Who are you and what do you do outside of the gaming community?
Usually I don't talk very much about the guy behind the nickname, but I guess I can make an exception this time… ;-)
I live in a small town near Bremen, Germany, with my wife and our five-year-old son. He loves to watch me fly helicopters in Arma, probably only because he knows what a bad pilot I am.
I work as an event technician in a small theatre and if I have enough time, I do volunteer work in a dancing and acting school for mentally disabled children.
Where in our world do you reside?
A small town between Bremen and Hannover, famous for asparagus and "the most beautiful marketplace in Europe", even though I have no idea where this marketplace is supposed to be. ;-)
When and how were you introduced to BIS titles and what was your initial impression of them?
I've seen OFP the first time in a show on TV. While it looked quite good, I wasn't really interested in any shooter type games to that time. It was some day in early summer 2002 when I wanted to buy a new game. However, the local games store didn't have anything exciting, so I bought the first best game that looked at least a bit interesting – Operation Flashpoint. I can't remember my very first steps in this game, but I do remember that I was completely blown away by the huge scale and absolute freedom of choice it offered.
Each of us commit quite a bit of ourselves to our work, often times to stressing points. Has there ever been a moment of surrender, where you've gotten so frustrated with the editor and some of the AI annoyance that you dropped a project? How do you relieve that pent-up tension?
Hehe, ooohh yes! I guess everyone playing BIS games knows this ritual.
Especially when I first started making missions I got frustrated quite often and I've dropped several missions. Over time I learned quite a lot and today I am able to solve most problems I encounter in some way or another. And if I really get stuck at one point, I usually have several different projects I'm working on simultaneously, so I can simply work on something different or simply mess around in the editor. Sometimes it helps to play a mission or two, or if I am really frustrated with Arma, there are still a few other games I play from time to time.
Your earlier missions have not received nearly as much attention from the Community as Zero has. What do you attribute to Zero's popularity?
The feedback I received for Zero was more than overwhelming. I don't know what exactly makes the mission so popular. Maybe it's the open-worlded gameplay, the story or the post-apocalyptic setting without zombies or alien invasion. Not that zombie missions aren't great fun, but Zero has a somewhat more realistic approach. It's something that actually could happen. Or maybe it's just the fantastic Eagle Wing campaign, which Zero is based on.
Your missions are infused with ambient features that many mission designers fail to incorporate. What do feel is most important in designing missions for today's players?
I guess there is no "true-for-all" answer. Different people prefer different missions. Some like quick, straightforward action while others want it to be as realistic as possible. Some need a good story to enjoy a mission while others prefer fully dynamic missions. Personally I am the story guy. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy with long background stories for each character, but I do like the immersion when I know what I am actually doing and why I am fighting the enemy. That's one of the reasons I prefer playing campaigns over single missions.
Our Community is brimming with mission designers who seem to be turning missions out every day. Because of that fact, they rarely make the time to play the work of others. Does this statement ring true for you?
To be honest, it is true for me. Nearly all the time I spend with Arma is inside the editor. Meanwhile I have installed countless missions and campaigns by other authors which I haven't played yet. I don't know why, I really enjoy playing a good mission. But it's even more fun to create own missions. On the other hand, it's not a bad idea to actually play the game at least from time to time, just to remember what it's all about.
What sort of missions do you enjoy playing?
I like missions that give you a challenge. Out alone somewhere with only a few men, no fancy high-tech equipment, no armored support, no airstrikes, having to take care of yourself and your men. Facing an enemy tank without any AT weapons and trying to get out alive is always great fun. Well, at least in Arma it is. ;-) I also enjoy missions telling a good story. Although I have the feeling that nowadays a lot mission makers don't spend very much time on developing a good story for their missions. And I'm also a huge fan of anything that's a bit different. Like civilian or just-for-fun missions.
Every mission creator enjoys reading feedback from users who have played their missions. That feedback can come in the form of long stories or short bug reports. Which do you prefer?
The best feedback I have received was someone mentioning a small detail in one of my missions, which most players probably didn't even notice. I like reading small stories about the experiences people made while playing. It's a great feeling to see people enjoy my work. But of course any kind of feedback is welcome, being it ideas, bug reports or a rating on one of the community sites.
Often times, it helps to have a partner to bounce ideas back and forth with. Do you have such a partner or are you a solo type?
I have been a lone wolf ever since.
Your missions have placed the player in the boots of Russians, Americans, Germans... from the Cold War through the deserts of Takistan to a post-apocalyptic Chernarus. What is your inspiration for diverse and interesting mission ideas?
Most of the time it all begins with a rough idea of what kind of mission I want to create. Over time I have lots of ideas what could be added to make the mission more interesting, challenging, or add in some other way to the experience. Often the final mission turns out to be something completely different than I had originally planned.
Single player missions seem to be your preference, and though these in all practicality could pass for short campaigns, are there plans in your future for campaigns or mulitplayer scenarios?
Actually there is an idea for a campaign spinning around in my head for several years now. I had already started working on this campaign several times, but always dumped it at some point for different reasons. Well, maybe with Arma 3…
Multiplayer missions are rather unlikely. I don't play mp myself and I have so far failed to understand all that locality stuff in mp editing.
In addition to establishing a hearty Single player mission base, you've also managed to churn out some pretty cool addons as well. What do you consider to be more difficult, mission builds or addons?
As my addons are all quite small, it's definitely the mission making. However, I've been toying around with creating islands and 3D models a few years ago and pretty soon gave up. So I'd say creating "real" addons like new maps, units, vehicles etc is probably much more difficult than placing a bunch of units in the editor. ;-)
Between the two, which do you enjoy working with more? What's next for you?
I have always considered myself a mission maker. The addons I have created were only a side-effect. Some random ideas I came up with while working on a mission or messing around in the editor. Of course I don't know what the future will bring, but I guess creating new missions will always be my main activity.
Got any other hobbies outside of gaming that you care to share with us?
When I was younger I used to play drums in different bands. But for some strange reason I'm no famous rock star today… Once in a while I think about finding some guys to jam with, but actually I don't have the time for that.
Care to share any intel on projects you have planned for the future?
Like I mentioned above, I have an idea for a campaign, which I might actually complete one day. Other than that, I'll have to see what new toys Arma 3 will bring.
Is there a Community member that has inspired you with their own projects?
Yes, many. There are so many talented mission-, mod- and addon makers in this community, naming all of them would result in a way too long list and I'd probably forget half of them anyways. However, there are two missions that probably have influenced my own mission making the most. First the OFP campaign "Life Story" by Spanky-G. A very well made campaign with a great story, which told me that each story has (at least) two sides. And second the OFP mission "Leaves in the wind" by BadAss. It didn't only show me how much fun scavenging can be, but also that a mission that doesn't cover the complete map isn't big enough. ;-)
You've been a part of this Community since 2006? How would you rate the comradery of the BIS Community as compared to that of others?
Actually I've been lurking around the various community sites since 2003, but only became an active member in 2009. I can't really compare this community to others, as there is no other community where I am nearly as involved as this one. I love the creativity and passion everyone puts into their projects and all help each other. Basically, no matter if beginner or veteran, everyone tries to add to this community as good as he can to make Arma a better experience for all of us.
(This was really hard!)
What does Arma:CWA have that you wish the later titles would bring back?
That's hard to say. Probably the cold war setting together with the great singleplayer campaign. There was a real enemy, one you had to fear. Playing the CWR2 demo I remembered how threatening words like "Hind" and "Spetsnaz" once have been. In the later titles we always were some fancy high-tech superpower fighting a bunch of "AK-swinging hillbillys". There was nothing you had to be afraid of.
What snack food or drink do you most often consume while spending time with Arma?
Vodka-Lemon and anything with peanuts. Btw, why is my vodka always empty? ;-)
If BIS asked you to join their team, where do you think you would fit in the best?
Securing the constant supply of beer for the developers. ;-)
I wouldn't want to do anything Arma-related for money. As soon as there are liabilities I lose all my motivation. Arma is only a hobby for me and it should stay that way. If I lost interest in Arma, what other game should I play?