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Ramb0 interviews Drakas about his experience in the Cube Engine gaming world.

Drakas is the creator of the HI-SKILL Ladder for AssaultCube and the duel.gg records for Sauerbraten.

The interview covers the beginnings, AssaultCube, Sauerbraten, Sauerbraten community, philosophy, future and person.

Ramb0: Hello Drakas. You could start by introducing yourself, what's your age, name, etc?

Drakas: I'm known as Drakas in the Cube Engine world, am in mid twenties, live in London, and have been in the Cube gaming scene for nearly nine years.

The Beginnings

How did you start playing Sauerbraten?

In February 2006 I installed Gentoo Linux onto my new PC and decided to look for open source games. There was Armagetron, and then Cube. From Cube, I found Sauerbraten.

How did Woop begin?

Back in September/October 2006 I really enjoyed playing Sauerbraten with several players and decided to build up a team to see what's possible. It started off as n00b clan (IRC channel #n00b-clan) and the point of it was to implicitly make fun of those we beat. If we were noobs, the people we beat must be absolute noobs? Our motto was "It's not because we're good, it's because you're crap". I don't recall why we changed the name. I, Flapdrol and t0taln00b founded the clan. One of the first members was Rhubarb, who is still around!

We had a Drupal forum but moved quickly enough to a forumless system that we have today, and focused all our efforts on the #woop-clan @ GameSurge. Yes, it is my fault that the Sauerbraten community is on GameSurge and not QuakeNet. TC and QS clans were next to establish themselves on GameSurge.

Woop participated in the PSL. What was your original roster? Were you guys already a top notch clan?

I don't remember perfectly. MiKi, solea, Undertaker, rock.n.rol, Rhubarb, wotwot, hamZta, others. Yes, we won the first PSL capture league.
We had rivals, especially }TC{ and {QS}. Interestingly enough, Woop didn't use clantags at the time.
Yes, Woop won many titles in the later PSL, individually and as a team. tenshi, Deimos, Jay-EM, Majikal, teppo, Acuerta, ... Forgive me if I missed anyone out!

We did our own Fragfests and stuff!

AssaultCube

How did you start playing AssaultCube?

I saw driAn's announcement of ActionCube on the Cube Engine forum and started playing immediately. Woop, at the time of ten players, became first AC clan, which ended up winning quite a lot to this day. Eventually the game took the name AssaultCube, to what it is today.

Most of the time the squads have been separate, with me as the common person throughout. But over the time we had tenshi, Tachyon, Rhubarb, hamZta, wotwot, Stanko and dazza playing both games. In the last several years, the squads have been very much separate.

My favourite AssaultCube clan was ANGRA! To me and w00p|Tachyon ANGRA were these Brazilian trains you can't stop. Start a match and they shoot the hell out of you... ANGRA are the most memorable guys ever.

In 2009 the Woop AssaultCube squad had several Australian and French players but later on became very much a French squad lead by Sanzo and Harrek. They have always been into TeamSpeak, and now have their own at 'woop.ac'. Good old days playing with Life, Tachyon, wut, Sanzo, Horus, ech0, Harrek, Dam, Redbull, Horus, Boni, Lucas, ... among the AC clans. But hey, we won't deny the AssaultCube w00p Illuminati conspiracy theory video. I had plenty of fun playing with all kinds of nicknames and even recording it.

AssaultCube developers created an anti-cheat several years back. What do you think about cheating in AssaultCube, and was the anti-cheat effective?

Brahma took the wrong angle to things and demoralised the community with constant discussion about cheating. I see little benefit to anticheats because this problem should be approached from a social angle.

In AssaultCube you started the HI-SKILL Ladder. Why and when did you start it?

AssaultCube was declining despite having the TyD Ladder. Once I finished some exams in June 2009 I decided to build a new ladder and HI-SKILL was released in September 2009. We ended up having many awesome competitions like the video competition which w00p|CoXa* won along with this awesome entry :-). We even had people producing comics! And playing it with people like w00p|doctor, w00p|Meatpie, w00p|Shorty, .... such pleasure! Apologies in advance if you're not listed! ;-)

You also hosted the AssaultCube world cups. I had participated myself.

Yes, 2009 and 2010. I remember the the Brazilian/Portuguese "huashuashueahus" teams. The first cup was small, quick and successful. In 2010 we had a large audience from HI-SKILL and the cup was much bigger. I had to match up player availability times over many timezones between Australia, Europe and America.

AssaultCube had many cheaters in public servers, especially the less popular ones. Do you think something could have been done different by the developers?

Yes, I offered good ideas that were rejected and ignored. One of the key ideas was a central authentication system tied to e-mail accounts. Without an account you would not be able to play in public servers. That would make it easier to prevent cheaters.

Implementing such systems in future versions has its difficulties but is not impossible. The real problem is, who is in control of the system and its code? Unfortunately AssaultCube had the wrong people in power at the time.

Sauerbraten

How do you think the Sauerbraten development has went?

The Cube 2 engine is built as a commercial product, whereas Sauerbraten demonstrates what this engine can do. I think that the developers decided to keep it as simple as possible, adding things only as necessary. Like the auth feature, admin/master distinction, new mastermodes and new modes. There are too many maps that you never play but are nice for demonstration purposes.

There was parallel server development going on and more recently parallel client development, such as SauerFork, now known as inexor. They've added lots of eye candy that I doubt will make it back to the original game - they appear to be making a new game.

What do you like about Sauerbraten nowadays?

It has incredible players, like Woops and Acuerta. In terms of the game itself, I like the speed of it. I think the gameplay itself is rather complete, if you have the opponents to play against. What is not balanced is the number of good playable maps. When you play insta or effic, people ask you for turbine, turbine, turbine.

The same goes for clan wars. It's the same rotation: forge, reissen, redemption, forgotten, [dust2] - out of how many maps?

Yes, and even then, clanwars are mostly ECTF. Not many play FFA or CTF. That could be fixed with specialised tournaments. I think it's a matter of time really.

What's your take on the recent decrease in the Sauerbraten player base?

It peaked several years ago. Sauerbraten has very few clans that manage to survive. One of the reasons is the high barrier to publicity for new clans.

Sauerbraten could do with automatic duel and clanwar reporting, which would make competitive gaming much more exciting. Any game statistics are outside of the game and you will have to look for them actively. A central database of all statistics would be so much better. However it is difficult to do so I cannot blame anyone.

Do you play any other games than Sauerbraten?

I quit gaming when I finished with HI-SKILL in December 2010 because the cost exceeded the benefits. I play Sauerbraten again since 2014 only to evolve duel.gg, as you have to spend time on things to make them work.

Sauerbraten Community

Why do you think public servers are mostly instactf? Is this a lack of promotion?

There is a disconnect between the community and public players. People like to do the easiest thing for their level. That's why they rarely reach FFA.

Sauerbraten has Demophobia and ogros rankings, what do you think?

Useful but not enough. You need a way to identify who is playing. If duel.gg were to get a competitor I will be interested to see where they take it. Building anything is easy but growing it is hard. duel.gg was brought out as a minimum viable product so it does not solve everything. There's still a gap in the market.

There still is a lack of matchmaking features. Want a duel? Unless you've been in the game for a while, you won't be aware of SauerCom's awesome bottie, which frankly should be integrated into the game.

How involved are you in the SauerWorld project and other groups?

I've never really been part of a bureaucracy or put in charge because I don't really care about it. In AssaultCube I gained a lot of popularity with the players but not with the development team.

Philosophy

Did you ever think of joining a Cube, AssaultCube or Sauerbraten development team?

I am not a game developer but have huge interest in building authentication and rating systems. In AssaultCube, by the time my work became popular the development team became the kind of team I did not want to be in. I like to see myself as someone who enhances a game rather than builds it. The HI-SKILL Ladder was a nice enhancement to AssaultCube, as is duel.gg a nice enhancement to Sauerbraten. I was asked if duel.gg would join the SauerWorld project but I did not accept.

Why is that? Is there is a specific reason?

Autonomy and ownership. I want to have the final say. The TyD Ladder never reached the success that HI-SKILL did and I believe it is because of my objectivist approach. TyD is still running but is not very popular.

Do cheaters deserve a second chance? Some cheat and come back later. Personally, I think each case has its own merits.

Cheating is fraud. If you play competitively with a cheat, you are fraudulent by accepting the praise and any title you get. In this case, you should be banned forever. It's a thing of trust. You couldn't pull off flying in the air in a competitive game.

Why are there fewer competitions now than before?

Games are difficult to organise and administer. Pause/resume games, collect demos and scores, upload them, update websites... You need good and willing manpower, which is rare. All of this could be automated, making tournament organisation much less time demanding. Whenever I've seen growth in both AssaultCube and Sauerbraten it's because of successful competitions.

In AssaultCube we organised the World Cups and organised Sauerbraten Fragfests. These built strength in the clan and belief in the community. Competitions need websites and automation. There do not appear to be many people with web application and data management skills in Sauerbraten. Would be nice if tournaments could run automatically. But it takes time and effort to do and test. QuakeLive have hundreds of developers working full time because they can afford to do it. We have real life commitments. Human effort is really expensive.

From here on

Are there any plans for the Woop clan? Do you think Woop will survive in the coming years?

Woop is a strong clan and has survived without my involvement for years. When I was in AssaultCube, the clan was lead by tenshi and Deimos, later by Acuerta and Art. They've made good choices and found the right people to keep the roster alive and very strong. Think Kabuza, high, Deluxe, brownie, Jokerstar, lagout, Lexar, Walker, bug, Ramb0, Fox, hades, Nighty, wtf?!. The clan as it stands today is their creation, not mine. I take credit for the website and starting out but that might be about it ;)
Any clan's future really depends on the community. There will always be players coming and going. It's like a normal business: people come and go. Acuerta for instance left for rC and then vaQ because of Woop's inactivity at the time so I can understand his reasons. He is the man behind the very important SauerCom/SauerWorld initiative.

You created duel.gg which has been online for quite some time now.

Yes, I decided to create duel.gg as a first step to solving these problems. Work on it began around a year ago but it could only go live with a reasonably accessible frontend. I opened it up to the public in August which is nearly four months ago now.

Actually I was initially working on a clan version of duel.gg. In projects you must know the balance between what you want and what's achievable. If I try to achieve everything, I won't achieve anything. I decided to delete the clan code completely and forget about it for the time being. duel.gg for duels thus is a minimum viable product that I could have released.

Person

Onto you as a person. What do you study or do you work?

I have a Maths degree from Cambridge and now am a professional software engineer. Actually, with the help of HI-SKILL I got a data management job at a bank. Now I work on smart applications. Duel.gg shares similarities to my commercial projects, built with quality.

Favourite music? Films? Hobbies?

I listen to Jazz, electronic and classic. The Matrix is my favourite movie. I like to read about the human mind. I like to make myself nice rare steaks for dinner.

Do you practise any sports?

I like lifting weights for fitness. Personal bests, for the curious: deadlift 115kg, bench 85kg, squat 75kg. Normally around 80/75/65.

I'm not a football fan, but one of the most memorable sports moments ever was the Brazilian number 9 Ronaldo scoring in the World Cup some 15 years ago.

End

Ramb0: Thank you, Drakas!

Drakas: Thank you Ramb0!

© Woop clan 2006-2019.