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The good people at HL2CTF were good enough to give us a really good interview.
1. First of all, have you had any previous experiance with any HL mods?
Valtrain: We've never done any HL mods before. We did a Quake3 mod a while back ( www.planetquake.com/gridiron/ ) that was basically football with rocketlaunchers, so we've had some experience modding before just not with HL.
2. What inspired you to start this mod?
Valtrain: Both Doom3 and HL2 came out with no multiplayer CTF game mode. We couldn't imagine not playing CTF, so we decided to start up a CTF mod. We looked at Doom3 and HL2, and decided HL2 was better suited for multiplayer, so here we are. It's just as well, I think id is now paying the 3wave guys to do a Doom3 CTF game.
Menthol: And it didn't hurt that the development tools for HL2 are really great, Valve really went out of their way to produce a really great SDK for mod developers.
3. How many people are making this mod? (mappers, coders, ect.)
Valtrain: Well, I'm the only coder. My partner in crime from the Q3 Gridiron days, Menthol, is also working on maps and media. We've gotten a lot of great community support for this mod so far, and several of the community maps are now included as official maps. We're including maps from keved, own3r, MagicTMP, RipeX, Trivium, and KingNic.
Menthol: We just got the ball rolling. It really has become a community effort and quite frankly to our suprise since we're so new to the HL community.
4. Has anyone from the community given assistance in comming up with ideas?
Valtrain: Of course! We've got some very active forums with some very vocal people on them. Feedback from the fans is helping to shape the direction that this mod takes, and we're really excited by all the feedback we've gotten so far.
Menthol: When we first talked about taking on Capture the Flag for HL2, opposed to our taking on a totally original mod concept, we knew that the community could not be left out of the mix. It's been great finding people chatting about the old days of Zoid's Threewave CTF for Quake. The community behind the mod, as far as we can tell, is also very diverse (not just HL players) and it's really helping to get input from all of them.
5. What do you think of the people who dislike your mod?
Valtrain: It's not for everyone. What we really appreciate are the people who post on the forums telling us why they don't like it, thats how we improve the game.
Menthol: It's true, we recently went over some feedback from a player in a strictly deathmatch clan whose suggestions have influenced how we are going to handle competition modes in one of our upcoming updates. We try to listen to everyone within reason.
6. What about the fans?
Valtrain: The community support we've gotten so far is really awesome! We've got a very active mapping community, we've got a lot of players, we just recently hosted our "CTF match against Valve" night where a lot of fans got to play CTF against a team from Valve. We couldn't do it without the fans, that's what keeps us going.
7. What was it like having members of Valve compete with you on your own mod?
Valtrain: It was insane! We had a lot of fun, I think they had a lot of fun, the fans had a lot of fun, and we'd love to do it again! It was really nice of Valve to post the news in Steam to help us get the word out about the mod, we've had a steady influx of new players since then.
Menthol: I have to say that I really thought this wouldn't happen, we had only just released an alpha and everything in the mod we had done was in testing stages. When they showed up in our IRC channel and Valtrain said "Eric Johnson is with Valve" I was rather blown away to say the least.
8. Have they talked about contributing in any way?
Menthol: I think their showing up alone was a tremendous contribution, it's just rare to have the creators take notice of your efforts.
Valtrain: In addition to showing up, they've given us a lot of good feedback for what else we can improve.
9. What are your oppinions about TFC 2 or other CTF mods?
Valtrain: TF2 looks really cool, I can't wait to play it! Fortress Forever and Weapons Factory are both coming along well, and I expect they'll be releasing public versions before long. What these games all suffer from though is that they're all the same "CTF with classes" style of play. One of the things that I think makes HL2CTF different from those games is that we have no player classes, our game is a simple fast-paced run and gun homage to the old school CTF games.
Menthol: I for one have been a great fan of Team Fortress and look forward to many of the mods coming out for HL2, but I have to say, at 4 o'clock in the morning, I just wanna frag and cap!
10. Why do you think HL2: Deathmatch is so unpopular with steam users?
Valtrain: I didn't know it was unpopular, its always got loads of people playing it! I think if anything, gamers are just tired of straight up deathmatch and want some variety. I think HL2DM might have been disappointing in that after the initial cool factor of "I can throw toilets around" wore off, it was just same old same old deathmatch.
11. Do you think you could change this image?
Valtrain: Well again, I don't think HL2DM is that unpopular. We're just here to give players another option.
Menthol: I agree, right now there's 1,658 players on 1,101 HL2 Deathmatch servers. Though eclipsed by Counter-Strike, it's still a very popular mode of play with the community. If players feel deathmatch is getting old, I too see CTF as another option. Back when we were developing Gridiron for Quake3, once some of the best Q3 Deathmatch players starting showing up on the servers the competition in the games really stepped up a notch. It seems that some really good DM players are showing up on the servers making this same thing happen in CTF. Games are more competative than ever and we're only in beta right now.
12. What kind of updates are you planning for the future?
Valtrain: We've got loads of new stuff coming! We're planning to add a lot of the competitive features that many clans are asking for to better facilitate matches and ladders. We're planning on adding a lot of new maps and improving the maps we have now. We're planning to add some alternate game modes (Stopwatch, 1 Flag CTF, carry the flag back to base, etc) that I think people will really like.
13. Can you explain the Grappling Hook being talked about on the forums?
Valtrain: Some people on the forums have been asking about the possibility of including a grappling hook. Nothing definite has been decided on this yet, and we're exploring ways to have movement enhancing items without using the traditional grappling hook.
Menthol: This is such a terribly torn subject. Back when the grapple was first introduced, players complained, but those same players would use the grapple and use it well, maybe too well and to the detriment of the game. But the same players that just finished "yelling" about it could be found hanging from the ceiling over the flag ready to pummel you with a barrage of rockets. I sometimes look at the grappling hook as some sort of villain in a story. In the story of CTF that's exactly what it is. But I digress, in the story of Half-Life, it sure seems plausible that the Rebels would have a grapple. But this still does not address competative CTF and fairness in the game. So, wanting to involve the community as we do, a poll we have on the website is very close between "Hate it" and "Limit its use and I could live with it" so it's leaning really strong towards 'no grapple' in HL2 CTF.
14. Do you plan on adding something that has not been seen an a version of Capture the Flag before?
Valtrain: We'll have to see where our game evolves. We don't want to repeat the TFC-style player classes thing, we want to bring back the old school CTF feel and we'll see where that takes us.
Menthol: I agree. We see the mod as staying 'Classic CTF' and we wish not to stray from that.
15. How long do you plan on working to better this mod?
Valtrain: As long as people are still playing it, we'll keep making it better.
16. How much time a day would you say you work on this?
Valtrain: Too much :) I'd say between reading the forums, responding to email, and actively working on the mod that I'd average 3-4 hours a day.
Menthol: Ever heard of a beach bum? Since HL2 came out I've become a "mod bum" ... I see the Sun on television, it is still out there isn't it? :)
17. What is the best way to support your mod?
Valtrain: To borrow a marketing slogan, if you love the mod tell a friend. If you don't, tell us. We use the forums as our primary source of feedback, and we're relying on word of mouth to get the word out.
Menthol: Play and comment, play and comment!
18. Have any other mods talked about joining in anyway?
Valtrain: We're talking to a few other mod teams about collaborating on some things, but nothing definite yet.
19. What is the best way to get in contact with the HL2ctf Staff?
Valtrain: Either forums or email. If you email, don't feel bad if I don't respond immediately, I've got a flood of mail coming in and it takes some time to respond.
Menthol: We have email links under the "team page" on the website, but the forums really are the best way.
20. Any last words to your fans?
Valtrain: We want to give a HUGE thanks to everyone that's helped us out along the way. We couldn't do it without you guys!
Menthol: Eventually I will cap your flag. eventually. :)
For more information about hl2 ctf please visit there website at hl2ctf.com
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