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ICI Interview

Postby ReD NeCKersoN » Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:01 pm

ReD - Howdy Spoon & Fakey!
Many of todays fans know very little about you & the rest of the original development team for Western Quake3. We try hard here at the Smokin' Guns website to mention Iron Claw Interactive frequently so that folks will know that there was a gifted team, with a great vision long before the SGP team came along. But simply knowing that a history exists is somewhat empty without actually sharing the tale. Those of us who have been around since the early days still don't know the entire story. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. :)

ReD - Can you give us some background about yourselves?
Spoon - Hi! My real name is Daniel Hofmann and I am 25 years old. I'm studying media informatics at the university of tübingen in germany. My hobbies mainly consist of 3d graphics programming, game development and of course watching the famous spaghetti western movies. 3d graphics is where my study specialization lies. So creating and enlivening new worlds is my passion. This started with Western Quake 3 when I was about 16. Since then I have been working on several 3d graphics engines on my own.
Fakey - Howdy! My real name is Fabian Liedtke and I am 26. I'm also studying media informatics like the "mighty" Spoon but at a different university. Except for the standard hobbies (all kinds of music, movies, computer games and partying) I do a lot of game programming and design discussion with Spoon. I call that a hobby because it's that time consuming ;).
Another "hobby" is my Girlfriend. I especially like watching her play recent computer games while discussing them with Spoon ;). I also do some workout if I am able to avoid wallowing in laziness ;).
(Note to myself: I really should start working out again)

ReD - How did you come to be known by your nicknames?
Spoon - Hehe, you could say that I just couldn't believe it when the little boy in the movie "Matrix" told Neo that there was no Spoon letting me decide to go by the nickname "Spoon" to disprove that ;).
Actually I have been on a LAN-party with some friends of mine (some guys of the ICI-crew also were there). As I had watched the movie one day before and found it to be great, I just chose my player name to be "Spoon" (could have been in CounterStrike). So nothing serious there. But every time since then I have been sticking to it.
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One thing I might add about me really enjoying the first "Matrix" movie (1999) is that I started a Quake 3 mod named "Matrix Quake 3" just before Western Quake. It was never released. That’s because I just had some menu stuff going on there (similar to the menu of Western Quake 3 beta 2, although that was designed by Fakey) and no modified gameplay at all. The first one I talked to about that was Deimos and we had some concerns about the copyrights there. So after some time we just dropped that idea and began to do Western Quake 3.
By the way, I just went to moddb.com and actually found a new mod named "Matrix Quake 3" which seems to be work-in-progress.
Fakey - Well, I can't quite remember but I think it was Deimos who started calling me Fakey. I think it was on a schooltrip in 7th grade. Either we tried not being punished for using the famous english four letter word or we were just too stupid and mispronounced it. So I guess for constantly yelling "fake ya" I got that nickname. But I won't vouch for that - in retrospective there must be a nicer and more mature explanation, which I can't seem to remember.
I remember one situation when I told Deimos that WQ3 was cancelled because we wanted to make XXX Quake3, a modification for adults. I also came up with some great weapon ideas for that project. Hrhr.
I also entered the WQ3 irc channel once using a fake nickname, trying to apply for the WQ3 mapping team with a screenshot of a Wolfenstein 3D map. So I guess giving me that nickname in advance back then wasn't all that wrong ;).

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ReD - Is there a story behind the name "Iron Claw Interactive"?
Spoon - In beta 1 we were known as the "Iron Claw Team". There is no interesting story behind that name. I think we just thought of it too be cool enough ;). Later in beta 2 we chose to drop the "Team"-part and replaced it with "Interactive". Again I don't remember why we decided to do so. But probably we wanted the name to sound just a little bit more cool and professional. Perhaps Fakey knows more about this.
Fakey - I can't remember who came up with the name "Iron Claw". Maybe it's interesting to mention that the name is still in use: Spoon calls his 3d application "Iron Claw" and his 3d engine is called "Iron Engine". Good ol' Western Quake nostalgia, I presume ;).

ReD - Who came up with the idea for WQ3 & how did it all begin?
Spoon - I remember having a telephone conversation with Deimos after we decided to cancel the Matrix mod. We also talked about "Outlaws" the famous western game by LucasArts. We really enjoyed it when it was released. Also I just had watched "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" the first time (I wasn't a western fan back then) and I really have had a blast. So we decided to make a spaghetti western mod for Quake 3.
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I think the first thing being created for Western Quake was the map "Town". I mainly used it for testing purposes in the early stages of beta 1. These early versions of the mod were only interchanged by 3.5" floppy discs as most of us didn't have an internet connection at that time. I cannot imagine how that might have worked. But then again I don't remember any major difficulties.
Soon after the first weapons were added Lt. Frag and Fakey joined the team. We all knew each other from school.
We managed to finish beta 1 after about six months. I think it was a very important experience for all of us having got something done, although its presentation was not very good if we look at it from a beta 2 perspective. We had only begun to learn.
Fakey - It was only natural to work on that project together since we (Spoon, Lt.Frag, Deimos and myself) already did some mapping for Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Half Life and Quake2. There was even a "Star Wars Quake2" in the making. Lt.Frag did some weapon models and Spoon made one or two maps and his first steps into game programming concepts.

ReD - What were the biggest influences for WQ3 development & design?
Spoon - Well, I would say that the Dollar trilogy by Sergio Leone was one of the biggest influences. We really wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the old italo westerns. As a consequence of that we remembered the experience of playing Outlaws, which happened to succeed in doing exactly that. But as we were trying to make a multiplayer game and Outlaws was mainly designed for singleplayer, that game was only a rough guideline.
For the gameplay part we oriented ourselves on several popular FPS-mods from that time. The two most important for me were "Action Quake 2" and the famous "Counter Strike". We have had a lot of fun playing them. It shouldn't be a surprise that many game elements of other mods/games were used in Western Quake. But I always thought as long as they fit in, there should not be any concerns about that.
[thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_outlawslucasartsboxcove_1.jpg][timg]19_outlawslucasartsboxcove_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_aq2logo_1.jpg][timg]19_aq2logo_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_counterstrikebox_1.jpg][timg]19_counterstrikebox_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb]
There also were some new things we came up with. As for the duel mode I don't remember a good duel mode in any western game back then. That's still one of the hardest things to get right in these games. It's hard not to let it get boring. I hope Fakey and me have done a good job there. The most important thing we wanted to implement, was duels at the same time so that as few players as possible have to be idle till they can play.
Also, we were very proud of our akimbo system: Combining and using different kinds of revolvers independently. I think very few games, if any, had something like this at that time.
Fakey - Some trivia to add: The dynamite in Smokin’ Guns works exactly the way it did in the game Outlaws because we had so much fun with it in our LAN multiplayer sessions. It was a mischievous pleasure to throw a unlit stick of dynamite on the ground waiting somewhere nearby, aiming and ready to shoot at that stick, until some inattentive guy passed by.

ReD - Would you like to briefly tell us about the other members of ICI?
Spoon - Deimos was mainly responsible for the technical aspects of our internet site. In the first one or two years he also took care of the public relations: giving interviews, scattering news and such. As I told you before: Deimos, Lt. Frag, Fakey and I were friends from school.
Lt. Frag was our lead mapper and the first mapper to join the team. He was always the first one who had to try out new features. So his feedback was fundamental for the whole developing process. He also modelled the whiskey bottle for the molotov.
Fakey's major tasks were 2D graphics (mainly textures) and game design. He designed the HUD, the menus, the graphics for the official website and for the map depot. I think some parts of the website are still in use now. He also helped skinning the beta 2 player models and made a map for beta 1: the villa. You might remember the girl in the bathtub :). I've had many conversations with him concerning game design and gameplay over the years.
Our first player model was made by Flame: a big and strong farmer. He had made the first steps in getting some custom player models for our project done. Shortly after the beta-1-release he left the team.
These were the ICI team members for beta 1 (actually ICT) so far. While working on beta 2 the following members joined us:
Lixus und DeadKennedy joined us just after the release of beta 1. Together with Lt. Frag they became the main mappers of ICI. They contributed some really innovative new maps and also became friends of ours. I still remember the ICI Party when we first met in real life.
A little later KroKoFox joined us. That was a nice stroke of luck. We never imagined that we would be able to have great music especially composed for the mod.
WildVertex and Red (not ReD Neckerson) were part of team only a short period of time. But nevertheless they did fundamental things. Wildvertex created the player models and Red did some of the player animations. Although the major part of the animations was made by me, these were a good and important starting point.
We had several new PR guys over the years: There was The_judgE, General Tso and at last Drakhon. At the end of the ICI times Drakhon belonged to the core team. General Tso delivered us with accurate and historically correct information about weapons. Being a SASS member (Single Action Shooting Society) that's what he dealt with in his free time. His contributions were crucial during the whole weapon design process.

ReD - What is your favorite memory about WQ3?
Spoon - That would be when we finished beta 1. Having had completed it was really satisfying. We knew that we could build upon that and then planned to put much more things into beta 2.
Fakey - I really liked seeing people play WQ3 online after the release of beta1. It was a little bit surreal to see that we had actually managed to finish beta1 after a hard week of final work and have other people play it. In fact I still like seeing people playing it. It makes me kind of proud having been a part of the development team. Furthermore it was really great to see WQ3 live on.
Another great thing were the ICI parties when we got the opportunity to meet the other members personally. We surely drank some glasses of whiskey to WQ3 :).
[thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_12_menu_1.jpg][timg]19_12_menu_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_credits_1.jpg][timg]19_credits_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb]

ReD - What would be your biggest disappointment, past or present?
Spoon - I'm not sure if anything that happens now could really disappoint me. There are always some changes to the game one might not like so much. But I think that should not be a problem at all for me as long as the character of the game stays the same. I am fully confident that the current team and a lot of contributors will do a great job. In the end I do not have any influence anymore how the game develops further of course. But I will always be curious what happens next.
Fakey - That would be the death of the Smokin’ Guns community and development. I know the idea of "XXX Quake3" does sound tempting but please always keep on developing Smoking Guns ;).

ReD - Can you tell us why development stopped after the beta 2.0 release in 2003?
Spoon - It's not that we didn't have any new ideas of how to extend the game and make it better. I worked on some bugfixes for some weeks after beta 2.0. But at that time I had already made my first experiences with OpenGL programming and several smaller projects in the works. It was only natural that this was the next step in developing my programming and theory skills. I had already started to create my first 3D game engine (if you could call it like that) and Western Quake became more and more uninteresting for me. So its development slowly came to a halt mainly because I was involved and driving almost all areas of work.
Fakey - I guess one major reason also was that we have spent so much time in developing WQ3 that we kind of lacked the experiences of real life. Since we were still young and dumb we just had to live up to that ;). We also had to prepare for the abitur (german school leaving examination).

ReD - What are your thoughts about how WQ3 has evolved since beta 2.0?
Spoon - It took some time until we managed to make the code open source. It would have been a shame if we wouldn't have done that. When you (ReD Neckerson) told me you wanted to continue the work I was really happy. I thought to myself that Western Quake wouldn't just disappear now.
New people were around and the community began to grow again. Although progress was slow the new team included many enhancements in beta 2.1 and 2.2 which of I mostly liked. It was good and interesting to see something going on there. That's why I regularly stopped by the forums (several times a week) which I'm still doing until today.
The whole stand-alone (SA) phase was very exciting too. I would have never thought that the SA could be that successful.
From my perspective the development process was a bit slow of course. But that's not something I would ever be criticizing. I will always understand that each of you also has a life beyond Smokin’ Guns. Opposing to my situation back then being a pupil and having lots of free time. The most important thing for me always was that there was progress at all.
Also I've taken a look at my code several times since then. In many places I don't think that my old original code was very good or clean. Well, I was only beginning to learn to code at that time. I was often wondering whether the current team has ever had any major difficulties with that.
Fakey - As long as there are people, including myself, who like the evolution of the WQ3 heritage, there can't be done anything wrong. You guys did, and are doing, a great job! Period.

ReD - Anything you like or dislike about Smokin' Guns since the standalone was released?
Spoon - Smokin' Guns Productions have done a really good job releasing the SA. I was really excited to see so many more players on the servers. Western Quake was finally reborn along with its new name Smokin' Guns which suits it very well.
It seems you have a lot of stuff going on there now: many people wanting to make the game better by submitting code updates, models, skins, maps, etc. That's a very interesting process to watch. Again, no dislikes at all.
Fakey - As far as I am concerned the SA version propelled the spreading of Smokin’ Guns, which is a good thing, of course.
Since not everyone owned or still ownes a Quake3 CD or because Quake 3 was put on the index in Germany before its release due to the gore level, a lot more gamers can enjoy Smokin’ Guns nowadays.

ReD - Is there anything you would wish to see happen in the future for this game?
Fakey - Just keep on rollin’!

ReD - Have you ever played on the servers in disguise?
Spoon - Hehe yes, I actually have. I used the name "NoOps" for that (read backwards :)). I think I have mostly been playing during some weeks after the release of the SA.
Fakey - I've played online once or twice but I always got my butt kicked very badly. I also remember you (SG players) being partly responsible for that - well, I guess I am just totally out of practice ;).
I like examining the new maps and textures, though. It's always great to see new maps or even the recreations of old maps such as wq_lake or wq_train.
[thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_12_lake2_1.jpg][timg]19_12_lake2_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_newlake_1.jpg][timg]19_newlake_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb]
[thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_12_train2_1.jpg][timg]19_12_train2_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_newtrain_1.jpg][timg]19_newtrain_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb]
[thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_12_town2_1.jpg][timg]19_12_town2_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb] [thumb=http://forum.smokin-guns.org/userpix/19_newtown_1.jpg][timg]19_newtown_1.jpg[/timg][/thumb]

ReD - Any chance we might see an ICI reunion team at a future tournament?
Spoon - That's not impossible. But it's always difficult to contact most of the other former team members and coordinate them now.
Fakey - If at all, only in disguise so we don't need to be ashamed of losing in our own game ;).

ReD - Lastly, what are you doing now? Are you involved in any other game related projects?
Spoon - It took several years for me to get a reasonable experience and to learn the theory of 3D graphics. There are no official game projects right now. I'm currently working on my fourth engine so far - the Iron Engine - and it seems that I'm going to succeed this time. Everything works very smooth and efficient. The engine is mainly based on editable terrain (up to 256 km²) and is experimental for at least now. I don't really know what I want to do with it once it gets more advanced. But maybe something touching the western genre with a large world.
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Fakey - My main task right now is helping Spoon to overcome his 3D engine megalomania.
I am serious about that ;)!
Well, I just finished my bachelor's thesis and starting my master course of studies in the next few weeks. The thesis subject was about ocean water visualization in Direct3D 10 Terrain. The cool thing about it was that I actually could use Spoon's Iron Engine for that purpose. So it was like in the old days when we worked on WQ3, except for me also doing some programming this time.

ReD - Thank you very much for your time to answer these questions. I think I speak for all fans of Smokin' Guns when I say THANK YOU to ICI for a truly wonderful game & for the opportunity ICI has given the gaming community to continue development. It's still my favorite game after all of these years. :)

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Last edited by ReD NeCKersoN on Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby ReD NeCKersoN » Mon Sep 28, 2009 6:49 pm

By the way, for anyone who hasn't seen it, The Final Gunfight film by EvilFutsin was done in WQ3 beta 2.0.
This version was ICI's last, but most significant release of WQ3. You can see the film HERE.
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Postby Tequila » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:04 pm

:P
Very nice interview ReD and thank you guys for you work ;)

Spoon wrote:Also I've taken a look at my code several times since then. In many places I don't think that my old original code was very good or clean. Well, I was only beginning to learn to code at that time. I was often wondering whether the current team has ever had any major difficulties with that.

Even if sometime we can find something fun in your code, Q3 code is horribly more complicated :D Major difficulties are really in Q3 code. Btw I was not a real developer when I came to SG engine, so my opinion doesn't count :lol:
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Postby Pardner » Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:46 pm

Its great to see that the original developers still look in in their project and even sometime play online.
Spoon wrote:Spoon - Hehe yes, I actually have. I used the name "NoOps" for that (read backwards Smile). I think I have mostly been playing during some weeks after the release of the SA.

I think I have actually played against NoOps... awesome!!!!

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Postby Joe Kari » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:15 am

Great interview ! ;)
Thanks a lot for this great game, I'm playing it since 2.0 !
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Postby DeUgli » Tue Sep 29, 2009 12:31 am

Wow, Spoon and Fakey, you were really young when you started this! You brought me many hours of fun. Thanks to everyone for the interview.
Irgendeiner wartet immer.
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Postby =Chico= » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:04 am

Super cool- You guys are legends around here. I have no doubt that you will produce great things in the future. Thanks for sharing with the community- :D
Also Fakey- I love the story about how you got your name! LOL
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Postby Lucky Bro » Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:17 am

Nice interview.

Their age explains a lot of things in the code (but still some ideas are pretty nice). Still the hardest thing in 16 years is to finish the project. That worths a respect.
I was sure about CS, but still can't understand why did they take Q3 code and not CS. First CS was made upon Half-Life which was made in its turn upon Q1. It is very similar and was more convenient for the game they had planned to do. And eventually current game looks like CS based on Q3 code with western decorations. Which always stuns new good players from Q community, since most of them are not fans of CS.
And concerned Spoon's nick I thought it was after the Lonesome Dove movie. Spoon there isn't the man whose nick I would take, but at least a some western person.
And personally I like first look of the game more than current one (with a bit of comics look additions it will be even more cool). Even without money system at all.
Duels, yeah. Probably it would be a really cool mode, but current one is too boring because of too long countdowns (not only). Usually players lose interest after first 10 matches. But still - idea was great.
"You should know that the lies won't hide your flaws/No sense in hiding all of yours/You gave up on your dreams along the way" (c) "Fake it" by Seether
P.S. English isn't my native language.
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Postby ReD NeCKersoN » Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:51 pm

@Lucky Bro: Some people choose a nickname & it sticks. For instance, I was ReD NeCKersoN long before I ever heard of WQ.
As for your preference for the game style of beta 1.2, I personally know a player or two that stopped playing WQ when the money system arrived with version 2.0. Some folks just wanted Q3 style without thinking about money. Personally I don't see what the big deal is, but I guess you can't please everyone.

@Pardner: I recall playing NoOps on the servers too. Didn't I mention it to you on TS a long time ago to try reading the name backwards? I was very suspicous that this person might be Spoon & even spectated him, but told myself "Nah, probably not." :lol:
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Postby Pardner » Tue Sep 29, 2009 3:46 pm

Hahah I do remember that now that you mention it! Red the lurker.
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Postby Lucky Bro » Tue Sep 29, 2009 4:36 pm

I didn't mean that money system is not convenient. What I meant is that even if there wouldn't be such system - the game would be playable and fun as well.
"You should know that the lies won't hide your flaws/No sense in hiding all of yours/You gave up on your dreams along the way" (c) "Fake it" by Seether
P.S. English isn't my native language.
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Postby Black Jack Ketchum » Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:29 pm

Ohh the memory's, I remember that i got tip from a friend back in -03, then i played offline against bots for like a year (until we got fiber-optic broadband :D ) Ahhh what times playing against as most 5 people on Rawhide whit a ping up to 150, you actually learned to fire a bit ahead of your target to hit them! Back then i deliverd lead under the nic Dr.FeelGood--Good times.

It came to my minde, the maps shown in the film(that aren't around anymore), is it possible to "convert" them to function in Smoking Guns? Its just a thought, maybe its just to much work (i guess the team got enough of that :lol: ) to make them pretty!?

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Postby TanteTrude » Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:07 am

Thanks for this interview - very interesting to read about SG`s history!
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Postby Sucalakafufu » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:15 am

@Red: the video you posted with this is WQ3 Beta 1.2 right? i downloaded Beta 2.0 and noticed that it is much like SG in gameplay. Is there a way I could get a hold of the installer for Beta 1.2? I would like to try it out and see how the feel of it was, especially with it being closer in relation to Q3 and all :)
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Postby torhu » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:10 pm

Beta 1.2 download links here:
viewtopic.php?p=14887#14887
In game: =SG=monSter
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