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Natural Selection Interview
(hx) 01:57 PM CEST - Jul,20 2003

The official Natural Selection website recently announced that the 2.0 version of their popular Half-Life multiplayer action-strategy mod will be released on July 31. The announcement touts the many revisions, changes and additions that will be put into the mod. Today GGMania has got a chance to talk to Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle, Natural Selection's  PR manager, as answers a couple of questions regarding to soon-to-be-released version 2.0 of the mod.

GGMania: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do on Natural Selection?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: My name's Ned Pyle and I manage the 'Dirty Tricks' department. Heh, actually, I handle organizing our community, press relations, non-game utility coding, web stuff, shining other team member's shoes, etc. I have my fingers in a lot of pies.

GGMania: Can you give us a little background on the development team working on Natural Selection?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: Our fearless leader is Charlie Cleveland, who designed and coded most of NS while living off of cat food in his crummy apartment. Our lead artist is Cory Strader, who came up with most of the cool player and structure models you see. Phil Mayfield and Alex Boylan handle our animations with speed and aplomb. Max McGuire handles some of the super cool effects coding, while Mike Wislocki and Josh McHugh do our weapons. Our main mappers Kevin Roberts and Jon Chapman sweat out levels and sprite art. Joe Vaughn and Jeff Paris round it out, handling Linux and background writing, respectively. A great crew of guys; some of them are professionals in the gaming and IT industry, some are students and hobbyists. All are terrific, intelligent, likable game developers.

GGMania: Could you shortly describe Natural Selection?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: NS is a hybrid game that includes both First-Person Shooter gameplay as well as real-time strategy (like Command and Conquer). Using dissimilar teams of aliens and humans, battles are waged over resources that allow a team to get better technology and weapons and ultimately wipe out the other team's ability to respawn, winning the game. That's the very short answer. In reality, it's a very deep and immersive game at a lot of levels.

GGMania: What other gameplay elements do you think are important in the mod?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: The design decision to make teamplay a requirement. Unlike many games that pay lip-service to socialization and teamwork, if you try to go it alone in NS 2.0, you are going to get hurt. We really make it as easy as possible to communicate and operate as a team, using aspects like built-in voice over IP, hive site, the Commander, a gesture based menu system, and other aspects to keep everyone playing together. We didn't want a DM game pretending to be something more.

GGMania: What makes Natural Selection unique among today's mods?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: The biggest thing is how each team is truly different and unique. It really is like four games in one - the humans and their commander, the aliens and their gorges. Each side is very different to play, and it takes a lot of time to master any of the classes; but you can jump in and have fun with them very easily due to a lot of careful interface design. The top-down human commander interface alone is a pretty unique style of play. It's been attempted in a few FPS games, but never with Natural Selection's depth, in my opinion.

GGMania: What improvements we can expect from the new version 2.0?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: Gosh, so much!

- Simplified resource model and fundamental game re-balancing for faster, more varied and more intense gameplay.

- New alien upgrades allow aliens to detect human pheromones, be silenced while attacking, and build structures that cloak all nearby players and structures. New abilities allow the Onos to stun enemies with Stomp and Devour them whole.

- New visuals mean Skulks rotate to align to walls when running along them, sentries puff smoke when firing, and alien structures explode in a burst of slime when destroyed. Many new sounds lend a slicker sci-fi feel.

- Four new maps and tweaked and balanced existing maps for all new gameplay. Take a ride on a lost colony ship and get a view into space, or take the battle to the rock tunnels of a deserted and "re-colonized" mine shaft.

- New commander mode makes commanding easier than ever. Hotgroups, squad support, a "select all" button, the ability to locate marines in need of orders, ammo or health packs, and re-bindable hotkey support.

- Full support for competitive play through tournament mode, handicapping, VALVe's Anti-Cheat support (VAC) and large-scale match broadcasting through Half-life TV (HLTV). Big server improvements mean fuller servers with less CPU usage. First-person view is now supported while playing or spectating.

This is just some of it. The list is quite long - our internal changelog is now about 25 pages long.

GGMania: Could you tell us a bit about multiplayer modes in Natural Selection 2.0?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: We only have one primary gameplay mode, but it is complex enough that having more is not really necessary. Basically, each team starts with a spawn area. The aliens' is a hive, and can be in one of three locations; the other 2 hives can be manually started by the aliens as the game progresses, giving them up to three main bases. The Marines always starts in the same spot, but their commander can actually relocate it anywhere on the map. Each side tries to capture resource nodes (which become focus points of battles and defensive positions); the more resources you have, the more technology or evolutions you can gain access to, and the better your team gets. The ultimate goal is to wipe out the other team's base(s) and prevent them from being able to repawn back into the map. When your opponents can't respawn and their team is killed, you win!

GGMania: What are some of your favorite aspects of Natural Selection?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: Hands down, commander mode. Imagine playing a game of Warcraft 3, or Starcraft Brood War. Now all your units are no longer AI, but real, living persons. They can be imaginative, can follow orders properly (or fail to!), can get scared, or get lost. Every round is the ultimate RTS for the commander. Just watching a battle unfold in front of you, as your troops desperately request your resupplies of ammo and medicine, and you direct reinforcements using heavy powered armor via waypoints . Totally intense!

GGMania: What features do you plan to add to future updates of the mod?

We are keeping all that pretty close to the vest right now. There are some plans for a possible retail version (NS 2.0 is a 100% FREE Half-Life mod), but right now we are mostly concerned about this upcoming release.

GGMania: Do you plan to release Natural Selection for Half-Life 2 ?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: Wouldn't that be awesome? We are as ready to get our hands on the new SDK as everyone. It would basically be a complete re-write from the ground up, as we would want to take advantage of increased poly counts, physics, map capabilities, etc. We'll have to see how things pan out.

GGMania: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Finally, is there anything else you wish to say about Natural Selection?

Ned 'MonsieurEvil' Pyle: It was my pleasure.

Yes! - NS 2.0 - Thursday July 31st. Join us in #naturalselection on IRC for our big unveiling! Prepare to Evolve!

All new skulk wall-climbing code - Divx 5.0.5, 1.2MB

The grenade launcher clears a corridor under pressure - WMV, 1.4MB

The Pre-Selection Teaser Movie - Divx 6.5MB - This short teaser hints at what is soon to come in the first chapter of this 100%-rendered CGI film.

genre: FPS with RTS elements
developer: Official Natural Selection website

last 10 comments:

guestposted - Jul, 20 2003 - 21:59

asdposted - Jul, 20 2003 - 22:04
wonderful more no-feeling fps... good work

NSPlayerposted - Jul, 21 2003 - 10:28
NS would have to be the best HL mod I've ever played, you must get it NOW!~! 2.0 is gonna kick ass to the max.

Fëanorposted - Jul, 21 2003 - 10:40
NS PoWWa!!! Now and ever!

posted - Jul, 21 2003 - 16:59
sorry, it's not for sale.

borisposted - Jul, 22 2003 - 07:09
they are not enough posts here. somebody post something. then i don't have to listen to idiots possibly named "tom". I can't believe people still play half life. that game is so old. its like playing diablo 1. or dungeon siege. lol! why would i want to get an upgrade for this old game. now way sir or mam i say. i say no way! i say no way to seven buckets and a corn dog. i say no way to major splasm haven and i certainly say no way to mixa big galo. So wait for a new game to come out cause this is just boring. its like some guy ranting and ranting and ranting about how oranges look yellow instead of orange sometimes well who the fuck cares? i don't ? maybe if your a farmer you might care. but just like this game you got mod after mod after mod and they all suck. its like a long list of interviews where you know they got no chance in hell cause they are all wearing hats which you specifically told them not to do. sure i could on and on and on so i will. Lets not forget about how the unorginal guns and the lack of mortars. i mean mortars are really important in a game like this but i don't see any. they got to more stuff. its like a black box and nobody can enter with new ideas. i have seen it all. there are only so many ways a rabbit can be adapted to look like a hare. We need a new animal here . they need to smash open that black box and say this fucking world is over Now come to my world baby! dig! yeah! know your thinking this guy is a fucking moron. He just talking about nothing. and making extremely long sentences with absolutely no positively intention of describing any idea of any kind. well thats what tv does if you watch it long enough.

v1mposted - Jul, 22 2003 - 07:12
Very nice design for a mod.

keepsposted - Jul, 22 2003 - 14:48
best scfi mod atm Brillaint game roll on ns 2.0 whats the problem with playing old games anyhow ! If you havnt tried this mod, try it, hard at first, but damn addictive . Fantastic.

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