Firstly I’d like to clarify that
unfortunately for personal reasons (boring stuff like getting married, honeymooning,
moving to a new country etc!) Alex Biesse was unable to complete her interview,
which of course happens sometimes. So Alex, bon voyage and congratulations on
The man who broke a thousand hair brushes.
Now, to ease the disappointment of not
being able to discover the inner workings of a fine French woman, I bring to
you, a somewhat fine Dutch man! That’s right, the 2nd ever
interviewee (eventually!) becomes Jerry Hopper of the flat country known as The
Netherlands (or Holland as some know it best).
Anyone who was involved in the community
towards the end of ArmA’s development and then especially through the first
year subsequent to release, cannot fail to have noticed Jerry (if he thinks you
don’t notice him he’ll come round to your homes in the middle of the night so
it’s best to say you notice him!). Jerry certainly livened up the community
with his own unique blend of community activism and news posting, so without
further ado, let’s bring on the Jerry……..
Hi Jerry, huge thanks for stepping
into Alex’s rather fragrant French stilettos, hope they don’t pinch too much!
Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself, where you live, how old you
are, what you do for work/study and any other hobbies you might have outside of
ArmA and the ArmA community?
Thanks Paul! Well, I’m Jerry Hopper I’m 35 years old and I’m from Holland aka The Netherlands. I live under the smoke of Amsterdam and very close to the sea. At this very moment, I’m
working as a developer for Surfwijzer - a project that provides a safer environment
for kids online. Besides being the first digital hermit ever, I also have a love
for everything that has to do with wind and sails - like sailing/windsurfing/kiting. When I was a little hopper I was a determent boy scout.
A lot of older gamers such as myself
only really got into gaming around the age of 12/13 due to the explosion of the
home computer scene in the early to mid 80s, with computers like the Commodore
Vic 20, Spectrum 48k and such, was that the case for you? What were your early
gaming experiences like and what was it about home computing/gaming that got
you hooked, to an extent it’s still important to you as an adult?
My early gaming experiences?
When I was 12 years old, I got one of the very first Commodore 64's that was
available in the Netherlands. Despite the seemingly endless loading times with
the cassette-recorder, I enjoyed this very first encounter with computers. I never
touched that tiny Spectrum computer which was - in my opinion - too small for
me. While fooling around with games on the commodore 64, I became more and more
fascinated with the little intro's that magically appeared before you started a
game. It didn’t take long until I created my own intros and got in contact with
the 'scene' that made these intros. This were actually my first steps in a
'digital' community, having fun and actually 'creating' things on a computer.
Not long after that - when I bought my
first modem - I communicated with people all over the world, and assumed my
first nickname 'Satcom' which was the brand of my first modem which I used to dial
in to BBS's all over the world (which my mom really didn’t like, as phone bills
went sky-high!) Eventually, I met a lot of these digital friends at so called
meetings/Party's ( For the oldskoolers :
I’ve been at the Venlo Meetings / Bocholt meetings and one Horizon party ) These
first encounters with digital-friendships made a big impression on me, which
probably made me the guy I am today.
At a certain point in life, I quit the computer and started messing with girls.
Unfortunately, I became a nasty youngster that did a lot of things that I wasn’t
supposed to do. And just when I thought I reached my all-time low - my mom (god
bless her) saved me with.... a computer ;) I have been a good boy since then.
Prior to the modern shooter like
Flashpoint/Battlefield and the like, what sort of games did you get a kick out
of? Obviously to those of us who remember when games were gameplay over
graphics, a lot of games stick into our memory as defining games, are there any
games that you think back to and think “wow that really stands out even today”?
Flashpoint.. Hmm let me think... on the Commodore 64 I just LOVED Commando and
the Rambo games. On the PC, I always liked the first person shooters -
especially the ones without monsters or laser guns. The best games in my
opinion were: the Tom Clancy series - I have all those titles, until Rainbow
Six Raven Shield. I can’t remember any other games that I really enjoyed.
Unless I’m mistaken you weren’t
really known around the Operation Flashpoint community, did you play any
Flashpoint or have any interest or involvement in Flashpoint or the Flashpoint
community? If not, why the hell not? ;)
When I played Ghost
Recon which I hosted on my first dedicated server, I met a few people in game
who introduced me to OFP. They asked if I could host an OFP server for them,
which I did. Maybe the name =[BBE]= clan rings a bell? Honestly, I didn’t play
that much OFP with them, as I always got lost on the huge islands, but from the
few games when I didn’t get lost, I remembered that OFP was an ultimate game if
you liked a real 'team' experience.
Unfortunately, in those days I was very busy creating websites and other stuff
instead of playing OFP, but you can probably find my original nickname in the
list of members at the OFP forums from those times.
I know that prior to ArmA you had
quite a heavy involvement with a certain “rival” game, can you tell us more
about that, how you came to be involved in a gaming community in the first
place, what your involvement was and what for you made it enjoyable to be part
of? What was it that took you away from this game and over to Bohemia’s games?
Wow, you did your
homework well! - and yes you are right, the rival game is 'BF2' and I merely
played that because the BBE clan had fallen apart, and I couldn’t convince my
new friends to play OFP, Instead - they
played Joint Ops and later Battlefield 2. I must say, BF2 wasn’t really 'my
thing' in gaming, but I was fascinated by the rewarding/stats system which was
build-in. unfortunately, this system was only available if you rented a
'Ranked' server. Irritated by the fact that this was not possible with my own
root-server, I started to find a way to create my own ranking system. It didn’t
take long before I had the attention of quite a few players and server-owners,
and that’s where 'Battlefield Ranking' became an obsession for me.
Together with two friends : Tojo from the
U.S.A and Mephisto fro Germany, we spent more than 2 years on perfecting this
free ranking system for BF2, until EA/DiCE pulled the plug on ranking systems. Aggravated
by the fact that our work was all for nothing, I started pushing people's
buttons in the gaming community without much luck, until I became active at
webturd.com where I did my very first radio/podcast interview on Battle Turd Radio.
After a few of those interviews with Mod-teams, doors started to open for me,
which I used to get close to EA/DiCE. To cut a long story short, I eventually
managed to get the exclusive rights to use our Free Ranking system in BF2. Even
now there is special code in BF2 that makes it possible to use our ranking
system - Something which we never would have achieved without my radio shows at
So now that we’re relatively up to
date, take us back to where “Jerry Hopper: ArmA Community impresario” first
started? What was it that brought you over to our little community to become an
active member, willing and wanting to invest time, money and resources to a
number of community ventures such as the website and radio show and such?
Well, now you know
what I achieved in the BF2 community (after a lot of blood - sweat 'n tears!) I
was actually burned out and fed up with the BF2 community. After the BF2142
launch, many people switched to other games. Around the first announcement of Armed
Assault, I looked at the ArmA/OFP community and to my big surprise; this
ancient OFP community was still going strong! Disappointed with the longevity
of the BF2 scene, and amazed by the activity of the OFP scene making a switch
to the ArmA community was a logical step. People seemed friendlier, and a game
that opened more possibilities to its modding scene was an eye-opener for me. With
my past achievements in mind, I was determined to do the same for the ArmA
community. Unfortunately, the guys at Webturd didn’t switch over to ArmA with
me so I had to do everything all over again, this time alone.
The idea for the radio show was a
fantastic one in my opinion and really seemed to be embraced by the community,
perhaps in hindsight it was an obvious choice for something that the community
would really like but what was the inspiration for you when you came up with
the concept? Was it hard to get the idea off the ground? How many people have
you interviewed so far? Any particular favourites? Anyone you struggled to
interview for any reason?
The concept? As mentioned
before, the Radio idea didn’t really came from me. Brow & Buckshot29 from
Webturd.com did some awesome interviews with modding teams. I was fascinated by
that concept, and eagerly waiting for the next ones. When that next episode didn’t
come, I wrote Brow, to ask if I could do such a show, which was fine by him and
so it started.
But as easy as a Radio show sounds, in reality it’s quite hard to do! My first
shows for Sahrani Radio were clumsy, and I didn’t really interview notable
people. But still the people liked it! This was for me a reason to continue to
try to do better, and get more interesting guests. Up to this point, I released
18 shows, with around 23 different guests. I don’t have any particular favourite,
but the most notable show was with Ondrej Spanel, that was a show that I’m
quite proud of being able to produce.
Obviously due to personal issues
(i.e. getting your business off the ground) you took a little hiatus from the
community in late 2007 I believe? Prior to that you were as active and involved
as anyone, how much time a week would you estimate you were committing to
working on your website and radio show? Personally I think the efforts you went
to were fantastic and really brought a lot of personality, enthusiasm and
passion into the community, did it ever reach a point where you thought “this
is just eating up too much of my life”?
Oh, that’s a hard
question! Before that short absence, the Radio Shows were more like a obsession
to me. I can’t say how much time I spent but I do know that from the time I woke
up, until I fell asleep on my keyboard I was busy with ArmA. Helping out the
people at OFPEC, ArmedAssault.eu and many other people. Honestly, it wasn’t
really healthy for me personally - I got sucked into the virtual life a little
too deep in those days, which was also a reason for the little break. I had to
find a balance between real-life and the virtual one, which I think I have found
Imagine Jerry before he was balanced!
As I mentioned, besides your work in
ArmA you also spent a lot of time on a private business venture you were
looking to get off the ground, from speaking to you I know it’s a cause that’s
very important to you, can you tell us a little bit more about the project you
were working on, how it eventually came to be and what the status is currently?
When I wasn’t doing
something for Armed Assault, I was working on that 'Safe Surfing for Kids'
project. These two things were probably the only things that mattered last
year. The 'Surf Wiser' project is like a child to me - Every night I meet up
with a few Gamers on teamspeak, some guys have kids themselves, and this is how
and where the project started. A few guys having a vision on how their kids should
be able to surf freely on the internet, without being harassed by advertisement
or improper content. In our opinion, this project is a great opportunity for us
to create a better online world for the youngsters. It’s my way of
"reserving a seat with the great Suma in the skies”
Beside all that: If this project succeeds, I have enough time and resources to
keep doing what I like: Radio-Shows, being online and active in the ArmA
The current status of the project? Well,
we released version 1 of our product last year, and we're about to release
version 2 very soon.
Next to that, we're working together with
the Dutch Cyber-Police and we are in negotiation with the Dutch movie-rating
association (kijkwijzer ) to explore the possibilities of creating a kids
friendly internet mark which should be a requirement for all Dutch commercial
website-exploiters and advertisers
aiming for a kids-audience.
Going back to ArmA, looking at it
purely as a gamer, what would you say were the highs and lows of the game post
release? What were your likes and dislikes about the game when you first got
it? Obviously there have now been a number of patches and most people seem to
be getting much more out of the game, are there any areas of the game you think
have been especially changed or improved with patches? Anything you think was
Let’s start with
the dislikes: It was a pain in the ass to get an early copy of ArmA! We had to
get the German release, which made the waiting quite annoying when you knew the
game was released much earlier in CZ.
Then, I kinda missed the external interaction. Or in other words, the
possibility to get information out of the game, to use in external applications:
Like saving scores or other data from the game, and the lack of remote
administration. (Not to mention the poor performance on my old rig).
But, after Queen's Gambit things went considerably better for my pc, the fact
that the editing tools were released, was probably the biggest improvement
because ever since that day, the community created more and more fantastic
addons for the game. Sadly enough, I only played the 1.08 version until the
linux 1.12 server was released, but when I finally played it, I saw a fantastic
improvement in performance and less bugs! It was like the difference between
night and day! Due to the bad performance of the first versions, I honestly
cannot come up with anything that was better before patch 1.12.
Assuming you actually find time to
play ArmA, what do you enjoy most about ArmA and its game modes? What do you
think ArmA does well and what do you think should be better? In terms of
community addons/mods/missions/campaigns are there any particular favourites
that you have?
You might have noticed that the ArmedAssault.eu domain is down (its expired,
and we're working on getting it back!) but I have been playing quite some ArmA
in the evenings! Playing ArmA eats a lot of time, as some missions take more
than 2 hours to complete!
Sadly enough, I don’t play that much with mods/addons as the server software is
not really handy when it comes to addons. Of course I use mods like Chammy's
Sound mod, Six Tracers, TrueMods, Durgs Vegetation fix, but the 'real' addons
like new vehicles or islands are not really easy to play with.
This is due to a big shortcoming of the server-software. People can’t easily
see what mods are being used to be able to play on an online server with
I don’t have a real favourite mission,
but I’m a sucker for coop revive missions. Something that should have been an
option in the server-software too!
Also, the Join in Progress in ArmA is
something that seems buggy in revive missions, which is a big loss for a
trouble free experience of the game. You can say that any good working
JIP/Revive missions are a favourite for me!
As an objective observer, is there
anything in particular you think Bohemia Interactive does badly in terms of
community outreach and support? What do you think we can do better? What would
you like to see Bohemia do more of? On the other hand any things in particular
you think Bohemia do well in comparison to other companies?
Well, you might
have heard this before in an interview. BIS should pay more attention to the
small players in the community. For example : Sites like Armaholic.com,
ArmedAssault.info and OFPEC.com should get more exclusive information like
screenshots, previews or things like that. This is an essential thing in
keeping your customer satisfied. If there is one thing that I learned from
being a radio-host, and my achievements with DiCE it would be interaction. More
interaction between a developer and community, the more benefit both parties
will have. People tend to forget the good things fast, and remind you of the
bad things. So, by keeping the community more involved, you'll create a better
atmosphere amongst your audience.
Last year I heard of some plans for a
'Mod Meeting' for the community, which never got off the ground. I never found
out why. But I do know that BIS and its Publishers should seriously reconsider
that idea. It might be a good point for your agenda as community manager!
Finally, what plans do you have for
the future? Do you anticipate being around for ArmA 2’s release and being
active in the community? As a gamer and as a community activist, what would
your hopes be for ArmA 2 in terms of what the game brings and how it’s
supported by Bohemia and by the publishers?
Hell yea, I will be
around for ArmA2! (I secretly have hopes of becoming an independent
betatester/community manager before release!)
Jerry has the passport to show where his loyalty belongs!
I don’t think there is any other game that could satisfy me more than the
sequel to ArmA, and its community. As for being a community activist - I’ll
keep bugging BIS and the community with my straight forward opinions, leaked
info and of course the radio-shows. There is nothing more fun than that!
And finally, I do have a request for both the publishers and BIS: Think out of
the box! In this day and age, you should give the community a chance. There are
many serious and trustworthy people around. Give them a chance to make their
games a bigger success then they already are!
I like to thank BIS for the game and you for this unique interview opportunity.
Which leaves me with only one thing to say to the people in the community: Take
care of yourself, and your teammates!
Well that brings an end to the 2nd
community interview, apologies for the big gap between Kegetys’ interview and
Jerry’s; certainly we’ll try to bring more interviews at more regular
intervals. If there is anyone you would especially like to see interviewed
please send me an Email: Placebo@bistudio.com
(be sure to make the subject “community blog” to avoid being eaten along with
the 300+ spam emails I get per day!).