The Dink Network

PureEvil's Profile

2003-10-28 17:27:00
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Having had a few of these half done, I thought I'd finish them up and get them posted. In the future, you may expect to see some focusing on general community members - Leaving the authors for Simon.

To check it out head to the comments...

The Dink Network matters. From its humble beginnings as Redink1’s Smallnet it has evolved into the definitive one stop site for everything and anything Dink. TDN matters because of all of you who visit, share and conversate. And it does a pretty good job of holding interest. Long after Wyndo packed up and moved on, the community thrives. Nexis and Bill are gone, and Silencer took his ball and went home in a huff. Jveenhof occasionally visits now, and we’ve seen AndyM here and there. The place is an outlet for the curious questions of Rey and Christiaan. It’s a place for authors and players alike to get answers. It’s a place for joshriot to post his rants, and Kat to act confused.

The main reason for TDN, however, is certainly D-Mods, support and news, and none of it would be here without Dan Walma. So, without further drivel, here is my conversation with redink1, DN webmaster.

Dinker's View Five
Dan Walma
Conducted Oct. 28-29, 2003

Q. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Something I’ve asked everyone else, but with good reason – How did you first get interested in Dink?

A. Once I started getting into computers when I was a wee lad of 11-12 or so, I had an intense desire to make my own video game. I didn’t have any programming experience besides some LOGO and BASIC stuff on the good ol’ Apple II E computer lab at school, but the thought of making my own video game just stuck in my head for years. I even wrote a research paper on a career as a video game designer.

And then, one summer day I started reading the July 1998 issue of PC Gamer. There was an article by Michael Wolf in the Alternative Lives column on some weird game called Dink Smallwood, and it detailed how you could essentially make your own game using the Dink toolset. Alarms started going off in my head, and after finishing the demo included on the disk that month, my brother and I split the $25 to purchase Dink.

As an aside, I actually played the first demo of Dink Smallwood a few months before reading about the modding capabilities. At the time, I had confused it with Baldur’s Gate (which had a huge preview in that month’s PC Gamer, saying how it would be the best RPG of all time). After making it to Mr. Smilestein’s house, I didn’t think it was that good at all, and stopped playing it.

Q. Tell us a bit about your early relationships with Wyndo, and other early authors. I remember there being some tension centered around him, and how he drove the community.

A. Hmm, my relationship with Wyndo was more of ‘annoying-newbie bugging experienced-leader’ than anything else. I remember e-mailing him over the course of a week, not understanding why he didn’t reply to my e-mails faster. I had a ton of free time back then, and didn’t waste too much of it.

I didn’t really have relationships with the other early D-Mod authors at the time. I do remember stumbling into a Dink chatroom with a few authors, and after listening to them chat for a while announced that I released a 200+ screen D-Mod, which surprised a few of them.

True, there was some tension around Wyndo being the ‘king’ of the community, but I think it was really only one troll. He even photoshopped a crown on Wyndo’s head, criticized all of Wyndo’s D-Mods, etc.

Q. Is it safe to say that you took no real cues from Wyndo or other authors when you made Lost in Dink, the first of 7 Dmods you released in 1999? The Dmod seems to be influenced by other rpg’s of the time, as do StarDink and DinkCraft. Talk about your influences for these games, and current games that shape your ideas.

A. Actually, Lost in Dink and Dink Goes Trick Or Treating were released in 1998. Lost in Dink wasn’t planned at all, I just threw things in and hoped that it would work. The very first screen I ever made in DinkEdit is screen 400 of LID, the one with the girl on it. So I probably took some minor cues from Wyndo, like putting in jokes and such, but I don’t remember thinking ‘Ah, I must steal that idea and put it in’.

StarDink and DinkCraft were probably influenced by the Star Wars WarCraft II Total Conversion, which was never finished. It was basically an attempt to convert all of the WarCraft II units, maps, etc. into Star Wars based ones. That probably led me to try to convert other universes into Dink Smallwood. I didn’t really play too many other RPG’s back then, mainly focusing on Dink.

As for current games that influence my ideas, probably Deus Ex right now. That motivated me to try to make a non-linear D-Mod, which was originally going to be completed over the span of a weekend. I just played through Max Payne 2, but there really wasn’t anything I could apply towards D-Mods in it without a good 3d engine and/or a good artist working for me. And neither of those are going to happen any time soon.

Q. One of my favorite Dmods, simply because of everything it offered (add-on games, cool weapons, secrets, etc.) was FIAT. Most everyone now knows that the acronym stands for “From Inside A Tree” and that it originally started out as a Duke Nukem add-on. Tell us something about it we don’t know.

A. Hmm, there are a ton of things you probably don’t know, so I better get started. FIAT for Duke 3d was inspired by FTWOAP (From The Wing Of A Plane), another Duke 3d level. FIAT started out from (gasp) inside a tree, and Duke eventually made it into a museum of sorts, and the into a city, even with a teleportation vacation area. From what I remember of it, it was the most advanced level I’ve ever made. Destroyable walls, key cards, switches, teleporters, underwater areas, and more all in one level. There was a good chance that I was actually going to release it, until disaster struck. Thanks to a bug in the editor, the
sky became ‘corrupted’, and made all outdoor scenes incredibly annoying to play through. So I gave up, and never released it.

A few years pass. While reading my English 5 textbook, I found the word ‘fiat’, and was surprised to see that it was a word. This motivated me to make a D-Mod called FIAT. My original ideas were to have Dink have amnesia, wake up on a weird island, and have different arrows he could use. Thief inspired the concept of different arrow ‘flavors’. I was planning on having water, fire, and eventually rope arrows. The rope arrows would be used to cross a huge chasm, where Dink would have to battle it out with the Ancient One FIAT.

As you can see, quite a lot changed.

Q. It seems like FIAT was always on the verge of being released, but there was always something that slowed its release - and that is well documented in your FIAT journal. Could you explain some of the difficulties you ran into, what you were able to fix, and what was simply “let go”?

A. Have you ever tried to polish a chunk of coal into a diamond? While it might be technically possible (or maybe not, heh), that’s what working on FIAT was like. You add one NPC, but there are a couple dozen others to create. You put the trees on one island, but then you need to add rocks, flowers, grass, bushes, barrels, and more. It was just depressing to spend hours working on something, and not having any real good idea of how far you were along. Was I 90% done, as I had assumed when I had worked on it for a couple weeks? Or was I just barely getting started?

Elemental damage was a prolonged difficulty that I had run into. I think by the time it was released, I had developed a third completely different technique to get it to work well.

Variable darkness was also a problem I had to drop after putting a lot of work into it. It happened when I was making the ending of Ed the SCV 2, where a whole lot of bombs show up while the game fades down. When testing it for the first time, I realized that it didn’t fade down completely. Somehow, by spawning tons of scripts, I had made the fade_down stop before it had completed. After calculating through trial and error for hours what I would have to do to make it a useable technique for within dungeons and caves, I found out that it was extremely dependent upon the speed of the user’s computer, so I had to drop it completely.

I have no idea how I managed to eventually release it. The exams for my first semester of college were just about to start, and somehow I managed to just work on it like mad, fixing huge bugs without proper testing, and release it. At the time, I didn’t feel that I had to ‘let go’ of anything. I thought I had finally fixed all of the problems, and FIAT was complete. Only upon retrospect did I realize that FIAT still had an awful lot of polishing left to make it a good D-Mod.

Q. Do you think FIAT, with all its add-ons, was too big to ever be perfect? With that in mind, I know you’ve been working on FIAT 1.0, what can we expect from it, and further, when can we expect it?

A. Yes. Maybe if I had a good plan when I started, and perhaps had some other people work on it with me, I could have completed it in good time. But I just stumbled into it, and thought of far too many ideas to add.

FIAT v1.0 has been stalled for a few months, though I do hope to release it sometime next year after Initiation and Paragon are completed. The primary improvements will be new and improved elemental monster graphics, an improved plot which actually makes a little bit of sense, a couple new islands, some new secrets, and different/improved quests. The quests will also have a ‘choice’ somewhere, so Dink can either do it a ‘good’ way or a ‘bad’ way. But it really doesn’t keep track of this, because sometimes you can choose to do a good or bad thing to a group of questionable people, whom some people might find good and others bad. So instead of imposing my own views on it, I just thought I’d give the player the ultimate control over it.

Q. Cycles of Evil was released as an entry for the Alternative Hero Dmod Contest. I remember being quite impressed and inspired by it. You on the other hand, were not very pleased with it. What parts of CEO do you find fault with, and why?

A. Actually, I was rather pleased with it. Or at least, I am now. I may not have been then, but I don’t remember too well. I do remember realizing that there wasn’t any gameplay to speak of besides simple fights and chatting with some people. And I probably should have tried to think of some way to make it so the player actually felt like an active participant instead of a passive observer. I also wanted to add more ‘things’ that changed throughout the ages, like a store being passed down from father to son. But considering the time constraints, I think I did okay.

Q. To me, the very concept of Dmods like COE is exciting; you actually pulled it all off and made it work. Do you think you’ll ever work on a Dmod with a similar concept?

A. Maybe. Right now I have an idea for COE 2: Land of Despair, which takes some elements from COE (multiple characters, different times, etc) but puts them in a coherent manner for the player to use and abuse. Instead of just jumping at random from character to character in a completely linear fashion, the player would directly control Billy, who’s life has been a living hell after he killed the Fairy Queen and was cursed. And the player, as Billy, becomes different characters at different times thanks to a Special Plot Device.

However, I don’t think I’ll start working on it. After tasting relatively minor non-linearity in working on Initiation, I couldn’t imagine trying to work on it at such an epic scale as I have planned. Perhaps I could do it on a small scale, but I don’t think that would be as fun to play.

But I don’t think I’ll create another D-Mod almost like COE, where its completely linear and out-of-sync and limited. Maybe if I come up with a great story idea, but I doubt it.

Q. Back to FIAT – It is part of a Trilogy of Dmods called Dinky Dimensions that includes End Of Time as the second part and the yet to be released Hidthspace Revolution as its finale. Before asking questions on HR, however, it seems things have changed a bit in regards to both the name of the series, and how many parts it will contain. It seems the the newly named “Ancient Legacy” will contain 5 parts, with FIAT becoming part 3. Tell us about Initiation (which will be part one) and Paragon (Part two).

A. I don’t want to spoil any details on Initiation, as it should be released within the next few months, so I’ll try to stay away from any plot-specific things. I can say that (as briefly mentioned above), it is inspired somewhat by Deus Ex in that there are multiple ways of completing almost any goal. You should be able to beat it with only killing a couple pillbugs, or you could play through it by killing every thing including friendly NPC characters.

Paragon is supposed to be an epic, and has a cool concept that I don’t want to give away. But after having a heck of a time trying to finish Initiation (a Quest), I may have to tone down Paragon or even scrap it all together.

But that would be a shame, as I’ve created several new weapons. Paragon was originally inspired by Diablo and its brethren, so Dink runs around and kills things in hopes of getting better things to kill with.

Q. And what might we expect from Hidthspace Revolution?

A. I’m not sure yet. The original idea (inherited from The Clone War, the original sequel to End of Time v1.01) is lame. However, that idea is really just a small part of it, so if I can think of something to take its place, then it should turn out to be very special indeed. It will really focus on the now deceased King Daniel and Dink Smallwood as opposed to King Eric and George Ebrey (from FIAT Gladiator),
and possibly have additional characters. Dink gets resurrected in some manner after End of Time v2.01, but I hope that’s obvious.

Q. Lost in Dink, FIAT, End of Time, and COE are critical successes. Tell us about some of the projects you spent time on that never saw the light of day.

A. Dink Kombat was going to be a two player fighting game like Kombat, where you picked a character and fought. However, Seth didn’t allow the new keys to be able to do movement like the arrow keys, so it had to be dropped.

Dink’s Checkers was an improved version of Dinkers, with improved graphics and code. However, I stopped working on it before I really got into coding it.

‘Dink’ was going to be a management simulation of RTSoft trying to release Dink Smallwood in time. Possible endings would be Dink Smallwood being a published success, complete flop, independent cult hit, Seth starving to death, etc. It would have a lot of stuff inspired by the quotes.txt, and have Seth trying to get Pap to actually do some work without causing the microwave to blow up and such. You would also have to purchase computers ($3000 for a top of the line Pentium 75, weehee), desks, electricity, office space, and everything. While I never started working on it (and doing it with the Dink engine would be quite difficult), I would like to complete it someday, probably as an independent game.

The Clone War was going to be a sequel to End of Time v1.01, and while I did release a demo many years ago, it somehow ended up being buggy as heck, and was later disposed of.

Run Dink Run was a quick concept where Dink would be always in the center of the screen, and he would ‘run’ around (i.e. the background would move around him), fighting and avoiding monsters and such.

You Don’t Know Dink was a trivia game originally designed before the release of DinkX Trivia, with the ability to make custom question packs complete with graphics. Its actually mostly done, but I don’t want to release it for some reason.

Q. Some of the shortcomings of the Dink engine had you working on a project called dPlay. With the release of the source code, dPlay is dead – but can you tell us the goals of the project, and how far you came to solving some of bigger problems?

A. I think dPlay accomplished almost all of what I set out to do. I basically wanted a way to switch maps while Dink was running, and I got that working the first day I tried. Other features were eventually added, but those were just nice things to have, and weren’t really planned from the start. The only thing that didn’t work was replacing tile screens. In an odd fit of optimization, Seth actually cached the tile screens when you first start the game, instead of reading them directly whenever you need them. While this made the game run faster and better, it was quite different from Seth’s usual behavior of un-optimization, and slightly disappointing at the time.

Q. Time to spill your guts. Tell us some personal stuff – school, family, ambitions? Do you have any pet peeves?

A. Currently a Junior working towards a degree in Computer Science at Grand Valley State University, and unlike most people I don’t really know any reason why I picked this particular school. Somewhat inexplicably, I have a GPA of 3.9 something, even though I don’t think I study that much. I have never missed a single hour of class, though.

My family consists of a still married mom and dad, with two younger brothers. I don’t foresee a family of my own any time soon, as that would require at least marginal social skills and a girl friend, both of which I’ve lacked for my entire life.

I have no ambitions higher than someday obtaining a job having something to do with computers. I am generally complacent, and adapt easily.

And no real pet peeves that drive me crazy, though it is rather annoying when people feel they have to go 15 miles over the speed limit and weave in and out of traffic.

Q. That’s 75% of the population where I live. What’s the most embarrassing thing you ever did, or got caught doing?

A. Well, a few years ago I had a tendency to sleep with my head tilted towards my shoulder, so it was in my mouth. And one of our neighbors commented that the red spot on my shoulders it was a hickey. Being rather dumb, I had no idea what a hickey was, and just shrugged my shoulders without trying to deny it.

Q. That's not so bad...I bet Dukie could give some duesies. I’ve heard you talk of Donnie Darko as one of your favorite movies, what else do you watch? Video games?

A. Fight Club is another great movie, as is The Matrix and the Evil Dead trilogy. I don’t really watch movies over and over and over again. I’ll usually watch it once, and if I want to watch it again I’ll buy it. Or sometimes I’ll buy a movie just to put in my rather meager collection. I bought Matrix Reloaded the day it came out on DVD after seeing it twice in the theatres, and not liking it too much, and still haven’t watched it yet.

As for Video Games, I was recently addicted to Star Control 2 (or rather the updated Ur Quan Masters which is available for free), but after playing it for a while it just grew dull. It doesn’t keep track of the information you’re given by others, so unless you write down almost everything they say, you won’t be able to finish it at all. I may play through it with a walkthrough, but at the time I thought that was a bit like cheating.

I’m currently addicted to TrackMania, which is the most fun I’ve ever had in a racing game.

Over the last couple weeks I bought Max Payne 2 and beat it 3 times, and thought it was really good.

As for all-time favorite games, you can’t find more fun than playing the original X-COM UFO Defense.

Q. In your opinion, what is the best Dmod released to date? Worst?

A. I’d probably have to say Pilgrim’s Quest is the best D-Mod I’ve played. But not for the typical reasons. Unlike Stone of Balance, I played through it completely without cheating, and had a blast doing so. Stone of Balance was just far too difficult for me, and I played it rather haphazardly, not really paying much attention to what was going on.

The worst… probably one of the D-Mods that has been taken off of The Dink Network.

Q. What have you been doing lately, beside school? There has been a definite absence of releases from you for quite a while.

A. Motivation for me has been extremely lacking. I thought about it the other day, and it seems that the absence of releases started around when I started college and got broadband internet. So I’ve been trying (and succeeding, for the most part) to stop going to web sites that just waste my time, but now school work seems to be picking up.

Another factor is my striving for originality and quality. I have higher expectations for myself now, and those higher expectations cost more time to implement.

Q. What are some of your favorite places on the web – and give us some other links that may enlighten us.

A. Slashdot.org is quite fun, even if they do bash Windows an awful lot.

Chud.com and aintitcool.com are good sites to keep up on movies, but as I don’t see too many movies in theatres and don’t buy too many DVDs, I don’t know precisely why I visit them.

Fark.com is one of the sites that I had to stop visiting so I could at least pretend to get some work done, and is an ultimate time waster.

Q. Fark is one of my favorite sites! What is the future of the Dink Network, another of my favorites? How much longer can you continue to spend the necessary time to make it a cohesive site?

A. With the Dink Source Release, I expect The Dink Network to have quite a few years left. And if Seth ever makes Dink 2 (I don’t have any more information about it than you do, its just speculation), I expect The Dink Network to be around for it too.

I can continue to spend the necessary time forever. Really, if I were to decide to blow up my computer and never go on the internet ever again, the rest of the staff are quite capable of continuing things without me. Sure, there couldn’t be any new staff members without some intervention from Gamespy, but it would continue.

Q. Since the release the Dink code, you and others have been working on projects to clean it up, add features, and improve compatibility. What can you tell us about your work to this point?

A. I haven’t done anything that I haven’t released, so I’m afraid there isn’t much to say. My involvement has been limited to trying out things with reDink, and I’ve tried out everything that I’ve thought of and that is within my grasp, like variable darkness, new tile screens, etc. The others at The Dink Project are doing most of the real work.

Q. Ummm, Bananas? WTF?

A. I don’t know either. It probably originated when I was playing Worms 2, which has banana bombs.

Thanks Dan

Off the record, Dan told me the truth about the bananas - but promised to kill me if I told anyone. Oh well...

PureEvil has released 1 file

TitleCategoryAvgUpdated
Damnation Midi PackDevelopment, MusicFair 6.8January 16th, 2002

PureEvil has written 18 reviews

TitleFileTypeScoreDate
An Alternative Hero Dmod That Does Two Things Really Well Cycles of EvilFeaturedExceptional 9.3September 30th, 2002
Counterstrike is an Alternate Hero Type Game That Takes Advantage of the Dink Engine And R... Counter Strike CTFFeaturedFair 6.0August 14th, 2002
While This Certainly Isn't a Great Dmod Legend of the Pillbug (The)NormalTolerable 4.0August 13th, 2002
I'm Very Surprised New Shores : The MaoriFeaturedGood 8.4July 29th, 2002
Another Dmod That has Been Produced in Three Days (the Creeping Sands Being the Other) Knight's Tale (A)NormalGood 8.4July 29th, 2002
I Really Enjoyed This DOEMNormalGood 7.5July 27th, 2002
This Dmod is Well Done Cloud CastleNormalGood 8.5July 17th, 2002
This Dmod has What I Consider To Be a Nearly Perfect Balance of Difficulty Creeping Sands (The)NormalExceptional 9.5June 18th, 2002
Lots of Open Space in This One Milderr!! 2: The Adventure in FinlandNormalGood 7.0May 1st, 2002
Lacks a Cohesive Plot Secret of ParizayaNormalFair 6.5May 1st, 2002
Cool Follow-Up To Fiat Dinky Dimensions 2: End of TimeNormalGood 8.9May 1st, 2002
This is the Best Quest Out There Quest for Dorinthia (The)NormalExceptional 9.0February 13th, 2002
A Sequal That Lived Up To the Hype And Than Some Quest for Dorinthia 2: The Island RevengeNormalExceptional 9.3February 13th, 2002
Wow Back from the GraveNormalGood 8.5January 20th, 2002
Great Dmod Dinky Dimensions 1: FIATFeaturedExceptional 9.8January 13th, 2002
One of My Favorites Isle of Croth (The)NormalExceptional 9.0December 6th, 2001
Can You Say "Better Than the Original" Prophecy of the AncientsNormalExceptional 9.8December 6th, 2001
I Actually Found the Secret By Doing What the Guy Said True of LifeNormalFair 5.0December 5th, 2001