actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

Gaming - LiveIam c0ldfyr3, author of CS:S ZombieMod and before that Elite Prodigy and Darks Revenge, AMA!

Sep 25th 2017 by JayCroghan • 61 Questions • 2667 Points

My short bio: So I started to learn to program in VB when I was 13, I created Darks Revenge and Darks Revenge 2, Insane Chat and many other nefarious applications. So many people used to ask me to "teach them how to program", I had no choice but to ignore them. So many people got so upset that when I was 15 years old and getting 5k unique hits each day on my own website, there was an entire group of people called the Anti-EliteProdigy bringing in the same amount of people per day.

I started playing with AdminMod and AMX Scripting for a while and recreated a lot of the popular mods at the time to teach myself game mechanics and interactions. I then switched my attention to C++ and wrote CS:S ZombieMod using SourceMod for an original sum of $250 and have the brilliant mind of SourceMods BAILOPAN to thank for my success. I wrote other classics such as GoreMod and HostiTron at the same time. ZombieMod itself had thousands and thousands of maps, models and other user created content. ZM itself consisted of some stolen models from HL and the base CS:S maps, all of the rest was user generated.

I stopped with these when I went to South America around 6 years ago. I got back from the jungle 2 years ago. I was a full time Software Developer in VB6 at the time as my profession. Now I'm a C# Technical Architect for a very large financial services software company and I'm moving from Ireland to China in a month.

I went to college for a week of my first year and never went back :)

My Proof: http://www.twitter.com/c0ldfyr3_ie

http://www.c0ld.net/zombiemod

http://www.c0ld.net

TL;DR; I am the guy that sent you the betas every few days to anyone that donated as little as $1 as long as CS:S ZM was alive. I still have the list and can send emails from it :)

EDIT: /u/unsakred and /u/sirgaspar showed up in the comments. These two guys were making Yahoo! Booters before I could program, they are legends of the game. They were idols to me before I learned how to program. I'd like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to them for providing me with a path to where I am today. Thanks guys.

Q:

Are you Irish? I find it odd you are going to go to China for work. There are plenty of good companies and jobs here.

Thanks for ZM, I was a long time player of that game mode. Way more than I ever spent on the real counter strike modes. The community really made some fantastic maps for it.

A:

Yes I am 100% Irish. I'm not moving there for work specifically, I met the woman of my dreams and she's currently in China so I said I'd go out there for a couple of years and through some contacts I managed to get an architecture role in a current vendor of my current companies which I'm going to do for a couple of years before we move back. There are metric tons of jobs here in Ireland.

You're very welcome, I really enjoyed the community it spawned. To be honest it was a big surprise and the community grew faster than we could manage it. Thanks goes out to all of the volunteers I had for administrating the website, the forums, the help files, without all of those people it wouldn't have worked. There were thousands of maps for zm, it's one of the proudest things I've done to date.


Q:

I had no idea that the creator of ZM was Irish!

I grew bored of the competitive nature of the standard TDM format and naturally, my enjoyment was fairly limited by the number of times I got my ass handed to me.

Because of your mod, I have very fond memories of playing alongside members of the VSS clan and experimenting with different play styles on a variety of maps made by the community. If it wasn't for ZM, I would've uninstalled CS:S and contemplated why on earth was CS:S such a big deal at the time.

I just want to say, thank you very much for allocating your talents into creating a foundation for the modding community and introducing me to the world of game modifications.

I wish you the very best of luck with your career!

A:

I used to be proudly Irish on the forums and that. I was always very proud to bring something so big to the world from such a small country.

I'm really glad to hear all of that. It's what drove me to keep going when I could see so many people pouring their hearts into their communities and servers and playing a game they would have already stopped playing. Valve even made modifications to CS:S when I asked them just to allow the overhead display for Zombies.

Thank you for being a part of that community, the most important part. And thanks for these messages today :)


Q:

To piggy back off comments, thank you as well. As a kid with bad aim, ZM with unlimited ammo was so much more fun than TDM or standard casual games. Same with finding all the secret spots that some people would put in their maps.

Spent more than my fair share of time playing ZM. Thank you so much for all those hours of fun. And best of luck! Enjoy your time in China, and please feel free to ask me any questions, I visit quite frequently :)

And in the spirit of this sub, a question: where in China will you be working?

A:

You're very welcome. I'm really happy to know so many people enjoyed their time playing it. That's why I did what I did.

Thanks! I'll be based in Hanzhou for a couple of years and then back to Ireland I think. That's the current plan.


Q: Obvious Irish Zombie connection obvious:

It's the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen In your head, In your head they're still fightin' With their tanks and their bombs And their bombs and their guns In your head, in your head they are dyin'

In your head, in your head Zombie, zombie, zombie Hey, hey What's in your head, in your head Zombie, zombie, zombie Hey, hey, hey Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh Hey, oh, ya, ya-a


Q:

Will you be compensating me for all the time i lost in middleschool and highschool playing zombiemod?

A:

Who will compensate me for all the time I spent writing it? I didn't even have time to play it myself, but I did play a lot of BF2!


Q:

We'll call it even.

A:

Agreed :)


Q:

64 player 24/7 Karkand or riot

A:

HELLS YEAH! Infantry only por favor.


Q:

What is your favorite way to cook chicken?

Having my parents over, not sure if I should bake it, grill it, or deep fry it.

A:

Roast it! Roast it with onion and carrots inside, garlic between the layer of skin and the meat and salt on the skin to taste. You'll never cook chicken any other way again.


Q:

Good to mince garlic and parsley into butter and stuff that under the skin. The butter gives a great taste but also helps keep the chicken really juicy.

A:

YES! Now we're talking.


Q:

Oddly enough you might be responsible for turning me into a developer. The first CSS sever and clan I fell in love with was a ZM/Warcraft server named ?WwT?. When I was about 13 or 14 I became an admin on the server and started learning how to make WC3 races, which turned me on to programming ever since then. Cheers mate.

A:

That's amazing. I'm really glad I helped people. It brings a smile to my face to know. Thanks for sharing :)


Q:

If you don't mind me asking -- where did you begin learning about reverse engineering? It's a topic that's always fascinated me, but to my inexperienced mind is still in a far-off land; that is, to me it's a skill that's forever beyond me.

A:

Actually I had to learn to write ZM. When I started to work on ZM I realised the CS:S engine wasn't going to give me everything I wanted. So I came across SourceMod and CS:S DM. CS:S DM did everything I needed so I got on speaking terms with BAILOPAN of SourceMod and he taught me, without actually teaching me, everything I learned about it at the time. But coming from a software engineering standpoint reversing what I'd been doing myself for years was a lot easier than if I just jumped right in.


Q:

Have you thought about going back to CS either playing or modding? I remember good times playing ZM lila panic in CSS. Thanks for making hard times a little easier!

A:

You're more than welcome, it was my pleasure. Yeah this past couple of days a lot of people have said there's a big gap there waiting for someone to come in and make use of that space so I might take a look at least. I'm glad I could make people smile.


Q:

Why is your name c0ldfyr3?

A:

When I was creating my very first Yahoo! account, everything I wanted was taken so I took c0ldfyr3. I've used it ever since. That was maybe 18 years ago.


Q:

Do you think games companies use a type of psychology to make gamers get hooked on gaming items like grinding getting gear or loot boxes etc what's you opinion on this?

A:

Yes I do completely, older games didn't have those stupid grindy reasons to play but we still played. Destiny/Division etc, those type of games where they torture end game players to death to grind out gear are ruining the landscape in my eyes. Too much play time for so little reward. People don't just play to play anymore.

EDIT: Éire Abú!


Q:

Thanks for the reply!

A:

You're welcome. I hate seeing AMAs with no replies!


Q:

Be honest, you only replied because of his username!

A:

I only noticed it afterwards!


Q:

It's awesome of you to do this AMA. Your mod, and all the crazy maps and associated content spawned from it, made for a bunch of awesome games and online friendships throughout my mid-teens. Source gaming--CS:S and DoD:S in particular--were my bread-and-butter and that time, and the additional flavor your mod provide to the CS experience really breathed some new life into the engine.

Thank you for all you did back then, and I hope you find great satisfaction in what you're doing now.

My question: what exactly were you doing in South America, and what kinds of projects are you responsible for now in your work in financial services software?

A:

Thanks, it was and is my pleasure. I loved the community that spawned around ZM, it really came out of dedication and hard work and trying not to let the end users down. I did bow to a lot of community pressure. I guess seeing my brother and cousins playing it before they knew I made it was one of the most satisfactory parts.

I went to South America because I broke up with a girl unfortunately. I needed to get out and find myself so I got a one way ticket and didn't look back. While I was there I did some work with www.LokiHostel.com and the website you see there is my creation, I mostly got fucked up though I'll be honest.

Now that I'm back, I just finished one of the biggest Financial IT Transformation projects in the world. I run two outsourcing teams, one in India and one in China. And in a month I'm moving to work for our Chinese vendor. Nothing as full fulling as ZM unfortunately.


Q:

I have a lot of respect for user made content, some of the best experiences I've ever had on PC were with mods, I'm sure I'm not the only one. Any insight into why so many brilliant games/game modes/mods like ZM started in someone's basement(so to speak) as opposed to by big developer?

A:

Well I personally think it's because the people with the foresight and the creativity are the people managing the features and what's actually getting produced. A lot of the successful communities come from trial and error. For instance I had a handful of other mods which were popular but came nowhere close to ZM and I didn't foresee ZM becoming so big it was a complete surprise. I think when the Developers have the time and patience to bring something to the public that's when we see most brilliance.


Q:

Sorry, a few questions :)

What tools did you use to reverse engineer the codebase?

What technical resources did you find invaluable?

Do you still have the creativity of purpose working for a Financial company?

A:

1) ida32 to disassemble the windows binary. We could cross reference with the original source code for HL and the linux binary had the symbols still inside so reverse engineering it via IDA actually showed you the real method names etc. We used the hexadecimal function signature from the binary to find it at run time and as long as the method definition matched we could call and/or hook those engine functions.

2) SourceMod and the guys who ran that project were the most invaluable to me. Unfortunately StackExchange wasn't as popular.

3) And no I have lost my creativity of purpose from years of working in corporate jobs :(


Q:

So much in the same way Exile did on their Guitar hero video? Cross referencing, but because you had the symbols from the linux build, you didn't have to rename much.

I guess you ended up with an API of sorts where you could override the hooks and pop them into your mod.

A:

That post is what spurred this AMA so yeah, like he did but slightly easier because of the cross referencing. We didn't have to rename anything to find stuff. I mean, the windows compiler and linux ones compiled certain code paths differently but once you found a method using the linux binary you could map it to the windows one and presto. And yes exactly that, I had a base set of methods within the engine to hook and use and built on that to make the whole mod. Everytime they released an update required an update of ZM though which was painful. Just to change the function signatures slightly.


Q:

Do you feel like modding for multiplayer games is dying out as devs continue to limit or not even release modding tools or dedicated servers?

A:

Yes, that is one of the biggest constraints now to modding. CS/HL released their entire SDK and source code for people to use as a starting pack and that's why it kicked off so much. I've not seen anything like it ever since.

EDIT: It actually started with CS:S, CS 1.6 was completely open, then Valve locked down the methods available to mod creators so we hacked around it using disassembly to figure out where the methods were and how to call them.


Q:

Big fan of the ZM mod in CS:S! My favorite where maps that required some jumping skills, then shooting any zombies trying to make that jump Where you a fan of servers that had no reloading or ones that did? Where secret locations on the maps always a thing or did some maps just influence the others?

A:

I loved no-reload, that's why I added the feature! Massive health, massive knockback, massive speed and no reload! The secret locations was a community inspired thing that just took on a world of its own. The community made ZM what it was, without the community and the content they generated there would not have been a ZM.


Q:

Did you create the zombie escape mod as well?

A:

No - I'm not sure who did. I believe it was a SourceMod scripting plugin whereas mine was a SourceMM C++ plugin.


Q:

Thank you for being a big part of my childhood. when I was 13 I had several source severs consistently populated running surf, wcs, and zombiemod. those were the days.

Did you ever expect zombiemod to blow up like it did? Where did you get the background ambiance for the mod. that Is one thing that I remember very specifically after all these years.

A:

Thanks, the pleasure was all mine. I'm glad to hear all of the happy memories it brings people. I certainly did not expect it at all. I thought it would be a niche mod and only be picked up by hardcore zombie lovers and then it exploded almost over night. I guess because I was so reachable and engaged with the community, the sense of being involved for server operators in testing, feature suggestions etc helped everyone get on board.

The background ambience, that's a good one. I'd need to look through the source and see what file I used. I would probably guess it was either a stock sound from HL or a file fysh included with his first attempt at CS:S ZM.


Q:

What are your thoughts on the reverse engineering community 6-10 years ago, compared to today?

A:

I believe there were far more talented people doing things 10 years ago for communities than there are today. Now it's all about open source software so people find niches to get stuck in but don't open any new doors. There doesn't seem to be as much innovation. SourceMM\SourceMod were incredible leaps and bounds forward in the way Developers took SDKs and engaged with them. I don't see anything similar today.


Q:

What do you think has caused this? Are there more open source projects that capture the interest of talented people, or have games become less approachable (b/c complexity or locked down binaries), or do you think it might be something else entirely?

A:

Yes I believe open source is taking people in younger and before they've found their own projects. But also game devs don't want people modding their games. It removes potential revenue from their pockets. It's a sorry state of affairs.


Q:

What's your opinion on the way Bethesda is going in terms of paid mods?

A:

I haven't been paying too much attention to Bethesda. I dislike Valve charging for mods now though. I think it takes away from the spirit of what came before it. Mod/Content creators created things for free and the users used them for free, that was our world.


Q:

What's your favorite programming language and stack?

A:

Right now it's gotta be C#, with ISS to host the stack. SQL Server for data. I've always been a fan of Microsoft stack. VB is what I first learned to program. I used VS to write ZM. Any other stack falls apart when held up to .Net in my eyes.


Q:

Cool! I don't have experience with .Net but a friend introduced me to the Javascript equivalent of Reactive Extensions which I heard started on .Net. Really good stuff!

A:

I hate Javascript. Shamelessly.


Q:

Sup Jay! Do you ever wonder how busy the Yahoo Messenger devs were trying to fix all the holes exposed by the booter community?

- gaspar_of_zeal (from Y! Messenger 3.0 days)

A:

NO FUCKING WAY DUDE I WAS ONLY THINKING ABOUT YOU THE OTHER DAY FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!! PM ME NOW!!!!


Q:

What color is your toothbrush?

A:

Blue right now!


Q:

When will we get homebrew on the switch ?

Also: hey there, fellow c# person.

A:

C# ftw! I don't know, I want Homebrew PS4 first!


Q:

Favourite Counter Strike Source Official Map?

Mad respect for you mate, the number of hours me and my old school buddies spent playing ZombieMod back in the day were priceless. Thank you :)

A:

cs_italy for sure. I didn't suck as much :)

Thanks, I really enjoy thinking I brought happiness to people all over the world. It's why I did what I did. Not for money, but to allow other people to play what they wanted.


Q:

Is your name at all a homage to C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy? Love those books.

A:

Unfortunately not, I chose the moniker randomly as a 12 year old me.


Q:

Do you like pineapple on pizza?

A:

Yes, and I'm not ashamed.


Q:

Do you like pineapple on pizza?

A:

Wait, Kizz from office attack? Man, thank you for putting so much time into those maps. You're the real hero here.


Q:

How did you learn programming? Or what would be your advice for someone who want to learn programming? I am not asking specific books, or courses, this is more about the methods of learning.

A:

This was the crux to my success. I started using Yahoo! Messenger to communicate with people online and when people began to fuck with me by using apps made by other people I wanted to make those apps, not use them. So I studied them, password crackers, booters, PM bombers, I studied them and I made bigger and better versions and eventually Elite Prodigy was a household name for nefarious applications. Even today random people will remember that name almost 20 years on.

TL;DR; I saw apps I wanted to make and used them to learn. Starting small and building into a knowledgebase.


Q:

I have no idea what you do but it sounds like something usefu with computers. Can you recommend/invent a good printer that won't constantly give me trouble?

A:

Unfortunately printers are the bane of my existence also. I don't use them except if I'm in work so that I don't have to trouble shoot them.


Q:

1) Do you see yourself developing any side projects for fun in the future or will you stick to what your job demands?

2) Do you feel you missed out on anything by not going to college?

A:

1) I most definitely will. I am moving to China and see myself having a lot of free time to do fun projects again instead of partying and drinking.

2) I lived with students and had a part time job while I wrote ZM so I got high every day and partied like I was in college. If I didn't have that I'd say I most definitely did. I'm moving to China in a month and if I hadn't already accumulated 10 years professional work experience the lack of a college education would work against me. But the company that first hired me looked at all of my personal projects and "took a chance" on me and they never looked back. I've done final year projects for friends and to be honest, no I think I saved myself 4 years.


Q:

Thank you for the fast reply!

Furthermore, seeing as apparently modding isn't as commonplace as it used to be, how would you recommend a wannabe to gather experience for a job such as yours?

A:

Do you mean for modding? My job is currently a Technical Architect in financial services!


Q:

Do you also code in Python? How do you find the program? Is it easy to learn?

A:

I wrote a Twitter bot to reply to Trump calling him a cunt anytime he tweeted only a couple of weeks ago. I can code in any language. I like how you can import libraries for almost anything in Python. I don't like the forced tabbing and spaces of the language though.


Q:

How should I deal with being cyber bullied on cs?

A:

You shouldn't deal with it. I don't know how toxic CS:GO is but I wouldn't take it. Do you know where to turn to for support? Your peers and friends should be able to help.

EDIT: Here is a great support link.


Q:

I spent a lot of time playing Zombies on CSS! You are a legend for creating that game mode. Now an AMA for the person who created breakfloor.

What inspired you to create such a magnificent game mode?

A:

A guy called Spinner paid me $250 to make the very first version, once I'd done that I saw the potential and the players ate it up so I went all out and asked the players what they wanted and gave them EXACTLY what they asked for. I'm glad it brought you good times.


Q:

I wish I knew how to code well. I could never pick it up. I have always had ideas for different mods and maps but couldn't figure out to create the things that are in my imagination.

A:

Why don't you sit down and make one of those ideas come to life? Google is your friend.


Q:

Played a lot of ZombieMod back in the day, but I played more Call of Duty: United Offensive though. Did you ever play or see the zombie mod for the original Call of Duty? It was very similar to ZombieMod, I'm assuming ZombieMod came first.

A:

Yes I did see it. I wanted to create a DoD:S ZM but there were limitations on what I could and couldn't do with the DoD engine that prevented it.


Q:

How did you grow such a community around the mod?

Any legal troubles when you came across reverse engineering the code base?

Why did you leave college after a week? Haha

Cheers

A:

1) It was natural, I didn't expect it, and to cope with how big it got so fast I had a lot of people volunteer to help. People just enjoyed playing a game where the developer listened to the users.

2) None. Valve did kneecap certain things one time, and when I asked them to reverse it they did!

3) First day of software class my lecturer put a Java class on the white board. I typed it in, noticed he made a mistake of using . instead of +, changed it and went on the internet. He came over complaining about me being on the internet and I told him I'd finished. He said I couldn't have because it was broken and I told him I'd fixed it. He then asked how, because he needed to fix it for the class. I noped the fuck right outa there. I had already made a lot of successful applications at this stage!


Q:

That's an awesome story, thanks for the inspiration. Im too young to have played in the css era but I have great respect to those who modded.

If you don't mind me asking, how financially successful was the mod?

If you did make money off of it, how did you structure it?

A:

You're welcome, the pleasure is all mine I can assure you. I love that what we did back then inspires people still to this day.

It wasn't successful. I had a beta testers list that I gave lifetime access to for any donation no donation too small. So I got a couple of thousand in donations. A lot of people only donated $1. I then sold 50% to a guy for $800 who used to publicity to rent dedicated servers through the partnership. I spent more than that on hosting fees let alone time. I didn't do it for the money, it was about pleasing people who enjoyed playing.


Q:

For someone just looking at getting started in programming, where would you recommend I start?

A:

Find something you want to create, and don't stop until you do. That's what pushed me to create everything I ever have. The ability to make things others failed at. With enough perseverance anything is possible.


Q:

Will you ever make a new game now that you have more free time? I will give you 1 dollar if you make some good shit.

A:

A whole dollar eh? Who knows, I'd love to if there's a gap somewhere that I could fill!


Q:

What did you do in the jungle for four years?

A:

Drank alcohol, took cocaine, had lots of sex. If you ever have the chance you need to backpack around South America.


Q:

First off thank you god damn, thank you.

Second: any current projects you're working on that I should check out?

A:

Nothing currently but maybe a direction to follow was in the back of my head when I started the AMA. CS:GO:ZM anyone?!

And you're welcome, I enjoyed making it as much as you did playing it!


Q:

Dude. I used to play Cal-I for Source when it was around and ZM was my guilty pleasure. You're a hero or my high school days as far as I'm concerned

A:

Glad to have been able to do that for you sir. It was my pleasure.


Q:

Do you plan to make stuff for CSGO?

I loved all the fun maps in css. I spent nights without sleep with my friends, playing zm_lilapanic. But CSGO doesnt really have as many fun gamemodes like CSS. The community servers are dying. Probably because everyone focuses on competetive gaming. Maybe you could bring back some fun gamemodes

A:

I hadn't until today to be honest. I'm going to look into it tonight though. If there's an SDK there's a way!


Q:

Did you used to develop Yahoo booting programs? I don't game and im trying to figure out where I know your name from. Pretty certain we chatted on yahoo. Do you remember hackedinhell?

A:

Yeah I remember you dude! Darks Revenge was my first Y! booter, you got me!


Q:

Do you regret picking that nickname?

A:

Nope. c0ldfyr3 4 Life.


Q:

Math is not my strong suit. Should I go for masters in data science or data analytics? I have just completed bachelor in computer science.

A:

I didn't go to college, and computers do the maths for you. Analytics aren't for people who don't like maths so I'd go with data science.


Q:

I spent thousands of hours playing CS:S Zombie Mod. It was the first online gaming experience I got hooked on. Thank you so much for the great times you provided me and my friends with your work.

Have you earned money off of the Zombie Mod in any way?

A:

Hey there. I'm really glad to have been able to do that. It's something I really feel proud of, how many people got to enjoy something they otherwise wouldn't have. I enjoyed it more than you though I can assure you.

I had a beta channel which I gave life time access to for any donation no matter how small. It was quite a list by the end. Many gave $1 but many gave a lot more and I appreciated all of it. I spent much more on hosting and everything else than I ever made. I did sell 50% at one stage for $800/€700 and my partner used the platform to sell server hosting. But it was't intrusive, there were no in your face forceful adverts. Did you even realise the mod was sponsored? I miss those days :)


Q:

How old were you when you wrote CSS Zombie mod?

A:

I like to think 18 to 26. It was a long project that didn't just begin when it was released. I'm looking here and seeing 2006 which made me 22 exactly after it started to get traction but before we went to the .com. So 22-26 for the height of it.


Q:

You sir, are the reason I have 400 hours in Counter Strike Source and am still rated Silver 3 in CSGO. So many hours playing ZM and ZE. Thank you so much for making such an amazing game. I guess my questions are:

what is your favorite map to play?

Do you like LilaPanic? I don't really like it that much but its always instalocked for some reason...

A:

It's great to be of service. I really love knowing what I did reached so many people. The pleasure was all mine.

My favourite has always been cs_italy or cs_assauault. I loved them both from the very beginning and all the way through their journeys as maps. I didn't actually play ZM that much, as hard as that is to understand, as someone else mentioned in this thread i's impossible to see the imperfections but I perfected what I could. I would say though that I love lila panic a lot, because it was so popular! So many people playing it simultaneously how could I not like that? It went hand in hand with ZM :)


Q:

What was your absolute favorite ZM map? And to follow that up, your least favorite.

A:

I need to say lila panic for both. I didn't play at all outside of Developing the game, but favourite because whenever I saw servers online, they had lila panic playing, and least favourite, because whenever I saw servers online, they had lila panic playing.


Q:

Have you ever tried GameDev for your own projects? (i.e. maybe making a game from Scratch with C++ or using something like Unity)

A:

Nope never. I didn't even have time for ZM when I was writing it and I kind of got lost in my work after that.