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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That's amazing. I'm really glad I helped people. It brings a smile to my face to know. Thanks for sharing :)
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!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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?
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.
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?
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 :(
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.
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.
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.
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)
NO FUCKING WAY DUDE I WAS ONLY THINKING ABOUT YOU THE OTHER DAY FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!! PM ME NOW!!!!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 whole dollar eh? Who knows, I'd love to if there's a gap somewhere that I could fill!
Drank alcohol, took cocaine, had lots of sex. If you ever have the chance you need to backpack around South America.
First off thank you god damn, thank you.
Second: any current projects you're working on that I should check out?
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!
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?
Yeah I remember you dude! Darks Revenge was my first Y! booter, you got me!
Nope. c0ldfyr3 4 Life.
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.
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.
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?
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 :)
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.
What was your absolute favorite ZM map? And to follow that up, your least favorite.
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.