various missions that could use, and showcase, it, but I've never finished anything yet.
Any other resources in the pipeline?
I published RUG Campaign for ArmA, but it was always a little buggy even then. I'm hoping to make a comeback in Arma 2 with a much nicer and more user-friendly version of it. Basically RUG Campaign would handle everything persistent in your campaign, such as living/dead soldiers & vehicles, their health and ammo, their position, whether they're in a vehicle or not, and so on. The first inspiration for it was the idea that "what if you created a campaign where you could load another island or another mission by just crossing some invisible border, but everything you crossed with - from the speed and angle of your vehicle to the amount of bullets in your gun - would seamlessly load with you?". I got this to work in ArmA (check it out!) - but Arma 2's scripting and loading system has changed so much that my solutions for the ArmA version no longer work. Still, I'm hoping to make it work one day, so that people could easily make persistent campaigns à la Resistance without actually having to do more than implement a few scripting commands in the beginning and at the end of their missions.
Your published missions seem to indicate that you like to make unusual and ambitious missions. Piper Warrior Tour Guide for example, as the name suggests, has the player giving a guided tour of Sahrani. What was the inspiration for such an unusual mission?
Addons, as we all know, are only ever really any good if they're used. I thought Gnat's Piper Warrior addon was just superb, and I wanted it to be used properly in a mission, instead of just flown once or twice in the editor and then discarded. I think this is something any mission maker out there wondering what to do next should consider - just picking up an addon they really like, and popping out a good mission for it post-haste: especially if the addon isn't a "typical" one (e.g. just another reskinned unit or another M4 variant). I also didn't stop to think too much about making everything perfect with Piper Warrior Tour Guide - I just wanted to make it as quickly as possible. This kind of restriction - making a mission around an addon, and making it under a time constraint - for some reason really works for me. Experiment, try to fit the game into a genre it isn't known for, be creative. That's what it's all about, after all!
Operation Dawning Hope features selectable difficulty, cheat codes on completing the mission, a custom Squad Control System, and on being reviewed at OFPEC it scored 8/10. How long did the mission take to build?
According to the beta thread, I posted the first version of the mission 25.8.2007, and gave it up for review 18.2.2008. That's about 8 months, I'd say. Of course, I didn't work 8 months on it non-stop, the work was done in bursts. First I had to script the Squad Control System, which took a lot of time (now no longer needed thanks to Arma 2's HC mode), then I had to design the mission itself and its objectives, and then...well...then I had to play through it, playtest it, and play through it again. Wait for comments from playtesters. Implement their suggestions. And begin playtesting again. And again. Most of the small extras - the cheat screen, the difficulty selection, the easter eggs...those I added inbetween being frustrated or bored with regular playtesting. I did get a lot of volunteers and help for the voice acting though, which was great.
Are you working on any other missions at the moment?
I always am! But I rarely manage to finish anything. Operation Cape Horn is a showcase for RUG HD, a mostly finished run-of-the-mill infantry mission, where you play as a CDF medic. On Call also showcases RUG HD and is the prequel to Cape Horn (you play as the same medic), taking place on Utes during the first Chedaki uprising, but that mission is much further from completion (both are playable in the Beta testing forums, though). I'm also planning on a third mission in the series based on the 'good' ending in Cape Horn, but that one is as of yet only on the drawing board.
I am also sketching out a campaign taking place in both Chernarus and Takistan, based on the "nuclear explosion" ending to the original Red Harvest campaign, where you would play on one hand as a Russian 9th army soldier and on the other as a conscripted Takistani soldier fighting under Aziz, but that campaign is still stuck on the first prologue mission, so don't expect it any time soon :-P
How do you think the Bohemia Interactive Community has changed over the last 10 years, if at all?
The impetus for change has for various reasons moved from the players, to BIS. Back in OFP days, it was tacitly understood there would be no more updates for OFP:R, and that if anything new or exciting was to happen it would be through the community, not through BIS. Everything from addons to campaigns to scripts came through the OFP players. Starting with ArmA, but also Arma 2, BIS has become considerably more involved, both for good and bad. Good is of course that they keep churning out expansion packs and updates all the time, giving us more to play with, as well as keeping the community constantly involved with things like the recent ARG on the BIS forums. Bad is that this has made the community itself less self-sufficient and more passive, expecting or demanding things from BIS rather than making it themselves. Still, one of the best communities for a game I have ever encountered, that's for sure.
What have been the highlights of your time in the Community so far?
Difficult to say! As RKSL-Rock famously used to say in his signature, "Addon makers don't get paid, they get credit"; except that this applies to all content-creators, not just addon makers. Whenever I feel I've made a positive contribution to the community, it makes me happy. Despite only playing off-line, you never feel alone in this particular community, which is a great feeling.
If Bohemia Interactive continue to develop the Arma2 franchise at some point in the future, what would you like to see developed?
These interview questions were sent to me before the Arma 3 reveal, but I think I would probably have answered the same anyway: into the future, of course! The future, naturally, being a sequel. BIS is a company like any other, and to be able to keep giving us support, they need to make money. Money is made by selling games. Arma 2 is a very nice game, but it's not perfect, and I'm excited to see what new things they can provide us in a sequel (providing, of course, they keep the scripting language, the editor, and the freedom - but I trust BIS with that).
Any interest in Carrier Command?
I never played the original, but the concept sounds neat. Still, not something I am likely to preorder or even buy new - unless it gets really good reviews I guess? I'd like to buy it mainly to support BIS, not because I'm super-excited about it.
Any closing message for the Community?
Keep creating, keep innovating. Always try to make something new and different if you can, and if you can't, support those who try. Above all, though, remember to have fun and not to be all srs bsns all the time.