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Interview - (2004-04-05) Darque
Title Interview - (2004-04-05) Darque
Description Onyx interviews Darque for the Phrozen Keep on his Hordes of Chaos mod.
Sent by

ONYX:
The Hordes of Chaos is one of the exciting mods that has it's many dedicated fans. I thought it will be interesting to interview the modder behind it - Darque, who is also my teammate in Darque Onyx Mods. And so, he shares the secrets of his mod's success.


ONYX:
Could you tell us a little about yourself?

DARQUE:
My name is Mark Kochanowski. I am a married 27 year old from the Chicago, USA area with an 8 year old daughter. I am currently working as a software developer/analyst for a software development company. I have had a love of computers since my early childhood. My first computer was a Texas Instruments TI99/4A, with which I taught myself BASIC programming. I eventually went to school for computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and for Telecommunications Management at the DeVry Institute of Technology, but never finished either, as my IT career was moving faster than my education.

ONYX:
Where does your nickname come from?

DARQUE:
Another of my hobbies during my teenage years was collecting comic books and playing tabletop role playing games. My nickname comes from the comic book Shadowman. In that comic, Shadowman's arch villain is Master Darque, an evil necromancer. I like the comic, found the villain interesting, and thought the name sounded very cool. And so, while creating a charactor for Cyberpunk 2020 one day, I decided to use the name Darque. Since then, I also started to use that nickname for my online persona.

ONYX:
What made you start modding D2, and not another game?

DARQUE:
My passion for computers, from my youth until now, still comes from computer games. I love all aspects of computers, from programming, to graphics, to games, to just plain getting them to work. This all led me to want to develop my own game. I have had many false starts in the past. Then I got into modding games such as Civilization CTP, or Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, and making maps for Half-Life. But then, last June, I purchased Diablo II. I played it with my wife for a couple of months and finished the game. I then looked into the D2 community and saw a little web site called the Phrozen Keep. I played a couple of mods from the site and then decided I wanted to make my own.

ONYX:
I've read different descriptions of The Hordes of Chaos - Warcraft-themed, fantasy-themed etc. Which one is true?

DARQUE:
To me, The Hordes of Chaos is a fantasy themed mod that is loosely based upon Dungeons & Dragons. One of my favorite tabletop RPGs has always been Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and I have played many of the D&D computer RPGs as well, even way back in the days of the first Pool of Radience. So my viewpoint on fantasy games is skewed towards D&D. The misconception of THOC being Warcraft based is because my opening title screen is a modified Warcraft image.

ONYX:
Could you make a presentation of the main features in your mod for the people who never played it?

DARQUE:
Basically, my finished mod product will modify as much of the original Diablo 2 game as possible. New features I now have are MANY new monsters, new skill trees, modified quests and maps, new items, new cube recipes, and new NPCs.

The monsters I have chosen are more geared toward goblins, orcs, bugbears, drow, orogs and such. The skills I have chosen will be based upon different charactor classes, and so will require the player to develop new strategies for using them. Many of the new items in THOC are cube recipe ingredients only, as well as some new class-specific items and others. The most interesting new item in THOC, though, might possibly be my gembags, a wonderful new way of storing and organizing your gems.

ONYX:
In your opinion, what is the feature that makes a mod succesfull?

DARQUE:
I don't think that any particular feature can make a mod successful. A successful feature is one that can reward the player for playing by giving that player something fun that the player not seen before, whether it is a new item, a new skill, a new monster to kill, or just some eye candy. But at the same time, that new feature should maintain gameplay balance and keep the game challenging.

ONYX:
What is the thing you'll never change in D2?

DARQUE:
One thing I will never change is many of the base items (such as short swords and buckler shields, etc) in the game. Blizzard did a good job defining them and fleshing them out, and there is not much you can do to improve them. Now, I might change some of the item graphics, but the stats themselves look pretty good to me. Anything else in the game is open game to me, as long as it would improve the gameplay of the mod, and meld to my vision

ONYX:
What is your advice to people who are starting a mod now?

DARQUE:
My advise for newbie modders is this:

- Plan out where you want your mod to go before you start. When planning it out, think of something new and fresh. Good planning in the beginning will give you direction throughout the rest of your project and make it easier to complete.
- Be aware that a good mod can take weeks or months to develop. Building a mod is like developing any other software. You need patience and time to make it right. As you are developing the mod, you will get frustrated, sidetracked, and sometimes just stuck and want to quit. Thats natural. But in the end, if you stick to your guns, you will have a good mod.
- Develop a mod that you would find fun to play. Don't put something in your mod that you think others will like, unless you will like it too. If you only put in features that others want, and not what you want, you might end up not having fun with your mod and just want to quit.

If you follow these things, I'm sure you will end up with a good mod.

ONYX:
You're a co-webmaster in the Infinitum site. Does it mean you like Infinity Engine games and which ones do you play?

DARQUE:
I do enjoy Infinity Engine games. That is also where most of the creatures in The Hordes of Chaos mod get their animations from. I am currently slowly playing Icewind Dale II. In the past I have played both Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. When I finish playing IWD2, I plan on purchasing Baldur's Gate 2.

ONYX:
Is there anything I forgot to ask you?

DARQUE:
Yes, you forgot to ask me how I like having you as a partner in the development of THOC I love working as a team on a project with you Working with teammates speeds up development and introduces more ideas into a mod to make it more fun.

I'm also always looking for more team members, whether they are new to modding, or old hat...as long as they are dedicated to some degree. Part-time modders are fine too as long as that is the commitment up front.

ONYX:
Thanks for your time.

DARQUE:
Thank you for the interview And thank you to the entire Phrozen-Keep community. Without all of you, my mod, and many others would not be anywhere as good as they are now. And, this great community has allowed me to make some new friends around the world. So cheers to you all!


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