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Interview - (2002-07-12) Phrozen Heart & JBouley
Title Interview - (2002-07-12) Phrozen Heart & JBouley
Description Mordini freelance for the Phrozen Keep interviews Phrozen Heart and JBouley on their site.
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MORDINI
For everyone who's been on Mars for the last few years, could you tell everyone your role on the Phrozen Keep staff?
PHROZEN
I originally founded the site back in 2000 but due to other on and offline commitments, I now deal pretty much with just the administrative and coding side of things. Stuff that falls into my area of work are things like processing site hosting requests, rebuilding/redesigning existing elements of the site as well as implementing new ones etc It's generally behind the scenes work rather than actual site content.
JEFF
I'm the "pretty face" of the two of us. I'm the guy who "talks" to all the visitors by updating the news on the home page and generally being the uber-moderator of the forums most days. So I kind of present our face to the public and make sure everyone gets good, up-to-date content, as well as helping out Phrozen with uploads and such to make his back-end work easier. Ironically, I'm also the "bad cop" who periodically tells the few misbehaving folks that they've been banned from the forums for rule violations...mostly because I'm in the forums a bit more often than Phrozen.
MORDINI
Could you tell us a little about your offline existence away from Diablo 2? Where are you from? What interests do you have?
PHROZEN
Well I'm 22 (going on 23) and living in central Illinois, USA with my wife and two year old Shih-Tzu. Currently I'm working as a health insurance claims processor after emigrating from my native England in the autumn/fall of 2000. With work, family and helping run the site I don't have that much time for other pursuits other than the usual music and movies. Favorite movies of mine include the Crow trilogy, Payback, the Alien series and my taste in music leans more towards Type O Negative, Godsmack, Stereomud and POD.
JEFF
Heh, I'm the "old man" at 34. Formerly of Chicago, Illinois (surprisingly, Phrozen and I have never met face-to-face), temporarily stuck in the state of Maine...looking to be back in Chicago soon again. Married to my own beautiful wife, just like Phrozen. I'm a writer and editor, currently working as a freelancer but probably due to return to a magazine office setting again soon. I'm also a deacon, so I'm a big fan of Jesus...but that doesn't stop me from also being a fan of more earthly things, like good rap and hip-hop music, jazz, alt rock, sci-fi/fantasy books and movies, etc.
MORDINI
The Phrozen Keep has come along quite a way from it's humble beginnings (back when the front page began with the little animated GIF of a haunted house). To what do you attribute this success?
PHROZEN
A committed team of staff and a loyal fan base, that's all there is to it. Once we started the ball rolling, everything just gained momentum over time as the mod scene continued to progress. The one key thing I've learned is keep things fresh so trying to keep features up to date as well as introducing new ones is our ongoing mission. I'm sure the forums are still one of the biggest draws which offer answers to virtually any mod making questions in a matter of hours, sometime even minutes from staff and other visitors alike.
JEFF
Pretty much what Phrozen said, although I wasn't really his partner in the early days; I actually started as the newbiest of newbie modders and worked up through the ranks as an active member, then moderator, then senior moderator, and so on. The only thing I would add is that the friendliness of our moderators and members is a key factor. We've never tolerated flaming, idiocy or other rudeness, which is what keeps people coming back. It's like a second home for some folks. :-)
MORDINI
What do you think YOUR single greatest achievement has been since you've been part of the Keep?
PHROZEN
It's got to be a toss up between implementing the latest incarnation of the Phrozen Forums (the PHPbb script is awesome) along with the various customizations needed to make it fit our requirements or the page by page creation of 250+ page File Center written entirely by hand and using windows word pad. The latter of the two obviously took the longest but I was just as pleased when I'd finished each of them ;-P
JEFF
My greatest accomplishment? Aside from actually making the weekly update in a week or less several times in a row before slipping up and doing it 8 to 10 days later instead? OK, self-deprecation aside, I guess my greatest achievement has been to somehow be thought of as one of the modding pioneers, even though I think a lot of people were better than me, even before the recent spate of coding gurus and others who just blow my socks off.
MORDINI
What's your favorite aspect of webmastering the site?
PHROZEN
Apart from the satisfaction that we're hopefully providing a useful service to the Diablo 2 mod making community, my favorite aspect has to be the emails of appreciation from people who've never posted on the site but have been long time viewers and just want to let you know they love the site. Okay maybe that is a little bit egotistical but oh well, that's life :-)
JEFF
Being able to help someone out with a problem or give them the tools and information they need to succeed. I've never forgotten how little I knew when I started and how much other folks helped me out, so it really feels good to return the favor to new modders now.
MORDINI
And even though I hate to ask, What's your least favorite aspect of webmastering?
PHROZEN
Ummm...probably emails with titles such as "Broken Link" or "Missing File". Quite often when I'm rebuilding part of the site, I do things en masse rather than testing it as I go so occasionally typos will emerge resulting in links being broken because I missed an underscore out of a filename of whatever. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate it when people let me know so I can fix the problem but everytime I get one of those emails, it means I probably screwed up somewhere :-(
JEFF
Just trying to juggle real-life with my responsibilities at the Keep. It's hard sometimes to get started updating the home page, though it's fine once I finally do begin the process. And I feel really guilty if I don't check on the forums several times a day. But my wife has to get some of my time, too, so sometimes I have to live with that guilt. ;-)
MORDINI
Apart from running the Keep itself, I know both of you are still into the actual mod making. Any new releases coming out in the near future?
PHROZEN
Things are progressing slowly but surely at this end as Jeff's the real mod maker of the two of us. A new improved version of my mess around Cubaholics mod (v0.8b) should be out soon once I've ironed out a few bugs and in the long term, my real project "Knightmares" isn't too far off it's first it's first beta version.
JEFF
As of early July 2002, I released version 2.0 of my "Sanctuary in Chaos" mod...lots of new changes in there since versions 1.0 through 1.03. Also might be a few bugs left, but I'll hopefully squash all of them soon. Possibly planning to maybe do another mod going in a slightly different direction, tentatively titled "Rise of the Old Gods." The SiC mod is nice because you can do so many things in it and I keep adding more new goodies with every update...so you can really play the game in whatever style you want. But I'm thinking if I do the new mod, I'd like to make it less of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink and give more thorough attention to a few specific things, like balance issues, customizing items, and spell/skill changes.
MORDINI
Now time for a quick cheesy cliche question. What are your three favorite mods available at the moment and why?
PHROZEN
Don't really have a huge amount of time to play other mods recently but out of the ones I have played, a few do stand out. The Demon Trip mod by Brother Laz was one of my favorites with the ability to play as one of five different monster classes each with their own unique skills and abilities. Another great one is the Baldur's Gate mod by Ric Faith and SubSanity which combines some of the best aspects of two great games and with all the proposed monster changes coming in future versions, it should just continue to get better and better. My third choice should probably be Jeff's new Sanctuary in Chaos mod but embarrassingly enough, I haven't actually got round to trying that one out just yet. Therefore my last choice is Teknokyo's Descendants of the Dragon mod which in places is enough to challenge even the best Hell difficulty Baal runners. Enhanced difficulty and a host of cool new monsters I haven't seen in other mods along with tonnes of other changes make this one a definite candidate for my personal top three.
JEFF
I won't hold it against Phrozen that he hasn't played the SiC mod. Because I REALLY have no time to play anyone else's mods. Last one I played thoroughly was Hell on Earth sometime last year(???), and Goldark seems to have vanished off the face of the earth since releasing Hell on Earth II. But I plan on trying out Demon Trip while I wait for some of the new mods to come out, like Cryptforge. And just from a conceptual standpoint, I really like the idea of Sir_General's Rune Mod because of the way it just totally takes D2 in a different direction, making you have to create your own magical weapons from scratch and improve upon them or replace them as you advance in levels.
MORDINI
And just to continue on from that a little, are there any mod projects due for release soon that have caught your interest?
PHROZEN
From the way our Visitor Announcements forum is bustling with activity, you can see there's an avalanche of new material coming out and a few of the projects I'm keeping an eye on are Brother Laz's Demon Trip 2 (loved the first one), NNy's Castlevania : Return to Castle Tepes (the concept is to try and turn the entire game into one HUGE castle!) and finally Zhoulomcrist's new mod which I forget the name of (which will allow you to play the game as one of the three prime evils. Screenshots so far look great).
JEFF
The name of Zhoul's mod would be Cryptforge, which I mentioned before and which I'm also very much anticipating. At the rate I'm going, Demon Trip 2 will be out before I ever try the first Demon Trip, so I'm really looking forward to that one as well. "Countdown to Apocalypse" by Apocalypse Demon also looks like it will have some great potential.
MORDINI
Do you feel that Diablo 2 mod making is slowly dying out?
PHROZEN
On the contrary really in my opinion. With all the latest progressions in animation and DLL editing along with all the great new tools out and coming soon, I think that not only is D2 modding not dying out but it's actually entering a whole new era with the concept of total conversions getting closer by the day. Admittedly people are leaving Diablo 2 to move on to mod making for games like Dungeon Siege, Neverwinter Nights and Morrowind but more and more people seem to be getting interested in D2 just the same :-)
JEFF
I'm surprised at how resilient D2 has remained, in large part I think because of the great mods out there. And as Phrozen said, the modding community is getting so much more knowledgeable about the mechanics of the game and the coding of the .dll files, so you can do so much more now than ever before. So we're really in a new age of D2 mod making, I think. Sometime last year, I think I said to someone that D2 modding had at least a year of life left in it. I may have to revise my estimate. Now, I think it may have a couple MORE years of life from this point...it might even hold strong until Blizzard finally makes Diablo 3. But only time will tell. ;-)

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