If you're an active part of the ZDoom community you won't dare asking this question. In most cases - and if I do not accidentally mistype the acronym - TDA stands for TheDarkArchon, one of the most well-known members around. Although you can count his personal releases on one hand, you can't imagine countless projects without his assistance and technical support. He is one of the most frequent posters in the forums, his advices are highly appreciated and in the past few years he earned some good reputation among us fellow Doomers. TDA stands for TheDecorateAssistent TheDarkArchon and now it's time to reveal some more details about this guy!
When looking through the ZDoom member's list today, I noticed that you are placed on the 6th rank with a total of 8344 posts. That's quite productive it seems, but first of all, why Doom and not Starcraft? Why TheDarkArchon and not TheCacoDemon?TheDarkArchon
Doom was the first PC game I had played and it was a huge step ahead graphicly of what I had played previously and played nothing like it (Up to that point, I had only played games on the Sega Master System and Mega Drive.) I remember thinking at the time that the graphics were as real as you could possibly get in a game. That, and it was barrels of fun. As for the name, I was playing StarCraft Brood War at the time I first registered on the ZDoom forums and it was the first decent sounding username I could think of at the time.
So I guess when you registered on the forums years ago - that was in August 2004 - you already knew the game quite well. But how was your first experience with Doom looking like? And what made you join the community in the end?TheDarkArchon
It was with the Shareware version of Doom and can recall what I was thinking when I was playing it for the first time: "How on earth do I get beyond this room?". I hadn't figured out that the first door was a door and went in expecting the doors to look like normal ones. After the first time, I worked out what a door looked like and went from there relatively easy (then again, I was playing on I'm too young to die.) As for joining the Doom community, I was thinking about learning the ins and outs of modding games and Doom seemed like a solid start, given that I had fiddled with an ancient shareware version of DEEP (from around 1995) and that since it was a older game, it'd relatively simple to work with.
Obviously Doom's simplicity seems to be one of the reasons why it is so damn popular, even nowadays after being almost 17 years old. But what do you think? What is also responsible for such a long living?TheDarkArchon
Being enormiously influental is also a big factor of it's life. After all, it introduced the world to the joy of blasting someones face off with a shotgun, instead of just pistols and machine guns. Also, Doom is a straight shooter that is somewhat freeform, unlike, for example, Serious Sam where the gameplay is generally very linear and locks the player into an arena for the majority of fights. As well as that, it's modding simplicity has also helped: Not many games can boast that they've had a high quality, single player TC come out just one year after release. Let's not forget the BFG, because nothing relieves stress better than a big gun wiping out legions with a single blast.
And the trend seems to continue, every year new quality and fun mods and maps pop out for us to play around with, and it just doesn't stop. Additionally, since 2004 a certain percentage of all the incoming /idgames stuff can be credited to you: Support, assistance, contributions and technical help of all kinds by TheDarkArchon, but while reading through various authors' efforts I noticed that there is absolutely no single map from you in the archives. You owe me an explanation ;)TheDarkArchon
I'm pretty sure there is one from me in the archives, for the Doom advent calendar Torn did on Doomworld a couple of years back (Mine was 6, if I remember correctly). The big problem with that map, though, is that it was completely rubbish and done in a day or two. That said, I did have one map mostly done for ZPack that only didn't get completed because SLADE decided one day to break the map every time I wanted to add something to it and Doom Builder doesn't work particularily well on my desktop. That said, once Doom Builder 2 is working well, I'll get round to finishing it as I liked the state it was in when I last left.
I am sure you made some people curious now :-) Nevertheless, it doesn't matter if you get your map finished or not, you have been a busy person in the past few years. You have helped me several times with my own projects, you have worked on KDiZD, you created the Hectebus concept for Skulltag and most of the time you have just been around in the forums to help people - everyone knows and loves you for doing that but have you ever considered building your very own project from scratch instead of helping others to complete their job?TheDarkArchon
The problem with me starting my own project is that it would probably end up failing since the project would most likely be overambitious and that I would be completely rubbish as a project leader since I am completely hopeless when it comes to planning things out, which means that chaos would ensue sooner or later and, as a result, project failure.
That's a deflating self-rating :-)TheDarkArchon
It's true, though, I can't plan ahead very well and I am generally disorganised.
Don't worry, that's a very male characteristic, everything's ok I guess, at least from my point of view :-) Well, at least you were part of several larger team-based projects in the past - doing a great job by the way - and you had the chance to look behind the scenes during a long development process. So in your eyes, what characteristics are important for a team leader to bring a project to a successful end?TheDarkArchon
Being organised is one of those things, as I've said. Being able to put your foot down during difficult periods is important as well, since having a solid direction for the project is important and if the leader is unwilling to put his foot down, the project goes in a million different directions and will likely fail. The third important thing is knowing when to say when a project is done because otherwise the project could be polished indefinitely but would never be released.
So speaking of projects, is there anything you are working on currently? I noticed that TDA's Haunt is starving since february 2007.TheDarkArchon
I've got nothing I'm working on at the moment, though as I said, I do intend to finish the ZPack map I had stopped working on, but that's a more "when it's done" thing. As for the website, I really need to update that one of these days: It's horrendously out of date.
As of now, all the releases on your homepage are weapon packs and regarding your involvement in several other projects - if I can recall correctly - these have been mostly decorate tasks. So, do you have preferences if it generally comes to Doom modding?TheDarkArchon
I prefer the coding side of things, since I lack the patience most of the time to do the more visual related things such as map layouts. Also, I tend to get mental blocks quickly when doing most things that are design related.
For those who aren't familiar with coding yet - mostly DECORATE - as there are many newcomers lately active in the forum, are there any hints or tips and tricks you can tell them for a more easy and quick start into the meat?TheDarkArchon
When editing, keep the a web browser window open that points to the language documentation, such as the ZDoom wiki for DECORATE, so that you have parameters and codepointer names to hand when things go wrong, which they innevitably will when you do your first run of coding. Also, have an example close if you're trying something new, it makes the learning curve a lot less steep if it's something complex
Great, that will definitely come in handy. Now, for a clean closing of the circle, have you already noticed that I am at the 5th rank with about 334 posts more than you?TheDarkArchon
I hadn't noticed, actually. Then again, it was a matter of time until someone overtook me, given how I can't access the ZDoom forums at time of writing. Curse ye, foul keepers of the gates to the general internet who are bent on keeping me out of there.
Now I only need to find a way to lock out Enjay and Graf Zahl and the ZDoom rulership is mine! :-) Although I doubt that I will ever have that much time on my hands... I guess I took the wrong occupation. I should have studied pedagogics... Nevermind, thanks a lot for your time and the interview Fraser, I am sure people will like reading this as much as I liked writing this with you. And good luck with your former ZPack entry, we are looking forward to this!TheDarkArchon
Thanks for having me, and congratulations on the website 9th birthday!
So there we are, much brighter than before and interested in all the things TheDarkArchon has in his pipeline for the next upcoming years. We are looking forward to your appreciated work and help, thanks for this and keep Doomin'!