Interviewer: Jack English (aka Captain Harloch)
Date: 12 December, 1999 (mid-Beta test)
Reason/Significance: Jerimy gives his thoughts on the progression of the game, future projections, greatest fears for the game and greatest triumphs. Contained within are scenes of group hugs, approach with caution
As a token gesture of friendship, the interview begins as Larry and Jack share a cordial intravenous injection of hard steron.
Captain Harloch: Heya Larry, thanks for taking the time to sit down and have a chat
ljc: No problem.
Captain Harloch: let's start off with The Arena, your latest creation. What do you hope to achieve from this. The description from the outside says its a zone for "testing character attributes". Does this mean the zone isn't expected to be used anytime later in the release of the game?
ljc: The Arena started in alpha testing. The alpha testers wanted a very small zone that had limited weapons and was mainly just for fighting. I made the map and Yankee did the original weapons for the zone. (I was on vacation while he did the weapons)
Captain Harloch: so how do the reasons for creating the zone differ from those for making Beta Zone for example (another shootem up, skill based zone)?
ljc: Right now I'm still just using the zone for testing things that don't get tested anywhere else. People seem to like it though except for a few minor problems. BetaZone is one of Rod's zones, he wanted something that new players could learn quickly. The Arena is a little more complex than that because of the attributes needed for weapon upgrading. Btw, I found all sorts of little bugs in the attribute system while testing this zone. It did help us out.
Captain Harloch: Arena's certainly picked up a huge player base. It's the first zone to have had a steady 40+ population continually since Beta began (excepting the mass movement of Beta testers into CTF zones). Do you think that its popularity will spawn a post-release zone?
ljc: I hope so. I'm going to be making a new map for it [the Arena] starting in a few days. I would like to somehow resolve the newbie getting slaughtered by the expert problem in some way also. CTF is a proven game style. Many other online type games have some CTF variant.
Captain Harloch: What brings me to my next question :) There've been a few suggestions for divisions of the Arena, even a storyline to compliment it where newbies begin in "Apprentice" Arenas and as they progress in experience and skill, they are allowed to enter "Expert Gladiator" Arenas; a sort of skill progression, almost a championship. Is this going to be a likely future if the zone turns up in post retail release?
ljc: We can do that now. It's already in the game coding. We can specify entrance to a zone by a player's skills. So for example we could have a zone that would not let you enter it if your Strength was under 40 and one that would let you enter if your Strength was over 40
Captain Harloch: Early in alpha testing, Suicide made the remark that "JeffP hasn't evolved as a programmer". Do you think so?
ljc: oh man Suicide has no idea. Jeff is incredible. This game engine surpasses SS in so many ways I can't even describe them all. He has upgraded his skills in many ways in my opinion.
Captain Harloch: Can you give us a little info on the reasons for the creation of Rod's "Deep Zone"? Is it a showpiece of the flexibility of the Infantry engine, an appeasement to Subspacers or does it actually serve a purpose?
ljc: It was an appeasement to SS players really. They just kept bugging Rod, until he made it.
Captain Harloch: I personally have had alot of trouble tracking down Rod. What sort of hours do the Harmless Brady Bunch work?
ljc: Oh geez, good luck with Rod. I have no idea what his hours are. Jeff is pretty regular, I usually see him sometime after 1pm EST until about 5 or 6pm.
Captain Harloch: You once told me jokingly that "Rod appears busy from the outside, but in reality he's probably sleeping :)"...so my second question: how many hours does Rod zzzzz ;) (i understrand he's notiorious for sleepins ;)
ljc: no comment :)
ljc: Yankee and I work all the time it seems like. I'm number eight in online usage if that tells you anything.
Captain Harloch: Next port of call is Callisto Crossfire, the crowds have taken to it with more than keen interest....
As they talk, the pair stroll into the evil Arena Graveyard. What? You think grass just grows NATURALLY there amongst all that concrete? Where do you think all those dead bodies in the arena goto?
ljc: oh geez
It was at this time that Larry develops an evil glint in his eye and the trigger finger poised on his Godrifle became itchy...
Captain Harloch(11) killed by ljc
Captain Harloch: the zone seems to be a reasonable first attempt at a four way CTF game. Is this one of the first type of zones that will be expected post-retail?
ljc: Well its part of the CTF map rotation. Yankee and I wanted to get a nice variety of CTF maps made so we could rotate them every so often to keep people interested (I don't actually know to much about what is going to be retail or not. Jeff/Rod really decide that kind of stuff)
Captain Harloch: I've been told that CC's map is only a portion of the total size that it could be, are you planning on making a larger map to accomodate more testers and tell us of your supposed plans to make a "Warzone" type map as part of the CTF map rotation
ljc: Yes CC is about 1/4 the full size of an Infantry map. I was originally going to make that map much bigger with vehciles but I didn't have enough time to do it. I have an idea for a warzone style map, but I don't know when I'm going to get to making it. The Infantry maps are very complex and take many hours to complete.
Captain Harloch: Are vehicles going to be a permanent addition to Callisto Crossifre?
ljc: I think Yankee is just testing them out. I'm pretty sure he is going to use them on Kliest Ridge.
Captain Harloch: Have you seen Kliest's Ridge and if so, what are your first impressions? [note: this interview was undertaken the on the even of Kliest's Ridge's debut in the Beta test]
ljc: I played on it in alpha, it was probably my favorite map, besides the original Titan map.
Captain Harloch: have you played on the revamped beta version?
ljc: I have a copy of it on my computer, but it's not the same running around by yourself. :0
Captain Harloch: lol
ljc: hehe trust me its boring :)
Captain Harloch: the maps require alot of work obviously. Tell us a little about what your role @ harmlessgames involves in relation to mapmaking and editor creation.
As the intimate interview continues, Larry and Jack answer the call of Mother Nature.
ljc: Well really I'm a programmer. I make all the tools that we use to make levels/zones. Currently there are 6 editors that we use to make an Infantry zone. I've programmed all of them and keep them updated as needed.
As they stand astrike their respective cubicles, Jack fires off a few more questions....
Captain Harloch: So what are each of these editors exactly?
ljc: As far as level/zone creation goes. I just do that in my spare time. Jeff has never said that I should make levels or anything I just make them, because I feel the urge to. I sit in the zones all day listening to players comments and criticisms then I try to role these ideas along with my own into zones that I think players will like. Ok the editors are:
Editor - for making maps
BlobEditor - for combining graphics and sound files together into a single file. (kind of like an archive)
ItemEditor - for making all items and weapons in the game
LioEditor - allows you to place level interactive objects on a map. Things like portals, doors, flags, prize hides, etc....
SkillsEditor - for making the attribute and skill trees for a zone
VehicleEditor - for making all vehicles used in a zone
Captain Harloch: No wonder you're paid fulltime :)
ljc: Its quite a job just keeping them all updated. I also make some (minimal) graphics. Like the bricks, grass and asphalt floors on this map (I did quite a lot of graphics for CC, like the yellow stripes and yellow signs on the ground, plus all the colored floor variations).
Captain Harloch: The topic of Infantry League isn't a new one, but there's alot of speculation that it'll be arriving soon. Do you have an inside word?
ljc: Nope none at all. I think it will be up to the players really to decide on how League is going to be setup
Captain Harloch: To what level do you see player participation playing a part in Infantry in the future?
ljc: From my point of view, players make this game what it is. I listen to everything that is said about the zones I work on. If I hear a certain viewpoint many times, I take it to heart and try to incorporate it into my zone. Of course some things are ridiculous, like I want a weapon that kills everyone in one shot and armor that makes me invincible. (I hear that often)
Captain Harloch: lol
Captain Harloch: I don't want to speak on Jeff's behalf, but less than three hours ago, he hinted towards the idea that Harmless members were being swamped with work and that he may be thinking of giving players a share of the workload. What is it that's holding you guys back from allowing editor downloads (seeing as though that's your department)?
ljc: Argh, I hate this question :) Well, personally I don't want users to have the editors. They are not really made for normal people to use per se. The files are complex and the parameters are many and cryptic. Also, there is absolutly no documentation on editor usage.
Captain Harloch: But ultimately the map editor will be released?
ljc: It's unknown at this time. (I don't even know for sure.)
Captain Harloch: How great is the possibility for a cheat creation to result if your map editor is released?
ljc: None at all. I could give out the map editor to anyone, it should have no effect on the number of cheaters.
Captain Harloch: so the argument for not releasing it is solely one of lack of documentation? (And the fact that you'd be swamped by lamers like me who'd submit shitty maps :)
ljc: yes exactly, I would be bombarded with questions about what this and that parameter do. Like I said it's very complicated.
Captain Harloch: Now Larry, i'd like to ask you a few questions in general about Infantry's past and future.
Captain Harloch: What's the biggest struggle you've had in your job in infantry so far?
Larry whispers in Jack's ear that his SECOND biggest struggle is bladder control. The pair quickly scurry back to the arena cubicles
ljc: Well this is only my second windows/dos and C++ programming experience. It's all very difficult for me really. Jeff can crank out code, but sometimes I have to read a ton of docs to get things working properly.
Captain Harloch: what's been your biggest triumph in infantry so far?
ljc: Actually keeping up with all the programming tasks that I've been given. The stuff I do is quality programming in my opinion and I was surprised I could do it all.
Captain Harloch: Does mrs ljc share your triumph or add to the struggles (with your late hours and all)? :)
ljc: Hahahaha she sleeps while I'm working mostly and I sleep while she is working. The other times we spend together just hanging out doing husband/wife stuff.
Captain Harloch: no comment :)
ljc: She's great btw, I couldn't have asked for a better wife. (I thought about expounding on stuff, but decided against it)
Captain Harloch: Good for you larry :) Now before you think i'm derailing myself a little, some important questions....
Captain Harloch: What is your GREATEST fear for Infantry?
ljc: That it will be another SS and fail because of poor marketing. :( I dread that like you wouldn't believe.
Captain Harloch: Does that strengthen/fuel your religious work ethic? That is, is that thought in the back of your mind as you work most times?
ljc: Yes definitly, I work as hard as I can all the time. That's also why I pay so much attention to the users. All the time actually, I worry constantly about this game and my future.
Captain Harloch: Then how do you expect Nick Fisher to perform in his role as publisher?
ljc: Oh I really can't comment on that. I don't know enough of the details to give a good answer.
Captain Harloch: It's obvious this will be a new marketing exercise for most of you, seeing as though Nick isn't so much the experienced studio producer, but the head of a vast internet publicity engine.
ljc: Yeah hopefully he can pull it off.
Captain Harloch: In your opinion, are you breaking new ground in online gaming?
ljc: Hmmm, I don't really know the answer to that. I don't play enough games to be able to tell what is ground breaking. I spend so much time working (in the last 2 years.) I haven't had much free time to check out the competition. I put all my energy into this game.
Captain Harloch: Just a few quick questions before we wrap it up. Where do you see Infantry at December 3rd (today's date), year 2000?
ljc: I want to see a huge player base, (10000+ active per month), with many different zones and game types all active.
Captain Harloch: 10000 player base - how does that compare to Subspace's playerbase?
ljc: I don't know really
Captain Harloch: can you give us an estimate of the current player base?
ljc: I really want 10000 active per month out of a larger player base. Jeff could I don't keep track of it.
Captain Harloch: What feature are you MOST looking forward to in the game? Are you an RTS man, do you like the "starcraft" type setup, the idea of Rod's "Commander" character etc?
ljc: I like fighting really. CTF and my Arena zone are pretty much my kind of games.
Captain Harloch: Well, that just about wraps it up, thanks very much for taking time out to share a few views with myself and the Nmebase Larry. We really appreciate it :)
The pair shake hands and after throwing a cautious glance over their shoulders, the pair exchange money for sterons, a secret drug trafficking operation the two founded in early Alpha testing.
ljc: No problem, if you think up more questions or want more answers just let me know next time you see me.
[This interview was gratuitously altered with the permission of ljc]
A big thanks to ljc for being such a champ and taking a few hours out of his busy work schedule for The Nmebase.