Dakota Interviews LM_Jormungard (Jorm for short) about Loki’s Minions CTF – August 24, 1998
The very first version of Capture the Flag for Quake II remains the most popular version of CTF besides the official release. Loki’s Minions CTF enjoys a level of success that is currently unmatched by any other user-created mod for Quake II. Jormungard has been the main coder since the beginning, and a driving force behind the development of LM CTF.
Name: Michael Scandizzo
Nickname: LM_Jormungard (or Jorm for short)
Occupation: I’m a software engineer, and previously worked for an internet cable television company developing computer systems to allow people to read email, play computer games, and surf the web from home. Recently, I was hired by Blizzard North as a programmer for Diablo II.
Geographic location: San Jose, California
Dakota: What does your nickname mean, and how did you get it? There are always people asking “Who is Loki?”, so why don’t you tell us some background about Loki’s Minions and the role that Norse mythology plays in the clan.
Jormungard: Ack. Long story, so I will explain both of these questions together.
In the summer of 1996, I was still playing Duke Nukem when some friends and coworkers started playing Quake regularly. Back then, we played deathmatch, and with the advent of Quake clans, we thought it would be fun to form one of our own. After many suggestions, such as the “Darkfriends” (one of the founding members was nicknamed Dark, and it was a name taken of devil worshippers in Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series), one of the founding members suggested the name “Loki’s Minions”. It made sense to us because one of our members used the name “Fenris”, who in Norse mythology was the son of Loki. But it had a double meaning because one of our friends had a cat named “Locutus” who we joked had made us all his slaves — we had seen a horrible movie together where it is discovered that cats secretly rule the world. Our friend nicknamed the cat “Loki”, so “Loki’s Minions” originally referred to the slaves of a cat as much as it did anything out of Norse Mythology.
I was in charge of the clan web page, and wanted to come up with some sort of theme. Though our logo still has a cat-like image to it, I thought this was too simple, and decided to instead focus on the Norse Mythological side of things. Reading about Loki, I found that he was supposed to lead the forces of darkness against the gods of Asgard at the end of the world, which had enough of a parallel to a team-play Quake match to make things interesting. So I suggested each of us in our clan pick a Norse villain to symbolize us on our web page, so I would have something to draw. Somewhere along the line, people started using these Norse names as our nicknames, and eventually it became mandatory for all our clan members. Thus, Dark, our leader, became Surt, the king of the fire giants, and I, then Captain Fragem, became Jormungard.
My name, Jormungard, is the Midgard (“Earth”) serpent, and one of two sons of Loki. In the last battle, Jormungard will rise from the ocean floor and cause tidal waves all over the earth, and poison the skies with his breath. He will be killed by Thor, but not before fatally wounding Thor. Most of the Norse villains and heroes annihilate each other in the end, so I figured killing Thor wasn’t such a bad way to go.
Dakota: LM CTF was the only CTF mod hosted by PlanetQuake that didn’t move over to Captured.Com when it opened in January. What were your reasons for staying with PQ?
Jormungard: When the early versions of LMCTF were released, they had my old web site listed in their message of the day as a hard coded text string that server operators couldn’t remove. I did this so people who joined LMCTF servers and didn’t have the proper client pak could figure out where to get the files needed. LMCTF started to gain some popularity, and my small homepage rapidly proved inadequite for my needs — I even stated as much on my LMCTF news page. Within a day or so, Planetquake offered me disk space, a web page, and everything I could possibly want from a hosting site. While I received many other good offers, the prestige, visibility, quality, and benefits of Planetquake made me switch to their site as fast as I could. Yet, I had to not only re-release LMCTF with a NEW web page text string pointing to Planetquake, but also maintain the old site for a few weeks longer because not everyone was willing to switch to my latest releases.
When Captured.com came about, and the lot of us were to be moved over to captured.com, the first thing that came to mind was that I was going to have to change this web address all over again, and could I somehow maintain the Planetquake web address for old releases. Somewhere along the way, it was decided by someone that it would be easier to keep our site on Planetquake than to move it to Captured and somehow alias the Planetquake site.
I must also admit I had some private doubts that a spin-off site could ever match the popularity and hits of Planetquake. While Frasier has been a successful spin-off of Cheers, how often does this happen? With no doubt of Dakota’s abilities and dedication, I didn’t think the venture would be very successful — after all, how many people could possibly be interested in nothing but CTF? But in the long haul I have been proven wrong, something I will admit I am quite happy about.
Dakota: If memory serves, LM CTF was the very first CTF mod to be released after Quake II was made commercially available. If it wasn’t the first, I am sure it was one of the very earliest Q2 CTF mods, along with Vanilla CTF. What motivated you to start creating your own CTF mod when it was publicly >known that Zoid was creating one for id? Did LM CTF start out as just a temporary version of CTF to fill in while id’s Q2 CTF was being developed, or did you start out with the intention of developing the mod even after the official version was released?
Jormungard: I’m not sure which of us released first, but I think the first two mods for Quake 2 were LMCTF and the first version of Capture the Head, which at the time, was horrifically broken. The first version of LMCTF was released within three days of the release of the Q2 DLL source code.
Why did I start LMCTF? At the time, Loki’s Minions, my clan, had just finished playing in the QWHPCL (Quake World High Ping Clan League — later renamed to Battle Command). Many of us had taken time off before Christmas, and Quake 2 had just been released. We were anxiously waiting to switch from CTF for QuakeWorld to CTF for Quake 2. I bought Quake 2 from CompUSA the first week it was out and brought it home to play it, only to find that CTF was not in the box as expected. Reports from id were vague, promising to release CTF some time later. However, my clan couldn’t wait.
As many of us in the clan wanted to play Quake 2, but others didn’t want to lose CTF, our practices became split between Q2 DM and QW CTF. When the Q2 source code was released, I commented during a clan practice, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I came out with CTF before id did?” We all agreed it would be funny, though I really didn’t think I could do it. But with a free weekend, I hacked together the first version of LMCTF. I didn’t really have any plans in particular for it back then. I did it because playing Quake 2 was fun, and as a programmer, programming Quake 2 was even MORE fun. I had no intention of keeping it going for any length of time, but I figured I’d ride it out until Zoid released his version of CTF. After all, wasn’t that what we were all waiting for in the first place?
Dakota: The development of LM CTF in versions 1 and 2 was fairly piece-meal and frantic. There seemed to be a new version of LM CTF coming out every week. Was this because you were competing with mods, such as Vanilla CTF, that were following a similar development path? Or were you just trying to give players new features as soon as you could implement them?
Jormungard: The rapid series of releases was probably driven more by bug fixes than anything else. Yes, I wanted to match features with Vanilla CTF, a competitor that released a few days after I did and had some innovative features that really impressed me. But more of an issue was the fact that LMCTF versions 1 and 2 were fairly buggy and unstable, and for every bug I stomped out, a new one crept in. I accept responsibility for this sloppyness — it is unacceptable in a commercial product. However, I was a lone man operation and didn’t even have my own test server. My clanmates helped me with testing at times, but LMCTF versions 1 and 2 were poor substitutes for QW CTF, and the early networking problems of Q2 tried everyone’s patience. It took a long time to stamp out the bugs in the code — CTF turned out to be more complicated to write from scratch than I had anticipated.
Dakota: What do you think were the most notable features of LM CTF in versions 1.x and 2.x?
Jormungard: LMCTF offered both male and female skins, colored red and blue appropriately. These original male skins were drawn by me as our LM clan skins tinted red and blue. You can still see these first skins as the masked face skin in the “Devils vs Demons” skin set. Also notable were the flags — they were super health obelisks with red or blue glowing shells surrounding them. I chose this because it made them large and obvious to see. The flags trailed the player slightly because it requires custom model editting to make objects smoothly sit on a player’s back. There was also the message of the day, and original CTF scoring — no assists. There were no runes, but red players with Quad glowed red, and blue player with Quad glowed blue. It was minimal CTF. The most innovative feature about LMCTF was the flag pedistals. I took DM spawn locations, added red and blue color shells around them, and placed them under the flags. This way, even in the chaos of playing CTF on a non-CTF map, you could tell where the flags are SUPPOSED to be. This made it a lot easier to learn the maps, as players couldn’t figure out where their base is if the flag is always gone. This feature is still in LMCTF today.
Dakota: LM CTF seemed to disappear after the release of Zoid’s Q2 CTF. Every other version of CTF from the same time period seemed to stop development completely, or change to Zoid’s code. The LM CTF webpage gave only a few hints that you were working on a version 3.0 of LM CTF. Why the secrecy?
Jormungard: Hmm. This is a two stage issue. First of all, all mods temporarily broke when the “Point Release” version of Quake 2 was released. These mods needed a minor change in their code to work with the latest version of Q2, but id held off releasing the new Q2 DLL source code until they had the problems ironned out of the point release. Simultaneously, Q2 CTF was released, and for almost two weeks, was the only mod that would work with the new Q2 server code. Mod authors were forced to wait patiently for the new source code.
A few weeks before the release of Q2CTF, I was trying to decide what would become of LMCTF. For over three months, Vanilla and LMCTF were the two major competing CTF standards for Q2. Now that there was Q2CTF, the promised land that we were waiting for, what would we do? I talked with the author of Vanilla (John Abbatiello), and we seriously discussed merging our mods and adding many new gameplay features. We debated over who’s source code we would use as our base for the new mod, but John went quiet before we came to any concrete decisions.
Meanwhile, I had hooked up with Wanker, who ran QuakeCafe, and was a fan of LMCTF. I was a coder who didn’t know the first thing about finding contributors for LMCTF, so Wanker took on the role of publicity man and web page maintainer, and scoured the Quake community for people willing to make maps for LMCTF. Though he eventually had to leave the group before the completion of LMCTF 3.0, before he was gone he had found an excellent skin artist, a handful of skilled map makers, and some texture artists.
Initially, our silence was due to our lack of direction — Q2CTF’s release was rewarding for the player in each of us, but doom for our mod. But we started to receive a lot of email from people who had abandoned LMCTF for Q2CTF, only to be disappointed by this new mod. Perhaps it was that expectations were artificially raised by Q2CTF’s three month delay. Perhaps people expected more of the mod because they had heard that Paul Steed had put his skill into the models. Perhaps it was that Zoid decided to experiment with the mod, and make changes to the speed of the grapple and the power of the techs. Or perhaps it was the small number of maps — a large number if you consider how much work Zoid must have done to get that many done without help. But it gave our team a glimmer of hope, and with some ideas we had, we decided to see if we could survive post-Q2CTF.
Dakota: What motivated you to continue developing LM CTF after the official version of Q2 CTF was released? Why continue developing a mod using a completely original codebase when the source for what was, at least at that time, a more feature-rich version was available publicly?
Jormungard: I remember having a conversation with Zoid on IRC, while hanging around with his clan, “Burning Chrome”. It was a few weeks before he released Q2CTF, and when he recognised who I was, he pulled me aside and asked me why I made LMCTF. I told him in short, “I was waiting for you”. We joked a bit, and he told me he felt sorry for my mod and Vanilla because Q2CTF was going to bury them. He was right, of course, but the gall of going toe-to-toe with Q2CTF appealed to me in a humourous way. Sure, there had been many mods under QuakeWorld that added to Zoid’s CTF, but did any of them really try to compete with it by reinventing the entire game in a new image without altering gameplay? Were any of them trying to compete as the de-facto standard of CTF?
I realized even before Q2CTF was released that I had spent over three months working the bugs out of a CTF engine that I was thoroughly familiar with and that I had optimized and refined. If I was to continue with CTF mods, it would be far easier to keep the codebase I already had, and add what features it lacked, rather than learn an entirely new codebase. I added a menu system, more advanced HUD, and basic assists. Surt added string replacement code and some new entities as well. Once we had gotten this far, we knew we had a CTF that had many similar features to Q2CTF, but it was done in a different style, much the way Quake 2 and Unreal are similar but different. And most of all, it was going to give the CTF community a choice, and give them competition. Wouldn’t this encourage innovation and reduce the number of people who slap some new guns into Zoid’s code and call it a new CTF mod? Time would tell.
Dakota: I think everyone that wasn’t involved with the development of LM CTF 3.0 was totally shocked with the quality of that release. It was truly a revolutionary development from version 2.0. Why did you choose to add so many features in a single release? How was the development of 3.0 different than 2.0?
Jormungard: First of all, 2.0 was still just me, Wanker, and some art contributions for female skins from Brad Klann. The 3.0 development was a larger group of contributors which Wanker had organized with my help. Development was broken up into parts — map contributions, team logos, skins, sounds, and code. We made a list of features we wanted to see, and worked towards a planned goal. After a lot of arguing over team logos, and what we should do about it, I talked Brad into doing a few animal logos. While he never really liked the lion, I chose the lion and wolf out of a group of four or five logos he had made.
There were so many features in 3.0 because we feared that without them, we would never get noticed. After all, Q2CTF had just come out, and was two steps up in quality from anything that had been released so far. The roar of players trampling onto Q2CTF servers was deafening. We would add a feature and plan for it to be our major innovation, only to learn that someone had done something similar enough already that it might not be “innovative” enough. Solution: add another feature!
Generally, I have to say that 3.0’s quality was due to the incredible talent of the artists. Brad’s skins and logos still amaze me today, and Wanker happened to attract three of the best map makers/texture artists out there: Mr. White, Der Kommissar, and Vampire. The three of them organized textures into texture libraries, and worked with other map makers to help them integrate our new artwork. LM_Surt, the clan leader of Loki’s Minions, spent many long hours working on the original Q2 maps, turning them into balanced levels, and in the 4.0 project, became one of the primary coders. His experience with developing “Kill the Llama” and “10 Runes CTF” was invaluable, as he gave sage advise on what players really wanted and what features were a worthy priority and which were not. I was saddened when we lost Brad and Vampire at the release of 3.0. Mr. White and Der Kommissar then stepped up their role in the development group so we could complete 4.0.
Despite all our planning, sometimes great features came out of nowhere. The replacement “runes” were a last minute addition by Goose and Wicked. In general, with the mod, I was a mean old tyrant, and if I liked a feature, such as the runes, it went in, but if I didn’t, such as their grappling hook replacement for mine, it didn’t. In order to successfully meet our desired release date, I cut many of Brad’s incomplete skins from the 3.0 release. Later, with his permission and Der Komissar’s patient portrait art, we added these as the new skins for 4.0.
Dakota: There are probably more people working on LM CTF currently than the other Q2 CTF mods combined. How were you able to get so many talented people on the project? Who coordinates their efforts? How difficult is to have so many people involved on one project?
Jormungard: The LMCTF mod really doesn’t have that many core developers. Up until 4.0, with the exception of text replacement, I was the sole programmer. This makes things easier as far as organization, but takes a lot of time. With 4.0, my clanmates LM_Surt and LM_Hati joined in, and we passed the code around, and I merged any code that more than one of us worked on at once. Every week I would release to our development group a “todo” list showing what features were in, and which I still planned on working on, as well as what their priorities were. Later, this also included all our known bugs and bugfixes.
Most sounds were handled by Mr. White, who would ask me what sounds I needed, and I would send him a list. Team sounds he handled alone, without requiring input from me, though he made amendments based on feedback from the group. Local sounds, likewise, were handled by Der Kommissar.
Maps for 3.0 were all sent to Vampire. All contributors were told the deadline for submissions, and he handled organizing maps and textures into a single pak file, and then sending it to all developers so we could test them, and vote on which maps we would use.
Everything else was volunteered rather than delegated. Mr. White and Der Kommissar did textures on their own, and shared them with map makers who wanted them. Brad Klann put up a new web page he did on his own, and later, Der Kommissar redid it again. Overall, I’d say the project was as much quality chaos as it was planned effort.
Der Kommissar handled much of the group communication, but at the height of 3.0, I kept order by a simple veto. People would send me skins, sounds, and art, and I would just say yes or no. What I liked went in, and there was plenty of stuff to like.
While this sounds like a mess, in reality, there were really only five or six major developers working on the project at any given time — not as many as you seem to think.
Dakota: Of the features that you added to version 3.0, which is your favorite… and why?
Jormungard: Tough question. I think I’d have to say skinsets. Brad Klann and I had talked about how much more fun CTF would be if you could differentiate yourself from your teammates without wearing confusing colors. Not only could you change your look from your teammates, but servers had a choice about what skins they wanted to use, allowing servers to distinguish themselves to some degree.
Of course, you have to love the radio sounds too.
Dakota: Most of the levels in version 3.0 are notable because of their great design and professional touches. How did you accumulate 10 original levels for this release? Many of the CTF levels released during the same time period were of lesser quality. How did you find the level designers?
Jormungard: Really, I don’t know where Wanker found these guys, but half of all the maps for 3.0 and 4.0 were done by three very talented fellows: Vampire, Mr. White, and Der Kommissar. They also did at least 75% of the new textures and map backgrounds. They worked with our other volunteers and tried to help them refine their maps as best as possible. They tested each others maps, and worked on optimizing screen rates.
Nonetheless, we still fell a little short of our target number of maps for 3.0, so we saught out some of the best mapmakers we could find by looking at some of the stand-alone CTF maps that were intended for Q2CTF. With their permission, and some adjustment of textures, their maps fit nicely into our pak file. When 4.0 came, we no longer had to seek out the mapmakers — they found us.
Dakota: One interesting feature of 3.0 was the way it changed skins according to the level that was running on the server. Was this an effort to create the look and feel of several games within the one mod? The skins are very well done, but do you think this is a feature that most players really recognize?
Jormungard: Skins are an amusing situation. A few of our developers claim they never notice anything about other players other than their color, so differring skins are wasted on them. However, I find that throughout a game of CTF, you spend most of your time staring at other players or looking out for them, so why not put as much detail into them as you would into the maps themselves. Brad Klann developed several different sets of skins, each with it’s own style. We hoped this would appeal to the same people that used the “Tick” skins for CTF under QuakeWorld.
Dakota: Version 4.0 was also a significant update, although perhaps not as revolutionary as version 3.0. One of the major changes in version 4.0 was the inclusion of other mods beyond CTF. Has this move attracted any attention? Are there people playing LM DM? Why did you decide to expand beyond CTF?
Jormungard: Expanding beyond CTF was secondary to the release. We felt there were a sufficient number of players who wanted to play with LMCTF skins, maps, runes, and features who didn’t necessarily want to play CTF that we would make the added effort to be able to turn off the flags. LM_Surt always advocated that we add options to the game, both for players and for server operators, so people could play the game the way they wanted to without having to rewrite CTF all the time. The effort to put in DM was trivial compared to the work required to add the tournament mode.
Dakota: Version 4.0 also added another level pack with smaller levels for tournament play. What is the ideal size for a CTF level? Has you perception changed any since Quake 2 is able to support so many more players on a server? How were the levels from 3.0 not as “tournament ready?”
Jormungard: 3.0 was the first CTF mod for many of the map makers. They had the talent, but not the practice in making refined and playable CTF levels. Don’t get me wrong — I am very happy with the 3.0 levels, but on the whole, they tended to be a little too big for anything other than public games. Public games sometimes climb to as many as 32 players (and on rare LAN occasions, even higher), but tournaments rarely have more than a total of 12 players. With the huge maps of 3.0, this makes it very hard to defend a base.
4.0 was a set of maps by veteren map makers who had received a lot of feedback by players. They had played their own maps and they knew what they wanted. Not only were we talking about maps in terms of “triangles” and “frames per second”, but now we were able to talk about maps in terms of “choke points”, “equipment balance”, and “mean time between flags”. Map making remained an art, but became even more of a science.
Dakota: Of the features that you added to version 4.0, which is your favorite…and why?
Jormungard: As the tournament mode, complete with countdown, logging, and referees, took the most effort, by rights, this should be my favorite feature. And the advanced menu system was my most elegant code and was the most fun to program, but this wasn’t really my favorite feature.
Not surprisingly, my favorite feature was the “skinlist” I put in, allowing server operators even more freedom to pick skins for their server than the old “skinset” allowed them. This feature let CTF finally have the variety of skins of DM but without the out-of-control shadowy skins, and still maintaining CTF’s regulated skin colors to prevent confusion.
If clans wanted to, they could make unique skins for each of their members, in red and blue jerseys, and release CTF skin paks. Ideally, tournament servers would then have these skin paks, and allow clans to use their own skins throughout their matches, no matter whether they were red or blue. Kind of like football teams with multiple jerseys.
Dakota: This may be a misconception on my part, but I don’t see the same fervor in the fans of LM CTF that I saw surrounding the popular mods in Quake 1. There were dozens of clans dedicated exclusively to ThunderWalker, and there is still a large group of CTF fans that refuse to play CTF in Quake 2. Do you think this reflect a difference in LM CTF and the people that are drawn to it, or is it just a difference in the Quake and Quake 2 communities? It just seems like Battle of the Sexes and Weapons Factory have stronger support among players, even though they have a tenth of the servers that LM CTF has. There just doesn’t seem to really be that many LM CTF clans, tournaments, and webpages, at least when compared to the popular CTF mods of last year.
Jormungard: I suppose I might be in the unique position to contradict your view. While the original release of CTF was a unique event as it was one of the first major mods for a 3D shooter, and Quake 2 mods are old hat by comparison, I’ve seen far more than my share of crazed LMCTF fans. I ran my own LMCTF 3.0 server for a time on my machine from work — it was my test server named “Valhalla”. The clan, “Doom Troopers”, now the top rated LMCTF clan on the OGL, was formed on my server while I was watching. I have to say that this was a very inspirational experience — to see people so mad about playing your game, that they create their own clan merely to practice your mod.
The OGL (Online Gaming League) lists 51 clans in their open clan league, 19 in their modem league, and 7 clans in their European league. Some of the clans bear a strikingly Norse resemblence in their names, such as “Odin’s Soldiers”, while other have their own LMCTF sites, such as Newbies Revenge “Newbies” web site. “Clan Heymoe”, a respected older clan that participated with “Loki’s Minions” in the second season of the QWHPCL a year ago, now host their own LMCTF servers, and are now playing in the OGL in the LMCTF open league.
There are at least two other LMCTF leagues running right now, and more to come soon. And to top if off, we have more fan sites than we can properly keep track of. Some of the best of them are listed on our web page, specifically the ones that either have add-ons, or strategy guides. “The Rainbow Bridge”, “Flag Noise”, “Ragnarok”, and “The Guerrilla” are all exclusively LMCTF sites that have grown big enough to now be hosted on Captured.com alongside LMCTF itself. Nachos, both a prominent server and a web site, contains a bulletin board for player feedback. Newbies likewise is a web site for the server of the same name. Most recently, a few clanrings for LMCTF have popped up, such as PMS-QBitch’s, which she hosts from the same site where she runs an LMCTF reference site.
Along with 5 servers that have volunteered to host LMCTF clans, 2 add-on model paks, 3 add-on skin paks, tons of add-on sound paks, and over a dozen online reviews of LMCTF, I would say that their is not only plenty of fervor for LMCTF, but almost too much. For a time, I was receiving several hundred emails every day from fans asking questions about new releases or volunteering opinions. This is one of the major reasons you no longer see my name or my email address on the web page anymore — I couldn’t get any work done with all the volume of excited players’ mail. Even LM_Surt, our clan leader, has now become swamped with requests from players wanting to join our clan.
Dakota: LM CTF is unique in that it has been successful in attracting a large following without really modifying the basic gameplay of CTF. I mean, there are many great features of the mod, like the radio sounds, new levels, heaps of skins, and tons more. However, despite all of these features, the game is still basically capture the flag with the same runes/techs/artifacts, same physics, and same gameplay. Would your time would be better spent on a game that offered a significant difference, such as Midnight CTF or the dozens of runes in Creeper CTF? Or do think it is enough to create a high quality version of a mod that already exists?
Jormungard: I suppose my view of CTF, ironically, may be somewhat similar to Zoid’s. New runes and features can be fun to play with, but eventually you want to come back to playing regular CTF. LMCTF is about allowing players to have a choice about playing CTF, and to keep them from getting too caught up in the implementation details. LMCTF mirrors Q2CTF so that if players want to play the CTF they know and love, but have a preference about small details such as the grappling hook or runes, they can choose to switch brands of CTF without abandoning the gameplay itself.
I think there is a lot of pressure on Zoid to make the end-all be-all of CTF’s and the foundation for all other CTFs out there. This means, inevitably, that people who disagree with the slightest part of Q2CTF either have to suffer, or make their own incremental mod that fixes the one issue they don’t like, and this just fragments the community.
By offerring an entirely rewritten CTF from a different direction, but maintaining the same gameplay, we help support more CTF players than before. When LMCTF came out and servers popped up, the average daily number of Q2CTF servers didn’t go down — it in fact continued climbing as before.
In a sense, there is less pressure on Zoid to enhance Q2CTF, allowing him to do his more important job of enhancing and porting Quake 2. After all, there wouldn’t be any Linux or Solaris machines to port LMCTF to if Zoid hadn’t ported Quake 2 to these platforms first. In this sense, as well as the flattery of immitation, LMCTF works to further Zoid’s original vision more than compete with it.
Dakota: If you don’t think you should alter the gameplay, which I would imagine you don’t, what contributions do you feel LM CTF has made in the development of CTF? Players will look at the off-hand grapple and say “Expert CTF pioneered that”…what have you pioneered in LM CTF?
Jormungard: There is more to pioneering than merely a list of new features. Yes, Expert CTF had the offhand grapple before LMCTF, but where did it really originate? It doesn’t really matter, as Expert is what really brought the feature to the table, much the way that Zoid didn’t create the first grappling hook, but he brought it into the public eye. It’s possible we weren’t the first to create team sounds, but I think the style and quality of the integration with our mod is what makes it stand out as a feature of ours. Likewise, I don’t know who first came up with displaying a team players’ name on your hud when you have them in your sites, but what’s important is we took a gamble on this feature and it paid off. In the end, your mod suffers as much from other people’s unpopular features as from your own unique ones. In 4.0, we gambled on a graphical compass feature, and it has seemed to pay off.
Many of our features are unquestionably unique. We not only allowed people to choose their own skins on each team, but for the server to pick which skinset they wanted. We were the first to have flag pedestals, to help players find bases, and info_positions on maps, to help map makers intelligently name rooms for use in text replacement strings. We were the first to have animating runes, and to display a self portrait of a player in the upper right corner. We were the first mod for Quake 2 to have a maplist for the server, as well as the first CTF to allow people to mix and match models and skins at will using the “skinslist”.
In the end, though, what we really pioneered was the idea of making CTF an audio and visually rich experience without losing the atmosphere of a serious combative environment. Are we truly innovative? I don’t know. The players must decide. I should say, however you look at us, we do owe a thanks to the mods that came before us and inspired us to become what we have: ThunderWalker for its sound rich environment, Expert CTF for it’s balanced features and superior grapple, All-Star’s wonderful collection of maps, and of course, Zoid’s original CTF for starting everything and defining what CTF really is.
Dakota: You have been very successful in getting LM CTF supported on on-line gaming services, even ones that are also running the official version from id. What do you think is attracting these gaming services? Are the levels the selling point, or is it the entire package?
Jormungard: To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I think it really comes down to the people who run the services and their preferences. LMCTF 4.0 is certainly newer than the official id version, and thus, people may not be tired of it yet. Inevitiably, players will tire of LMCTF, and move on to something new. Eventually, LMCTF will be forgotten as I will be, but in the meantime, it’s all be quite fun. While I now have the opportunity to make games professionally, there is something unique to being able to design the games yourself, and truly make a game yours.
Dakota: Der Kommisar mentioned that work was already underway for the next version of LM CTF. What can we expect with this version? More levels, more features, more tools for the server administrator? What does the future hold for LM CTF? You have spent 1998 developing a great version of CTF for Quake 2; can we expect a new version of LM CTF for Quake Arena when it hits the shelves? Do you have any plans to branch out into games from other companies? Will you ever try to market the title commercially, or will it remain freeware?
Jormungard: I really don’t know what the future of LMCTF will be. This is an issue still very much up in the air. LMCTF has always been player-feature based. When the head of “Flag Noise” wanted and easy way for making new sounds without having to have both male and female ones, I coded what was needed. When players demanded an offhand hook, we put one in. When players complained about weapon balance, we tinkered, and when they wanted it just to be a feature, we put that in too.
Right now, players seem pretty content with LMCTF, with the exception of Eraser Bot support. We’ve planned to put that in, but as I just started a new job, I’ve been a little short on time. As for future possibilities, some people have asked us to to a TeamFortress clone, but I’m not sure we could really do this mod justice. We did LMCTF because we play CTF, and we know how it should be. None of the core developers are TF players, so I don’t think we could truly put our hearts into it.
Other than that, the future of LMCTF is in id’s hands. If Quake Arena is released with C DLL’s as Quake 2 was, we will likely port the game. If it is done in Java, as John Carmack keeps threatening, it may get ported, but I don’t think it will be done by me unless John asked me to, and I doubt he would.
LMCTF Development team will let the community know when we have any concrete plans. But in the meantime, I think we’d like to take a little break and actually play some Quake for a change.