All game engines tend to attract a specific 'crowd' or mod genres and categories, that while sometimes differ in terms of gameplay, characters and setting, primarily share exactly the same fundamentals and context. Then every once in a while you get something a little bit different.
Anyone that remembers the Descent series will know that regardless of whether they enjoyed it or not, it definately made a very interesting prospect for a game, and continues to today. Enter Into Cerberon! These guys plan to give you the power to exploit the six dimensions of freedom with ferocity and heart-pounding adrenaline. I don't think the Doom engine ever saw this one coming.
[page=The Interview : Page One]
1. As we've not yet spoken before, could you please give us an insight into each of your backgrounds and roles on the project?
HeXetic: I'm Tim "HeXetic" Gokcen, age 24, from Toronto, Canada. I have an Honours B.Sc in Computer Science (Software Engineering specialist) from the University of Toronto and am presently employed as a software developer for a small company called Mpathix that makes voicemail systems for telephone carriers. On the hobby front, for the past little while I've been the co-director of Planet Command & Conquer, responsible for the files area as well as numerous technical articles on that site. I've also had some critical success with a set of fantasy stories I work on called Chronicles of the Mandrake.
On the IC project, I'm the guy who started the ball rolling (ironically, it was by asking if anyone else had thought about bringing Descent into Doom3) and who's pretty much in charge of everything. Seeing as how I work in C++ every day, I'm also the lead coder.
iceheart: Hi there! I'm iceheart and in the real world I am known as Johan Ström, I hail from the frozen north (Sweden), and in my spare time I enjoy playing games on both the Xbox and PC, and I am also a moderator on Doom3world.org and the site admin of Modwiki.net. I've been editing on id tech since late 1998 with Ritual's Sin and Valve's Half-Life. On the project I help HeXetic with "lead" type stuff in addition to being a modeller and mapper, I also do misc. housekeeping stuff like weapon scripting, particle effects, etc.
Chris: This is Chris, 20- music guy from the great white north (or Canada). Kingston, Ontario to be exact. As a self proclaimed nerd, I've done work over the years with the Descent community and I'd used my talents as a writer/music programmer behind the late Orbital Inc. Descent IV project back in 2001 (long story there). Since then, I've been dedicated to this music project of mine known as "British Racing Green" (http://britishracinggreen.ca). As it is now, I'm attending College here in Kingston (busy bloody schedule right now) with plans to head up to University next year. Favorite music includes Sigur Ros, Wilco and Matthew Good. And yes, I had to plug that in.
Spectre: Hi! This is Spectre (aka SP3ctre aka MD1053) and I'm wrinting from Italy (Adriatic sea coast). I'm 18 (the little one of the team :) ). In my spare time, when i'm not studying, or at school, or playing videogames, or learning guitar, I work on modelling and CG. On the project, I am the main modeler, and level desiger in future (if needed). I usually
start and build up the most of the models, then throw them to iceheart who cares about all the rest (refining, mapping and implementation)
NoMercy: NoMercy here, well I¿m from Canada, I am 15 years old and I am new to the modding scene but I do learn fast. I have a few roles, I map, I model and animate I can also create textures.
W3bbo: Salutations, I be one "W3bbo" (pronounced "Webbo" but most people just call me "David"). Well, it all started with me back when HeX was beginning to organise the mod-team and just finished a basic website for the mod (back when it was just HeX and Iceheart in July 2005). I offered to pitch in and redesign his site, logo, and marketing materials, which I did (and he liked very much so). Next thing I knew I was taken on-board.
Initially I put myself down to assist HeX with the coding and some textures, but HeX had other plans and decided to put me on hiatus, so right now I'm just "The Miscellaneous Guy" although as we progess I should be able to put my HLSL and C++ skills into practice.
2. People like myself are no longer the youth of the gaming community. Utter the words "Hey remember Theme Park??" to a younger gamer, and you're not going to get the same reaction you would have a few years ago, it's just one of those games that despite being a classic, isn't really going to be played anymore. Another one of these games is Descent. Could you tell us why you've seen fit to bring back this particular game, rather than
going along with the sci-fi, zombie or war trends we tend to see throughout mods at the moment?
HeXetic: Wait, are you saying Descent isn't sci-fi?? Heh; but it's true, we are seeing a lot of the "post-nuclear holocaust" or "futuristic dystopia" type games lately. I attribute this to people having loved games like Fallout and Deus Ex and wanting to see more of it. I'd argue that many people do remember Theme Park today; maybe not Bullfrog's original, but rather the continuing spiritual sequels in the form of the Rollercoaster Tycoon series.
Anyways, I've always loved Descent; it's a real thriller of a game with a mostly unfulfilled plot environment. Deciding to remake Descent in Doom sort of came to me on a whim one day when I realised that Doom 3's shadowing engine would be capable of creating the exact kind of claustrophobic, dimly-lit interior that the Descent engines were designed to create; the
difference is that the Doom 3 engine is far more capable, with the ability to add all the various doodads (pipes, cables, mobile lights) and entities (used mining equipment, Crates O' Stuff, girders, electronic displays showing rotating PTMC logos) that ought to be present in what are supposed to be mines.
iceheart: I didn't play Descent very heavily when it was new, but I still remembered it as being very different and fun, and recreating it in a modern engine is definitely great fun. I joined this mod team partially because it wasn't another one of "those games" that everyone seems to make, and Descent is still a refreshingly new and original concept ten years later.
Spectre: I'm a young player, but (strangely) I played Theme Park and I played Descent on my fresh P166 when i was 9 years old or so. That's probably why Descent did impress me so much, and why I'm here now.
NoMercy: Descent is a great game, and the Doom3 engine gives us great atmosphere for a game like Descent; we are aiming for a darker Descent rather than nice and bright, the Doom3 engine is perfect for this. It's also new to most gamers, a lot of gamers haven't played Descent: it's something new to them and they would love it, most people like new things.
W3bbo: Well, what's the harm in being different? Some of the most succesful mods (often turned standalone games) were usually the most innovative at the time (okay... the concept of porting one game to another isn't exactly that innovative, but I certainly feel what we're doing is innovating, after all, how many 6DoF mods [let alone games] are there out
3. It's clear from the models you have released that your team is more than capable with the tools they've been given. Is this the first projet you have all worked on?
HeXetic: This is the first mod project I personally have worked on in a development role, but many of the other team-members have experience with either other mods or other games. I'll let them speak for themselves.
iceheart: Yes, this is the first project we work on as a team. Personally I have never worked on a mod that has lived all the way to a finished release yet, and I have great hopes for this one being the first :).
Spectre: I had past experiences as a leader of a failed HW2 mod/partial conversion, and I made some HL1/2 maps (nice looking maps, but in fact simply useless. no one played them :x ).
NoMercy: For me I'd say it the most serious project I¿ve ever worked on, I've worked on others that gave up, but I have alot of confidence in this mod, theres something about it that I somehow know that it won't close down.
W3bbo: This is the first project we've all worked together on, before moving on to Into Cerberon, I was project lead for the ill-fated C&C Generals mod "Planet Earth" (similar to Into Cerberon in that it was brining back to life an older game), but I simply lacked the managerial skills to make it go anywhere, so this time I'm being the lackey. I do have many other projects and commitments outside the game modding scene though.
4. Are there any specific reasons as to why you decided Doom 3 would be the perfect technology to build this on?
HeXetic: Ever since I got my hands on a Diamond Monster Voodoo 3D card and fired up glQuake, I've loved the look of shadows. glQuake had only simple, somewhat ugly, polygonal shadows cast on the ground, but it was still an impressive sight. I've always found that Doom 3 tends to look a lot better in motion than it does in screenshots simply because the way the
shadows play against the walls is a tremendously engaging graphical effect.
Doom 3 also has the advantage of the legendary moddability of the Quake engines (I mean, come on, how many HL1 mods are there?) as well as a built-in artset of futuristic and "mine" textures that fit perfectly with Descent.
Shadows and light, techno-industrial environments... the idea to put Descent in Doom seems almost natural now.
Spectre: I'm really fascinated about CG. I can spend entire hours watching (with frequent jaw-drops) those 64k demos people makes in a day for annual programming contests. In the Doom3 specific case, bump-mapping made via normal maps really hits me. While playing, I often walk around looking at the walls like a retard, while monsters shoot fireballs at me. The way bumps are faked and quickly rendered, but realistically lit by moving
lights, it's fantastic. Bump maps + dynamic shadows, tell me a better engine to support Descent-like atmospheres (wich Descent never had..).
NoMercy: As I had said earlier the Doom3 engine has the atmosphere we need to create a "Descent feel"
5. In terms of gameplay, how is Into Cerberon going to work? Will generally be a case of utter dimensional freedom in which to blow down enemy ships, or are you incorporating a story and set of missions into the mod?
HeXetic: Ideally we will eventually add a singleplayer campaign, but for now we're focusing on the multiplayer aspects for the simple reason that making a good singleplayer game is, with out a doubt, Very Hard. That's not to say I - and the rest of the team - don't have a lot of ideas about how the plot could go in a campaign, it's just that we need to get the basics of shooting and firing in place before moving in to more elaborate elements like the story.
A fair chunk of story can be told simply through the multiplayer and the documentation, though. Unreal Tournament's world of the "Liandri Corporation" was remarkably fleshed-out despite there being really no singleplayer campaign - just a few paragraphs of text accompanying every level, team, and player.
iceheart: While a single-player game might happen in the future, we prefer not to think of it too much until we have a fun and relatively completed multiplayer component.
NoMercy: We all would love to create a single player campaign but we are going to focus on multiplayer right now.
6. The videos you've released prove that you do have ships flying throughout the space realistically, and that you too can do the same. Have you experienced many problems getting the controls to work fluently with the style of gameplay?
HeXetic: It was a pain to figure out in the beginning, but in all honesty the code added to get basic 6DoF controls in wasn't that complicated. The current trouble is figuring out how to get the rotation centred properly (requires knowing the player model's size) and how to get the bounding box to rotate along with it. Most of the other stuff like limiting turn rate or implementing a "rally"-style control system is just icing on top of that cake.
NoMercy: I remember HeXetic always coming to a point to where he was stuck with the 6DOF code, but we encouraged him to finish it up, and so he did.
7. You've mentioned before, the possibility that Joystick support will be added, is this looking likely?
HeXetic: I haven't had the time to look into it further. The Doom3 SDK appears to have a place where joystick input is stored; whether the Doom 3 engine actuall fills in this information or whether it's simply dead code is still unknown. If it's dead code, there may not be anything we can do. I view not being able to implement joystick support as a setback albeit not a particularly deadly one; hopefully we can make good enough mousing controls
that the hardcore Descenters won't mind, and many casual gamers don't have decent joysticks anyways. In the end I think people will prefer the more advanced mouse controls we'll implement, like a "rally" style where the ship turns to follow the mouse's direction, or a virtual-joystick style where the mouse acts as a joystick.
[page=The Interview : Page Two]
8. What have been the most memorable moments in development so far?
HeXetic: Well, I was pretty damn elated when I finally got 6DoF movement working. Mostly I like seeing when iceheart puts together some kind of elaborately-constructed screenshot that makes it look like we've already implemented a feature we don't actually have.
iceheart: A lot of memorable moments happen in the IRC channel, #IntoCerberon on irc.gamesurge.net, we do most of our development talk there and there aren't really any secrets, so feel free to drop in and don't get discouraged if nothing happens for a day or two.
Spectre: Memorable moment? Yes, the time I played the last internal release, looking at my ship and its shadow on the floor...
NoMercy: When 6DOF was released, and it just turned everyone's headfrom "ya I¿m sure they could make a ship flying around" to "holy crap they were right, they could actually make 'Descent' in the Doom3 engine!!!!"
W3bbo: The release of the 6DoF proof-of-concept modification was certainly the biggest milestone yet (even if it wasn't that big a technical feat) since we finally knew that this was something that would certainly work. I suppose the next memorable moment will be when you give us the Mod of the Month Award ;)
9. How much can we expect the multiplayer counterpart to work? Will there be different gametypes available?
HeXetic: This is described in the Requirements Doc in more detail, but while first versions will be purely DM, we're also shooting for the standard Team-DM and Capture-the-Flag (called "Rescue the Hostage", with, shall we say, the appropriate mis-use of ragdoll physics). For a bit of sorbet-like fun at LAN parties, Pyromania, a mode where the flamethrower is the only available weapon, and it never runs out, is there for those who think particle caps are for wussies with small graphics cards. Bumper Ships is like Bumper Cars, except that you can get bumped from all 6 directions.
The more unique modes are Armageddon, D-Ball, and Reactor War.
Armageddon will bring the "self-destruct sequence initiated" fun back from the dead. The winner (or winners, if a team game) of Armageddon is the one with the highest kill count that manages to escape the mine when the reactor goes critical in the last few seconds of the match. After all, What good's having the highest kill count if you don't make it out alive?
D-Ball is a personal favourite of mine just because of the lighting possibilities. It's basically a remake of the classic MPlayer Quake mod "QBall"; Jedi Knight players will recognize it as "Kill the Fool With the Ysalmari" (and "Outlaws" players will see it as "Kill the Fool with the Chicken"). The basic idea is to pick up the Ball - a Disco ball, in this case - and hold on to it for as long as you can, gaining points for doing so. The catch is that everyone in the level is gunning for you, though you may get some bonuses (like faster move speed). The real hook for IC's D-Ball is that, being a disco ball, it flashes coloured lights in all directions, making it suddenly rather difficult to hide anywhere. We'd also like it to blare disco music as you fly around the mines, making it doubly easier for the other players to find you.
Reactor War is like the basewar mode from Command & Conquer: Renegade. The objective is to simply blow up the other team's reactor, by either staging a massive assault and doing critical damage, or by continuously sneaking it in and whittling down its health.
There have also been requests to add the Descent 2 "Entropy" game-mode in, but as that's actually more complicated than any of the modes we were planning, it'll have to wait.
iceheart: Hex's reply is pretty thorough, but you can check out our design document at Moddb.com to see for yourself, it's a little old but pretty much everything in it is still valid.
NoMercy: There will be new gametypes, the multiplayer will be fast-paced but still atmospheric and dark in some areas, giving the players the ability to hide around corners while another player is chasing him down. The maps will feature a "maze like" style, basically there will be tunnels going up, down, right, left, back, forward and more.
10. Although I enjoyed Descent, I was also a massive fan of Terminal Velocity by 3D realms. While you are focusing the design on claustrophobic environments, can we expect any, more landscape based battles or open ended environments?
HeXetic: Doom 3 seems to shine most when it's given small, clasustrophobic environments to work with. This doesn't mean we'll be limiting ourselves to that, but generally speaking the "outdoors" environments will be few.
iceheart: Most of our gameplay will center around tunnels and mine-shaft-like environments, but I am personaly planning at least two outdoors-type maps. We also have a bunch of ideas for "gimmick" style maps like miniature ships in familiar environments and similar so we hope to have a few of those in there as well.
NoMercy: I as a mapper am planning to have a few maps with some outdoor areas in it.
W3bbo: Keeping with the "subterranian mine" theme running throughout the original Descent and its sequel, it is unlikely that we'll feature any kind of open or "outside" maps any time soon. Not many of us here at IC hold Descent3 in high regard, Red Faction (originally supposed to be another Descent game) even less, so whilst there might be some big maps, probably based on empty caverns, don't expect anything like Descent3's sprawling outdoor maps (at least, not any time soon).
11. Could you elaborate a little more on some of the stealth aspects in the mod? Such as encouraging the player to hide and make use of shadows?
HeXetic: One of the critical differences between Descent multiplayer and most other FPS games is that weapons did not respawn. This means that if someone's got the one flamethrower in the level, you'll have to beat it out of them to get it. This simple fact should make hiding out a real option, because you don't have to worry about people coming at you with massive stockpiles of guns and ammunition from having flown around the whole
level. Instead, you can grab your favourite ambush or sniper weapon, park yourself in the shadows, turn off your headlights, and simply... lie in wait. I think it should add a lot of tension to the environment.
The Doom 3 multiplayer experience changes depending on whom you play with: play with experienced FPSers, and it's basically a souped-up Quake 3, with everyone bunnyhopping and running like mad. Play with a couple of newbies tossed into the mix, and it suddenly becomes more exciting, with a very real possibility that one of those scared new players is hiding in that dark corner, waiting to pump a few rockets into your face.
Having experienced both at LAN parties, I can say that the second environment is far more interesting to play in, with players constantly gunning at the shadows just to make sure they're empty. That's why I'd like to re-create it in Into Cerberon.
iceheart: The dark and shadowy style of Doom 3 has been much maligned by some people, but I think we can pull off a nice balance of hiding vs. run-(well, fly)-and-gun gameplay. There's a lot of difference between not seeing anything and not seeing your opponents (or your opponents not seeing you). We are however not shooting for a gameplay where you can just sit in a corner and kill people without them noticing you, most of the weapons have quite dramatic visual signatures and will hopefully have matching sounds in
the future, so if you don't kill your prey quickly, they will know where you are and they will be angry.
NoMercy: Just imagine being chased by a crazy man in his ship, you ran out of ammo and your too scared to turn around and fire your lasers, you come up to a point where you have a choice to go up or down, left or right, you see that one of the hallways is dark so you choose that one, turn off your headlights and fly into the hallway, you are now hiding behind a large beam, in this area it's literally pitch black and the other guy chasing you is searching the room, he turns the other way and you blast your lasers at him. That¿s the sort of gameplay we would like to have, stealthy but still fast-paced.
Here is a sample of the darkness, taken from the editor, please note that not all levels will be this dark:
12. When playing the single player campaign, will the player have any freedom in terms of their ship? Will they be able to upgrade their equipment over time or even buy entirely new gear?
HeXetic: Not likely. The way I see it now, the player will get new stuff when we say they get new stuff. This is Descent, not Privateer.
NoMercy: We are planning the classic "pickup style"
13. While the game is based off the ground (and so are the players enemies) will there be any ground troops or static weaponary attached to the various walls that he player will have to deal with?
HeXetic:People always say that wall turrets are lame; I tend to agree. They may be in IC's singleplayer campaign but I don't plan to overuse them. There will definitely be people walking around on foot - you don't think colonists and miners live, work, and play in ships all day, do you? Most of the IC maps have gravity of some sort, so even stuff like walker-type mechs as enemies isn't impossible.
14. What can we expect in terms of sound? Are you creating a new soundtrack to accompany the mod?
HeXetic: Sound effects are always tricky; we can't simply reuse Descent SFX as that would a) be unethical and b) sound like crap. Foley is a very hard job, and we'll have to look at doing the sounds when we get to that point. Doom 3 does have a lot of varied sound effects, however, and it may be possible to achieve a new sound balance by simply editing these.
A few people from the Descent community have stepped up to hook us up with some new soundtracks, and I've even arranged a preliminary agreement with reknowned game music composer Frank Klepacki (of Command & Conquer fame) to posibly use a track or two of his in an appropriately-themed level. As we get bigger and closer to a full-fledged release, we may also contact the famed Sonic Mayhem (of Quake 2
& 3 fame) to possibly get one of their head-pounding tracks to use in some of the more aggressive levels.
Chris: Well, as a psuedo-talented-Descent-loving-computer-music programmer/composer, I feel that above all else, my job is to bring a sene of atmosphere to the level design. With so many levels on the drawing board right now, I haven't had time to focus on any specific composition. Nonetheless, I'm working towards a lush, organic sound which I hope brings out a the sort of hypnotic, entrancing effect the old school Descent music had on me. This here is an example of my work, titled Bipolar:
Spectre: I really do hate when developers ruin games by putting bad sounds into them. Doom3's pistol, for example, sounds like a toy gun and the projectile impact sound is horrible and repetitive. I'll do my best to ensure we'll feature good sounds, with both good quality and
"effectiviness". Take Descent's plasma gun, for example, wich sounds more like a machine gun than an unrealistic energy thing (so that makes it funnier to use).
15. Any plans for a public beta or test release in the future?
HeXetic: Absolutely. This will be a very public mod as far as releases is concerned. We are shooting for a basic "controls + lasers + concussion missiles + coupla maps" release for late-December/early-January, with further releases to come as soon as we finish something reasonably important, like adding a new weapon or getting a new effect to work.
iceheart: We don't really plan to work a long time and then suddenly release a version we call "done", we plan to release a steadily improving stream of releases with more and more content added, and somewhere along the way I guess they'll stop being "test" releases and will become "beta", or even "final" releases instead. Watch out for the first test release under the Into Cerberon name in late December or early January!
[b]Thanks very much to the Into Ceberon team! Expect plenty of updates coming from this team in the future, and if you've even a hred of interest in this project, be sure to check out their homepage at Chmodoplusr.com