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<h1>The Gathering Project—32 Questions:<br />Interview With the Creator of Yoderic’s Battle Arena</h1>
<p>
	This is part of the reference material for <a href="/writing/kroc_writes">a series of personal letters</a> written
	to / from <a href="/writing/kroc_writes#tanner">Tanner Helland</a> during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in
	immense detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations.
	As a person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming
	and web-design have changed just as radically.
	<br /><br />
	Please note that this was <strong>not</strong> written by me (Kroc Camen), but by
	<a href="/writing/kroc_writes#clint">Clint Franklin</a>.
</p>
<section>
<header>1</header>
<p>
	<strong>Jeremy Yoder</strong>, the creator of Yoderic’s Battle Arena, recently conducted an interview with the
	president of <a href="/writing/kroc_writes#tgp">The Gathering Project</a>,
	<a href="/writing/kroc_writes#clint">Clint V Franklin</a>. The following is a transcript of that interview.
</p>
<dl>
	<dt id="q1"><em>Jeremy:</em> First of all, do you have a name for your upcoming game? If not, should I refer to it as “The Gathering Project” (TGP), or is that only your development team’s nickname?</dt>
	<dd>
		 <br />
		<em>Clint:</em> The name of both the game and the team is “The Gathering Project.” It’s a little bit
		like the way a music artist self-titles their first album. You don’t see that much in games, so hey, why
		not? To avoid confusion though, you may want to refer to the game as The Gathering Project (TGP) and the
		team as “the TGP team”.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q2"><em>Jeremy:</em> Sounds good. Now, when most people hear “RPG”, they think of a medieval fantasy setting. Will this be true for TGP?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Nope. We decided to do things a little differently. We’re going for a more modern world,
		although with technologies way into the future. That way, we end up with a world that isn’t steampunkish,
		yet has lots of cool science-fiction elements to make things interesting.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q3"><em>Jeremy:</em> Every game takes some elements from games that have come before, but what will be distinctive about TGP that will keep it from being a “generic” RPG? Or do you plan on mimicking a particular game on the market?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> From the beginning, we have all said the one kind of RPG we did not want to make
			was a cookie-cutter clone of some mega-popular RPG. For one thing, making a “traditional” RPG
			in a modern / futuristic setting was a small step away from the norm. In addition, we’re using
			more uncommon conventions for things like combat and magic, and the content of the storyline will
			probably come across to you in a way much different from that of some of the more mainstream RPGs.
		</p><p>
			We’re basically taking the old-school with the new-school, bringing them together, and coming up
			with stuff that we’ve either never seen or felt we hadn’t seen as much of as we wanted.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q4"><em>Jeremy:</em> Will TGP incorporate many of the RPG standards, such as inventory, one overriding quest with possible subquests, talking with NPCs, <abbr title="et cetera">etc.</abbr>?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> I'll take these one at a time, since we’ve decided to stray off the beaten path
			just a bit. Inventory will be handled the old-fashioned way. You will have a weight capacity
			determined by your strength stat that dictates how much you can carry at once. If you go over your
			limit, your movements will be hindered. If you get too weighed-down, you won’t even be able to
			move in battle.
		</p><p>
			The story has a main plot, with several subplots that tie-in together in a way that probably
			hasn’t been seen many times before in an RPG. The way the story works, the second time you play
			the game may be wildly different from the way it was the first time around. You’re going to miss
			stuff unless you play the game more than once.
		</p><p>
			Talking with NPCs will be pretty much the same, except that major characters will have a portrait
			that changes to display a character’s expression while they’re speaking. An angry character
			will actually look angry. A character who’s embarrassed will have a red face. Those are just a
			few examples.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q5"><em>Jeremy:</em> What about healing and magic?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Healing and magic will be a little different from the typical RPG. There is no
			magic to speak of in the traditional sense. Instead, more modern and futuristic conventions are
			used, and pretty much any arcane magic from medieval RPGs has been converted in some way to more
			modern standards. Some of the fundamentals are the same though. If you want to use a “fire
			spell,” you can take a can of spray paint and a Zippo lighter and torch an enemy who’s nearby,
			slightly like the use of reagents in more traditional RPGs. Or, use a personal flame thrower for
			added distance. For those heavy-duty burning jobs, pull your serious flame thrower and a bag of
			marshmallows out, and enjoy the roast.
		</p><p>
			That’s not to say that there’s no mysticism in the game. For example, characters can learn to
			focus their Chi in order to temporarily boost their combat abilities and perform manoeuvres they
			wouldn’t be able to otherwise. That’s just one example.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q6"><em>Jeremy:</em> What about the combat system? Do you have that worked out yet?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> That’s where one of the big changes comes in. A turn-based, standard battle
			system like those found in most console RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, and in
			<abbr title="RPGMaker">RM2K</abbr> games just isn’t very technically appealing from this
			designer’s standpoint, and can get a bit eye-glazing after a while from a gameplay standpoint.
			Except for the graphical wow-factor, there is just really not much as far as gameplay in my
			opinion other than “wait for turn, press attack.”
		</p><p>
			As for a real-time, Zelda-style battle system, that didn’t seem “RPG” enough, and most of us
			prefer turn-based anyway. Then there are the mindless clicky-clicky battle systems, like in
			Diablo. In the end, we decided on a battle system that’s similar to those of Fallout and
			Dungeons &amp; Dragons. It actually came from a tactical battle game I'd been designing for about
			three years, and with some tweaking, it looks like things will work well.
		</p><p>
			Eventually, I named the battle system AtomicBox, based on the type of action I had envisioned for
			the system, and due to the shape of the field. The version that will be used in TGP is named
			AtomicBox Lite, and is specially-tweaked for use in tactical RPGs. It is meant to be simple to
			use, yet have lots of cool features and some over-the-top battle mechanics.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q7"><em>Jeremy:</em> Can you give us any specifics on how the AtomicBox battle system works? Could it be reusable in other games or is it rather TGP specific?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> As it is right now, A-Box is encapsulated into the TGP game itself. As we move
			along, we may create a separate module that will allow other developers to use the system by
			passing arguments to it, and after that, the system takes care of everything else.
		</p><p>
			AtomicBox is a strategic battle tactics system that makes each battle scene unique. Unlike some
			tactical RPGs, which form a prefab battle scene whenever a fight occurs, the AtomicBox system
			builds a battle scene on the fly to mimic the character’s surroundings. Walls, rocks, pillars,
			streams, everything will be in the same place it was on the map. This makes each battle unique, so
			your strategy will change each battle, depending on your surroundings and your opponents.
		</p><p>
			Not only that, but changes during battle are also reflected in the world map. If you shoot a
			boulder with a rocket launcher in the battle system, the rock is gone. When the battle ends and
			the game reverts to the world map, that rock will still be just a pile of rubble.
		</p><p>
			Basically, AtomicBox just takes a bunch of arguments, such as map layout, character and object
			position, and after that, it handles everything itself. That way, you could use the system as the
			battle system in your own RPG, and do as we did by letting the system take the arguments directly
			from the map system. Or, you could have a game that would feed AtomicBox prefab maps, in order to
			make an arena combat-style fighting game.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q8"><em>Jeremy:</em> What will be the perspective of the game? Overhead? From the character’s viewpoint? 2D? 3D?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> It will all be 2D. 3D is great and all, but there are several problems with it.
			For one, there are many more VB programmers out there who know DirectDraw as opposed to those who
			are skilled in Direct3D. Also, 3D games take much longer to construct. We felt that going 3D was
			neither necessary nor ideal for these and many other reasons.
		</p><p>
			That said, we decided to go with two views. The map system plays in traditional bird’s-eye view
			for a number of reasons. For one, it gives the game that old-school, traditional RPG feeling.
			Another is that it’s easier to code for, so the team won’t be caught in a tough situation if a
			key programmer leaves. On top of that, when we release the details of the inner-workings of the
			game to programmers, the information reaches out to a broader range of programmer skill levels
			when added to the rest of the game. It also gives you a larger field of view than the isometric
			viewpoint, which is used in the battle system.
		</p><p>
			Battles, like most console RPGs, occur in a separate engine from the game world. The system
			basically takes the player’s surroundings, changes the perspective, and zooms-in on the
			battlefield so that fights feel more up-close and personal.
		</p><p>
			Some people have found it odd that we took this approach, but that’s just how it happened. From
			the beginning, the team wanted to use a standard overhead view, while the battle system I designed
			had always had isometric in mind. It might feel a little weird to some people, but hopefully
			they’ll appreciate the work that went into designing it. If there’s much demand, we may even
			make the next version totally in isometric perspective.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q9"><em>Jeremy:</em> How will the character move about the world? Meaning, will there be constant map scrolling? Or will “regions” be the size of the screen where you walk off screen to get to the next location? (I only ask because graphical scrolling it not something VB is known for!)</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> There probably won’t be many single-screen regions, and the game will have scrolling. VB
		alone is a little weak when it comes to graphics, but with the help of DirectX, we’re capable of
		producing silky-smooth map scrolling in an RPG.
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><section>
<header>2</header>
<dl>
	<dt id="q10"><em>Jeremy:</em> Obviously, VB is not designed for game development; however, I've seen intense graphical programs (such as those by Simon Price) work extremely well if one learns and uses DirectX programming effectively. Is that the route you’re taking? Or are you attempting to squeeze water out of the VB rock another way?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> We might be crazy, but we’re not stupid. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p><p>
			DirectX is obviously going to be a necessity to achieve what we have planned. From just looking at
			the prototypes of the battle system coded in DirectX for VB, I don’t think it would’ve worked
			very well without it. We want to make a game that people will enjoy more than anything else, so
			we’d rather incorporate <abbr title="DirectX">DX</abbr> into our game to make things smoother
			rather than crank-out a game done 100% in VB that runs at 10 FPS or less on the average player’s
			computer. So we’re not sadists, either. <samp>;)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q11"><em>Jeremy:</em> You read my mind for one of my previous questions, but since you touched on it, I'll ask now. So the TGP game, and even the source, will be shareware and free for anyone to download?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> We don’t know yet. The deal is that I currently have no source of income, so TGP
			is basically my livelihood. I can just barely afford to keep the servers going, can you imagine
			how much more I'll have to pay if everyone can download the game in full right from the site for
			free? I can’t afford to pay for all that bandwidth, so unless we get some money somewhere we
			can’t even get the game out. If there’s any way we can get the game commercially published,
			I'll pursue it with the blessing of the team and hopefully the VB gaming world (how often do you
			see a VB game on store shelves?). We set out in the beginning to make a commercial-quality game in
			VB. The ultimate way to discover whether we have succeeded is to try and get it published.
			Hopefully this will pave the way to helping VB become part of the mainstream gaming scene.
		</p><p>
			As for source code, we plan to write a sort of “The Making of TGP”, which will include stories
			of each member’s experiences in working on the project, as well as the techniques used. While we
			won’t be releasing the actual source, we will give you tutorials on what we did. That includes
			everything from coding to artwork. I have just never seen the use in giving away source code. I
			feel people learn better by thinking for themselves, so I believe giving people the power to build
			a game like TGP themselves rather than just tossing its guts out to them carries with it far more
			merit.
		</p><p>
			We never directly used anyone else’s code, graphics, music, or anything, and we hope that by
			writing these diaries, rather than simply handing out source code, we will be able to teach others
			how to rely on themselves more and less on others. As for any libraries used, such as DirectX,
			vbDABL, <abbr title="et cetera">etc.</abbr>, those can be used by anyone, so those will certainly
			be available to others.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q12"><em>Jeremy:</em> You mentioned “construction tools,” which I assume means some type of “world editor.” Will this editor be the same tool you used to create the end game itself? Or is there lots of extra coding a programmer will have to do behind the scenes if they wish to make their own game with your tools?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Yes, the tools here will be what we use to create the game. TGP has its own utilities,
		including a world editor, cinema editor, scripting language, etc. The game will also be customizable. For
		instance, we’re working on a character creator where the user can create their own character, graphics
		and all, and plug them into the game. In addition, I'm interested in making the <abbr>GUI</abbr> skinnable,
		so users can customize the overall look and feel of the game.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q13"><em>Jeremy:</em> Back to the game… since it’s a futuristic setting, will there be fantastical creatures to fight, or will the “enemy” be other humans, such as thugs and master villains?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> You can expect most NPCs to be humans, but with a futuristic setting there’s lots of room
		to add other kinds of NPCs. Genetic experiments gone horribly wrong, cybernetic soldiers, mutated wildlife,
		giant robots, you name it.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q14"><em>Jeremy:</em> How big of a world are you envisioning? Assuming the character takes up one tile of space, can you approximate how many tiles tall and wide one “region” will be? How many regions are there? Will this incorporate one city? Country? Continent? World? Timeline?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Oh boy, I'm not really sure how to answer this one. The game’s setting takes place across
		a small cluster of island countries, so it’s not like traversing through an entire planet or anything.
		There are currently several regions, including villages, small towns, major cities, mountainous plateaus,
		underground fortresses, and business districts. The world itself is actually more modern than futuristic
		though, so it’s not like the regions will all be drab gray-metallic compounds and post-apocalyptic
		wastelands. As for the timeline, it sort of goes back and forth, but everything takes place in the same
		time frame. You’ll learn more about that when the game is released.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q15"><em>Jeremy:</em> From your previous answers, I assume the game will be only a single-player game?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Yes and no. The RPG itself is single-player, but there will be an external application
		where players can take their characters to do battle online against a friend. Players can use the standard
		characters from the game, or they can use the aforementioned character creator to make their own. The cool
		thing about it is that you and a buddy can compete to see who can build their character’s abilities
		faster, which we feel will add great gameplay value.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q16"><em>Jeremy:</em> Will you be controlling one character at a time? Or multiple characters in a party? Or different characters at different times?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> All of the above. At some points, you will be alone, and others you will have a full party.
		Sometimes you will take control of another character’s persona. Sometimes decisions you make at some
		point will affect whether a character joins your party or not, or may even pit you against each other as
		rivals.
	</dd>
	<dt id="q17"><em>Jeremy:</em> Like all good fantasy, character and plot are pivotal to success. Anything you can tell us about either? Names or general story arc? Or is everything hush-hush at this point?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Well, I would hate to spoil the story by telling too much at this point. We’re
			taking great pains to create a story that is robust, with a wide variety of personalities, twists,
			and messages. We’re working hard to make a dynamic story, rather than just drag the player
			through a totally linear storyline.
		</p><p>
			It is really hard to give a very detailed storyline description, since there are many
			possibilities in the directions the story can take. It basically begins with your player character
			leaving home one day to begin a new life. So, basically it is like a new canvas for the player to
			create a character that is their own, rather than force your character to be a mercenary or some
			such. Of course, if you want to be a mercenary, the choice will present itself, and the story
			picks-up from there. Depending on where you are and what you do at a certain time will determine
			which events you will experience and what stories you will play a part in.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q18"><em>Jeremy:</em> Will there be only one possible outcome to the game? Or multiple ending depending on choices the player makes? Or undetermined? Or is it an in-house secret?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> It’s a secret at this point. <samp>:)</samp>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q19"><em>Jeremy:</em> Will the “hero” be set? Or will players be able to dictate certain elements? Such as name, gender, class, race, stats, hair color, etc.?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> At the moment, the character is mostly fixed as far as appearance. The name of the
			main character will be decided by the player however, and they will be able to adjust that
			character’s stats to their liking. Not only that, there are character templates and “stat
			ramps”, so the more traditional RPG players can manually adjust their stats at level-up, and the
			more console-oriented players can use stat ramps to automatically adjust their stats for them.
		</p><p>
			The player can also assign “Characteristics,” which gives their character its own unique set
			of strengths and weaknesses. With these, characters with identical stats may still have an
			advantage in attacking, taking damage, and a whole list of others. Some are more specific, such as
			metabolism, which determines how quickly poisons and other harmful substances pass through the
			body, and ambidexterity, which determines how skilful a character is when using dual weapons.
		</p><p>
			The character’s personality will also be affected by certain decisions and actions the player
			takes throughout the game, so what you do dictates the way your character reacts to certain
			situations (but does not control decisions), and can even affect the direction the story goes at
			some point.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q20"><em>Jeremy:</em> Will the game have voice capabilities? Or will it all be text?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> The game dialog will all be in text; however, there may be some voices here and there. It
		may be just a few words, but if we feel that a short voice sample would contribute to a cutscene or
		standoff, we’ll do it.
	</dd>
</dl>
</section><section>
<header>3</header>
<dl>
	<dt id="q21"><em>Jeremy:</em> Several elements go into a game music, graphics, programming, etc. Will all these be created within the TGP team itself? Or will some elements be borrowed or purchased?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> We’ve had the good fortune to attract some very talented members to the team,
			and at this point it looks as though every element in the game can be created within the team. No
			ripped graphics, no borrowed sounds or music; we have a number of talented and dedicated
			programmers. TGP has been blessed with people who have stuck with us and who have great skills to
			contribute. Creating everything ourselves was our plan all along though, since to use copyrighted
			materials in a game that may someday be published or distributed via shareware could result in
			some very nasty legal penalties.
		</p><p>
			Of course, that doesn’t mean that TGP is 100% internally created. In fact, there are only two
			other parts of the game itself so far that we didn’t create ourselves. The first is the file
			packaging system, which is provided by Brykovian’s Crypt &amp; Pack Library
			(<a href="http://mwgames.com" rel="external">mwgames.com</a>). The other is the alphablending
			library, vbDABL, created by David Goodlad.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q22"><em>Jeremy:</em> Easter eggs. There are few programmers who can resist them. Plan on hiding any “mini-games” within your game?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Let me just say that the very first game I ever programmed in VB had an Easter egg or two
		in it. <samp>:)</samp> There will be Easter eggs, in-jokes, secrets, and all sorts of little tokens that
		players can discover. As for hiding mini-games, we’ll be actually plugging those into the story itself,
		so if there are any mini-games that have nothing to do with the story itself, try dropping a quarter into
		an arcade machine within the game. <samp>:)</samp>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q23"><em>Jeremy:</em> Are you planning on having a beta-testing stage? Releasing a demo? Do you have approximate dates for these, as well as for the completion of the entire project?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Yes, we will have a testing phase. We are going to try and release an alpha demo
			early 2003. This alpha will be released only to a few of the more active members in the VB gaming
			community to help us find bugs and make suggestions before the public beta is released for
			download. Depending on how long it takes us to fix as much as we can, this public beta may be
			released a few months after the alpha is released.
		</p><p>
			As for the final product, we’re hoping to have it mostly ready to go by the end of 2003. But as
			dictated by Murphy’s Law, everything takes longer than you think it will, so don’t get too
			angry with us once we post news of a delay. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q24"><em>Jeremy:</em> VB Internet projects like this, no matter how well they do initially, seem to fall apart at some point before actually reaching completion. Would you dare to venture a guess as to the probability that TGP will actually one day be completed?</dt>
	<dd>
		<br />
		<em>Clint:</em> Actually, TGP has fallen apart before completion. The difference between TGP and other VB
		Internet projects is that we’re a resilient, determined crowd. I can’t tell you how many fights the
		team has gone through, how many hopeless times we’ve had to endure, but no matter how bad things seem, we
		always get back on that horse. From all that we’ve gone through, I'm sure we can take a lot of abuse
		before giving up. We’ve probably gone through more garbage than any other team like ours has stood to
		endure. But it’s our brash determination and defiance of hardship that separates TGP from the ghost town
		of large-scale VB game projects.
	</dd>
</dl>
<aside>
	† See Tanner Helland’s <a href="/writing/tgp_history">history of TGP</a>.
</aside>
<dl>
	<dt id="q25"><em>Jeremy:</em> In the “VB Game Programmers Unite”† thread on the Visual Basic Explorer forum, which helped kick start TGP, you seemed rather leery of the whole idea. Yet since then, you set up the sites, made plans, became the team leader, <abbr title="et cetera">etc.</abbr> Why the sudden turnabout?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> I guess I just got TGP fever. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p><p>
			It’s a rather odd story. I'd just started frequenting the
			<abbr title="Visual Basic Explorer">VBE</abbr> forums about a month before the posting of the VB
			Game Programmers Unite thread, and I started looking through the really old topics listed in the
			Projects forum. All I saw were dozens and dozens of subjects about this guy or that guy asking
			people to join a VB gaming team. Yet, few of them had any replies, and none of them seemed to have
			gotten anywhere.
		</p><p>
			On top of this, I'd seen many “community game projects”—developed not only in VB—that had
			just sort of faded away before they were finished, and not one that had succeeded. It’s just
			common sense. It’s really hard to get people coordinated on something as huge as a game (unless
			one person could do it, but then there’s no need for a team) unless you’re in the same room.
			Not only that, everyone wants to do everything in a different way. I imagined this in my head, and
			thought “no wonder these things never work”.
		</p><p>
			Then one day, I went into the Projects forum, and spotted a post entitled “VB Game Programmers
			Unite.” I had a look at the thread, and dismissed it. DemonSpectre, the guy who posted it, made
			a sort of cattle-call urging VB programmers to come together to form one huge game team to work on
			an RPG.
		</p><p>
			I didn’t need to see all the failed team game projects to know that having a huge team would be
			completely uncoordinated, disorganized, and the quality of the material would likely be lowered
			overall. I gathered that anybody who wanted to join could, and I could just see 95% of the members
			being young kids who’d been programming two weeks and didn’t know the first thing about
			designing—let alone programming—a game of a large scale. On top of that, everyone would have
			their own ideas about what would make a good RPG, so it was sure to be a recipe for pure chaos.
		</p><p>
			I relayed this to the thread, and went on my way. Some people echoed my sentiments, while a few
			others—who actually had something to show as far as game development—seemed a bit more keen on
			the idea.
		</p><p>
			So, after some discussion on the pitfalls of such a scheme, a little debate on the C / VB wars,
			and the origins of <abbr>BASIC</abbr>, a few people started getting serious about the idea, and
			started laying out plans right there. I'd seen plenty of game projects start, but this was the
			first time that I'd seen people actually plan things out beforehand. I think this was the point
			where I started to see some potential.
		</p><p>
			Well, before I knew it, there were six people who were ready to get started. By this time, I
			thought, "hey, why not?" and jumped on the bandwagon. I was 21, was still a nervous wreck from a
			previous job, couldn’t find another, and the business I was running was failing. I saw this as a
			chance to have something fun to do while trying to rebuild the skills I had neglected due to a
			lack of time and nerves from my last job. So, I decided to fire-up my favorite HTML editor
			(Notepad) and get to work on a quick web-site.
		</p><p>
			I'm not the best at making up names, so I just named the site “The Gathering Project,” since
			it was a place where these people could gather together to work on the game. After about two days,
			we had a site with general information, news, a member roster, a message board, and a chat room,
			hosted on ad-free ’Web space from the site of my business. The others approved, and we got to
			work. So, that’s the story in a nutshell.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q26"><em>Jeremy:</em> It’s fairly common to have a general “cattle call” for programmers form on the Internet, but to make it last longer than three months is a miracle. I had success once, but only because I limited the team to three members-though even that had whittled down to two by the end. Yet TGP has multiple members and longevity. To what do you attribute such a feat?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> I suppose it’s because TGP has become more than a game project to most of us. To
			me, it’s a way of life. The project did in fact collapse after the first month or so, when some
			members just became silent, and the forums were left alone. I for one wasn’t ready to give up,
			so I got in contact with the members to see who was still serious about trying to pick the pieces
			up and keep moving. After that, we still had four members including myself.
		</p><p>
			Things were tough for a while, but we didn’t give up, and soon my inbox became flooded with
			resumes from hopeful recruits. It seems that some good recruiting decisions were made, as the
			members we have now are all hard workers and are dedicated to the project.
		</p><p>
			The keys to keeping a project together are a strong leadership, a strong team, a sense of purpose,
			and a lot of luck. I've devoted all my time to ensure that the best quality goes into the project
			and giving the team ideas on making the game better, and the team seems to really appreciate that.
			To us, TGP is more than just a game, it’s a serious endeavor to do the best we can. And TGP is
			very lucky to have as many talented workers as it does and be able to keep them motivated.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q27"><em>Jeremy:</em> What is it like to work with a team on something of this magnitude? Either from your perspective, or from your team as a whole. Any hard feelings? Rebellion? Or nothing but smooth sailing?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Well, I don’t know if I can really speak for everyone else, as I'm sure every
			member has had their own experience. I'm sure some feel as though they aren’t respected as much
			as others. I'm sure others feel as though everyone’s against them at times. And I'm sure others
			get sick of seeing other team members fighting amongst themselves. As you can see, it’s been
			anything but smooth sailing. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p><p>
			There is often tension within the team, but we all work through it. Problems don’t get solved by
			getting angry with someone and never speaking to them again. Although I feel things get done
			faster in a professional environment, I also know that it is very important to remember that
			we’re a team, none of us are perfect, and that we all have to be friends to be able to work
			together in this scenario. No promises of payment or success comes with being a member of the
			team, so it’s much easier to just up and quit something like TGP.
		</p><p>
			The thing that I think keeps TGP together is that we are like a family. I really do care about
			each member, although I may not show it as often as I would like. Sometimes it seems the only time
			I manage to say what I really think is when I'm angry, but I really… really don’t think
			clearly when I'm angry. I'm well-known for my temper (rather a lack thereof), and I'm not afraid
			to admit it, although I'm not exactly proud of it. But deep down, these guys and gal are my
			family, and I want to thank each and every member of the team, my family, for putting up with me
			for so long. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q28"><em>Jeremy:</em> Have you had a lot of member turnover?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Surprisingly, not really. I suppose my resume selection scheme can be attributed
			to this. I like to run things as a business. If someone appears professional to me, that tells me
			that they’re typically serious about what they do. Whenever I get a resume, I pay close
			attention to everything from spelling and grammar, to the sense of excitement written into the
			resume, and I also require recruits to send actual samples of their work. Anyone who writes a
			resume using "hay can i join ur teem u guyz r kewl!!1!!11″ is usually ignored.
		</p><p>
			It’s just smart business. If someone can’t take the time to use proper spelling, grammar, and
			punctuation, how can I expect them to take the time to do whatever work they are assigned? If
			someone can’t write a quality resume, how can I expect them to produce quality materials? As
			anal as this may sound, everyone I've hired using this tactic has only served helpful. We’ve had
			only one member leave since I took over recruiting, out of a total of six “hired” members
			since then.
		</p><p>
			Then of course is the sense of spirit in the project. We’re not easily discouraged, and we are
			able to get over any problems we have with others in the team.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q29"><em>Jeremy:</em> Assuming you complete the game, any ideas how you’ll advertise it? The idea of a “VB RPG” conjures up certain images… none of which are very positive. Any idea how you’ll get people past that stigma to at least give it a shot? Movies or trailers? Word of mouth? Sky writing?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Up until now, we’ve let longevity be our ad agency. We never post announcements
			to VB forums (except one time in the Visual Basic Explorer forums where the post that spawned TGP
			was made, and that was just to update the site URL when it changed), and only occasionally does it
			come into a message board conversation. Even with that, we’ve managed to get quite a few
			resumes, forum postings, and fan e-mails from people who know little to nothing about the project
			itself, just because of what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s a good idea to advertise until
			you have a substantial amount of work completed. People tend to lose interest in something over
			the months it takes to develop a game of this scale.
		</p><p>
			As for the future, we’ll simply use “target marketing.” If we post a message in a VB forum
			regarding the game, we’ll note that it is made in VB to attract that audience. If we post
			something in a general gaming forum, VB won’t be mentioned, because it should be a moot point
			there. People should play our game because it’s good, not because of the language it was made
			in. Likewise, if our game sucks, that should be the reason people don’t play it. VB doesn’t
			have any sense of fun, it just does what you tell it to (within reason). It’s not the fault of
			VB if a game is not fun, and anyone who thinks otherwise is blaming it on the tools and not
			whoever is using them.
		</p><p>
			We’ll probably let word of mouth do the advertising for us to some point. We may try sending
			demos to some PC gaming magazines that highlight certain independent games that stand out from the
			crowd. We’ll also take advantage of the two new VB gaming news sites to get the word out, and
			beyond that, there’s no telling. I suppose it mostly depends on whether or not TGP is
			commercially published.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q30"><em>Jeremy:</em> Any idea what type of ESRB rating your game will be given in the end? Will there be excessive blood and violence? Nudity? Swearing? Bill Gates in a speedo?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> Hey, how did you know we were going to have Bill Gates in a speedo?!
			<samp>:)</samp>
		</p><p>
			We’re trying for a T rating. Don’t expect mutilation or hot sex scenes, but don’t expect the
			content to be tame, either. There will be some cursing, although it will not be frequent. Of
			course, violence is something that’s hard to get around, but the only time you may see any blood
			will be during a cutscene. Don’t worry about fountains of blood spurting from one edge of the
			screen to another each time a character is hit in battle.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q31"><em>Jeremy:</em> I recently came across a marketed, commercial game on the Internet made from QBasic, of all things, which can be found at <a href="http://imerion.net" rel="external">imerion.net</a>. I'd like to think if someone can go commercial with QB, surely someone can do it in VB. Regardless if that ever happens, do you feel any pressure, externally or internally, to actually see TGP project to completion?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> .........QBASIC!? I really need to check that out!
		</p><p>
			It’s definitely inspiring. I'm not sure a game the scope of TGP would work under QB without a
			lot of retooling, but to hear that a game not coded in the almighty C / C++ is actually being
			marketed is a wonderful thing. These are the kinds of people who know how to make magic.
		</p><p>
			We haven’t had much pressure from outsiders other than those who say all large Internet VB RPG
			projects fail, but the members within the team believe in the project, and some dedicate all free
			time they have to the project. Most of the internal pressure comes from me though. I feel like
			this is the ultimate test that determines how I live my life from now on. I can walk away a loser,
			a nobody, and spend the rest of my life in BFE, or I can walk away a winner. Someone who knows
			that they have accomplished something where many have failed. It also determines whether I let
			down the members of the team by not helping them see it through to the very end, and I really
			don’t want to let them down.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt id="q32"><em>Jeremy:</em> I, as a VB programmer, am pulling for TGP and hope to see it one day reach completion. I am therefore thankful for the opportunity to conduct an interview in the hopes it will answer some questions I and others have had, and possibly spark more interest in the VB community. That said, do you have any closing thoughts? About TGP or what you would like to see from the VB community in relation to TGP?</dt>
	<dd>
		<p>
			<br />
			<em>Clint:</em> I am thankful to you as well. A year ago, I never imagined I would be the head of
			one of the largest online VB gaming projects alive today and be interviewed by another successful
			member of the VB gaming community. It’s been a fairly wild ride for me. <samp>:)</samp>
		</p><p>
			I hope that TGP is something that the VB gaming community quietly observes, yet is rooting for
			behind the scenes. Something that isn’t noticed because of what it promises, but what it will
			be. We can go about posting in every VB message board about how great and ambitious TGP is, but
			that’s just noise, like a child showing off a new toy. Rather, I hope it is noticed because of
			the silent confidence we have in ourselves, and the example we set by speaking with our actions
			more than our words. Speak softly and carry a big stick. We’ll do just enough to remind people
			we exist, and let them know we’re still working, but that’s about it for now.
		</p><p>
			As for the impact TGP actually has on the community, only time will tell. I hope that the game
			gives developers new ideas, and sends sparks through the community that will inspire members of
			the society to work on the art form of game design. Games with new ideas, innovations, and
			mechanics. I hope it makes developers look at games in new ways, and rather than say, “I'm
			working on a game similar to Game X,” they will work on games that are unique. After all, game
			design is an art, and looking at 500 forged versions of the Mona Lisa gets pretty boring after a
			while.
		</p><p>
			I want to close by saying that I hope that TGP will be something that proves that just because
			someone says something is impossible, it doesn’t make it so. My goal in life is not only to make
			people happy, but to help them become better people. To inspire them that when they think
			they’ve reached their limits, to push themselves beyond those limits, rather than just walk away
			feeling as though they’ve failed. If it weren’t for this drive to keep pressing forward when
			it seemed that we’d done all we could, we never would have realized the potential we have
			discovered in ourselves the past year. Never be satisfied with mediocrity. Never give up, do
			whatever you can to push your limits farther, because only then will you ever discover what you
			are truly capable of.
		</p>
	</dd>
	<dt><em>Jeremy:</em> Thanks for your input, Clint, and for the opportunity to conduct this interview on a project that’s making the VB community stand up and take notice. And not just from a programming standpoint, but from a managerial view since few, if any, VB RPG groups have had such longevity with a positive vision for seeing it to the end. Hopefully, this will not only result in a great finished product, but in a changed VB community mindset that this type of thing can be done and done well—if certain steps and precautions are taken early on. So good luck as others and I continue to watch and wonder at TGP from the wings. <samp>:)</samp></dt>
</dl>
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