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Developer interview #2 – Freddie Witherden

Filed under: English,Miscellaneous von Kreuvf um 14:02:42

After the special interview with DevUrandom it’s time for another developer interview, this time with EvilGuru whose real name is Freddie Witherden. He’s 17 years old and is living in the UK. Currently he is studying Physics, Chemistry and Maths at post-16 level and hopes to go on to study Physics at Imperial College London.

Kreuvf: First question will always stay the same: How did you find Warzone 2100 and since when are you part of the team of the Warzone Resurrection Project?
EvilGuru: I found the project back in June (or was it May?) 2007, when I was bored one afternoon. However, I have been playing Warzone for a lot longer. I first got it for the PSX back in 1999 (just after it came out) after reading a positive review of it in a PSX magazine. Later in 2004 I finally got the PC version of the game and kept with it until around January.
Kreuvf: So it was a logical step for you to participate in the WRP?
EvilGuru: Yes. Back in 2004 I was quite new to computers and unable to program/participate, however when I rediscovered the game earlier this year (2007) I was a lot more adept. After finding the WRP and downloading it I quickly also found the IRC channel where I was given a warm welcome.

Being in contact with the developers gave me the encouragement I needed to go from a player to an (amateur) contributor. My first patch was a modification to the experience system, whereby experience is rewarded for damage as opposed to kills, which seems to be very popular with the community.
Kreuvf: When looking at the features that definitely come with 2.1 what would you say is your No. 1-feature, if you have one?
EvilGuru: Definitely the cross platform networking code, that for the first time allows for Linux/Mac/Windows users to play each other. This is more important than ever in the 2.1 release due to the addition of 64-bit support.
Kreuvf: How has the bandwidth you need to play Warzone 2100 changed with the new netcode?
EvilGuru: It should be exactly the same as with the previous netcode, a bit more in some places, a bit less in others. However, Warzone’s network code it extremely efficient. A 4 player game (two humans, two AIs) even in the midst of battle only requires around 1.4 KiB/s. This makes the game very playable even on dial-up connections.
Kreuvf: In the interview with Giel internationalisation was mentioned. How much of the i18n-stuff is done by now? And will 2.1 ship with several language-files or will it be in English only?
EvilGuru: The new text rendering system is now completely integrated into Warzone. So all that remains is to touch up the language files. Luckily many of the developers are bi-lingual and so I do not foresee any problems with i18n.
Kreuvf: What other contributions to the project did you make since you joined?
EvilGuru: I added a new video options menu which allows for changing of resolution, setting fullscreen/windowed mode from within Warzone so you do not need to edit a config file.

Also there is a lock cursor mode which makes the game playable in windowed mode as the cursor stays in the window when the game is not paused. And for lower end systems I added the ability to change the texture size so those systems should get a much better experience as now you can play in a window with smaller textures and hopefully get better performance.

I have been very active on the balance/gameplay side of things — trying to make the game more tactical and fair. One of the things I am very big on is experience and so most of my work has been focussed there.

First of all I introduced the partial kills system so it is easier to level up. Previously a unit only got a ‚kill‘ when it killed something. I, however, was not a fan of this, as if a Lancer takes another unit down to 5% HP, but while it is reloading a cyborg fires a few shots its way and kills it the cyborg will get the kill. With the partial kills system you get kills for what you do. So with the new system the lancer unit in the above example would have .95 kills and the cyborg .05 kills.

More recently this has been augmented by a ‚quality factor‘ system. So if an expensive/high HP unit kills a cheaper/weaker unit it will gain less experience than if the case was reversed.

However, I am not stopping there! Now that the level-up system is ‚fair‘ for the most part I plan to make experience have a greater effect on the outcome of battles. This includes making more experience units more accurate and dealing out more damage; while currently experience only reduces the amount of damage a unit takes when it is hit.

Furthermore I am also working on the recycling system. Currently I feel it is an under-used and under-rated feature of the game. So in order to make it more useful I have made it so that recycling old units will make newer units build faster. Of course there are some checks and safe-guards to prevent it from being exploited.
Kreuvf: So all in all people will have more resources for production when they recycle which of course will heat up battles a lot.
EvilGuru: Yes, a player who recycles will be able to churn out his army faster, quicker (less power required) and it will be experienced out of the box. It should make battle more tactical, as it is more important than ever to preserve your units and on the flip side not give your opponent ‚free‘ experience.
Kreuvf: Did you change anything regarding the experience stack? Can you assign a rank to a unit or has nothing changed in that matter so you still have the highest/best rank for the first produced unit?
EvilGuru: It still picks the highest first. The reason for not changing this was because it would add both another level of complication that one does not need in the middle of a heated battle.
Kreuvf: Okay, that was my last question then, EvilGuru, and I’d to thank you for this interview.
EvilGuru: Thank you!

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