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Topics I've Started
Posted 7 Jan 2014Valve has revealed the first batch of OEM steam machines at CES 2014.
These living room gaming rigs will all come with SteamOS installed and a Steam controller.
Fourteen manufacturers were named, including Alienware, Gigabyte, and Falcon NW.
More information on pricing and hardware specs can be found here.
Posted 25 Dec 2013Today means today, now, Christmas day. Get it on Steam.
Forever means you can keep it, forever, and play it. maybe with HLfers.
Good luck wading through the hammered steam servers.
Posted 10 Dec 2013Pew pew boom boom MEDIIIIIIIIIIIIIC!
Oh, remember those times (mostly in 2008) when TF2 was awesome? Well you can relive those days! This saturday! Play with HLFers, and win! Win my respect! Win at life! Pew pew pew!
Saturday: 12pm PST,3pm EST, 8pm GMT, Australia: 7pm (Sunday).
Posted 4 Nov 2013New content on HLF? Shirley you cant be Sirius!
In this in-depth interview with Mrdie, representing the Empires source mod, you will learn every detail of the mod's past, present and future, and why you should hop on board and play it!
Brumi: Thank you Mrdie for sitting down with us at HLF. You are the chairman of the Empires League, representing the Empires source mod and its community. To start off, would you tell us what Empires mod is in a nutshell?
Mrdie: The Empires Mod is a FPS/RTS hybrid, which has its origins as a concept in September 2002, which became a popular BF1942 mod, and which from March 2006 onwards has been one of the main mods on Source.
Brumi: Ah, I was not aware of its origins, but that does make sense. Playing it a bit myself, I felt a vibe somewhere between battlefield 2 and UT2004, but somehow with a more thoughtful pacing.
Mrdie: The early developers did discuss using the Unreal Engine among themselves, but decided against it. At one point there was even an offer for the mod, back when it was in its BF1942 stage, to take advantage of the CryEngine, but the early developers were not fond of it.
Brumi: How did it flourish from those humble beginnings into what it is today? How has it evolved over the years?
Mrdie: The early developers of the mod were a concentrated bunch; they knew each other very well, they worked hard for the mod in all fields. To give an example, one of these developers actually coded without Internet while on board the USS Carl Vinson, whereupon he would return home and continue coding what he had saved to a disk on board the ship.
Brumi: impressive dedication.
Mrdie: Another early developer, Don_Megel, wrote a detailed back-story to the mod which impressed many of those who otherwise showed no interest in mods at all. These early developers communicated constantly, both in real life and on the Internet, because they had a firm bond between them, a common purpose, so that is one aspect of how the mod was able to progress the way it did.
Secondly, the mod was planned; a design document was worked out which was 71 pages in length. In this document it was pointed out that the mod had to proceed on a cyclical basis, and every facet of its development had to be organized in such a way that both the entire team could give their input, and the users themselves could also participate, not just through testing what had been created, but by learning about the mod and what made it unique, so that they, too, could contribute in all sorts of ways. To give an example, there was the idea of a dynamic story for the mod, which would progress as the mod progressed; Don_Megel's writings inspired many users towards this end, and many would wind up writing their own stories, branched off of the main "official" Empires story. This in turn would inspire users to be creative in developing concept art for vehicles and whatnot, which could be turned into actual gameplay vehicles.
Third, it was the strength of the community, which was able to defend itself through its own forces, which was always of a quality that could guarantee in times of trouble that users could step up to do what certain developers were no longer able to do.
Brumi: Is the current mod team still comprised of these founders?
Mrdie: No, since then new figures have come and gone, some contribute, some hinder. Such positive contributors as supaste, Jimather, The Buttery Lobster, and many others are duly remembered. in the community for their various contributions to the mod's betterment, and also for their work in bettering the whole community as well.
Brumi: The eternal rocky road of unpaid creative work
Mrdie: Yes, but that also stresses the importance of a unified vision and a well-organized and planned development. If one has vision, one is clear on what is to be done.
Mrdie: If there are conflicting visions, in the environment of the unpaid contributor, that can lead to great problems, as the mod has witnessed.
Present and Future
Brumi: The mod is now clearly established, has a loyal fan base, what's next?
Mrdie: This is a very important question for us, because it deals with a subject that has been actively discussed since late 2009: what is the future of the mod? What is clear is that it will continue for the time being to be a Source mod, to be all it can be on that medium, but that in the future it is clear it must move onto a new engine, in a way that has the broad consensus of the mass of the users of the whole community, in a way which contributes to the fundamental traditions of the community and the best interests of the mod. This process requires much discussion and cannot be decided unilaterally.
Furthermore it requires higher standards than those at present. It is hoped that in the coming months and years new blood will enter the community that can be differentiated from anything else, that can be allowed to contribute and thus lay the foundations for movement onto new engines, and thus extend the life of Empires indefinitely. Until then, it remains an outstanding mod on Source and will continue to consolidate its positions therein.
Brumi: You speak of new blood. Empires is clearly an ambitious project, development-wise but also for the player. How are you easing new players into this rich experience?
Mrdie: In the days of the early developers and contributors to the mod a number of processes were at work integrating newcomers into the whole mod. Besides immersing them in its atmosphere, its story, etc., the clans of the mod, most notably the BSID Clan, sought to raise the standards of newcomers to those of established users, while other users within the community sought to encourage these newcomers to speak out and assist in the development of the mod and the well-being of its community, opposing any elitism in this regard. The mod requires skill, but it has enough "familiarity" in relation to other FPS games to make it something one can be acquainted with in a short amount of time. At the heart of the Empires experience is teamwork, and that is why the subject of clans and other organized forms of raising the standards of the newcomer assume such great importance.
Brumi: I noticed this in the game yes, the ability for newbies to pick up a rifle and shoot stuff...and slowly but forcefully learn as you play.
Mrdie: Yes, but without teamwork no game can ever be won by one side or the other. Teamwork is truly essential; good clans do not simply stack up kills, they do have the power to win rounds due to teamwork.
Brumi: Do clans intermingle, or can we speak of clan wars?
Mrdie: The clans of the mod take an active interest in the affairs of the community, whether they recognize it or not. You cannot separate a clan from the community, no matter what sort of influence it exerts. There have, of course, been accusations throughout the years, but the fact is that clans are a vital part of the mod, developers and "developers" have often come from them, websites have been set up with their assistance or even under the direction, they have helped organize donation campaigns and other measures to contribute to the mod. In the end there are fundamental differences between certain, established clans and those which come after them, because those that have come after them hold stands essentially "foreign" to the community as it was built and as it grew in its early period.
They do have their say on the forums, in Steam groups, in the servers, amongst themselves; many would argue their voice has been dampened a fair bit in recent years, so there are antagonistic contradictions in this regard.
Brumi: What is one aspect we should be most excited for in the near future?
Mrdie: The regeneration of the whole community of the mod, a process which must be consciously carried out, and whose greatest enemies are stagnation and degeneration, the forces of which are trying to carry out a blockade against us. The mod to this day continues to experience development on the part of various users united for the interests of the mod and its community. The strength of these users lay in their organization and in the establishment of a common vision between them. When this is done we will see the beginning of the process of starting development on a new engine, which is truly when new prospects will open up for the mod, for in the design document there were truly ambitious goals which neither BF1942 nor Source could fulfill.
Brumi: Are there any plans to turn Empires into a commercial venture,like Natural Selection 2 for example?
Mrdie: There have been plans past and present, but they do not enjoy the support of the community nor of those from amongst it who work to develop the mod despite all the obstacles placed in their path.
For Prospective Future Players
Brumi: Approaching from a slightly different angle, what would you say to a new player in order to make him a true part of the community? As I played online, I found some very helpful people explaining the game mechanics to me.
Mrdie: I would say that he should learn what makes Empires unique, the first step of which is to, of course, play the game, but secondly to learn of its history; its atmosphere, the early forces that shaped the whole community, etc., so that they can learn from such examples in order to emulate them.
Brumi: As the community is relatively small however dedicated, it probably is difficult to keep populated servers at all times. Do you organise seasonal or timed events?
Mrdie: Yes, there exist such things as scrims, pugs and other organized events. In 2007 the Empires League under Evan and knighttemplar was particularly active in this regard, seeing such events as powerful levers for raising the activity of the mod.
Brumi: Browsing through Empire mod's official wiki and forums, I read obscure references to a black hole. Care to elaborate?
Mrdie: The Blackhole was established in 2004; it constitutes one of the two component parts making up the community of the mod. Among notable Blackholians were Jkun, The Buttery Lobster, Artemas Ward, Regulus, evil_dude and various others. Since 2005 it has sought to administer its own affairs within the context of the whole community. On July 28, 2006 the Empires Forum Administration recognized its ability to self-administer its own affairs.
Brumi: Tell me more about these eminent and prominent figures.
Mrdie: I think the most significant among them is Jkun, who headed the Ban Hammer Manor in 2005 and 2006. This Manor was in charge of defending both the mod and its community from malicious figures. To give a most notable example: that of Sgt. Mike, a Neo-Nazi who sought to maliciously undermine the mod in collaboration with others. Jkun was also responsible for promulgating the rules of the forum in August 2004 and on instructing clan members on how to organize the clans in accordance with the interests of the mod, among other things.
The Buttery Lobster likewise has various contributions to his name, among them giving his voice to a would-be tutorial video for the mod, as well as assisting Jkun and others in the Ban Hammer Manor. These users often did many things, and did all of them well.
Brumi: In closing, is there any fun anecdote you can recount from a memorable match?
Mrdie: Perhaps indicative of the good humor which characterized the early developers and contributors to the mod, I still fondly remember the first day it was publicly released; on March 4, 2006, I had woken up to see it released on Planet Half-Life, where I had spent prior months working to promote the mod. I at once downloaded it and played together with Jkun, Grayclay, and some others. There was, however, a big problem: the servers were all laggy. Yet we made the most out of it by joking about what were were "trapped" in, and the like. Of course it is difficult to express this in text form, for the hilarity came through voice chat, but what made an impression was that no one in the entire community complained of the lag, they were too busy being awed by what they themselves built or otherwise contributed towards, and fully understood the cause of this lag, which was quickly remedied. The fact everyone was laughing, making jokes, and whatnot, demonstrated quite clearly the unity of vision and the high standards the mod and its community enjoyed.
Brumi: And years later, you're still a strong part of the community.
Thank you very much for your time.
Mrdie: Thank you.
Still haven't gotten enough info? Check out Empire Mod's official site and wiki, and get it directly on Steam.
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