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Developers Spotlight: C-zom

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In this interview we’ll be getting inside the mind of horror modder and fellow Mod Sentry writer C-zom aka Glenn Winkelmann Jr. C-zom is the man behind The Worry of Newport horror mod for Crysis. The man has an incredible understanding on how to create a horrifying atmosphere without relying on cheap thrills and enemies, using subtle elements to ensure you feel uneasy even after completion.

Modding Questions

How did you become interested in modding?

 My interest in modding started last November when I wanted to create a type of game I’d enjoy playing, something I myself could sit down and play, which nowadays is a pretty small niche. I wanted to apply my favorite type of storytelling and horror to modding, and thus, picked up the old theory: “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” That was my motto for getting into modding.

Where did you learn the skills that you used to create The Worry of Newport?

Well, since Worry of Newport is my first ever mod, I had to learn on the spot. Mostly self-taught, exploring the Sandbox 2 Interface and practicing in a lot of test maps. When it comes to learning an editor you need to start small, have a project list, and be patient with yourself. What I did was learn the barebones like how to drop brushes and make environments, then polish them, and then figure out how to add entities and scripting, etc. This process took around 4 months and one alpha of Worry of Newport before I got it down expertly. The story telling came naturally though; I’ve been doing it for two years.

What is your favourite part about modding?

 Oh, so much. But if I had to pick it is designing set pieces and levels. I love natural and manmade level designing like making buildings, fields, forests and colonies feel believable and atmospheric. I don’t care for the scripting half of things anywhere as close. I could spend hours and hours perfecting a field of calm grass, wind effects, the sky… it can be quite relaxing.

Any advice for aspiring modders?

 Start small with your ideas and stick to an engine you like, not one that is popular. E.G: You don’t always have to mod for Half Life 2. When you find the editor for “you”, you will know. Things will come naturally, you will enjoy the aesthetics and design process of it, and so on. Also, follow your dream, but keep that dream realistic. You *will* succeed.

Ever considered applying to work at a commercial game studio?

 It has crossed my mind, but right now it is an unrealistic prospect. Besides, how many people make games right now that are like Newport? I’d say no one actually. Frictional Games is the closest, and they are both out of country and incredibly small scale and niche for who they hire. But in the future, yes, I’d love to be in a dev team. Right now Dark Craft Studios, a free modding group, is going to form out of the Worry of Newport release. We are very excited about future projects, but that’s hush hush right now.

What mod would you really like to make, or indeed see get made?

I would love to see the quintessential Lovecraftian horror mod released. Something polished, articulate, menacing and mysterious. Right now I am the only modder doing it, period, but I hope Newport inspires other people to take on projects like this. I would love to create something unique. Like, the perfect Anthology or perhaps the perfect Mystery mod. Those are rare. Y’know, ones that explore multiple perspectives, then tie up in the end? That’d be awesome to make. Hmm.

Do you have any plans for when the CryEngine SDK is released?

 Ahhh, good question. Realistically I would like to see some more polished, but smaller, mods be used. But in a perfect world, well, there are small talks of a retail Worry of Newport being designed from the ground up off CryEngine 3 SDK. We shall see how that progresses in a few years.

What is your all-time favourite mod?

 Tough one. I’d say Dear Esther. I love its brand of storytelling and mysteriousness, it is truly engrossing.

How do you motivate yourself to continue working on a mod?

I don’t actually. I write down a list of “Okay, Glenn, you’re doing this today with this mod. Make it happen, don’t rabbit trail.” I stick to this efficiency and down the road, before I know it, a mod is done and released. Just try to stick to goals, don’t fool around, and don’t keep adding content or you will bury yourself.

Random Personal Questions

What is your favourite Band/Food/Film/Game?

My favorite band is Reverend Bizarre. Food is easily spaghetti, I love mine with a dash of habaneros and chopped garlic. Film is Memento, hands down. Brilliant storytelling there. And game, ahhh… I’d say Shadows of Chernobyl or Call of Cthulhu. It is a tie.

Do you prefer Cake or Pie?

Pie. I love me some pie.

What’s your ideal job?

A novelist. I’d love to have my own niche of published horror and mystery flash fiction out there someday, writing from the seclusion of my own home but still having fans around the world.