We recently had the chance to sit down with Sam Bantner, Project Leader, and CJ Scaminaci, Lead Developer on the opensource, multiplatform 3D FPS / strategy game based on Halo. Dubbed "Project Halo: Webwar Evolved", we get the skinny from the two top dogs on just what’s going on. Read on...
the Junkyard: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your position on Project Halo: Webwar Evolved.
CJ Scaminaci: My name is CJ Scaminaci. I started out as a Mac developer, I was the first one to join the team. Now, I'm mostly a project admin and take care of keeping things running smoothly, and keeping the public updated on our project. I also do the little projects nobody wants.
Sam Bantner: I'm Sam Bantner. I'm the project leader, I find the people to help with the project, throw out a few ideas every now and then, and have the final say in what goes on in the project. I've worked on many projects in my days but nothing as big as this.
tJY: Can you tell us a little bit about your team members?
CJ: We have a great team. All of our members, from Scott the 3D modeler, to Sean the AI specialist are all very talented. We have a few very elite Mac developers, some OpenGL specialists and some Windows guys. Also, we have several artists and a composer on the team.
Sam: We have a very talented team of young indivduals. From all of the 3D models and music I've seen and heard I can tell we won't be lacking in graphics or sound. This is one of the best teams I have worked with.
tJY: So... in a nutshell, what is Project Halo: Webwar Evolved exactly?
CJ: Basically, we're a 3D FPS game that throws in a hint of strategy. We are going to cover the Mac and Windows platforms for sure, and a Linux port is intended after release. We intend to harness the true potential of Halo: CE and channel it into a great game that will hopefully set a new standard for computer gaming.
Sam: It's a 3D FPS that is supposed to be based off of Halo with more features and options of game play. It's going to be on Windows and also for the Mac, Windows wannabes.
tJY: Tell us about PH's beginnings. Was it a group decision or did one member of your team initiate it?
CJ: I was the first to join the team in November of 2003. Sam originally wanted to make a web based game like Outwars, but I convinced him to change it to a 2D FPS for the computer. From there, we evolved into 3D FPS, and to where we are today.
Sam: First it was going to be a web based game. Then I got the idea of wanting to have a 1D/2D top view multiplayer Halo based game where you run and kill. After thinking of the time put into the project we wanted a FPS, at first it was 2D but we decided 3D at the finish.
tJY: So now that we know what PH is and where it came from... let's find out how you got here. What single biggest event drew your team to the Halo universe initially?
CJ: For me, it was the love of Halo for Xbox. When I found Sam's project on SourceForge, I knew I had to be a part of it.
Sam: Well I love Halo and I wanted to have more then just the Xbox game. So I decided to try and make a game from scratch and it was a success.
tJY: What do you think will be Project Halo's most attractive "selling feature"?
CJ: Probably our massive multiplayer levels and our unique touches on the vehicles in the game.
Sam: The fact that we made a Halo game the way the people want to have it.
tJY: Can you clarify "web-based" for us? Is it "online play", or are statistics web-based?
CJ: Yes, it means online play. We'll be offering huge multiplayer capability. As well as massive multiplayer maps. One of our multiplayer maps (currently in the works) takes place in the Grand Canyon. The WHOLE Grand Canyon.
Sam: Everything is online. The game is a huge online multiplayer game. Huge maps and many players.
tJY: Will a player's true skill level in Halo/Halo PC have any effect on skill level in Project Halo?
CJ: In my opinion, no. We're basically rewriting Halo, from the ground up and adding our own unique touches. So things will be different to the point where it'll be like playing a whole new game.
Sam: NO...It won't be completely the same and people will have to get used to how the gameplay works. We're trying not to make it like Halo so even the worst of players will equal out in the beginning.
tJY: How much influence have the Halo novels had in your work? Do you have a favourite character or event from one of them?
CJ: The Halo novels have had a huge impact on the way the story line is going. Can you say "time travel"? My favorite character is probably Yayap the grunt, he reminds me of Sam.
tJY: When did you decide to develop a multiplatform game? Was a single platform not challenging enough for you?
CJ: Well, since we were originally developing on Mac, I figured our Linux bretherin should be able to share in the glory. Oh ya, and there's you Windoze people too..
Sam: Well since Windows is the best I just wanted it to be on that platform. But we had CJ come in and he just had to have it on Mac and I couldn't refuse him.
tJY: Will PC users be able to play with Mac users, and Mac users with Linux users, and PC with Linux and...you get the idea.
CJ: Of course! We're all for mutli-platform gaming! Achieving it however, will be difficult to say the least.
Sam: Yes, it is a multi-platform game and it wouldn't be what it is without our good old Mac users.
tJY: Since the game is going to run on three platforms, what toolkits (aside from OpenGL) are you using to achieve this goal?
CJ: Well, we're trying to maintain the use of OpenGL for all platforms as much as possible. It's the easiest solution and it let's us port code from platform to platform extremely easily. We might also be using some Irrlicht and Coin toolkit stuff as well, that hasn't been decided.
Sam: I'll leave this one up to CJ.
tJY: Are you building your own game engine or will you be basing it on another engine?
CJ: No, we'll be using a separate engine. We'll be using the BZFlag engine, from another Open Source game on SourceForge. We'll be stripping it down to the core, optimizing it, and making it a hybrid with other code we've found.
Sam: We're using BZFlag engine off of another open source project on sourceforge. We're going to remake most of the components within the engine to have it as our own.