Monday, November 29, 2010

Wolfer Q & A: WSJ

Name: Wolf Skevos-Jones
Nickname: WSJ

Q. Where did your nickname come from and why did you choose it?
A. When choosing a name to go by in the Wolf 3d community, I decided it would be better to use my initials "WSJ" instead of just my first name "Wolf" because that obviously would have caused a bit of confusion. I was unaware at the time that the Wall Street Journal is commonly referred to as "the WSJ," but my nickname is completely unrelated to that.

Q. When did you first play Wolfenstein 3d?
A. I didn't get the chance to play Wolf 3d until (I think) 1997, but I had heard of the game a few years before and I first remember seeing it on display at Radioshack. My dad introduced me to the shareware episode of Wolf 3d when he found it on a CD with a bunch of games. At this point, I had already been hooked on Doom (my other favourite game of all time) but I easily got hooked on Wolf 3d when I played through episode 1 for the first time.

Q. How did you come to be part of the Wolfenstein 3d Community?
A. Once I had finished my first Wolf 3d mod, Castle Totenkopf, I contacted Brian Lowe and asked him if he would post it on the Wolf 3d Dome (which he did, thankfully.) At first, I didn't really expect anyone to notice the mod, but it did get a few comments. So I later joined the forums (much to everyone's chagrin.)

Q. What is the best part about being involved in the Wolfenstein 3d Community?
A. Being able to communicate with others who have similar interests and share my work with them. I doubt it will ever lead to any "destiny" like the one AReyeP has found, but at least I've made a few friends and talked to many nice folks here. And it makes it all the more worthwhile to know that there are a few people out there who enjoy my mods (thank you all very much!)

Q. You rarely advertise or promote your mods prior to release, why is that?
A. The more you advertise, the more you will be expected to deliver. It's like in politics... if you make a bunch of campaign promises to get elected, then you better make good on some of those promises, otherwise you'll lose a lot of voters in the next election. Now, it's one thing to promote something which you've already finished, but there will often be projects which never get finished, even when you're "sure" they will (you'd be surprised how many mods I spent months working on which I later had to abandon for one reason or another.) And if you keep making announcements for your mods and then cancelling them before they're finished, you will just be letting people down and they'll lose interest in your work. So in general, I don't like to promise things. And I don't see much point in the way that some people advertise their mods on the Wolf 3d Dome or the forums, where all they show is a "grocery list" of changes/features... no demo level, no screenshots, no story... just "features." I mean, if you're going to hype your mod, at least provide people with some evidence of why it's so awesome. But I would rather devote more time to actually making the mod than hyping it. My motto is "Less Talking, More Modding." I do talk about my mods a little bit while they're still in development, but that's usually when I'd like someone's help or input on something that I'm trying to work out. I don't want to spoil everything about the mod before I've even released it... what's the point of that?

Q. You are very multi-skilled when it comes to your mods, doing all aspects of the mod yourself to high levels. What parts do you find the most difficult or challenging when making a mod?
A. Graphics. Whether it's a title screen or a weapon sprite, making good graphics has always been challenging for me. You wouldn't think it would be so difficult for a game which mostly uses 64x64 pixel 256-color sprites, but it does require a good deal of talent and patience, both of which I wish I had more of. That's why I'm really impressed by mods like Trench Warfare and WLHack's mods... they have all-new, high-quality graphics which give them a look and feel of their own. The other bane of my existence is German voices for the enemies. As much as I enjoy voice acting, my attempts at speaking German have often resulted in something which sounds more like a clueless American tourist than an evil German guard. So I'm always looking for native German speakers who'd be interested in doing enemy voices, though there are only a few in the Wolf 3d community (for obvious reasons.) I was very lucky that Ripper was willing to help with the voices which were used in Castle Totenkopf SDL Edition.

Q. You've already updated one of your Dos mods to SDL, are there plans to do any others?
A. Yes. As always, I can't guarantee anything, but I'm hoping that most of my other mods will eventually get an SDL treatment similar to the one I gave Castle Totenkopf. In addition to making them more playable on newer systems, I also want to resolve many of the shortcomings and mistakes I made in my early mods, and use the advantages of SDL to re-tell them in a better way.

Q. Do you have any plans/ideas to work on a completely new mod?
A. Yes. In fact, I have ideas for several different mods, aside from remakes. Some of them are Wolf 3d "fan fiction" mods like what I've done in the past, others are entirely unrelated to the Wolf 3d story. I don't know how many of them will ever see the light of day, but I will continue to make mods for as long as I have the time and the inspiration to do so. Hopefully, there will continue to be a number of people who enjoy playing them.

Q. You recently had one of your mods done as a walkthrough and posted on YouTube. How did you feel about the review and were you worried that all of the mods secrets & features would be revealed?
A. Well, I enjoyed the walkthroughs. It was very cool to get someone else's perspective as they were playing through the mod, and it gave me a few ideas about what to do and what not to do in future mods. I hadn't expected anyone to take the time to record videos of Castle Totenkopf SDL Edition, and yet at least two people already have (Zirblazer and Balames87) and they both did a really good job. I usually don't bother too much with getting 100% scores, even in my own mods, so I was a little surprised that some people were willing to go to such lengths (very impressive!) It's true that all the mods' "spoilers" were revealed in those videos, but I guess that's the standard for most game walkthroughs.

Q. What is your favorite Wolf 3d mod that you've worked on?
A. My latest one, Castle Totenkopf SDL Edition. It was a bit more than just an "update" of an old mod. Without all the memory limitations of the DOS-based code, I was finally able to do things that I wished were possible back when I made the original Castle Totenkopf, plus more. And I had a lot of fun composing the music (thanks to AlumiuN for his advanced sound manager code!)

Q. What is your favorite Wolf 3d mod that you've played other than your own?
A. There are lots of mods I like, and there are ones I still want to try, but I think my favourites are Trench Warfare, Spear Resurrection, End of Destiny, Operation Letzterschultz, and KFH's "Reloaded" mods. Oh, and Escape from Castle Holle was pretty good too. :)

Q. Why do you feel that so many people are still so passionate about Wolf 3d so many years after it's initial relase?
A. I think it's one of those games which people have many fond memories of playing when they were younger, due to how much fun it was/is compared to other games. As for me, it's that plus I've been interested in World War II fiction and non-fiction ever since I played Wolf 3d. It's also a great game to make mods of.

Q. Any words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?
A. If you're looking for wisdom about life, love, or the meaning of 42, sorry can't help you there. But when making a mod which you want other people to enjoy, don't rush into it without first forming a good idea of how it's going to look and play. Some borrowing of other people's ideas and content may be unavoidable, but don't do it to the point where your mod looks like it's just a copy of someone else's. Adding lots of code features does not make a mod "better" unless those features are used in a way which enhances the game experience. People don't need to know everything that you're doing in your mod, so devote more time to making it than talking about it. Don't rush things, make sure you get it right, and don't set any release dates until the mod is very close to completion and the release date seems realistic. Most importantly, make your mod to be the kind of game that you yourself would have fun playing... because if you don't like it, how can you expect others to like it? A mod is only as good as you're willing to make it. And I'd like to thank anyone who might have taken the time to read my boring drivel... thank you, and stay Wolfy. :)

1 comment:

  1. This was a very interesting read, WSJ had good things to say. Especially the "Less Talking, More Modding" part is something I can relate to. Dean, Keep up these awesome interviews! :)