I managed to have a chat with Thobias Fast AKA Forsete, the maker of The Evasion, a recent Half-Life 1 mod release.
I ask my now standard questions.
Hi, thank you for taking the time to chat with me.
Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
My name is Thobias Fast and I was born in Sweden back in ’87. I’ve lived here throughout all these years though my parents and I as well as my siblings visited the US back in ’93. We lived there for about a year and a half so the English language was never too much of an issue during my school days.
How long have you been playing games?
Since the nineties, more specifically during the later months of ’93. Started off with the SNES console and I was pretty much hooked after that.
What got you into modding?
Hard to say. Off the top of my head I would say Unreal Tournament 99 when my brother and I tried the editor that shipped with the game called UnrealEd. Roughly guessing this was probably in late ’99 or very early 2000, can’t say for sure. Either way, we had no idea what the hell we were doing so after following a few tutorials we quickly built a few test maps, most of it were immensely ugly and drab, until we finished our first deathmatch map. We never released it on the internet but I remember storing it on a Zip disc. It’s probably lost in a humongous debris of crap, untouched by man for the past 13 years.
How did you learn to map?
For the Hammer editor I had some issues getting the hang of it, mostly due to poorly written tutorials and lack of patience. For many years I preferred UnrealEd but during recent years I’ve fallen back to Hammer especially now when I’ve gotten more acquainted with it.
Have you made and/or released any other SP maps?
Yes, for Half-Life I released a small map called “Facility” back in May of 2009. I remember you uploading it on PlanetPhillip back then and most people seemed to like it despite its short length and rather anticlimactic ending. One could say it was merely a test map for any upcoming stuff although it would take another two years for that to happen. Heh.
Now let’s talk about The Evasion. What made you decide to make it?
I’ve always wanted to make a singleplayer modification for Half-Life even way back when I played Half-Life for the first time. You could say Dark Operations, a singleplayer mod for Opposing Force, was a large inspiration for it. Though they’re similar I didn’t want to completely rip off Barry’s work so despite the similarities in the introduction scenes I decided to stray into a different direction.
That it would take so long is rather unfortunate of course but that’s life I guess.
What made you decide to use the GoldSOurce engine?
I’ve always been a huge fan of GoldSrc as well as Half-Life. I’m not too fond of mapping for newly released games as I tend to appreciate the older more simplistic look of games from the nineties and early 2000. They have a certain charm to them, you know, that these new games lack. Nowadays I feel it’s all about massive amounts of shaders and ultra-hi textures with a gazillion particle effects on screen at once and less about interesting level design.
How long did it take?
Mapping started slowly back in July 2011 and finished in January 4th 2013. I had some hiatuses during the years with a big one in 2012 lasting months. Unfortunately, stuff like that happens especially when you lack confidence in the project.
Was it your first mod?
How much planning did you do?
I usually don’t do much planning; it’s definitely one of my weaker aspects when mapping. The story was pretty much finalized during the early days though so I had a general goal when starting off. Usually I just design the maps as I go without much planning.
How much beta testing did it have?
Two people helped out and provided some great feedback resulting in a more polished released. There were a couple of glitches I found later on which annoyed me since they didn’t occur during my initial testing. Stuff like that is almost always inevitable though regardless of how much testing you do. Grr.
Did it go through many iterations?
Well, it was originally supposed to be much shorter, ending just after you made it to the large entrance, but I noticed that it’d be incredible short so I decided to lengthen it by a large margin. You know, looking back I’m very glad I did.
What have you learnt from making it?
Basically, never give up regardless of how tough something is. During development I ran into some tough spots but decided to keep on going despite these issues and I’m glad I did.
If you could go back in time to when you first started, what would you do differently?
Probably extend the Xen portion of the mod. I’ve always felt that it was lacking something. The second map was also a bit disappointing when compared to the later maps. It was a bit linear as well as very cramped and short in length. I went back a couple of times during development to this map polishing it just to meet the standard of the other maps.
What are you most happy with about the mod?
Not a whole lot, I’m usually very self-critical of my own stuff. But if I’d have to say probably the the large entrance in the third map (those glass ceilings were a pain to construct) as well as the final map.
What are you least happy with about the mod?
As aforementioned the Xen map as well as the entire second map due to its linearity and cramped design. I thought a lot about completely redesigning the second map but ultimately I decided against it as in the end I just wanted to release the mod.
Do you play a lot of single player maps and mods?
Oh yes, pretty much every maps or mods that I can find. It’s amazing how much content there is out there.
What are your favourites?
Ahh, can’t list them all but off the top of my head I’d say USS Darkstar, Edge of Darkness, Poke 646, Redemption, Sweet Half-Life, Point of View as well as the Xeno Project duo.
Are you going to make more single player maps?
Most likely. Perhaps even a sequel? We’ll see.
Do you read all of the reviews and comments on various sites?
Yes, most definitely. Reading what other people think of one’s work is important as well as interesting. Even though one person might not like a particular map or mod they might write something useful and constructive that you can take into account next time you start a project of yours.
What are your ambitions or plans regarding modding for the future?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll probably keep on modding for GoldSrc as well as for other older games.
Well, thanks for taking the time to asnwer the questions. Anything you want to add?
Yeah — Valve, take your thumb out of your butt and announce Half-Life 3 already!