Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

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Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby GodzFire » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:40 pm

We're back with another with another Myth alumni! This time it's Tyson Green better known as 'Ferrex' for some Q&A. Enjoy!

NOTE: Comments and Feedback are appreciated! Have some additional questions for Ferrex? Want to request someone to interview? Reply in this thread!

1- In the beginning, God created Ferrex. How did he discover Bungie’s games? If I recall correctly, the Marathon trilogy was part of it.

Well, there was a step or two before that, but eventually I did come into being.

My first Bungie game was Pathways, discovered long before I was really aware of Bungie as an entity. A copy of it was given to me by a well meaning friend of the family who, hearing that I had “a Mac” (a Mac Classic) assumed that I would be able to play it. I eventually ended up playing it after hours on a school computer.

I loved PID, but it wasn’t until I got a new computer and got a copy of Marathon 2 (I later revisited the original) that I really became aware of and developed a fondness for Bungie that transcended the games themselves. The combination of M2’s story, after hour LAN games, and the eventual discovery of Pfhorte, Alchemist, and map editing in general really cinched it for me.

2- The nickname “Ferrex”; where did that come from? (For some reason I always think of it and by extension, you, as a ferret)

Just one of those random names that a kid thought “sounded cool”. It subsequently became entrenched as a pointer to me-the-person as I got more involved in the Myth community. Since then, it has just stuck.

3- When did you become a fan of Myth?

After the Mac version of Ultima Online was cancelled. For all of my fondness of Marathon and zeal for map editing, the UO community at the time was utterly fascinating to me, and I was sucked right in. When Origin later abandoned plans for a Mac port, I (being unable to afford even a budget PC) had a look around for what other games might have this “community” thing going on.

It was at that time that I really became more aware of the extant Marathon community (which I hadn’t participated much in), and the nascent Myth community. Having a great deal of faith in Bungie already, I decided to hitch my wagon to the Myth horse. I put together a little website called Myth Unlimited, and started tracking community news. This led to that, and here I am.

4- What are some of your earliest memories of playing Myth/being part of the community?

Actually getting to play Myth took some doing for me. Bungie couldn’t (or wouldn’t) mail a Myth beta to Canada, so I was SOL there and mostly watched from the sidelines. The night the demo was released, I was on the worst 14.4 connection in creation—the download crapped out constantly, and produced a corrupt file at first. Even the retail game arrived when I had a broken CD drive, and I eventually had to borrow a SCSI drive and make a disc image (on an 850mb hard drive) to play the game.

But it was worth it. I made a number of friends and acquaintances in the community, including people I work with to this day. Jaime and I joined forces to create a new website, the Myth Codex, which was pretty prominent in the website scene and ultimately put us in more direct contact with Bungie.

5- Myth 1 vs Myth 2: Your thoughts on the original vs the sequel?

Myth 1’s gameplay was more polished than 2’s. The units felt better balanced, and more inclined to do what you wanted within the limitations of the engine. Myth 2 suffered terribly from a few bugs that weren’t obvious until too late, especially in melee combat. On the other hand, Myth 2’s engine was generally capable of much richer content, and I felt like the map scene didn’t truly blossom until it arrived.

TFL’s story was also a lot stronger, still one of my favorites in gaming. It was very stark.

6- How did you initially become involved / join Badlands?

Through Jaime, who was testing and ultimately working on the MP maps for Myth 2. I was working on tools documentation, and ended up having a fair amount of contact with plague and the Badlands guys through that channel, as well as making maps of my own through TFL and into M2.

I think the point at which I actually officially joined up with Badlands was after I left Bungie to return to Canada and go to school, but I had been working with them enough that I don’t clearly recall.

7- Did you have prior map-making experience?

Marathon maps, then TFL maps. Like many others, I started out hex editing and doing simple tag swaps. After fisj (and others) figured out the formats and started to make truly new maps, I followed their lead and created a few too.

8- What were your duties/functions with Badlands?

No duties, really. It was a very casual relationship.

I was sort of the tag hacker of the group. Having laboriously documented every nook and cranny of Fear, I probably knew as much about Myth’s tags than anyone on earth at that early time, and I helped out by finding strange new ways to leverage the engine. I also had a pretty firm grasp on map construction, and I helped plague polish off some of his gorgeous maps.

Eventually, Badlands’ talented artists were willing to indulge me and my tag hacking, and I seized upon the opportunity to engage in some quirky side projects like Dorfball. Basically, it was just having fun as an amateur.

9- Chimera: We know it; we love it. How did it come about and how did Bungie choose you folks to create it?

I actually wasn’t really involved in the process that brought about Chimera. I knew that some of the Badlands guys were working on it, but I wasn’t really involved from the start. I was approached about working on it early on, but declined to participate seriously after butting heads with one of the early members of the effort. I was later roped back in by plague after that member left the project, a hired gun (who was capable of building four of the eight missions in the time left.)

10- The original Chimera proposal was actually for a FULL game release. Tell us about that.

It was overambitious, in that good intentioned but naïve way. It scaled back as the magnitude of building that much game came into sharper focus, which is a process that is pretty typical of Bungie projects.

11- Ultimately, Chimera changed into a large plugin campaign. What were the reasons for this change?

Same as the above. :-)

12- Describe your involvement with Bungie during your time working on Chimera? What was the experience like?

Most of my Bungie involvement was through Jaime and plague. Looking back, it was a recklessly un-managed process—I was just doing my thing, working on the maps, uploading them to Hotline for playtests, and more or less just going about it like what I was—an amateur. Later, we started testing with Bungie’s in-house test team, and things got a bit more real there, but the whole experience was sort of disconnected. (Not that I knew any better at the time.)

13- Regarding Badlands and Bungie, what was the overall atmosphere? Was it close knit with Bungie being small at the time?

The Bungie atmosphere when I was there was very cozy. There were only about 40 people (I think) in the Myth 2 team, nascent Halo team, and supporting business, test, and production teams. Badlands was smaller still, of course, but never had a business-like atmosphere—we were just some guys on a Hotline server making maps and playing Myth (and, as often as not, working on other side projects.)

14- What were you most proud of/went right with Chimera? What were you most disappointed in/went wrong?

I was really pleased with some of the missions, which just ended up being solid, fun Myth missions. The single thing I was most proud of was the teleportation spell in the last mission, which was a phenomenally gross hack that delighted me. As for what went wrong, some things didn’t feel as polished as they could have been, and it was obviously scaled back from a full blown campaign. The story didn’t do much for me either, really.

15- After Chimera, did Badlands have additional Myth projects or “unrealized projects” before you moved onto Halo?

There were more maps after we finished, and I tinkered around very briefly with a future-military mod that plague dubbed Archon (or something like that) that never developed past a little machine-gun equipped VTOL jet. It wasn’t long after Chimera wrapped up that I was off to school, and that was really the end of my serious project time.

16- How did you find out that Bungie wanted to keep the Badlands crew for Halo and become part of their company? What was the feeling?

I knew as they were hired, one at a time, and was glad Bungie was picking them up. :-)

17- Do you think of Myth or play the series anymore? If so, what reactions do you get from it?

I recall it fondly, but it’s been years since I’ve played. A colleague has dubbed me an obsessive-reclusive gamer—I’m usually fixated upon one or two games at a time (to the exclusion of all others) that I play with a fairly close circle of friends, some of whom go back to the Myth days. Short of that circle suddenly adopting Myth, my only big draw is nostalgia, and I can breathe that in deeply by rummaging through old websites. :-)


1- I’ve always said you have a unique and awesome sense of humor, (as shown in the Fear/Loathing documentation you created: Have you heard that from other people as well?

I don’t know that anyone has explicitly commented on it, though I have been amused to see “Screaming Iron Assault Dwarves” occasionally picked up by a map or mod maker. I was greatly impressed by the Bungie sense of humor displayed in the old Pathways guidebook, and I tried to ape that in the Myth documentation. So I can’t claim uniqueness, just that I’m in comfortable surroundings these days.

2- How did the Chimera project help your career?

Sure, in the sense that it kept me in contact with the guys I worked with at Bungie, and demonstrated that I had an untrained knack for mission design (which I was later re-hired to do.)

3- What is it like working for the company and people that originally got you into the game?

On the one hand, very gratifying—I work with old friends alongside new ones, and I can look back a fairly long way (more than half of Bungie’s history, strange as it is to say) and see how things have changed. On the other hand, I am aware that my experience is quite narrow in the broad sense of the games industry. I work with people who have done time in half a dozen studios, and I am always a little humbled by the scope of their experience relative to mine.

4- When you meet people today, having worked on the Halo series, does everyone just ask you about Halo, or do you still get some talking about Myth, Badlands, or Chimera?

Mostly just Halo. Of the population who would recognize a Bungie employee, probably 99% would because of Halo, so it’s just long odds. But I do run into the occasional Myth or Marathon fan at cons or shows, and we have a good reminisce about before it was a website.

5- What are your favorite games to play these days?

Mostly only games that I and my gaming circle shift to en masse (usually before returning to Warcraft, our current comfortable base of operations.) I’m a sucker for games that can support a social circle, and that usually means heavy multiplayer, lots of social contact, and long term investment mechanics. I’ll binge for a weekend on games like Torchlight or Borderlands, but at the end of the day, I stick to playing the games that keep me in contact with friends.

6- From your perspective how do you see storylines in games today versus 10 years ago?

Not much more developed. More VO and cinematics, but with similar peaks sticking out of a vast plain of unremarkable stories. Games are as likely as Hollywood is to resort to better tech in lieu of a stand-out story, for probably all of the same reasons. I think that’s normal for media in general. It seems to work, so my dim view is probably just an artifact of what grabs me in a story.

7- Caffeine is a long celebrated antidote to programming down time. What was your beverage of choice then and now?

Coca-cola is my caffeine of choice, though I can’t say I drink it for the caffeine. I unfortunately grew up on tea (Canadian), so I never really acquired a taste for the real caffeine staple, coffee.

8- How do you feel about the genre Myth created and would you want to see it on the market again, (a myth style RTT/S game)?

Funny, I had this conversation just the other day. Honestly, I don’t know why someone else hasn’t done it yet. The combat focused strategy game has been gestating for decades in the form of table top games, CCGs, and RTS games. The only things those have lacked is the 10 minute game, start-to-finish, and the value of that property is no mystery to the game industry. Eventually, someone is going to say “huh, people like strategy games… and they like quick, rewarding games… huh, maybe we should dispense with all this baggage and build something more focused.”

You already see elements of this thinking in many genres, and even some permutations of established genres. Look at what people did with WC3—they made DOTA! From Starcraft came an entire genre of Tower Defense games. Quick, accessible, and addictive. So yeah, I think we’ll see it again.

9- Do you feel like technology is still advancing so rapidly that you have to revisit code during a project to make changes for the release?

Yes, but you need to have the vision to aim past what is currently technically possible, and the discipline to stick to that vision. You can fail if your vision was off and you don’t hit the mark. But you WILL fail if you never ship a game because you constantly reset yourself.

10- When you come back and play a game you developed can you just play it or do you analyze things that could or should have been done differently?

I suffer from the latter, the cruel eye for broken details. But, I have been pleased to play through the last couple of games we’ve made regardless, in part because my responsibilities have shifted away from the campaign.

11- Would you like to see Myth go to the iPad or slate device? Do you think it would still be relevant given how long ago it was made?

Myth itself would be a lot of work to port, I think. The camera control requirements (always Myth’s accessibility-Achilles-Heel) would be particularly burdensome. I certainly think there is a game there, on that platform with Myth’s virtues, but I suspect it’s a more refined game built for that platform.

12- What the HELL is up with that Boonie Hat? :-P ( ... _Green.jpg)

Heh. During the E3 2003 crunch, when we created the Earth City demo, I happened upon a box of swag being cleared out of the store, inside of which was a blue hoodie and a boonie hat. Being cold (due to an obnoxious air vent-window combination that created a frigid microclimate around my desk), I donned both. Being in crunch, I didn’t have a chance to remove either for several days, and they stuck (figuratively.)

The hat sort of became a mark of distinction, as well as a way of hiding motorcycle-helmet-hair. I am often told by new coworkers that they “didn’t recognize me!” when first seeing me without it, so it’s just sort of expected now.

The original threadbare hat still sits on a MW2 bust on my desk, while it’s more robust replacement (which Jim McQuillan scared up after stitches and iron-on patches became necessary on the original hat) is always in my bag for rainy and/or bad hair days.

13- Any additional thoughts/memories/comments you would like to share with us?

Not much left. :-)
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby vinylrake » Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:10 am

interesting interview, thanks for posting it!
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby capital » Sun Mar 27, 2011 6:30 pm

8 out of 9 punches pulled.
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby GodzFire » Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:18 pm

For those wondering why I didn't go questions regarding Halo and the new IP Bungie is working on, I'll sum it up in two words "legal clearance"

In order for me to get the interview, I had to have Tyson get the OK from Bungie's legal department and then after that, approval of the questions I submitted to him to answer. Asking anything related to the two aforementioned items would have made the possibility of the interview much less likely.

Hopefully everyone can understand the reasoning for that.
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby capital » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:03 pm

From LitigiousNewsCorp LLP-A Wire service(TM)

March 2011: In a press release today, Bungie Studios reaffirms its pledge to 'take over world' but will need clearance from its legal department before acting... Sources close to the game dev. team say they are just itching to go, but admit that even they have doubts on the outcome of any future approval of such actions."

AtrowneysAtLaw.jpg (43.18 KiB) Viewed 13031 times
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby Isolder » Mon May 09, 2011 4:13 pm

Nice interview. I thought it particularly interesting to see him talking about having his Mac, but being unable to afford a budget pc. Sure wouldn't hear that today.

Also, where else have you posted this interview? Could go in a magazine!
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Re: Myth Alumni Q&A Interview: Tyson "Ferrex" Green!

Postby ducky » Wed May 18, 2011 4:58 am

cool interview. i'd love to know more about his interest & involvement in UO, if possible.

good read.
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