Natural Selection is an action-strategy game for the PC. It is a "Half-life modification", which means it is written on top of the Half-life game engine. "Mods" are a new sort of underground game development that enables small teams to create games using the technology of existing games. This means less expensive and lower risk game development, which allows experimentation and innovation. This arrangement also implies that "mods" are made as art, not for making money. When complete, Natural Selection will be released for free to all owners of Half-life, which is required to play Natural Selection. Game summary Multiplayer-only Half-life mod where one team plays marines and the other plays aliens. The humans must keep their cool and work together to assault an alien-infested spacecraft or colony. Marines vs. marines and aliens vs. aliens scenarios are also supported. "First-person strategy" with a real resource model and consequences for actions....

Report article RSS Feed Natural Selection - The must knows

Interview conducted by azz0r to MonsieurEvil about , simply a must read for any player or fanatic.

Posted by azzDB on Nov 6th, 2002
Interview

[page=The Interview!]
ModDB.Com
Hi, thanks for taking time out your schedule to speak to us :)

MonsieurEvil
Thanks for taking time to interview me!

ModDB.Com
Tell us a little about yourself Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle.

MonsieurEvil
By day I work as a computer consultant implementing large client-server systems. By night, I wear a hooded cape and do Natural Selection admin tasks. I'm a carpet bagging Yankee from Chicago, living in Raleigh, North Carolina

ModDB.Com
To the nitty gritty...how long has Natural Selection been in the making, and whets been your part in the development.

MonsieurEvil
NS has been under development for about two years, but the past year has been the majority of the hard-core work. My part in development has been to basically take as much non-game development work off the real Dev's hands as I can. This mean doing PR, running websites and forums, helping organize playtest results and data, making small utilities, writing the installer, etc.

ModDB.Com
Being Natural Selection's PR wouldn't it have been easier to update the official NS site, instead of launching ReadyRoom.Org?

MonsieurEvil
Yes and no. Readyroom.org started out merely as the first NS fan site. When I joined the team, it became a sister site to NS.org. The main site ran the forums, and RR.org took care of the rest. This mostly had to do with Flayra being too busy to update NS.org except with really huge news. NS.org is being redesigned right now, so this might change in the future, as it will be easier to update.

ModDB.Com
After the release, was there a sigh of relief that all your hard work was out there ready to be judged and played?

MonsieurEvil
Well, my hard work was mostly getting people to notice NS, so I was definitely relieved. The guys that did real work like art, animations, maps, models - they continued to be nice and apprehensive :) . Luckily it all turned out great and people really liked it.

ModDB.Com
Were you happy with the release?

MonsieurEvil
Absolutely thrilled. This was the first time I ever participated in making a game, and even though my actual contribution was pretty minimal compared to others, I love it like a daughter. NS has done very well on player counts (we only have about 500 servers, most of which are perpetually full - note to admins: want a full server? For gosh sakes, email me!). It's also gotten some great critical acclaim from places like PHL, Penny-Arcade, Halflife.org, and other places. NS was designed to break a lot of new ground, and for that very reason it was very worrisome to consider its reception. Most people play fairly simple online games, and NS is at least an order of magnitude more complex - but people seem to be ready for that!

ModDB.Com
Lag being a major issue; do you plan to fix this or is it part server fault?

MonsieurEvil
By the time you get this, we will probably be ready to release a server-side patch. It will address the lag to a great extent, plus some other bugs and some minor balance tweaks. To clarify on the latency issues, the problem is actually with the server CPU being tasked very hard by NS, and has nothing to do with the net code. In fact, one server op sent us some graphs showing that NS network usage with a 12-player game was actually less than a 10-player CS game! The new patch will make the game much smoother, and there will be follow-on patches as the game gets better and better optimized.

ModDB.Com
Did you go on some servers and see if people were loving it? were they?

MonsieurEvil
I LOVE going on pub servers - sometimes as myself, or incognito. It's amazing to see people actually learn a new game from the ground up. Most online games are pretty similar, so joining a new one with other new players can be ho-hum. But join an NS game and you will see people playing a hybrid RTS-FPS game with real teamwork for perhaps the first time in their online lives. Like watching your kids at Christmas! Yelling, cheering, groaning, working together - it's everything I had hoped NS would be. A truly social atmosphere - it's very invigorating. NS can give you some amazing memorable moments, and watching people experience them for the first time has been fantastic.

ModDB.Com
When people play a half life modification its always compared to CS; "WOWWO111 I think this0r mod rocks0rs and loads0r people will stop playing cs0r' type attitude, do you think its fair to put Natural Selection one on one with Counter - Strike?

MonsieurEvil
Counter-Strike is an awesome game - it's not a fluke that it's the most popular online FPS ever. We don't believe we can surpass it in terms of user popularity for the simple reason that the way CS is built makes it very friendly. It has simple rules that anyone can figure out really quickly. It has great models and maps and gameplay. It's a tremendous 'beer and pretzels' mod, to borrow a term from tabletop wargames. Natural Selection is far more complex, far more complicated. In order to gain a lot of depth, it sacrifices the learning curve. NS games can go for 2 hours, back and forth, with huge, epic battles. It's not a game you can just jump into for 10 minutes and be satisfied to leave. It realy drags you in.

ModDB.Com
How did you guys come up with the way NS would be played? Or how did your ideas evolve to the point where you would be playing NS with like a commander/general, and then warriors who would get to use the weapons and items the commander made for them?

MonsieurEvil
It was Flayra's baby. Flay is that rare thing in the game work now, a real designer/programmer. In the old PC days, they were quite common, but now it's huge design teams and large staffs. Flayra really conceptualized a lot of NS without anyone's help. He also tapped into ideas from other dev team members, playtesters, designer colleagues, etc. But he started with a simple idea - fuse real-time strategy and first person shooters into a real social experience, for the first time. All other ideas came from that. If you want a real treat, you can actually read the original design document for the 'aliens vs. Humans' game, still posted at Overmind.Org

ModDB.Com
Why did you make us wait sooooooooooooo long!

MonsieurEvil
Plllaaaaaaayyyyyytttteeessstttinngggggggg :D... Balancing NS wasone of the hardest parts of the development process. Flayra can code his way out of most tight corners, but imagine finding the right mix of what made dissimilar teams, with classes, aliens, an RTS interface, resource and research models, weapons, structures, equipment, act. and getting them all to balance, with NO game to look at as an example. It was harsh! It's a good thing all the communication was via email, IRC, and forums, otherwise there would have been some pretty good fistfights between some of the testers at certain stages of development.

ModDB.Com
How do you think the commander/soldier system (for the humans) will go, what with all the lamers and llamas in the half-life community? Seeing people playing your mod, how do you feel about it so far?

MonsieurEvil
Oh man, the biggest risk became the greatest gain! People may yell and scream over whether aliens are better than marines or bile bombs beat grenades, but everyone seems to agree that the RTS commander mode aspect makes NS so fun. We were concerned that once the game hit pub play, people would treat the commander as a joke or at best an underutilized tool. From watching games, I've seen that people take commander mode very, very seriously. Don't forget that compared to Starcraft and Warcraft, Half-Life is a tiny niche game. RTS games are HUGE worldwide, and that provides the NS community with tons of expertise. People seem to love following a good commander, getting organized, having a real strategy and protector. It really binds the human team together and makes that teamwork happen.

ModDB.Com
How long do you expect Natural Selection to last? Will it stay popular pretty much 'forever', like CS, or do you think it might get old fast?

MonsieurEvil
Well, NS has a lot of depth; every class, every weapon, the commander mode, the maps, the tactics, the bases - they all combine to make a game with a ton of replay value. We think NS has some pretty good legs on it. Besides, there aren't even any map packs made yet! :)

ModDB.Com
Following the recent launch of the user manual; are players reading it, and playing the game as you expected and or intended?

MonsieurEvil
Online gamers are a pretty amazing group. After devouring the manual hours after release (the demand actually crashed one of our web servers), they have already flooded our forums with great strategy guides of their own. They figure out new tactics and plans that we didn't see after testing for 6 months straight. They play the game as intended (amazing enough), but they take it even further with expanding ideas of HOW to play. Plus there's a whole different kind of player in abundance now - the organized clan members. These guys take alien hierarchy and organization to the next level. Ruthless! Plus what clan leader wouldn't want the pinpoint control of Commander mode? These guys are already grossly outmatching most Dev team members ;)

ModDB.Com
Being a fairly revolutionary mod, is this proving a problem to those who don't have the patience to learn it and put up with the new gameplay?

MonsieurEvil
Not as much as I thought it would, and here I can lay the credit squarely with the the artists and mappers. These guys have made the 'world' of NS so visually compelling that people give the gameplay a chance just to experience the amazing ambience. The beautiful player designs of Cory, the edgy weapons models from Mike, the inspiring levels from Relic and Merkaba - all combine to make you believe that there is no way you're in Half-Life. They suck a player in. The first time one of Cory's blackened and cruel Fades blinks across a long passageway and cuts down your nearby squadmate as you unload a magazine into him in a pure panic, NS has you hooked. The more complex gameplay catches up in its own time.

ModDB.Com
Was the half life engine hard to code for? Would you ever consider dropping it for UT2003 ala 'Opera'?

MonsieurEvil
I'm not really qualified to say as Flayra was our only coder. But the results show that he was able to make the engine sit up and beg in ways that have never been seen before. As for moving to a next generation engine, that remains to be seen.

ModDB.Com
Last but not least; w00t yay or O_o

MonsieurEvil
D00d, w00t yay pwnz0rs O_o... everyone knows that!

Thank you!

Question's contributed by the modDB forum members, thanks for you input.
Interview conducted by azz0r to MonsieurEvil.
Overmind.Org

Post comment Comments
azzDB Author
azzDB Nov 6 2002, 8:20am says:

Well it was a pleasure, and its a great interview ;)

+1 vote   reply to comment
INtense! Staff
INtense! Nov 6 2002, 8:33am says:

Detailed, interesting answers to many previously unknown questions :)

Terrific job azz0r, oh and thanks for your time monse and the effort you put into both this mod and your fine PR work!

I am sure if people have additional questions they wish to ask, monse would be happy to oblidge in answering them, so either whack them in the forum thread mentioned or right here :D

+2 votes   reply to comment
Bite
Bite Nov 6 2002, 9:56am says:

very nice interview

i've been more than sucked away in NS too, and i commend the NS team on creating one of the most fulfilling gaming experiences ever.

why isnt there like a Gaming Medal Of Honor or something?

+1 vote     reply to comment
jacksonj04 Staff
jacksonj04 Nov 6 2002, 10:49am says:

Nah, O_o is superior, but pwns j00.

Anyway, I agree totally. NS is the best HL mod I have seen since... since the beginning. A leetle unbalanced right now, but that will surely be fixed.

Love it.

+1 vote   reply to comment
M_hacky
M_hacky Nov 6 2002, 12:05pm says:

You cant say its unbalanced when Marine vsd Marine and Alien vs Alien maps come out :p

+1 vote     reply to comment
azzDB Author
azzDB Nov 6 2002, 12:19pm says:

Didnt think of that, thatd be fun :D

+1 vote   reply to comment
neoINFINITE
neoINFINITE Nov 6 2002, 12:52pm says:

My comp screwed up on me for about last 5 months ago and I'm living in hell with out a computer. Hopefully when I get a new computer i'll definetly download NS first! Intense, keep up mod db as cool as it is man! ^_^

+1 vote     reply to comment
azzDB Author
HuntEr
HuntEr Nov 6 2002, 7:27pm says:

this interview has uppd the most online, was 214 i think, now its 244

illead it when I get home tafe sux.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Sajt
Sajt Nov 7 2002, 1:31am says:

Now azz0r, don't forget to give credit to people who submitted questions to this interview... :) Me and JadeDingo and few others..

+1 vote     reply to comment
BigBird Staff
BigBird Nov 7 2002, 1:38am says:

Great interview azz0r, mind blowing responces :) tops mate 8)

+1 vote   reply to comment
HuntEr
HuntEr Nov 7 2002, 2:18am says:
Quote:MonsieurEvil
Not as much as I thought it would, and here I can lay the credit squarely with the the artists and mappers. These guys have made the 'world' of NS so visually compelling that people give the gameplay a chance just to experience the amazing ambience. The beautiful player designs of Cory, the edgy weapons models from Mike, the inspiring levels from Relic and Merkaba - all combine to make you believe that there is no way you're in Half-Life. They suck a player in. The first time one of Cory's blackened and cruel Fades blinks across a long passageway and cuts down your nearby squadmate as you unload a magazine into him in a pure panic, NS has you hooked. The more complex gameplay catches up in its own time.

I would like to give a huge congradulations to the mappers and texture people as these maps or the BOMB. THe detail is amazing, my dad saw this mod and asked me if I was playing AvP2 :O

good stuff fellas. !!!!!!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Freakshow
Freakshow Nov 7 2002, 1:29pm says:

I've been waiting for NS for sooo long, and now it's finally out I don't get to play it, cos I've gone to uni and my room has no data connection :-(
Now you guys are all out on the servers having fun and I don't get to play, nevermind run my own server like I did with various other mods. Pity meh.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ralph
ralph Nov 7 2002, 6:48pm says:

PR is good, but the driving force point of view would be an awesome addition to the interview. Any way we can vote for interviews we would like to see?

+1 vote     reply to comment
PsychoFarmer
PsychoFarmer Nov 7 2002, 8:44pm says:

U forgot to ask the "whats in ur pockets" question!!!
what were u thinkin!?!?!?!

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Platform
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Game
Half-Life
Developer
Unknown Worlds
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Release Date
Released Jun 3, 2007
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