Hi, I’m Max McGuire and I’m the Technical Director for Unknown Worlds Entertainment. Since we’re just getting started on this development blog, I’m going write my first post about myself (yay!) and give some background on my involvement with Unknown Worlds and Natural Selection. This is also one of the few topics I’m uniquely qualified to write about, so it seems best to capitalize on that. If you want to read about Natural Selection 2 instead (don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you), check out this recent interview on the FiringSquad.
Charlie (aka Flayra) and I have been friends for years, and my history with Natural Selection stretches back almost as far. I met Charlie in 2001 while I was working as a programmer at the then fledgling Boston-area game company, Iron Lore Entertainment. At Iron Lore we would hold a weekly “game night” where everyone would stay after work, eat pizza and play games until one or two in the morning. Charlie would occasionally show up for these game nights and eventually he decided it would be a great place to play test his new Half-Life mod for the first time.
As such, I privileged to be involved in the first Natural Selection play test, when the command chair was still an oversize Counter Strike grenade and the Onos looked like Nihilanth (which despite looking like a huge baby was still pretty damn scary when it came around the corner.) Although the Natural Selection website’s news archive doesn’t go back this far, you can read about the original Iron Lore play tests in the magical web archive.
Even though the game was in the early stages at that point (1.0 wouldn’t come for another 15 months) the play test was a blast and I was eager to get involved in the development. It took me a long time to convince Charlie that he should work with me — up to that point he had done all of the programming and design himself — but he eventually relented.
I joined the NS team as a programmer after the 1.04 release and contributed features and bug fixes for NS 2.0 and 3.0. Some of the bits I worked on during this time were the Skulk model rotation, the minimap (and the fullscreen maximap as we liked to call it), the revised Lerk flight and Fade blink, Steam support, and a custom chat and font system. I also spent a lot of time during these releases hacking the collision detection system and making it do things Half-Life really wasn’t designed to do.
The rumors of my demise from carpel tunnel syndrome after the NS 3.0 release are unfounded and not the cause of my subsequent disappearance. In reality, my day job at Iron Lore Entertainment evolved into more of a day and night job when we started full-production on Titan Quest. This unfortunately didn’t leave much time for extra-curricular activities.
Although I had to take a break from the project, my interest in working on Natural Selection remained strong. I’ve always loved playing the game, and the time I spent working with Charlie was some of the best times I’ve ever had programming. Over the past few years Charlie and I talked off and on about working together again, however circumstances never aligned in such a way that we were both in a position where we could commit the time necessary. A few months ago things started to fall into place as Charlie neared the completion of Zen of Sudoku and I reached the point professionally where it made sense to quit my job and work full-time for Unknown Worlds.
So that brings us up to the current date. Right now I’m working on prototyping some of the more technically interesting features we have planned for Natural Selection 2 to figure out if they’re feasible and determine how we’re going to pull them off. I promise in future entries I’ll discuss those more and myself less.
I use the name Max on the Natural Selection forums and sometimes adopt m4x0r when I need a more unique handle, like on IRC. If you’d like, you can read some additional boring details and see a weird blurry photo of me on on the Unknown Worlds team page.