Hi and thanks for having this interview, Kemon!
My pleasure. I have to admit, that I was pleasantly surprised by your interview request, but it’s always nice to see interest in our project.
How did you get involved with ET:Legacy?
To be completely honest I’m not entirely sure anymore, but I’ll try to recap it as best as I can. I started mapping sometime in 2009/2010. After that caught my interest, I somehow ended up with ET:Xreal and started to work on improving the standard maps for them. However, I was still at the beginning of my journey, so I was lacking the proper skills to support them, so I stopped. It must have been around 2013 when I first joined the #etlegacy IRC channel. I don’t really remember how it went from there, but I ended up starting to recreate the game textures to get away from the proprietary license on assets. From there it just kind of happened, I guess.
How is it going with ET:Legacy at the moment?
It may seem exaggerated, but in my opinion development and progress are in a fantastic place right now. I’m not sure whether you follow the development that closely, but the activity page on redmine is looking wonderful. Also, the tasks and features that are being worked on are very promising. I’m convinced that 2017 will be a good year for ET: Legacy.
Is there a lot of stuff to do?
Haha, well if there is one thing we have sufficiently, it’s work. On a more serious note though, all of the current and upcoming issues can be checked on our Roadmap. Simply judging by the raw number of tickets and not their required workload, the next release is currently around 70% ready. You might have heard that in February we hit ticket #1000, which is a rough indicator for the complete workload of this project. However, I think I speak for the whole team when saying that after all this time, the dedication for this project is still high.
I’m personally using Legacy client v.2.75 when playing and it is really nice comparing it to 2.60b. A lot smoother and better graphics. What can we expect from next version?
First of all, I’m very glad that you are enjoying the current ET: Legacy version. The question regarding the features/changes of the next version is a bit hard to answer, because there are two options for the upcoming release and I’m not entirely sure which will be ready first. So I’ll just generally answer the question on what you can expect this year, okay? One thing is the first major asset release. The primary focus of this release won’t be new fancy features, but mainly to ship our very own game assets. The first release will include the textures you might have seen on various promo images, their respective normal and specular maps and the new shaders to make everything work. For coming asset releases you might expect texture revisions depending on the community feedback or ’official’ ET: Legacy maps that take full advantage of the new renderer. You might have seen some promo images for Bergen by Detoeni or Würzburg Radar. Besides that, the recreation of models is a major topic and also sounds, UI and HUD. The latter two are big issues that we are slowly starting to work on, as you can see with ticket #1000.
The other mentioned release will again include many bug-fixes, but also a lot of new features. It will be build around the new feature of a bayesian skill rating. This feature is intended to replace XP-save (not XPs!) and all of its unwanted side effects. This proven metric can be used to compare the skills of players over time. Generally, with XP-save, the ranks and XP-count will only give insights on how long a player has been playing on a server. However, with this feature, the ranks will be directly tied to and therefore represent the individual skill level. If your skill increases, you will rank up, however it is also possible that after a few bad matches you might lose a rank again. Eventually, this skill rating brings the possibility to revive the competitive scene of ET by introducing some sort of match-making in the future. This feature was thoroughly explained in a blog post just recently. In my personal opinion this feature is really big and the possibilities it brings are absolutely fantastic.
Who started this project, ET:Legacy?
We certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without Radegast. He is the project founder and has led by active example, which attracted a lot of helping hands over the years. Unfortunately, he is semi-retired right now. To be honest, I just had to have a look when the first ticket was opened and it already was around 5 years ago. Time flies.
How many guys are now working on ET:Legacy?
The core team consists out of 8 people, however the amount of helping hands is truly stunning. Admittedly, the list of contributors might be a bit misleading. The shadow number of helping hands is likely a lot higher. Some people for example support the general development environment without working on the actual game. Others might be working on assets that have not yet made it into the released game and therefore aren’t listed. With every new release, the number of helping hands in the list increases, because their contribution made it into the released game. Because of that, I simply can’t give you an exact number of people that are currently working on it through one way or another. However, the list on the website provides an overview of who helped with things that already made it into the game.
What do you do in this project?
Haha, valid question. My main job I’d say is what we are currently doing through this interview, Marketing. I talk with people from the community, do promotions and posts on Splashdamage, modDB, community sites, social media, etc. in order to drive attention of new players or possible helping hands towards this project.
Besides that, I created the new game textures that you can see in some promo posts and which will be included in the first major asset release, along with the normal and specular maps by RaFaL aka RafAl and the new shader functionality from thunder. Currently, I’m also working on recreating textures that are not present in pak0, but have working shaders. Mostly remnants from RTCW or simply recreating the RTCW textures for ET. This is done in order to have more textures to use for official ET: Legacy maps in the future.
Regarding maps, I also work on Bergen by Detoeni, which in my eyes is both visually and gameplay-vise a very nice map. That makes it perfect for porting to the new renderer. If there are questions by other mappers, then I try to help them where I can.
I try to pick up modelling when I have the spare time for it, because I want to better understand the different aspects of the asset recreation. However, here I’m at the very beginning and there is a long way until I can support the creation of more complex models.
Basically, I try my best to organize and drive the asset recreation, promote the project and answer community feedback / questions or forward them to the team if I can’t do so myself.
It seems it requires a lot of experience and knowing of code?
That completely depends on what you are doing for the project. I for one am not familiar with the game code at all. I never had a look at it, because there are very skilled people in the team that take care of this and there is enough work on the asset side of things. Admittedly, occasionally that provides some problems at first, but that’s what chat-rooms and discussions are for.^^
I try my best to organize all the non-coding things, so the others can clear that off their minds, just like I can clear all the coding things off my mind.
Can anyone join ET:Legacy project? And what experience do they need for joining your team?
Absolutely, yes. We are always looking for new people to join our efforts. Generally speaking you don’t require any experience. Many of us, including me, learned most of the stuff while already working on the project. For example I recreated the game textures basically twice, because during the first run I learned so many new techniques, that I decided to redo them. Questionable efficiency, but I’m very happy with the end-result and hope people will enjoy them. If people think they can contribute in any way or also just want to give it a try, then don’t hesitate to contact us. There are a lot of different ways people can contribute to this project and we are happy for every helping hand. Very helpful at this point in time would be people with motivation for sound editing, because that is a part of the assets that is left completely untouched for now.
What makes the Legacy server-side version better than 2.60b?
The simple answer would be to just redirect you to the changelog section in our wiki. Under the tabs ”Engine” and then ”Server” you can find a clear list of all changes that have been made in ET: Legacy server-side. A quick summary I think would be extensive code cleanup, which assures a smoother performance. Just like you already mentioned with your game client. A lot of error handling has been reworked to warn server admins before something breaks, contrary to just wait for the fallout and then give them a vague error message to try and figure out what went wrong.
ET: Legacy is based on the source-code of 2.60b and also includes all fixes from ET 3.00, so generally you could say that even with only a single fix on our side, the version would be ”better”. Admittedly, this is very vague, because depending on the mod the server is intended to run, you might encounter problems with ET: Legacy. For example ETPro will never work, because it is closed source and not being developed anymore. This is the main reason for the existence of legacy mod. This mod is intended to replace ETPro for the competitive side, as it stays very close to the standard gameplay, but comes with a lot of options for server admins, etc.
You have any plans to make server-side version also more convenient for server admins?
Absolutely, yes! ET is all about community servers, so this is a very big part in our development process. Timothy, the developer of WolfAdmin joined our efforts, so the whole admin suite is a very flexible LUA set-up. Generally, we try to move a lot of additional functionality towards optional LUA scripts. This way, the core game remains untouched, but server admins can install additional scripts if they want certain functionalities. Expanding the choice of LUA scripts in the future is a big topic for us, because as mentioned, the aspect of customizable community servers is one of the core strengths of this game.
You guys do this project for free or do you get funded by someone?
By request we have set up a PayPal account around a year ago and we are very thankful for all donations that reached us. All financial contributions that are being made are used to pay our server and domain infrastructure. I want to emphasize, that this project is not dependent on donations, but we do not reject them. Nobody in the development team is making any money from this project.
Any chance this game will go on Steam?
Yes, theoretically there is a chance this game will go on Steam. However, for this to happen we need to break away from all proprietary licenses for all assets, including sounds, UI and HUD. Still then, ET relies on community content made over the course of ~14 years. We are talking mods, maps, skin-packs, sound-packs, etc. We do not own the rights to them so basically when moving this game to Steam, we would be starting with a new game without community content. This content is still compatible to ET: Legacy, which means that all this content could be made available through the Steam Workshop if the authors decide to do so.
But we have to stay realistic here. This project is around 5 years old and at the current development pace we are talking about at least another 5 years until this becomes a viable possibility. Who knows, maybe we’ll make another interview in 2020 to see where we are then? :D
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Well, I’d like to emphasize again, that this is an open community project. We are all volunteers and every helping hand is welcome. You do not have to have mad skills to join ET: Legacy. Just step by our Discord channel and get in touch with us. We are happy for every new face. ;)
I’d also like to thank you for this interview. It’s always nice to see interest in our project. In my opinion it is truly remarkable that a game from 2003 is still sparking such an interest and is still setting standards even in modern games.
Thank you Kemon for this intresting interview and good luck with development of ET:Legacy!