Today, seven years ago, Obsidian Conflict was released to the public. Their creators aspired to make a great mod which resembled Sven Co-op but for the Source engine. And they did it. We are proud of them, as well as all the people who keeps improving their work. This article is a tribute to everyone who played or helped the mod:
General explanation about the mod
This mod gets his name from.
How Obsidian Conflict was born
Interview with Skidz, ex-leader of Obsidian Conflict
Interview with Shana, current leader of Obsidian Conflict
Obsidian Conflict is a cooperative mod for Half-Life 2, focusing on fun, cooperative, and physics-related puzzles. The mod has an open story, but is still set in the Half-Life 2 universe.
The mod allows you play all the Half-Life games of the Source engine in co-op online (Half-Life: Source, Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Half-Life: Episode One and Half-Life: Episode Two). Also, it allows you mount the content of Counter-Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source.
It also includes a large set of custom maps, weapons, npcs and new features, making the gameplay varied. Moreover, Obsidian Conflict has a great support of customization, having features like the MapAdd system, which allows you edit existing maps without having to recompile them, change the colors of your HUD, flashlight and more, or the Weapon Scripts, granting you the the possibility of make your own weapons, as well as more features.
Originally, the mod had a “storyline”, where the Combine would test some humans as warriors, on a series of tests called “The Obsidian Trials”, but soon it was abandoned and changed to an open story.
The name comes from the color that has the obsidian stone, blue shiny and dark at same time, being a symbol of the Resistance and the Combine, the conflict of the light and dark, rebels against the Combine.
From the own words of Skidz:
Before this, me and Hyperjag had started a Private Coop mod based on Missing Information's Code. After weeks of working through a number of bugs and adding features we decided to start over with Obsidian and build something that was like Sven co-op. The idea of custom models, sound scripts, and NPCs was included in Sven co-op for Half-Life 1 but something like this has not been done on Half-Life 2. After watching for progress on Sven co-op 2, I realized that all we were getting was Half-Life 1 information. I remember waiting for They Hunger coop and not receiving anything so I was starting to believe that the Half-Life 2 version of the mod wasn't going to surface in the near future. All of this lead me to start this website and this mod, hoping that I and the team could bring the great Coop experience of Sven co-op to the Half-Life 2 engine.
The idea behind Obsidian Conflict was to bring forth fans of cooperative gameplay to create a community where fans of that kind of gameplay could create maps and share them into the mod.
Obsidian Conflict was created during the development of another mod, Missing Information. Originally, a co-op version was planned for Missing Information, but some team members decided it would be best to create a separate mod from Missing Information, which could be released sooner. The rest of the team had little interest in the idea and the team split. Obsidian Conflict was then created, heavily using code from Missing Information, such as NPCs from the playable Half-Life 2 Beta.
Skidz: Lets start from the beginning. Me and Hyperjag were members of a message board called Gabes Love Tub. Basically it is a board dedicated to horsing around and discussing Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2 modding. We were all huge fans of Half-Life 2 and anticipated modding for it, so we started early with the leak. It’s like sneaking a peek at your presents before Christmas. When Half-Life 2 was actually released, there were a lot of great ideas scrapped to get the game out the door. I missed the old NPCs and weapons we were using in the leak, so I ported the code over. Hyperjag was doing the same thing from a different front, so we decided to merge our projects, I came up with the name Missing Information, and the rest is history. So back to the question. Basically, me and Hyperjag were working for ourselves, doing what we thought was fun, and at some point I decided to mess with the idea of having a single player mod that could be played multiplayer if you choose. Hyperjag enjoyed the idea and joined me. At that time the rest of the guys working on map porting and such were more interested in getting the old Half-Life 2 campaign ported to “release”, and we had ported all the weapons and stuff for them so there wasn’t much more for us to do on that front. We eventually grew the Missing Information Co-op into a mod similar to Sven Co-op, which was our major influence at the time, and decided to instead create a new mod called Obsidian Conflict. We didn't actually leave the Missing Information team until we ended up spending all our time on OC. The rest of the team wanted us to give support for MI, but we were far too interested in making OC. There were no hard feelings in the end, we just wanted to move on to tougher problems, which OC presented to us.
F: When you moved away from MI, why did you continue using the HL2 leak code from them? They didn't ask you to drop it and use the HL2 default one?
S: We did use some Missing Information code, because we were the ones who got it working, and some of it was from the leak. Really, the code we used was just simple weapons, some other simple NPCs. The actual multiplayer development, porting the Half-Life 2 entities for multiplayer, was far harder than anything we had done with Missing Information. The guys working on Missing Information didn't care that we were using some of that code, we were the guys who started Missing Information after all. In the end, all our endeavours were about having fun, and if using some of the old alpha weapons and npcs was fun, we did it!
F: How many people were in the mod team and how many contributors were there?
S: For Missing Information, it was me, Hyperjag, TundraCool, Rage2Wrath, Joe, betamaster, Romka, and other contributors which I am sorry I can’t recall. So we probably had a team of about 6 people who worked a lot on Missing Information.
With Obsidian Conflict it was just me and Hyper for a long time, but we gained a lot of interest and people started making maps and models for us to use in the mod.
F: JoeScoma contributed his maps, and Romka his famous HGrunt models. How did it happen? Were they collaborators?
S: JoeScoma was one of the first map contributors on our forums. He made some fun maps, so we asked if he would make us a bunch more, and in return he could have a spot on the team. Romka was just a good friend of me and Hyperjags, and we talked a lot online. He made a lot of awesome models in his time in modding, and we asked if we could use them in Obsidian Conflict. He was reluctant, and we had to encrypt the models at first to make him happy. He didn't want the models being used in any other mods. Eventually he just released everything, and we disabled the encryption on the OC models. Now they are pretty much everywhere.
F: You and Hyperjag planned a lot of features, a part of them ended up being left unfinished or being a mess. Was it due a lack of time?
S: When we left the mod, the core features we had planned for it were finished and working, we were basically at version 1.0. There were a number of spin off features we had planned which were very incomplete. One feature that I always wanted to finish was my Iron Helix idea. It was based on an old cat and mouse game called Iron Helix, which has pretty much been forgotten over the years. It was originally going to have some pretty interesting gameplay, and I wouldn’t mind trying to finish it one day. Who knows.
F: Why did you and Hyperjag leave the mod? Didn't you have the time for it anymore?
S: We left mainly because life caught up to us, and any time we had we spent working on new projects like the source model decompiler which never got finished either. Me and Hyperjag still talk online, he's working in the IT industry. Me, I am a programmer at Interdimensional Games.
F: Could you give us an advice not only for the current OC DEV's, but for every modder nowadays, considering that you are a veteran modder, and now are a DEV of the upcoming game known as Consortium?
S: A big one for modding is to release builds often. If you are making a single player experience, always go episodic. Do one episode at a time then move forward. There is nothing worse than making your followers wait for content. If you continue to release episodes to your single player experience, it will steadily grow your community each episode, and might even catch the eye of some triple A companies if it is good enough, not to mention great for resumes in an industry where companies are looking for people who understand episodic game releases. For multi-player mods, again release alpha builds at start, then beta, and eventually a release build. Releasing often allows you to take advantage of the community in that they will be your free testing group. You are supplying them with some fun multiplayer action, and they are supplying you with invaluable information to make the mod better. Win win situation. One last thing, make sure your mod has good public relations. Make sure it can be seen anywhere it could be seen. ModDB is a great place to start.
Fénix: How did you find out about the mod? When you came, how it was?
Shana: I found out about it in my early days of having my own internet, some person I knew from a German Gmod forum told me about a map he just released, which was oc_garginfestion. I found out about OC and liked the idea of the mod, since I always had a thing for coop games and Tim-coop was the first hl2 mod I ever installed and liked, which was dead at that time.
Compared to today it was pretty bad. It was flooded with those terrible JSC maps from HL2: DM which somehow made it into the mod. Skidz and Hyperjag must have been desperate for maps to include them, since there were only like 2 or 3 maps specially made for OC.
F: Why Skidz and Hyperjag choose you as the new leader?
S: Because at that time I was the most passionate player and contributed a lot towards keeping the mod alive. There were a mere 4 servers left including mine, which I took great care of, it had a lot of cool stuff other servers didn't have, like a working hl2 coop before it was even part of the mod.
Neico actually joined after me as a support coder.
F: How is the relationship between the team members? There are argues when there is a controversial decision, or most of the time everybody agrees?
S: We usually try to find a solution that everyone agrees on and/or which is best for the mod.
F: How do you feel as being the leader? The pressure from the players and rest of fans is high?
S: It's pretty hard at times, and to be honest there was a time where i was the wrong person in that position.
At that time I did a lot of terrible decisions caused by a bad life situation, outside influence and my own naivety which contributed a big deal to the slow development.
But mistakes are there to be learned from and I sure learned from mine. I'm doing a much better job now, sadly the consequences tend to come back at me because some people are unable to just move on.
F: The replacement of the HL2 leak content is one of the reasons about why the mod is taking too long on being released on Steamworks. How is going the general process?
S: In the past it has been a repeated cycle of stop-and-go, stop more so than go. We are currently changing that and hope to keep a constant flow of development going.
F: About Steamworks, there are many people who thinks that is a bad idea, after seeing what happened with Synergy. This has been explained many times, but now we want to know your opinion.
S: We are not going down that route, which is why we're taking the time of remaking so much content in the first place, we don't want a butchered first impression.
F: With the passage of time, more and more people are starting to believe that the mod is really dead, after all the incidents and problems that it suffered and is still suffering. Can we expect to see something new or at least a news telling the current state of the mod soon? Is there any realistic hope that we can expect a new version before the end of the year?
S: I can totally understand that, as an outside observer I would probably think the same.
I don't like it either and we will have some news out soon, releasing this year is something we hope to achieve, it's really overdue.