Interview with Robert Duffy

We recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Robert Duffy who is the author of the editor QERadiant

Could you give us all a little information about yourself

I'm 34, I have been married (very happily) for almost 12 years, my wife and
I dated for 4 years before that so we have been together a long time. We
have one son who just turned 4 in February. We also have sort of a "proxy"
daughter, we are putting an exchange student through college and she has
become a part of our family. She is 17 and from Russia (Estonia really).

I develop software for a living and have co-founded and been integral in
start-up software companies in the past. After 10 years of 80-90 hour weeks,
I traded in the retail development cycles for a more reasonable lifestyle
and currently write code for a company in the LA area.

Oh yeah, we live in Plano Texas which is a northern suburb of Dallas.

What was the main reason you decided to take the QE4 code and hack at
it, personal use or were you planning to release it to the net.

Originally it was for personal use. After making a few changes I thought
other people might find it useful so I contacted Steve Fukuda (of the
QuakeLab) and he was pretty jazzed about it. He was pretty instrumental in
getting it in front of people initially.

Are you amazed at how well it's been received and did you expect it to
be so big.

I am continually amazed. The amount of e-mail I track on this thing is
absurd. I didn't really have any expectations except that I hoped people
would find it useful.

Allot of the "newbies" to quake2 editing seem to be heading straight to
qeradiant as the choice of editor, what do think is the reason behind

I'm not sure, it is a little puzzling as I haven't had time to finish the
manual and for the most part people are learning by trial and error. One of
the reasons might be that I try to answer every e-mail. This can be very
difficult based on the volume but I give it a good shot.

Will it always be in beta or will there be a point where you'll sit
down and say this is the final version.

There will definitely be a point where I say this is it for this version. I
have a handful of large scale features left and a small pile of smaller
stuff but I anticipate this happening within a month or two.

What's been the most satisfying you've done to the source code?, I
guess it would be getting it to run on low end machines.

Getting it to run on lower end machines was mainly drudgery :-) I would have
to say the 3 point clipping capability was the first big thing as all the
3D/OpenGL stuff was new to me. The high productivity stuff is the best
overall. Getting positive feedback from both net and commercial users on
stuff like the right click entity dropping was nice.

Allot of people I've spoken to are looking forward to the 3dfx support,
how's the progress coming along and by how much will it speed things up.

Well, progress has been stalled on that for a couple of reasons. First of
all, I've been waiting on the public release of the OpenGL port from 3Dfx.
The beta looks good but I've been trying to hold off on it until I can base
it on that. If that doesn't happen soon, I will probably add in a 3Dfx
camera option/preview mode. Preview mode will be full screen only and on
voodoo chips, the camera view will buffer into a window which is pretty slow
but should be decent on non-hardware machines.

Do you have any other big additions that you plan to add in to
qeradiant?, what I'd like to see most in an editor is a lighting
preview, is this possible or would we need some power to run it?

There are several large things on the list. Lighting preview is something
that has been asked for and it is possible, I am not sure about the benefit
to code ration though. I'm not sure how easy it will be to really simulate
what the engine will produce but I haven't looked into it too much.

Do you ever sleep :) and what does your company/family think of you
doing all this work for an editor which is free :)

Yes, but not much. Both my company and my family think I am nuts. I work for
a superb company and they have been very supportive (as long as all my
normal development stuff is on time ;-). My wife is as always very
supportive of my work although she is starting to suspect I am enjoying it.

Is there any reason why you decided to make it free as a product as
allot of editors have stuck a registration fee on to there editors

There are certainly licensing restrictions as it is based on QE4 source
code. This was obviously a factor but overall, I find it therapeutic giving
software away when I worked so many years working on retail stuff. There is
a lot of freedom when people are not paying for it and keeping it free let's
me work on it when I can as opposed to having to get it out.

What do you think is one of the best features about qeradiant towards
a "newbie" and a "old timer" :)

Well, it is very real time from a 3D perspective. Everything is available as
you work on it in the camera view. It has a lot of power when you ask for it
but it's relatively simple to draw a cube, hollow it, drop a player start
and GO! Once the manual is finished I think a lot of folks (me included)
will be amazed at some of the hidden stuff I forget to mention.

Once you have QERadiant as you think is the best it can be what will you do
next, I've read that you've visited a few other game companies with

I have been invited out to visit a few companies as their level designers
enjoy using the editor. My hobby time used to be spent working on a TC with
my brothers. Probably something in that area.

Will/are those companies using qeradiant for there own games and will
qeradiant support them once there out.

Xatrix is using QERadiant as is Steve Tietze and Steve Thoms at Rogue
Entertainment. Both groups have been very helpful with feedback and bug
squashing. I am adding the ability to load Ion Storm specific maps into the
editor but this functionality will not be available in the public release
until they ship each respective game.

There's allot of "quake clones" due out soon, which will qeradiant
support once there out?

Well, Daikatana and Anachronox will be supported when they are released,
beyond that I have not given it much thought. I don't plan on adding Quake1

Have you considered getting someone to help you out with the coding
or do you work on it with your brothers who are also working on SkinED

No not really. Sometimes I want someone else to be working on it but in
general I enjoy doing what I want when I want on the source. One of my
brothers (Stephen) is working on SkinEd . My other brother (Pat) is working
with Stephen and I on Xile which is our hobby game.
Which hasn't been touched since I started working on the editor :-)

If someone was to ask you why they should choose qeradiant or some of
the other editors how would you convert them

Well first of all, I would actually answer their e-mail in the first place.
Beyond that, use what the pros use :-)

Have you ever made any levels and where can we find them :)

Yes, and nowhere right now. I am going to release a couple I've done one of
these days.

What are some of the biggest flaws you see in home-made levels?

Textures don't go together and in some of the stuff for Quake2, overuse of
colored lighting. And actually in some cases, levels are over architected.
The original point is fun gameplay and I see some gorgeous levels that just
plain suck when you play them.

Will qeradiant have the facility for it's own prefabs or is that what the brush scripts is all about

Yes and Yes.

So what's planned in the next release and when can we expect it :)

Dang, I lost that list. Probably sometime next week or next weekend. I am
very busy with rt work right now but I will probably sneak an hour or two in
the evenings to wrap up a couple of things and fix some bugs.