Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself (Name, Location, Hobbies, Interests, etc.).
Friends call me Kevin, everyone else calls me "that arrogant bastard". :P
I'm an English guy who moved to NY in my early 20's; then California in my late 20's; and now I live in Beautiful South Lake Tahoe (tm), where I snowboard religiously during the winter and grumble about the lack of snow in the summer. When I'm not trying to kill myself bombing down mountains I hike a little; read a lot; and write code.
What is your role in the CPMA project?
I'm the Development Lead, which used to consume hours every day but lately takes very little time since there's not really much code going on; and I handle the day-to-day project management: our design, art, and mapping teams are scattered (literally) all over the world so it takes a little extra effort to keep them coordinated. Originally I planned on only doing code, but at this stage I've got fingers in every pie because everything IS interrelated and at the end of the day you have to have someone who can maintain an overview of the project as a whole. I think that mismanagement is without question the main cause of ANY game failing, and although it's not visible to the outside world, internally we have all sorts of deadlines and milestones set. I still PREFER just designing and writing code mind you, but there's very little point doing that if ends up going nowhere because the other components are missing. :)
This question is dedicated to Sujoy and his Gaming Nick Enthusiasts. How did you come up with your nickname, arQon?
Archon, a C64 game from way back when: sort of "chess with real-time combat". Absolutely superb game that broke a lot of new gameplay ground and still has traces of its influence kicking around today: UT's "Domination" gametype is heavily influenced by it, for example.
What is your definition of “ProMode”?
Heh. It's really hard to pin down to something that you can just soundbite. To steal from Potter Stewart, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." :P
It's basically focusing the game design on unbounded gameplay rather than restricting good players in some misguided attempt to help newbies. In no other competitive sphere do we actively try to drag everyone down to the same level. The whole POINT of competitive play is that you do have the opportunity to excel and show what you're really capable of. Most current computer games are focused on the inept majority rather than the skilled minority. It's a seemingly-valid approach to take from a business perspective, but it's incredibly naive and in the long run it hurts the field and the industry as a whole.
To put it in American terms: ProMode is baseball; everything else is softball.
For the rest of the world: cricket vs rounders. Just because YOU can't hit a Windies bowler doesn't mean we should make them throw underarm.
I’m sure that you are already aware of the fact that eSports in general are expanding day by day. What are your thoughts on the whole eSports scene and the topic of playing for pay?
"eSports" is a joke. These are "eGames" right now, and nothing more. To segue nicely: baseball is a sport and softball is a game. There's still a LONG way to go before the scene grows into something that even the most generous of us could actually describe as a sport while keeping a straight face. All the hype and Angels in the world won't change that any time soon.
As far as "making a career of it" goes, I think Makaveli's covered most of that in just the past few days with his posts here, and anyone who's still buying into the myth should go and read those. My personal opinion is that it'll happen eventually but there's an awful lot of infrastructure development that needs to take place first.
What do you see for the future of eSports?
Years and years of mediocre games; dishonest or inept organisations; naive gamers, and generally just one huge clusterfuck where everything that can be wrong is. Essentially, a similar path to that taken by most pastimes when people first turned them into commercial endeavours. Some NEVER get beyond that: baseball's been around for over a century and all it's managed to do is go from exploitation to collusion (look it up :P) to Selig's current fraudulent tenure. Thanks to Don King, heavyweight boxing is about as genuine as a WWF title match.
I really hope gaming can get past that stage from the path it's on now, but I have serious doubts. I think that in many ways the best thing that could happen would be an implosion of the "serious" scene and a return to its roots, out of which something decent will hopefully emerge with the "first generation" gamers by that time in a position to take the management and organisational roles. The current beasts look an awful lot like evolutionary dead ends, but they're still too big to be killed and the resources they consume are blocking the advancement of the newer species. They need to die off before any real progress can be made.
I would like an honest opinion here, arQon. Do you believe that playing games encourages violent acts? Why or why not?
An honest opinion? Sure: that's the most idiotic question I've been asked in months. Stupidity; racism; religion (okay, those two fall under "stupidity" but they deserve special mention); failing social and educational systems, but GAMES are the problem? Get a clue. At the very worst, games might be about two drops in the ocean.
This whole "OH NOE! TEH GAEMS SI EVAL!" *bullshit* that erupted after Columbine is just pathetic. A bunch of assholes make some guys' lives utterly miserable for years on end, and eventually they snap and push back way too hard. Guess what: it's been happening since long before there were video games. Of course, you can't put the blame where it belongs, with the assholes and the parents that raised them or the other parents who ignored the shit their kids were going through, because "they were the victims". So let's find a scapegoat. What haven't we used recently that we don't like and can find or fabricate some tenuous link to? Marilyn Manson and DOOM - that'll do. Give me a break.
Don't get me wrong: I think that what happened at Columbine was tragic, but the finger-pointing that followed was disgraceful and dishonest at an outrageous level.
The term is "personal responsibility". Americans might want to look it up since the concept seems virtually non-existent here, eroded over the years by armies of lawyers proving that you can in fact get something for nothing; and Boomer-era "self esteem" psychobabble teaching people that no matter how big a fuckup you are, it's really someone else's fault. People like that sicken me, and the parasites who then try to capitalise on other people's suffering for their own benefit are even worse: the politicians, lawyers, and media who exploited that situation for personal gain are the scum of the earth. Fuck off and die you sacks of shit. I wish I believed in a Hell just so I'd know they'd rot there for all eternity.
What are your thoughts on David “crt” Wright’s Rocket Arena III?
I don't have any: last time I played it was over 2 years ago. It was a piece of shit back then, but I expect it's better now.
Some people state that Rocket Arena III is better than CPMA (Both are “completely” different modifications though). What would you like to say to these people?
Huh? I could care less. On a technical level, only OSP even comes close to CPMA; and as far as gameplay goes, nothing does. It doesn't *surprise* me that RA3 still has fanboys like that, but there are people who think that Britney Spears can sing or that Bush isn't a moron. It's like all the Q3/UT/CS/etc arguments: tedious and a waste of time. I've got better things to do.
OSP and CPMA have many similar features. What is the relationship the two Quake III modifications?
They're cooperative developments, basically. Incorporating OSP gave us a huge jump on getting truly competition-class behaviour implemented in the early days, and a codebase that had the majority of Q3 bugs already fixed. For the last couple of years it's mostly gone in the other direction, with CPMA's advances being rolled into OSP, but it's always been mutually beneficial. That approach is a large part of why the two are SO far ahead of everything else: even the other mods that we've helped out over the years (Threewave, UFreeze, etc) still aren't really in the same class (though in fairness they don't need to be since they don't have the same "competitive play" focus or demands that we do).
What is the relationship between OSP’s Jason “rhea” Keimig and yourself like (In the “programming” sense)?
I'm Yoda, he's Luke. And he knows it. :P
Rhea's a great guy: creative, very easy to work with, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does. You need two things to actually do a good job when it comes to programming: talent AND commitment. Rhea has both, and very few people in the industry as a whole do, let alone in the mod community.
I remember reading sometime back that CPMA and OSP were to “join forces” to become one Quake III modification. Can we still expect this to happen? If so, when?
Probably not at this point. With so little active development going on these days it just doesn't seem worth it. OSP remains THE definitive VQ3 mod, but that's something I don't really have any interest in, so it would be up to Rhea to finalise the merge between the two and he doesn't really have the time to do it. I think he also likes having clear "ownership" of OSP so he can tinker with things at will just as I enjoy the same situation with CPMA, so I expect we'll stick with collaboration rather that actual consolidation at this point.
Challenge Promode Arena 1.0 had just been release on January 4th, 2003 and I remember people were going crazy on that day. What have people’s remarks regarding 1.0 been like so far?
3rd, not 4th. :)
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. As a developer I wasn't bothered by the beta stages, but as a player there's definitely something nice to having a single version that's on EVERY server and is a known quantity.
Are you satisfied with what had been produced?
Very much so. I still don't consider it perfect, but it's significantly better than, well, everything else. :)
I could easily have spent months (or possibly even years) refining it further; adding more features; and so on. There are always more things you want to experiment with, but eventually you have to draw a line and say it's time to ship it and move on. I'll do a maintenance release in a few weeks that has a handful of new features and a couple of bugfixes, but it's all very minor stuff.
What are you thought’s on ID Software’s Quake III Point Release 1.32 and the new Punk Buster addition?
1.32 I'm very happy with, mostly because it finally added support for something that I wanted for years. TTimo was great during the 1.32 cycle and he made a real effort to fix the things that were broken.
PB's had its fair share of teething troubles, but those seem to be pretty much sorted out now. Conceptually it's a great system, and I think it's reached the point where overall the implementation has realised enough of that potential to be a valuable addition. I'd certainly recommend it reservedly to any admin at this stage.
Have you ever encountered a cheater on a CPMA server before? If so, how did you react to him or her?
Nope. But the common cheats really aren't that much help in DM. It doesn't matter that you've got an 80% MG accuracy if I've got RA and an RL. :P
Aimbots, wallhacks, and the like are potentially a huge problem in the simpler games though: when you take something like CA where aim IS all that matters, obviously some guy with perfect aim is incredibly disruptive.
Personally I think cheaters are pretty sad, and I mean that literally as well as figuratively. Not only are you such a failure in real life that you're trying to get gratification from a game, but you don't even have the skill to do THAT. How much more of a waste could you be? I realise that the teenage years can be pretty sucky at times, but you really are at the bottom of the barrel if that's the best you can manage.
arQon, could you tell us a bit about your personal life?
No. Hence "personal life". :)
Who would you say is the most beautiful woman in the world (What a corny question but it serves a purpose)?
Oh man... there are way too many. Off the top of my head: Natasha Henstridge, Ali Landry, Gabrielle Union, Heidi Klum, everyone in the last Victoria's Secret commercial I saw :P - we could be here all day. Oh, and I've always had a total crush on Kristy Swanson.
Hmmm… well let’s create a scenario. You and [INSERT WOMAN’S NAME] are on a date. You ask her to remain by your side forever. She says that she will… only if you are to drop the CPMA project and its community. What would you do? What would your decision be?
Seeya guys, it's been fun. gl. :)
Who is your role model and why?
Corny though this sounds, my father. Wasn't always that way, but over the years I've really come to admire his work ethic and his ability to make tough decisions unselfishly, while maintaining a great sense of humour and compassion. Most of the traits in myself that I admire I realise I've copied from his example: the others are ones I've picked up on my own. :P
Challenges II have started not too long ago (and are going to end quite soon, as well). What are your thoughts on this organized online tournament?
I think it's great: there have already been some absolutely stunning matches and we're only in the 3rd round. Props to DK for having the energy to organise a second season, and huge thanks to citizen, Speakeasy, Wheat, Trillian, and others for the support they've given it.
Do you have any predictions for Challenges II?
Apheleon's still The Man, but he's at a transitional point in his game and I don't know if he'll get through it in time: if he does, he'll take the whole thing; if he doesn't, then the impact that unlearning and relearning process has will drop him a couple of notches and someone else will steal the crown. ZeRo4 is always a serious contender; and rat's just insane. Gradius was my dark horse pick at the start of the tournament and he's still looking pretty strong to me.
I remember, back in the day, there were times when CPMA would not cooperate with me… for example – The demos couldn’t be found, enemy colours were are mixed up, the bots got stuck in the levels, I clicked restart arena and it would quit Quake, etc. When this happened, I clearly remember saying: “Damn arQon, can’t get anything to work right ;).” How do you react to the problems you encounter while playing CPMA?
I don't have any. But then, I know what I'm doing. :P
Historically, any time I run across a problem it gets fixed 10 minutes later. It's good to be the king, and that's one of the huge benefits of having a developer who actually plays his own games.
That attitude goes far beyond the visible aspects though, and into core behaviour. Q3's framerate/physics problems are well known for example, but id's pmove implementation is unuseably buggy. Two years ago I didn't have a machine that could get a rock-solid 125fps so I took the time to actually fix that mess and make it usable. In the same vein, my ISP royally sucks so I spent about a month designing and implementing the famous "50ms hack". Those two improvements alone make an absolutely staggering difference to the quality of the game, but if I hadn't been active as a player they'd never have happened.
The things you mention BTW are basically petty annoyances coming from you not bothering to actually read the docs or learn about the game. Seriously. :)
I'd agree that there's a general need to simplify things for inexperienced or lazy users, but that sort of thing has always been, to me, infinitely less important than the gameplay and engine related aspects. While I could have focused more on making things a little more tolerant of the clue-impaired early on, it would have come at the expense of the game itself and I'm always going to consider that an unacceptable trade. It wasn't really until the last couple of months before 1.0 that I was willing to take the time to work on the UI etc, and I still consider it the lowest possible priority. What would you rather have: clicky-clicky selection of enemy colours for people too retarded to type 4 numbers in the console; or groundbreaking features like MVD? It really isn't a difficult choice once you actually think about it.
What do you think of the CPMA community as a whole?
As a whole, I think it's great. As I've said in the past, I feel that ProMode implicitly weeds out the weak, the stupid, and the gutless just because of the demands the game places on you. It's still not exactly Utopian because, hey, it's a gaming community :P but I'd take it over any other any day of the week. :)
Many gamers state that CPMA feels and plays like QuakeWorld. What characteristics would you say QuakeWorld shares with CPMA?
On the other hand, more intelligent gamers say that it reminds them of Q2...
The bunnies are definitely Q1-influenced, though that's literally Q1, not QW. The rockets are faster than Q3 or Q2 so I guess you could say they're "QW-ish", but again that's actually Q1. Instant weapon switch - oh, same thing. :)
I think the only things you could say CPMA and QW share that is unique to those two games are the "thrill" element of the melees and the potential for skill distinction in the movement. Personally, I consider those the only good or interesting aspects of QW, and while they're enough to make QW *fun* they leave it horribly lacking in strategic and tactical depth, for DM at least (QW TDM is significantly better as a "complete" game). On the other hand, Q2 was practically the "anti-QW" in that the melee was downright painful at times but it excelled at the mindgame elements. I really think we've managed to "steal" the strengths of both while avoiding their weaknesses, and then surpass either in other areas as well (notably armour and weapon behaviour) so that while the end result is reminiscent of certain older games in certain ways, the total package is not only uniquely its own game, but a superior one as well.
Europe, in general, has several amazing Promode gamers. What country in Europe would you say has the most advanced Promode gamers and why?
Eeesh. So the plan here is to make sure that the OTHER 95% of Europe hates me?
A year ago I'd definitely have said Poland: they have an extremely impressive and unique style of play that they've developed over the last 3 years, but I think the rest of EU really has caught up to them now. France showcased a lot of talent at LA7, and players like Toxter and Raven give Germany real credibility. The UK has advanced the level of TDM play by a fair amount, but it doesn't really have a strong DM pool.
I really can't pick one, so I'm going to say Finland, because they have rat and he's worth a whole country. :P
What are your thoughts on Counter-Strike?
I've barely played it TBH. I like the teamplay focus that it has, but I'm just not interested in campy-snipy games. I don't have the patience to crouch behind a box for hours on end, and I *really* hate some of the underlying concepts: games that have inaccurate weapons but then have headshots as well are about luck, not skill. I'm sure it's a great way to keep newbies happy ("Mommy look: I just killed Thresh!") but I see no point to that sort of gameplay. Why not just flip a coin and spend the 20 minutes doing something else instead? :P
Just to add fuel to a few flames ;) – Do you think that Quake III is better than Counter-Strike, in terms of gameplay, graphics, physics, etc.?
Q3 is obviously better graphics-wise (duh), but I'd say VQ3 and CS are a lot closer to being equal on the physics and gameplay than most VQ3 players would like to admit. As I said, there are definitely some good elements in CS's teamplay, and I'd like to see more emphasis on those in future FPS games (much as RTCW did). The downside is that everything ELSE about CS is a steaming pile of cack. But then, that's why so many people love it: the individual skill demand is low enough that the game's accessible to them no matter who they are, just like Clan Arena is for VQ3'ers. It's baseball and softball again.
If you were able to create a modern day version of a classic arcade game… what game would it be and why?
Heh. I used to spend a LOT of time in the arcades when I was a kid... :)
Defender is the best arcade game ever made, but there'd be no point to recreating that. Tempest is a good example of a classic that could do with an update. But I'm going to cheat and classify the early home computer games as "arcade" and that makes it easy: Elite, the Greatest Game Ever; and Archon, #2 on my personal list and the one that would benefit most from modern technology.
Thanks for the interview arQon. Any last statements or shoutouts to make?
Cheers man. Shouts to the ProMode team and the players who made the game what it is today; to citizen, DK, tubesock, and all the other people who've supported it so we could get here; and to my clanmates, who are just the greatest bunch of people I could ever want to frag with.
Play hard, and don't settle. Peace.
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