About the Interviewee: Ax-L is the firecest 'lep driver you'd ever want to meet. Renowned for his skills in map-making, with such famous
titles under his belt as "The Badlands", "Zen" and co-author on "Woofies Den". He is the essence of that vigilante attitude. No gangs, no association, but
a whole lot af attitude, and the skill to back it up.
Music Option "Am I Evil":
SSS: Do you have the limited edition Levi Strauss denim interior in the Lep', the one with the pockets...
Ax-L: Uh, no. Actually, I went with what my Mom hated. Whorehouse red velour. I like the contrast with
the black paint. And, it keeps Mom outta the car. (Plus my blood stains from your mortar bombing show less)
Ax-L: Hey, BTW, I didn't realize that Beatnik pumps up ALL midi files, I thought they had to be special. too cool (although it tweaks my volume control on the page I'm building - no more slider)
SSS: No, it does to all, man, that plug in is GOD.
Ax-L: Yeah. very nice. excellent choice.
SSS: The one for Gleibsters interview went to CD quality with the plug in...
Ax-L: Yeah, there are a couple midis I've got that sound GREAT - cymbal drums in particular are much better. Jimi style guitar still wanks tho.
Ax-L: BTW, who gets to choose the music for the interview page? hehehe
SSS: I choose it.
Ax-L: ...thought so. I wait with baited breath...
SSS: All right...
SSS: ...the interview.
SSS: Hey, did you hear about that new TYSON computer system that Intel is coming out with?
SSS: It's got 2 bytes and no memory.
SSS: Anyways...heh heh..
Ax-L: ...an alternative to the Golota model....
SSS: Golota model?
Ax-L: ...nevermind... you obviously ain't a core boxin' fan...hehehe!
SSS: Sorry, heh.. boxing is kind of bloody...haha!
SSS: All right
SSS: So what made you decide to start play interstate 76 over the net?
Ax-L: Well, my first 'Net gaming experience was with Trophy Bass II. It was the coolest thing I'd seen at
the time, being able to play against LIVE people. At about the same time, I began seeing previews for I-
'76, and KNEW that was gonna be the game for me. I bought it the day it came out, hit the 'Net the same
day, and my life has never been the same.
SSS: Heh, now that's interesting, because, for me, my girlfriend BEGGED me to get this game, and I was
really skeptical about it, having just returned Need for Speed 2 in disgust... What did you see in it from
the start, that got you hooked?
Ax-L: Well, I'm an old-school geek. Age 15 meant Car Wars, and by 17 I was hackin' Commodore 64 games. I had played Cruisin' USA in the arcades, and well, I-'76 just seemed to be all those things rolled together, with a cool attitude toward the '70s. Now I'd say it's the sense of being its own virtual community that keeps me going. I mean really, look at all the organization that has taken place because of this game - the DMV, AVA, etc. I think it's a great example of virtual worlds. I've said it before - games OFTEN push some of the coolest concepts to the limits. I think our virtual community is way cooler than those ones where you just get to be a talking comic head (although, if you could put 5 turrets on one of those heads....)
SSS: So before all the organization sprung up, what were things like from your point of view?
Ax-L: Hehehe, THAT'S a loose version of the question I was hopin' for. It was POINTS man, POINTS! :-) But, seriously, it was probably about like you'd expect it - most people drove big-ass cheesemobiles to get mega-kills. My first car was a blue Royale, modeled after my real-life first car, a '63 Buick LeSabre. I sucked so bad in that Royale I decided to drive one of the "worst" cars in the game - a small car, since everyone seemed to just WASTE 'em. Well, I'm not sure what happened, but I think my choice of a Lep' was a good one....
Ax-L: And, there were no hacks in the early days....
SSS: So once hacks started to appear, what was your stance on them?
Ax-L: I really wasn't phased by them. Initial public reaction was outrage, but I quickly found that I could still kill 'em easy with the ol' firedrop/.45 1-2 punch. So, I held a few "Hacks vs. Ax-L" nights to demonstrate this to all. I rocked the first night, did mediocre the second couple, but the point was clear. To this day, I still don't think there has really been a hack "problem." Boot 'em if they're in YOUR game, and stay the hell away from theirs. When was the last time YOU had a problem with a hack?
SSS: Me? It's not the hack that gets on my nerve, it's the attitude alot of them have. And these are the SAME types of hackers that I remember asking ME for help when I used to do a little hex editing.. (In pre-AVA days...)
SSS: At any rate, next question.. =)
Ax-L: Well, those that you just mentioned lie on both sides of the fence. Ignore 'em...
SSS: So when you first heard about the AVA idea, how come you did not get involved with it?
Ax-L: I've got this deep-rooted psychological problem with affiliations, cliques and the like. I guess I've
always been a loner, felt like I was on the outside. The whole Lone Wolf, freelancer idea appeals to me.
Too many Clint Eastwood movies as a child, I suppose....
SSS: Is it ever frustrating not having a 'clique' when you want to go out and play up a storm on mercnet,
Ax-L: In what way? Just because I'm freelance doesn't mean I only play other freelancers. And, I'll play
by whatever rules are posed - AVA, DMV, or otherwise. I don't need the backup of a gang, and I've made
plenty of friends, both freelance and affiliated, so there's almost always someone to hook up with.
SSS: Can you tell us about the incident you had with the impostors and site hackers you crossed paths
Ax-L: I'd rather forget about it, but basically there was a small group of punks that realized how
dedicated some of us are to this game. They decided to make my life hell, at least temporarily. Pushed
some porn pix onto one of my personal WWW pages, entered games with my handle and dissed a bunch
of my friends, etc. Luckily, my ISP is on-the-ball and kind-hearted, and was willing to put a little effort
into catchin' the pukes. And, catch them they did....
SSS: What happened to the mischievous hackers then?
Ax-L: Their ISP dumped 'em, but unfortunately there was one we didn't get. Things started up again, but
died down again. I'm a little more protective of things now, as is my ISP, and luckily I've been able to put
all this behind me.
Ax-L: I guess I've been a lot quieter on the public I-'76 WWW boards now, too, since then....
SSS: So, like myself, you have a particular 'ride' your ABX 'Lep. Like My 'Z, it's under armored, under
weaponed, and generally outclassed by most other vehicles in the game, but even MORE so. Only 1
hardpoint, 20 armor per side, and a dropper... How do you cope???
Ax-L: Drive like a maniac. Survival is your first priority. Funny how most people don't see this, no
matter what car they drive. They just keep chargin' and chasin' and gettin' mortars dropped all over them,
etc. Learn to drive AROUND fire (and don't even drive where fire was recently, hehehe). Take your time
in a fight. Also, I eventually came up with a novel way of using the dropper - the "firespin" or "fireskid."
I charge head-on, or nearly so (to avoid AIM-9s) at my opponent (preferably one just sittin' there facin'
me). Upon nearing them, I hit the e-brake, nudge the wheel, and either get sideways for a bit, or do the
full 360. Basically, the game seems to "throw" the fire below your opponents car. The first time you do
this to someone, they FREAK, :-). After a while, though, they learn not to stand still around me. I
practice a lot on buildings, and oil pumps (Yoda's a great map to practice on!) I use my 7.62mm turret
not as a killing weapon, but as my radar. I drive almost exclusively from F2 view, except when .45ing, so
the turret points toward my enemies. Always keep them off to the side - AIMs will rarely get ya. Also,
I'm proud to say I've really tuned the chassis/armor balance on the Lep', particularly with regard to AIM
attacks. It's just them damn mortars....
Ax-L: Oh yeah, the other effect that sometimes happens with the firespin is that you sort of ram your
opponent - they see/feel the ram, but you don't. All you see is them spinnin' off all funky. At first, I
thought they were hacked, changin' my fire to oil, but once I figured this out, I had a great laugh. They
take ram damage, I don't. Oh, shit. The cat's outta the bag.... ;-)
SSS: Heh, I know about that too, don't worry.. but I'm sure most other's do not. Should we remove that
from the interview?
Ax-L: Nope. There's really nothin' they can do but try to avoid me when I'm comin' at them. They start
doin' that, and they're not gonna get any time to try to kill me. And, worse comes to worse, I'll just come
up with somethin' new.... Adaptability, man, it's KEY!
SSS: But don't you get frustrated when you run into a dover, or a Clydesdale, filled with weapons and
armor, which kills you, followed by an unimpressive boast from the driver? (after all, you ARE in a
Ax-L: C'mon, who's got the REAL balls? :-)
Ax-L: Besides, how often does that happen?
Ax-L: To be honest, my two biggest problems are you and Dali....
SSS: Which part? Others boasting, or you getting killed? =)
Ax-L: Me gettin' killed. Only person boasts around me is ... GRIN! I think you know.... hehehe....
SSS: So what makes Dali and SuiCyco so problematic for you?
Ax-L: You got the impeccable rear mortar skills. Someday I want to talk with you about this. Dali is like
my long-lost brother in fighting style. We were goin' toe-to-toe the other day, and well, let's just say the
fight almost never ends.
Ax-L: Oh yeah, and I've been meaning to expose this:
Ax-L: YOU CONNECT AT 24,000 HAHAHAHAHAHA! I *KNOW* THAT'S YOUR SECRET!
SSS: Come on now...I've been known to get 26400 every once in awhile...
SSS: And only since that massive short in the tel box down the street has my connection gone south...sheesh.
Ax-L: It's okay. Don't feel too underconnected. I average 26.4 myself....
SSS: So I'm sure just about EVERYONE has played on your map, The Badlands.. it's a great map! How
did you get into map making? I know that if you didn't I NEVER would have made the maps I have..
SSS: You saved me alot of time with your coaching on map building...
Ax-L: Well, I like to experiment with things. And, that's basically what the map editor is all about - trial and error learning. The Badlands was my very first map, and I must have spent 40+ hours on it, tweaking and refining. I look back on it and still love it, but see so many things "wrong" now. Luckily, for my next effort I got hooked up with Stingray, and we made Zen together. He's actually the better editor, I'm more the idea guy. I did the initial road layout for that one (which was tricky enough on it's own!), but he did most of the rest of the editing. BTW, everyone should know that Sting' was the creator of "spikes." We both had a real Quality Control thing goin' on, too. We had guys like Podaar, Strikeace, yourself, etc. drive the crap out of our maps, and we would write long essays on what to change for the next render. It's not how many you bang out, but how good they are. My third effort was Woofie's Den, with Podaar. Again, I did the initial layout, but he smoothed it to perfection. I still feel this is the best map ever done, overall. So many special hidden corners and tricks, very few bugs, and so "realistic" in feel. Really teaches you that driving skills ADD to your combat skills.
Ax-L: BTW, I think your IRD is a beautiful map - just a bit laggy, but that's 'cause all of the object. Each one of us took mapmaking to a new level - you added an HTML component with IRD....
Ax-L: (And Badlands is laggy from size - I'm not pickin' on ya!)
SSS: Heh heh I know.. never bring firedropper into the IRD.. it's a lag nightmare.. grin Check out the
HTML section I added for Gladiators on this site if you haven't, it's under "The WarPath" link...
SSS: So what got you so into 'Quality Maps'?
Ax-L: Seen it. Nice job.
Ax-L: I'm a stickler for quality in most things. And why would anyone make maps with known problems? Fix 'em, dammit!
SSS: So what's your opinion on other map-makers out there, such as the most famous of all, Debacle..
Ax-L: Plus, we basically worked each map until we saw no room for improvement, or too many people
just yelled, "RELEASE IT ALREADY!!!"
Ax-L: Some people like to dog Debacle and his maps (okay, okay, so I've dogged him on a few....). But, he inspired all of us to begin "extending" the game. He gave us new maps to play on, showed us new things that were possible. We built upon his foundation.
SSS: Any words of advice for those contemplating a journey into 'The Map Builder"?
Ax-L: First, RTFM! (That means read the umm....manual for you non-geeks.). Then, read it again, and again. Go to the Activision site and really dig into the map object info. Now go to Skull 'n' Bones' page and grab an I76 file "template" - this way you don't have to worry about most of the things that bomb most peoples' first render. Now, start experimenting, in small steps. Also, check out Dick Nixon's map site, or whatever that was - it's way outta date now, but still, I remember it had the KEY picture about how to use the "handles" on road/gradient bends properly. Try to find yourself a kind soul like me who'll walk ya through the basics. Finally, have a team to help you test it. Let them be brutally honest - it's only for the good of the map! :-)
SSS: Ugh.. I remember my first map.. "Del Dios".. Most of Team Intercept is still trying to forget it... hahaha
Ax-L: Thank God I've never seen it, I guess, hehehe!
Ax-L: That was that road by your house thing, huh? I remember now, yeah, I hear the horror stories....
Ax-L: Er, heard....
SSS: So what is your goal when you write a map?
Ax-L: Well, I guess I don't build a map unless I've got a concept behind it. Badlands was supposed to be like a large map broken into multiple melee zones. Zen was built first just for it's trick road layout, but then we began to develop the game, etc. And, we made sure it was raceable. Woofie's was based on a drawing by Podaar, basically a progression across multiple tiers, into this Den place. That one REALLY got refined. Also - look for cool spots in your maps that happen by accident, and either develop them further, or protect their integrity - sometimes these are the BEST spots on a map!
Ax-L: Also, EVERY piece of the map should "mean" something. I used to tell Podaar this a lot. I HATE roads that curve and wiggle on perfectly flat ground! What does it MEAN to stay on the road then?!?!?!?
SSS: Well said... So now is the time to begin your rant on POINTS based scoring instead of kills... =)
Ax-L: Okay. Next time you're in a game with me, check the score. I'll always be ahead on points. If people want to be purists about this game, then the AVA, DMV and other stuff should go out the window (but, please note I DON'T want this, either!) Anyways, my bottom line is, I don't think Activision did all that bad a job with the points system - and I feel even more strongly about this after reading your interview with Otto [AAA]. Basically, people should drive whatever car they want, but realize that if they take the cheesemobile out against something like my Lep', that they deserver little honor for killing me, and I deserver a hunk of honor for whoopin' their fat ass. How's that?
Ax-L: Wow. A repeated typo. "Deserver." At least I'm consistent...
SSS: Hopefully, some people will start using the ctrl-s a bit more often to check for points then..
Ax-L: Ah, whatever. I've learned to live with the "Kill Ratio" mentality our good friend Thibor started brainwashin' everyone with long ago. I'm gettin' better at that style, but it's tough in the little Lep'.
SSS: So I remember a time when you swore off I'76 in sheer frustration, a long, long time ago. What happened with that? (Not that anyone want's you leaving or anything like that...)
Ax-L: I guess I was taking things a little too serious back then. I'm kind of an all-or-nothing guy, too, not emotionally really stable, you know, hehehehe.... I think that's long behind me. Plus, even then, I gotta admit - I HAD to get my fix, so I drove under a few pseudonyms.....
SSS: So what drove you to such immense frustration back then?
Ax-L: Hehehe, to be honest, I don't really remember. I know for a while it was those hack punks, but there must've been something after that. I remember gettin' phone counseling from another I-'76er. He straightened me out. That much I remember....
SSS: So any other cars and fighting style's you enjoy other then that lep-with-fire?
Ax-L: In fact, I think I'm probably a stronger player now than I ever was then...
SSS: (Interviewer laughs)
Ax-L: Nah, I'll let everyone in on the secret later. :-)
Ax-L: (Is he a closet Manta driver?!?!?!?!)
SSS: Well, let's not tell Thibor about that one.. grin
SSS: I guess the Manta is like the Lep', except is has three more weapons..
SSS: Wouldn't you agree?
Ax-L: Thibor saw one of my first performances in one of my "secret" cars, and doesn't even know it. I
wiped up his bud Toxy in the flats....
SSS: You wiped Toxy's what?? Heh heh!
Ax-L: Well, yeah, if you deck it out like I do, the Manta is kind of like a Lep'. But it turns for SHIT!
Ax-L: And is kinda slow.... I prefer the 'Z....
Ax-L: I think the best automaker is ABX, hands down. How's that?
SSS: I think that's about right.. =) But I never really understood the Strider Underground movement..
Kind of reminds me of souping up Honda's...
Ax-L: Striders are just a cool bouncy ride. Dali is an artist in one. I remember I liked 'em in Div.10, as
Priapism AVA. Hey, kids, go look that one up in the dictionary.... :-)
SSS: So your only top weapon is a 7.62 turret, why not a mortar? or rockets? or missiles?, etc...
Ax-L: Ummm.... I suck with mortars (said with embarrassment). I'd say a .50 cal would be my second
choice, then probably AIMs - I've gotten good with those recently in a larger car. Firerites I've yet to truly
figure out. I know they're cool at point-blank range, triple-linked front-facing . Strikeace is a
master with them. He'll never reveal his secrets.... Dr. Radars are generally useless except at point blank
range, in mass-melee, or against choppers. Back to the mortars, though. Even that one time you tried to
show me how to use them, they seemed really strange. Like the few times when I DID hear the roof
crunch, I was SEEING the shells WAY AWAY from my target - sometimes long, sometimes short. What
up with that? I'll spill another firedrop "method" if you tell what you feel is your primary mortar secret.
C'mon - you NEED someone to be able to challenge you a little on that damn ladder!
SSS: Oh man, the competition at the top is pretty stiff, I don't think they need any help.. =)
SSS: I've got to find a replacement though before I pass on.. So someone is going to inherit those tricks..
Ax-L: A member of Team Intercept, no doubt.... :-) (Damn - it's gettin' a little smiley in here....)
SSS: So earlier we talked about those 'Hacks Vs. Ax-L" games.. what was your idea behind those games,
and what was the reaction from those that played in them?
Ax-L: The idea was to try to show people that even though hacks could do some weird, semi-powerful
stuff (seemed that way at the time - they got a lot better since, but still a lot of "holes"), they were just a
different way of playing. That they ARE killable - somehow. The first night, I had to push out my
supporters - so many people showed up to "help" me in the 'cause! That was cool! I ripped up that night -
standard Lep' rig. Second night, more hacks, and my .45 performance was sub-par. But, fun was had by
all. Third night, much like the second. I reported each day to one of the message boards, like a news story
sort of. It was a kick. But, people gotta have their causes, and things eventually got heated and escalated
again. I saw that, yes, the hacks were getting potent - but, by this time we had the boot patch. So what did
it really matter? You know, the only hack that ever really worried me was the crash paint job - that could
be a pain. But, you know what? I've NEVER been hit by that. Okay, as Bob Bitchin AVA would say:
Draw a bigger target on yourself, Ax-L....
SSS: Heh heh...well, think most people have more class than to use that on an innocent player...
Ax-L: Oh, yeah, I forgot what a friendly world it is, hehehe....
SSS: What's your view on all the 'hack-hunting'?
Ax-L: As a role-playing thing it's gotta be fun. To do it to "eliminate" hacks from the game? I don't think
that's necessary. But, I'm a pacifistic idealist, I guess. It's a war that will never be won....
SSS: Hah.. I remember I played in one of your old Hacks Vs. games.. it was alot of good fun..
Remember 'Knight Rider'? "Michael, I'm detecting .45 breaches in our ablative armor.." HONK!!! Hahaha!
Ax-L: Oh no! That was you?!?!?! That guy was absolutely hilarious! THAT'S the kinda shit this game
needs a LOT MORE of! Bozzer's always been like that ... er ... INT Bozzer, I should say (hehehe - give
that guy a few beers and watch out!). Awesome Sui, good job. I remember you mainly from the Kami-car
incident - there was a point where you just sat there yappin' and I HAD to put a .45 through yer hack
head! Yeah, it WAS a cheap kill. My thoughts overall on typing kills? Generally they're cheap, but I
think you know sometimes when you can playfully execute them - in the right company. Nothin' like
poppin' Podaar every once in a while. Or Strike'....
SSS: Oh.. no I wan't Micheal Knight.. hah but he was damn funny.. and I DO remember that kill you
gave me when I was talking to HP Balut or Sinkatt.. one of those guys.. That was a real bummer, I was
doing so well that night too!
SSS: I didn't have any deaths! (...up until that type-kill!)
Ax-L: I know.... That was the main reason I felt I could do it....
SSS: (Interviewer laughs)
SSS: So back to the game, any maps that YOU personally recommend?
SSS: And any you personally stay away from?
Ax-L: Well, if I was gonna blindly choose an author to follow, I'd have to say Skull 'n' Bones, Stingray,
Podaar (he's got some ideas in the works), that SuiDebaGliebicle guy, Crimson (an up and comer I do
believe), um, shit I HATE leavin' people out... I might pull out another one someday, you never know....
Skull's Aftermath is one I kinda like that not too many people play on. I know he'll hate me sayin' this,
but I mean it in a good way: It's like a big Airbase, but post-nuclear rough and deadly! It's a blast in all
sizes of car kickin' through there. For atmosphere, I think IRD rocks. For feel, Woofie's Den (sorry, but
I'm SERIOUS!) For fun, Bouncy. My favorite stock map is probably Creeper Canyon. It's so dang
versatile, has NO objects and still isn't boring at all. It's nice when you just wanna slug it out - the spawn
points are all together. But, you can run. Nice valley in the middle - a lot of people don't find that at first.
I ain't gonna dog any maps - none are really THAT bad. I say just download 'em all, and try 'em if you
got some time - or just let 'em sit there in your folder and never worry again about not gettin' in a game.
Better have a FAT drive, hehehe....
SSS: So when it comes to tanks and helis, what's your stance? Playable or non-playable?
Ax-L: TOTALLY playable! Man I get so TIRED of people doggin' the chopper!!! Nobody has really
flown it enough. It's fun on varied-terrain maps, canyon maps, etc. Use the terrain to save your ass - you'd
be surprised at how long you can survive! The tank, I really can't speak for yet - I have barely driven it
(Rommel's WNF comes to mind). That one would seem harder to cope with. But, overall I see no reason
to "ban" them from play - they don't cause any more problems than any other cars. Besides, again I ask,
how much of a "problem" is this? When was the last time YOU had a problem with one o' those?
SSS: So then what's your tactic for avoiding massive clusterbomb madness in your small Lep'?
Ax-L: Stay away from 'em! That's the primary thing to do. Use the "pick 'n' drop" technique - "pick" at 'em with a 7.62mm turret or somethin'. This'll force 'em to either eat some lead ('cause that thing shoots all day long), or coast, which leads me to the "drop." DROP, BABY, DROP!!! Then drop some more! If you run out, you ain't dropped enough. Run to the regen and get more! Hey, their mortars are like smelly brie compared to your wholesome American run-to-the-regen cheese. And, when you're droppin', ANTICIPATE and DIRECT - that's right, anticipate where your foe wants/needs to drive and prepare the ground in front of them. I like to arc the path, as well, making them have to turn in even tighter. This way they'll lose speed faster. The DIRECT refers to directing them where you want them - parked up against a cliff wall where you can make a sideways firespin run.... Yup, get 'em red ASAP, and then give 'em the ol' .45, preferably long-range, if you're skilled. And, there's one other technique I'd like to mention If that mortar-fiend happens to be a back-ass drivin' muther like Toxy, then your really need to do the dances. The Mortar Mamba, the Lep' Lambada, etc. They're all pretty much the same - get in close, QUICK, from an angle (for your protection). Now, drive
CAREFULLY! Use the gas - speed up, slow down with them - stay just off their nose to one side - you don't wannt be right in the nose of a mortar-launcher. DON'T coast - take the few hits that they MIGHT get if they got a turreted .50 cal or somethin'. Dart behind them once in a while and drop - it's REALLY hard for them to miss if you're any good with the dropper. Finally, again, once they're red, get the hell out and pick and drop from a distance. Forty-five kill is always good, again....
Ax-L: Dart behind them once in a while and drop - it's REALLY hard for them to miss if you're any good with the dropper.
Ax-L: Finally, again, once they're red, get the hell out and pick and drop from a distance. Forty-five kill is always good, again....
SSS: And what kind of persuasion can you offer to those drivers out there trying to decide between a Manta nad a Lep'?
Ax-L: Stick to the Manta - you're gonna need the extra armor and all those hardpoints. Lep's are only for trained professionals (wow, listen to me, I could be on Team INT, huh?)....
SSS: You could Ax-L, but then what would become of our Lep' target practice? =)