As part of the Hazardous Half-Quake Quatridual, event, I was due to have an audio interview with Muddasheep.
Unfortunately, due to our schedules, this is currently not possible.
Instead, I sent him some questions, which he kindly answered. Even if I say so myself, it’s an interesting read.
If you have any questions for him, please add them in the comments and he may, and I stress MAY, pop by and answer them.
So, here we go.
Who the heck are you?
My name’s Philipp, some people know me as muddasheep. I like to create things.
Who were you when you first started making your mods?
When I started working on my first mod Half-Quake (after having made several Half-Life multiplayer and Counter-Strike maps) I was a 15-year-old teenager, who loved to play Half-Life, Quake III Arena, Diablo 2 and Counter-Strike, and whose Winamp list was dominated by Marilyn Manson and songs from The Matrix soundtrack.
Tell me about the other people you work with.
My girlfriend is always the first to try out my latest stuff, and she’s really good at pointing out the things that I’m too lazy to implement or change (she’s sort of my QA lead). Then there’s Blackjack, who is the one I go to for general feedback and input, and Jazzymike (or kent.brockman as he used to be called back in HQ1), who’s good at coming up with dialogue ideas and other silly things that crack me up. I always try to incorporate lots of my friends, i.e. for images used as textures or betatesting. For Halfquake Sunrise, I’ve had TaskBeenden, TheNameless, Vino and Keygen on board to create additional songs for the soundtrack, and Vino (again), LupusRex, my cousin, and Cornettheory doing additional voices.
What got you into modding?
I took a glance at all those custom maps and mods for Half-Life and just tried to create some myself. I’ve always loved to entertain people and this was a new and exciting way to try and do so.
Can you remember the first mod you played?
That must have been an MP mod, either Team Fortress, Action HL, Cold Ice or Firearms. As for SP mods, I suppose either They Hunger or USS Darkstar. I do know that I’ve played almost all mods there were available back then.
What sort of creation routine do you have?
I get ideas seemingly out of nowhere, note them down and try to implement them as soon as I can. With Halfquake being a larger project, my routine consisted of trying to squeeze in at least an hour a day to complete at least one item on my todo list.
Will you ever make a “normal” mod?
I’m bored easily. The things I create are the result of me keeping myself constantly entertained throughout the development time. If I tried to make a normal mod, I’d probably get tired of it within the first ten minutes and throw a hundred grunts at the player for no reason and make the walls break away to reveal some textures that make no sense.
Your releases all seem to come with custom music. Why is that?
I’ve been creating music long before making content for Half-Life, so it was only natural for me to combine these two. (More music can be found at http://tls.muddasheep.com or http://remains.muddasheep.com.)
Are there many “bits” that get cut from the mods?
There were always a few ideas that hit the limits of the HL engine (or the limits of my abilities to implement them), but since I usually don’t give up that easily, there aren’t a whole lot of leftovers. One idea that I keep remembering is the alternate version of the fight against Somos in Halfquake Amen: Basically the whole room around him was supposed to be one rotating entity, and the hallways leading outside wouldn’t simply teleport you (as they do now), rather they would lead outside of Somos’s room into a huge area and you had to jump across several bridges to reach the other rooms. Also, Somos in Halfquake Sunrise was supposed to start as a statue on the wall and break free to attack the player, but I’m lacking the necessary modelling skills, so he’s simply teleporting into the area now.
Would you ever release them?
Ah, now that I think about it, there are two Halfquake Sunrise versions (or alphas, I guess) lying around on my harddrive: the first attempt, which looked too much like Amen, and the second attempt, which had the player running around as a black and white cube, viewing everything from the side, like a platformer. I’ve planned to release some videos in the future at least. As for other unreleased bits, usually if I can’t implement an idea, I delete my attempts, so there’s nothing left to show. Other stuff ends up as a static easter egg somewhere.
How clear a goal do you have before you start?
Usually, my only goal is to simply finish what I start. I’ve learned to not plan ahead because then I don’t feel restriced, and I always go back and change things anyway.
If you could go back in time and remake Half-Quake, what would you do differently?
I would change absolutely nothing, I always think of the mods as being perfectly flawed stepping stones in my learning experience. Half-Quake has always been very personal to me, every area has a memory of my life behind it. It’s like an obscure diary, really. Sometimes I think about whether I should have made it more accessible, less annoying in parts, more appealing in others, but it is what it is: a glimpse into my mind.
You have mentioned that because Source is old now, you would prefer to move to something newer. In all honesty, do you really think that makes much difference? I mean, would you get more people playing because it’s on UDK than if it were on Source?
I realize that lots of people own Half-Life and Half-Life 2, but if you want to just hand out your game, or even try to sell it, there’s always that dependency on the main game that gets in the way. I don’t necessarily believe I will reach a broader audience, but those people who play my games will have one less thing to worry about (like my Flash games, for example).
Have you ever considered going retail? Your mods have a dedicated following, it must have been suggested before.
I have considered it, but I’m in it for the fun. Making money off my games is not my main objective.
Do you follow any rules when making mods?
The only rules I can think of are the limits of the engine. Other than that, I’m pretty much open to anything.
Do you play regular mods for Half-Life or Source?
I’ve played lots of mods, I’m not averting my eyes from something just because it seems regular. There’s always at least one creative solution somewhere that lights up my brain.
Do you prefer SP or MP games? Which ones?
Nowadays, I prefer SP games, or games that I can play co-operatively with my better half. I’m not a fan of multiplayer centric games, I can’t run around the same maps for hours. There’s too much other content, too many fresh experiences waiting for me out there that I can consume instead and have more fun with.
If you had to chose which has influenced you the most would you choose, Literature, Music or Film?
I would choose film because in a way it combines the other two.
Describe your mod style in 20 words or less.
There’s the exit and this is how you don’t get there.
How has modding changed since you started?
My best guess is that since quality expectations are much higher most mods require teams nowadays. There’s a tendency to get people on board to do specific tasks, like programming, mapping, creating or skinning models, or even voice acting. When I started modding I believe there were a lot more mods by mainly one person. One thing definitely hasn’t changed though, and that is the passion mod creators have towards their projects.
How have you changed as a modder?
Half-Life is like a lifelong friend who has told me mostly everything I wanted and needed to know about him. Now, I’m ready to make new friends. I’ve made other games in the past, mind you, but for my next bigger project, I need a new engine, even if it’s just for the sake of learning something new.
With regard to modding, what are you good at?
I guess I’m good at making Halfquake style mods. Or bad, depending on who you ask.
With regard to modding, what are you bad at?
Models. Never been there, never done that.
If I were your fairy Godmother, what new skill or ability related to modding would you wish for?
That would be hilarious. There are no wishes I can think of, thanks to that image in my head.
What is your favourite part of all your mods?
The end of Halfquake Sunrise. I think it’s the least liked part. It’s my special place.
How do you think you would feel if somebody made a tribute mod? Would you feel obligated to finish it.
Technically, The Present was exactly that. There’s also a Minecraft Halfquake map, and a 2D platformer. I always try to finish Halfquake inspired games, I love what people do with the Halfquake ideas.
Have ALL the secrets been found in all your mods, or is there one or two that you haven’t told people about yet?
I’m not sure all secrets have been found in Halfquake Sunrise because I never listed them anywhere. A friend of mine (Actine) has tried to find them all and told me about his findings, but he still missed a handful.
Who is your favourite author?
There are several writers that have greatly inspired me: Ephraim Kishon, Wolfgang Hohlbein, Tanith Lee and Roald Dahl.
Who is your favourite musician?
My early favourites include Beck, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Aphex Twin, Björk, Depeche Mode. Most recently I’ve been listening to Karnivool, Coppelius and Fever Ray.
Who is your favourite film director?
Probably Spielberg, since so many awesome childhood memories are based on movies he created or produced. Apart from his work, one of my favourite movies is Groundhog Day. From the films that I’ve watched more recently, I’d pick Summer Wars.
Tell me something never before revealed about Half-Quake?
Somos is a girl! Just kidding. I guess I could list lots of random trivia that would just bore you to death, but there’s no mindblowing twist or myth surrounding the HQ games.
Where did the Half-Quake name come from?
I was playing Quake on a LAN party, and my friend told me about the movie Cube (I hadn’t seen it yet), and we decided it would be awesome if there were a series of maps with rooms full of challenges. We came up with a few silly combinations, like Cube-Quake, Half-Cube, and so on, and Half-Quake (or Halfquake without the hyphen) stuck. Still sounds silly, but I guess in the end a name’s just a name.
Was there anything I didn’t ask you, that you thought I would?
I thought you were going to ask me about why Half-Quake is so frustrating, but I wouldn’t have been able to come up with a satisfying answer anyway, so I’m glad you didn’t!