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Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

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  • Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

    From readyroom.org:

    Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do for Natural Selection?

    My name is Florian 'Nemesis Zero' Schwarzer, I'm a 21 years old German student and currently Natural Selection's project manager. This means that I get to say how much goes into a new version, set deadlines and release dates, organize meetings, hire new personnel, take care of the overall team structure, and do no end of other things that are enjoyable for a morally bankrupt person.

    What is the status of release 3.1?

    The hack hit us pretty hard there. As you all know, we had opened the Constellation beta to receive feedback on v3.1 - which got kind of difficult when we suddenly lost our main means of communication. Additionally, about two thirds of our team headed into vacation at the end of August. We had hoped to be done with v3.1 at that point, but since that did not happen, it added another obstacle. v3.1 has thus, sad to say, been on ice for the most part of the site outage. Still, it's a de-facto finished product with only a few minor tasks outstanding, and we're back to work on them. Shouldn't be long now.

    When are the forums coming back, and what is the reason for their extended downtime?

    Before I answer this, I should explain the current situation around NS and Unknown Worlds Entertainment to avoid confusion. Essentially, you've got two more or less separate entities here: The volunteer team that maintains NS, and Unknown Worlds Entertainment, which is searching for investors to create NS 2. Both sides profit from the other, but there's still a pretty strong division; UWE employees do for example not normally work on NS.

    Now, the Unknown Worlds server is something people not on the UWE payroll have very little access to (This is to minimize the number of possible points of access for... Well, hackers.), so I'm afraid I can't give you anything newer about the ETA than what Flayra posts on the front page.

    There are several reasons for the downtime. Most importantly, it soon became clear that we'd never be able to close the security hole that allowed the hacker in with the current forum software in place. Thus, we upgraded to IPB 2.x, which featured an own array of known security holes that had to be plugged, and, more importantly, had to be fitted into our site's structure, that in turn needed a few overhauls on its back-end. When all *that* was done and the time came to plug the database back in, it was discovered that it was in parts corrupted. In short, this downtime is the result of a veritable heap of worst cases.

    What do you see for in the future of NS, both in the next few months and the next few years?

    Oof, short question, long answer. For the next few months, you'll see one more HL-based release after v3.1. It'll be relatively low-profile with some bugfixes and balance changes and one or two new assets. In the mid-range, we are currently discussing whether to revive the tradition of the Technology Releases and publish a stripped-down build of NS:S as soon as possible to give community mappers all the tools they need to work their magic. Then, there's obviously NS:S itself. After the initial release, we plan on going back to incremental updates, but it's obviously very difficult to foresee what exactly will happen with them. I think as a general direction, we'll turn back to NS' roots, to its 'soul', a bit. A lot of the current NS - and the controversies surrounding it - is based around compromises between Flayra's original vision of an immersive, socially engaging fusion between FPS and RTS, and the realities of our engine. Just look at our maps, each of which is doing handstands on the limitations of HL and thus forced to make tradeoffs, or think of hit registration at high speeds and the problems it poses for example with the Lerk. Source is by god not going to do away with all those issues, but it'll allow us a lot more room to play with in the long run.

    When do you expect Nexus to be released to the public?

    I have public ally sworn off from ever making a prediction there again, and intend to keep that oath. Sorry, but no comment.

    How is your relationship with VALVe, and has there been any progress in getting NS to appear under My Games?

    About two months back, we cooperated with a few brilliant guys over at VALVe to get NS onto My Games. We succeeded quickly; I have a build of NS v3.0 that works flawlessly integrated into Steam on my HD, and I'd like to thank Alfred Reynolds and Derrick Birrum, the two responsible engineers, for their competent and friendly help. After this was done, I sent word to Erik Johnson, VALVe's project manager, about publishing the result, and essentially never heard back from him again. I understand that VALVe's business arm does not see it in their best interest to promote a HL1-based mod at the moment.

    Unknown Worlds Entertainment has begun offering to do contracted work. How has that panned out so far?

    Very good. I'm not sure whether I may name the products they've worked on, so I shan't, but it keeps UWE afloat and allows them to be picky when searching for investors, which I consider goods things. On the downside, contracted work obviously takes priority over their own work and some delays on UWE-provided content for and around NS stem from that, though that's a relatively small price to pay in my opinion.

    Currently many servers run special mods for Combat, like ones that increase the level cap, and don't even bother running regular NS. Do you see a problem when many consider Combat is only fun when changed with these mods?

    Yes. I think what is getting apparent - and nowhere more than in the brilliant NS:Territory metamod - is that Combat as it comes with the installer is a very good basis for a game mode that's yet to be made. We'll see what the future brings.

    Is the dev team doing anything about server side performance?

    Some admins complain that NS takes a very good server to run effectively.

    Well, we already did something here with the last server-side patch, and don't plan on stopping.

    A number of unofficial maps, such as Prometheus, are trying to get into the official cycle. Are there any plans to add new official maps to NS?

    Yes, there'll be one new map in v3.1 [Editor�s note: This has been confirmed as ns_shiva]. Generally, though, if you are a mapper, interested in getting your work official recognition, and willing to operate under the risk of having to later adapt your creation to new circumstances, I'd heavily suggest you start looking into Source.

    What material has been started on for NS:S? Textures, maps, code?

    We've got two player models in varying stages of competition, two sets of textures ported, and our mappers have not been idle, though there is not yet an organized drive in that area. We'll start serious codework once v3.1 is out of the way.

    How much of the team is moving from NS to NS:S (or already has) and are any new members coming on board to help or are needed?

    We more or less hired a wholly new art team to work on Source exclusively. The coders are still focused on vanilla NS, though this'll change soon. I don't foresee a time in the near future where we won't be advertising for new team members, honestly. Source is a massive project.

    Any specific features you are looking to implement in NS:S with the new engine?

    With the new engine specifically, there are two things I'm interested in, both connected to the physics engine and on an eyes-candy level, but since the final design doc is not yet written, I won't be fueling rumors.

    Will there be a NS release after 3.1 on the current HL engine?

    Yup, v3.2. The emphasis will be on Source from here on, though.

    The community started converting some of the NS textures into the Source engine. Has that continued and has their work looked at being used at all?

    We looked into it (as you might remember, we posted in the relevant forum threads a few times), but the initiative seems to have slept away, and there was generally the problem of very different interpretations. You'd have two grate textures, one still with the 'hand drawn' vibe of the originals, another one striving for photorealism. In the end, it became clear that textures would have to stay an in-house project at least until enough had accumulated to set the 'official' style.

    The art director has been a "question mark" on the Unknown Worlds team page for months now. Is his identity ever going to be disclosed?

    I have no insight there, sorry.

    Seeing as the changes for 3.1 are pretty much set in stone, do you have an idea of what might be going into 3.2?

    v3.2 will likely be a relatively small patch including fixes to all bugs that might crop up between v3.1's release and then, some 'smaller' gameplay changes, and likely at least one more new map. It'll be a fast update - Source beckons.

    Are you keeping lots of original NS content for Source, such as sounds, music, UI designs, and the commander interface?

    Well, sounds and music will likely not change in any way readily recognizable to a novice, simply because they are often purchased assets. On the visual side, a lot of things will be updated to fit the new technical possibilities, but won't receive major redesigns. As an example, we are pretty happy with the marines' weapons. They'll obviously get skins in higher resolutions, specular maps; the full jazz - but we won't change our game just so it's new.

    Is the team trying to avoid "feature creep" with NS:Source, where the impulse to add more and more interesting things delays the mod?

    Yes, but this is not to say that there won't be new stuff. We'll define all major features very early in the development process, and from there, it'll be my job to quell all creative outburst from then until NS:S 1.1. Picture me grinning diabolically.

    To what degree will NS and NS:Source be worked on concurrently once 3.1 is out?

    As you can see from my frequent mentioning of v3.2, we envision at least some parallel development, and had planned on a lot more, but it's getting obvious that NS:S will just require all our resources. The idea is to ensure that our fans won't have to wait a year or so with no news from our side.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Readyroom would like to thank NemesisZero for his timely and informative responses to our pestering and we hope it answered any questions you fans may have. Feel free to comment in the forums. If any other large news does develope while we streamline the backend of the site, be sure we will still keep you all up to date.
    Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

    Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

  • #2
    Re: Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

    Very good read.
    Steam Community: | |

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    • #3
      Re: Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

      Good stuff. It sounds like v3.2 is the be-all end-all of NS. I didn't see it mentioned in the interview, but if some bugs slip under the 3.2 radar, does that mean they're in there permanently, or would they likely patch them (if serious enough)?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

        At some point, you've got to accept whatever bugs remain and find a new hill to climb. A game engine's tenth birthday seems like a good enough time to me.
        Steam Community? Add me. | Free Remote, Encrypted Backup

        Darkilla: In short, NS is pretty much really fast chess. With guns. Apophis: I haven't seen anyone say that SM's are better than non-SMs. Nordbomber: This is THE first server I've seen where either side can comeback from out of seemingly nowhere with the right teamwork. en4rcment: I have NEVER experienced the type of gameplay that I have found here. Nightly I am amazed at the personalities and gaming talent. Zephyr: Apophis is clearly a highly sophisticated self-aware AI construct that runs on a highly modified toaster oven in Wyzcrak's basement.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

          I'm still amazed that HL has Lasted as long as it did.
          "The electric Yellow's got me by the brain banana!"

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Nem0 interview re: 3.1, My Games, 3.2, NS:S, etc...

            It is only because of Counter Strike. =/

            Comment

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