Arrangement Interview

[Modinformer] Shawn – aka “Deadrawkstar”:

To kick things off, how are all of you doing today?

[Arrangement] Claudio – aka “Sysop“:
I am totally great, thanks for asking, you?

[Arrangement] Jonathan – aka “RED_NED”:
It’s 11pm here in the UK, but I’ve had a gazillion coffees so I’m really awake, hehe…

Dead:
Heh, I’m good thanks, I actually have an energy drink in front of me so I’m wired as well.

Why don’t you all give us a rundown of who you are and your roles in Arrangement?

[Arrangement] Yannick:
Well, I’m a mapper and joined 11 years ago, But since then, I’ve learned alot – modeling, sound editing, and texturing.

Jon:
I’m RED_NED, mapper and general dogs body for the mod.

Sysop:
Well, I am Claudio Ficara, developer/designer and my role in Arrangement is being the main creator and responsible for everything that goes in and out. My tasks are story writing, casting, programming, GFX, scripting, animations and some occasional modelling. Oh, and level design.

[Arrangement] Emanuel aka “Nolito”:
I am Emanuel Herrera aka “Nolito”, and I’m the assistant (If you can say) mod leader.
Sysop basically does everything, and we all take credit for it :D

Dead:
Heh, that’s the way to do it, add it to your portfolio too. :D

And why don’t you give us a rundown of your mod, Arrangement?

Sysop:
Well, would be hard for me to give a description of the mod without making it personal,but I’ll do my best. Well, Arrangement is a Half-life 1 total conversion about a person who is recruited for work in a new government agency created with the purpose of fighting terrorism.
that, basically.

Dead
:

And what do you want to accomplish with your mod – what do you want the fans to get out of it?

Jon:
for me, one of the big draws of the mod were the extra features that sysop added to the game
Sysop:
I want the people experience a very good single player story, with lots of characters, locations. That’s something I didn’t see on half-life and wanted to add my two cents.
Actually, the project started with other name: Arrange Mode, and there was a big lack of story
so, once the project did grow up, I started to write everything possible.

Dead:

So it was originally going to be just a game-play mod that would add alot of high quality features?

Sysop:
The mod, at first, was about some random character in Black mesa – his role was to investigate hazardous materials, since he was part of a government then, terrorists wanted to get their hands on these materials for bad purposes and then it was going to be like… black mesa + terrorists + new weapons + zombies, like that did sound interesting at the beginning, that’s why I received good response and that’s why the project did grow up however, nothing of that made sense I changed my mind when I was more experienced on the engine, and more experienced in tools, etc. So, I thought I could do better that did bring up a name change, Arrange Mode to: Arrangement Letters and words are more or less the same and also the word Arrangement makes more sense since it’s related with the story (that is, the character doing an Arrangement with that agency).

Dead:

So, when did you pick up Emanuel and Jonathan – were they on the team from the beginning, or did they join later?

Sysop:
Emanuel has been here since the beginning, Emanuel gave me lots of help, mainly on weaponry because when I started I was 17 and didn’t know too much about weapons and how the world worked in general :P
Jonathan is another bright mind I found on Arrangement’s forums, he appeared from nowhere, showing some content he was making for spirit of half life (if I am not wrong).

Jon:
Yeah, that’s pretty much right.

Sysop:
I asked if he could help us for a single mission, and here we are. What he did, however is more than a single mission. He helped and helps in tons of ways.

Dead:

When you started the mod, did you ever expect as much praise you’ve gotten?

And i admit, it deserves it, what you’ve done with Half Life’s dated engine has blown my mind.

Sysop:
LOL, no, never expected so what this project gave me is actually a lot. Even a job in a kick-ass company, but I don’t like to talk about myself :P
Yes, what most of the people see is the graphics and stuff, but I am somewhat happy that people are missing the main point, which is the story line :)

Dead:

With the mod, what’s been the biggest challenge so far?

Sysop:
Good question…
Perhaps the biggest challenge is to keep up with it,it’s a project I am working in since I was… 17, 18.. and that’s like 7, 8 years, and I’m 25. And there was times when I couldn’t work on it because of external issues. The problem is not to go slow, the problem is to stop, and since I am devoted to this project, I don’t see problems in the future.

Dead:
Wow, that’s alot of time invested.

Ian:

What was it like making everyone think Arrangement was dead?

Sysop:
Oh, that was a Aprils fool that went too far. :P I sent mails then apologizing. Yeah, got tons of emails asking me and stuff, silly me :(

Dead:
I think I escalated it a bit because i fell for it. In my defense, the article looked legit.

Emmanuel:
A white lie.

Ian:
This demonstrates the value of the end of article line “April Fools everyone.”

Dead:

What would you like to add to the mod – if you had no restrictions.

Sysop:
Another good question.
Engine wise: I’d like to extend limits, we did reach many limits and had to do workarounds to solve those. Show very large cities and landscapes is something I really wish people wise: A modeller… to recreate models. That would be heaven.

Emmanuel:
The sizes of the maps – to make it feel more open, and give a better player experience.

Ian:
What would you say was your biggest bit of growth in the mod production, what would you call your biggest leap forward in the mod?

Jon:
For me the biggest growth was bump-mapping and detail textures. this means you can let the textures do the work of adding detail to levels and keep the actual polygon limit down (which the hl1 engine isn’t very good at handling) oh and i go weak at the knees for the rope feature LOL

Sysop:
I can’t exactly pinpoint when the project started to grow, but I can cite a few things:

1-Yannick’s arrival, he started to create levels and help me on incredible ways
2-The forums and the website: thanks to those I received tons of help and the project did grow and continuously does thanks to everyone there
3-Jon’s help. It was a big boost of help and we started to develop things (and finalize things) in different ways

It’s hard to not give names, but we project started to grown when more people started to work on it, somehow oh, what RED_NED is nice, but that’s more graphical wise

The project also started to grow too when I got tons of experience on programming, then, I started to put that experience on the project and new features emerged.

Jon:
The rope feature is a little entity sysop made to have ropes in levels, it’s a small feature but as a mapper I love it.

Sysop:
Project also started to grow too when I got tons of experience on programming, then, I started to put that experience on the project and new features emerged.

Jon:
You can see how sysop’s answer was mod related and mine was from a selfish mappers point of view :)

Dead:
I really like the amount of detail in the mod;

What made you want to push the engine so much instead of just adding features to Half-Life?

Sysop:
Details… hmm, that’s an issue with mod’s theme which is ‘realism’ and me. That I am a bit perfectionist. So, a warehouse full of clutter or a rainy forest must look the best as it can. But also, I don’t forget that is a game, so sometimes we choose fun over realism.

Dead:
If you’ve been keeping tabs on Cry of Fear – that’s another mod that looks really good.

What do you guys think about that.

Sysop:
Yep, I know the guys and I know James since… 2006 or so, we helped each other time to time, Well, as all I sincere I am, I think they are doing a good job but horror mods aren’t my cup of tea. Horror games in general, I don’t like those. I see same situations, enemies over and over again without adding new features. But I trust the developers from Cry of Fear. Also, what they did on Afraid of Monsters was nice and the ending was a nice twist that I really liked.

Emmanuel:
I like modding Half-Life because it’s challenging.

Jon:
One thing I always do is look at recent games released for inspiration, not old Half-Life maps. That helps make the game look more modern i suppose.

Dead:

Whats your inspiration for the mod.

Jon:
I guess mine is really that the tools available to a mapper like me, Sysop has such enthusiasm for the project and provides us with great opportunities to make maps.
I <3 making it for you man! *hugs sysop* haha.. Emmanuel:
In my case… action films, many of the ideas proposed, out of them.

Sysop:
I think that, for the story, at least, I always like to put on someone else shoes. That reveals lots of stuff you easily miss. That ended up with a character story somehow touchy and, sometimes, a bit personal. For levels and such, it’s always great to watch action scenes from great movies. The feel you get by watching Heat, for example, is something I wish to feature. Other games, of course, helps to add tons of ideas.
Inspiration comes from everywhere, actually, personally, I am a sponge.

Dead:
A question for Emanuel; I’m just curious, you said that action films inspire you,

What are some of your favorite action films?

Emmanuel:
That’s a very difficult question, one of the best ones I saw was “Black Hawk Down”.

Sysop:
Oh, speaking about movies and such, I was a bird nerd of Matrix and loved Max Payne, that why I added slow-motion on Half-Life. Worked so horrible and we ended up taking it out, I regret so.

Dead:
After I saw that there’s no multiplayer modes- you mention that networking works

Does this mean there’s going to be Co-op?

Sysop:
Well, networking works, we didn’t touch that, problem is how the game is being developed, and that’s thinking on the single player version which is our original idea.
Co-op, for the time being, is not being developed, but we didn’t discard the idea
like, after some months the project is released, I might go nuts and some weird entity will posses me and I could get a co-op working in a week, and for the record, I LOVE coop games, playing with a friend is an awesome thing, it reminds me of my childhood.

Jon:
Yeah I don’t think coop would work in the single player campaign I have a lot of maps that could be converted to Arrangement as ‘skirmish’ style maps with no coherent plot but I don’t know if I will get them completed.

Dead:

Could you tell me about the voice acting?

Sysop:
Yes, there’s lots of voice acting there’s constant voice narration from the character like… Dexter, anyone saw the TV show?when it comes to feelings, character needs to express those, otherwise is hard to guess hard in a movie, even hard in a game so, I thought the narration would help greatly to transmit feelings to evoke feelings on the player.

Dead:
Ahh, so it’s kind of like Sin City in that aspect.
So, it’s clear Max Payne is a influence on you guys,

Will there be any diving; or stunts?

Sysop:
No, no diving or stunts. However there are dives and crazy moves in cut-scenes like rappelling down, and jumping from building to building.

Dead:
Half life doesn’t support dynamic shadows natively,

Any chance you’ll attempt to add the feature?

Sysop:
We actually had a version with working stencil shadows I have a video of that. We removed the feature because of it needed an additional .dll file. that opengl32.dll that comes with Paranoia mod, which people are crazy about. However there’s a chance we’ll add shadow maps, shadows like you see in HL2. That does not need weird .dll’s :D

Dead:

As modders, what are your favorite mods, and your least favorites?

Sysop:
Well, I do hate a few mods here and there, but I can’t point my fingers since I know people who did those worked hard and spent time on those, but there are some situations and some stuff they make you experience which makes me go out and assassinate their asses off

Jon:
Haha my favorite mod, hmmm… Day of Defeat when it was first released was amazing, and I loved that game. I’m really glad that mod took off and became popular
I cant really say i hate a mod, because its just something someone made for free. I guess lazy mods that don’t really add anything to the game are pretty pointless but I don’t really hate em.

Dead:

From what I understand you’ll be conveying the story of the mod with narration and cut-scenes, any other methods?

Sysop:
We also, occasionally, use some text or hidden media, but most of the story goes in a narration or cut-scene way. We try not to use text since bores people.

Dead:

Furthermore; Who all will be doing voice acting? Just your character or are there others? And will other characters follow you around as a companion – similar to how Alyx does in Half Life 2

Sysop:
The story is based around the main character who you’ll be playing – Fred Thompson, but there are more secondary and important characters too. But yes, you get the chance to play with other characters.Sometimes the story context changes, and you end up playing with people you are supposed to hate.

Dead:

I suppose they get killed off? Or do they get to live happily ever after?

Sysop:
A few get killed, a few disappear, a few…. I won’t spoil it too much.

Dead:

So what all graphics modifications have you done in Arrangement?

Jon:
Lol, there’s loads…

Sysop:
I can’t really remember, perhaps someone else could help. :P
I should open up and check the mod, since, yes, there are lots of graphics enhancements we did that we just forgot… :P
I should point out that a few of those features were done by other people; blur, bump mapping and particle systems.
Emmanuel:
Blur, Bump Maps, Particle Systems, Ropes, Wires, Raindrops on the screen, a New Hud….

Jon:
Yeah, alot can be done with the Goldsource Engine, a few enhancements open alot of avenues for creating something cool.

Dead:

What are your personal favorite features; regarding graphics?

Jon:
The best graphics i like are ones that were previously hard or system intensive to do – like the ropes for instance. Oh, the LOD system is really handy too

Dead:

The community on the forums help out alot too?

Sysop:
Yes, i owe these guys alot – they help in tons of ways, specially on the comments and on the beta-testing they do. Te time they spend is very valuable, needed and, of course, appreciated.

Dead:

So, describe me a typical work process, from the suggestion on the forum, to finally implementing it into the mod.

Sysop:
Well, initially, it depends on if it’s needed or not. So we start from there, then depending on the area of work, some of the guys do it. Once it works, we all test it, and then showcase it on the forum, but if we can make the testers try it, we do that first. So it happens first internally, then on the forums. I rely on the forums alot.

Dead:

So, would you like to mention any of the members of the forums?

Sysop:
Hmm, there are alot and I might miss someone… I could mention the people who help alot though, and have helped. The active core is composed by only a few guys, but there are guys who have helped, for example Rich Douglas – who did the music for Arrangement. So come of the members who’ve helped alot are Yannick, Pablo Garcia, Saxon, GhostSoldier, Foxtrop, KillerZeta, Shepard, and d3ads, that’s most of them.

Dead:

Did any of you have any previous experience before arrangement?

Sysop:
Good question, very very. I think I don’t have previous experience, to be all honest, before Arrangement. It was a fun start, perhaps by accident, I asked a friend of mine for a disk, and he gave me a wrong one, in that one there was World-craft (old name for a level editor to make Half-Life maps). I picked up because of curiosity, I discovered I could do levels. I started to do maps, then programming, and here I am.

Jon:
I’ve been mapping since, Half-Life came out, but never worked on anyone else’s mod before I made a silly mod for my friend called ‘Half-Assed’ about a red neck fighting aliens but that mod is long lost and probably all for the better :D

Dead:

Describe your dream date?

Jon:
I would take Sysop on a date.

Sysop:
Dunno, I am not a guy who dreams about dates and stuff like that, not romantic I am, guessing.. Jon, LOL.

Yannick:
You not romantic? Sysop and my sister. What????

Jon:
Well i have blow-up betty in the closet.

Dead:
You have to answer :D

Sysop:
Yannick’s sister, yeah, we used to chat a lot. :D

Whew…. *wipes sweat from the face* That was one hell of an interview… took longer to edit this all than to do the actual interview. (3 hrs to take the interview).

So, why don’t you go ahead and visit all the arrangement pages, and let them know what you think about the mod.

Moddb:

http://www.moddb.com/mods/half-life-1-arrangement

Official Site:

http://am.half-lifecreations.com/

Forum:

http://am.half-lifecreations.com/forums/index.php

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