Weapons Factory - August 20, 1998
The great Reno Brothers, responsible for the wildly successfully Weapons Factory graciously agreed to sit down with me (virtually, of course) and answer a few questions about their mod and it's evolution. It is currently the Site of the Week here at Captured.Com and Mod of the Week on PlanetQuake. Take a look-see at what they had to say....
Tungsten: We open the interview with the mandatory question who are you and what do you do?
Gregg: I'm Gregg, the smarter of the Reno brothers : ) I work full time as a consultant, and have been writing software for about 15 years. Yes, that means I'm twice the age of the average quake player :(
Tom: My name's Tom Reno. I'm a pharmaceutical rep specializing in cancer drugs, hence the alias "Tumorhead". Age 41 with a wife and two kids ages 5 and 6. Live in Lancaster, PA. I've been dabbling with computers since the Commodore VIC 20. I remember fooling around with those blocky VIC 20 graphics while at sea in the Navy trying to get cross hairs to look more like the real thing and less like telephone pole. Then came the XT. Not many games there. The Amiga was different, at the time the graphics were cutting edge. The most significant impact the Amiga had on myself and Gregg was Falcon 3.0 with a null modem and two computers. That's when we realized that multiplayer was about 50 billion times more fun than solo play. Back to the MS platform there was Doom, Doom II, Quake and Quake II from id software. Quake Team Fortress really got our attention. I started editing levels with Doom II..oh yeah, forgot to mention Descent and Descent II.... Stopped for awhile and picked it up again with Quake II using BSP (great editor). Gregg did the programming while I did the visual stuff. He had access to a server so we stuck our work up there. Mainly for ourselves at first.
Tungsten: Weapons Factory 3.0 was released less than a week ago and you're already PQ's MotW and Captured.Com's Site of the Week. Care to give a brief history of the mod for those new to it?
Gregg: I guess it started as an experiment to learn how to build a Q2 mod. One of the first things I did was add the ability to pick a player class, like in Team Fortress. This initial version was fairly simple, but was also a lot of fun to play. Two of the three classes could fly. We decided to merge with another mod - Star Troopers, written by John Rittenhouse. John had a vast arsenal of weapons that was missing from WF. With the new weapons, we released a new version with 6 classes and a ton of new weapons from Star Troopers.
Tom: WF was the first mod released based on CTF. Gregg had it out within days. That's how it got some press and we were hosted by Captured. It had jet packs and special grenades. Not much but fun. Soon we developed version 2.1b (Which is now team3) with 3 player classes and "own fort spawning". What's interesting is you can go back and actually play these now since WF supports a variety of definition files. Version 2.4d (now team6) introduced three more classes but more importantly, it had TF style flag caps. This is what really set it apart from CTF. Version 3.0 gave us a full 9 player classes and fulfilled our goal of creating something like TF for Q2.
Tungsten: It's been stated a few times on the WF page that the mod intends to "fill the void" left by TeamFortress's move to Half-Life. What was your reasoning behind this? Any urging from fans of WF or was it solely your decision?
Gregg: It was our decision to go that way. Tom, John and I were all big TF fans, and were disappointed that we couldn't play TF for Quake2. We didn't intended to be a replacement for TF for Q2, but when TF announced they would not release a version for Quake2, it helped us decide that WF could be a good alternative.
Tom: It was a no brainer decision between Gregg and I. Many players told us we shouldn't go in the TF direction but hell, TF was the best game Gregg and I had ever played and they just announced there would be "no TF for Q2". We were in a position to "fill the void" and did it in a relatively short period of time. Also, I've never met any member of the WF staff except for Gregg. It's a virtual project. Whoever contributed the best stuff first got on the team. Our objective from the beginning was to put a great game out there, get servers and get noticed.
Tungsten: Have you been in touch with anyone from TeamFortress Software about WF, either for ideas, help or a blessing?
Gregg: No, there hasn't been any contact. I also don't want to give
people the impression that WF is only a TF clone. Right now, we actually have three
configurations - 3 class, 6 class and 9 class. It's the nine class configuration that is
the most like TF. The 3 class config is totally different. The 6 class config is somewhere
Tom: No. Haven't heard anything. I think they're busy with Half-Life and wish them the best of luck. When they release TF2 we'll take a look at what they've got and add the best ideas to WF. We'll see how the "Commander" class works out (Thanks to John Rittenhouse). We are still pondering what class to add next. One idea is a Mercenary that respawns only on the losing team.....
Tungsten: WF seems to have a rather enthusiastic following, given some of the comments we received when major changes were made to the mod. Is this a good thing or has their loyalty made further development difficult?
Gregg: There are a lot of very vocal WF fans that have been playing since the beginning. Some of them do not like the changes. And I can understand why. The initial version was more like CTF. CTF and TF are very different types of mods.
Tom: Well, that's why Gregg came up with the WF Mod Construction Kit. To preserve the mod at various stages of development. If the server admin runs the team3 definition file he gets the 2.1b mod, if he runs the team6 he gets the 2.4d mod, if he runs team9 he gets the current version. I don't think anyone has ever done this before. This way admins can upgrade their WF software but load up the mod snapshot they prefer. WF has never been a static mod, some like change, some don't. We are always restless and like to add stuff.
Tungsten: What prompted your decision to make all three modes of play available? The difference between Team 3 and Team 9 almost makes it seem as if you're playing two different mods.
Gregg: Exactly ! Variety is great, isn't it? The multiple class configuration was added so we could support the old time players, as well as move into new directions. It also gives us a lot of flexibility to come up with different classes, weapons, etc. without abandoning the old players. With that flexibility, we are also hoping it will spawn new mods by other mod authors.
Tom: Most of our support on the WF site is for team9, because that's what we think most servers will run. We were just trying to keep everyone happy as much as possible. Many players love team3. The team6 handbook is still buried on the archive page. We're still not sure what will happen with the release of the WF Mod Construction Kit. There could be hundreds of different versions of WF......We are still not sure what the best utilization of this tool is...
Tungsten: Unlike several of the CTF mods for Quake 2, WF has never included any maps in the initial client download. Was this a conscious decision to be more "TF-like" or just the way things turned out?
Gregg: Tom and I decided early on that both the WF mod and the maps
should stand on their own. The WF mod could be played with any standard CTF map, including
those that came with CTF. Also, Tom's maps were standard CTF maps that could be played on
other mods. Another advantage of keeping them separate is that people would not have to
download a 20 meg file every time we changed one model, or one map changed.
Tom: Good question. Gregg released the early version of WF and I was still getting started with BSP for Q2 level editing. I never wanted my maps to slow down the use of WF because there was no auto download and very few sites where anyone could find maps. We wanted WF to work on any CTF map, and it still does. I was submitting my maps for reviews and had little buttons that players could push to get the WF website and my email. They were like little ads. Now that maps that I create are just WF enhanced for better gameplay.
Tungsten: The WF Mod Construction Kit looks like it will make creating new classes a snap. What other plans do you have for the MOCK?
Gregg: The first release of MOCK will primarily will include the ability to create your own classes, but it will expanded over time to let you control all aspects of the game (like the type of flag capture - CTF or TF). One of the areas we are trying to work out is how to let mod authors, server admins, etc. create their own mods based on the WF code base, yet still control "official" WF configurations. What I don't want to confuse players where every time they connect to a WF directory, the rules have changed. One idea is that any official WF configuration will be run from the quake2\wf directory. Any special modifications would run from another directory, like "quake2\mock".
Tom: The main thing we have to figure out is the best way to release MOCK 1. Should it just go out there? Should server admins be able to change WF classes at will? Will players get confused with all the change? Should we just give it to 5 or 6 mod developers use it? I'm inclined to just release it and let the chaos of the player/server market determine it's best use. We'd still support team9 as an example and everyone would still have to use our software to get the definition files to work.
Tungsten: Be honest... sheep or llamas?
Gregg: ah, what?
Tom: (no response)
(Tung: I see my love for farm animals confuses some! ;-)
Tungsten: What's up next for the Reno Brothers and WF Software? Do you plan on focusing your energy on WF or are there any new projects in the works?
Gregg: WF Software currently has two projects going - the WF Mod and the Mod Construction Kit. I think that will keep us busy for a while!
Tom: Right now we need to figure out what to do with MOCK 1 and find some way to be a part of Quake III/Arena.
Tungsten: Any parting comments?
Gregg: All of us at WF really appreciate the great support we've gotten from Captured.Com. It has been a great home for us.
Tom: The future of entertainment is online and interactive. Why watch a Terminator movie when you can be part of it. War is the ultimate game, here you don't get hurt. When we all get hyper fast modems and cheapo computers the movie industry will tank.
Tungsten: Thanks guys, hope that WF continues to be a great success!
Gregg: Thanks a lot. It's been a fun ride so far!