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Interview with Drunken F00l

Tony "Drunken F00l" Paloma is a small celebrity in the Team Fortress 2 community. He created the SourceOP plug-in as well as the website TF2items.com. In July 2011, news spead about him being hired by Valve Software. Tony "azureguy" S. interviewed him on that matter.


azureguy: First things first: How did you start your career? I know that you created SourceOP, a server plug-in for Source game servers. Did you work on something before Half-Life 2 came out?

also: How did you get interested into programming? Was it a game as well, or was it something else?

Drunken F00l: I got into programming at a young age. When I was about eight-years-old I'd borrow BASIC (the programming language) books from the library and try out examples from it. Later on, perhaps around 5th or 6th grade, I was writing simple games in Visual Basic. Things like virtual pets and crappy 2D helicopter bomber games.

The summer before high-school, I started mucking around with C++ and, through a friend (who’s now the best man in my wedding!), discovered Half-Life and TFC. Not long after, I found the Half-Life SDK and various mods and plugins built off of it. I started toying around with existing things, like botman's HPB bot to see what I could make it do. I started out simple. I remember it had a waypoint editor that would draw beams to indicate where the waypoints were. I thought these beams were pretty cool, so I tried to see if I could make a console command to create the beams. I did, and this command eventually ended up as an admin command in AdminOP, my first plugin. I stuck with this for a while and had some spinoff plugins that were solely for some of the more popular functions in the larger AdminOP plugin.

When Half-Life 2 came out, naturally I wanted to move all this work to the Source engine, and so I started working on SourceOP. I finally got around to releasing something publicly in August 2005. It even had the remote admin tool included which is still my favorite feature and probably the thing that has been updated the most since then. I was mostly just working on SourceOP until TF2 when I did other side projects including TF2Items.com. Up until recently I was probably working on them about equally, but now I’ve slowed it down a bit waiting to start at Valve. I’ve still done some new things, though, like the item tracking feature.

azureguy: You created TF2items.com, one of the earliest (if not the first) website offering TF2 players an overview of their backpack. What was your motivation to make the website? And what do you think of the other websites out there who offer TF2 player-related stuff as well?

Drunken F00l: Ya, TF2Items.com was the first. The motivation came from the fact that I realized I could get other players’ backpack data from the Steam APIs. I figured this would probably interest other people as well, so I began working on a website to display it. I knew close to nothing about CSS or JS, so my friend Nephyrin, a web developer, was really helpful with that. I think the other community sites are great. I’m actually really surprised with how active the community is. My favorites are probably TF2Lobby and TF2Crafting.info.

azureguy: About your new job at Valve: How did all of this happen? Did they just send you an offering, or did something else happened?

Drunken F00l: I was on an email thread with somebody at Valve when the opportunity came up for me to send my résumé, so I did. A couple days later, I was invited for a lunch interview. That went well, so we did the full interview thing a few days after where I was offered the job afterwards.

azureguy: What are you doing at there exactly? Have you been assigned to any team inside Valve?

Drunken F00l: Valve employees have a lot of freedom, but I’ll be working on TF2 to start.

azureguy: Your statement on the SourceOP forums says that you'll stop working on it and that everything else is being handled by your partner Nephyrin - fair enough, but do you still plan to play Team Fortress 2 and other games sometimes?

Drunken F00l: Heck ya, I’ll still play! And I’ll be getting paid to contribute! Score.

azureguy: Last but not least, why did you choose the name "Drunken F00l" as username? Just a random choice or is there a reason behind it?

Drunken F00l: We talked about this in KritzKast episode 55. Basically, I was a dumb high schooler who needed a new online persona and thought the name sounded cool.

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