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Interview - (2006-05-01) tsuru
Title Interview - (2006-05-01) tsuru
Description Onyx interviews tsuru for the Phrozen Keep on his current and future mod projects.
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First of all, could you please tell us a bit about who tsuru is in real life?


Some of you may have visited my home page, by deleting some of the url of the ES patch page. I wrote some amateur visual novels like Miyoshino, and fan fictions for an old masterpiece visual novel Kanon. So most people who know me in Japan may consider me a visual novel author. I paint anime pictures, which was helpful to make some DC6 files for the patch.

I rarely play action games. First-person view games especially make me sick. I rarely play foreign (non-Japanese) games either, so D2 is one of very few exceptions. I have almost no chance to use English in real life and I had never expected my being so active in a foreign game community.

I'm working in a publisher, so my job has nothing to do with programming. But I've studied BASIC and Z80/8080 assembler when I was very young. I remember I made a utility to print out the characters and their inventory of Wizardry I, which was my first hack. My programming career had ended with 8 bit processors, but my recent hobbies, making visual novels (which uses an html like script) and modding are something similar to my very old hobby, and make me nostalgic.


How did you find the Phrozen Keep and what made you stay?


I came here from diabloii.net or Lurker's Lounge several months after I started playing D2, perhaps in late 2000. Phrozen Keep looked like a hackers' site at that time, so I didn't stay, but the site name Phrozen Keep was impressive enough to remember.

In 2003 summer, a Japanese gamer Agonashi Gen wrote a review of some D2 mods in his web page. I was interested in ES, and the official ES page brought me here.


In your opinion, why Diablo 2 continues to be going strong this long and did you ever expected that when you started playing?


I hardly know other games like D2, but I often hear Japanese players say no other multiplayer game can beat the combat system of D2. Some say they feel like playing D2 from time to time, even after they have moved on to another game. Boss runs themselves may be a monotonous routine play, but killing monsters in D2 is something refreshing and addictive, just like driving, surfing and such things. I think this is one of the reasons why people play D2 for years.

I guessed I would play D2 for a year or so, because I had played D1 for 7 or 8 months, and D2 has more character classes than D1. But closed D2 realms were much better than D1 realms, and the release of the expansion in 2001 made me (and most D2 players) play D2 much longer than D1. Of course many excellent mods have contributed to the popularity of D2.


You took over one of the most popular mods of all time - Eastern Sun. How did it happen exactly?


I made a list of ES recipes from cubemain.txt just after ES 3.00 was released, and hosted it on my web space to share it with other players. But ES players found many recipes in the list didn't work.

Perfect Cell is one of the most experienced mod makers, and many mod makers have learned much from his works. But ES is one of the oldest mod and had been updated quite many times since D2 Classic, so it was inevitable that it had got somewhat messed up.

I checked cubemain.txt to update the list and fixed the bugs for myself. I also uploaded it as a private patch, because I remembered another private patch had got stickied in ES 2.2. At Christmas of that year, reiyo_oki released his patch, which mainly fixed skill bugs.

ES is also popular in Japan, and Japanese players found many bugs from late 2004 to early 2005. Especially Kakashi spent a long time to find the cause of a complicated bug. I had posted those bugs in ES forum, because most of them hesitated to write a post in English, and asked me to do instead.

Unfortunately Perfect Cell had been busy since 2004 summer. ES forum gradually became inactive in 2005 and there seemed no hope of any updates. I had almost given up ES in 2005 Spring. But it was sad to see ES community dying, and I felt some responsibility for Japanese ES players who entrusted me their bug reports. There also left 10 page long unfixed bugs in the ES 3.00 bug report thread.

In April 2005, I decided to make the last patch before I quit ES. I asked reiyo_oki to let me merge his patch into mine, because applying multiple patches in a specific order is annoying. He kindly agreed, and I named the patch alphabetically, reiyo_oki and tsuru's patch. I thought the patch would be completed in 3 months or so, but I'm still struggling with it.

I'm now taking over supporting and such things, but Perfect Cell said he still has a special plan for the future. We ES forum members are looking forward to see it.


Could you tell us a bit more about your patches? What are the main features in them?


ES is an orthodox and conservative mod with the manimum character level of 100. Abundant items are the most important feature of ES, and changing the max character level makes balancing items difficult, so I think it was a very good decision of Perfect Cell. I have tried not to lose the good flavor of the original ES that I love much, so the patch has no surprising innovations.

All reported bugs are fixed, and the entire game is more balanced. I have tried to make all skills and items equally good as possible, so that players can enjoy more various builds and various setups, and can play ES longer.

Some new features are added and some maps are rearranged, so that even old ES players can have fun with the patch. But most of the new features are based on (or inspired from) Perfect Cell's work. For example, the original ES 3.00 has all LoD uniques in cubemain.txt, and has the recipes to make specific LoD uniques like String of Ears. Ancient Coupons, which is added in the patch and can be cubed into LoD uniques, are an expansion of such recipes.

The patch also contains some gimmicks. The VBS script launches ES on any version of LoD. Gamble filter saves your time to gamble. Gem Can saves the storage space and is especially helpful for Mac users.


Have you ever thought of starting your own mod project from scratch? If so, what would the main features be?


ES has some Japanese flavor, like Katana class weapons and Hiragana runes. But the most part of ES is based on Western fantasy, set names from AD&D and MtG, for example. So I dream of making a more Japanese flavored mod someday, based on the historical stories in Japan.


Is there any aspect of Diablo 2 you'd never want to change?


I can't imagine any, as far as a mod can change. But if there is any chance for Blizzard to release Diablo 3, I hope they won't change the quarter view.


What is your advice to newbie modmakers?


You can't playtest too much. This is also a warning to myself.

Once you have been familiar with modding, playtest may become tedious and not so fun as modding itself. But bugs often look fine in AFJ Sheet. Even if the code is theoretically correct, D2 often works wrongly due to the dirty hardcoding. Playtest tells you a lot of things, not only bugs but also the game balance and even new ideas.

Some players overesteem the difficulty of your mod, and some underesteem, based on their preference and play skill. So even if you have a lot of feedback, you still have to play for yourself to see how you feel. It's you who decide the game balance after all.


Anything else you'd like to add in closing?


It wasn't necessary for Blizzard to include the source texts in the mpq, but they did. It was the very kindness of them and all things started from it. As people often complain, they aren't always sharp-witted, but I thank and love them.

Perfect Cell didn't have to include the source texts in ES, either. I appreciate his openmindedness to do so. A mod distributed with the source texts can be a great tutorial, and ES is a great contribution to the D2 mod community as well as his file guides and tutorials.

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