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Interview with {Harlequin} Tyler
Tyler plays for and runs the UK based clan {The Harlequins} the so called sister clan to [MPUK].

Tell us where did you get your online nickname from, also a bit of history of you and what you do?
I'm a thirty year old MD/Creative Director of a film & television post-production and design company in London. I'm also signed as an independent commercials and promos director to WMA. My company is more of a B2B creative think-tank with the ability to source the ideas and see them through the various stages to completion in-house. The services we offer range from digital film effects and on-screen channel branding to TV commercials spots, music promos, print design and brand consultation. I started the company up ten years ago when I left film school and built it up gradually, eventually getting to the point where I was prepared to relinquish a sizeable chunk of it to outside investment. With the new financial resources, it grew rapidly to where it is now and is sitting comfortably alongside the big names in the game. I also have a sideline in property development, which is something I enjoy immensely and is less stressful.

The name 'Tyler' was a joke nickname given to me by some of my staff at around the time Fight Club came out and for want of a better name, I used that for Battlefield. I liked it because it didn't have any significant other meaning and wasn't a cheesy CS kiddie type name like "DeathBlade".

My general interests include film and animation (surprise, surprise), anything design or style oriented, performance cars and track racing, eating out, the occasional game of squash and travelling. My dislikes are stupidity, racism, ignorance, jealousy, selfishness, bad drivers, smacktard public bf players and telesales people trying to sell me kitchens.
When did you start playing online games and who or what got you in to Battlefield 1942 in the first place?
I'm a newcomer to online PC FPS gaming but I've always loved videogames and have been playing them for nigh on 20 years. The old Atari's, Sinclair QL, Spectrum, IBM PS2, Nintendo Super Famicom, Amiga – right up to Dreamcast and PS2. I still play my NeoGeo Pocket and GameBoy SP on occasion. My first real introduction to online PC gaming was Red Alert 2 which I ran on a laptop at home. The tactical and devious aspects appealed to me: sneaking in SEALS or Tanya behind my opponents base and causing havoc while I created a diversion with other units was immensely satisfying. I was an evil bastard on that game.

As things got more intense at work I decided to take the plunge and invest in a workstation for home, which funnily enough, was able to run some nice games also! Being a gamer at heart, I think Medal of Honour was the first PC FPS which impressed me. The atmosphere and ‘Saving Private Ryan’ type immersion was stunning, especially the Omaha stage. So inevitably, being in that general area of gaming, I stumbled across the BF demo and I was hooked. I played it incessantly right up to the point of release. After installing the full game, I remember the sheer delight of having a whole suite of new maps and vehicles to explore – absolute bliss. Eighteen months on, I still like the game albeit in a different and more fulfilling way due to my involvement with the Battlefield clan scene.
You run the UK based clan {The Harlequins} how did the clan start up and how is it going at present..?
The Harlequins was born from the necessity to rediscover my fun in the game. Although not by design, I had climbed up from the bottom of the ladder in my previous clan to become Clan Leader and was faced with trying to resolve the political and social issues inherent within it. I won't go into details, suffice to say that I busted my balls trying to sort them out only to have constant barriers put up by certain individuals. Once I put my mind to something, I don't give up easily but it reached the point where I had to re-evaluate my priorities as it wasn't fun anymore. If anything it became a third job. So I quit. I had gotten to know everyone's favourite sex kitten, Njoroge from MPUK, through our participation in that years UK team in the CB Nations Cup and asked if I could join his clan. Trouble was, I had some twelve or so people ready to come with me and he couldn't take all of us. So the idea of a semi-sponsered sister clan came up and within a day or two, The Harlequins was born, with NJ setting us up with forums, teamspeak, shared gameserver, Q bot for our irc channel – he essentially provided the foundation from which we could build upon. It all happened very quickly. After that, we had a trickle of ex-clanmates who had recognised what we were trying to achieve and joined us. We haven't looked back since. At this point, I'd like to say a big ''thank you'' & to Njoroge.

The origin of the name came about because I like to approach things a little differently. I didn't want a military or aggressive sounding name and 'The Harlequins' just popped into my head for some reason, no idea why. I guess it sounded mischevious and tongue-in-cheek, a bit ‘ghey’ but with a kind of style to it that people would remember. Thanks to Google, I later discovered a weird tabletop gaming subculture called ‘Warhammer’ where people play with toy soldiers and there was an army called The Harlequins – so I borrowed a couple of ideas from there too.

Right from the start, I wanted to approach The Harlequins as I would any new enterprise and focused heavily on cohesive branding and careful planning, at all levels – something I've not seen much in the BF scene, save for Nbrigade perhaps. I paid attention to the details: we have a strong name, a strong logotype, consistent forum signatures, a good framework and a silly breakdance video. It may seem anal to some people but it works for us and its quite funny hearing various clanmates from all walks of life and ages, talking very professionally about branding and the underlying concepts! I like that. It gives us a sense of belonging to a greater whole in a way. I also love the fact that we're a tight crew and don't take ourselves too seriously, with great guys & girls from different countries who support each other when needed. It creates a friendly and cosmopolitan feel with non of that political ego crap to get in the way. The sheer enthusiasm we all have for the clan also helps. There are always more signups for matches than we need - its actually a problem. We also thrive on having an active presence in the UK and Euro community; interacting and meeting other people from other clans, sharing friendly banter and rivalry. We would bend over backwards (lol) to help another clan if they need it. Among our friends I could name: MPUK, SAS, FTA, KsR, S4L, Dignitas and of course, PR. I'm sure as time goes by, we will include more in that list.

At the moment, we're in what we call Phase #2. We've been training hard, mastered our home map and we've been careful to build our strength up and not get over zealous. Ultimately we're about balance. We're not as serious as Dignitas or Mouz but we like to win and have fun. I think that when you lose sight of the fun aspect, things tend to go wrong.
BF1942 as a game, what are your views on it and where do you personally see it going if anywhere with the new version Battlefield Vietnam out soon?
Well I still like the game but EA's business strategy towards the Battlefield franchise baffles me completely. I don't understand the template. I consider the expansion pack business model of Road To Rome and Secret Weapons a failure by being separate games in their own right and splitting the franchise into insular sub-brands that the majority don't play. As a conflict, WWII offers such a wealth of material and a kind of charm too - yet they've barely scraped the surface. Instead of pouring resources into useless expansions, it would have made more sense to me if they had released a couple of official map packs alongside the patches and then developed large commercial updates to the game like BF1943/4/5. They could even expand on the present maps – El Alamein #2, Berlin #2, Stalingrad #2 with different geography.

With that said, I'm looking forward to Battlefield Vietnam. Perhaps because its something new and BF1942 is getting a bit stale. What worries me is that EA have moved onto BF:V too quickly. What's next? There aren't that many interesting conflicts to explore after Vietnam.
What are your thoughts on the recent 1.6 patch with added ''punkbuster'' support, and is there anything you think could be added to a future version?
I like it. Recently I've become ever more suspicious about players on pubs, even some clans, and its not my style to cry ''cheat!'' usually, but if I'm hiding in a bush on Gazala in the middle of nowhere for two mins and I get strafed by a plane from out of the blue, well, that's got to be saying something. Since the release of 1.6 and especially Punkbuster, I can't help but notice that I'm not being bombed in my tank as often as before. There's a sudden decrease in the clairvoyent abilities of players too. The recent spate of kicking on EAUK servers also goes to show that quite a large proportion of people were cheating – more than I realised. So I'm very happy that the playing field has been leveled to an extent. I am watching the movements of Clanbase with great interest now.

The undocumented tweaks like the reduction in the engineer's spanner don't bother me too much as I believe they've balanced that with weakening the planes against MG fire. I can usually take a plane down in the first pass now. I also really like the new UI. Being able to see your buddies highlighted on the scoreboard and change them dynamically with little fuss is very useful, especially in matches. The vote/kick thing can be annoying on pubs with it constantly popping up and with high ranking players getting booted but I've gotten used to it. Everyone wanted an easier voting system, they've got it and now they're complaining. The vote window has to be a reasonable size so people can see it to vote. Otherwise its pointless. Either way, I sympathise with the developers – the poor bastards can't win.

For future patches, if they are coming, I would like to see a good variety of maps expanding on the current ones. Some for public and others for competition, to freshen up Clanbase and the other leagues and ladders. Some new units would be nice; Hurricanes, Focke Wolfes and more tanks! Always more tanks. And get rid of the Chi-Ha - horrible thing. Maybe make the Tiger less bouncy – it was one of the most stable armoured platforms in WWII yet it bounces about like an East LA Lowrider.
The new MPUK League is looking like a success, what are your views of this league and how do you think it can improve for Season 2, also your recent game vs. [MPUK] what are your after thoughts of this game..?
I love the league and I'm enjoying it immensely. More so in fact than Clanbase. [MPUK]Thory, PR^Doc and [MPUK]Jerky have done a superb job in creating exactly the kind of competitive, friendly environment the UK community needed and I take my hat off to them. And yes, it is a success as it creates the opportunity for everyone to meet and interact with other clans they had no contact with before. I for one, have been very impressed with Team Friction for example and their exemplary sportsmanship and general attitude. And those nutters at Lizzards Inc playing from a LAN café - superb! Its also fun to monitor the big clashes like XDC vs. FTA, MPUK vs. PR, friction vs. H2H - it gives BF a 'big sport' feel. For the Harlequins it has been extremely useful in shaping us for our Clanbase matches as well.

As for Season 2, the only changes I would like would be some user made competition maps. I'm reluctant to comment further until this season has finished as you never know what may happen.

The MPUK game was important to us as we don't challenge each other competitively and it was a test of validation. We often spar with them to pressure test our tactics and develop the fluidity needed on certain maps we're inexperienced on, prior to a match. I don't quite understand why they feel the need to post the results of those sessions (where's our Bulge win then, you bitches) - but I'll put that down to them being glory hunting whores lol. Joking aside, we respect MPUK highly – they're an extremely capable clan and we like them a lot but we've also been working hard from the beginning and getting stronger. And with our recent signups, our air power is sorting itself out nicely too

If I was really honest, I didn't enjoy the win particularly. Its kind of like beating your father at chess – its an empty victory. I've never felt anything remotely competitive towards them although I enjoyed the banter. I think it was hard (for a couple of them) to lose as they're a driven bunch who are used to winning and we've always been the younger, less experienced little brother. Anyway, a bit of sibling rivalry is a healthy and necessary thing occasionally!
What are your thoughts of the UK BF1942 community as it is now, and which other UK clan do you feel is giving us Brits a good reputation?
Thanks to the MPUKL, the UK BF community is picking up; as I mentioned earlier, we now have a central forum. Clans are even writing match reports for the league, which I think is great. There's no doubt in my mind that more will join next season, helping it to develop further and offering a more varied level of competition.

In terms of giving us Brits a good reputation, I wouldn't like to pick out one clan in particular. Instead I'll mention a few: MPUK, PR and KsR. Those three have all developed a healthy respect from the European scene for possessing maturity, lethal ability and fairness towards the game. They should be proud of that. Multiplay UK's I-Series LANS are of key importance. They consolidate the relationships created online between clanmates and between clans and act as a shot in the arm for the community. I know that many UK clans have more members going to i19 in March, which can only be a good thing. Although personally, its not really my cup of tea.
Where do you see yourself and {The Harlequins} in say six months time from now?
Good question and a difficult one to answer. We're looking to get fully sponsered – which is Phase #3 and maintaining our current balance. We're developing a strong brand so I'm hoping that will attract some association with it from interested commercial parties. If Battlefield Vietnam delivers then we will most certainly migrate over to it - its hard to tell at this stage. It will certainly be an interesting challenge rebalancing a squad for BF:V that is ultimately balanced for BF1942. We also have a big community project in the works at the moment, so that should be in full swing by that time.

Aside from The Harlequins, personally, six months from now, I'd like to be on holiday on a 55ft yacht in the Seychelles drinking chilled vodka martinis and watching nubile young ladies ''bouncing'' around the beach in front of me. With a laptop. And a wireless internet connection so I can keep an eye on things

If not, I'll settle for PR^Doc in a leopard skin bikini bouncing about instead. He'll have to get a ''back, sac and crack'' done first though.



This interview was published on the 07 Feb 2004 by HoriZon.


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