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Modification Madness! (OMC interview May 2010)

[NOTE: This article refers to the changes in AGR version 2]It’s been dubbed ‘May Modification Month’, and whilst there’s much excitement in the AGR world about the new changes, there’s also concern about the direction the game is heading in, and how far it will drift from it’s CustomTF roots. Critics have cried ‘it’s not TF’, but others are amazed that the game has survived, and still being played in 2010. We caught up with OMC for this exclusive chat.

AGRMANIA: So, tell us what May Modification Month is supposed to be.

OMC: Well, there’s been a LOT of work behind the scenes with multiple coding of multiple ideas, and rather than everyone show up one day and freak out, I thought it was better to do it progressively in the space of a month.

AGRMANIA: Why didn’t you tell everyone ahead of time what the changes were?

OMC: Well, on one hand I suppose its ‘fair’ that players get told ‘exactly’ what changes have been made, otoh, I want to keep the mystery there, the surprises. I didn’t want to deprive the players of discovering things for themselves. I always love discovering a secret, and trying to figure out how something works.

AGRMANIA: But doesn’t this make the game unfair? If one player knows a secret and the other doesn’t?

OMC: In a way yes, but then the player who discovered a secret should be rewarded, and besides, none of the changes are major ones which would determine the outcome of a game. Also remember the Weekly AGR Sessions are not ‘Clan matches’ in reality, so if a team loses, it’s not the end of the world.

AGRMANIA: But you’ve clearly said the point of the AGR Sessions was for ‘serious gamers’.

OMC: Yes, but no ones reputation is on the line if they lose. The teams are chosen at random, and the point is to have awesome, close, action packed games, regardless of who wins. Often players switch to the losing side, to help out.

AGRMANIA: Ok, so why exactly have you been changing the code?

OMC: Well, most of the ideas were there in the beginning, and it’s only now that they are able to be coded. Mostly by myself, as my coding skills have improved immensely since I started in Feb 2009. I’ve been freaked out how much I can do on my own!

AGRMANIA: So you’re a Guru now?

OMC: No way. I’m still a dabbler, and I still depend on the Gurus to do anything complicated. I’d also be absolutely helpless if it wasn’t for the support and constant feedback from Gurus. I owe it all to their help, their patience, and their generosity.

AGRMANIA: I think I’m going to cry.

OMC: Ha, ha. I’m serious though. I’ve learned more from these people than so called teachers at University who were actually getting paid. Once day I look forward to helping out other newbies, though it still might be a while. I had another look at MauveBibs HolyChap code, and I still can’t understand it!

AGRMANIA: Ok so tell us about the first mod, WaterWorld,

OMC: WaterWorld – I love it. I got the idea from Half Life, and I thought they could have gone further. Imho, WaterWorld is better than the HL effect, more extreme, and more immersive.

AGRMANIA: Sometimes the sound is affected even if the player is out of the water, is that a bug?

OMC: No. Although your head is above the water, your weapon is still under the water, so the water muffles the sound of the firing.

AGRMANIA: So potentially a player can get in the water and fire their weapon almost silently?

OMC: Yes, though the projectile makes the normal noises.

AGRMANIA: Ok, what about week 2 – AutoRestarts

OMC: I’ve been wanting this from the start.

AGRMANIA: How is it decided when a match is restarted?

OMC: Ok, here’s how it works: The match begins; if the score is Red 30, Blue 00, and it’s been less than 8 minutes, an alarm is sounded. If Red caps again (Red 40, Blue 00) Blue forfeits the game, and it starts over.

AGRMANIA: How many restarts are there?

OMC: Well, it’s still being fine tuned, but at the moment, the game is restarted twice times. On the third restart, players are switched to the other team.

AGRMANIA: You’re kidding? What if a Blue player doesn’t want to attack? Or if a Red doesn’t want to D?

OMC: Then they should have thought of that before they let the game become such a shambles. Blue player had three goes to get his D together. And the Red players should have switched sides to help Blue earlier.

AGRMANIA: I suppose that’s fair. But couldn’t some lame Red just let Blue cap once, and proceed to demolish them, thus ending the game in under 20 minutes?

OMC: No, I haven’t finished. If Blue has scored, but they are still getting genuinely thrashed, defined as Red being more than 50 points ahead, the game DOESN’T end when Blue can’t catch up, it continues till the timelimit.

AGRMANIA: But what’s the point of continuing when Blue can’t win?

OMC: Here’s the point: If Blue is getting thrashed, then something needs to change. Either Blues have to change strategy, or some Reds have to join Blue. Blues need time to figure out how to D, and by letting these slaughter matches continue till fulltime, Blues get a chance to practice. Cap after cap after cap eventually and I’ve seen this happen, Blue DO change their strategy, and as I always say, if what you’re doing isn’t working, then doing anything else is better. Also if Reds refuse to go help Blue, they get punished via the boredom of capping over and over.

AGRMANIA: You really think this is how it will work?

OMC: Yes. As I said, I’ve already seen it work. Blue can only develop skill by practicing, and if they’re getting thrashed that badly, clearly they need the practice. Many maps which have seemed undefendable, eventually produce a viable D. Remember, many of the maps we now regularly play in AGR were once forgotten. Some require strategy, and dificult maps like sewer1p and 2night2 need time to be studied. This new system provides that time by detecting if the game is a ‘lost cause’ and if so letting it go to full time so players can get a chance to practice playing it.

AGRMANIA: Ok. Now what was the mod in week three?

OMC: Well not many people noticed, but monsters can smell thieves now. They approach them, and attack.

AGRMANIA: Doesn’t that nerf the thief too much?

OMC: No, because they will attack very sloppily, and if a visible enemy approaches, they will switch to attacking him.

AGRMANIA: And this MonsterEvolution?

OMC: Here’s the story: The hostile AGR environment has killed off many a weak Monster. But those who managed to survive have passed on their hellish spawn into the next generation, and these mutations are now more unpredictable than before. Their monster dna varies from beast to beast, and can increase or decrease their speed, power, health and intelligence by around 20%, though occasionally there will be insane mutations.

AGRMANIA: So it’s completely random?

OMC: Well technically, monster DNA isn’t actually ‘random’, mutations follow a bell curve pattern, so most of monsters will be ‘normal’ but there will be occasional ‘freaks of nature’.

AGRMANIA: Wow, so tell us about the fourth Mod – BioEpidemic

OMC: Ok. The high pressure AGR environment has produced a new strain of the bioinfection disease. Getting infected has thus far been tolerated as an occasional annoyance, but is now a very serious business; the symptoms are horrendous, disturbing, and truly disgusting. The infection affects your hands, and .. your stomach.

AGRMANIA: Ugh, how did you get such a sick idea?

OMC: Well I was thinking about how boring the Bioinfection grenade was, and how it could be improved, and I thought about infections and what the symptoms would be of a genuinely horrific disease, and the BioEpidemic grenade is that idea.

AGRMANIA: What are the symptoms?

OMC: Well, there are many. Players lose health as before but at a slower rate. The big change is that this new strain of the disease affects the players body more directly. They lose control of their motor functions, and do things like drop their weapons, sometimes fire their weapon, or they throw their grens involuntarily.

AGRMANIA: And then they throw up?

OMC: Sometimes, usually they just stop to heave, and yes, they sometimes throw up. The BioEpidemic might need adjusting depending on how they affect gameplay, but I’m happy so far. Also I should mention, the vomit pool is infectious.

AGRMANIA: If players step in it?

OMC: Exactly. And it affects BOTH teams.

AGRMANIA: Why not make it only affect the enemy team?

OMC: Well it might be changed to that depending on the game play. It’s supposed to be a nice addition, but if it affects game play too much it might be changed.

AGRMANIA: Wow, anything else?

OMC: Lots of little things, the pyro has finally been nerfed a little, and we have proportional fall damage

AGRMANIA: The higher the fall the more damage?

OMC: Yes, and more.

AGRMANIA: Wow, you have been busy!

OMC: Yes. There has been some amazing work going on behind the scenes, and it’s been an incredible journey. I’d like to give a BIG thanks to Shaka, Daemon, LordHavoc, Entar, Frag.Machine, Spike, Often, Gnounc, and the EvilScientist for their support, and amazing contributions!

AGRMANIA: So is that it for AGR Mods? Is AGR finally exactly where you want it to be?

OMC: Pretty much. There are always a few other things..

AGRMANIA: Like what?

OMC: C’mon I gotta leave some surprises, ok, well one is that Beltan suggested that the motion detector should hack thief first, spy second, and the more I think about it, I agree.

AGRMANIA: Man, this is now very different to CustomTF!

OMC: Well, just like CustomTF is a mod of ‘TF’, AGR is a mod of CustomTF.

AGRMANIA: Yes but the gameplay is now completely different.

OMC: So what? I think it’s better. I only wish we had 32 players every week.

AGRMANIA: So what happens if the players hate the new changes?

OMC: They won’t. The BioEpidemic grenade might be a bit much, so I will be closely watching the games to make sure nothing is unbalanced, and of course I will give full attention to what the AGR regulars say. I suppose if they ‘hate’ something it I can tone it down, but enough players like it that it’s here to stay, one player even said it was the ‘coolest thing he’d ever seen in a video game’ – and that’s quite a compliment!

AGRMANIA: So what are you going to do now?

OMC: Well the coding is done, the conversion to FTE has been stalled, so SkinBlind, and ShellShock have been put on the ‘maybe one day’ list. In the meantime there’s something else happening which I am possibly even MORE excited about than the mods – The Dream Team

AGRMANIA: Tell us about that

OMC: Let’s leave that for another time, I need to sleep.

AGRMANIA: Ok, can I just ask you finally, what do you say to those who wonder why anyone bothers playing a 12 year old game?

OMC: They are [censored] idiots. I played MsPacman a few months back and it still totally rocks. Totally addictve. Besides, AGR is not a 12 year old game.

AGRMANIA:  I mean the engine.

OMC: Who cares about the engine? Chess is thousands of years old, you can make new flashier chess pieces, but the ‘engine’ is ancient  – who cares? These latest modifications to AGR are less than a month old, so I’d argue that this is a totally NEW game. In fact, by a strict definition, it’s the latest game there is!

AGRMANIA: Do you think people will be playing AGR in 1,000 years?

OMC: Who cares? Let the future take care of itself. I’m happy now, as long as players keep showing up every Sunday 22:00 GMT.

AGRMANIA: Thanks for your time OMC

OMC: Anytime!

1 comment to Modification Madness! (OMC interview May 2010)

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