We make The Opera sing baritone about their mod and its progress.

Can you introduce yourself? What part do you play on the devolpment team of Opera?

Hi, my name is Trent "Tatsu Oyama" Ayers. I make maps, sounds, textures, GUI/Menus, static meshes...a lot of stuf really. Like most of the older guys on the team, but my passion is mapping. In the Redeemed Assassin heiarchy Tom Dunne, Dave Flor, and I make up the "Elders" of the team.

How was the swich to UT2003 from Half-Life Engine? What was it like?

Well we were really hesitant to switch engines right off. It was something that we really really had to think long and hard about. At the time our plans for R2 were being GREATLY hindered by the the Half-Life engine. We were cutting corners and, honestly, starting to snap at one another in frustration over the things that we wanted to get done. Before we switched UT2003 wasnt even out yet. We looked at our options. We had the possibility that Dave (our neigh unto GODLIKE programmer) could make us an engine with all the bells and whistles we were looking for, but that would push development back years. We had Unreal Tourney and QuakeIII, but they were looking dated. DoomIII was an alternative, but we were unwilling to put of developing another year waiting for it to come out. Right about when we were going to lose our minds and just stick with Half-Life the announcement of UT2003 came up. We looked at it as a sort of a sign. It had a lot of flexability and power. It would be hard, but we jumped in.

The switch has really been an eye opener for us. EVERYTHING is more complex in UT2003 design. However this complexity offers control and flexablity that we NEED to get The Opera R2 made. We stumbled around in the dark for a while as it were since UT2003 editing is so very different from Half-Life. Now that we have a better understanding of the editing workflow and what making content for this engine entails, we are moving a long really quickly. Its odd, the past month or so we have gotten a lot done. Its like for the past six months we had been relearning how think, how to mod, and now we are all excited and working feverishly. Its really great to see things we thought would be impossible in Half-Life suddenly becoming a playable reality.

How did you guys come up with this idea?

David Huang created the concept. David had the idea to take the Hong Kong Blood Opera (HKBO for short) films that he loved and create an architype based game around that theme. The things that make the HKBO genre so fun just easily lend themsevles to games so well. Heroic blood shed, two gun akimbo madness, stuff breaking and flying everywhere and poeticly beautiful stunts just seem so logical to base a game off of them. David started writting down all the things that are at the core of HKBO genre. After that he started trying to make them into something playable from a design standpoint. We started developement and then life got hard on David. He had to quit. It was hard. So much wasnt finished and so much more wasnt playing well. After his departure from the leadership chair we had a few leaders, try to get the game made for one reason or another, things never got produced. Tom, our current lead took all the shattered pieces and reworked them with his own magic and understanding of the genre and "KABOOM", Opera. Its all about emulating the films in the spirit of John Woo's "The Killer", "Hard Boiled" and "A Better Tomorrow" as well as all the other films that pay homage to these flicks.

Can you explain your new scoring system?

In The Opera scoring is an abstract concept. We use cash as a numeric indicator, but you are not being scored to spend that cash. We score you (or try desperately to) on how cool your fighting looks. Kills are less important than making the match LOOK as much like an HKBO gunfight as possible. We have special moves and abilites we call "Stunts" and "Shticks" that facilitate this. How you use these modifiers to play effect your dollar value at the end of the match. The more like an HKBO you make your style of fighting look, the more cash you will accumulate. Being the top dollar assassin depends less on how many people you frag and more on how "cool" you are. Just rememeber that diving at someones crotch five times in a row isnt all that cool looking. Diving around corner with your guns blazing sending an opponent flying backward through a window on the thirty fifth floor...is.

What is this Mookmatch?

You ever watch just about any action movie and seen those guys that pop up and are summarily smoked by the main character? Those are mooks. In The Opera we provide a unique mode of player whereby you get to storm through a map disposing of as many of these henchmen in an alloted time. The cooler you do it, the higher the score. Now mooks are Non-Player-Characters (NPC) that act like the single player AI monsters of most games. They will have tactics and plans, but still more or less act like bludering henchmen. They are cannon fodder more or less. They can be dispatched on-line or off for your amusment. We may even enable you to do so with friends. (Undecided yet as far as I know. Think of mookmatch as an appetizer and multiplayer Opera as the main course.

How will the typical game be played?

Preferably you gather a small group of freinds up and start a listen server up. Then you and these friend have fun playing for hours and hours forgetting that time has passed. Duel to attain the coveted status of top dollar assassin all the while making your matches looks as cool as possible. In other words however you want, but make sure its fun. ;P

Why so many weapons?

In the HKBO genre there are a pant load of guns used. A large number of which are fairly appealing to look at and use. We didnt want to have to pick and choose, so we just said "Lets cram as many in as we can!" That line of thinking is pretty much The Opea way. It also lends itself to our ideal of letting the player customize themselves a personna that THEY truly would like to play.

What are these Schticks?

As briefly mentioned above and throughout my answers, we love customization and the HKBO genre. Shticks are the game representation of some the typical things that you would see in an HKBO plot line. Simply put shticks modify your player's abilites to mimic the plot elements of the HKBO films. For instance a blood thristy fiend would use "Way of the Wolf" to induce the proper feel of a person that is in it for blood, because that shtick gives you cash for being cruel and being violent. Another player may wish to play a through and through hero abd select shticks like "Code of Honor" which limit conduct in an honorable way or "The Duelist" to make them fight with certain ristrictions that gain them more dollars and speical heroic ablities. Its all about making an HKBO character.

How is devolpment going?

Slower than we thought it would, but that is because there is so much more we can do now! We have so much detail and nuance to play with now that we are going hog freakin wild. I never thought things would be this hard, but its so worth it in the by way of the end result of our toil. Its odd that this engine, which was so alien to us six months ago, feels so much like home now. I love it, but it is challenging.

Any further comments?

If you like "The Killer", "Hard Boiled", "A Better Tomorrow", "Full Time Killer", "The Replacement Killers", "Deperado" and films like them...our mod will make you a happy camper. Give us a look then will you?

Head on over to page two for eleven never-before-seen screenshots!