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Report content RSS feed Killing Floor Interview - Alex Quick

As we count down the days to the retail release of Killing Floor, Alex recounts his journey from modder to full-blown game developer with ModDB.

Posted by stenchy on May 9th, 2009

With the retail release of Killing Floor (pre-order here!) quickly approaching, ModDB met with Alex Quick — the lead behind the Killing Floor mod — to talk to him about the experience of transitioning from mod to game development. In his own honest way, Alex recalls how Killing Floor made the jump to retail and what it took to get it there:

ModDB: So how does it feel to be a bonafide game developer now?

Alex Quick: Pretty good! It's warm and comforting, like baby seal-skin slippers.

ModDB: I'm sure many mod teams would like to know, how did Killing Floor strike a deal for retail?

Alex Quick: I was hanging out on RO's (Red Orchestra) IRC last October asking questions like, “how the hell do I port KF to RO guise”. Around this time Red Orchestra was the first non-valve game to host steam mods and I thought it might be a way to extend KF's life. At the time, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about the future of the mod — the fan base was pretty small. I ran into the mighty “Rammjaeger” who (and this confused me because he was willing to talk at length to a complete stranger about random mod porting) was the president of Tripwire. Funny thing is, I was pretty dick-ish about the whole thing and I basically just dumped KF on him and let him do the entire port job for me. Thankfully, he didn’t just tell me to piss off and do it myself. I would have probably told me that. Long story short, in the process of porting he played it and showed it around the office. There was a general consensus that it was a fun mod and something they wanted to do more than port. The rest is history. Although I still wince when I think about my lazy-ass-ness. Good old 20/20 hindsight.

ModDB: Did you shop the mod around to a lot of people before coming to Tripwire?

Alex Quick:
Not really, no. It’s important to remember that at this time, Killing Floor had a very small fanbase and the 2k4 crowd had mostly moved on. I didn’t really think anyone would be into it.

What was that experience like, working with them?

Alex Quick: Amazing! And a serious learning experience. I’m not going to bullshit you guys and pretend like it was smooth sailing all the way along through. It took me a while to get in sync with their plans for the game. At first I was just going off and making wild changes without running it by them. Some stuff got rolled back or scrapped, some advice was exchanged (in one direction) and I figured out how to get with the flow. Now that I’ve been able to do that, it’s been a seriously rewarding and very, very maturing experience. When you work with guys as talented as the ones at Tripwire, their win tends to rub off on you — the short time-frame really intensified that. They were working an insane amount and I just had to learn to step up my own game to keep up.

ModDB: Did you have to change your attitudes towards the designs of Killing Floor in order to make the jump to retail?

Alex Quick: There was an initial brainstorming session where a lot of cool ideas got put forward. We sent them our “demands” and they sent us theirs. It was really fun. Then the reality set in and stuff actually started getting made. That’s when some sacrifices had to happen. Being honest though, there was way more added to the mod than taken out. The basic gameplay remained pretty much the same, but a lot of the annoying stuff was shaved off to make it more widely accessible. Like, you can now use iron sights on *all* the guns, not just the guns that Alex wanted you to use them on. But to answer the question: yes . I had to basically wise up to the fact that I was making a game now and not a mod. Mods can be intentionally oblique, aggravating and they’ll probably be lauded for how hip that makes them seem. Trying that in a professional setting would result in a lot of creative and talented people having to look for new homes around that burning oil drum at the underpass.

ModDB: For a long time you were working on the fabled 2.51 patch; how much of that content will we see in the retail release?

Alex Quick:
Most of it. The cock-n-balls Clot was unfortunately left on the cutting room floor, but pretty much all of the critical changes were worked through and — if they made sense — implemented.

ModDB: So the patriarch is in? Does he still have a rocket launcher for an arm?

Alex Quick: Yeah, he’s in and badass as ever. Ask the plate sized hole in my torso.

ModDB: What are the major changes in KF from mod to retail? Which ones were the hardest for you to make?

Alex Quick:
The biggest change KF veterans will notice is the Trader. In the mod, she was always hanging out in this one place; you could just run to her, stock up, then start looking for firewood and unpacking the marshmallows outside her door. Yeah, it was a camp-a-thon. It made the gameplay get pretty stale, so the Tripwire guys wanted to have multiple locations for her to potentially appear in each map and a little GUI guide which would show people how to find her. I was initially skeptical about the GUI arrow, because I was still thinking in a 'I am a hardcore modder person making hardcore mods for hardcore people' mentality — which didn’t mesh too well with Tripwire’s intentions to sell the game to more than three people. As it turns out, the arrow is totally critical and without it you just never make it to the shop in time.

ModDB: How do you think its hardcore fans will recieve it?

Alex Quick: There are two kinds of hardcore fans: There are those who will take the changes in stride and appreciate what’s been done to improve the game.Then there are those will be pretty pissed off with some of the new ease of use stuff, initially. They’ll rage and fume and post vitriol on the official forums about how the modders sold out and god is dead. After that they’ll probably just play the game, because they’ll quickly realize that it’s as fun and addicting and challenging as ever — the changes do nothing but improve the gameplay. Oh yeah, and the chainsaw is back. I think everyone should dig that.

ModDB: Any other new weapons we can expect?

Alex Quick:
Well besides the chainsaw, the broken pipe was replaced with a machete. Frankly, when you’re talking about serrated combat knives, fire axes, and chainsaws — a length of rusty piping seemed a little wuss. It's basically just a far stronger version of the knife, while sacrificing a bit of speed and versatility (just hacky hacky, no power-slash). Oh yeah, I also hear you can double fist the hand-cannon now. Watching them fire in succession is probably the greatest non-pornographic event you’re ever gonna see on a monitor.

ModDB: From a level design perspective, did you rework the layouts of the maps much? How many maps are in the retail release?

Alex Quick: There were moderate changes to the maps, but nothing like a total re-do from the ground up. KF veterans are still going to get that “welled up with nostalgia” thing. Some additional sneaky little paths for specimens were added to keep the gameplay fresh and of course there are now many more little hiding places for the elusive trader. The retail release has 5 maps: West London, Biotics Labs, Offices, Manor, Farm.

ModDB: What's the word on the official SDK to create custom content for KF?

Alex Quick:
It’ll be out at the time of release; and because it’s Unreal Editor we’re talking about here, I can bet you money that there’ll be like a dozen new custom maps to play within a few days of the game being out. Some of them may even be good :)

Thanks to Alex for the interview. If you want to check out Killing Floor's humble beginnings, visit the old mod profile. The retail version of Killing Floor releases May 14th on Steam.

Post comment Comments
Metalspy May 9 2009 says:

That's a great interview!
Thanks :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
manhunt0r May 9 2009 says:

>>The ****-n-balls Clot was unfortunately left on the cutting room floor

thats just sad. here is a little memorial:

+8 votes     reply to comment
stenchy Author
stenchy May 10 2009 replied:

*snip snip*

+3 votes   reply to comment
Mr.John May 13 2009 replied:

That is just sad. I feel sorry for the guys. The girl still kept her breasts and wuzz

+3 votes     reply to comment
ttbdlord May 20 2009 replied:

well thats a lil bit good cuz killing the cloth would be WAYYY easier than it is

+1 vote     reply to comment
TomboPukka May 9 2009 says:

We shall never forget you ****-n-balls clot then again after what you saw how could you?

+2 votes     reply to comment
pvt.Johnson May 9 2009 says:

Nice review, i'd probably purchase the game if i had windows.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Psycho_Sam May 9 2009 says:

Nice one Alex. ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Torabi May 9 2009 says:

Great interview! I am really looking forward too it, already pre-ordered. That counter just won't go down any faster!

+1 vote     reply to comment
RedeemerEngaged May 9 2009 says:

Nice interview. One thing I've to say though; 5 maps is way to few for a retail game, should be atleast 10. Even L4D has more enviremont places, cause there are 4 campaigns which each consist of 4 maps; 4x4.

+3 votes     reply to comment
AJ_Quick May 9 2009 replied:

wait until you play the game before you judge whether it's too few.

There will be alot of community stuff, and probably official content added in the future as well.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Six_Ways May 9 2009 replied:

Yeah, TF2 hasn't got many more than that and it's kind of a strength. What's the point of having 10 maps when people only end up playing 5? Make 5 amazing maps rather than 10 average ones.

+7 votes     reply to comment
Otreum May 9 2009 replied:

He's right know instead of getting all defensive when people say things like this, perhaps you should swallow your ego and actually make some new maps yeh, because it sure as hell would make this more appealing. I WAS going to buy this until you just said it has the same maps (with a few little tweaks) as the free mod.
As for what Six_ways said, IMO TF2 was absolute garbage, one reason I thought it was garbage because I was getting sick of playing the same maps over and over again. People like variety, hence why custom maps are such a welcomed thing for mods and games alike.
When you go to a counter strike server list (I dont even like CS btw), you see more custom map servers than official ones, when you go to a mod server for...say zombie panic source, and zombie master, you see custom maps, not official ones...even though the official ones ARE really good, people do get tired of playing them over and over and over.
And...yeah, just about every game that allows for custom maps, has custom map servers all over the place.
A prime example would be Far Cry 2, as it is so easy to whack together custom maps...honestly, I played the official maps once through each map and was already bored of them, now all I play are custom maps.

If I were to talk about every game that annoyed me for not having enough maps, I would be here all day.
It's ALWAYS best to give people more variety and more choice...

+1 vote     reply to comment
AJ_Quick May 9 2009 replied:

thanks for that impassioned load of crap.

it's a matter of time-frame. KF retail had a short development life, and what was accomplished in that time was incredible.

If you think you can bring off an additional 5 retail quality maps in a couple months time, you're kidding yourself. More than likely you've just never been in a position to try. You're forgiven.

Like i said, more stuff will probably be added post-release, assuming if it is received well. You can do your part by pre-ordering. There's a discount on right now i think

+1 vote     reply to comment
Otreum May 10 2009 replied:

"If you think you can bring off an additional 5 retail quality maps in a couple months time, you're kidding yourself. More than likely you've just never been in a position to try. You're forgiven."

If I knew how to use the Unreal engine, i'd probably bring more than 5 retail quality maps to the table. ;)
(On that note, I wasn't saying the current KF maps are crap, I was saying that it's probably best to make some newer maps)

Don't assume peoples skills and qualities either, because you don't have the slightest idea what i'm working on, and have been working on for several years. When it's done, you'll definately know about it. ;)

As for buying it, I have been considering it, but i'm really not that sold on it still. I'll just have to wait and see what the finished retail version will have before I decide on buying it, even if it IS cheap.

-3 votes     reply to comment
stenchy Author
stenchy May 10 2009 replied:

You sir, have the largest ego of them all.

"If I knew how to use the Unreal engine, i'd probably bring more than 5 retail quality maps to the table. ;)"

Take your foot out of your mouth.

+4 votes   reply to comment
Otreum May 10 2009 replied:

Stenchy, I can't say much, however I'm modelling an entire city on my own and am doing rather well, it's all built for a game engine which I am making on my own, along with the rest of the game being done on my own, which has been in production for several years... now whether you believe that is up to you, but I know thats whats happening on my front.

As for what I said about using the unreal engine, if I put the same effort into learning and using the unreal engine for my project...or any similar engine for that matter, I wouldn't have a problem making top quality maps, especially with the motivation backing the production that comes with making a professional game.

Sure I liked the KF maps, but they weren't spectacular in design.
I'm interested to see what the final product will produce, however right now i'm not entirely sold on it.

If everyone wants to get all narky because I agree with someone about making some new maps, then I don't want to waste my time posting here.

Alex, good luck.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ansob May 10 2009 replied:

Ladies and gentlemen; I give you: someone who has never been involved in development or QA! Commercial-quality maps take a *lot* longer to make than 2-3 months; it tends to be more along the lines of 6-8 months, if you're lucky enough to have a quality QA team and level designers who like their jobs.

Here's to the KF team and Tripwire - may you turn a profit and go on to many more successful endeavours. It's nice to see a mod team make a breakthrough.

+6 votes     reply to comment
MrTambourineMan May 10 2009 replied:

TF2 is excellent and so is CS. I don't care what you think but gameplay in Office and Dust2 is PERFECT for public servers. I'll always take quality over quantity.

+2 votes     reply to comment
*CyberNinja* May 10 2009 replied:

Do NOT compare this game in ANYWAY to Left 4 Dead....

+3 votes     reply to comment
RedeemerEngaged May 10 2009 replied:

I only compare the amount of maps. Take UT2004, over 20 amazing and detailed maps and it's made by the same editor (almost the same) and EPIC even made the engine. I think the mod will end out great, but 5 maps it just a ripp off. Also to remind you, four of the maps are also in the mod so you already played them several times if you have played the mod (and yes I know they changed them in the retail game but don't expect to see total different maps).

+2 votes     reply to comment
Hfett May 10 2009 replied:

Well i own L4D and im tired of all the maps already, imo if the game have a nice editor it does not need to have 100 maps, the community will make the maps.

One of the major l4d faults is the lack of the SDK, wich will sure not happen on KF.

Dont get me wrong, i love L4D but cant stand playing the same maps over and over again, i want to play mods and new maps for it, just like i do on every other game that i have.

Hope that KF will ship a lot of user made maps few time after the release.

+2 votes     reply to comment
linfosoma May 9 2009 says:

Yeah, CSS has a ton of new maps now and still play de_dust and office.
Who cares? If the maps are good you don´t need more, they also stated that new maps were in the works, Kick3r also said that his map "The Hive" was ready to be ported and that it would be available a few days after release.

Even without updates and the SDK, for $15 you just can´t complain.
Quality > Quantity.

+2 votes     reply to comment
pvt.Johnson May 11 2009 replied:

"If the maps are good you don´t need more"

Depends on the quality-quantity ratio ;)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Boneboys May 10 2009 says:

Mappers are gonna love this game.
Anybody that follows the TW/RO team will know that there are some pretty talented level designers out there.

Give it a couple of months and I'm sure there will be a good few or a few good maps circulating on the servers.

Good interview btw.

+2 votes     reply to comment
SinKing May 10 2009 says:

Amazing how it's more or less a coincidence that made the retail version happen. It seems if you do something for long enough, you'll eventually rake in a profit.
I think the secret to KF's success is that it's a simple game. You need one minute to understand how it works, but everyone strategises differently on each map.
Zombies have become infected in the 90's. They are mainstream enough to always make for a good game - yet most games featuring Zeds suck! Well done Killing Floor!

+2 votes     reply to comment
spraduke May 10 2009 says:

well the devs are releasing a map port from red orchestra (heavily modified), it might be manor farm but if thats a mod map then i doubt it (was called hedgehog in RO)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Darknessvamp May 10 2009 says:

Are they gonna release it in stores? Cause I really want the game but haven't got a f'ing credit card so i can't buy it off steam. The game looks absolutly amazing... Anyone wanna trade a copy offa steam for HL2?

+3 votes     reply to comment
MrTambourineMan May 10 2009 replied:

Same here!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hfett May 10 2009 replied:

i have the same issue, but i managed to make a clan mate to buy it for me and send the steam gift, after that i paid him the original price.

+2 votes     reply to comment
AnarchyDom May 10 2009 says:

Brilliant, intelligent interview. It answered a lot of my questions and I feel totally compelled to buy it now. Thanks a lot and congratulations (:

+2 votes     reply to comment
dethtoll May 10 2009 says:

He shows a lot more humility in the interview than he does the rest of the time. A breath of fresh air.

+2 votes     reply to comment
smokeythebear May 10 2009 says:

Great interview.

"I was still thinking in a 'I am a hardcore modder person making hardcore mods for hardcore people' mentality — which didn’t mesh too well with Tripwire’s intentions to sell the game to more than three people. "

Funny stuff :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
SinKing May 11 2009 says:

You don't need a credit card to pay on Steam, you can use Paypal, it just takes a week or so.

+2 votes     reply to comment
exanity May 11 2009 says:

Nice interview! I already preordered the game, and I have not played the original. Can't wait to see whats in store after I download it. The level editor could be fun also!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Ghost5572 May 11 2009 says:

I cant wait for wedsnday :D . Me my father are goanna be gun blazing with hand cannons xD

+2 votes     reply to comment
56er May 12 2009 says:

This mod still needs a greater varitey of weapons....
but its also fun with the ones implented in 2.5!
(Seriously, please more Weapons that differ more)

+1 vote     reply to comment
DOLBYdigital May 12 2009 says:

Dual hand cannons.... sweet!
I've already gushed enough about how much I loved the KF mod.
I hope the fan base jumps up a bunch cause I was one of those last few people still playing KF. I hope some of the great user created maps will get recreated thanks to the SDK release (specifically Happy Hour, Bargain, La Casa de Muerte etc...)

Also I agree that KF was an incredibly hard game which was part of its appeal. It will be interesting to see if Tripwire is able to walk the fine line of accessible yet still fun and challenging. I'll see everyone online in 2 DAYS!!!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Keptron May 12 2009 says:

Nice one man! I played KF mod and it was pretty cool and intense. I hope you get good business there, I will buy it when I have money for sure :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Xylemon May 12 2009 says:

You know I would have never thought KF would go retail. This is going to so Fun!

+1 vote     reply to comment
RED-FROG May 14 2009 says:

Good interview. Gave me some more new good insight.
Can't wait to play it.
Actually Steam says "unlocks in approx. 1hour".
That's since 3 hours. Guess I'll have to play tomorrow then.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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