Interview with the Frontiers Mod Team

The politically-driven HL2 mod, Frontiers was released yesterday (29th October 2008).

‘Frontiers beta 1.5’ features the first level of the HL2DM conversion, called ‘Sahara’. We caught up with one of the Frontiers team, Georg Hobmeier, to ask him a few questions regarding the mod.

Hi Georg, thanks for taking time out to talk to us. This week must have been pretty busy for you and the Frontiers team with the release of your mod Frontiers! Can you describe what Frontiers is about for any Steam users who are yet to hear of your mod and give us a brief description what your role is in the production of the Frontiers mod?

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The team select menu

Frontiers is a Mod for HL2DM that  offers an immersive experience of a migrant’s journey into Europe from Africa and the Middle East. In carefully remodeled conflict zones and migration hotspots, the players compete in the dangerous struggle of refugees and borderguards.

As for my own role, I just had the simple idea to portray the conflict at the European Borders using an FPS multiplayer game. I was then approached by Karl Zechenter from GoldExtra to make this idea reality. In the process working on the game, I dealt mostly with concept, research and production.

How big is your team and how long have you been working on Frontiers?

The core team consists of 4 people, who started in the fall 2006. Over the time we grew in numbers and in hot periods, we had up to 6 people working full time on it. I think looking over the entire working period, almost 20 people contributed in one way or the other to the game, from translation in southern spain to programming.

From what we read you and your team put a lot of time into the research for this game. Can you describe what you researched and give us a better insight into how this has affected the game?

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The coast of Andalusia

We thought it would be crucial for this game to not only do some Google and Wikipedia research, but get into the very zones that we wanted to portray. Of course we did our share of looking at the facts and numbers of immigration and border security for the individual levels, but the most crucial element were the two research travels: One to the Ukrainian-Slowakian border, where we also attended the no-border camp, a gathering of political activists; The other a research trip to southern Spain and northern Marrocco, from which we have two scenarios in the game. Being in front of the fence, seeing the new iron curtain and talking to refugees from Chechnya or Somalia made the work on the game so much more important and real and underlined the importance to display the invisible parts of this ongoing conflict.

Are there any others games or mods that you took inspiration from when you were creating Frontiers and was the community involved in this as well?

One of our main developers, Adam Donovan has been working and playing with the Steam engine for years. People might remember him as ‘navanod’ in HL2DM. As for inspiration, we tried to be as idiosyncratic as possible. Of course there were basic principles that also exist in other games, but for us, the most crucial point was to disable the power equality that one normally has in multiplayer games and have one side entirely unarmed. This is, after all, the brutal reality.