Sunday, August 30, 2009

Interview with The Wind Age team

Renwood and OogaBooga were kind enough to lend me some time for an interview on their ambiguous project, The Wind Age.

Jon God: Hiya, thanks for taking the time to talk to me, now, if you would, tell everyone about your project.

OogaBooga: Alright, currently we're developing new maps, units, and special effects for our project, The Wind Age.

Renwood: All new high res effects.

OogaBooga: It takes place during, of course, the wind age.

Renwood: Err, High-Def really.

Renwood: Since you can see in fine detail.

Renwood: What exactly it is your looking at.

Jon God: The wind age is around the same time as Myth III, if I am correct?

Renwood: Nope.

Renwood: Well.

OogaBooga: It's adjacent.

Renwood: Myth 3 takes place during the ass end of the wind age.

Renwood: As in Moagim reborn/Connacht timelines.

Jon God: So are we going to see any references between The Wind and the The Wolf age games?

Renwood: Ours is the beginning of the wind age.

Renwood: Well or its allready in a few hundred into it.

Renwood: It seems to be around the time mazz was alive.

Jon God: Since this is prequel are we going to have reasons that new units wouldn't exist in later times (Myth TFL, Myth II), or is it going to be the same as Myth 3 which will give you more breathing room?

OogaBooga: One of the themes of the cycle is the destruction of humanity, and its eventual rebuilding.

OogaBooga: So lost technology plays a large factor in the unit set.

OogaBooga: If you recall, the end of the wind age did not end with the light being victorious - but rather, being scattered and huddled together in misery while the myrkridian hordes roamed the land, despite the death of moagim.

Renwood: Yes entire citys towns or kingdoms that were wiped out long ago.

OogaBooga: So much of the old technology was lost.

Renwood: Just like in our timeline.

Jon God: Makes sense to me, what kind of technology should we expect to see?

OogaBooga: The dwarves will have explosive shrapnel devices, some of them even using shape-charges, to blast a cone pattern of the evil debris at enemies.

OogaBooga: There are even talks of crude firearms..

Renwood: The plan is to start with a TFL-ish kind of level of weapons tech and then as the war lasts years upon years, the diffrent races and faction start developing more and terrible weapons to use against each other.

OogaBooga: But of course, you'll be able to see the lovely (and lost to the ages) dwarven cannons that made the defense of Stoneheim and Myrgard such a difficult opposition for the ghols.

Jon God: Have the dwarves being the age old enemies of the Ghol, made any sort of melee weapons?

OogaBooga: The dwarves have always had a penchant for explosives, but we may be seeing some other, more traditional style melee warriors for the dwarves.

Renwood: there are dorfs that like to hack thing up nice and close.

Jon God: I look forward to finding out. :)

OogaBooga: The great forges of the dwarves siezed up and became monuments of a bygone era when the ghols finally overthrew their cities, and were too ignorant and tribal to adopt metalworking.

Renwood: But they would be maybe more like the jock version of dorfs.

OogaBooga - M: Only during myth 2's timeline do they finally start making crude metal armor (as seen in the mortar dwarf's hat and chestplate).

Jon God: I am curious what the game plan for the game play is. (Bungie's philosophy was Rock Paper Scissors)

Renwood: It's going to have evreything that bungie myth has..

Renwood: Plus a buncha extra things and features.

OogaBooga: The idea is to adhere to the bungie philosophy in that regard - making every unit fit into the niche it did before, but introduce new unit types.

OogaBooga: We plan to include every vanilla bungie unit, as it appears, in addition to the new content.

Renwood: It will add replay value to the myth units that wasnt really there in the bungie games.

OogaBooga: You'll still have your warriors, your dwarves, and your thrall, and all the units inbetween. The new units are there to spice up the already solid Myth gameplay dynamics.

Renwood: Like the dorfs have a little knife on thier belt in myth 2 you can see it.

Renwood: But they never use it.

Renwood: So I used to wonder "do myth dorfs really have daggers?"

Renwood: And YES they do! the animations are in there and were unused.

Renwood: they have short stubby arms and a short weapon (dagger) so they have to get in closer then other melee units like warriors or thrall. and the dorfs miss a LOT with melee.

Jon God: Changing pace a little, what made you chose the Wind Age, rather then doing a sequel?

OogaBooga: The wind age is far enough into the past that it shouldnt step on any of the toes of the Myth 3 story (although we aren't necessarily going to try and tie everything from the wind age into myth 3's era, we do believe it should at least be congruent).

Renwood: There is so much talked about or hinted at in Myth's history. and some of the stories from long ago were more the type of thing ooga and I were intesrested in depicting.

OogaBooga: And also, being over two thousand years before the events of TFL, its separated enough that we can use our artistic freedom to not just fill in gaps (which is what myth 3 tried to do), but to also instead create a new set of mythology (if youll pardon the pun) within that era.

Jon God: Was there something in particular that inspired The Wind Age project?

OogaBooga: Sometimes sequels answer too many questions, and dont raise any of their own.

Renwood: We and many others that work with us are working twards updating evrything within myth.

Renwood: To make it look like a modern RTS game.

Renwood: Even better then most ive seen like the total war games.

Renwood: Where its just thousands of carbon copies of the guys all over.

Renwood: No variation in texture or sizes. they even are all RIGHT handed in most RTS games.

Renwood: Nobody ever finds that odd.

OogaBooga: The inspiration from the Wind Age comes a lot from the fact that we need to return to the gloomy, brooding atmosphere of TFL, but since the timeline TFL is in was a light-successful run of the Cycle, our story will be much, much darker.

Renwood: Yes in the wind age Moagim is the leveler.

OogaBooga: The sense of desperation and gloom will pervade it, and you'll be getting to see a lot of the destruction and wholesale slaughter the light must endure during it's "losing" era in the Cycle.

OogaBooga: Which is very fun to make cutscenes for :)

Renwood: the time of the wind age to anybody who knows a lot of the myth storys is a sad time for humanity.

Jon God: If the original creators of Myth were to see your project, what do you think they would say, and do you think they would approve of the work you have done?

OogaBooga: If I could talk to Jason Jones, Tuncer Deniz, and a few other select individuals, and REALLY have a sit-down with them, and demo our stuff, I know they'd be excited as hell.

Jon God: Then I would extend that excitement to anyone reading this.

OogaBooga: An adjective we love to use is "mythy".

OogaBooga: If something isnt "mythy" enough, its got to be tweaked or its got to go.

Jon God: You mentioned Cutscenes, what is the plan as far as music, art and cutscenes? Are you reusing old Myth artwork, or going make new ones, same for music and cutscenes.

OogaBooga: We've got a few talented musicians, currently working with us on themes for levels. Just a few days ago our guy BruteSquad sent us three new tracks.

Renwood: Yeah, have all new musical score.

Renwood: And we have some pretty good artwork, allthough its mostly character concept art.

OogaBooga: We have 100% original, made-to-order concept art by our late friend Matthew Kammert, and we are always on the lookout for concept artists who know how to take direction.

Jon God: Any comment on cutscenes?

Renwood: In what sense ?

OogaBooga: In-game or animated??
Jon God: Animated or 3D, outside of gameplay cutscenes, to be less vague.

Renwood: No cartoon cutscenes.

Jon God: Is that a "no comment" on possible 3D cutscenes?

Renwood: We might do 3d ones.

Renwood: Using the all new models we make.

OogaBooga: Pre-rendered flybys of maps, with action, story or objective focus, most likely.

Renwood: So they will look the exact same as the quality of the units you will play with in the game.

Jon God: Sounds good to me.

OogaBooga: Not sold on the idea yet, still in an amorphous state.

Renwood: Stuff like flyiing over myth units about to have a huge battle and filmed on a port of a myth map within Bryce.

Renwood: Or Maya.

Renwood: Cutscenes in myth allways seems to be mostly dissconnected from what you saw on the level after they were done playing the cartoon animations.

Jon God: How many people have contributed to the project, approximately?

Renwood: Most of the higher visiblity myth devs have helped at one point or continue to help.

Jon God: Got a number, or range?

Renwood: I try to get the highest skilled people in the mtyh community in each persons respective niche to work with us.

OogaBooga : Two musicians, coding help from Myrd and Melekor, three or four colormappers, three scripters, myself as fear/loathing/collection editor, ren as producer/story, two concept artists, and a handful of testers and others who have contributed in one way or another.

Renwood: That way we get a good cross section of skillsets with a LOT of EXP to back it up.

OogaBooga: The main issue are scripters - if we didnt have a load on our plate already (myself and ren) we'd have learned scripting by now, but as it stands we've got a lot to do.

Renwood: We also invited anybody reading us to help with the project.

Renwood: It's allways been an open development house we try to run.

OogaBooga: Colormaps are slowly but surely being plugged away at, but we could always use another photoshop guy. :)

Jon God: Do you have any open positions you'd like to shout out for?

OogaBooga: Colormaps and scripting. With an emphasis on scripters.

OogaBooga: Over everything else.

Renwood: Scripting.

Renwood: It seems scripters have the least amount of focus from what I've seen.

Renwood: Working with tons of people over the years I always noticed that.

Renwood: Like we get lots of engine enhancements and bug fixes in the myth to engine complete.

Renwood: Things that without our team working twards our goal wouldnt have been added for all mythers to enjoy.

Renwood: We found an engine crashing bug that only our latest plugin version at the time triggered.

Renwood: It crashed myth to desktop.

Renwood: And we told myrd about and now thats been fixed in the Myth 2 engine.

Jon God: Okay, if you don't mind, I would like to touch on some negative events regarding TWA if you don't mind.

OogaBooga: Shoot, I'd like to squash some rumors or misconceptions.

Jon God: it's no secret that The Wind Age wasn't announced to the highest fanfare, what do you think caused this, and if you could have it happen over again, do you think you could have shown things in a more positive light?

Renwood: Well ill put it like this.

OogaBooga: The reaction it got was, predictably, tied to the name. Since nobody really had anything to go on at that time.

Renwood: Long ago people said "Ren, Myth can never look modern enough"

OogaBooga: Nobody liked that we had the audacity to call it Myth 4: The Wind Age.

Renwood: Well current events of the last year or so prove otherwise.

Renwood: The name of the project was to set the bar high.

Renwood: If I heard somebody is looking for help on "Myth 4" I would be interested

OogaBooga: We're calling it such because eventually, we'd like to be working on a funded Myth game.

Renwood: If I hear so and so is working on "blank_plugin title" I don't care.

OogaBooga: Its less about bravado and more about optimism and ambition.

Renwood: It's a very good title because it lets people know from the get go what is expected out of them.

Renwood: We have 4 versions of some of our songs for heavens sake.

Jon God: Do you think that it is living up to the bar you originally set?

OogaBooga: What we're currently working on is more of a pitch - obviously with the amount of modders in the community dwindling, we wont be able to fabricate 25-30 all-new levels that we've already got planned.

Renwood: You should see how long it takes for us to get new units to look JUST right.

Renwood: We strive for high quality, that even bungie wasnt able to come close to.

OogaBooga: Case-in-point - put a Myth 1 Thrall and Myth 2 Thrall next to each other.

OogaBooga: Originally TFL's units were going to have twice the angles, and twice the frames.

Renwood: The bar that we set....yes it certainly is living up to our expectations.

OogaBooga: Myth 2 settled for smaller resolution, same number of angles, but increased frames.

Renwood: For years Oak and Detail textures were a rumor.

Renwood: NOW hot damn we all use em!

Renwood: There are very few things that we still wanted that we didnt get to add to myth yet.

Renwood: Those would be:

Renwood: #1. More units on the screen at one time.

Renwood: #2 More projectiles in the air at one time.

Renwood: Other then that its allmost like we have evreything we wanted at this point AND MUCH MUCH MORE!

Jon God: On that topic, the original announcement confused a lot of people, as some thought it was a new engine, some thought it was a Myth II plugin, would you mind clearing this up once and for all?

OogaBooga: Okay, to clear things up:

OogaBooga: Myth 4 is the name for the project we're working on as a starting point, or pitch, to a company that would be interested in publishing and funding a new myth game.

OogaBooga: Actual "Myth 4" would have engine enhancements, and other things that only funding would provide.

OogaBooga: Funding or the ability to use the engine in whatever way necessary - currently Magma does not want to up the Monster (units onscreen at once) or projectile (attack/spell/debris) limits.

OogaBooga: And those would be things necessary for the Myth 4 engine.

OogaBooga: Although, we'd like to start with the myth 2 engine as a base, and work from there.

OogaBooga: Some people have asked "Why not the Myth 3 engine?".

OogaBooga: And to use our favorite adjective - it doesnt feel "Mythy" enough.

Renwood: The point is we think the next myth game needs to be built MOSTLY on the lastest version of Myth 2 from Project Magma.

Renwood: We work with them to help test it and get some features added here or there.

Renwood: We are including ALL (timeline kept in mind) myth 2 style units in our wind age stuff.

Renwood: AND we intend to include Myth 2 and TFL WITH Myth 4.

Renwood: So people wont be forced to play nything new they dont like.

Renwood: If your obbsessed with Myth 2 fine. play that, and with higher res evreything!

Renwood: If you want something that isnt 12 years old that youve seen 10000 times before then try out the new campaign.

Renwood: We allways want to make it up to personal choice of what myth players will see.

Renwood: (Sorry no myth 3 will be included.)

Jon God: Another thing I hear is the "The Wind Age feels too much like Mazzarin's Demise" Have any comment to the people that say that?

OogaBooga: People who say it's anything like Mazz either (a) havent played it at all, or (b) dont know what theyre talking about.

OogaBooga: Mazzarins demise is a map that takes about an hour and a half to beat. EVery unit starts off very slow to attack, and you can vet up to about 250 kills.

OogaBooga: For starters,

OogaBooga: Mazz units have INCREDIBLY high hitpoint or resistances.

OogaBooga: An archer can withstand a few fireballs before succumbing.

OogaBooga: The pace, and gameplay, is completely different. They may be referring to the fact that we use inventory on a few of our "hero" units.

OogaBooga: Inventory is a new Myth feature (thanks to magma) that allows units to switch between different artifacts and abilities. So far thats the only similarity i've seen between our project and Mazzarins demise.

OogaBooga: But then again, your Deadfall project makes use of inventory - but that doesnt make it anything like mazzarins demise, does it?

OogaBooga: I'd like to know more indepth reasons why people compare TWA and Mazz, I'd be interested to hear it.

OogaBooga: Because I personally dont see much similarities.

Jon God: One problem I had personally was the very large learning curve, with a whole lot of options, and quick gameplay compared to Myth II, Any comment on that?

Renwood: We are going to have ALL bungie style gameplay units.

Renwood: The EXTRA more complicated units seen in our plugin are HERO or leveled up versions.

Renwood: Of normal units.

Renwood: So a normal Warrior is a Myth 2 style war.

Renwood: And level 2 Warrior is a Warrior Captain.

Renwood: A level 3 warrior is a Colorguard who can block arrows with his shield.

Renwood: And other projectiles.

Renwood: Not evreybody will level up.

Renwood: It's just you can if you want to with some units.

Renwood: Our magician dorfs DONT replace normal dorfs.

Renwood: They are in addtion to them.

OogaBooga: Right. These new and complicated units will be few and far between.

OogaBooga: One quick thing: a new 1.7 feature will allow QUICK scrolling through inventory (much like Battlefield's weapon switching) using the mouse scroll wheel.

Jon God: Alright, I think a few more questions will good enough, you alright will that?

OogaBooga: Sure, shoot.

Jon God: First, when can the public be looking forward to some sort of demo, with story and gameplay that is reflective of what to expect?

OogaBooga: Soon™

OogaBooga: No, seriously, we're working on a few levels right now, and we hope to have probably a four-solo two-netlevel demo out.

Jon God: Any time-frame, or just "When it's done" ?

OogaBooga: I'd like to say with certainty "a few months", but the more correct answer is "when it's done".

Renwood: We have spent years working on this game, and so far its better then we had hoped.

Jon God: On that subject, how long has this been under development?

Renwood: Many things we though we would have to hire professional programmers for to get added or changed to the engine is done already.

Renwood: I would say the team and the development of it really got going in 2004.

Renwood: It was pretty much Road, Ooga and I playing plugins.

OogaBooga: For a while it was just me and Ren.

Renwood: And testing things.

OogaBooga: And road, of course!

Renwood: Then ooga and I working together to make all kinds of new stuff, all lot of the stuff I got him to make for our plugins I didnt tell him was really ment for the myth The wind age storyline.

Renwood: So its been a while.

Renwood: The rest of the team PROPPER join in the start of 2007.

Renwood: Well we just wish they would keep it more mythy.

Renwood: Tons of warhammer guys running around in myth seems....

Renwood: Not so mythy.

Jon God: A lot of people compare The Wind Age to The Fallen's Vengeance, what does TWA team think of it? Are you friendly rivals, or do you work together? Or maybe is it a race?

OogaBooga: We wish the TFV team all the success they can earn, and its looking to be a very promising solo romp!

Renwood: I like A-Red.

OogaBooga: Although, we cant deny a bit of rivalry. But we all know each other, and talk to each other on an application called Hotline ( is the address to those intersted).

OogaBooga: Come watch us argue with each other sometime:)

Renwood: The way we see it TFV seems to want to continue where bungie left off.

Renwood: Our goal is to do what even Bungie couldn't.

Renwood: Makes the best "Giant bloody war game" that we can.

Jon God: Alright, 2 more questions.

Jon God: First, is there anything you'd like to announce now to everyone, that hasn't been talked about before?

Renwood: Well, look forward to the sweetest animations for myth units youve ever seen.

Renwood: We spend TONS of time doing and REdoing renderings to get the propper smooth look and feel to animations.

OogaBooga: There are a few things we are under orders from Magma not to talk about.

Renwood: I am a black belt in tae kwon do so i am very picky about the human form in movement.

Renwood: And road loves animation and is good at it.

OogaBooga: But, rest assured, when the silence is lifted, the myth community may be in for quite a pleasant surprise.

Renwood: and ooga has the pefect EYE for seeing what works and what wont.

Renwood: When making the images into COLLECTION for Myth.

Renwood: It's a great combo.

Renwood: That yeilds high quality results.

Renwood: It happens to the best of us.

Renwood: One thing I would like to mention as a example is this,

Renwood: Bungie planned on having AI scripting tags for units.

Renwood: As in you can have certain AI behaviors.

Renwood: That are inbedded in the units themselves.

Renwood: BUT Bungie didnt get to finsish them.

Renwood: We have emulated this AI scripting tags for units feature.

Jon God: Very nice.

Renwood: And with OURS you can CHANGE the behaviour of the unit ON THE FLY in game.

Renwood: something even bungie's wouldnt have done had they finished it.

OogaBooga: By the end of this project, we'd like to see something usable by even novice fear and loathing users, basically.

Renwood: You want to put a warrior to a rout to the flag and when he gets there not just attack 5 warrs that walk up by himself.

Renwood: Tell him to "Not fight outnumbered"

Renwood: Ghols that will dissengage in melee battle if they get to low near red health.

Renwood: They just pick things up to throw at your red units and harrasses you.

Renwood: We have AI fatties that you can set to auto heal freindly units that have less then 75% health and tuant near the.

Renwood: J man IF hes idle.

Renwood: And he has more then 1 root left.

Renwood: He wont auto heal and use his last root.

Renwood: These are the types of things other projects arent trying.

Renwood: And its the kinda thing we think sets us apart a little.

Jon God: Is there anything you want to say to the fans before this interview is over?

OogaBooga: Yes: Come explode with us. We would love some more testers, and a scripter or two couldn't hurt either!

OogaBooga: Everybody explodes.

Jon God: Well, I would like to thank you both for taking the time to have this interview.

OogaBooga : My pleasure, Jon God.

Renwood: Ok well seeya Jon.

Renwood: Peach out!

So I know I am excited to see some more of this project, and you may be too, so head over to their site, or make and account and start posting on their forums, or go download the latest beta of their tagset.

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