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Unofficial Transcript of Exadv1 Interview Part 1

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Jan 7th, 2019
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  1. This is a very much unofficial, very much amateur transcript of the first part of BlackPantsLegion's interview with Exadv1, the creator of Space Station 13. The audio is transcribed by Studenterhue from and covers the first 38 minutes or so.
  3. BlackPantsLegion: When trying to understand the history of something, inevitably you are drawn to the beginning, the point of creation. If we go through the Wayback Machine and cast our eyes upon the starting point of Space Station13, BYOND attributes one creator: Exadv1. The Wikipedia entry for Space Station 13 produces the same result. Back in 20013, Exadv1 sweated over his keyboard, and many years and dying clowns later, here we are today.
  4. BPL: Welcome to the interview, sir. Please introduce yourself.
  5. Exadv1: So, yes, I’m the person who’s commonly referred to as, at least for Space Station 13 stuff, as Exadv1.
  6. EX1: Uh, hello. You can, if you want, refer to me as Entrian. That might be more pronounceable, because I’ve been trying to transition into that one recently and use it for other video games.
  7. BPL: I understand, I understand. The first thing I want to—
  8. EX1: It’s a thing of youth—
  9. BPL: Yeah, I mean—
  10. EX1: —the name selections.
  11. BPL: Well, right, I mean, no, I get it. I mean, it’s, everyone has that old gamer namethat was chosen when they were young and then sticks with them into adulthood or middle adulthood, and they go, “Crap, I need something a little more adult.” (laughs)
  12. EX1: Pretty much.
  13. EX1: Entrian was mostly because World of Warcraft would not let you choose that kind of name as a character name, so I was like, “Alright, let’s just switch it around.”
  14. BPL: There you go.
  15. BPL: So the first thing I want to ask you is something that’s been circling around the Internet for a long time, at least in Space Station 13, and that is the history of the game. In the beginning, there was an atmos simulator, then so far as the story goes, someone stole from you and reverse engineered it. This story has been repeated for years. Can you tell us what really happened and where this game truly started?
  16. EX1: God, it was so long ago. Well, it would have roughly been probably around 2002. I read an article from Game Programming Gems by, I believe it was Thomas Forsythe, on using cellular automata to simulate fluid mechanics in games, and I was like, “Oh,well this is cool.” I don’t remember many games that I’ve played doing this, and I had been playing and fiddling with this BYOND engine that I can use to prototype things and mess around with game concepts. So I coded up a very rough approximation to the rough approximation he wrote about.
  17. EX1: And, yeah, at the time it really was just literally an atmos simulator. Plasma, phoron,toxin, whatever it’s called, was added simply because I needed a gas that was visible—unfortunately, air is generally not visible.
  18. EX1: So, over the course of that year, I just slowly evolved more and more features onto it. At some point, it went from being on some Terran, earth-like planet to being in space, mostly as an excuse to have a vacuum and more interesting air environments. And then, more features, more features.
  19. EX1: Eventually, I renamed Space Station 13, again for the pun, because 13, bad things happen.
  20. EX1: Then I started hosting it. I think, for the longest time, I was the only one who ever hosted it. I don’t remember if I ever actually gave anyone else the hosted files.
  21. EX1: At some point, I eventually did give someone else the hosting files. And then I was going further in my schoolwork, mostly high school, and had less and less time for these types of personal projects, and I was nominally focused on other things. And I think at one point, I think it was AZA, requested to do more principal development himself, so I was like, “Yeah, sure, here, have the source, do whatever you want to, uh, advance the thing.” I can’t remember exactly what I said. It was far too long ago.
  22. EX1: So he developed it, and then from there I kinda lost track of the history a bit. I know since then, from when I was working with the Goonstation developers, that at some point, I think it was Rick and Hobnob, had decompiled one of the binary executables, and basically rewrote most of the game systems to what you see today.
  23. EX1: At around, let’s say 2008,—yeah, that sounds about right—, over the summer, I was bored, I guess, and I decided to look into what was happening with the game, and I saw that the Goonstation developers were still were actually…
  24. EX1: well, I saw that Goonstation was involved. I was not very aware what Something Awful was at that time. I am apparently oblivious. That will be a running theme, my obliviousness, in this interview I suppose.
  25. BPL: It’s fine. You’re the creator, you’re allowed to be oblivious.
  26. EX1: And, I was like, “Well this is kind of cool.” So I played a little bit, then I talked to some of the current developers. Turns it’s really easy to get them to talk to you when you’re the one who hosts the BYOND Hub entry for the thing they’re hosting, although I don’t think they used the hub entry at the time, but they were still willing to talk to me. And then they let me look at the—I can’t remember exactly, I’m pretty sure I talked to Ostaf first, which most people don’t even remember these days —I and then very quickly Rick hopped on and all the other people and...
  27. EX1: The main thing I wanted to do was fiddle with the atmos stuff again, because I think I had some ideas on how to make it better that had just like popped in over the summer when I wasn’t doing anything. I was like, “Oh, I should try this again.”
  28. EX1: So then I did that, and I looked into the code, and it was hilarious, because the atmospherics does was pretty much exactly how I remembered it. I don’t think anyone had touched it. Some of the user interface code has also never been touched. And my understanding is that the lighting system was done by HobNob, power networks were done by him as well, and then…
  29. EX1: The long form version of this story is people have this notion that it was stolen on a flash drive Actually, I have no idea where that’s from. I never had source code on a stolen flash drive. I don’t think the Goonstation developers did. Maybe AZA did, but then that doesn’t seem to mesh well with the fact that the Goons decompiled it.
  30. EX1: Regardless, what my analysis of the source code when I was dealing with Goonstation was it was either code and systems that I had originally written and didn’t care that they were using or code and systems that they had written or rewritten to be wholly their own. So that’s certainly why I contest the “it was stolen” [theory], because none of the code at the time was controversially stolen, if that makes sense.
  31. BPL: Yeah, so you’re just saying that at certain point, someone else was interested in, you know, continuing your work, you handed it to them, and they continued the work. So the whole notion of the code being stolen and decompiled and all this other conspiracy is just probably not true.
  32. EX1: Well, I mean, it was definitely decompiled to get access to the source, I think, but yeah, I don’t mind for that stuff, because I basically had no problems with them continuing to develop it that way. In fact, if they would have asked me, and I was like disappearing, I probably would have just given them whatever version of the source I had at the time. By the time I was reinvolved, it wasn’t worth it to give them any version of the old source, because they basically had all they need or had rewritten a better version.
  33. EX1: Since then, I think those versions are lost on hard drives at my family’s house. I don’t even know if those hard drives still work, but that’s fine. There’s enough screen captures of how awful the artwork used to be.
  34. BPL: I think the term is “antiquated” (chuckles)
  35. EX1: Yeah, that does make it sound more official.
  36. BPL: Well, I mean, I’ve spent so many years playing this game, and, well, it had its primitive years, but we’ll get to that, we’ll get to that.
  37. BPL: How long did it take to make the original?
  38. EX1: Well, it’s hard because it was a continually evolving thing, but the actual atmos stuff took probably not very long. I think I whipped it together in a week, because the original core version was, loop through every tile in the game, plus or minus one from adjacent tiles, and then that quickly went to do an average, and then just do that every second. And that is not hard to code. It’s just the gradual evolution process which took just years, two or three yearso f just on and off, with tiny bits of work.
  39. BPL: So was the coding difficult or easy at the time for you?
  40. EX1: So let’s see…I had started coding…how long ago was that…probably five years—wait I was in…2003…
  41. BPL: Visit the wayback machine.
  42. EX1: 2003…I had started programming four to five years before that, but I still wasn’t very strong on higher level math when I did the SS13 stuff or the algorithms, although, there is only so much you can do with data structures in BYOND, because of the way the virtual machine is. So yeah, it wasn’t the first thing I coded, so that helps.
  43. EX1:…so yeah, it didn’t really take that long to do for the original demonstrations. And then, from that, everything else was like, “add this item”, “add this area”, or “add this tiny system”. So, like , you know, one-offs, or what they usually call agile development of the game systems I guess.
  44. EX1: …but I don’t even know why traitor was—I okay,fine, extended was the first mode, if you want to be pedantic, because there originally were no modes…
  45. BPL: (chuckles) Yeah, the original mode I suppose was “see how long you can play this without losing your mind”
  46. EX1: Yeah. But when there were modes, the mode was essentially traitor, because there was no op, and then very quickly after, extended…
  47. EX1: Well, the reason it’s called extended is because traitor used to have a set time period. There was no calling the shuttle; the shuttle would just come after a certain period of time. In extended, the shuttle would still come, but just a little bit later. That’s why it was like extended.
  48. BPL: Ah, interesting.
  49. EX1: Yeah. Things people don’t know.
  50. EX1:And there was a mode in the middle that people seem to hate now: meteor, which was meant to be more of a PvE mode where meteors would just destroy the station one by one. I realize now why people hated it ; we can get to that later.
  51. BPL: That’s fine. I’d love to dive into that.
  52. EX1: Yeah, we could dive into that more when talk about PvE direction and stuff, because it was essentially meant to be the PvE mode. Like you know, traitor was the PvP mode, meteor was the PvE mode, and extended was the sandbox.
  53. EX1: This is all before I actually knew what these terms really meant, but….
  54. BPL: Live and learn, you know.
  55. BPL: In the early days, was the community hard to manage or was it just like, twenty, people?
  56. EX1: Oh god, it was less than twenty people.
  57. BPL: So there was no drama back then, I take it.
  58. EX1: Nothing really substantial. Nowhere near as much drama as today, good lord.
  59. BPL: So what was the scene like back then? Did you have to message people and say, “I’m putting the server up”, or…?
  60. EX1: No, I would just put it up, and then people would come and join. Keep in mind at the time, there were other BYOND games that were more popular. Like, there were other games people played on BYOND besides Space Station 13 and whatever random anime-style thing people do. So I had people who commonly play in my friends list, who would look to see that I’m hosting, and they might be playing other things. Then they would finish off that, and then they’d join the Space Station 13 stuff.
  61. EX1: Again, the servers always had less than like twenty people. I don’t even know if my home computer could support hosting twenty people on a dial-up connection. So, yeah, it was much, much, much smaller. It was mostly just people fiddling around.
  62. EX1: I can remember actually what the station looked like, but I just can’t remember what some people did. It was mostly just fiddling around, although that’s basically what people do now, just with a little bit more structure.
  63. BPL: So, you’ve told me why you made Space Station : it started as an atmos simulator, a fun little code project. Why BYOND?
  64. EX1: Oh, that’s a good question. Ooh…I had originally started coding in BASIC. QuickBASIC specifically, and then I think I did sorta pseudo-learn C—god, this is really hard to remember now—but BYOND was….
  65. EX1: I don’t know. I was just like searching, and in what had to been like the early 2000s,—probably before then if you’d looked up how old my account is, —I was like, “Oh, this is fun little game engine with all these other games on there.” So, I downloaded BYOND, played the other games, and was like, “Oh, this is fun, I’ll make my own thing.”
  66. EX1: And for the time—I mean, think about game engines now. You have Unity and Unreal, and it was basically kinda like one of those, except much less…principled? I mean, Unity and Unreal, they’re like massive commercial projects with a lot of developers, tried and true, well-known industry standards and practices in their operations—no, this isn’t me saying they’re great, I’m sure they have their own problems—but, you know, they’re commercial products. People make real games on these things that are like selling as…maybe even AAA-titles? Yeah, Hearthstone I think is on Unity.
  67. EX1: BYOND, yeah, was not commercial grade, but I didn’t know that. Also, at the time, that wasn’t a thing. There weren’t these big game engines you could just do indie development with as far as I can remember. Basically, I just stumbled into BYOND, and it had another game community, and the language was really not that bad.
  68. EX1: I mean, people see SS13 source code now, and it’s really intimidating, because it’s just huge, and I think it’s always been an order of magnitude larger than the next [largest] source, an order of magnitude larger than the next [largest] BYOND project, and I know this because of our interactions with other BYOND developers when I doing Goonstation stuff. They just didn’t believe us when we said how large our code base was until we just showed them.(laughts) And that makes the BYOND language seem much more intimidating and worse than it is, because it’s literally much, MUCH larger than what the game engine was designed to support. And the server counts involved. [It was] probably an order of magnitude larger than the net code was designed to support, etc.
  69. EX1: So, yeah, it was the only thing at the time, and it was written in the only thing I knew at the time. When I was working on it, I never hit a point where BYOND was actually that much of a problem. Well, I’d say near the end I did, because I wanted to do this fancy thing with moving shuttles, and it turned out to be very challenging. But, at the time, I kind of had to step away to do schoolwork, so I just kind of dropped it.
  70. EX1: And then, when I came back, there was now an order of magnitude more content from the Goon developers and whole new great systems were all written in BYOND DM. I was like, “Okay, well, guess we’re here now.” It hadn’t occurred to me when I was coming back to [go], “Hey, maybe we should forge another thing”, and so we never did and then just kept going and going and beyond. And it was…
  71. EX1: When do we do the remake interview segment? Is that part of the future?
  72. BPL: I would say…
  73. EX1: Past?
  74. BPL: …yeah, we’re getting there…
  75. EX1: Alternate realities?
  76. BPL: Yeah, we’re going to get to that fun stuff.
  77. EX1: So we can defer that part. We can defer “Why still BYOND?” stuff to a separate segment.
  78. BPL: Yeah, I mean, we’ll get to that.
  79. BPL: What were this game’s inspirations, if any?
  80. EX1: Alien.
  81. BPL: Alien…
  82. EX1: Definitely Alien. Also, particuarly, in BYOND, there was game,by Gug Hunter—I think you can still get the source for this actually if you google enough—called Space Tug, which was basically an Alien game where one person was an alien and everyone else was the crew trying to escape. That featured, not an atmospherics simulator, but more of an overclocked vacuum simulator in that it drastically overcompensated for how much vacuum pressure is. But I just loved the concept and took that and the paper and was like, “Oooh,let’s do more with this.” You can see why traitor was the first mode, because the traitor replaced the alien, although that ends up being substantially different.
  83. EX1: I mean, just in general, I’m a fan of sci-fi, so probably bits and pieces of every sci-fi theme I’ve seen in my entire life, but primarily Alien and Aliens, especially if you’re looking at the technology level.
  84. BPL: Yeah, that retro-futurism sort of thing. Yeah, I get that.
  85. BPL: So, a lot of people have been contributing questions when I told a few chosen people that I was going to do this interview, and I said, “I would really appreciate if you would help me come up with some questions.” One of the ones that has come up time and time again of massive importance is…
  86. BPL: “ Who made the clown?”
  87. EX1: Goonstation.
  88. BPL: So the Goons just said, “We need a clown in space”?
  89. EX1: Yeah, actually, I think the clown was in the source before I started working with them again, so…
  90. EX1: …got to double check that. Was the clown in R4407? If it is, then definitely Goonstation, because I don’t remember them adding the clown, but I remember there always being a clown when I came back.
  91. BPL: Interesting.
  92. EX1: I It makes sense; it’s just totally a Goon thing to add.
  93. BPL: Yeah, no, I agree with you.
  94. EX1: It super fits every profile I have, that the Goons added it.
  95. BPL: Yeah, that seems like something they would do. Like, you know, this space station where there’s space terror and space horror and space wonder…
  96. BPL: Let’s add a clown.
  97. EX1: It’s funny, because I used to take it a bit too seriously and kind of hated the clown, but I’ve kind of warmed up, not to the clown as a whole, but just the concept of that comedic relief.
  98. BPL: I mean, you need that one person who can commit to pratfalls and honking the horn and so on while the station burns.
  99. EX1: Yeah, basically.
  100. BPL: So, what was the first job in Space Station 13?
  101. EX1: Hmm, let’s see…god, what were the jobs…
  102. EX1: So I did add the jobs, I remember adding that system….
  103. EX1: It was probably….well…
  104. EX1: It was probably Station Engineer, which was…and.
  105. EX1: Actually, sorry, probably Atmospheric Technician, Station Engineer, Captain, and…
  106. EX1: Medical Doctor, and….
  107. EX1: Toxins Researcher and Medical Researcher.
  108. EX1: Just a weird smattering of things. The jobs were added after a bunch of other things were added. So, I wasn’t like, I added a Medbay and then I added the doctors. Medbay was always there, and then now we put the doctors there.
  109. EX1: So, yeah, those are probably the core jobs. I know that Security came after the job system because we had Security Officer and then [came] the various regimentation, the subcategorization of those areas. But, yeah, in the beginning, you had like one person from each of the roles.
  110. EX1: Obviously, Assistant’s always been there, because there had to be something for—actually, there used to be four types of Assistant, and you could pick which kind of Assistant you were, which really didn’t make much of a difference. It just kinda set which area of the station you were assisting.
  111. BPL: So Assistants directed towards specifically a branch of the station?
  112. EX1: Yeah, but like, at the time, there was not much job-related content, so like being a….
  113. EX1: This is kind of funny, because now it would have sense to have direct Assistants, but at the time it didn’t, because there’s nothing for direct Assistants to do, but at the time, there were direct Assistants, but they didn’t do anything, but now there’s Assistants, and they’re not directed –and they still don’t actually do anything (laughs) except cause chaos.
  114. BPL: Yeah, greytide, worldwide.
  115. EX1: Also, originally, you didn’t start with job-related clothing on you, because I didn’t have the art assets. Everyone wore blue or pink, and then I think the doctors got uniform first, because, you know, white, and then Security, redshirts clearly, and then….Heads of Staff, green, and then—oh god, what color were station engineers? It might have been yellow…or still blue. Research stayed blue. I think, amusingly, these color schemes are still the same today as well.
  116. BPL: It’s kind of interesting to see how that’s been handed down.
  117. EX1: Truly the remnants of completely arbitrary decisions, except for red security. Obviously there’s no color for Security to be. Everything else is pretty arbitrary.
  118. BPL: So, what jobs directly are you responsible for? Those you have listed or any others you gave special attention to?
  119. EX1: I also made Head of Personnel, Head of Research, Atmospheric Tech, Station Engineer, Medical Doctor, Medical Researcher,—amusingly, because someone had made the suggestion—Warden, Prison Guard Staff—that was one of the bigger ones—, Assistant…
  120. EX1: Oh, with the jobs, there’s so many…
  121. BPL: What about Cargo? I have to ask.
  122. EX1: Nope, that was a Goon system.
  123. BPL: Aww.
  124. EX1: Sorry.
  125. EX1: It was a brilliant system by the way,
  126. BPL: I know, I know, I just feel to be a lesser choir of angels now.
  127. EX1: Why?
  128. BPL: (laughs) I play Cargo so much.
  129. EX1: Oh, sorry.
  130. BPL: Yeah, it’s alright buddy, you can give me a hug later. (laughs)
  131. EX1: I think Cargo was originally basically rolled into Station Engineer, because Station Engineers were responsible for resupplying the station, and at the time, there was no power system. Everything just had power , so they would have nothing else to do but resupply the station and rebuild things. There was no resupply shuttle, just a big room of stuff in it that they’d have to move around.
  132. BPL: Yeah, like a central parts stockpile.
  133. EX1: Yeah. They would just faff about mostly, though.
  134. BPL: So, we’ve gone over what systems you’ve created. I have to ask you this.
  135. BPL: Of the round types that were there at the beginning, what was your favorite? What was your favorite then, and why?
  136. EX1: I mean, I always say traitor was the initial mode. In my original design, it does have problems in that—well, maybe can actually get to that in the future as well—there’s just not enough action. People would have nothing else to do but try to root out the traitor, which makes it hard to be A traitor. People would have no excuse to do anything suspicious because the jobs didn’t really have any meaning, so that was problematic.
  137. EX1: So while I really do like traitor as a concept as a mode, probably my favorite mode balance-wise is probably nuclear operative, because [it has] directed things to do. Like, it just seemed like it actually had the capability of being balanced.
  138. EX1: Or, just because it was amusing, the monkey infection mode, because I saw a movie that inspired me to add it, and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. The movie had nothing to do with turning into monkeys.
  139. EX1: Mostly, because both of them had like, balanceable gameplay.
  140. BPL: I understand what you’re saying. You’re adding a lot of things into the game that can be very interesting, depending on how the players play of course, but also they’re directed PvP. They have objectives, versus the “meteors may kill you or not, and the shuttle will come at some point, so whatever”.
  141. EX1: I do want to get back to meteor. I think you could fix meteor mode, but it would take a lot of work.
  142. BPL: How would you fix meteor mode?
  143. EX1: You would have to completely revamp the PvE aspects of the station. Like, the station would have shields, armor, and a balanced power generation setup, and you’d be able to predict where they’re [the meteors] coming from, track them, and they’d hit only certain parts of the station. They’d ramp up in intensity, and it would be an adventure of trying to survive as long as you can against this meteor shower. You might throw in other weird events, not just meteors, because that would get boring, where you just be trying to keep the station together as so much other stuff goes wrong. And you would tie a bunch of other game systems into it.I’ve actually written a post on this. And the science team would be developing better power sources or betters ways of utilizing power to put up the shield, etc.
  144. BPL:Okay, I get that. So it becomes an endurance event but also one where they can try to do some damage control or try to develop better technology. I get that.
  145. EX1: Basically, less randomness, more agency, where the station’s stats and abilities have an impact on their survivability. That’s really the key, being able to have an impact, not just randomly dying because a meteor crashed through like one wall and just destroyed window. That’s no fun.
  146. BPL: So what was the greatest difficulty in making Space Station 13?
  147. EX1:Well, when I came back to the Goon stuff, just keeping everything optimized and smoothly running, especially across multiple hobbyist-level programmers. It just takes a lot of profiling and analysis just go get everything moving .
  148. EX1: For me, it’s always been trying to generate art assets, but it helps when other people are around that are actually not horrible at art.
  149. BPL: Yeah, I was gonna ask, did you do all the sprite work yourself or?
  150. EX1: I did some of it. Amusingly, what the pictures people see and call awful art, like the ones in Mandalore’s video, a lot of those were actually drawn by someone else who had seen my art and was like, “I can make this a little bit better.” And they did send me some stuff that was a little bit better. So the original-original art was basically worse than that, which is kinda hilarious to think about. Then, obviously, SuperNorn redid almost all of it at some point.
  151. BPL: Yeah, I mean, the modern Space Station 13 sprites are pretty amazing in some areas. I mean, considering they’re tiny little sprites, they’re pretty bonkers.
  152. EX1: Plus, at the time it was created, and I believe for the longest time, BYOND resolution lets you have 32x32 blown up so it’s clearly not 32x32 pixels on a modern monitor. And you could do over 64 x 64, but none of the art was 64x64, so you had to redo all the art, and no one’s going to because it’d be too much.
  153. BPL: So, when designing the game, did you expect the community to grow into something as silly as it has become or did you expect perhaps, when you were building the game, a more serious player base? Or, was it just an experiment, and you really didn’t think about it?
  154. EX1: Hold on, let me hit those one at a time.
  155. BPL: Sure.
  156. EX1: Did not expect it to grow as much as I thought. My original idea was “let’s demo this airflow thing, and then maybe it’ll be interesting, and then we can see.” I don’t know how you’d want it to work in other games , but I was never gonna launch it like another game engine, a real game engine. I just wanted to try it out to see if it works in the game, just hypothetically, and apparently it kinda does.
  157. EX1: Because of the lack of driven content, I did kind of rely on, what I guess people call heavy RP, to keep things from being too dreary or boring, that people kinda make their own content, like a somewhat interactive D&D session. So, not a, like, high-action, deathmatch everywhere, because the game systems were never designed for it, and honestly, BYOND as an engine can’t handle that kind of gameplay very well, at least not with the way SS13 was coded. We would take way too much effort to do that, and [it’d be] not worth it. It’d be recoded in something else at that point to actually be more efficient.
  158. EX1: Yeah…what was the third one?
  159. BPL: Well, nah, I just wanted to see…
  160. EX1: Oh! Also for the first thing, with the atmospherics—oh, maybe it’ll come up later, but I want to make sure I get it in—I hate in games when—by trade I’m an engineer, if that’s not obvious from how I communicate—I,uh, like in games when you can actually fiddle with things. A good example is Doom 3. I like the fact you can actually touch buttons on the screen, and a lot of them have an effect, and when I was doing SS13—
  161. EX1: —ooh, much better example: NetHack, where “the Dev Team thinks of everything” is a meme that is astoundingly accurate when you’re playing it.
  162. EX1: So I like building systems that just have a certain depth, and every button in the game does something. It’s not just, like decorative on your computer screen.
  163. BPL: Yeah, everything can be played with, everything’s there for a purpose. It’s not just art.
  164. EX1: Yes, yes. So yeah, it was…a test bench for just like fiddling around with lots of tiny things. Which pretty much makes it squarely a hobbyist project, because in real game projects, you end up having to make substantial cuts in order to hit deadlines.
  165. BPL: Yeah, there is the scope, which often sinks many things.
  166. EX1: Anyways, sorry for that diversion.
  167. BPL: No, no, it’s fine.
  168. EX1: I meant to say it earlier, and it, uh, forgot.
  169. BPL: No, not, it’s fine. I mean, if you want to go off on a tangent, I got plenty of room.
  170. BPL: So, here’s the thing: what was adminning like back then? Were there admins and was the job hard, or did you not even think that was necessary?
  171. EX1: Actually, funny story. So, the original admin system was BYOND library, I think, which made it really easy to define levels, so just for fun, I defined a lot of levels, most of which were never used. So, there’d be like, Primary Admin, Secondary Admin, [and] Moderator. The playerbase was so small, it’d never make any sense to have that many levels.
  172. EX1: And there were like 4 or 5 people with administrative privileges, but it usually wasn’t a problem, because…there was never as much griefing “drama”, so to speak. Or the round would be over, people forgot about it and moved on. Or people just weren’t as malicious at that time, maybe because the entire playerbase was much smaller and, again, directly from the BYOND community itself, not from random people from outside the community joining BYOND just to do SS13. So there was griefing, but it wasn’t that big of a problem.
  173. EX1: Now, there’s still the admin stuff, because—you know, most of the admin stuff is actually just like fiddling with the game mode to make it just right or making little events, which were rare but did happen occasionally. Some people do need to be kicked or whatever.
  174. EX1: I have been amused that modern codebases have more admin levels and actually reasonably staff them all. The admin system has since been recoded not to use the old library, but I’ve always been amused that that system , which was overdesigned, ended up longer being overdesigned.
  175. BPL: Right, because eventually they did fill all those roles, and, in many servers, fill them well.
  176. BPL: So, how much did technical limitations shape the game?
  177. EX1: Well, it’s kind of like one of those things from 1984, where your ideas are somewhat shaped by the engine itself. Like, you won’t explore or have many ideas that would be considered out of scope for the engine. Like, clearly, it’s in 2D, in that projection, because that’s what BYOND supported, that top down/oblique. Like, BYOND at the time I started using it couldn’t even do isometric very well without a significant amount of work. So that’s probably like the best example.
  178. EX1: Kind of amusingly, the SS13 movement system is very against what BYOND wants to do, where are either fully dense or not. It really required a lot of work to get those windows that only take up part of the tile.
  179. EX1: The fact that the station—well, even multi-z-level stations have relics of this problem—-where the station was very flat in one leve—it’s, again, because of BYOND. The fact that’s there’s no overworld is because it wasn’t designed for one. So, probably a lot of the map and art concerns and projection concerns are because of the engine limitations.
  180. EX1: With regards to actual game logic…
  181. EX1: I mean, it’s not pixel perfect shooting, because, again, when you have a dumb client, you can’t implement that very well, so, you target things, not directions, with the guns and stuff.
  182. BPL: Yeah, right, right.
  183. EX1: The way interfaces work is partly because I’m incapable of designing interfaces correctly. Also, for the longest time, you couldn’t easily do keybinds in BYOND, so everything was done with mouse clicks or hard -to-type verbs.
  184. EX1: So, you can actually blame a lot of it on working with the limitations of the engine, which might not be true now, but were true long enough that they’re carried forward forever.
  185. BPL: I understand. It’s shaped the game in the mold it will always be in.
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