I managed to steal a few minutes to ask the Strider Mountain Team a few questions.
Could you start by introducing yourselves and explaining a little about your roles within the team and perhaps tell us about some of your previous released work.
Sure. I’m Peter (Baltic Forever) and I was the Project Lead for the Strider Mountain mod.
It was my job to oversee the making of the mod from start to finish. My tasks included setting up meetings with the rest of my team, deciding on game content.
My name is Leon Brinkmann (SPY or also known as SPY-maps) and am 43 years old, and I live in the Netherlands, Europe. About 7 years ago I started to play pc games, and was immediately very enthusiastic. All my life I am very creative, if I may say so myself, and I always liked to make cartoon books and some small 8 mm animation movies.
Around the ’80 I wanted to become a professional comic book maker, there where 3 books published of mine, but already then I knew that although it was a great job I wouldn’t make much money out of it (one of the worst paidd jobs). So I became a professional freelance illustrator, and that’s how I earn my livings the last 20 years or so.
When I played Duke Nukem for the first time I knew that this was what I wanted to do, to make sp-maps. I made around 70 sp-maps with Duke Nukem, of which I lost most of, and after that I started to make sp-maps with Shadow Warrior and Napalm. But these 3 games where made with the Building engine, what couldn’t give a real 3d impression.
Then came Medal of Honor, and I was so impressed that I started to learn mapping with that. From there I went on to Quake2, and Unreal Tournament’02. Then Soldiers of Fortune2 was released and specially the option of dismember players in it (you could shoot a arm, head or legs of, haha) made me want to map with that game. It was then that I met Baltic.Forever in some mapping forum, this will be around 2003 I believe, and from there we have worked closely together on many projects.
Always sp, personally I don’t like mp gaming. Baltic has already given a list of the sp-mappacks/mod that we made, so I will not name them again, but they can all be downloaded from Baltic sites and other mirror. The last 2 years, after the release of our huge 15 sp-maps HL2 mod, called Coastline to Atmosphere we decided to not make any more maps with HL2.
The game is great, but after 19 sp-maps I had worked with every texture, sound, model etc so many times, that I started to get sick a bit of working on with it. Baltic started to work on his site and I made in the mean time 2 Prey sp-maps, 2 Fear sp-maps, (of which one is lost due to window problems) and 1 Call of Duty2 sp-map. Of course could I always ask Baltic for help with these last few maps, what I did many times. He is like my personal mapping trouble shooter.
Hey PlanetPhillip readers, my name is Dennis aka cubedude89, I’m lead modeler for Strider Mountain. Other small things I do include: face poser, VGUI, and being the biggest double poster on our dev forum. I’ve previously released HyperCube: Source and Jail Escape.
Hello I’m TB Biggs, the Marketing/Website Developer. In addition to the core team here, we also worked with a very talented composer for original music named David Mason.
How exactly did the team come about and what gave you the idea of starting a new mod?
Cube: Wow its been 15 months now, its hard to remember. I knew that I wanted to work with Leon and Baltic! TB Biggs became the sugar on top of that recipe.
Spy: I was looking around for a new game to map with, I hoped that Crysis would be released sooner, but it will not be released before July ’07 in Europe, so I needed a game to map with in the mean time. Then we decided to make one more small HL2 mod, TB B and Cubedude already visited sp-mods.com for a while and we all had the same idea, a group project with a new sp-mod. that’s how it started.
Baltic: I believe that you (Phillip) gave us the original idea of starting a new mod. You and TB Biggs discussed a possible storyline which we liked, and things just went from there.
As for how the team came about. Well we decided that this mod needed something different which meant we needed a modeller. I posted a job application on sp-mods.com, and Cudedude89 was the first to reply. After doing a quick background check on him, I realised he was the right person for the job. TB Biggs was in Marketing, so I gave him the job of Marketing and PR for the mod.
TBBiggs: We wanted to combine our skills and learn to work as a mod team. I’ve explained this more below.
It’s important for PP readers to know that you (Phillip) had a lot to do with the original storyline. The team submitted multiple storylines and ideas. In the end, we voted on the StriderMountain concept because it had some different ways we could take the player on a fun journey.
What made you choose the Source engine? Did you consider the CryEngine2?
Spy: It was like I said above, we knew exactly through previous projects how the HL2/hammer editor worked, so it was easy for us to make one good mod again with it. For sure that I/we will start modding with the CryEngine2 as soon as it is released
Cube: We couldn’t wait for the CryEngine2 to be released at the time, so we just went with Source. We wanted to be done with SM by the time Crysis was released.
TBBiggs: What was originally going to 3-4 maps has now become an 11 map mod. It’s just a lot of fun working together as a team and playing HL2: Deathmatches against each other on the weekends!! Cube and Baltic whoop Leon and I!
Tell me a little about your visions for the gameplay?
StriderMountain is all about the journey and the need to locate the source of the Striders. Interestingly, if you look at our almost 90+ screenshots on our website, there is not 1 screen with a Strider in it. Hmmm.
Spy: Personally I like heavy firefight scenes, the heavier the better. but there where some people who complained about how hard CtoA was, so we decided to keep it a bit down in this new mod, but not to much, you still need to fight for your live.
There was some comments about CtoA being quite hardcore. Will SM be similar in this regard?
A million combine here. a million combine there…who calls that hardcore. Actually, Spy has addressed the reason for the difficulty in CtoA. StriderMountain game play will play true to the level a player chooses.
Baltic: We (SPY and I) have a trademark, which is hard core gaming. But this mod is a bit toned down from our previous work. But don’t think that this is going to be a stroll in the park. Because you will be in for a surprise.
What can you reveal about the story? Specifically is it linked to the gameplay?
Look two questions up for the answer.
There’s little doubt that Leon is a prodigious mapper. Have any non-released maps been included in the mod?
Yes, Leon is a prodigious mapper. No non-released maps have been included. But we have some interesting developer videos; for example, a video of Leon talking his way through a map in Hammer and we see a glimpse of how he goes about doing his art. This and other videos will be available on release of the game.
Spy: No, simply because there are no maps to implement, all the maps that where made by me for HL2 are released. it happens sometimes that I need to delete a part of a map, simply because it doesn’t work well, or doesn’t look good. I never save those parts, just delete them. so, even if I would like to use old maps, it simply is not possible because there aren’t any.
What can you tell me about new content, besides maps, of course. Any new weapons, sounds, textures, vehicles or models planned?
Being that we’ve made multiple HL2 mods, it was important to add some different stuff. Most of the weapons are non-HL2. Our composer is developing some incredible custom music. Almost all non-HL2 textures. I almost included a custom vehicle (long story) and yes lots of new models for the levels.
I see you have designated a specific person for PR and Marketing. That’s unusual for a team so small. What benefits do you think that will bring to the final release?
Baltic: I suppose it is a bit unusual for a small team to have their own professional Marketing personnel. But TB Biggs is also in charge of Marketing and PR for my new website so having him as a valued member of the team is a privilege.
Having him on board should give the mod maximum coverage and he is really good at what he does. You just need to look at the Strider Mountain website to see what I mean.
Cube: Well, he comes over about once a week and cleans my house and takes out the garbage so I can have more time to work on the mod… (I wish haha) No really he is a great help and adds so much to the mod. SM would be very different if TB wasn’t on the team.
TBBiggs: That can be said for all the members. I believe that modding is in a new era. It’s not enough just make a high quality map or mod and put it out and hope for huge download numbers. There’s just way too much good competition in the modding community. Player expectations have and will continue to demand more from mod developers. That being said, I believe that modding needs to be brought to market, much like that of the big game developers (obviously without the same big budget) with a constant flow of new media. In the end, I enjoy my role and working with this incredibly talented team. Oh, and I get to do Cube’s house chores on weekends!
There must be some secrets planned. Any hints you can give us?
Some Easter eggs maybe, mostly as inside jokes from the team. We threw in some funny stuff with the models here and there. The idea is to give the players something fun and perhaps informative after completing the mod.
What games have you been playing during the development of SM and do you think they affected the mod in any way?
We’ve played STALKER, Kane and Lynch, Crysis, Raw Danger, Time Shift, and FEAR expansion pack 1. STALKER has made the most impact to our mod because several of the environmental models were inspired by the game.
Some released mods have given us ideas as well.
Unlike other mods that get announced and then forgotten I’ve no doubt this one will be finished and I almost hate to ask, but do you have a tentative release date?
Yep, Last summer..! Let’s just say the end is in site. We’ll keep PP readers and our website updated with the latest and greatest news.
Do you have many cut scenes planned? Will this be the main story-telling technique?
Spy: Personally I am a real cut scene sucker, I love to make them, and watch them. So, yes, they will be in this new mod also. Most people liked them in CtoA also, just a few people didn’t like them. And they will tell the story indeed, with the help of a voice over.
Yes, Leon and TB love cutscenes for what they do to enhance the stroy. As well as, give the player a break from battle fatigue. There are also some in-game non-cutscene voice acting parts.
It’s perhaps a little early to say, but are they any plans for a sequel?
For the team working on another project, yes. For StriderMountain, no.
Thanks again for you time and is there anything you would like to add?
Baltic: I would just like to thank you for requesting this interview, and I am sure that everyone will enjoy playing Strider Mountain. It’s going to blow your mind.
Spy: I just would like to ask the people to follow the next few weeks out PR campaign and it will all be explained.
We’d like to express our appreciation for the interest in StriderMountain. In the end, we hope players have a great experience as the result of our zillion hours of work.