moddb.com: For those who still have no clue just who the heck you are please state your name, age, location and why it is you purchased Half Life and your imagination was a perfect fit for the game?
Name: Neil Manke
Age: Too old to be playing games!
Last Seen: Kamloops, B.C., Canada
Half-Life was the first game that came along that actually had many of the elements that I desired in a game. At that time I felt very strongly that shooters had to move away from being focused purely on combat, and HL fit the bill. So, it was the right game at the right time.
moddb.com: Please list all the projects you have finished so the rumors will stop flying around. So many people think you did this and that. Lets clear the air.
All the maps and mods I have done are listed at my Black Widow Site Planethalflife.com . well almost all:]
moddb.com: What is your take on Doom3 vs Half Life2? What do you have planned when these release?
HL2 looks extremely promising for mod makers. I was very impressed by the HL2 videos, and by Valve's statements that they have made HL2 even easier than HL for mod makers to work with. So, I am real eager to get a hold of the HL2 SDK and check it out. Beyond that, I have yet made no plans.
Doom3 has amazing graphics and impressive monsters. I have great respect for id software and I am certain they will create a great game. However, how easy it will be for creating mods with is hard to say.
moddb.com: Onto the fun stuff. The most recent project you worked on was Underworld Bloodline how did this fall into your lap?
The project started with Big Spaceship, a NY-based design company hired by Sony Pictures to produce a mod intended for promoting the movie "Underworld". The guys at Big Spaceship (Dan, Geo, Michael) envisioned the original idea and also did a lot of the artwork. However, they had no experience with mod development or the Half-Life engine, so they asked Mike Dunkle at Valve if he could indicate someone, and Mike kindly recommended our work (thanks Mike!)
moddb.com: How was it working with Sony Pictures and Big Spaceship? Is this an ongoing thing?
They were all very easygoing people to work with. It was just a one-time free-lance arrangement, but I would imagine the possibility is there for future projects.
moddb.com: Underworld Bloodline is a very nice way to bring it to a new level of advertising. Who is responsible for this idea?
I think it's a great idea and should be done more often! For less cost than most forms of advertising it gives everybody a new free game to play.
Using a mod for promotional/advertising purposes is not a new idea. We did it years ago for Rysher Entertainment's "SOF Special Ops Force" T.V. show and then later we did many promotional mods for PC Gamer magazine. And as far as promotional mods specifically for movies go there was the Sony "Anaconda" mini-mod (for Quake1) long ago.
moddb.com: Underworld Bloodline is very sexy when it comes to the map department. I take it your responsible for this. What did you use to make your map feel so alive?
Yes, among other things I did both of the Underworld maps. My personal mapping style is to build fast (using the editor like a sketchpad) and not really think much. By nature I dislike having to think hard, so this approach works well for me:] Later we analyze this initial version and decide about any layout changes required to improve playability. I am often surprised at how well this method can work even for things that one would expect would require lots of planning, like complex gameplay flow.
As for making a map alive, it is really just a matter of trying to keep the architecture believable and then adding a smattering of real life stuff. A couple paintings here (make sure they aren't the same:), a few appropriate sounds there, etc.
moddb.com: Underworld Bloodline is about what? How will the mod differ?
The mod is based on rival clans of Vampires and Lycans (werewolves), fighting each other while trying to secure a human that hides the power to make them invincible. The gameplay can be described as a mix between Hostage Rescue and Capture the Flag, but the maps are a lot larger and more complex, offering opportunities for a wide range of strategies, such as snipering from inside buildings or taking shortcuts by jumping between rooftops.
moddb.com: Underworld Bloodline only has two maps will there be a FGD released?
There is an uw.fgd included in the Underworld install. You will find it in the underworld/maps folder.
moddb.com: What mods do you play to keep you going? What type of mods do you want to see in Half Life2?
I used to be a TFC and then later a Battlefield 1942 addict. I had to completely quit playing both games because I just couldn't afford the lost time. Often I could get on one those games in the evening for a quick 30 minutes of fun and next thing I knew it was daylight breaking:)
As for what sort of mods HL2 I would like to see .I have been so busy lately I haven't thought about it. I suppose we could expect to see a real explosion of mod possibilities considering the vastly more capable engine, and the huge amount of HL mod talent waiting on the lines.
moddb.com: Final thoughts:
I would like to thank you for the opportunity of this interview, and also a special thanks to my fellow Underworld:Bloodline contributors:
Produced by: Big Spaceship
Design/Coding: Einar Saukas
Modeling: Sebastian Croon
Animations: Will Sherriff
Textures: Big Spaceship, Marc Schrder, Valve
Skins: George (at Big Spaceship)
Custom Sounds: Magnus Jansn, Big Spaceship
Final Art: Big Spaceship
Linux Compiler: Ulix Mello
Testing: [TiC] clan
Underworld Bloodline is available Now
Underworld will be released in theaters on September 19, 2003.