|StevieB from NovaHQ |Added: December 1st 2015
This month’s interview is with Steve from NovaHQ
Location: Sheffield UK
Occupation: IT Customer Support (Field Based)
Age: 30 something
Hi Guys, first off thanks for this opportunity for the interview, it’s really cool after all these years that sites like Nova-Outpost continue to update and support a community that’s somewhere like 17 years old. Here’s to the next 17 eh?? The questions brought back a lot of memories and stuff I haven’t thought about for many years so thanks for that, I hope reading the answers brings back some good memories for others to.
Q: Hi Steve, you are involved with UK Delta Force, where did it all start?
UKDF was my own contribution to the DF community back in the day, a map review site mainly, you would submit your maps for me to review and maybe win map of the week.
My inspiration came from PanchoandHeavy.com a site created by Pancho Villa and Heavy Waco who themselves would review maps submitted by the community, that wait from submitting a map until seeing the review was tense, addictive!
The community was immense back then, tons of huge sites DF2HQ, DF3.net, Fatandhairy, dfbarracks, DF Arena, hard to remember them all, a lot of map makers had their own sites to including myself, I always had my own site for my own maps.
I’ve actually just done some googling and found an archived version of the site http://www.oocities.org/ukdeltaforce/ affectionately known as the Blue Screen of Death Site due to obvious reasons. Forgive me while I have a moment of nostalgia.
Things are different these days, all flashy and good looking sites, media, video, high bandwidth stuff… all we used to have was 56K modems, trial versions of paint shop pro (27MB which you could just about download in an hour before your connection dropped), floppy disks and Geocities!
I had no internet connection at home so I used to check my emails at university, if there was any new maps, download them, save them to floppy disk, take them home, play on LAN, review the maps and then write the review using geocities page editor when I was at university the next day or so. Tough work but I couldn’t get enough of DF.
I’ve only just realised that I should have called the site DFUK, has a much catchier name! ;)
Q: You are quite a map maker, where did mapping start for you?
A friend I met at university had a PC and Delta Force 2, I was immediately hooked, I had only played Doom and the original Grand Theft Auto before but this was on a different planet for me (never seen original Delta Force at this point).
Due to the lack of internet, the single player missions were getting a little worn out and we noticed that there was a mission editor, I think we were interested in the list of objects that were in the game that we hadn’t seen in the missions and started making maps filled with everything so we could see what we had been missing.
Most early attempts were single player maps with huge amounts of friendly and enemy AI followed by awesome firefights.
You don’t want to know how long it was until I realised that you could actually zoom into the map in the editor!! No wonder I never managed to make a wall without all the pieces being 20m apart hahah.
I used to do a lot of research at the resources sites I mentioned earlier, people used to get really creative like faking tank fire (claymore on the end of a tank barrel, trigger areas and explosion event at the target area), setting up fake tripwires and little cool stuff that I thought was so awesome.
Things changed a lot for me in terms of DF stuff when DFLW came out, I had an ok PC to work on and some internet connection to finally play some multiplayer, I still remember my first game on the stock map Tumble Weeds. To be honest, after that I spent a lot more time creating maps than playing the damn game haha. I saw that happen to a lot of map makers, grinding out maps, getting obsessed with the details, hard to explain if you didn’t catch that bug yourself.
The amount of resource sites, forums and helpful community members helped a lot, the guys at Terranova pushing the boundaries etc there was always someone to help and advise.
Even with the basic tools, and limited items, it was remarkable what could be achieved. It was about what you could come up with next that no-one had seen before, it wasn’t even about playing the game that much. For example I managed to get hold of BHD a few days before release, I loaded the mission editor before the actual game (played demo previously), saw that perfect terrain for a beach map, spent a few days working on it, even creating events were players would die slowly if they were camping/sniping from the water, and released the map on the day of release - SB DDay if I remember correctly.
I don’t even know if my maps are available anywhere anymore, they were all called ‘SB_xxxx’ (short for StevieB).
I remember going to my first ever LAN party with a group that held them regularly and after playing various games that I was not great at, someone suggested DFLW and using “all those SB maps we downloaded”, I was too shy to own up to making them but proceeded to kick some ass knowing both the game and the maps back to front lol. That was a pretty cool moment.
Q: I also see you have done some tutorials as well, was there a learning curve to conquer?
The info was always around but it was not in any order or in one place, the same questions were often asked but there were not many FAQ’s. I saw a document one time relating to ‘Z’ values for items in DF2 (the height of certain objects), so I made one for DFLW. I couldn’t make nice websites, or code utilities, nor did I have a decent internet connection to play well either so I did what I could for mappers instead.
The tutorials are varied and some are extremely basic, but sometimes that is just what someone needs, instead of a fully blown guide if someone realises they can make a map in a few minutes then they are more likely to give it a go and progress from there.
I know they are really out of date, these days it would all be on Youtube! Video tutorials would have been awesome back then.
Making a map was not difficult, making one that other players remembers was a little tricky. Good single player maps are the toughest IMHO, WAC files and all that stuff that came with BHD started to go above my head but plenty guys in the forums can just reel that kind of thing off no problem and kudos to those guys.
The hardest thing to explain was making custom terrains, they are not exactly easy to add to servers either so it’s difficult to get it all working.
Q: Any tips for Mappers starting out?
It’s pretty damn cool to play on a map you have made yourself, especially when others like it to. You won’t make the best map ever straight away, but take in some feedback and make a better one next time.
There is always help out there, the only stupid question is one that is not asked.
Read some tutorials, you will see that there are tutorials for things that you didn’t even realise you could do. Check out a doc called 101 MED tips, it’s full of little things like that.
Making custom things out of the standard objects is one of my favourite things but can take a long time to get right, the effort is always worth it.
If you see something out of place, then fix it.
Also this might seem odd but I always used to add quite a lot of sound markers to add some atmosphere, I don’t know if other map makers used to do that or not.
Q: I see you’re also into graphics, can you tell us more?
I think that might be Scott’s fault, I’m sure I helped with some of the designing of DFHQ when it first started, or making signatures in the forum with my trial version of paint shop pro. Making ‘sigs’ was another thing I became obsessed with, there was a lot of that kind of thing at all the DF community sites, even some sig/gfx dedicated sites sprung up.
I made quite a few different themes for NovaHQ, you can select these on the main page (not everyone realises), some of our community and members made some of those as well.
I would have loved to do graphic design but I’m not a very creative person and I’m extremely critical so I rarely finish things or get annoyed and delete things.
If an app or game can be skinned, or edited using Photoshop then I usually give it a go at some point, I really like customising stuff.
Q: Which software do you use?
Photoshop CS6 currently, but have used everything from Paint, Paint.net, Flash, Gimp, paint shop pro, some 3D stuff but didn’t really have time to learn properly.
Q: How did you come to be part of NovaHQ?
Scott aka Panther give me a shout one day to see if I would team up to create a mapping site, I seem to remember the sticking point for me was moving on from UK Delta Force because that meant a lot to me at the time.
TBH I was very fortunate to be involved, I mean what I had was almost nothing (UKDF) but I was getting involved with something much bigger, I didn’t code, or help much with the site creation, I was good as posting in the forum though haha. You should ask Scott what my USP was because I’m not sure, maybe because I was crazy about mapping, or maybe it was because I’d give him Map of the Week @ UKDF http://www.oocities.org/ukdeltaforce/pages/mapoftheweek.htm
The site launched with a huge amount of maps, and that’s what we were first and foremost – a mapping site, we were a hit and never looked back. I think we had a few ups and downs and a few name changes but were still going after all these years, I’m really proud that Scott never sold the site and never had advertising, every few years he just recodes the whole site to keep it up-to-date, Scott’s blood type is NOVAHQ+
Q: Which was your favourite DF Series?
I flipping love DF2 voxels (hiding in the grass!!) but DFLW is the one I spent most of my time with. TFD was in there also and also some BHD and Joint Ops. DFLW just came at that point where I had all the free time, computer gaming and computers in general were all new to me so I was just obsessed.
For me I have to be having fun with a game to stick with it, it’s not always about the game, it’s who you are playing with. Because I was into mapping so much, I didn’t play online that much but was finally persuaded to join a clan called Predators *PR* by SH (StealthHunter) (Endi) who I ended up meeting in real life along with a ton of other *PR*s at a LAN / party / BBQ / good old time organised by the clan in Germany.
In the end the clan moved over to Ghost Recon which was when BHD had been out a while and TBH I wasn’t a great fan of Joint Ops so that became my game of choice where we played competitively, I became vice captain for Team United Kingdom, then I ended up going to Sweden to Beta test Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter at GRINs offices in Stockholm. I owe these and a lot of other experiences to DF!
Q: Anything you would like to say to the community?
Simply thanks for the all the hits and content you have sent over the past 14 years. I think most gaming communities are unique in their own way and DF was unique in a really good way. Keep sticking with us, I can’t see us going anywhere any time soon :)