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Interview - (2004-04-15) Onyx
Title Interview - (2004-04-15) Onyx
Description JBouley guest interviews Onyx for the Phrozen Keep on various topics including his Back to Hellfire mod.
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JBOULEY:

You've been quite active, not only with your own Back to Hellfire mod but also teaming up with Darque on The Hordes of Chaos AND taking on a Phrozen Keep staff position as interviewer of modding folks. What's the driving force that keeps you so involved (and has increased your involvement over time) with D2 modding?

ONYX:

There are several reasons for this.

First, I'm like this in real life too. I like to do many things at once. Energy has never been a problem to me, but the time sure is. I'm always short on time due to my numerous activities So it's natural to me to do many different things in the Keep too - modding, moderating the forums, running 3 sites, interviewing etc.

Second, I fell in love with the Keep. Since my first days on the forums, everybody has been so helpful and polite. The community is great and I found some friends all over the world.

Third - I want to read new and interesting things about the community. Interviews were missing in the Keep updates, and I'm really curious about the true personality of the other modders. That's how I decided to take on the Interviewer position.

Last, but not least, I enjoy modding. It helps me to relax and not think about other problems I have. Modding is a great hobby and I don't think I'll quit anytime soon.




JBOULEY:

Does your heart lie more with one mod than the other (in terms of BTH vs. THOC)? How do you balance your time, ideas and mental energy between the two?

ONYX:

Of course, Back to Hellfire is my baby, and it's understandable I'm mostly involved with it. The Hordes of Chaos is not technically "my mod", I just help Darque in some aspects of the development. Balancing the time has always been a problem for me as I mentioned already, but I'm not in a hurry. I try to do things Darque has asked me first, because they're usually small and not that time-consuming, and I work on Back to Hellfire in my free time, when I have no other things to do. The progress may be slow to some people, but I don't set release dates.




JBOULEY:

A lot of newbie modders ask for people to serve as "staff" on their mods and help out, and it often fizzles, with people often not responding, or responding and then doing nothing when they're called upon to do some work. Obviously, you're not a newbie anymore, and that probably has helped you be more successful in attracting help for your mods, but how have you found the experience of bringing people on board? What are the ups and downs?

ONYX:

I think teaming is very important for developing more complex mods, because it's hard for a single person to be a master in all the aspects of modding. Aside of this, it takes much more time when a mod is created by one person. It's always good to have someone to help you and give you ideas. But sometimes, if your teammate doesn't work enough, it can be a bad experience. Both you and him are getting upset, the mod goes slow and it's a pain rather than joy. So in the bottom line - get a co-modder who will work enough and who fits your needs.

I'm happy to see team work has more and more followers lately. Just look at all the wonderful teams in the Keep, developing nice mods.




JBOULEY:

For that matter, what's it like working with an "equal partner" like Darque? I'm kind of curious, since I've never been too interested in a partner for my own mods. How has the relationship helped you in your work compared to when you were completely solo?

ONYX:

Darque's help has been priceless for me. I really enjoy working with him. The best thing is the development process never stops. Every modder has the "lazy moments" when he doesn't want to do anything, and I'm no exception. But Darque steps in and works while I'm lazy, and I work when he's lazy.

I can't imagine the solo work. I started to search for a teammate since the very beginning. I guess it's just a matter of style and attitude. I see many successful mods, created by a single person, but it's simply not for me.




JBOULEY:

What drew you to help out with Darque's THOC mod when you already had one of your own?

ONYX:

By the time I met Darque, both projects were already announced and we both had our teammates. The Hordes of Chaos drew my interest since the start of its development, and I registered in the forum Darque had to give my feedback. Then Darque contacted me to say thank you and we started to talk every day and discuss modding and the community in general. Then, for different reasons, our teammates left and we decided to team up and work on both projects. None of us wanted to scrap his somewhat advanced mod, so the decision came naturally.



JBOULEY:

Since you started off modding (publicly, at least) with Back to Hellfire, I have to ask: What drew you to make a mod reminiscent of the sometimes hailed-sometime ridiculed expansion pack for the first Diablo game?

ONYX:

First, I must say Diablo and Hellfire were always one thing to me - I've never played Diablo only. So I'm used to the Monk, the Nest, Na-Krul etc. - to me they are a part of Diablo. I decided to name my mod Back to Hellfire because I want to use everything from Diablo: Hellfire, but it's really a Diablo 1 themed mod. Often people have asked me "Why Hellfire?", there was even a guy who wanted to make a Diablo 1 based mod and he said my mod was Hellfire based, so it's different. The answer is: "Back to Hellfire is a Diablo: Hellfire based mod". In general, most of the features I use are from Diablo, but I won't forget to put features from Hellfire, like some of the monsters, quests, levels and of course, the Monk.




JBOULEY:

How did you feel when you first decided to "bring back" a part of D1 history in D2? Has it been a rewarding experience, and why?

ONYX:

I remember the moment very clearly. I was browsing the hosted sites at the Keep for the first time and suddenly, I found Incandescence. Back then I haven't yet realized what can and what can't be done, and when I saw all these animation plugins I thought "Is this REALLY possible?" I downloaded the Advocate plugin and started it. The moment I saw the Advocates in-game was the moment I decided I'll bring Diablo back in Diablo 2. It was unbelievable! I have tried every single plugin at Incandescence and they all were great. A big thank you goes to Incandescent One, as he was the person who inspired me to make my mod.




JBOULEY:

How has the reaction been to your mod?

ONYX:

Back to Hellfire is certainly not one of those super-popular mods, like Ancients or Zy-El. It's mostly played by Diablo fans who miss the atmosphere and challenge of the first part of the game. I can say people like it in general. Of course, I would like to receive more feedback, but I knew from the start that Back to Hellfire won't be the most popular mod in the Keep. Hope the next version gets more attention than the first beta.




JBOULEY:

What's been the best part about modding for you so far?

ONYX:

Maps. The first modification I ever did to Diablo 2 was turning the Den of Evil into an Ice Cave. I couldn't believe it! Then I tried Paul Siramy's Winds1editor and started to change little things in the maps. Then I learned how to use additional .dt1s, then how to make custom .dt1s… I simply love new maps, and it's one of the most important features for every mod in my opinion. It adds a different atmosphere to the game, especially if it's done wisely and precisely. Now I'm happy to see lots of modders use the plugins from Diabolic Cartography, the map site of the Keep which I run together with Red Havoc.




JBOULEY:

Any new directions that you plan to take your modding, in terms of new skill sets for yourself or new twists on the BTH or THOC mods?

ONYX:

Some code edits definitely. There are some very important features in Diablo: Hellfire that I can't implement without editing the .dlls, like Skill Books and Scrolls for example.

Another thing I plan to do is skills. The first beta of Back to Hellfire came with the same old vanilla Diablo 2 characters, but in one of the next versions I'll eventually re-work the skill trees. Thank you Blizzard for the soft-coded skills in 1.10




JBOULEY:

If there were one piece of advice you would give to a newbie modder above all else, what would it be?

ONYX:

Search and read. Two magic words. People often come to the forum and just shoot their question without noticing it has been answered several threads down. If they have made the effort to search, they would have found the solution to their problem. The great knowledge base that we have in both the main site and the forums just waits there. And by the time you've did most of the tutorials, you'll be able to create a basic mod.




JBOULEY:

When did you start playing D2, and did you ever expect that it would continue to be going strong this long?

ONYX:

By the time Diablo 2 was out I was working in the nights in an internet club. You can imagine - long, annoying 15 hours of sitting in front of a computer and doing basically nothing. I played games during the nights, and Diablo 2 was just another one of them. But it turned out to be more interesting than I firstly thought. I played it again and again, I got almost addicted to it. I never thought it will last that long, but I guess variety is the thing that attracted me and still attracts me to it.




JBOULEY:

As a player and a modder, do you think that its longevity is more a function of the strengths of D2 itself, or the tenacity of the mod-making and mod-playing community?

ONYX:

This question has two answers in my opinion.

The first (and strongest) factor is Battle.net. Blizzard gave Diablo 2 players the opportunity to play online, and this is a very wise move. Lots of games lack interest just because they can't be played online or their servers are not well-known and people don't go there.

The second factor for sure is modding. It's extremely popular and still going strong several years after the game was released. I think the guys at Blizzard know this, and that's why they've made the game much more modder-friendly.

Combine these two things and you get the longevity formula of Diablo 2. Let's hope it will last long




JBOULEY:

Anything else you'd like to add in closing?

ONYX:

Thank you for the nice interview Thanks to Phrozen Heart and all the other Staff members for creating and maintaining the community, which is like a big family. Without you guys modding probably would never have been possible. Thanks to all the members who have done researches on the structure of Diablo 2, created tools, wrote tutorials and guides… And let's all keep the Keep going!

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