Treminaor from UGX
Hi there, Tomikaze here. This is an interview that I did with Treminaor who is one of the founding members of the UGX team as well as a scripter, their site manager, a level designer, lead menu designer, animator and Black Ops porter. My desire was to ask him some questions to find out more about him, his story and his thoughts on the community. (Warning: The first question is really long, but the next 9 are a lot shorter.)
Q1: What originally got you interested in custom zombies and the community and how long have you been active in the community?
Originally I had World at War on Xbox 360 and really enjoyed playing the Nacht der Untoten bonus level. I beat the whole campaign just so that I could play this level. I was fascinated by the gameplay style that had been seemingly dropped into this otherwise multiplayer FPS game. The idea of surviving with my friends was awesome, but I was disappointed that I could not beat the level. The idea of endless survival with no goal, other than to see how long you could live, seemed disparaging to me, so I quit playing it and moved on with life.
Later, Treyarch released DLC which, to many peoples’ surprise, contained a new zombiemode map (Verrückt). This was a massive improvement over Nacht because it had perks, easter eggs, and a power switch. This was enough to keep me entertained, but again it quickly became boring and I waited for another map pack. Shi No Numa came along and more of the same, but it did have the Wonderwaffe DG-2 and a zombie trap, so it was worth buying for some entertainment.
However, what really gave me a massive stiffy was Der Reise. I played that map for a ridiculous amount of hours… Pack a Punch, teleporters, major easter eggs, hidden story line, oh man! It was absolutely amazing. It was with that map that I realized what could actually be possible for this game mode. After a couple months of playing that it became clear that Treyarch was going to dump us and we would have to wait for the next CoD installment from them to get new content.
By chance, I was looking at the PC requirements for WaW and noticed that it was listed as having Mods support. I knew the potential for mods because I was already active in the Battlefield 2 modding community, so I immediately looked up some mods. The sense of joy that I remember feeling when I found a ton of maps created by the community was one of those feelings you will never forget.
I played all of the awesome community maps for about a year, and then in June 2010 I decided I would take a crack at it myself and see what I could come up with. I remember my first map (that worked) was a three story building with a teleporter system, perks, and elevator from a programmer named Wizard_of_Oz and power lights. Even with all of the problems I ran into making this map, I really enjoyed it so I made another one. After making three or four maps, I finally decided I was going to create a WIP topic on ZombieModding.com and see if people would support a map that I could develop. My first WIP topic was for a map called Nazi Zombie Tower, and it was basically a snipers-only map. It was well-enough received to keep me motivated to make new content but I decided mid –development that it was not a worth the time it would take to complete it, so I started a different, more mainstream style map that didn’t involve sniper rifles.
Gasthof was my first major WIP topic, and to this day it is one of the highest viewed WIP topics on ZombieModding ( 111,310 views and 320+ replies). This map was the pivotal point of my modding career. It was on this map that I discovered all the major aspects of modding WaW such as scripting, texture importing, weapon modding, custom weapon importing, custom anim importing, and more. This map had all sorts of weird stuff on it, most of which you can still view on my YouTube channel. Although this map was never finished or released, it served as my learning grounds and the foundation for my next project, UGX Cabin.
There are many major things to discuss with Cabin, the biggest of which is that it is the first UGX map ever made. During the course of developing Gasthof, I met W1NG3D, who at the time was a 13 year old kid from New Zealand. He was very mature for his age and we got along very well. He helped me out with mapping issues and I shared a lot of my current work with him. One night we were talking to each other about the success of ZCT (ZombieChickenTaco) and how fun it would be to have a team like that for our own. We thought about it for a couple days and considered about 10 different acronyms before settling on ‘UGX – The Ultimate Gaming Experience’. Yes, Experience starts with an E, but UGE doesn’t have a ring to it, now does it! From there we decided we wanted our first map to be something huge. Something the community had never seen before. We didn’t want to release more of the same generic maps that everyone already had enough of. We attempted to make the most immersive and difficult objectives-based map that the community had ever seen, and most would agree with me when I say we succeeded. Many have mentioned in their reviews of the map that it is incredibly immersive and beautiful, and now almost two years later there are still people trying to get a spot on the highscores list and still people looking for walkthroughs on YouTube. I would consider that a success, and one hell of a first map for a team of three people. I was in charge of all scripting as well as mapping 90% of the outside area of the map. W1NG3D was responsible for the entire cabin and underground area, as well as any map-related bugfixing. Cold (aka Steaddy) was responsible for the main menu music and endgame music. The launch of UGX Cabin was not overwhelming by any means, but it has made up for that in longevity.
From that point on, I decided I wanted to take things to the next level, so I developed a small website at ugx-mods.com which featured a projects page where you could view our current projects and see a percentage of completion. About a month later, I decided I wanted more than that, so I launched a forum section for UGX-Mods. Then I realized why bother maintaining a projects page when we have a whole forum, so I removed the homepage and made the forum the homepage of the website. Since then I have spent over 500 hours maintaining and managing the forum website and trying to make it the best possible place for mature discussion about modding WaW. I’ve tried my best to create a feeling in the users that they are on a website that expects more from them then a typical plain box-map with no custom features. If you will notice in the projects section, there are no maps like that currently posted. This is not because I hide them, remove them, or even discourage them, but simply because I believe I was successful in instilling the public opinion that I just described.
To answer the second half of the question succinctly, I have been active for over 3 years and active in UGX for over 2 years.
Q2: If you could change one thing about the direction the community has gone what would it be?
I would strongly advise other communities to start employing the same mentality that I have created at UGX Mods, where you should strive to not only release your best possible work, but that you should feel like you need to introduce something that hasn’t been done before and is appealing to a wide audience. I would also encourage the community to stop being so critical of newbie work, and instead suggest ways for them to improve their map and release something that everyone can enjoy. Being discouraging or insulting them is not going to help the situation.
Q3: Name one custom zombie map out there that you wish you would have made, and why?
I don’t necessarily wish I had made the map, but I wish a map/mod I’d made would have had as much release-date hype and excitement surrounding it as JV’s Project X did.
Q4: Has there been one feature, like a gun or perk or other mapping invention that has stood out to you as your favorite or most important?
I assume I have to exclude my own accomplishments here, haha. I think the inventions present in Treyarch’s DLC maps such as the Pack-a-Punch machine, Wonderwaffe DG-2, teleporter devices, and perk machines are the spark of the fire that has been the community since 2009. Arguably without the ideas that Treyarch managed to put into those 3 DLC maps, it would have at the very least taken a lot longer for the community to realize the potential of the Modding Tools provided to us, if at all.
Q5: If there were no limitations on the modding tools or game engine what is one thing you wish you could make in a map?
I could go on for hours about this question, but I’ll just choose a couple major facets to discuss. Pretty much everyone who has tried modding WaW for more than about 3 hours has discovered that there are specific limitations put in place by Infinity Ward for this modified version of the CoD4 engine which regulate the amount of textures, sounds, effects, hinstrings, stringtables, Radiant brushes, terrain patches, and more that can be used simultaneously in one map/mod. This is the single most frustrating aspect of the entire world of WaW modding, and one that you rarely have to worry about in other games. If these restrictions were not in place, UGX Mod would have 100+ custom weapons, it would be a drag-and-drop install for mappers, the list goes on.
The other annoying engine limitation is that we do not have full source code access, which means we cannot add any new features that are not supported in one way or another by the current CoD5 version of the IW engine. Whenever Treyarch wants to add some spiffy new feature (i.e. Dual-wielding, complex new wonderweapons, handheld flashlights, etc) in their new games, they just modify the engine code to support this new feature and call it done. This is completely impossible in World at War and is the reason many features from Black Ops I and II have not been brought into WaW. If I could choose one thing to add to the engine, it would be the ability to track any keys that the user is pressing while playing. Currently the engine only gives us access to the use, melee, ADS, fire, and grenade keys. This makes implementing certain features very tricky and limited.
Q6: How long did it take to make the original UGX Mod and how many people where involved?
Over 2000 hours total over a span of 1 year (22% of the year was spent on mod development). Specific UGX Mod credits can be found in the Credits menu of UGX Comosea.
Q7: What gun on the UGX Mod are you most proud of how it turned out?
At the risk of sounding full of myself, my crossbow is my favorite weapon because it was the most difficult to get 100% exact as far as the bolt physics and sticking to zombies and objects. The Thundergun was a close second but was not as difficult. To this day I have not seen one successful port of my Crossbow, Thundergun, or Winter’s Howl in any other mod or map, which should be a testament of the accomplishment.
Q8: Even though it's a few years older than the UGX Mod, what are your thoughts on the ZCT Mod?
It was the inspiration not only for UGX Mod but the creation of the UGX team itself. It set the standard for standardized map modification and also had some really innovative gameplay. It definitely has its place in history.
Q9: With this latest version of the UGX Mod you spent a good amount of time and effort finding out what the community wanted to see in a Mod, what caused you to want to get the community so involved?
I feel that the UGX Mod should and will be the magnum opus of the UGX Modding team, and I want to leave the community with something they helped create and guide along. I hope that even after our team becomes inactive in the modding community that the UGX Mod will continue to be a popular way to add a lot of fun to a stock map, and I even hope that once we stop releasing updates that someone else takes it upon them to add even more coding elements and features to the final version of UGX Mod in order to keep it relevant and alive. However without the help and encouragement from the community, I would probably not even be doing a UGX Mod v1.1.
Q10: If you could give some advice to up and coming mappers out there what would it be?
You should not be satisfied with a map of your school that is about as detailed as a kindergarten drawing of your parents. Even if it takes over a year, work on your skills and refine your work until you feel confident that your map could stack up against some of the best.
Don’t settle for mediocrity, and remember that it takes time and dedication to do your best. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be very afraid of getting people to do things for you without you yourself understanding the exact process. This includes following tutorials written by other people! Don’t just read the words and do what it says – learn why they do what they do, and learn the inner workings of it, so that you can go on to create something better. Eventually you should be at the point where you laugh at the idea of reading a tutorial for World at War, regardless of what its subject matter may be. It’s always more rewarding to figure out something alone than to have someone else walk you through it.
Big thanks to Treminaor for the interview and guys be sure to check out what is going on at www.ugx-mods.com for the latest news on the UGX Mod v1.1 COMING SOON!