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John Bye
As the Content Director of Planetquake, John Bye (aka Gestalt) has one of the most prominent positions at one of the largest gaming sites on the web.  As the president of The Coven, he's currently working on a commercial Quake / Quake II conversion.  However, this hardcore Quaker started his gaming career with Doom and Doom 2.  Known as Gestalt666, John created mayhem with his webpage, "The Gestalt666 Resource," as well as his own levels and his pet project, called "The Talosian Incident."  What does John Bye, hard at work modifying and reporting news on the latest generation of games, have to say about this oldie-but-goodie?  Read on!
 
Doomworld: When did you first play Doom?
 
John:    Just after the shareware version came out...  My school was shut down for the afternoon because of snow, and several of us stayed behind to deathmatch over the school's LAN. 

Unfortunately at the time I only had a 386 at home, so I didn't get to play much Doom again until a year or so after that...

 
When and how did you first get involved with online Doom stuff?
 
When I went to University I took advantage of their network to get on to the web and use e-mail.  I found ftp.cdrom.com and started downloading add-on levels for Doom, and soon started making my own using DCK. 

My first website was "Spook's Doom Page", a little site I threw together on Tripod.  There wasn't much there, and despite a couple of redesigns and a move to Angelfire it never really went anywhere. 

Then I moved to GeoCities and opened up "The Gestalt666 Resource" and it just took off from there. 

I played every single player Doom level on ftp.cdrom.com (took quite a while!) and ran Top Ten and "Level of the Week" features for Doom and Doom II, then later for Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, Quake and Quake II as well... 

I also set up FAQs for all the games, and released all my own maps through the site. 
It was never big league, but I was getting around 100 hits a day towards the end...

 
What exactly was Cygnus IV?
 
A Doom II megawad, featuring new maps and new music.  I'm still proud of it today - 
some of my best work was in there, and I've had a lot of good feedback about it over the years...
 
Was it completely your own work?
 
Yup, all mine.  :-)
 
How did the Black Star Coven get its start?
 
I enjoyed making Cygnus IV, but it was time to go one better and pull together a group of people to help me make a new megawad. 

So I formed The Black Star Coven and asked some of my favourite level designers to join the group...

 
How long was Myscha involved?
 
Not long unfortunately...  He never did get to make us a level (he had one he was working on, but then lost it in a hard drive crash!). 

I think he was with us for a few months, but all this time he was talking with Epic who 
hired him soon afterwards to work on Unreal. 

Actually, Myscha was the one who came up with the basic storyline and concept for The Talosian Incident.  He said it was something he was talking to some guys about, and I'm almost sure it was the original plot of Unreal he gave us!

 
What other recognizable names were involved with the Black Star Coven?
 
Warren Marshall, who's now working at Legend.  Malcolm Sailor, who's Chord 
series of Doom levels are still classics.  David Shaw (aka Tolwyn) was a member 
for a while as well, though I think he only contributed one piece of music to the 
Talosian Incident soundtrack...
 
Do you still have any correspondence with any of them? 
 
Unfortunately not. I lost contact with Myscha several months ago when Unreal was getting close to release, and I haven't heard from Malcolm in over a year now... 

 Warren Marshall and Patrick Martin are the only two people still in the Coven from the Doom days.

 
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