Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wolfer Q & A: Adam Biser

Name: Adam Biser

Q. When did you first play Wolfenstein 3d?
A. It was probably right around the time that it first came out. I found the demo on a bunch of 5 1/4 inch disks I got off a friend and decided to play it without knowing what it was. It blew me away from the beginning. I still remember meeting Hans the first time; I quite literally jumped out of my chair.

Q. How did you come to be part of the Wolfenstein 3d Community?
A. Having discovered ZDoom years before, one day I wondered if Wolfenstein 3d had a decent Windows port. I looked around and found a Wolf3D forum shortly before it closed (I don't remember its name), but I did not find any Windows port, so I thought I would port it myself (heh, WinWolf3D still isn't finished!). Shortly after that forum closed, I found the DieHard Wolfers forum.

Q. What is the best part about being involved in the Wolfenstein 3d Community?
A. Even though it is a smaller community, it really involves a broad spectrum of people across the globe. Everyone is generally pretty friendly and helpful toward everyone else, even with non-Wolf3D subjects, and that makes a nice atmosphere.

Q. Where did the idea for your mod 'Orb of Dilaaria' come from and how long did it take to make?
A. I started 'Orb of Dilaaria' just five days after joining the DieHard Wolfers Forum. I think seeing all the different mods out there gave me the idea to try at one of my own. I had messed about with MapEdit and WolfEdit back in the day, but that never amounted to much. I jotted down several pages worth of notes and story in a notepad and that became the basis of Orb. You can find scans of these on 'Orb of Dilaaria's' Facebook page. I originally intended for Orb to be a total conversion without any code changes. I knew very little C++ when I started the project, but many of the code changes being posted at DHW looked so interesting, I decided to start trying some out and things really escalated from there.

It took exactly three years to develop Orb. The first ideas were written down on June 11, 2003 and version 1.00 was released June 11, 2006. This seems a really long time, but a lot of it was a learning experience for me. I was learning C++ while I was working on it plus I had become fed up with using FloEdit and started working on WDC alongside of Orb.

Q. One of the most interesting aspects of 'Orb of Dilaaria' is that there are multiple gameplay paths that the player can follow. Why did you choose to have the mod work this way?
A. The idea for that came from seeing BrotherTank's tutorial for getting around the hard-coded secret levels. That made me think that the map itself could store this information and this lead to the thought that it would be cool if you could have multiple exits in a level that took you to different maps. Most FPS (First Person Shooters) are very linear and I thought this would make Orb stand out a bit and add some replay value. If Ack had not agreed to help with/do most of the maps for the game, I doubt this would have made it in.

Q. Reading through some of the information about the making of the mod, you mention that the most difficult aspect of having so many features was the constant battle for memory space, how difficult did this make the coding process?
A. I'm not entirely certain what was causing those memory issues. It quite easily could have been my lack of experience at the time leading to pesky little bugs that I overlooked. It did make things difficult for me because, by the time these were starting to occur, I had a much larger picture of what I wanted Orb to be. I restarted the code at least three times, but I think it got better with each take and I understood things more each time as well.

Q. Do you have plans for an SDL version of 'Orb of Dilaaria'?
A. I have plans for an updated version, yes. It might not use Wolf4SDL, though, because I've slowly been developing an engine in Java.

Q. I've read that you have a long term plan for a futuristic mod titled 'Robotic Justice'. Can you tell us about where that's at and what the mod is about?
A. It's still in the very early stages. I have a lot of graphics and a storyline just waiting around. I don't plan to do much work on it until Orb is released in a more modern engine because I want Robotic Justice will use that. Especially now that I'm running Windows 7 x64, doing anything with the original code is a major pain.

Robotic Justice is about a robotic warrior that has been declared obsolete and discarded. However, when they discarded it, they forgot to completely disable it and it finds a way to recharge and repair itself back to full functionality. Knowing that it was discarded, its former masters and their robotic warriors become the enemies it now seeks to destroy.

Q. I hear that you are in a band, has this helped you with developing the music for your mods?
A. I started writing music many years before starting my band, Odd Normality. Actually, the music of Bobby Prince was one of my inspirations to start writing music, though it was more of his work for Doom than for Wolfenstein. The music the band plays and the music I've used for mods have not yet overlapped, though my band has rehearsed “Distant Voices”, which appeared in Mojik Monkee's “MedEvil”, a few times.

Q. What led you to create your own Map Editor, WDC, and how did you go about it?
A. I hated two things about FloEdit: 1) the map editor and 2) having to re-add images every time they were changed.

I got tired of using FloEdit while working on Orb, so I wrote WDC. At that time, I mainly knew VB6, so I used that language for everything I wrote. There was an earlier project called WinWolf3D Edit which was going to be a regular editor and WDC was going to be a script compiler. I had read DarkOne's idea for a swap file compiler and thought it would be great if the editor would remember what files you added and where it was added and then was able to automatically re-add any changes that you made later. Thus WinWolf3D Edit and WDC became one. It took a lot of digging through the original Wolf3D code to figure out everything that needed to be done.

A bit of trivia: the AUDIOT file for “Halls of Stonehenge” was the first file written with WDC.

Q. What is your favorite Wolf 3d mod that you've played other than your own?
A. Sadly, I've not had as much free time as I would like to play all of the mods I would like to play. I don't think it would be fair for me to try to pick a favorite.

Q. Why do you feel that Wolfenstein 3d is still so popular so many years after it's release?
A. I think it's still popular among those of us who remember its early days because of the lasting impression it made when we first played it. I know that's how I got hooked. Granted it is not as popular today as it was around 1992/1993, but the fact that id software has released it for the iPhone shows that they still think it is marketable, even if only nostalgia/retro gaming.

Q. Any words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?
A. Keep trying until you get things right.

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