Interview with a RealRTCW Developer


SapphireNation loves PC Game modding! Today we have a special article, an interview with one of the developers behind the popular Return to Castle Wolfenstein overhaul mod – RealRTCW!

Comments from the interviewee were edited for grammar only, as per his request.

How about you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your project?

WolfETPlayer : The name is WolfETPlayer. The project I was maintaining for the past 5 years is called RealRTCW. It's basically an overhaul mod which also aims to be a fan made remaster of Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

I know you recently deployed a pretty substantial update for the mod. Any spoilers on what may be coming next for RealRTCW?

WolfETPlayer: Right now, I'm not working on the core mod. I'm helping out other RTCW modders to buildtheir mods using RealRTCW as a basis. Right now, we have an upcoming major release: Castle Gothicstein (possible Halloween event), Enemy Territory: Single Player and The Victors. All of these mods will be released on both the Steam (achievements included) and ModDB platforms. Other than that, I have nothing planned. But updates were always a spontaneous thing for me. I update the mod when I feel like it.

RealRTCW’s Steam Launch trailer

Launching the mod on Steam is a major milestone for sure. Anything to share on the process for other modders trying to get on Steam?

WolfETPlayer : The process of getting your mod on Steam heavily depends on the game itself as well as the publisher’s policy towards mods. Since Bethesda was always loyal to mod creators - it was pretty easy for RealRTCW. You just need the proper game company contact and find someone from the publisher’s staff who can help with processing your request. It can be really hard, because in most cases your request will just be ignored.

If you were to get the team, money, and permission to do a ground up remake of RTCW on a brand-new engine how would you handle it?

WolfETPlayer: The dream team for my remake would be Treyarch, Raven Software and Splash Damage. First two studios could easily create an amazing single player campaign. Besides there are still a lot of guys from OG RTCW team working at Treyarch.  Guys from Splash Damage can handle multiplayer and extend the ideas of Enemy Territory, Brink and Quake Wars. As for the engine - I would take something similar to the old ID Tech engines - either COD engine or Source.

Hmm interesting. Why go for such old engines rather than something like UE5 or id Tech 7 for example? At least for UE5 we know it has a powerful SDK so modding can technically exist for it (if the developer so intends).

WolfETPlayer:  Well, COD engine received massive facelift with MW2019 release. I wouldn't call it old by any standards. In my opinion even Black Ops 3 SDK, which I worked with may be enough for a proper remake. COD engine was originally derived from the Return to Castle Wolfenstein version of the Quake 3 engine after all. I just think that it would be easier to create a proper RTCW feeling using it.

What are your thoughts on the current direction the series has taken? The MachineGames series, TNC and Youngblood especially?

WolfETPlayer: New Order was decent. Old Blood had cute little RTCW nods, but it was too short and flawed in terms of gameplay and level design. Never finished TNC and Youngblood. I wish the series returned to RTCW/Wolfenstein 2009 ideas. Those games had such a great adventure movie feeling. Something similar to Indiana Jones franchise and old war movies like "Where Eagles Dare".

Any ideas about making a Vulkan-RT / DXR port of RealRTCW? Ray Tracing can improve game visuals a lot as we can see in Quake 2 RTX or Serious Sam DXR.

WolfETPlayer:  I'm not that good at massive engine modifications. To be honest we don't have many folks in our community capable of these. There was a Berserker (author of Quake2Bers engine) who was working at the Quake3Berserker and RTCWBerserker projects. It was basically a massive engine upgrade with dynamic shadows, proper lighting, bump mapping support, etc. At some point he just abandoned it and switched to Quake 1, or at least so I heard. But hey, at least he helped me out with porting some minor effects like rain and snow to RealRTCW.

Time Gate mod for RealRTCW/RTCW

Yeah, such a massive change is a tall order for sure. Still, it is nice you guys aren’t opposed to the idea, provided someone could help. As a modder, what was your approach when handling RealRTCW? What guided your artistic vision for the mod so to say?

WolfETPlayer:  Initially RealRTCW was just a private skin pack I made for myself to replay RTCW from time to time. At some point I decided to mess with the source code and unite widescreen patch and new weapons patch into one entity. To my surprise it worked. After that I messed with various engine and AI stuff just to made a game more challenging for myself (I was bored with vanilla). So that was RealRTCW 1.0. It was just a hardcore version of RTCW with widescreen support and MP44 as a new weapon. I think with 3.0 update and followed by the Steam release, the project changed it's direction and became a proper community remaster. I got rid of the most unbalanced changes I made just for fun in early versions and tried to create something visually and audibly holistic.

Pharaoh’s curse mod for RealRTCW/RTCW

What was the biggest challenge during development?

WolfETPlayer: I guess the initial learning curve in modifying models, maps and code was the biggest challenges I encountered. There are a few tutorials and even fewer places you can ask around for help. So, you have to learn many things via the "poking it with a stick to see what happens" method.

Do you recommend your mod to new players of RTCW or should they stick to the original with a bugfix/resolution fix mod?

WolfETPlayer: I'd say RealRTCW is extremely good for the second playthrough just to appreciate it even more. There is also Vanilla Plus module we made for RealRTCW. It basically reverts most of the gameplay changes, removes new models and sounds but keeps the improved engine and graphics features intact. So that could be good for new players.

Question: How do you feel about the current state of modding?

WolfETPlayer: It's very sad that the most game companies nowadays choose not to release source code or at least some kind of SDK for their games. Modding was never easy, but now when the folks at Take-Two are even taking legal actions against GTA modders... It's just a very bizarre attempt to destroy the mod scene just to sell their own cheap remasters. On the other hand, modding is far from being dead. Bethesda's games, Mount and Blade, C&C, Doom communities are still producing amazing stuff. Damn, there is even Modern Warfare 2 (2009) mod scene. There is literally no SDK and even dev console in this game. But modders still creating game modes, maps and missions for it. Because of that, I have faith.

Any tips you'd share to any prospecting modders in general? Especially for ones that want to dabble in remastering old classics like RTCW or perhaps even ones making brand new campaigns or games.

WolfETPlayer: The most important thing in modding is to pick the right game to work with. You must really like (or lovingly hate) the game you are going to mod. If you are not interested in the object of your modding efforts - it is probably not going to work. Passion is key here.

With this we conclude our interview with WolfETPlayer. RealRTCW is available now on Mod DB and Steam and as a fan of the series, I can personally vouch for its quality. It’s a great mod!

The articles content, opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in SAPPHIRE NATION are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent official policy or position of SAPPHIRE Technology.


Alexander Yordanov
My name is Alex and I am a 24-year-old PC Gamer from Sofia, Bulgaria. Video games have been my go-to hobby for as long as I can remember. I started with good old DOOM and Warcraft 1 and also had a Terminator console. In time my often outdated hardware has made me read up Tech Guides and try to understand what goes within a game as well as how to appreciate it or understand it better.