Phobos Times (Issue 5, March)

21 March 2010

Monthly newsletter of Chaosforge!

Issue No. 5 – Post Glory! has been released, and all the Phobos Times staff are celebrating with marathon Angel of 100 runs! Our best tally so far is 56 exotics! We finally managed to pull enough staff away to run an issue. And in celebration of the experimental sandbox mode released with the latest version, we’ve got the best (only?) DRL modder that we could find hanging our on the #Chaosforge IRC channel to tell us what’s what about modding! Read on!

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Feature Article – Interview with Add is now out in the hands of the general public. The gates have been unleashed. The advent of modding is upon us. Granted there are a few other good features in the release, but they’re minor gameplay changes. This could change everything…literally. QuakeRL anyone? So now that we’ve got this experimental tool, what do you think the community will do with it?

I’m not sure the exotic/unique change is minor :). Dual blasters! More assault shotguns! Missile launchers! That seems to have people enthralled.
But back to modding. Unfortunately a total conversion seems right out. One level just isn’t enough to introduce an entire game’s worth of enemies, items, weapons, and experience. Working around that limitation is kinda sorta possible, but it’s not easy, fun, or remotely the same as randomly generated levels.
So, since the difficulty is set to Easy and you only get one level to work with, I expect more gimmick levels than anything. Most likely future modders will have to mine out the good stuff, but good stuff will be there.

You’ve got a fair bit of DRL tweaking under your belt, if the reports that come from IRC are to be believed. What sort of plans do you have for modding yourself? Will you be pulling together a team to work on an in depth total conversion at some point perhaps?

WolfRL is something I’ve been working on. I like Wolfenstein a lot; it was the first FPS I (heck, a lot of people since it pretty much defined the genre) played and I’ll always have a soft spot for it. I still play it or rather a Doom TC that almost perfectly mimics it from time to time too. So far I’ve created just about everything in the game; all enemies, all items, all weapons, and a special level for every boss in all six episodes + SoD. It’s not very balanced though; there’s just not enough to work with. I think I’m going to have to throw in some more traditional WWII equipment or mine Return to Castle Wolfenstein for items. Still, a lot of it is done. Once we get full blown modding in I’ll be able to assemble and release it as a package instead of individual levels…
I’ve also thought about a SkulltagRL (adding in the extra Skulltag weapons and enemies, leaving everything else the same) and I know others have thought about a Quake2RL and a Warhammer40KRL. We’ll see what happens.
As for teams, I’m more of a solo guy. If someone wants to help they can; I don’t really hide my sources either. But I don’t go looking for coders. On the other hand, I do need some special levels for WolfRL. Aside from Episode 3’s Pac-Man I don’t have any ideas. Maybe now that the sandbox is released I won’t have to…

Obviously a potential modder will need some technical know-how to get on the scene. How much of a computer whiz will they need to be though? Will someone step up (the author or the community) to make a simple version?

You need some coding knowledge to use it. I’m sure Kornel will try to make it easy but complicated stuff will require coding. That’s just the nature of the beast. You don’t need to know Lua; an experienced coder should be able to pick out most of the syntax from examples.
It is harder now than it will be in future. Later on there will be more examples and fewer hacks :). I don’t claim to have special insight into Kornel’s thought process but I expect he’s releasing the sandbox now so he can learn what other people want and identify areas that need work.

Do you have any insights into how modding might affect DRL’s development? Perhaps some mods might become permanent features?

I doubt that new items or enemies will be added but I could be wrong. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see some special levels get added, possibly as a rotating pool of rather uncommon levels just to mix things up.

Ultimately, do you think DRL will be positively or negatively impacted by modding? Will people get so lost in their mods that they forget the original?

Positive. Doom still has an active modding community. It’s one of the oldest games still being played. I personally think a lot of that longevity is due to modding (and to the source ports, but that’s another story). As long as modding is successful I can’t see any way for it to harm the original.
It will be hard for a mod to outshine DRL. Creating a level takes time; creating a well balanced, fun level takes a lot of time. A lot of man-hours go into creating that perfect level which players will breeze through in five minutes. Full blown mods take even longer and are a lot harder to balance. Kornel has more experience and DRL’s been in the works for years; it has the edge.

Back by popular demand: Assuming that Kornel has infinite time and resources, what would you like to see him code?

Infinite time and resources? Is the infinite time compressed? Can I put Kornel in a Tardis and expect him to come out with what I want the next day? Because if that’s the case I could lease him out to engine writers, force him to slave away building me an exact replica of the USS Enterprise (the space ship, not the boat), and maybe have him create Skynet so I can take over the world. Ah, life would be good. For me at least.
Of course just having a Tardis with infinite time and resources would be enough for me. Take that, second law of thermodynamics!

Where do you see Chaosforge going down the track, with what you’ve been reading from Lost in Chaos?

I don’t really know. Kornel wants ChaosForge to be profitable and he seems to be very focused on that goal. I think that’ll become a more prominent aspect in ChaosForge’s future and I’ll admit that it worries me a little bit. On the plus side indie games have been gaining in popularity lately; they might start to occupy a niche similar to how indie films do today. But can you reasonably expect to make a living building them? Kornel seems to think so even if I don’t. But things could change in the future.

Development Progress

Does the dev team ever take a break? Here’s what’s happened so far this month:

Only days have passed since the release, and yet work has already begun on the next version of DRL! We’re still hard at work trying to perfect the game, and want to give you a big thanks for all your feedback. Without it we’d be coding in the dark!

Behind the scenes the code for AliensRL has had a massive update. Could we be looking at another beta release in the coming months? Keep tuned to find out!

DiabloRL is also getting some coding love, all the .ini files have disappeared, and we’ll be travelling forward with full lua. The coding should get easier from here! The next step in the game is a Magic system!

Anything in there peak your interest? Let our Dev know about it! Feedback helps feed the creative juices!

Tip of the Month

Playing too fast? Not noticing when your armor is broken and that Baron of Hell is suddenly hurting you a lot more than you thought? Edit your doomrl.ini to alert you when certain messages are printed in a color of your choice. It just might give you that extra edge! Modding

With the advent of experimental modding, we here at the Phobos Times would like be the first to announce a new portion of Chaosforge. We’d like to see what you can do with the Sandbox that you’ve been given. So once you’ve been awed and amazed by those new features in, open up the Sandbox and see what you can do. Once you’ve made a level that you’re proud of, post it on the Mod forum Amazing computer skills not required, just show us what you think DRL could be! You just might find your mod featured on the front page!


The Chaosforge community has been growing solidly – we’re averaging about 50 new members every month so far this year, nearly two a day!

With interest in Chaosforge games growing, there has been more of a call for reliable Mac ports of DRL, among others. To this end, a new donation drive has been started. If you’ve got a Mac, iPhone, or just want Kornel to code more, you might want to check it out.

Check back for the newsletter next month for all the latest happenings around the ChaosForge!