An Interview with Biff


Could you briefly introduce yourself (age, location…) and tell us since when you are active in the Q1 community?

Hi my name is Mike Phillips, I am 40 years old and live in Seymour, Tennessee, in the south-eastern United States. I believe I've been involved with the Quake scene since 1998, I believe. Has it really been ten years?

How did you get involved in the community?

After suffering through Deathmatch Maker and QED, the first two Quake editors I tried, I was desperate to find a easier way about things. This lead me to a lovely forum called Qboard, where the regulars not only had all the answers, but were super-nice and patient with a dunce like myself. This lead to Worldcraft, and the true beginning of my mapping hobby.

What Q1 contributions are you best-known for? Which of your works is your personal favorite?

Probably IMP1DM6, or Daedalus Revisted, is my best recieved map. Although not all it could be technically, its playability and nifty looks have made it popular. Also Filthy Habits is another map that I've gotten a good bit of response on. My favorite, mainly because I had such a fun time working on it, as opposed to its particular (relative) innovation or quality, is IMPDM2, or Strafeterium 1. It's barely even release quality, I know – something that makes me want to do a redux someday. Ahh, memories.

What was your initial motivation to work for Quake?

The game itself just blew me away. I had only recently gotten involved with DOOM, my stepsis got me a copy to play from someone she worked with. That kicked my ass, and got me working on maps for it. Next thing I know the id Software guys had Quake out which was light-years beyond it. I was astounded. The dramatic lighting, the creepy atmosphere, the wonderful sounds and quirky creatures – it all added up to possibly the best time I've ever had discovering a game. I knew immediately that I wanted to stake my own claim in this world, or at least a time-share ;D

Do you have a website/links where we could check out your stuff?

My old PQ site at still works, but my current site is although it still needs a lot of work to be done on it (yes, I am a lazy person).

What are your best memories about this community?

Probably interactions with those people who first "put a face" on the community for me, like Headshot, who sent me a large hunk of a map he was working on ( Hidden Agenda) to illustrate things he was trying explain to me about mapping. I was (and still am) so amazed that all these terribly intelligent and talented people are so generous with both their time and patience. That goes for the regulars on IRC as well (although don't tell them I said that).

Are you regularly playing Quake? Are you trying out mods, maps and engines?

I play Quake all the time. I even have it installed on a PC at work, so I'm on break trudging around in E1M3 or E3M2 usually. Gotten several people hooked on it as well, although they're still not good at closing the game properly and the poor taskbar is filled with several versions of Quake going at once. Kids these days.

Have there been other games you have been playing a lot?

Oh my, but yes. Probably the biggest games as of recent have been Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Half-Life games and Epic's Gears of War. This is the greatest time to be a gamer ever.

How would you describe the Q1 community right now? Is there any contribution that really impressed you in the last couple of years?

Without a doubt Mindcrime's opus Seal of Nehahra. Just the most ambitious and best put-together mod ever. Zerstörer perfectly built upon Quake's deliciously grisly and grimy premise, and recently Travail breathed much new life into the the old girl. And I love anything Vondur or CZG do. Those guys always have something to bring to the table, and they eat it in front of you. Bastards. I also love Speedy's stuff, he's such a talented guy and always has something new that's consistently kickass. As for the community itself, I'd have to say that Quake has seen better days. I think that most of the folks involved are so because of the relationships founded in those early days of posting, chatting and fragging. Many more people filter in and out as well, mainly due I think to the comradery of those who still hold the tent poles. Not that Quake itself isn't wonderful, but honestly (to continue the food motif) it's more the occasional side-order and not the main course it once was.

How do you picture the future of the community? Do you (objectively) think that people will still be modding/mapping for it in, say, 10 years from now?

I think the people involved will always have some relationship with each other, and that alone will enforce some kind of existence – but whether or not Quake itself will be getting the kind of attention it has is a tough one. I don't see it being nearly the presence it's even been for the past few years, really. Hate to say that, since I'll always have a warm spot for Quake, but in the grand scope of things, people will move on to follow some new shiny thing eventually.

Your #1 secret special ingredient to a good map (imagine a newbie asking for your advice)?

Mapping is about discovering what the map is as you make it, so always be prepared to redefine and adjust the shape it takes – gameplay-wise or however else. Quake is about atmosphere as well – so get that lighting right, dammit.

What is the question you would have like to be asked (but weren't), how would you have answered it and how pissed are you for me not thinking about it?

Who my chief mapping influences were. My faves were Headshot, Mr. Fribbles and Retinal originally. Those guys not only had these wonderful layouts but were always able to create really standout areas that had a character of their own. They started out setting the bar way higher than id themselves ever did.