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An interview with Hellscrag and Willis

To give all you hungry readers something to devour, Hellscrag of UnrealSP.Org and Willis of Willis Unreal (who is currently working on an upcoming UT single player map pack "Na Pali: Broken") have interviewed each other for this site. They discuss the Unreal community as a whole, mapping projects, and the future of Unreal now Unreal 2 is on the horizon.

HELLSCRAG: Tell me a bit about yourself.

WILLIS: Well, I'm 15, and in grade 10 (as you can imagine). I map and run Willis Unreal in my spare time, as well as go out with my friends... I live in Elkford, British Columbia. Looking for a level design career.

HELLSCRAG: How did you first discover Unreal and what did you think of it playing it for the first time?

WILLIS: Well, I bought Unreal a few months after it came out, I had seen previews before hand that had interested me. When I first opened Unreal I was stunned, then I was even more stunned as I played threw the first level, Vortex Rikers, the inetractivity, the "translator messages", the scripted sequences, graphics, I have never forgotten that first time feeling! Outdoor areas like NyLeve, and the Sunspire changed my view on FPS games forever. The story of the Nali, the Skaarj attacks, made me feel for the Nali, I detested the Skaarj, and it actually felt good killing them. Bought UT when it came out, been playing those ever since.

HELLSCRAG: Why do you still play its single player game today?

WILLIS: The atmosphere, and the scripted sequences. Each time I play Unreal, it seems like the first time, the atmosphere completely sucks you, you feel like you are there. Man I love that game. Specially the amazing feeling you get in NyLeve, and Bluff.

HELLSCRAG: How did you get into mapping?

WILLIS: I noticed it in the document that came with unreal that there was infact, a game editor. I was VERY interested, I wanted to make my own Unreal levels! But on it did not work, I spent months looking for a patch, then I found the Visual Basics patch. From then on I've been learning more and more, and just recently I finally d/led the new editor v2.0.

HELLSCRAG: Tell me a little about your current project, Na Pali: Broken... any juicy facts?

WILLIS: Juicy facts huh? Hmmm, well there will be alot of suprising changes in levels, making them alot more non-linear then they could have ever been, and alot of suprises... Dont want to spoil anything tho.

HELLSCRAG: Who is working on the project with you?

WILLIS: Well, atm, Rat Development is doing very little, very little indeed. So in the long run, it is Silver_Serpant and I doing all of the mapping, with a new mapper who is also helping, his name is Onik. Cory is doing all the coding for Na'Pali:Broken, and thats it. Rat Development recently mailed me saying they were gonna get back on track, they damn well better if any one besides the team wants to play NPB!!

HELLSCRAG: When can we expect to see the pack released? I also heard that you will be releasing a demo. Any news on that?

WILLIS: Well, if Rat Development does there work (NOW!), we will have a demo available to people who mail me. It will include levels 2,4,5,6 and maybe level 9. As for the big release, it will be done when we get it done, which wont be within the next two months I gaurentee.

HELLSCRAG: There seems to be a decent number of single player maps still in the works. What do you see as the future of Unreal single player now that Unreal 2 is on the rapidly approaching horizon?

WILLIS: From what I can see, Unreal 2, is not Unreal, I don't think it deserves that name, it is a sequel to a great original game. But in U2, it seems u will fight with squads, fight humans, probably have the usual weapons, and the only returning enemy is the Skaarj? What happened to the Merc, the Nali, the Krall? The feeling of loneliness is one thing that made U1 so great to play. You being the only thing left, but U2 will completely destroy the Unreal universe. Why not Syphon Filter + 10% of U1? Sound better? Once U2 comes around, U1 will die slowly... People will just, leave it, leave it to die... I wish it wouldn't happen that way... UT will still be around until Unreal Warfare I think.

HELLSCRAG: Thanks for your time, Willis.

WILLIS: Notta Problem. U2 pisses me off :).

WILLIS: Tell me a bit about yourself.

HELLSCRAG: I'm a University student, aged 19 going on 20, reading Computer Science at Southampton University in England. I run UnrealSP.Org in my spare time. I've also mapped in the past for both Unreal/UT and Quake.

WILLIS: How did you first get into Unreal? Where did you see it? How did u feel when u played it the first time?

HELLSCRAG: At the time I was a die-hard Quake fan. The game I was really looking to purchase was Quake II. But I had seen the big ads for Unreal inside the front covers of some of my gaming magazines, and thought it looked interesting. When I went to the shop, I saw both on the shelves... couldn't decide which to buy then thought "what the hell" and bought both. I'm glad I did. Quake II was OK, but Unreal, when I played it, was an eye-opening experience. Environments like Chizra, the Sunspire and the sky town had me totally sucked in. I felt great sympathy for the plight of the Nali and tried to help them wherever I can. The translator messages, music and ambient sounds made a VERY immersive environment. I've never looked back.

WILLIS: What inspired you to create UnrealSP.org?

HELLSCRAG: Unreal Tournament may be a fabulous game, but in the wave of UT mania Unreal was gradually being forgotten. It seemed people were still making single player maps, but nobody really knew where to look to find out about them, and no sites seemed to be actively reviewing them any more. I thought fans of single player deserved somewhere more substantial to hang out than the Unreal 1 board of the then PlanetUnreal Forums. So then I had this idea...

WILLIS: What made you make the hard descision to quit mapping, and cancel your project The Landing?

HELLSCRAG: Over the summer holidays, I spent an awful lot of time on my computer working on my maps. During that time I realised that it had to stop somewhere. I was simply spending too much time on my computer and something had to go. As I wasn't entirely happy with The Landing - it lacked to me that Unreal "magic" - I decided to call it a day and ditch the project (and mapping generally), in favour of more real-life pursuits for my second year at Uni.

WILLIS: Do you feel the UT/Unreal community has become alot more hostile then it used to be? And from the beggining, how do you think it has changed? For better, for worse?

HELLSCRAG: I don't know about hostile but it has certainly changed. The recent PlanetUnreal / BeyondUnreal split has torn the UT community right down the middle. Along with this, it seems that interest in UT is dwindling as the deathmatch thing becomes old and the scene becomes more "professional" and perhaps less "fun". This has actually worked in SP's favour, as people begin to drift away from UT and look back to something more imaginative, such as the inspiration that is Unreal.

WILLIS: Last of all, where did you get that name?

HELLSCRAG: LOL. Well, it dates back to the Quake days. If you played Quake you may remember a floating white creature called the Scrag, which breathed green fire? Well, I thought they were kinda cool at the time so for my first online deathmatch adopted the name Hellscrag. So it's Hell Scrag, not Hell's Crag as some people think. When I joined a budding Quake clan, I used the same nick, and it just stuck, even though I have long since outgrown the name.

WILLIS: Wow, never would of thought of that :P, thank you for your time.

HELLSCRAG: My pleasure :).

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