For No More Room in Hell, Scary is ‘When Things Go Wrong’
“By 2008, nothing had been actually completed for the mod,” Kazan said, citing a lack of a design document as the mod’s early major flaw. “There was some art done here or there, there was no code done, no gameplay, no finished levels or anything like that, which was kind of heartbreaking after four years, to have nothing to show for it.”
Then, Meade said, the mod was leaked to the Internet — with nothing finished.
“Now, all of a sudden, everyone assumed the mod was in development,” Kazan said. “No one knew the internal turmoil, they didn’t know that nothing was actually getting done. So when it got leaked, everyone goes, oh look — there’s no game here. Like, literally, there was no game. You could load up a level and run around, but that was it. So we became the butt of a joke. It was a shame because there was all this stuff done and nothing to show, and everyone started basically saying, ‘No More Room in Hell is vaporware, there’s nothing here, it’s the Duke Nukem Forever of mods,’ stuff like that. Luckily we passed that crowd off.”
“We basically had to start from scratch,” Meade added.
So Kazan took the lead on the mod, recruiting new modders and developers to help out. It was an arduous process — from the mod’s more or less reboot in January 2009, it took another three years before it was finally considered “complete,” with everyone who worked on it doing so for free; the mod remains free to download today. Meade said since Kazan took over as project lead, probably around 50 people have come and gone from the project.
But it was the mod’s core team, consisting primarily of Kazan, Meade and Orner (along with two level designers who live in Europe) that has been a big part of keeping NMRiH alive, the team said. Having that strong core helped them deal with issues like a loss of motivation.
“Even me, a lot of the time I’d be like, ‘Guys, I’m losing faith in this, I don’t even want to do this anymore,’” Kazan said. “And we’ve all said that numerous times. We’ve all talked to each other and said ‘This isn’t working — this is bad.’ But somehow we managed to bring it together because we built a core team. People joined and left, people came and went, but a lot of us stuck around, and we put the work in, and we managed to build a game that was really really rough around the edges at first, but we think we’ve done a pretty good job at polishing it and adding on top of it. And I think we turned it from an idea started by someone else, years ago back when they were in high school, to turning it into our own game and our own gem. And now we’re at a point where we’re adding in new features and new things that are ours and have nothing to do with anything that he came up with. And it’s really our game now, and it’s really nice to see that people enjoy it.”
It’s the strength of that core team that has made No More Room in Hell possible, though. All of the people working on the mod have regular lives to deal with as well — Kazan works as a modeler for Ubisoft, Meade is in college studying computer science, and Programmer and Developer Brent “Brentonator” McAhren works as vice president for information technology at an Internet marketing company, for example. Even during QuakeCon, the team was working — Orner was programming and Meade, Kazan and McAhren were finding out what other people thought of the game.