.: DooMster Unveiled: Inside the BossBrain
Spotlight on DBThanatos: September 10, 2012
DBThanatos, who, at one time flew under the DB 'Deathbringer' Thanatos flag, is famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for his DECORATE work on a number of projects for ZDooM and GZDooM. What is not as well-known is the fact that he is a guitarist and musician. [In my opinion, he is a very talented string picker, but I'll leave you to form your own opinions, gentle reader.] On a side note, I have had the privilege of working alongside DBT on two major projects, and I've found him to be a team player and absolute gentleman. So, without further adieu (sic!), I give you ..... DBT!
DN: Let's get the obligatory DooM-related question out of the way: When did you get interested in DooM, and what made you pursue its modification the way you have?
DBT: First time? Let's see. It must've been around 2002. Actually, I played Quake first, and I thought it was great, but my computer could not handle it (a very nice intel 486). Then through a disk with a lot of shareware, I found doom. That one ran incredibly smooth and had all this badass imagery and blood and stuff. As far as the first mod, it wasnt that from that date. I remember I started doing mods through DEHACKED and a bit of mapping with WadAuthor (both also included in the same disk). Nothing that useful ever came from there.
DN: You introduced yourself with a bang through the Ćons of Death gameplay modification in April 2006. Were you merely a lurker on the ZDooM forums before that, or is that when you first discovered them?
DBT: Somehow I found about Zdoom, and I found the forums. I lurked there for a while and learned my way through DECORATE with whatever I could. By the time I registered, I was already releasing a very early beta version of what's now known as ĆoD. I think that's what helped me a lot; the fact that I knew by the time I registered, how the forum worked, and what behavior was unacceptable.
DN: What prompted you to pull together such a collection of resources for ĆoD (which some have called "going over the top")?
DBT: It all started with Deathz0r's "OMG Weapons! (and Monsters)". I found that mod one day, and when I tried it, I said "well, this is a very, very interesting concept". Since I already had some knowledge about DECORATE, I started to dissect the mod to see how it worked. I thought it would be great to have more monsters and weapons there that werent recolors of the originals; instead, I wanted to bring new graphics from other places. Little by little, I started expanding the mod, until I realized I threw away almost all the original content there, and I had replaced it with my own compilation. Then the ball kept on rolling, I made something called "Mixture" which was a totally modified version of OMG Weapons! (or ĆoD v1), I kept working on it, and then ĆoD was born.
DN: In 2010 you were associated with two projects that made it into Doomworld's 7th Cacowards - ĆoD, which received a less-than-glowing review, and Paranoid, which was an also-ran. How did you feel about two of your significant efforts being reduced to footnotes?
DBT: I'll be honest here. I felt nothing at all. I've always thought that whatever mod I make, I dont make it for people to play, or for people to enjoy. As selfish as it might sound, I make them for my own amusement. I enjoy making them, and later on, I enjoy playing them. Like in Paranoid, being part of a team represented a new challenge for myself, and I enjoyed thoroughly. Even if it gets buried in the sand, I'll gladly work on something like that again, just for the fun of it.
DN: Despite the poor reception ĆoD received among some quarters of the DooM community, it seems to have been widely enjoyed by others. How do you account for this?
DBT: There's always a public for everything out there. And that was the case for ĆoD. At first when introduced, in the forum I got a farily positive response. It decayed through time as (I believe) people began to be more picky about what mods were being done and the (IMO) ridiculous notion of "quality control". That part did bother me for a while. However, at the same time, I found myself amused of finding dozens of videos of ĆoD in youtube. That's when I realized once and for all, that people was going to hate it, and other would love it. I dont care much which sector is the biggest. At the end of the day, I enjoy playing it myself, that's all I care about.
DN: I've noticed that you're quite laid back on the forums, and generally stay away from pissing contests. Have you ever felt like telling someone to STFU?
DBT: A couple times, but really, just a couple. There's always a lot of vocal people around, but through so many years of hearing how much ĆoD sucks, I learned to simply ignore what's not useful. People that are deliverately trying to piss me/us off, are a waste of time.
DN: DoomStorm is your attempt at a BulletStorm mod for DooM, and it appears to be capturing the imagination of many. Where do you plan to take this project?
DBT: Not really far, really. Usually by the time I release something, is because I feel is in a great shape to show/use it. Some changes here, adjustments there, but nothing else. I wish I could make it grow into a full mod, with custom maps and skillshots and whatnot, but honestly, I lack the imagination and vision for something like that. If an opportunity to make it grow comes, I will for sure go for it, but I dont expect that to happen. Instead, I have other little projects I hope to be releasing this year.
DN: How did you hone your DECORATE skills, and why were you apparently never interested in mapping?
DBT: All has been done through experimentation. Trying to replicate monsters from other games always ends up wrapping me into searching for new stuff DECORATE-wise. I do map, but extremely slowly; slow enough that it took me quite a few years to release the only project of mine out there, that has maps. I find myself being much more productive coding monsters and weapons, and whatever I can. There's another project in a very raw phase that also includes maps, but that's going to take a couple years before is even announced.
DN: In the two big projects where I've worked with you, I've found that you are very generous with your time, and are very patient with those of us less skilled in ZDooM's DECORATE. Do you consider yourself a "team player", and if so how has it shaped your work on other projects?
DBT: I wouldnt say "generous". Usually when I decide to work on something, is because Im really interested in doing it. I give my best effort to achieve what I want, or what the project needs. Other than ĆoD, I never actively worked with a team for anything before. I found the experience quite enjoyable, considering I can give the best I have, and joining that with other people's work, it gives some wonderful results: stuff I couldnt do myself in a hundred years. However, Im not that much into having 12 projects at the same time. I enjoy working on one, and working hard on it. Maybe that's a problem when working with other people, because I have this stubborn mentality of "work fast, work hard, be done soon", and usually with team projects you'd have to wait until all parts are coordinated. That's the part where I think Im not that good of a team player. But I try my best :P
DN: Of late, you have surfaced on the ZDooM forums as a musician. I'm an old-school rocker myself, but I believe anyone can appreciate your talent and abilities. For how long have you been playing and composing music?
DBT: I've been playing guitar since... 2000? Probably. I started writing songs as soon as I learned to put chords together. Not good or interesting songs, true, but songs nonetheless. I just started posting them because last year, mostly because of the job and all, I didnt play music; and after thinking how much I enjoy it, I realized I had to do something to continue playing. I decided to make myself record one song per week and upload it to youtube; and that's what I've been doing for the last couple months. I just decided to post the at the zdoom forums because I thought "well, maybe somebody will be interested". But again, like with the mods, I make them because I enjoy doing them and the result. If anybody likes what I do, that's all gain.
DN: I'm just listening to Schizophrenia, a track featured on your web-site. It is frenetic, but it is punctuated with tempo & chord changes that completely take over towards the end of the tune. Stream of Consciousness has similar tempo changes. Is this a reflection of your personality in real life?
DBT: I feel certainly flattered that you noticed that. Despite the sub par recording quality, you nailed it really good. Like most people, I go through different phases in my daily life that affect my mood. I dont like to feel restrained to a single thing, idea, feeling. I like to explore what's out there, and in my musician side, I think I try to reflect that with the various songs I write and record, and with the covers I make. I firmly believe that if someone locks him/herself into a single spot, that person is bound to rot there. Learn and explore.
DN: And Nocturnal (Eclipse) is a complete change of pace from the rest of your metal-inspired music, suggesting the ability to reflect. What makes you sit back and think about things?
DBT: Emotions. Good or bad ones. I love to analyze them, try to find the root of them, and see where will the train of thought take me.
DN: At this point feel free to go hog-wild and add anything you'd like your two adoring fans to know about.
DBT: A bit of a shameless plug, why not?
As a Doom gamer, and musician, my youtube channel is now filled with both, music recordings (both, originals and covers )and Doom videos (trailers, talkthroughs, demonstrations, and "soonish" previews of new stuff Im making). Feel free to visit it anytime:
Thanks to anyone that took the time to read this interview, and also thanks to DoomNexus for the interview.
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