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All site related info and text is 2001 J. Meinzer and J. Uchman unless otherwise noted. Games and their prospective logos, slogans and images are their prospective companies.  Die Avalanche die, you too Patrick Roy.   Lobster Sticks to magnet.  So soft and smooth, just like you.

DOUBLEGOLD vs. CHAINSAW
                  ...and he tells it like it is.

People familiar with Half-life Mods should know who Chainsaw is, especially those who are into the mapping side of things.  He's been in the game of level editing for only a few years now but has made quite an impact on the mapping community with his work on Worldcraft, with his own Map Optimizer and other programs, and with his very informative and to-the-point website.   For anyone who has spoken to Chainsaw, or read his posts, this is a guy who is honest about what he does, and who is always looking to improve upon his projects.   Doublegold managed to get a few questions in with Chainsaw, and this was the result...


DOUBLEGOLD:   What's the first computer game you played?

CHAINSAW: Long time ago, Space Invaders in the milkbar, Rat Race on the Vic20.

DG: A lot of people consider the greatest moment in gaming the day that the DOOM demo went online for download. What do you think is the greatest moment in gaming?

CHAINSAW:  Depends, there have been some great games that set the way for others; Wolfenstein for fps, Dune2 for rts, Wasteland for rpg but I don't consider any one moment to be the greatest.

DG: When did you first get into Half Life?

CHAINSAW: When i upgraded from my p166, it just couldn't handle it, well maybe at 300*200 or something, but doesn't look good on my monitor.  Near the start of 1999, not that I had internet access for another year.

DG: You're very active in the mod mapping community now. What was your first map, and looking back on it, what do you think of it now?

CHAINSAW: First finished multiplayer map? ps_prop believe it or not.  Not for the lack of making them, I've probably got 200-300 maps on my hd and deleted about the same. Just used most of them to learn more, each map I played with I would work out one or two things on average, lately (since working on scaling) it's being around five... bloody hard to keep up with.  It is rare for me to reach the detailing stage, I have usually come up with a few different ideas while building it and decide to move on.  I know that with what I've learnt from the last map that the next one will be slightly better (on average) and choose to continue to learn till reaching an acceptable level to release a map.  So I didn't think that my mapping skills were good enough to release a map, not till lately.

A snap from ps_prop

A good thing to keep in mind for newbie mappers: don't try and build a masterpiece to start with, just try and get a few things right and move on.  Try another idea, after a while you'll have a better grasp of WorldCraft.

If you get stuck, leave it, do something else and maybe go back later.  I've left things for months and then will come across the answer by accident, much better than wasting hours achieving nothing.

DG: What mods do you currently map for?

CHAINSAW:  None, just for everyone, tutorials, research and solving problems.

DG: In your mind, which is the best mod in terms of gameplay, replayability, balance and enjoyment?

CHAINSAW:  TFC, still after all this time I know that I can always have a half decent game on tfc, good fps due to lower poly models (than most other mods), well made and planned maps.

DG: What is your personal best moment in terms of your mapping career. ie, what moment made doing the maps worth it?

CHAINSAW:  Working out the scaling method and CMO, this current map, I quite like it which is very unusual for me.

DG: What moment made you almost want to give it all up?

CHAINSAW:  Never, I'm used to working on lots of things at once and go back and forth between projects, usually when I become stuck or bored, rather than achieve nothing I'll move on to something else and come back to it.  I dabble in enough things to keep me from going nuts.

DG: Tell us about your website. When did you start it and what was the reason for starting it?

CHAINSAW: August last year (2000). I do most things in order to learn something, stuffed around with dreamweaver a bit to learn html and took it a bit further.  I like to help people get past their frustrations, after all most people start mapping because they like the game, not so that in a week you'll want to never see it again.

I'd call it (the site) plain... blue, blue and more blue, well better than the crap colour it used to be.  But the focus was never on having a good looking website, it just had to be functional, you have to be able to easily navigate around it (which I hope you can) and it has to be full of useful information.

But where as the actual site didn't have to be visual the tutorials do, for tutorials without pictures are the first ones skipped.  There is nothing to refer to to understand, even what the person is talking about, step by step instructions can become a nightmare without pictures, yet spacing out those same instructions and having pictures to refer to is the best and easiest tutorial to follow.  It's like listening to someone tell you about their holiday pictures, it makes little sense until you see them

Most of the first few months was talking people through how to setup WorldCraft, mainly over icq at 3hrs/person.  It made sense to make a config that people could download and you'll notice that there are about five different tutorials on WorldCraft setup on my site.  Proper installation always seems to be a problem, as is compiling... don't use wc compiler and get Zoners tools.

The basic mapping tutorials format was the result of three months of research, listening to people, reading tutorials, and trying different methods.   Until then I had mainly talked people through it on icq or through forums.  I chose to make the tutorials follow on so people could get a better idea of how everything fits together, most of the tutorials I've read just cover one function.  Nothing wrong with that but I felt there was enough of them already.  They had to be simple, clear, full of pictures (around 25 / tutorial) and tips and sometimes repeat methods.  Once is not enough for some things.

Most of them (the tutorials)  I'm happy with, (but) there are some that I'm not.   Unfortunately it all came to a sudden halt when I started working on scaling.   There will be another set that covers the better scaling methods, but the learning curve is going to be a lot higher.

DG: In the Firearms community I notice a lot of respect for the name Chainsaw. Which community tends to treat you the best? The worst?

CHAINSAW:  Everything I learn pretty much goes there first (the Firearms site), then my site, since the fa mapping community isn't huge it (the mapping forum) isn't spammed with loads of useless crap... in fact every page is full of good stuff, the people are nice and encourage new mappers, as all communities should.  After all we were all there not that long ago, the bad map bagging is minimal except me with wpoly ;).

DG: Looking beyond HL, what new games interest you in terms of mods and potential mapping projects?

CHAINSAW:  Not many at the moment, mainly because my pc wont cope, so I don't like to look.  When I feel I can't do much more (with Half-life) I'll move on.

DG: What personal work do you consider your best effort?

CHAINSAW: None, the hardest person for me to keep happy is myself.

DG: And the worst?

CHAINSAW:  All of it, for one reason or another you can be pretty sure that I won't like some part of it.

DG: Straight up, what is the single best game you have ever played? On any platform, any genre. And tell us why.

CHAINSAW: Too many, but I'll never forget Master of Orion.  Considering that it stayed on my hd for 12 months during a period when I was buying a game every 2 weeks, just loved it.

DG: Who would win in a fight between Ben Irwin (FA Team lead) and Gooseman (CS team lead)?

CHAINSAW:  Well if Ben used the FA Aug he'd win ;)

DG: What do you do in your spare time besides making some of the best damn HL maps/programs available?

CHAINSAW:  Starve.

DG: Aug whores. FA myth or painful reality?

CHAINSAW: Unfortunately it's a painful reality.  I say this because I used to always use the aug... it is a damn nice gun and I hope that when it's fixed it's not, well, ruined. The problem with the aug is that it can give 1 shot kills, near 100% accuracy at long range, little movement when firing scoped, holds a large amount of ammo and doesn't cost the earth.  As far as weapon roles go it is a better sniper rifle than the g36e, psg-1 and barrett.

When I was playtesting the first version of ps_prop with bots (positioned myself for some fish in a barrel), I was amazed at just how accurate the aug was.  It wasn't hard to rack up 20 kills on one clip, yet I was lucky to get 5 or 6 with the g36e or psg1 and you can't get 20 from 10 (rounds) with the barrett.

(note - this interview was conducted before the FA team announced the AUG wipr from 2.6)

DG: On your beta map ps_prop, there's a lot of WW2 and 50's era nostalgia. Is that era of interest to you, or is it just something you felt would make a nice addition to the map?

CHAINSAW:  That base wasn't even going to be part of it, but the map didn't have a Firearms feel to it, it was more like tfc, so I ripped up the original base (more like 2fort), left the wall in the front to block the rendering and built the base behind it as you see now.

The only visual memory I have of an army base is from the US built Balcome Army Base at Mt. Martha, Victoria, Australia.  It's all bloody houses now but I still remember the way it looked.  The posters and other things just fit in quite well.  I had to be careful not to use any offensive ones.

There's a lot more of that to come, as the name suggests the map will focus on propaganda, bombard the enemy with it until they go nutty and let their defences down.

DG: Where did you take / get the name Chainsaw from?

CHAINSAW:  Nickname given to me by my friends nearly 15 years ago.  I'm pretty passionate with what i do as you can probably tell and I was in to woodworking at the time.

DG: Finally, tell us something about yourself that no one would believe in a million years.

CHAINSAW:  I have the equivilant of 2 years high school .

DG: Hm, Stryker is 22 and STILL in high school.. and he can't read or write.


Once again, our thanks to Chainsaw for taking the time out of his schedule to inform our readers about who he is, what he does and where he's coming from.  For more right-to-the-point tutorials, great mod programs and a look into his current projects, visit Chainsaw's website here.

fenris (june 17, 2001)