INS Legacy

Victory

Posted in anecdote, commentary, insurgency, news by Argyll on March 15, 2012

Two years after I visited Valve at GDC, Jeremy returned to San Francisco with a prototype of INS 2.

Following my visit, I started a campaign against the leadership who brought stagnation to Insurgency. I can safely declare victory for our cause. However, it was the continual efforts of Jeremy and his team at New World who have set up shop in Denver that brought this victory. I simply acted as a catalyst to initiate the campaign so they could reclaim their rightful intellectual property. They deserve full credit for waging a successful strategy to pursue their passion for Insurgency and game development. Victory stems from their work.

This proves how the former leadership was an absolute failure. If they had a game and competence, as they claimed, it would have been continued to be developed and subsequently released by now.

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Revolution

Posted in anecdote, commentary, essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on April 5, 2010

The seeds of revolution were planted more than two years ago – incited by the leadership’s neglect, lack of passion, naive vision, or respect for the project and its community. Their actions finally caught up to them.

I have watered these seeds. What choice did I have? I am likely the biggest fan of this game, and will fight to ensure of its survival and growth. The movement has clearly grown.

The initiative by the community of Insurgency with their No Confidence group is a testament to the state of affairs. It doesn’t matter what I think or say, or what the current developers think or say. The community clearly stated that it’s time to harvest the revolutionary crop.

Jeremy arrived for the harvest. Spiel resigned. Endless is in charge. I heard a rumour that Jaboo has also resigned.

Spiel’s parting advice to the team:

The truth is that the current dev team should do something to prevent a catastrophe, which would be Argyll and Jeremy gaining ownership of this mod’s assets for their own purposes. Doing nothing will not fix it.

I would support the idea of closing down the website, the forums, the mod, taking it off Steam and keeping a backup exclusively for portfolio reasons managed by someone we all can trust.

And say goodbye 2.x. Forever.

Then, whoever is left and want to work on something completely different, like Beta 3 or rather INS 2 could create a new community and team from scratch (I suggest no public forums for a long time) and start working in peace. It’s impossible to work with the amount of noise that these forums and 2.X generate, and the ridicculous propaganda of Mr. Argyll, President of INS and his new sidekick.

This would allow people to benefit from the mod, as everyone that has contributed would have it on its CV and the assets would be backed up in case someone needs something for portfolio reasons. But this would also prevent anyone from profiting from the work of all the contributors.

If then someone wants to register the name, and go commercial with something totally new, well, I’ll enjoy the fireworks, and I won’t give a damn because I would know that they’re not making money with our work. Face it, if those two get their hands on this they would never pay or compensate or even credit anyone. They would simply milk the INS cow until exhaustion. I don’t think you guys should let them have their way.

Rather than create a situation where everyone benefits from (what I have been fighting for all along), he believes the best course of action is a situation where everyone loses. But what does he care? It’s not his responsibility anymore. He obviously doesn’t care about any damage done because he already reaped the benefits of his time with the mod.

One of his above points I actually agree with: “Doing nothing will not fix it.”

Finally, Spiel, you realize the premise of the entire revolution.

Jeremy and myself did not create this catastrophe. You did. That is our point. The fate of this project was in your hands. It is now in the hands of Endless. Therefore, the responsibility of success or failure comes to that individual.

I held that responsibility for years, and passed it to Jeremy. That is how we recognize the dire situation you have brought the project into. That is why we still feel partially responsible for its fate in the end. We do not want to see it slip away, when it can be great, once again, under the guidance of experience and talent that was responsible for leading down the path of success.

We are willing to accept, once again, the responsibility of the success or failure of this project. We are in a better position than we were in while developing the mod before, and that is why we are so passionate about this.

If Insurgency is going to go anywhere beyond its current form, these issues arise and must be dealt with, and closing down the communication channels is no method of doing so. That is how the regime incited the entire revolution, and continue to fuel it.

While the recent events unfolded, I was on a road trip driving across Canada with a photographer friend of mine who has been to Afghanistan three times. I am catching up to speed with everything, and will definitely have more to say as things unfold further.

Going for Gold

Posted in anecdote, commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency by Argyll on March 15, 2010

My red-eye flight to New York’s JFK was cancelled, so I spent the night at SFO waiting for a flight to Dallas-Fort Worth, then connect to Toronto… somewhere in between playing Insurgency on the airport Wifi, sleeping on the plane, and reading Schell’s Art of Game Design, I thought of this analogy to describe the situation with Insurgency:

If you followed the Winter Olympics, then you might have watched Canada reinstate itself as the best hockey nation in the world. There is good reason why we won the Gold, and it comes down to who was on the ice, at what time, their individual talent, and especially their collective talent in putting it all together. If you have not seen the goal, watch or read about it here.

Fleury, Canada’s goaltender, made a save from a shot on net. Neidermeyer picked up the puck and cleared it from their zone, passing up to Crosby.

At the point that the puck went from Canada’s zone, passed the defenders, and up to Crosby is like the point where Jeremy and I controlled the puck, back and forth through all obstacles up to the other team’s zone. As Jeremy had the most experience, having initiated and going through a first release of Red Orchestra, I passed it up to him; as he went on a break-away from his momentum, I skated off the ice exhausted. Jeremy seized his momentum to get a solid shot on goal.

Then he and Pongles (and the rest of the developers) quickly picked up the rebound. They shot on net some more. As Jeremy skated off the ice, and many of the other players left the game, new players came on the ice. Steppenwolf picked up a rebound and passed to Spielmann, who has continually put shots on net and picked up his rebounds.

I have skated once again on the ice, and positioned myself behind the net from the goaltender’s perspective. I have studied how the goaltender has been making his saves (the fans’ perspective), and have skated back around to a position that views an open net. I am shouting “Pass!” but the puck is still being directed on the goaltender.

There is a rebound for me to pick up on. But Spielmann still has control of the puck. I have watched several rebound opportunities and shots taken on net. I have seen what it takes to score the goal, and have positioned myself to make a solid attempt.

All of this has taken a matter of years, when in a game of hockey a sequence like this is seconds. It was the final seconds of the Gold Medal game when Crosby had control, fought through defenders to the net and again along the boards, before passing it down to Jarome Iginla. But Iginla didn’t try to take a shot, he viewed the opportunity to pass, seizing Crosby’s momentum for a shot on net. That shot, and subsequent goal, made millions roar and united a nation.

Every play to get a shot on net is different, and in order for Insurgency to reach scoring opportunities, we continually passed the mod amongst each other to reach the net to score several goals. We all get shots on net, and I haven’t yet taken a shot. I helped to position the play to get the opportunity to take a shot. It was the Defenceman who set the play up, and typically hangs by the blue line to hammer a shot on goal. I have studied, from each perspective, on how to score a goal. Now I feel I should take a shot, after I set up the play.

Well said…

Posted in anecdote, commentary, essentials, insurgency, review by Argyll on March 9, 2010

trinith, a long-time forum member has this to say that I think is one of the most fair assessment statements I have seen in a long time. I share his feelings:

I would have paid $50 for a completed insurgency 2-3 years ago. I’d pay $50 for a completed and updated insurgency now. I wouldn’t pay more than $10 for what we currently have. I’m afraid Insurgency has missed the boat.

Don’t get me wrong, what’s there is pretty damn good, but you can tell it’s half-finished and buggy. The game is dated and it shows. I realize there’s a difference between a professionally funded game and a mod people do in their spare time, but there’s also a difference between what we have in INS and pre-retail CS and DoD on the original half-life engine. As far as completeness and polish goes, INS is far, far behind.

I’ve been following this mod for quite a while and I liked it a lot, but after so many years you just start to lose interest. The mod has been in Beta 2 for a loooooong time, and there really hasn’t been a lot in the way of updates. There’s been new maps and some new models, but those really fit into any state of the game and were never really the “problem” with INS anyway. It’s the gameplay bugs really. Sure some have been fixed, but many more have been generated. The mod just feels… stagnant. The first talks of Beta 3.0 were what, a year ago? Beta 3.0 which promises a solution to all the mod’s problems… that’d be nice, if we ever saw it.

Also, before folks get up on their pedestals and talk about how the devs do this in their free time and I can’t complain because they do it for free (as they’re wont to do), I would have happily donated that $10 I mentioned above to the cause in hopes of a better game. It should be an indicator of how much potential this game has that it’s so popular in it’s current state. And you’re right, you don’t have to listen to me and you can slam me and treat me like garbage for expressing my opinion, but such conduct only serves to alienate people from the community and further push INS towards vaporware. Still, I hope that as a “customer” these thoughts don’t fall on deaf ears.

So would I pay $50 for INS 3.0? Absolutely not, but I would happily pay that for INS 1.0 Release. This mod is great, it just needs to be worked on and completed.

This post written from San Francisco, where I am attending the 10th Game Developers Conference.
I will say hello to Gabe for you all.

The End of The Beginning: Part Two

Posted in anecdote, commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency, news, review by Argyll on October 6, 2009

Insurgency is about winning the little moments. That split second it takes to aim your weapon – essentially drawing weapons with one another in a duel – it is that moment you need to beat the most. It is the moment defining your survival. Do you risk shooting from the hip in an attempt to temporarily blind and hopefully giving you time to land the shot? Or do you aim by instinct to land the accurate shot, provided you are quicker on the draw and getting on target?

There are several factors that need to come into place in order to have success. Combat is complex. It is confusing. It is defined by the leadership, communication, and ultimately intelligence of the victorious force. Guerrillas are highly intelligent. There are battles and there are wars.

While I remain ‘Senior Advisor’ of the mod, those channels of communication were cut.

Here is my parting words of advice in regards to improving Insurgency. They must be public in order for them to find you.

1. Abandon Beta 3, it is a waste of time to just explore the technology while you could be working on improving the current Source version of the mod.

2. Release what you have so far in the patch, even if it’s only cosmetic. Give the community something – you make them suffer far too much for a released game that only needs improvement. I took it through the toughest times to get it started and off the ground running. I envy you can lead the development on the released product. Yet, you do nothing.

3. Understand your audience, but more importantly understand your topic. What separated us from everyone else was we seemed to know what we were talking about when it came to representation of contemporary war. You easily could market the mod that way, but do not have the vision in that area.

4. Recognize talent. It stares you in the face. More importantly, recognize the lack of talent. Jeremy was my Art Director. Who is yours? What is their contribution?

That’s all big picture stuff. Do you want me to go into more detail?

Cheers.

The End of The Beginning: Part One

Posted in anecdote, commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency, news, promotion, review by Argyll on October 3, 2009

Introduction

I know Insurgency inside and out. I have the benefit of seeing it from all perspectives: founder, designer, developer, producer, director, and fan.

I am now writing a series of articles outlining my final thoughts on Insurgency. It is time to move on. There is so much potential for INS, yet those who currently control decisions for the mod do not recognize its potential. I did everything in my power (see article below) to save the project and the vision from the clutches that now hold it.

Their loss. The next project’s gain.

My day job currently is a Graphic Designer – which I am self-taught as a result of making websites for Insurgency over the years (in fact the current design was originally designed by me, and still uses tables, ugh!).

I have also worked as a freelance photojournalist – taking photographs and shooting/editing/producing videos – for the largest newspapers in Canada (and the occasional international publication).

I even produced a 12-part series on Leadership, filming and editing interviews of 12 CEO’s and leaders in major Canadian organizations. This was for The Globe and Mail, and for the same department that just won an Emmy (no, I did not work on the project that won, but I know who did).

As Insurgency was released in July 2007, I was beginning a two-month trip to Europe in between my fast-track summer program (instead of doing a whole first year, since I taught myself news photography while at my university’s student newspaper) and second year of Photojournalism at college.

By the end of July 2007, I was sitting in an internet cafe in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. It was before Kosovo declared independence. I could walk out the door of that cafe and look to my right, and see the UN Headquarters. Swedish military vehicles patrolled the streets.

In the town of Kosovska Mitrovica, I crossed a bridge under watch of French snipers and patrols. Signs warned against any assembly of crowds. That bridge divided the Serbs from the Albanians in the town, and is a reflection of the division of the country. I still have 710 Serbian dinar in my wallet that I can’t get exchanged anywhere.

Oh, back to the cafe. I wrote a proposal while sitting in that cafe. I had always thought that Insurgency should expand beyond the over-exposed desert settings (but they keep things contemporary), and move to a European setting. Originally, it was going to depict the 1990’s conflict in the Balkans, notably Croatia and Bosnia. To get to Kosovo, I was in the city of Mostar to get on a bus to Sarajevo while en route.

I walked the streets of where we were going to depict the war in the game. I had a camera the whole time. Not only did I walk the streets. I met, interviewed, and photographed, Albin Kurti the leading activist for VET√čVENDOSJE! (Albanian meaning: Self-Determination) at his apartment where he is under house arrest. I still get their newsletter sent to my e-mail.

The current plans for Insurgency ‘Beta 3’ remain as the depiction of Kosovo (which was voted by the team members in 2007 over depicting North Korea). Yet, the same people developing that idea still don’t recognize the value of my experience in Kosovo.

Nor do they value the experience or talent of Iraq war veteran and level designer of ins_Buhriz – Mike Majoris. In the depiction of the Iraq War setting for a game, what better resource to have but someone who has been there engaged in the very war you are depicting?

Another INS Alumni level designer now working for Crytek volunteered to help Insurgency… until he was driven from the team by the current ‘leadership’.

The original creators of Insurgency matured quicker than the mod itself, especially their talent.

Those whom are left over carry a legacy greater than the ‘Insurgency’ project itself. INS is only the beginning of a look at the representation of war in reality-based games.

Transparency

Posted in anecdote, commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency, news by Argyll on September 26, 2009

Well, it looks like the developers have prematurely ejaculated once again. As with the first (few?) girl(s) you get with, this likely will happen because of inexperience and over-excitement.

The delay likely stems from the absence of Louti, their programmer, over the past two weeks. One of the brilliant things about Steam is you can see how often users are playing games, or even developing. I pointed that out months ago when I revealed that the current leadership do not even play the mod in public.

For a good time there Louti was actively developing and testing the mod. However he has not been online in 14 days. Nor has he played Insurgency in that time. I’m not trying to say anything bad about Louti, quite the contrary. Without his efforts, there would be no upcoming update. He is probably busy with life, which is understandable and should always take priority.

However of course the developers are trying to save face and say the patch is still being worked on. Apparently only one issue left to fix, and it’s a critical one preventing anything else from being released.

I understand why the developers would want to deliver all the new content at once. But, you know, that is such an out-dated mod update method. Welcome to Steam.

They could have updated the cosmetics by now. Actually, one of the changes are the Iraqi insurgent skins redone by the very talented Splinter. There is no longer a light-camo-pattern jacket (that acts as default for insurgent players until they customize their appearance) that is the source of mistaken identity and many TK’s. I personally suggested to Splinter to replace that jacket with a darker skin. Now, there is a sexy British pattern Republican Guard jacket instead. That is more than just a cosmetic change. That could have prevented numerous friendly fire incidents since it was completed weeks ago… yet remains a promised feature, rather than an actual one.

Where did this upcoming mod update come from anyway? It was quickly announced in early July that there would be a patch.

Allow me tell you a story. It is true.

You probably know by now that I am the founder, and former project director of the mod over the span of five years. One of the turning points of the mod over the years was the addition of Jeremy Blum (the founder and former project director of Red Orchestra) and he brought in some wonderful talent. Jeremy and I had a pretty good dynamic, shared some vision, challenged each other’s visions, and together led the mod to the powerhouse that it became. We recruited many talented developers, and they are responsible for making the mod what it is today.

In late June, myself and Jeremy were talking about the mod. I was keeping him up to speed on the incompetence and inactivity of the current developer leadership, since he has been busy attending college. He still held ‘Super Administrator’ status on the INS Forums. Well, with that status, Jeremy easily could have made any changes to the forums. The Forums is like the capital city of a country, and whomever controls them, controls the mod.

I have been in exile in the hinterland. I have always been a presence and when the timing is right, I would strike where I can. The current developers still trusted Jeremy’s word. Yet, Jeremy still trusts me.

We planned a gathering in Toronto at my house. Myself, Jeremy, and a handful of INS developer alumnus (all of whom have professional experience in the games industry) were to attend and outline the future of the mod.

We were to wage a coup on the leadership and take over the mod on July 4th, while at the meeting.

In the days leading up to that point, we were gaining support from those who we could trust, but unfortunately one of them betrayed us and informed the ‘leadership.’ Jeremy was removed from the ‘Super Administrator’ status and the coup was crushed before it had a chance to begin.

Days later, the developers announced that a patch was already in the works and expect an update soon. It seemed to be a wake-up call for them to get their act together and actually develop the mod they are developers for.

Had the coup succeeded, it could have saved the mod. Now, it’s just the same old bullshit.

We are now thinking of what else we can do for INS. But being honest, there is little that we can still do to help save Insurgency. We might have to let go, which is difficult to do for a project and community that you dedicated years of your life to. We care about the mod and fans very much.

But alas, we will likely just have to draw upon our experience and proof of concept for the next endeavor…