Neowin is a community; guests and members to the site know this. In keeping with the community spirit that Neowin endorses, I present the first of what I plan to be many interviews with what can be described as normal everyday gamers, just like all of us, who make the decision to take their time to make a small, but in most regards a very significant, contribution to the gaming community on the whole.
Enter Scott Kapszukiewicz, aka OatmealMU.
Scott has taken the time to create detailed maps for the harder levels, known as Gardens, in the game Pixel Junk Eden. As many of you already may know thanks to the forums, I personally feel it Eden is undoubtedly the best offering on the PSN to date.
With it's easy to learn yet hard to master game play, Eden has quickly proven itself to be an addictive game that keeps it's players coming back for more. Keeping in mind Eden is one of the first games to support trophies on release, naturally this adds to the desire for many gamers to know the game in and out, and collect every last Spectra that they can.
Scott has made everyone' lives that much easier with the creation of his maps, and I have taken the time to ask him a few questions as to how and why.
What was the inspiration behind making these maps? Was it the fact this was one of the first games to support trophies?
About midway through the game, PixelJunk Eden's difficulty curve turns into a difficulty cliff. I made the first map for myself because I sure as hell wasn't getting anywhere without it. So, while trophies are nice, they weren't the reason I created the maps.
How long would you guesstimate it took you to make all of the maps?
I started the first map a few days after the game was released and finished the last garden today. That would mean I spent a little over two sexless weeks creating them.
On our forums themselves, once your maps were linked to, one of the very first comments besides how helpful they were, is how did you make these?? Besides the obvious use of Photoshop or a similar app, can you give some insight into the process you used? Did you literally play each garden yourself and somehow create a perfect replication?
The process starts with a whole lot of gameplay video. I personally go through the gardens trying to find every nook and cranny. Once I'm satisfied, I transfer the video files to my computer and begin taking screen captures. From here I use Photoshop to piece together the individual images, grabbing more video as needed. I use landmarks, such as rocks and seeds, to locate each image in proper relation to the next. The final raw image is typically composed of hundreds of RAM-eating screengrabs with the largest exceeding 400.
At this point, it's all clean-up work. I use the raw image to hand draw the various bits of the garden. To give you an idea of how large the files I work with are, the images I release are 25% the original size. Garden 08, for example, is 7413 x 6165 in it's raw form.
This may seem like an obvious question, but have you collected all 50 Spectra in the game? Assuming you have, how many of the trophies have you gotten?
I found all 50 just today, actually. Last I checked, I'm missing around 5 trophies.
What has been the overall response you have received from making the maps?
No complaints so far. Then again, when I post a new map I usually don't stick around too long to see the reaction. So for all I know, they're saying terrible things about me.
Have you ever done anything like this before? Any plans for upcoming games to do something similar?
Most games would give you some sort of minimap, but the people at Q-Games are sadists so that was out of the question. Creating new types of Pollen Prowlers designed to ruin your day apparently took precedent. SADISTS.
But in partial seriousness, I don't know. Depends on how much I hate myself.
Out of curiosity, have the developers Pixel Junk reached out to you yet? If so, what was their response?
I e-mailed Dylan Cuthbert with a question and off-handedly mentioned the garden maps. No reaction either way.
The bomb things in Garden 09 are called "mines" internally, BTW.
What games are you playing right now besides Eden?
Eden has been taking up most of my time but I'll occassionally play Trackmania Nations. Oh, and then there's the rare playthrough of Zombie Master. Sometimes I need a reminder as to why I stopped playing in the first place.
Oh, right. The furry porn.
Closing Comments? Any projects you have you would like to promote?
I'm currently a concept artist for a Half-Life 2 mod called Distant Hope. If your balls haven't dropped already they will after visiting www.distanthope.com
Make sure to sign up for the forums and comment on Olly's terrible spelling. He gets a big ego if we're not constantly tearing him down.
Once again, I would like to take this time to personally thank Scott for creating these maps, and I truly need to stress that it is hard work like his that makes the Gaming Community overall that much stronger. I also thank him for taking the time out to answer these questions.
If you have anyone in mind you would like me to interview that contributes to the Gaming Community in anyway at all, feel free to drop me a PM letting me know who that may be.