Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Wolfer Q&A: Barry

Name: Barry Christian
Location: United States
Wolf3D nickname: vaultkeeper

Q: Where did your nickname come from and why did you choose it?
A: I had a great website called the Wolfenstein 3D Vault back in the day and I thought "vaultkeeper" sounded cool and I just stuck with it.

Q: When did you first play Wolf3D?
A: 1993. My dad had the old shareware version on our 8MHz 386SX. I remember asking him if I could play it, not knowing what it was. It completely blew me away and I fell in love with it the first time I played it. I spent hours upon hours, not having a hint manual or map editor, discovering every nook and cranny of Episode 1. I still remember the feeling of awe I had when I discovered the secret level for the first time, which was well after I had beat the game. In 1997 I finally got the full six-episode registered set and in 1998 I acquired Spear of Destiny.

Q: What is the best part about being involved in the Wolf3D community?
A: The people and the sharing of ideas and creativity. I love that so many are still interested in this old game and that mods are still coming out to keep it alive after all these years.

Q: Who is your favorite modder?
A: Gary Ragland, without a doubt. His mapping inspired me from the very beginning.

Q: Are there any dream mods you'd love to do at some point?
A: Right now I am going to focus on finishing Atomprojekt. After that, I eventually plan on doing the PTH follow-up with 128x128 maps. As for how ambitious that project will be, I am not sure yet. I am debating doing it on ECWolf so I can take advantage of the extra features. After that, I am not sure. I've always tried to keep it simple and focus on mapping as opposed to coding. The code changes I do enhance the classic gameplay that I am going for. However, I do have interest in maybe doing a full TC at some point. This sounds like a crazy idea, but when I was young and only had the shareware edition of Wolfenstein 3D, I had no idea what Episode 2 was like or what it was about. I had always envisioned it starting with BJ leaving the castle and having to fight his way back to allied territory. I think it would be interesting to do an "alternative Episode 2" starting right when BJ defeats Hans Grosse and leaves the castle. It would feature primarily outdoor environments, new enemies, weapons, bosses, and possibly a vehicle of some sort. Of course, doing this would be a HUGE undertaking, much bigger than anything I've ever done for Wolf beforeso I am not certain I will ever get around to it. If I do, I think ECWolf would be an excellent platform for it.

Q: What has been the most rewarding thing that's come from Wolf3D?
A: The satisfaction of completing a mod and the feedback I receive from it. Another thing is playing new works from other authors that inspire me to one up myself. Also, the fact that people are still playing my classic works such as Armageddon and The Road to Neuschwanstein after all these years.

Q: What is your favorite Wolf3D mod?
A: Mmm... this is a tough one because I've played so many outstanding sets over the years. I would say Assassinate Hitler, Schabbs 2000, Project Totengraeber and Countdown to Disaster are my favorites out of the classics. More recently, I have really enjoyed Executor's Wolfenstein Missions and am looking forward to the complete version.

Q: Which one of your mods are you the most proud of?
A: I will have to go with Passage to Hollenteufel for now, but that may change as future projects get released.

Q: How do you regard your older work?
A: I am still very proud of Armageddon and The Road to Neuschwanstein. They were great for their time and a lot of people enjoyed them. I really enjoyed watching PDGamer2012's playthrough of Armageddon with voice commentary. Of course, as the author and compared to my more recent work, I can definitely see their flaws, some of which are an overabundance of health and ammo and the lack of complex combat scenarios. For what they were though at the time, they were excellent. The original DOS version of Armageddon was actually done with a hex editor, before anybody had compiled the source code. Much thanks to Andy_Nonymous (where is he?) for converting it to SDL. I think the level design of the Road to Neuschwanstein was a notch above Armageddon, but it was more generic while Armageddon was more creative. As for my pre-Armageddon mods, they are interesting to go back and look at to see the maturation of my mapping skills but I wouldn't recommend them today. The Six Depths of Terrorism was groundbreaking in its time as it was only the third mod to change the EXE, the second to feature continuous levels, and the first to change the ceiling colors. In retrospect however, I am not as satisfied with it today as I am Armageddon onward.

Q: Are you currently working on any new mods?
A: Currently working on Atomprojekt, which is about two-thirds complete. The first two units will consist of maps that have an atmosphere similar to the original Wolf3D and Spear, as I usually go for. The third and final unit will be a departure from that. So far, the level design in my opinion is the best I've ever done and a notch above Passage to Hollenteufel. I am looking forward to finishing and releasing it. After that, I will likely do a sequel for Passage to Hollenteufel, finishing up the storyline ending with a showdown between BJ and Hitler. My plan is to do 128x128 maps in that one, which is why I ultimately decided to do it as a seperate project as opposed to completing it as Passage to Hollenteufel Phase 2 as originally planned.

Q: You were gone from the Wolf3D scene for some time, what made you decide to come back?
A: After I left in 2001, I had always regretted not at least finishing and releasing Blitzkrieg, which was quite a bit better than The Road to Neuschwanstein and was the pinnacle of my level design up to that point. During high school and college however I just didn't have the time to devote to Wolf. I returned in 2008 and announced Wolfenstein Forever, which I had every intention completing and releasing. However, I had a neck injury in late 2008 that made it difficult for me to sit at the computer for the amount of time I needed to make level. I then had some major personal issues in the summer of 2009 and in the fall of 2009, my hard drive crashed and I lost a lot of levels I had already made. At that point, I became discouraged and Wolfenstein Forever kind of fell by the wayside. However, it was always in the back of my mind. I always wanted to come back and finish it. In early 2016, I played Wolfenstein: The Old Blood and found one of the secrets that had a classic map. At that point I was drawn back to Wolf3D and I decided that I was going to actually finish and release Wolfenstein Forever, which I renamed Passage to Hollenteufel.

Q: Why do you feel that Wolf3D has such a long lasting legacy being it was released so long ago?
A: I would say because the game examplifies simple complexity and its replayability. To me, Wolf is still as fun today as it was back when it was released. I think the fact that the level designers were so restricted due to the technology of the time resulted in them making the most of what they had. Wolf3D (and Doom) are superiour to many modern shooters due to their non-linearity and the fact that they combined action with things like exploration and puzzles. Things like key hunting and secrets and having to remember my way around a map is a huge part of the fun for me. I feel a lot of newer games sacrifice things like quality, immersive level design and challenging gameplay in favour of graphics, cut-scenes, and online multiplayer. The result is either very linear mapping that just isn't fun to play after you've beaten it the first time, or online shooters like Call of Duty which I have never been a big fan of. I also think the nostalgic aspect keeps Wolf going. When it was released, there had never been anything like it. Doom has also remained similarly popular long after its heyday, while many AAA shooters from the new millenium lack the same kind of lasting loyalty.

Q: Where would you like to see Wolf3D go from here?
A: Wolf4SDL and ECWolf have been essential to bringing the game into the modern era (not having to deal with clunky old DOSBox) and editors like Havoc's Wolfenstein Editor and WDC have made editing much easier than having to resort to Mapedit (which is a pain on modern systems) or unstable editors like Floedit. I would say my hope is that the game continues to stay alive through new mods, both old-school style like my own and with new TCs. I also would like to see a new Wolfenstein 3D hub come online since the old Dome is no longer being updated.

Q: Any words of wisdom you would like to leave us on?
A: Make the mods that you enjoy making and others will enjoy them. Never map if you don't have inspiration just to get something done as it will show. When playing mods, don't look at the maps beforehand or use cheats as that takes a lot of the fun out of it. Always show respect to others' work as long as they've put effort into it (i.e. not rushed mapping, used Creator, or plagiarized), even if it might not be your style. Lastly, if you borrow ideas/resources/code, always give credit where it is due. 

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