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Black Wolf Interviews Karajorma about his role in the Mind Games Campaign

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Black Wolf:
Black Wolf – Hi Karajorma - How are you?

Karajorma - I'm fine

BW – We have something of a small tradition among the interviewers, to start off each interview with a few details about the interviewee. Could you tell us a little about yourself, your name, occupation, place of residence, etc?

KJ - Well my real name is Hassan. I was born and raised is London, England. At the moment I'm looking for a job in programming, but I did a degree in chemistry rather than computing and then switched when I got bored of chem..

BW - You’re probably best known on HLP for your work on the Mind Games campaign – can you tell us a little about what you do there?

KJ - I joined MG when Unknown Target asked for a FREDder to do a single mission for him. The topic went unanswered for a while and finally I agreed to do a mission, but I liked the plotline so I stayed. Now I'm the joint lead with Geezer. I FRED for MG and have done one mod for it already, and I was heavily involved in the mission design for the campaign.

BW - What about Mind Games most famous aspect - it's unique and most certainly unusual storyline - did you have much influence on that?

KJ - That was mostly the work of Geezer. He had the Starborn all down before I joined. What I did help with though was turning the plotline into missions. While we had main theme down when I joined, we didn't have a clear direction for the story to go. Basically what happened was that myself, geezer and Miburo (Lady Rose on VWBB) would meet on IRC and try to hammer out a direction for the plotline. I'd like to think we've got quite a few twists ready for the players. But the main theme was Geezer's work based on ideas from Unknown Target.

Although I've often wished I could take credit for it :D

BW - Well, the most twisted aspect for me has to be the Starborn - as I understand it, they've basically been behind every major conflict that the various forms of "Cold Life", including the Terrans and Vasudans, have ever had - which means they were present in FS1, Silent Threat and FS2. How will their influence differ in Mindgames? Will we be able to actually see or at least perceive their intervention directly?

KJ - Well they aren't behind every conflict. Humans and Vasudans are more than capable of causing their own problems. But yes they are the cause of a lot of misery. Mindgames was conceived in a way that it would have many levels. You can play the game as a straight forward campaign and ignore the effects of the Starborn. It should make perfect sense why the bad guys are doing everything they do. But if you step up one level you can see the influence of the Starborn on most actions. The way we picture it at the moment, you will know at most points what the Starborn are trying to achieve as a player. Your character of course doesn't have any clue about the existence of the Starborn. As for what the Starborn were upto during FS2...well the background page of the site should give some clues.

BW - I can imagine that must have been difficult to FRED, or at least to conceptualize during the mission design phase - I wont try to pry into any specific instances, but were there any major challenges to making this kind of mission? I'd imagine the line between over emphasizing the Starborn and making them too subtle must have been a fine one.

KJ - Yes. It can be very hard to keep the actions of the Starborn subtle enough. The major challenge at the moment is finding a way to make the Starborn’s thoughts accessible to the player. We want them to know why the Starborn are up to something but without giving away twists in the plot. The big problem with that is trying to find a way around limitations in the FS engine to do it - After all before FS2_open you were limited to one font and what you can do with voice acting.

BW - The Starborn aren't the only things that set Mind Games apart from other campaigns that are around the place at the moment - it also differs in setting, being set entirely in Post Great War Sol - What kind of effect has this had on the mission design process?

KJ - Well it has meant a lot of hard work for one thing! :D If you look at FS2 it is set up for any mod to follow on from the original storyline. For a campaign set in Sol we have to make sure we remove as many traces of anything from after the jump node collapsed. That means new ships obviously but it also means new icons because most of the FS2 ones involve ships from the FS2 era. But it goes deeper than that. Post FS1 Sol is a different place from the GTVA. The GTVA was a little worried about the return of the Shivans but thought it possible they might have got them all. The UTS (United Terran System - the side the player is fighting for) on the other hand had no idea if the Shivans were beaten. For all they knew the Shivans had wiped everyone else out and they were all that was left of the human race. That means that Sol has developed a more defensive, less tolerant view of things than the GTVA did.

You'll see that sort of thing make an appearance in the missions themselves. You'll also see that the UTS took a different view to protecting themselves to the GTVA While the GTVA decided to build a big ship capable of protecting themselves from anything the Shivans had, the UTS went down a different path.

BW – Will Mindgames be addressing the age old (well, VBB old) question of “Why didn’t the GTVA and Sol use radio waves to contact each other via Alpha Cenauri?”

KJ - That idea is one of the most important questions that people have. We may be able to work it into the storyline but we'll have to see if we can fit it in without disrupting the flow to give an answer that everyone in Sol would know. We have a rule in MG that we won't explain anything that is standard knowledge if we can help it. You'll see another example of this rule in the later missions.

BW - What about the other major fan question regarding Sol - the Lucifer Debris. Will we be seeing SSLs on Earth Ships in Mindgames, or any other sorts of Shivan technology?

KJ - I think I'll have to remain very tight lipped on that topic :D

But I will say that the topic was definitely discussed.

BW – I was afraid you might say something like that :). Well, let’s try something a bit less invasive. Has the setting within the Sol system made for drab mission backgrounds? After all, nobody’s ever seen Capella or Vega from the inside, so Volition could put whatever nebulae and fancy graphics they wanted in the background. However, everybody knows what to expect from Sol… or do we?

KJ – Yes that was a small problem at first. Everyone knows what the solar system looks like. But the thing is we don't know it that well. Okay Mars might be a bit drab but Earth itself is beautiful, Saturn too. The UTS has tended to cluster its bases around the planets or their moons so we should be seeing a few beautiful backdrops amongst the more standard starry ones. Hopefully we can bring some of that beauty to MG

BW – Well, to leave Mind Games unusual setting for the moment, I’d like to ask a few questions about the mods you’re using. Obviously 30 years is a long time, and the UTS will have developed technologically in different ways to the GTVA – can you give us some idea of what kinds of mods we’ll be seeing in Mind Games? Will it include pre made mods, or be a fully unique batch?

KJ - We'll be using a mix of pre-made and unique mods. The majority of Terran and Vasudan craft will be pre-made. I'm working hard on making a few unique mods of my own but we weren't able to attract a modder last time we tried and I'm quite new to the field. That said MG will have several mods that have to be new. When it comes to weapons we are hoping to replace the standard FS2 set with completely new ones since again we can't use the FS2 updates of any weapon

BW - The Mind Games progress page puts FREDding at 40% complete (which from the 20 mission projected total on the Features page makes 8 complete missions) and mods at 30%. How accurate are these figures?

KJ - Well we have lots of missions halfway done rather than half of the missions being complete. I've always been the sort to get a mission 90% complete and then move on to the next one. I do the final polishing later when we're doing the beta testing.

As for the mods there are several that we need which were fairly simple. The other 70% will probably take a little longer than the first 30% unfortunately.

BW - Is Mind Games likely to be Voice Acted at this stage?

KJ - At the moment there are no plans for voice acting. We are concentrating on getting the campaign finished first. I'm a big fan of voice acting in campaigns though, though so that may change when we get nearer to completing the project.

BW - Well, I guess we've covered everything but the questions Players want to know, but Staffers don’t what to answer. When will Mind Games, or perhaps some kind of demo, get released?

KJ - We'll use TBP's phrase for this one. When it's ready :D We are working on a demo at the moment, probably just a mission and very little in the way of new mods though (We'll stick to pre-made ones for the demo).

BW – Will this be a unique demo, or one made up of missions from the first part of the campaign?

KJ - The current plan is to cover Hiller's defection to the OVP in the demo. It's an important part of the story, and it would fit nicely into a one or two part mission.

BW - Oh, that reminds me. Reading over the Mind Games summary page, I realized there was one thing that wasn’t made clear - will the player be Terran, or Vasudan?

KJ - The player will be Terran. The Vasudans are viewed pretty much as the enemy by the time of MG. Again. This should be interesting for most of us since we are used to the Vasudans being allies in FS2

BW - We're also used to Sobeks, Hecates and Beam Cannons :) - Whatever Mind Games ultimately ends up as, I think some degree of culture shock is to be expected. Now, to move onto some less campaign oriented ground, it would have been hard to miss the activity and controversy created by Venom’s “Is FS2 Dead” thread. It’s spawned suggestions of mass advertising, community projects, even attempts at coverage in PC magazines. Do you think FS2 is a dying game? What lifespan would you give it?

KJ - Well I'm glad that it has spurred activity. I saw a thread on VWBB recently where a newbie to the community has managed to write 4 missions and make himself a webpage in little under a week. That sort of thing tends not to happen with a dead game.
I've also been in other communities where people say "We'll be dead within a year" only to see the community is still there 4,5 or even more years later.
FS2 is the best space sim bar none in my opinion. If something better came along I might see the community being in trouble but as long as we work hard I can't see that happening for a long while.

That said Venom's topic has created a lot of activity. I've probably spent more time on FS2 in the last week than I have in the whole of the month before. Plus I've been challenged by that thread on VWBB. :D I want to see if I can get into the state where I'm doing at least a mission a week.
karajorma: I could do that when I first started FREDding

BW - Well, increased activity from existing community members has got to be a step in the right direction. What have you been playing lately on FS2? The Main Volition campaign or some of the more recently released mods?

KJ - Well I've been having computer problems recently (who doesn't get gremlins from time to time) so I haven't been playing anything that needs a joystick. Before the problems appeared I was playing TBP R2 a lot as I'm a big babylon 5 fan. Before that I was playing Derelict, as strangely enough I must be the only community member to have not played it all the way though. I always get a crash or problems which force me to reinstall before I can finish that campaign.

BW - And what about the future? Assuming you fix your problems, are there any mods you're looking forward to in particular (apart from Mind Games that is :))

KJ - Well obviously TBP R2.1 because  I won't be happy until I can fly a Starfury around B5 itself. I have yet to play LM3 which is something that annoys me because I only hear good things about it, so that one is next on the list. Apart from that I'm also eagerly awaiting Reci., especially since I played COW. To those of course I must add the standard answers (BWO, Inferno etc) but they've kept me waiting a little too long. I'll get them the second they come out but I won't get excited until then :)

BW - Well, as in the opening, we have a closing tradition - do you have anything to add, any pearls of wisdom to impart to the Freespace community of HLP and beyond?

KJ - Hmmm. If there is one thing I try to do on HLP  (and the other 2 main FS2 boards for that matter) it's to try to help people. I wrote the FAQ to help solve problems and I wrote the turreting tutorial because I went through hell trying to get them to work the first time. So if there is one thing I would say we could do more often it is to take a little more time out to help everyone with their problems. We don't want to discourage someone who would later have turned out a quality campaign or mod by not helping them more.

BW - And that is definitely some good advice :). Thanks for the Interview Karajorma - you've been great.

Total Interview Time – 2 Hours

Mindgames is still looking for modders to populate the Solar system of 2365, as well s a few more FREDders. If you wanna be a part of this campaign, head to the forum and apply. I know for a fact you'll be welcome.

Knight Templar:
*is even more aroused by MG*

nice interview, and MG sounds like a great campaign.

i wish i could help with the campaign,but the only thing imight be able to do is write briefings and stuff, but voice acting wouild be hard, since i got a POS microphone, and i tried FREDding,it was terrible, and i also tried Truespace, and i had nightmares for a couple of nights.

Black Wolf:

--- Quote ---Originally posted by kasperl
nice interview, and MG sounds like a great campaign.

i wish i could help with the campaign,but the only thing imight be able to do is write briefings and stuff, but voice acting wouild be hard, since i got a POS microphone, and i tried FREDding,it was terrible, and i also tried Truespace, and i had nightmares for a couple of nights.
--- End quote ---

Just out of curiosity, have you done the FRED2 walkthrough? If you're serious about wanting to FRED, then that's all you really need to get started.

well, i started eith the walkthrough, but by the time i finally got a ship in the mission my FRED went down, taking my pc with it. after rebooting, io got a bit further, and the it went down again.

and now, i'm to busy with other stuff to learn FRED. i will do it, once i get the time, but that might take some more time.


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