Planet Half-Life Interview
We sit down with CrazyTalk, development leader of the wildly unique Pirates, Vikings, & Knights II modification.
By James "Big Mac" McLane | October 8, 2007
Planet Half-Life: I recently started playing PVK2 and liked the drastically different combat play style that it allows in the games. What is going to get other new players interested in the new version, even though they may get crushed like ants against veteran players?
Crazytalk: The new version will add a lot more variety to gameplay where players can choose to focus on range attacks as well as melee. We’re looking to make combat easy to learn, but tough to master, while leaving the beginner a chance against the veteran players.
Planet Half-Life: Now I noticed on all of the maps I played that the Vikings had no ranged weapons, they were stuck with the melee attacks since they had powerful attacks and a good deal of hit points. Are there any plans for a ranged Viking attack such as throwing axes?
Crazytalk: Yes, in 2.0 the Vikings will be getting the Huscarl class. This class will have a two-handed axe, sword and shield, and throwing axes. Future releases will include classes with javelins and short bows as well.
Planet Half-Life: I noticed there have been some gripes over the thrust attack of the knights. Various outcries such as “It is too strong!” and “Why does it hit me when I am nowhere near?” Are there any plans to mediate those complaints?
Crazytalk: Our first beta release contained somewhat simplistic hit detection. A new arc detection system has been added for 2.0 and future releases. A video of this was released in one of our news posts and is located at http://www.pvkii.com/combattest.flv. The problem with the thrust attack wasn’t the range on the attack itself, but mainly caused by players’ ping making it appear as though they were further away than they actually were. We take ping into account when adding combat mechanics to the game, but players with high ping are likely to encounter things like this in any game.
Planet Half-Life: Now that we have covered attacks, on to defense. Are there any changes that are going to be made to defense; I hear you have some type of crazy new system for defense that involves directional blocking. Could you tell me the changes in defense, and about directional blocking?
Crazytalk: Defense has undergone a major change to help speed up gameplay as well as adding more skill to the game. Before, blocking was truly one dimension-the player attacks, you block, he gets stunned, you try to attack while he’s stunned. In the new system, we have added directional blocks to counter the directional attacks. Successful blocks (ex: blocking overhead while the attacker swings overhead) will not only stun the attacker, but will allow for a faster than usual counter attack that the player can activate within a set amount of time. Blocking in the wrong direction will cause no stun to the opponent and depending on the sizes of the weapons involved, the defender will take a bit of damage. Weapon sizes will also affect stun lengths on successful blocks and other factors in a block situation. For example, you wouldn’t expect a heavy knight to be stunned from a cutlass blocking him. Differences like this will be used to balance the weapons so that quicker weapons don’t have an advantage over slower ones. We’re fairly confident that the new system will be a pleasant change for all. We also believe that it will take time to master, but allowing the player to blocking the wrong direction without too much of a penalty will keep the newer players from being run over.
Planet Half-Life: Are there going to be any changes to hit points and armor among the classes? Also, are there going to be any changes to pick-ups such as food and armor?
Crazytalk: There have been a few tweaks to class HP and armor, but nothing too major. New pickups will include the new ammo for throwing axes, the longbow, and the blunderbuss.
Planet Half-Life: I have always been a fan of gunpowder. How about level designs? Are there going to be new levels, or tweaks to older levels? I would personally like to see some type of Helm’s Deep level where one of the races defends against the other two, but the defenders are given certain advantages such as terrain and ranged weapons.
Crazytalk: I have a ton of fun with the gunpowder weapons as well. Currently there are three new levels in development. Pvk_town, pvk_piratehaven and pvk_stranded. Town will be the first Capture the Flag map, Pirate Haven is looking at booty, and Strandd will feature a custom defend mode that’s still in development. I’m also looking forward to Clouds. It is a double territory map that’s still in development. We do have plans for epic game modes like the one you mentioned, about one team defending and the other two attacking. The plans are still early though and we won’t see these game modes in 2.0, but they will be big and designed for a lot of players. Not only that, but we’re hoping to make them fully customizable by the mapper so that they can really build their own game mode based around our entity setup. This will also compliment the Lord classes when they come to the game.
Planet Half-Life: Could you tell me about the Lord classes? Or is it supposed to be all hush-hush right now?
Crazytalk: The lord classes are one of the new features PVKII will have over the original. Three extra classes, healing class, spy class, and lord class. The lord classes will be the Captain, Knight Lord, and Viking Jarl. They will be like the captains of the team, only one per team per server. One of the special abilities we expect them to bring to the game are their instruments of war. When played, these instruments will give boosts to their teammates with a certain radius. There will also be assassination type game modes involving the Lord classes, as well as a possible RTS style game mode; all of which is still early in development and not expect until a much later relase. For now, we’re focusing on the first three classes for each team. From there we will decide how to go about implementing the new ones.
Planet Half-Life: That sounds incredibly interesting! I'm sure no one can wait too long, so hopefully these new features will be finished up quickly (although it is increasingly hard to do so). Are there any adversities that the team has had to overcome in order to be at this juncture?
Crazytalk: When it comes to modding, real life will always get in the way. Teams work from different areas of the world across different time zones, which makes it difficult to sometimes be on the same track. On top of that, this is a free hobby that gets in the way of many other things and takes a lot of time to produce. So in the end it’s all about overcoming the practicalities of working together across different time zones on a regular basis that doesn’t conflict with the individual’s schedule. Besides all that, we’ve been lucky enough to avoide some pretty serious problems. We get offers sometimes that seem sketchy, usually turning them down. I’ve seen some of these come up on other mod teams, effectively killing the mod; the same ones we ere lucky enough to avoid. WE’ve also had to deal with a leak before, but we were so close to the first release that it really didn’t hurt us too much. Overall I’d say we’ve survived some adversities that we were capably of learning from, making us even stronger as a team and more dedicated to the project.
Planet Half-Life: It's a good thing you guys are still trucking on though. Are there any features that have had a persistent run through PVK? I mean, are any of the features from the first build of the game still in the mod?
Crazytalk: The basic features of the original game modes remain unchanged, but we have tried improving them to make the gameplay more interesting and balanced. In a later patch, however, booty tag (pvk_temple and pvk_saints) may be undergoing a major change to make it much more appealing. The three original classes, their weapons and specials will also remain relatively unchanged. You’ll still be able to blow things up as a Skirmisher, chase down enemies in a fit of rage as a Berserker, and smite your foes as a Heavy Knight (although with a flail this time instead of the crossbow). Planet Half-Life: Does your team rely on a select amount of testers for picking up bugs and imbalances, or do you release a public version and wait for feedback from the fans?
Crazytalk: We have a group of dedicated and talented beta testers. They find bugs and add suggestions as we update our internal builds. Naturally, however, testing environments are different than the general population servers after release, so a few bugs and exploits tend to slip by. What we’re hoping to do after 2.0 is releases is patch more often to keep interest in the mod and help fix any problems that may arise after release. However, we will still go through extensive testing before patching, as there’s no point in releasing a patch with more bugs and exploits in it.
Planet Half-Life: Just a couple more questions and this should wrap the interview on PVK2 up. First, what are your favorite things about the game? And if there is anything that I missed or that you would like to add, feel free to add it now.
Crazytalk: There are so many great things about this game, our team has done an amazing job so far at coming up with ideas and implementing them. My favorite aspect of the game is without a doubt the hilarity factor. Whether it’s seeing a knight in full armor go flying across the screen after being killed by a keg, or watching a parrot peck a Viking to death, there’s so much going on and so many opportunities to catch something that just makes you laugh. What’s great, though is there’s a serious aspect to the game as well. You can take down an enemy with a choice of weapons, both ranged and melee. There’s nothing like going hand-to-hand against your opponents until victory or death (Playing with the taunts makes it even more enjoyable). Variety is another key aspect of the game that I enjoy so much. When you switch classes you’re playing a different style with weapons that don’t behave the same. The great part is, with each release there’s more and more to choose from and I can say with confidence that the game will keep getting better and better. I also want to add that we have a large selection of game modes we plan to implement, including Three-Way Capture the Flag which will make an appearance next release.
Planet Half-Life: Well that is certainly more than I thought you were going to respond with, but thank you for all of the insight to the game, and for everything that you have answered, and also for being so helpful in representing your game so well. Regretfully, I don’t have any more questions for you about your game. It has been an awesome time doing the interview, and I hope that you and your team have an incredibly amount of success in the coming future with all of your new releases.
Crazytalk: Thanks a lot for the opportunity, hope to see you in-game sometime!