|Scott from NovaHQ |Added: October 29th 2015
This month’s interview is with Scott from NovaHQ
Name: Scott Lucht (aka Panther)
Occupation: Systems Admin/Web Developer
Q: Hi Scott, you have the site Novahq.net, where did it all start?
Sometime in late 2000 / early 2001 I had a local friend (no connection to DF) that was good at creating websites. I had been playing DF2 for a while but DFLW got me interested in making missions. Together, we built Panthers Den (panthersden.hypermart.net, see image here: http://novahq.net/images/history/panthersden.png ), which was a personal site for my DFLW missions. Eventually I started accepting other people’s missions. I became more familiar with the other mission makers in the community and met StevieB who ran UK Delta Force (see image here: http://novahq.net/images/history/ukdeltaforce.png ). One day I contacted him, asked him if he wanted to create a massive DF resource site (Pancho & Heavy, Fat & Harry, Delta Force Barracks, Df2hq, etc. where the heavyweights back then). He said yes and DF-HQ.com was born (check out our first banner: http://novahq.net/images/history/df-hq.comban1.jpg .....WOW). We focused mostly on missions, files and news for all the Delta Force games. We changed names from DF-HQ.com to DFHQ.NET (see first design here: http://novahq.net/images/history/dfhq.net1.png ) because of a domain name dispute, and then finally to Novahq.net before Joint Operations was released. Over the years we eventually became one of (if not) the largest resource sites for NovaLogic Delta Force games.
Q: At a point you had 3,000 visitors a day, what was going on there?
The community was very active 2000-2004ish. At some points (new game release) we had well over 3,000 visitors a day. At the activity peak we had 579 active people just on the forums at the same time. It was a very exciting time as it was a dream of mine to have one of the largest resource sites. We were just busy trying to keep the content fresh. I was contacted to sell the site many times by the massive GameSpy, GamersHell and the PlanetGames websites but I was having so much fun I never even responded.
Q: You also have the site phphq.Net can you tell us more about this site?
Having a site as large as Novahq.net, I eventually got tired of updating it manually. So I learned PHP with the help of some of the older community members. I eventually started releasing PHP scripts. Most of the initial ones were for the DF community. Now I do custom programming for a variety of clients and that’s my personal website for that. I don’t update it much but that does not mean I’m not building PHP scripts :).
Q: What are the future plans for NovaHQ ?
To keep it going as long as I can. I just re-coded the whole site from scratch this year (2015) so that the code base is more modern and works with PHP7 (The whole site is a completely custom CMS except the forums, and that’s highly integrated). I really want to help bring people back to the older games and let them know people are still playing, even though they aren’t as active as they used to be. I want to help the small community any way I can. I want to make it easy for players to play the games they used to play and love, again. I recently started learning C# and have been busy building tools for players and hosts. DF1 never really had many utilities so I’ve been having fun figuring it all out. I’ve built a stats program (http://www.df1stats.com), player editor, and have almost completed my live map manager and auto messenger. I have no idea what I’d build next but I’m having fun learning and I believe it’s really helping the community grow and realize that the games aren’t dead..
Q: AKA Panther, with a fast connection and hosting your own server, you would be unstoppable right?
Haha, it would seem. But I don’t host this stuff from my “home” internet anymore. I do it at my business on a pretty nice business cable connection. Before I moved out into the country I did have a very fast cable connection and did host everything from home. I was also a much better player :)… Now days I focus more on playing the game type and less time trying to kill as many people as possible. I’m just happy to be playing these old games after all this time.
Q: Has the community changed over the years? If so How?
Yes. It’s obviously shrunk considerably over the years. Almost all the people I used to know that programmed for these games have gone MIA. Most of the players I knew are MIA. It’s actually rather hard to find the people I used to play with, because all the communication channels have changed. No one uses MSN, ICQ, etc. anymore. Some players are coming back to the older games via word of mouth and nostalgia. I think as people get older, and have more time (married, had kids that are now older etc.), they long for the “good ol’ days” and start looking up the older games again. Right now the community for DF1 and DF2 is really unique because we all seem to all know each other, and seem to be an older, more mature crowd. We’re not filling MULTIPLE servers every night but a few nights a week there is a good game or two going. And the DF1 DAY event every Sunday at 1PM CST has been a huge success. We usually play for many hours with 16 players. It’s a real blast from the past and a great group of people.
Q: DF1 is 17yrs old but people still submit maps, what’s going on there? Are people still playing it?
Absolutely! The Facebook Group (http://bit.ly/groupdf -- Please ignore the “brazil” in the Facebook URL, it’s for all countries but Facebook won’t let us change it) has been working hard to promote DF1 the last few months, trying to bring old players back. So far it’s working; the Facebook group went from only 400 to over 600 members in less than two months. I have been working hard on tools and other things to try and remove the barrier that players and hosts had while hosting and playing DF1. The members are working hard to create game play videos to post on other websites to let people know we’re still playing. We have full server games a few times a week. We see new names all the time, and a lot of the same people but that’s OK. We’re also working hard to promote the DF2 Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/45040714285/) for DF2 players to come back and play. It’s working, as that group now has almost 1,000 members.
Q: Are the older games having a comeback?
The lobby was broken for many years (games would not show in the NovaWorld lobby) and that really killed a player’s ability to easily join DF1 and DF2 games. People couldn’t just download the game from Steam, or install it from their CD and play online. They had to jump through hoops opening ports, downloading pingers and installing patches that caused a lot of confusion and was difficult for a lot of people. In 2015, devilsclaw released a patch that fixed the lobby issue for these games. Because of that and the very supportive community spreading the word, we are seeing more and more players join our groups and joining our games. It’s never going to be like it was, but we also haven’t played with 16 players consistently for hours on Sundays and on some weekdays like we have the last few months. It’s been really great.
Q: Which was your favorite DF Series?
DF2 and DFLW were my favorites. I started playing on DF2, and eventually moved to DFLW. I played A LOT of LW and a little TFD. I never really moved to BHD/JO as at the time I was in college and had so many projects I just didn’t have time to get into another MP game. I tend to get really absorbed and I needed to focus on school at the time. Right now I play mostly DF1 (even though I’m not very good at it as I never played it until 2015) and a little DF2/LW when I get frustrated with DF1 :). Funny how I’ve had a DF1 CD since 1999 but finally got around to installing it in 2015 and now it’s the one I play the most. But like always, I’m completely absorbed in DF1 right now, so much so that I started learning how to build applications just because of it. It’s the same thing that happened with Novahq.net and me learning PHP. I just love figuring things out and helping the community.
Q: You had a contact inside NovaLogic, is this still the case?
No one has a contact with anyone at NL that I know of. I’ve tried pretty much everyone. I’ve tried calling, emailing, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Nothing. Most of the old employees are gone, and the rest will not talk. I hear NL is down to only a few employees, if that.
Q: With a 7 year gap do you think NovaLogic will release another game?
No, but I really hope I’m wrong. I mean they did release a F22 Lightning update in June, 2015. You never know. NovaLogic never really kept up with the times.
Q: If you could say something to NovaLogic what would it be?
Just give us something. A tweet, an email, anything, even if a new game is never going to happen. If a new game isn’t going to happen and you’re going to close your doors please sell me the source for DF1 and DF2 :)…
Q: If NovaLogic closed would you still keep the site going?
I have no plans to close NovaHQ no matter what happens to NL. Even if I only get one visitor per day. If they close the lobbies, I already have a replacement lobby for DF1 and DF2 in the works. Thor @ Novaworld.cc has already built lobbies for some of the other games (He’s done some amazing work). The games simply will not die. The community has enough people dedicated enough to keep it going. The community is what made these games great. It’s simply the best around.
Q: Any words for the community reading this?
Thanks for everyone’s support over the years. It has meant a lot to me. And thanks to all the other site owners, programmers and community members that have kept on even though the community is not what it used to be. The community is what made NovaLogic games the success they were, without that, we wouldn’t be having this interview right now :). THANK YOU!