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Interview with Paul Kiesling of the Dawn of the Reapers mod for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.

Mass Effect

Donut: So who are you? What is Dawn of the Reapers?

Paul Kiesling: My real name is Paul Kiesling. I’m the head and only remaining founder of Dawn of the Reapers, a Mass Effect mod for Sins of a Solar Empire (Rebellion)

Donut: Great, how did you begin the mod? Did you just sit down and start modelling?

Paul Kiesling: It’s actually a pretty funny story, like three years ago I wasn’t a Mass Effect fan at all. Couple of friends of mine and I went out to local bar for a few drinks and kept talking all night about it and I started to play it and fell in love with the universe. I saw after playing it that it would translate well into a game I knew and loved at the time: Sins of a Solar Empire.

Donut: Everyone knows getting drunk is the best source of inspiration, it is how the Bastion came to be after all. So besides translating Mass Effect to Sins of a Solar Empire, what are your main goals for the mod?

Paul Kiesling: I started this wanting to push the SINS engine to its limits, after being given a reality check by my old coder Zombie. What we did is aimed for accuracy. Everything about we do is about aiming for perfection. My co-lead Skyline and I will spend hours fussying about a stupid little detail on skins. We want that immersive experience that our fans love from the ME universe.

Donut: Not enough devs embrace the lore they go off of. So Dawn of the Reapers is starting to really come along, what part of the release are you most excited for?

Paul Kiesling: Cerberus, they were my dream child. When ME3 came out I had to redo everything. I was lost because i had made so many ships and had no idea what to do with them. Cerberus offered me a conduit to responsibly use and hone my imagination and now they are the most completed faction, and looking to be our first completed one. Everything they are has come from my imagination and im actually really proud of that.

Donut: So after release, what features are you excited to add, if any?

Paul Kiesling: I think multiplayer is going to be our big hit, there are unofficial polls all the time about which faction each person wants to play as. Its always split pretty even across the board but like I said before this mods intent is immersion. So having huge fleets duking out over a multiplayer environment i honestly cant wait to see.

Donut: Speaking of fleets, how do you manage the size of the reapers and pure power they hold? I doubt we will be seeing an equal number of reapers to other factions.

Paul Kiesling: Reaper (Faction) fleets will consist of heretic geth, and collector ships as well which will make up of the bulk of the fleet. Reapers (Units) consist of a smaller part put still important part of the fleet acting as flagships and buff units causing your existing units to operate better. The amount of reapers playable in game will not be as immense as ME but still will allote for some pretty pleasing battles. We are having tons of fun just messing around with it in the alpha right now.

Donut: So what unique features of the game can you tell me about that aren’t already in vanilla.

Paul Kiesling: Reaper indoctrination is one we are working on right now

Donut: Can you flesh that out?

Paul Kiesling: Sure, as in ME Reapers broadcast essentially a field that warps the mind of organics bending them to the will of The Reapers as a whole. Thats what we are doing right now in SINS. Reaper units will possess a passive ability that will start convert lower echelons of an opposing fleet as a prolonged battle continues that “taint” will work its way through the ranks from frigate-cruiser-capital ship. Most battles don’t usually last long enough to convert cap ships but if its big and you have enough reaper units you would be surprised what can happen.

Donut: Damn, scary. So moving on from the reapers, the other two factions are the Citadel Alliance and Cerbreus, correct?

Paul Kiesling: Indeed. Citadel Council and Cerberus. Each containing two subfactions that allow for use of different ships and fighting styles.

Donut: Oh? Can you tell us more about the subfactions? Or how they work at least.

Paul Kiesling: Well we kind of played off the ME universe when designing the subfactions. For the Citadel Council we have Paragon and Renegade subfactions.
Just as the player makes the choice in ME1 to save the Destiny Ascension or let it be destroyed that decision affects your titan.
Paragon gets the Destiny Ascension as the titan while renegade awards the Volus Dreadnought, a funny little easter egg we still giggle about in development, there are more changes between each faction but some hasn’t been hashed out yet.

Donut: Glad to hear the Volus finally have taken their rightful position as masters of the military. So now that we are wrapping up, what do you think the defining feature of the mod is?

Paul Kiesling: Asymmetrical game play. We offer different game-play styles for each faction, something that you don’t see to many mods do. Of course for my boys over at Sins of the Prophets.

Donut: Thank you for the wonderful interview, when can we expect to see the mod?

Paul Kiesling: July 13th 2013, thats our estimated date of release

Donut: Hopefully we can talk again then.

Paul Kiesling is the founder and lead developer of Dawn of the Reapers, an up and coming mod for Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. Dawn of the Reapers can be found at http://www.moddb.com/mods/mass-effect-dawn-of-the-reapers

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Interview with Nicolai Aaroe of the MISERY mod for Stalker: Call of Pripyat

MOD_profile_10_01

Donut: Why don’t you start off by telling us about you and the mod.

N. Aaroe: Personally I am not that interesting. What’s interesting is the dev team and its combination, we come from many parts of the world and we coop in such a wonderful pace.
Globalism can work wonders and MISERY is in my opinion a prime example of just that, everyone in the team is really hyped about creating the kind of Stalker that we really love and will be playing for a long time.

Donut: Of course, you have amassed quite the team. Speaking about the kind of Stalker you love, why did you choose the route the mod has taken?

N. Aaroe: Difficulty, sadness, horror and overall ‘misery’ seemed to die out a bit in the Stalker series. SHoC was (IS) such a great game and CoP introduced several interesting aspects, veteran stalker gamers like myself needed to feel that challenging gameplay once again.
However the mentioned aspects of the original game seemed more flat in CoP which generated huge potential for an atmospheric improvement. But ambitions just kept growing and so did the team upon the release of MISERY, a year ago I would never have thought that this mod would have grown into what it is now.
That is only because of a powerful team effort as we all have different skills and ideas.

Donut: So how did the mod begin exactly? By the sounds of it, it was no where near this size not very long ago.

N. Aaroe: It began right after my release of I Work Alone which is now an outdated compilation mod for CoP, I had the idea of making a ‘black version’ of I Work Alone that was to be designed as a hardcore version of I Work Alone.
But as mentioned the ambitions simply kept growing even back then, so it actually made more sense to simply announce a new modding project. That project was given birth as MISERY 1.0 and it is far more quality packed than I Work Alone although it still have its issues, MISERY is a better mod in every sense of the word. And it introduces so much more content that I Work Alone ever did.
The development of MISERY 1.0 was mainly a one man project gathering material from the best modders around the world and combining it into a full concept. MISERY 2.0 is now a team development between me and these modders.

Donut: I remember playing I Work Alone and then MISERY and not realizing they were the same team, interesting. So MISERY 2.0 is coming out, what is the most exciting feature in your mind?

N. Aaroe: Oh man, there are so many! In general we enhanced so many game play elements like having medics charge you money for their work and batteries now serve a purpose, many people ask for screenshots and in game videos but to be honest there is little difference to notice in these things.
The main update from version 1.1 to version 2.0 will be in the depth of it all. When you’ve played an hour you will begin to feel the depth and care that we implemented in almost every aspect, New Ordnance will also take MISERY into the extremes. To be honest I think that we will present the FPS mod that has the greatest weapon diversity ever laid on the table, If everything works out well you are likely to have a full play through without seeing the same weapon twice.

Donut: Very interesting, so after MISERY 2.0 is released, what do you see happening? Where do you want to go after?

N. Aaroe: I really don’t know. To begin with I will start a full play through of MISERY 2.0 when it releases. A play through that involves a lot of role playing. I might decide to take a break from modding afterwards and actually enjoy gaming instead of constantly altering, editing and testing things in an effort to improve things that I don’t like. I will be playing Metro 2034 and see who in the MISERY dev team that is motivated to continue the MISERY concept.
These have been some extremely busy weeks and we all deserve to kick back and actually enjoy the product that we made.

Donut: Well I wish you luck in that, you certainly deserve a break. So earlier you mentioned that players will never see the same weapon twice, would you like to elaborate?

N. Aaroe: Thank you.
Okay, let’s take a Makarov PM. It can be found in a dark corner in a basement. All rusty and corroted but it works and it is free loot/weaponry. This handgun can also be bought in a never before used form for a lot of money. Obviously it rarely jams and it may even have some preinstalled upgrades right from the factory in its modern production line. Later on you might be able to trade a camouflaged version of the Makarov from a Freedomer. Or a lone Stalker that is packing a customized version of a Makarov with enhanced alluminium interiors for light weight. The same gun but in different forms. Most vanilla weapons in MISERY 2.0 will be featured in 3-5 variations.
This gigantic workload has just been implemented and we are now about to test whether this breaks memory consumption in the game or not. It it does we just tone it down a bit. As simple as that.

Donut: Mhmm, sounds good. So one complaint you often got was that the game was too hard or difficult or simply not ‘fun’ enough, how do you respond to these people?

N. Aaroe: This mod is not for everyone. It is not designed for the community, for popularity or any economic gain. It is a product of a Stalker loving team and we just share our mod with the world.
If people hate some challenging aspects of it and it breaks the game for them too bad, but then again, I find myself (and others) time and time again willing to assist on how to edit simple files to shape it more into their personal preferences. A mod will never be perfect. It will never please all of us.
MISERY in particular seems to have its haters as well as its extremely supportive fans.

Donut: A respectable position. Well look at the time, it looks like it’s time to wrap it up. One last question, if you could add one thing to MISERY that you know you won’t get in before the patch comes out, what would it be?

N. Aaroe: Time runs fast when you enjoy a good conversation huh?
I have a long list of those things. If these were to be written in published form I am confident that I would feel the pressure to add them in, but then impatience would arise as the release would have to be prolonged yet again so I think that I will keep these to myself for now. But rest assured that the ideas are there… but is the team for a MISERY 3.0 production (myself included)?
We will have to see about that …

Donut: Thank you for your time and good luck with the mod.

N. Aaroe: I respect people with a mature approach to the world of gaming and the gaming itself, thank you for an interesting interview.
I hope that you find my answers worth your time.

Best regards
Nicolai
/on behalf of the MISERY dev team

Nicolai Aaroe is the lead developer of the award winning mod: MISERY, for the game Stalker: Call of Pripyat. Misery can be found at http://www.moddb.com/mods/stalker-misery

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