By Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman
f you've ever played Quake, you've probably heard of Capture the Flag (CTF). What you may not know, is the history of Capture the Flag. It didn't come some from big publishing company, or from some developer. What is probably the most successful mod ever written, was created "just for fun" by Dave Kirsch, better known as Zoid. The impact Capture the Flag had is untouched by any other mod, since to the point that shipping a game with Capture the Flag is now seen as an important selling point for any "shooter-type" game. He single handedly proved to the game companies the power, and importance of teamplay, something many a shooter fan (this writer included) is constantly thankful for. The success of Capture the Flag, combined with Zoid's love of Linux and UNIX, allowed him to turn his hobby into a career, working as a contractor for the company that made the very game he modified, id Software. Zoid took some time out at the recent Cyberathlete Professional League event to speak into the handy-dandy dictaphone and answer some questions for loonygames.
Name, rank and serial number: Formerly known as Dave Kirsch, but everyone calls me Zoid these days. I don't know about rank and serial number, I'm basically just a contractor at id Software.
You got your start as a fan in the community. Yeah, Quake came out in 1996, and I grabbed it as soon as possible, like everyone else did, and I started playing with it, and wrote a little mod called Capture the Flag. It caught on pretty good. So that was sweet.
How did you end up working for id? Well, for Capture the Flag, I really worked hard in supporting it and making it as good as I can, and I've always been a big fan of UNIX, and Linux specifically. And one of the things id's always been hip on is supporting the Linux community, because it's a nice community, it's free. Dave Taylor was doing the UNIX ports for id, and he became really busy with his new company, crack.com, so id was looking for someone to do the ports, and I volunteered. So I did the UNIX ports, and continued to work on CTF, from there, id wanted to formalize the relationship, and that's when I became a contractor. Actually, a year ago, I signed on at last year's QuakeCon. So a year ago now.
How does it feel, seeing all the changes people are making to Capture the Flag? It's fascinating. I was one of the ones that took Quake and changed it, so it's really nice to see people take the game and put it in new directions, to have that much fan input. 'We like your game so much we're going to take it and make some of our own changes to it, and make it better for us, and maybe others.' That's what the whole community's about, it's about the spirit of the game. And some people love playing it, some people love modifying it, some people like creating new worlds. That's what it's all about. Capture the Flag for me, was creating something that had really good teamplay, because I love teamplay. So that's where I came from. It's kind of weird to see my modifications get modified. But it's great, and I like the way different people are taking it. For example, Thunderwalker CTF. Which is like, how do I put it, CTF with a comedic slant, with all the sound effects and all the fun stuff they've put into it. Which was something I couldn't do, because CTF for me had to be very mainstream, had to keep my mandated...keep it simple, very solid, don't go feature rich, make it a complex game or anything like that. But with Thunderwalker, they had free reign, and they just went nuts. It came out to be a really fun product.
When you sit down and play, what do you play? These days? I play Quake 2 CTF, I really enjoy what I did with that, it's a fun game. For deathmatch I still play Quake 1. I like the high speed, and the intense action of Quake 1. Quake 2 is a bit slower, which works really well for CTF, but these days, for first person shooters it's Quake2 CTF, and Quake 1 deathmatch. I play other games too, I've been getting into Total Annihilation lately, because I really like some of the real time strategy stuff. And Total Annihilation, I really like the commander idea, that was always a cool thing, because that's like...you!
How do you think people getting hired from within the gaming community by gaming companies is changing the community? That's a good question. It's definitely different than the other days when a game company would find some programmers. But it's been true a lot for a lot of the industry. User modifications are certainly something that id really pioneered, never developing, but id was one of the first companies that went out and made it easy for players to do like that. Specially in other games in the past, I mean, look what they did to Wolfenstein. I've seen Street Fighter Wolfenstein, and new levels and all kinds of weird stuff. And id never even went out of their way to support that. With Doom, they reorganized to support add-ons very nicely. The user community is nice, because it lets users develop their skills. Once those skills are developed, then they become a valuable asset to game companies. I'm a great example of someone who was hired from the fan base. There are dozens of other people at companies like Ion Storm, Ritual and Rogue of people who were hired from the fan community. Because they love the game and they love working for it. And now they're getting paid for it, which is nice icing on the cake, I guess.
There was announcement last week that Unreal is not being ported to Linux. What do you think of that? I think it's unfortunate, Epic has a different target audience, well, a slightly different target audience, and I think it's unfortunate, but at least the plan is still to port the server to Linux, and that's a big part. One third, of all Quake servers are running under Linux, and other UNIX's, Solaris, stuff like that. So it's important to the server base, but it's unfortunate that they don't want to do a client port. It does have a specific market, but it shows your commitment to your product, that you're willing to go beyond Microsoft, that you're willing to support different abilities.
If you could use only one operating system, what would it be? Linux, of course. My problem with Linux right now is that there really isn't good application support. From a programmer standpoint it's fantastic, I'd love to sit in Linux all day rather than Windows. But, until there's stuff like Microsoft Office and stuff like that...it's getting better. Oracle just announced it's going to support Linux next year, so, Linux is starting to catch on to really big companies. Once we see companies like Oracle supporting Linux, it's just going to snowball, and eventually we'll see Linux as a user O/S instead of a hacker-type server O/S. I'd love to see Linux as the main desktop system instead of Windows, that will never happen, but, we'll see more and more Linux every day.
What are your favorite Websites? Oh boy. Well, there's always the ubiquitous Blue's News, I visit that every day, and I visit PlanetQuake, and sCary's site, 3Dnews, most of the major Quake sites I visit. I enjoy a site called Slashdot.org, which is a Linux based news site, sort of a hacker community type base. That's mostly what I frequent, actually. Mornings I get up, answer e-mail and browse the web. I also check out some of the major technical sites.
- Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman is an associate editor for loonygames.
Credits: Community Profile logo illustrated by and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Community Profile is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is just a bad idea. We have lawyers.