Mordeth is probably one of the most hotly anticipated Doom WADs around. Its first episode turned heads, and its upcoming second and third (set respectively on a "TekBase" and a Gothic environment) episodes have attracted big names like Adam Williamson, Nick Baker, Malcom Sailor, and Mark Klem. We got a chance to talk with the moderator, Gaston Lahaut, about his TC and some other matters as well :)
Doomworld: So Mordeth E2 is going to rock, right?
Doomworld: Will E2 and E3 be released at once, or separately? If separately, how far apart will the two be released?
Mordeth: Both the second and third episode will be released at once, together with a revised first episode. But if progress on episode 3 is really lagging behind I will probably release them seperately. Not an issue at the moment, though.
Doomworld: Why did you decide to go with a "TekBase" theme for E2? Were you just sick of the Mordeth E1 style?
Mordeth: Well, from the moment I started I wanted to have different themes, since having the same style for 32 levels will get boring after a while. Not only for the player, but also for me, since the thrill of designing eg. a castle will vanish after doing that for the umptienth time. Now we have four themes... castle/city, tekbase, gothic and contemporary city-in-shambles... much more fun.
Doomworld: Were the levels in Mordeth the first ones you ever made?
Mordeth: Yes. The second level in Mordeth is actually the second level I made, the third the third, and so on. The very first level didn't make it to the release version since... well... it "didn't fit" , so I redid that one. Not that it was real bad (well, bad compared to what I do now) but it just was completely different from the other stuff. No real theming, although it was mostly castle stuff. I kinda misplaced that first level so I can't show you... too bad, since it contained a real cool effect in which half the level got flooded with nukage. It was called "wells of evil" for a reason :)
Doomworld: Where did the name "Mordeth" come from? How about your backup IRC nick, "Mashadar?"
Mordeth: I'm a great fan of Robert Jordan, who wrote a series of books called "The Wheel of Time". This fantasy serie absolutely rules everything ever written in that genre. Anyway, since most of this TC takes place in Hell, I wanted to choose a name that would reflect that... one of the worst places to be in "The Wheel of TIme" would be Shadar Logoth but that name is a tad to long, plus it might give people the impression I was doing a WoT conversion. So I settled for "Mordeth", which is the name of an evil spirit trapped in Shadar Logoth... it's nice, short, not very WoT-specific and it has a ring to it. Mashadar is also taken from WoT and is the embodiment of the evil still lurking in Shadar Logoth.
Doomworld: You've often been quoted on IRC as saying that EdMap is one of the lamest level editors around. What do you have against it?
Mordeth: Well, because it is that easy to work with, those levels keep on growing larger and larger until it is way out of control! All editing modes and stuff are accessible with the press of a button and all... that's way too easy! Where's the challenge of finding the right button under layers of menu's ?! Now every newbie can do the stuff I do! That's unfair *snif* ! Other editors take weeks to learn and all that, and are way slower to handle... this way you can take some time to think about if you *really* want to have that detail there. Plus you need to pay money for those other editors in order to work properly... that's a sign of professionalism, right? Having a freeware editor to crank out freeware wads is just plain amateurish! Edmap is just... what can I say... now you can't blame your editor anymore for the stuff you release :(
Doomworld: At first, you promised that Mordeth would only use DEH/BEX and not a source mod. When did you decide that you wanted a source mod?
Mordeth: Hmmm I told I would only use patches in a period when there was still a flurry of source mod projects, most focused on just a few new features. TeamTNT hadn't announced their Boom project yet. So I felt I couldn't use a source port, since there wouldn't be one that contained all the features I wanted to have. Just one or two new features doesn't justify using a source port IMO. But when I got involved with the Boom testing program I was totally blown away by its load of new features... I just had to use it. It really is an editor's dream come true. And not that long ago I was approached by my tech support guy Joel Murdoch, who told me he could customise the Boom engine, adding features that will make Mordeth a better game.
Doomworld: Having played an early version of an E2 level, I must say that it looks spectacular. Are the other E2 levels just as good?
Mordeth: Of course :)
Doomworld: Has work begun in earnest on E3 yet?
Mordeth: Yes. But progress is less than in the case of E2.
Doomworld: Those of us with long-term memories will remember that you were hired by a company called Playful Minds to make levels. Whatever happened to that?
Mordeth: Hmm I got hired by Playful Minds, signed NDA etc. and was in fact the only level designer that actually would get payed after release. So I downloaded the material and editors and started to familiarise myself with this new stuff. But then I noticed I actually preferred this kind of work over my regular study. So I got scared and chickened out. That's basically it. Now I regret stepping out of course... I would have been a nice start in the industry. Dunno what happened to Playful Minds after that... we didn't keep in touch. Banjo Software also hired me once to work on HACX but ditched me almost immediately after signing the NDA because they were going from a 32-level to a 21-level TC.
Doomworld: If you were hired by a big-name company like ION Storm, would you move out west to America?
Mordeth: Yes, immediately. I would get a work permit and what-not and board the first plane I can possibly get :)
Doomworld: Do you feel that anyone else on your Mordeth team is better at levels than you are?
Mordeth: I don't think I'm the best level designer around.. just kinda 'ok' I hope. But it's hard to point my finger at someone who is "the best", because there are so many aspects to designing. Some are the best at detailing stuff, some create great level lay-outs, others specialise in DM levels. It all depends on personal taste and even then you have different categories. Nobody I know is the best in =everything= related to designing, they all tend to have specialities. With the designers currently in my team I'm quite sure we can deliver a kick-ass add-on.
Doomworld: Will new enemies be top-quality?
Mordeth: Yes. That's why it is taking so bloody long to finish them :) They not only look Doomish but they are also 'balanced'... a good combination of lethality/hitpoints, and fitting with the used theme. I hope I've given them also some interesting ways to attack.
Doomworld: If you could somehow make one person in the entire world join your Mordeth team, who would it be and why?
Mordeth: Tough question. I'm greatly impressed by the levels in Blood... never before was there a game with such solid and themed levels. Forget Quake2, forget Unreal.. you haven't seen a game until you've played Blood :) According to the credits James Wilson III and Craig Hubbard were the main designers, with the additional help of Kevin Kilstrom, Nick Newhard and Terry Hamel. Now, with a more specific credits list I'm certain I would be able to pick one of those as my favorite author ever. I'd be great I could make that person join my project, hehe. A more realistic choice would be David Shaw... I've asked him several times to create some music for the project, but he doesn't have the time.
Doomworld: Name some of the funnier ideas you got for replacing the invulnerability powerup.
Mordeth: Um, I got this email from someone who suggested a "god mode" bonus - ROFL! I won't tell who that was, but that must have been the most dumb suggestion ever made...
Doomworld: What do you do for Doomworld?
Mordeth: Let's see... I maintain the Doomworld Editing Pages and FancyPants, plus I upload most of the stuff in our public ftp site. Occasionally I do news as well, which has the added advantage that I can yell at people who overwrite my updates :)
Doomworld: What would you most like to see in a new Doom port?
Mordeth: O dear... the most practical would be 'complete customizability'. Even with Boom I'm limited to certain trigger combinations... it would be great if I'm able to make combinations at will, like shootable light sources: "shoot this wall and the light setting in that sector lowers to the light setting of the adjacent one". There are lots of other features I would like to have as well, but that list can go on and on and on...
Doomworld: Have you ever been forced to use a regular modem and gone out of your mind at the incredible slowness?
Mordeth: Nope. I've always been an ethernet bastard :)
Doomworld: Identify the following phrase: "hot rod."
Mordeth: Slang for "customised car". Be careful when a Doomer says that though... because "you never know with those Doomers" !! =P
Doomworld: Since you're using Boom, have you gone back and touched up the Mordeth E1 levels?
Mordeth: Yes. I haven't finished that process yet, but I'm working on it whenever I feel like it. Plus I'm redesigning some aspects of some maps... the things I would do differently if I design those same levels again..!
Doomworld: What would you rather put in Mordeth: true 3D or good TCP/IP compatibility?
Mordeth: Euh... both..? If I had to choose, I'd go for the TCP/IP option. Doom in general would be much MUCH more popular if people were able to play agsinst eachother with the same ease as now in current games.
Mordeth looks to be a great project, and its moderator ain't too bad a guy either. Remember, you can find more info about this project at the Mordeth homepage here.