Interviewee: Jerimy Weeks (aka Azathoth/Yankee99)
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.
Captain Harloch: Hey Jerimy, thanks for taking time out for this interview :)
Azathoth: No probs dude!
Unbeknown to most commoners, part of Jerimy's contract with Harmless Games is that he works as a vehicle valet parker for the more senior staff members. In return for this interview, Jack graciously accepts Jerimy's orders to take over his job for the duration of the interview. He quickly sets about his duties and diligently begins to park the APCs outside the Harmless Games office.
Captain Harloch: Well while i'm carting these babies around, let's start with your position: are you ACTUALLY apart of Harmless Games or are you an independent contractee?
Azathoth: Hmm that is a gooood question. As far as I know I am a contractor, but I feel like a part of the family. :) Since I am in the credits now as well i imagine I am a member of HG... Rod will correct me I am sure.. )
Captain Harloch: So how exactly did you get yourself roped into this - do you have a programming background or are were you solely contracted as an artist?
Azathoth: Originally I was contracted as an artist. That is a LONG story, but in a nutshell I saw the original alpha (way a long time ago, over a year) I was already acquainted with Larry. He suggested I ask to submit some artwork. When I was in Miami for SScon98, I spoke with Jeff on the phone ( I was at Talismans home btw) and i asked if I could send him some stuff. I submitted some stuff to him and a month later, Rod contacted me to do artwork. It has all snowballed from there.
As the interview progresses, Jack diligently goes about parking Jeff, Juan, Rod and Larry's APCs. In his eagerness, he clumsily prangs the rear of Rod's custommade 2093 Miasma APC Roadster. Thankfully Jerimy was busy scratching his rear to notice.
Jack breathes a sigh of relief... and quickly continues the interview.
Captain Harloch: So originally, did you think you'd wind up being paid to make the zones you have?
Azathoth: Not originally no. I do have an extensive gaming background however, and I do have a good idea once in a while :)
Captain Harloch: Scary thought ;) When we're talking about artwork, are we referring to in-game artwork (like the turret of that tank over there) or are we talking your freehand sketches?
Azathoth: Originally the drawings. They are for background materials. I have done a lot of concept sketching and am a somewhat accomplished 3d artist, so I just kinda grew to fill niches, or did things that Rod needed. A lot of in game stuff I have done is of a "placeholder" variety till other things are made, but we always need new graphics.
Captain Harloch: And now for the big question on everybody's minds: Is Talisman a skimpy little netnerd with a big mouth or is he REALLY that huge?!
Azathoth: He is FRIGGIN huge dude! Nobody has a clue. I mean he is big!!! Could tear me in half and I am not exactly a wuss..
Using this question as a decoy, Jack hops out of his tank to join Jerimy on foot for a short while...
Captain Harloch: Lol, let's move on to Kliest's Ridge, possibly the most anticipated map of the beta. God knows how long you made us wait for it, do you think it has lived up to its expectations?
Jack cunningly raises his Assault Rifle in the general vicinity of Jerimy's head and waits for an answer...
Azathoth: So far? Yes. Some ppl wont like the dynamics, but with the new game timer it gives us a fairly unique type of flag game. It FEELS like a real place too. I get tired of playing games where you dont feel like you are in a real place, just a static, symmetric, PLACE... There is always room for improvement tho, but it is my best map so far. Although, I think it is safe to say you have not seen nothing yet. I have some map designs that will be very nice. Just takes time. My competence with the map editor has come a long way, Ljc has made some GREAT tools.
Captain Harloch: So can you envision Kliest's Ridge as a post-retail zone, exemplary of a proper turf style game...as in will we be seeing improvements to the point where a "close to perfect KR" will be released come retail?
Azathoth: Well it really is not turf per se, Turf was a subspace game, and we really cannot recreate it. We will always continue to polish things up tho till we feel it is worth ppl's money.
Captain Harloch: Do you consider it more a capture-objective gamestyle than turf?
Azathoth: Well it now is possible to "win" KR. It is not the same turf dynamic where you hold a bunch of flags for that all important "ding" score. They are just different games, maybe with a few similarities. I was trying to capture the feel of running out and captureing real objectives in places wher you would HAVE military objectives. I dont know if I totally succeeded, but it is still very fun to play :)
Captain Harloch: I don't think your'e far off it to be honest, people have approached me to start a mapvault where we outline different areas of the map as people are beginning to use building titles in their messages. For example: "Require assistance @ methane factory NOW!" - is this what you intended?
Azathoth: Yeah for the most part. We are trying to get away from the stale "capture the flag" games and trying to make something kinda different. We have been criticised often for trying to do something different, but who wants to see the same Warzone or Team Fortress over again?
Realising he won't squeeze any more questions out of Jerimy without continuing his fill-in service, Jack resumes his duties as valet attendant.
Captain Harloch: So what sort of new gaming styles can we expect to see?
Azathoth: I dont know.. We have a lot of things we are working on. The biggest complaints from our detractors have been "Why are you having all these different things, where is Infantry"? Well the thing is each game type is exactly that, a unique game made with the INFANTRY engine. Infantry CTF is NOT Infantry. It is a Game made with the engine. So in that train of thought we can have a lot of different, unique games. I have plans to get Boom Ball out (a popular game during alpha) and we have a few more suprises. Wait and see :)
Captain Harloch: For those who weren't part of the alpha test and who haven't experienced boomball yet, tell us a little about it. I for one joined the alpha test too late to take part :(
Azathoth: Hahahah okay, Boom Ball is essentially Dodge Ball with explosive balls. 2 teams are in a small arena and the object is to hold a flag for 90 seconds without dying. The team that holds the flag 90 seconds wins. It was great fun, as it took a LOT of skill to play.
Captain Harloch: There's a big following for it thats for sure. When is Boomball expected to be released in Beta? I'm looking forward to it that's for sure, sounds filthy )
Azathoth: It is next on my list. CTF is evolving to the point where we are not going to add significantly new elements to it, so we are near the polishing phase. We need more maps, but they are in the works. Boom Ball should be up before Christmas at the latest.
Captain Harloch: Jeff noted recently that mapmaking is a very time consuming part of the process and that he "may be looking for help in the area soon". Do you know of any plans to release some editors to some people?
As if he were listening, just at that moment, Jeff stepped outside the HG office just in time to see Jack reverse park his favourite GravTank smackbang into the rear bumper of Larry's little VolksTank. Jeff promptly goes ballistic before storming off:
Thankfully once again, Jerimy was too busy scratching his rear to notice the event and Jack snaps to attention:
Azathoth: If there are plans, I have no knowledge of them, but I dont get told everything. Map making is very tedious and would be impossible to support on a large scale right now. But I am sure eventually the editors will be let out tot he public. Time will tell.
Captain Harloch: If Boomball's next on the agenda, does that mean that KR is fully tested and will be replaced on BB's arrival?
Azathoth: Not at all. Boom Ball will get it's own server. Infantry CTF will just keep rotating maps till we work all the bugs out of them.
Captain Harloch: Who's map is next for rotation - possibly Larry's warzone style map? That should go off :)
Azathoth: Shrug, dunno. We will have to see. KR will be up for a while more yet.
Captain Harloch: Btw, are the spawn areas for KR purposely shaped like torpedos or does Harmless have a fettish with submarines in general? ;)
Azathoth: We like things that are long and sausage shaped. ;)
Captain Harloch: no wonder they hired you ) Haha aaaaaaaaaanyway...
Captain Harloch: I'm going to ask you a series of questions in general about infantry and the beta test, answer truthfully if you could.
Azathoth: Will try...
Captain Harloch: Firstly, public rating of the beta test has been very favourable. Do you consider the Beta to be progressing well, or do you honestly feel you're running one behind the eightball so to speak?
Azathoth: I think the Beta is going as well as can be expected.. Some ppl have some unreal expectations, but I think that stems from too early hyping of the game and the Closeness and Openness Rod and Jeff have with the game community. Rod and Jeff would not release something they felt wasn't worth your money, so ppl should really stop worrying.
(Upon crosschecking databases and UnitTech login entries, it seems Openness and Closeness are yet to enter the game to date but the moment they do you can be sure the Nmebase will be there to interview them)
Captain Harloch: Yes, Jeff and Rod are very open about their affairs. Do you think they're breaking new ground in online gaming?
Azathoth: Well the new ground was broken with Subspace. IMO we are taking it to the next level. A lot of ppl have a lot of different opinions when it comes to online gameing. Some ppl think you have to be an RPG to succeed. i dont however. As with SubSpace Gameplay is a VERY important factor. I think we have a fairly unique engine, with some good games built with it. But we will just have to see..
Captain Harloch: There's been great speculation of late.... can you finally put a rest to the rumour that the rock formation at I3 is really a message from a previous civilisation in the form of a picasso bust? I swear i can see a nose and an eye in there somewhere......
Messages from the past... the famous I3 Picasso Bust
Azathoth: Methinks some ppl have been smoking something.. It is OBVIOUSLY an abstract of Rod's nekkid white rump...
Whilst pondering this horrifying thought, Jack realises that in the last half hour not only has he pranged nearly every vehicle owned by Harmless Games but he's also doubleparked them in.
Captain Harloch: Returning to reality for a moment, what has been your greatest problematic encounter in Infantry to date?
Azathoth: Hmmm that is a toughy. Prolly a cross between learning the editors and learning to properly format the graphics I created. Took a lot of work, but I like to learn.
Captain Harloch: And what's your greatest triumph in Infantry to date?
Azathoth: Watching 200 ppl in an zaone I created. Makes me feel really good. I like the idea that ppl enjoy playing a game I worked on. :)
Captain Harloch: Nothing like it huh :) Seeing 100 ppl in one of my Subspace zones ...it makes you feel appreciated doesn't it. *group hug*
Azathoth: It makes the negative stuff go away watching ppl enjoy themselves :)
Captain Harloch: Speaking of the negative what is your greatest fear for the game?
Azathoth: Hmmm that is a tough one as well. I am hoping it does not go the route of SubSpace for sure. Subsapce was one of the best games ever made, but not enough ppl got to learn about it. And VIE fumbled hard with their lack of a marketing effort. The other thing I am worried about is people's unreal expectations. Sometimes I dont even know what game some ppl are talking about when they start complaining about Infantry :)
Captain Harloch: Larry gave the exact same answer (referring to Subspace). Much of the success of Infantry relies on extensive marketing do you think Nick Fisher and Brainscan can pull off a worldwide best seller?
Azathoth: It remains to be seen, but i dont think ppl should underestimate Nick and Brainscan. It would be an error. But who really knows what the future will bring. It would suck to have the game fail because it was not properly supported, but I really dont believe this will happen.
Captain Harloch: Do you thnk the way it will be marketed will be something dissimilar to most previous publishings? That is, targeting online buyers?
Azathoth: Man I could not even tell you.. I know NOTHING beyond what my responsibilties are. :)
Captain Harloch: On the 11th of December 2000, give us an indepth description of where you expect the game to be at.
Azathoth: 20+ zones of kickass game types. 100,000 players. I could go on and on, but man that is SOOO far into the future :)
Captain Harloch: Can you give us an idea about the current playing population size?
Azathoth: Not at all. I have no clue, tho i do know that I see new players in CTF all the time. We have enough ppl right now to test what we need tested.
Captain Harloch: Do you agree with Jeff's "one bit of the apple" theory of player recruitment? Should you be plugging beta globally or should you be hiding the goodies for later....
Azathoth: Well Jeff has a lot more experience than I do in the gaming business. Msotly he is correct. I played Beta UO for a day, thought it SUCKED and never played again. So i guess i could subscribe to that idea somewhat. I think it is too early to go on a total media blitz however.
Captain Harloch: Do Rod and Jeff run a tidy ship, that is do Harmless Games living up to your expectations?
Azathoth: Ooooh, Rod is the best guy in the world to work for. Jeff has been great since he finally decided I was worth a shit. :) I want to work for them forever....
Captain Harloch: There you go, you heard it here first folks - Jerimy has signed his life away...
Azathoth: Yeah it is a done deal.. )
Captain Harloch: Alrighty, before we both clock up enough time to trounce the current BountyHigh winner from his thrown, i just want to ask you one more question before we're done for the day...
Azathoth: Shoot bro!
Captain Harloch: What's on the horizon zonewise for each member of Harmless Games?
Azathoth: I have some suprises up my sleeve. Jeff is gonna do an RTS style game. Rod is a devious, Mad Scientist type, so i am sure we will be seeing more good lovin from him. As for myself, Boom Ball is next, then my secret secret project, prolly first of the year.
Captain Harloch: Oooo no clues? C'mon, give us a hint at least!
Azathoth: Um, think StarBlazers... :)
Captain Harloch: Spaceships! Sweet!
Azathoth: I aint sayin no more...
Captain Harloch: If i get to fly around in one of those lancasters, i'll put you on my christmas card list :)
Azathoth: Rofl you and a hundred others.. :)
Captain Harloch: Haha ...well that about wraps it up, thanks very much for taking time out for da Nmebase :)
Azathoth: Sure bro, my pleasure :)
It is at this time that Jerimy informs Jack that his demanding him to valet park Harmless' vehicles was a practical joke. Jack giggles like a school girl.... stops.... scratches his heard....realises that he's been taken advantage of ....
....then has his revenge:
Run little whiteboy RUN!
Big thanks to Jerimy for this exclusive interview for NmeBase and for taking time out the next day to take a few of these unaltered XXX-Rated pics. Thanks bro!