Interview with ZCTxCHAOSx
Hello zombie slaying fanatics out there, it's time for another interview with someone in the zombie modding community. This week I got to sit down and pick the brain of one of the custom zombie mapping greats and I asked the questions that you all were dying to know about him, his past and his plans for the future. So, sit back in your burgundy robe, light up one of Cuba's finest, poor yourself a little something on the rocks and enjoy getting a crash course look into the mind of...ZCTxCHAOSx!
Q1: What originally got you interested in custom zombies and the community and how long have you been active in the community?
A1: I was an XBOX player of CoD4 and WaW until the final red ring of death that happened outside of my warranty period. Not wanting to purchase another 360 I figured I would see how my laptop could run them both.
I registered to CustomCOD.com in March of 2009 so I suppose that is around the time I became aware of the custom community.
I cannot recall the exact way I was made aware of the custom community but possibly from searching the MP servers and seeing custom maps.
Q2: Can you explain how ZCT was started, give people a little history from your perspective on how it all began. Was ZCT created out of a desire to make a Mod or did the Mod come later?
A2: Zombie Chicken Taco (ZCT) was the brainchild of x8105 and his wife VixenLove. x8105 made some really great maps (pre mod) and wanted to get a scripting/mapping team together to make it even more awesome. ZCT mod v1 was born.
I do not remember the exact circumstances that brought everything to a whole but it just kinda worked out well.
Q3: What was your role on the ZCT Team and how many people were part of ZCT in its prime?
A3: My original role was actually as a multiplayer mapper. At that time the Rising Mod for World at War was getting popular and the ZCT team joined forces with HoLy the original creator of The Rising mod.
I ended up making somewhere around five MP maps that were set up to run the Rising mod. They can still be found and played on Rising servers if you search for gametype Cooperative in the MP server list.
BTW The Rising is like zombiemode only it is on MP servers hosting up to 64 players slaying down the hoards.
If I had to guess I would say somewhere around 7-10 people were a part of ZCT in its prime.
Q4: What is the most exciting innovation or creation that you've seen come out of the custom zombie community? Is there a feature, gun or idea that has stood out as the most important to you, or at least that has been your favorite?
A4: Not to toot my own horn or anything but... toot toot. The winnable ending was born in my map 420 Laboratory. Even with all the custom guns/perks etc these days, the one thing 99 percent people who play custom maps want is some sort of ending to the map.
I need to thank Tom BMX here as he was the script writer for just about any idea that I could think up.
In a very close second place I must commend the UGX team for the game modes they have implemented. Anything where someone can win or there is some kind of objective to why you are playing is great in my book.
Q5: There seems to be a lot of modding and mapping clans within the custom zombie community with this clan talking bad about that clan and so on. Do you think that greater maps could be made if the clans worked together as a whole or do you think these competing groups are pushing each other to achieve the greatest possible maps for the community?
A5: Competition is healthy for developing new and innovative ideas. This has gone a little overboard lately with what almost seems like wars. However I still think it helps people try to "One Up" each other and that usually works out well for everybody.
In saying that I would still like to see some unity. Just because you are a member of 'Group A' shouldn't mean you can't contribute a map or some ideas for 'Group B' to improve.
This is at the end of the day is still a non-paid hobby for us and we should all do whatever is good for the overall community.
Q6: You have used the UGX Mod recently in your map Zebba Farms; do you feel at all like by doing that you've turned your back on the ZCT Mod?
A6: No. I do not feel obligated to use any specific mod. People know about ZCT and there are quite a few maps already out showcasing the mod.
In a sense I did what I felt was right for the overall feel and good of this map. It is a somewhat small map, with nothing ultra special in terms of in map easter eggs or anything. I felt the UGX mod would give it the replay value with the different game modes and weaponry.
The UGX team did a wonderful job on the mod and I was more then happy to put such great work into one of my maps.
Q7: There seems to be certain groups within the community that don't like UGX for whatever reason and you could have avoided a lot of potential criticism by not going the UGX route. What was it about the UGX Mod that made you want to use it as opposed to just releasing without a mod?
A7: I pretty well answered this in question 6. The different game modes, power ups, weapons etc. are all very fun and gives great replay value.
I do tend to take the players interests into consideration but a lot of the tiffing and what not is unnecessary and shouldn't take attention from the quality of the work itself.
Q8: It appears that Zebba Farms is part 1 out of 3 maps in a Wizard of Oz series you are doing; is there anything that you can tell me about part 2 and 3 of the series?
A8: Basically all I can tell you right now, and not because I am withholding info but rather my ideas come as I am making the maps, the next map will be Emerald City followed up by OZ itself.
Q9: Will Zebba be the star of this whole series or are there people that you are going to pay tribute to? How long did it take to make Zebba Farms?
A9: I needed a name for the first map which I knew was going to be a Farm like the start of the original movie. One day I came up with the name Zebba Farms while trying to think of some way to highlight Zebba for the overall map theme. Zebba Farms was born in and will stay in Overland Park, Kansas.
(Speaking of, Overland Park, Kansas is a little easter egg for myself of where I lived during my high school years)
I will most likely do more of the poster type cameos as seen in Zebba Farms and probably a few other things in the next map. Nothing as major as a map name or anything however.
The time it took is a little tricky to calculate. It has gone through about 4 different script changes. The one before I put the UGX mod was set to be awesome and you can see some video of it on EssoFPS's channel. Sadly I couldn't get the errors worked out fully and had to pull the stuff out for now. Hopefully I can get it sorted for Emerald City. The map itself took maybe 3 weeks or so.
Q10: List your 3 favorite custom zombie maps and why are they your favorite?
A10: Truth be told I do not play a whole lot of maps lately mostly because I do not like to play solo and it can be tricky getting people together to play.
If a map comes highly recommended to me then I will give it a go. So I guess I am one of the luckier ones that has not been subjected to the 15 minutes of fame maps that have come out lately.
I really cannot pick three because there is too many that I would consider including a couple of mine. Maybe 15 or 20 total.
One map that will always hold a place in my heart however is Dead Sand Elite. Even with no ending it was really the God Father of Custom Scripting. And the map itself was fantastic. Four player coop on Dead Sand is an experience unlike any other map.
Q11: As a respected member of the custom zombie community can you give some advice to new up and coming mappers?
A11: Take your time and do it right. I understand the feeling when you make something and it works to get it out for the public as soon as possible.
Well when that map is a couple of blank square rooms with zombies getting stuck or whatever even the small amount of effort was not worthwhile.
Both for good and bad Youtube has been a major contributor to the sudden rise in popularity of Custom Zombie Maps and everyone and there mother wanted to be "famous" by having a big name youtuber play their map in a video.
I use these videos as reference for ideas and changes that will help in the future of my maps. I listen to the likes and dislikes and try to adjust things in my maps to equal all things out.
One reason I believe my maps are somewhat popular is because I try to cater to the needs of all the players out there. I always take into account the play area and how the flow and "trains" will run in that area.
It should be hard enough where there is a decent chance to die, but not so hard as to make people rage quit.
Another thing that I personally do is make everything double wide. Doorways, walkways or anything you "go through" should be large enough to accommodate 2 players. This I believe is one of the best things you can implement in your maps. Every movement should be fluid without getting caught up on something or on your teammates. This also extends to making sure all your clips line up with no edges to get stuck on. Very rarely if at all will you find a single door opening only wide enough for one person in my maps.
Second is to do a little detailing. Sure everyone is not a Radiant master. I personally am still learning with every map I make. A little debris on the floor or a poster here and there goes a long way. If you want your map to be played more than once, give people something a little special to look at while spending their time in your map when there is many other ones they could be playing.
In the days I started there were no script placers or all the other tutorials there are today. The map was special due to the map looks and playability itself and not because it has a thousand special scripts.
Sadly these days people can easily create a map, use some tutorials to put in a ridiculous amount of special stuff and not do much with the map itself hoping the special scripts will carry it. Truth is the only place it gets carried is right to the recycle bin.
In summary it takes a special someone to make good maps. Research on youtube to see what people like and do not like and get your map looking like something you can be proud of.
I am always happy to help those that show they care. So please just ask if you need help figuring something out.
A HUGE thank you to ZCTxCHAOSx and for his willingness to take time out of his week to allow us to live, even for a moment, in his shoes. I hope you all enjoyed this interview; I love being able to find out more about these mappers, how they think and what matters to them in the community. Now, I'm off to play 3000 rounds of Zebba Farms and I suggest that you do the same.
Download the map, Zebba Farms, here at UGX-Mods.com