Fresh off his victory in winning the Editor's Choice Award for Best Multiplayer Mod in 2006, modder Alex James Quick is setting out to bring his mod Killing Floor to a dynamic close, while setting his sights on a new project for the Unreal 3 Engine.
“My next mod is going to be really cool," Quick said. "It’s called Depth and it is using a concept very similar to what Killing Floor was originally supposed to be about: class based deathmatch combat, with two teams of totally different creatures. In this case, the creatures will be divers and sharks."
Both the divers and the sharks, in addition to killing one another, are each tasked with different objectives that need to be completed in order to win. The divers are hunting desperately for treasure at the bottom of the ocean, which can be found in various sunken wreaks, while the sharks are trying to defend their home turf.
“I have a couple ideas for gameplay elements, but by and large it is all going to be about visuals and basic, solid gameplay," Quick said. "All I really want to get across this time is atmosphere, even more than I did in Killing Floor. If you look at the Unreal Tournament 3 engine, there are a lot of effects you can get with it that will push the envelope on what people can see in a mod. I have a lot of good cool stuff in mind for making it look immersive and atmospheric.”
Using the Unreal Ed 4 tool that came coupled with the recently released RoboBlitz, Quick has begun creating assets and environmental static meshes for the mod. He's also hoping to tie the preliminary work into his University assignments and kill two birds with one stone.
Currently, Quick is hard at work creating the final send-off for Killing Floor.
“It always happens that I say I’m not going to work on it at all, then I end up doing a shit-load of work that I hadn’t planned on doing," Quick said, laughing. "The 2.2 patch should, hopefully, come out in the next month or so. It’s going to be a significant upgrade. That’s going to be like the Rocky 6 of Killing Floor--It is going to end. It will be the final thing, because I really don’t want to contribute to it anymore after that.”
The 2.2 patch will feature a new weapon accuracy system that factors in character movement, new items, several balancing tweaks and a variety of bugfixes.
But while Killing Floor may soon come to a close, many people don't realize just how long it has been in development--or how many different engines it has been on.
“Killing Floor didn’t start off as my mod," Quick said. "I didn’t create it originally. It was started by a couple guys from the UK as a total conversion for Battlefield 1942 and later for Battlefield: Vietnam. At the time, I had just gotten turned down by Galactic Conquest, a Star Wars mod, because I was still learning to do 3D modeling and they wanted someone that was totally pro at it. I started cruising around Planet Battlefield and I saw a saw a help request, so I got in touch with the team.”
When Quick arrived, the team was in a dismal situation. There was nobody on staff to create art assets, just a public relations coordinator and a web designer with high ambitions. For the next two months, Quick created all of the work they had to show for, all the while combating the difficulty of modding for the Battlefield engines at the time.
Quick's first mod, a Baulder's Gate total conversion called "The Legend of Deep Water," was never completed.
Finally, he left.
"I quit and moved to a new engine,” Quick said. "The actual team leader was really understanding when I left. He said that since I was doing all of the work anyway, it was really my choice. The co-leader, though, he got fed up and launched a spam attack against me on the forums. I guess he figured it out in the end. I pretty much took over the mod by doing all of the work for it, so it wasn’t so much of a hostile takeover as it was that they didn’t have what was required to contribute to the mod they wanted to see.”
The Battlefield incarnation quickly faded away after Quick departed, with nobody on staff to generate the extensive content they were looking for.
Now on his own, Quick had free reign to build Killing Floor into anything he saw fit.
“I tried to incorporate a lot of their ideas into the original version of Killing Floor, though," Quick said. "Killing Floor, for me, started out as a tribute to two things. I had been watching the progress of the Out of Hell mod for a couple of years at that point and was really impressed with the visuals. Killing Floor was a sort of tribute to that, a kind of Out of Hell junior. Next, I wanted to pay tribute to 28 Days Later at the same time, while riffing on it a bit. After that, it took on a life of its own and morphed into whatever the hell it is now.”
This morphing process has been going on for almost three years now, a process which has garnered much critical acclaim from the modding community and a sizable number of awards, especially on this site.
“You need to start with something really small, then build up," Quick said. "Killing Floor began with just a map. Then I added a gun. Then I added a skin. Then I made more maps, more creatures, until it all snowballs together. I’ve heard a lot of people talking ‘doomsday’ talk about modding, but a lot of that is just irrelevant melodrama. The expectations on modders have raised, so people do need to work smarter than they have in the past.
“Too many teams start with overambitious concepts and get hooked on the idea of creating the next retail-quality game. People don’t realize that some of these big ideas are just unfeasible. To say that it is tougher these days for modders is true, but if you start with a tight and manageable concept and work your way up from there, then you’ll be alright.”
Quick laughed and said that modding was just a natural progression from his general gaming habits.
“In the future, I’ll probably stick my fingers in Crysis a couple of times, since it just looks so cool," Quick said. "I might also open STALKER up to see how it renders lighting effects and things, but Unreal is what I’m following and I plan to stick with it.”