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0rpheus' Long Awaited Interview.

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Stormkeeper: Tonight we have Orpheus. Who is a member of some renown, having working on the Babylon Project, among other things that he's worked on.

0rph3us: Hi

Stormkeeper: So Orpheus. What're you up to these days?

0rph3us: Apart from the stuff that makes up my non-virtual life... Right now I'm sitting on the last of the mission files for the "Shard Of Infinity"-Demo.

Stormkeeper: I'm sure that's not all you're working on.

0rph3us: But I'm also working on the campaign "The Lost Generation" and on concepts for the campaigns "Osiris", "Words Of The Prophet" and "Workings Of The Warp".

Stormkeeper: Wow. That's a lot of projects.

0rph3us: Yes ...

Stormkeeper: Why not explain what each of them are about?

0rph3us: But I like it that way

Stormkeeper: Briefly, of course.

0rph3us: Alright ... "Shard Of Infinity" (or SoI) is set in year 2338 of the FS/FS2 universe - It’s a campaign about the ups and downs of the reconstruction era, the search for hope, the search for meaning and the search for a greatness long past....

Stormkeeper: Mmm. And Lost Generation?

0rph3us: "The Lost Generation" is a prelude to "Workings Of The Warp". It is the story of two pilots (one of the NTF and one of the GTVA); they will never actually meet but witness the events of FS2 (from before the end of the NTF rebellion until the battle at Capella) in a different light. I will introduce some points into the universe which are crucial to WotW.

Stormkeeper: So essentially the same campaign, from two different points of view?

0rph3us: Not exactly. While Sam (the NTF pilot) will be fighting the long way to Gamma Draconis and into the Nebula together with the Iceni.  Jarin (the Vasudan GTVA pilot) will see things that are kept behind the scenes in the nebula

Stormkeeper: It runs at the same time as the FS2 campaign right?

0rph3us: Yes.

Stormkeeper: So will we be able to see events that occurred in FS2 in the background?

0rph3us: Some of them.... for example one of the cut scenes in the GTVA storyline is called "Kappa's Flight".

Stormkeeper: Interesting... And Workings of the Warp?

0rph3us: now "Workings of the Warp" is maybe my greatest project ... to sum of all other maybe.... it is set 18 months after Capella - the destruction of the Capella Star has distorted subspace everywhere in GTVA space ... and while the jump nodes are still stable there is a lot of things not quite going right - and there will be coming of the Constructors ... and of course the Shivans will return ;)

Stormkeeper: Sounds like there could be trouble. Will the constructors be on their side, or no one's?

0rph3us: the Constructors will not be able to choose sides ... But let it be said that both Shivans and GTVA have reasons to see them stopped.

Stormkeeper: Hmmmm. What about Osiris?

0rph3us: "Osiris" will be my return to what brought me back to FREDing years ago - The Babylon Project..

Stormkeeper: Oh?  Details?

0rph3us: well ... I will give away as much as it will be (again) told from different viewpoints, that it will be set in a period from 2248 to 2261 of the Babylon 5 universe and those who check the nameplate-textures for the EA Nova-destroyer might just figure out what namesake of the campaign is, or they will figure out by reading that last line. ;) I might add that the storyline will not span all 13 years completely and be cantered more like 2259 and 2260.

Stormkeeper: Well, I certainly can't, but I'm sure there are those who can. And the Words of the Prophet? Not relate to Kane, is it?

0rph3us: No ... although the character of Kane had some impact on the character of the Prophet in that campaign. Though the Prophet will not die and suddenly come back from the dead.

Stormkeeper: Heh. Well, it was worth a shot. So he'll stay dead. Is it an FS2 campaign?

0rph3us: Sort of - Great War era. I have been planning this campaign a long time ago... a Hammer of Light-campaign ... No one ever did that before but real kick-off came when I helped out TrashMan with "Flames of War: Coming of the Storm". (I did do some criticism on his storyline and background when the campaign was in development)

Stormkeeper: Oh. So the Prophet refers to a HOL prophet?

0rph3us: Yes. I do have loading screen for the missions finished and around here somewhere ... [img=]http://Link[/img]
Stormkeeper: Whoa. Nice font. That's the loading screen, is it?

0rph3us: Yes - before every mission you will see this instead of the GTA-logo (or the GTVA-logo)I still have to work on other interface pieces though.

Stormkeeper: So how long will the campaigns run on average?

0rph3us: WotP? .... Since I have to re-do a lot of the exposition/beginning I cannot say for sure
Stormkeeper: Well, what about the other campaigns?

0rph3us: SoI has a lot of long missions - lots of talk, space battles (aka fleet brawls) and "stuff"  ... but all of the 32 or so missions could be done in say 3-4 hours. TLG is hard to say... cause I lost track on how long some of the missions are... but again that will be 35-40 missions (depends on how tightly I want to pack story into missions) might full played out be 3-4 hours (not counting re-playing for better results in Red Alert-missions or dying). WotW has no definite number of missions in total - so no time estimate. Same goes for Osiris.

Stormkeeper: Hmm. So 30 missions on average are how long they are?

0rph3us: Yes.

Stormkeeper: 30 missions seems to be an average for campaigns. Is that a good number to aim for when making your own campaign?

0rph3us: That depends.... how much story to you have to cover?

Stormkeeper: If you're a first timer?

0rph3us: Well ... As a first timer I would rather not aim for long campaigns ... but I speak of experience

Stormkeeper: So 7 missions is a good start for a newbie?

0rph3us: The problem is not the number of missions actually... the problem is the time you spend on working on a single mission

Stormkeeper: What do you mean?

0rph3us: If you spend 20 hours on making a single mission work and then see you still have 29 ahead of you... that can turn down your motivation

HerraTohtori: Never having FREDed anything but skybox tests... I would guess for a beginning mission designer it would be better to start with individual missions and get feedback from them... rather than spend several months making a campaign, making categorically same mistakes in mission design :P

0rph3us: And staying motivated is all that matters when FREDing and writing campaigns

Stormkeeper: Hmmm. So what steps do you take when FREDing?

0rph3us: First of all there are the pre-FREDing preparations .... thinking about what things should looks like, about how the dialogue should sound like and what music should play in the background  then I go and place the player wing and all mission critical ships I can think of at the moment and move them into position, name them and lay down the basics of their movement with waypoints or initial orders (well not for the player wing of course)

0rph3us: Next step is to work with the event editor ... 1st pre-sets (all that should be from the beginning of the mission like waypoint speeds or randomized subsystem and hull values) ... 2nd course-events (events that change the initial state of the mission, e.g. new orders for mission critical ships).

Stormkeeper: Do you plan it all out before hand on paper?

0rph3us: I plan little of it on paper ... most of it comes to me once I have the theme in mind set just right ... it is quite organic.

0rph3us: But with long campaigns it always helps to have a timeline of sorts. Events goes a lot steps longer then that above.... I do most of the mission dialogue then after that comes balancing.... and that often the most time consuming part

Stormkeeper: How long can it take?

0rph3us: Because you do have to balance a lot more than balancing means in the traditional sense ... I said before I can spend 20 hours on a mission ... 10 hours of that make up the traditional balancing which is making sure that both sides have enough forces and firepower to make the mission play out right

Stormkeeper: Whoa. Serious business.

0rph3us: But if you do it right you win the player.

Stormkeeper: If not?

HerraTohtori: Task overload or Battle of Endor?

Stormkeeper: Point.

0rph3us: Then your story might be epic ... your missions might be well FREDed ... but the players will jump ship cause it is too difficult or too easy for them. Again motivation is the key

Stormkeeper: Motivation is always important, isn't it?

0rph3us: Yeah ... you have to give someone a reason to invest their time otherwise ... there are lot of choices to spend your time - and most don't include dealing with my story-telling

Stormkeeper: So how do you hold a person's interest?

0rph3us: Yes, how do I? Most of all, you have to give a player something to see ... something that is new and not quite a definitive category yet. So .... rounding up über-ships in battle might look great but surely you have seen that before

Stormkeeper: Mmhmm, even in the normal campaign.

0rph3us: I wish you knew one of the most crucial missions in SoI "The No-God".

Stormkeeper: What about it?

HerraTohtori: Don't spoil it!

0rph3us: It is an example of giving players something to see .... something awe-inspiring and yet familiar

HerraTohtori: Does it bear any relation to the Not Derek Smart?

Stormkeeper: I hope not.

0rph3us: No.

Stormkeeper: So would you count a ship warping in and ramming an enemy ship to save the escort as new and not quite definitive?

0rph3us: Hmmm.... yes and no. I've not seen it before and there is something to it - but there is also something that smells of "plothole" to it. I really have to be good in creating an atmosphere where this makes sense.

HerraTohtori: If my opinion matters, collisions of cap ships in FS2 are heavily problematic, as demonstrated by the NTD Repulse.

0rph3us: Sorry ... I meant to say: you really have to be good in creating an atmosphere where this makes sense. A technicality; one I know too well.

Stormkeeper: But then it’s always the little things that count, right?

0rph3us: Define "little things"...

Stormkeeper: Like, why would a post-Great War ship be in a Great War era campaign ... Small small things.

0rph3us: yes ... and I always think of them - but not when I start. If I might quote my dev-blog from "Dev-Blog, February 26th: Tech-descriptions for Shivan craft.
SF Aeshema: When the Shivans returned to wage war against the Ancients in 2338 they started to field new interesting designs and technologies, one among those is the new heavy fighter class designated Aeshema. The Aeshema appears to be nearly identically with the SF Basilisk in many respects but is considerably smaller in size and mass what makes it the primary heavy fighter to be deployed from the Moloch carrier."

I did make a reasonable explanation for the Aeshema to appear in SoI (long time before the Second Shivan War and its actual cannon-appearance), but I really did not think of one when I first placed Aeshema in a mission. Rounding up a story is very important but not part of what you do directly. In my eyes I don't have to make everything come full circle from the beginning as long as I can still make it. That's why I take more time then the actual FREDing time to make a campaign; you have to adjust a lot of thing (small things) here and there to put the pieces together but you can't (as I see it) do so from the start because while you are working on a mission, you are as well changing the idea you started with.

Stormkeeper:  Mmm. Any advice for newbies who are just beginning to FRED?

0rph3us: First of all, start small and don't go over your head. I know I did not and I had a lot of problems that made me quit FREDing ten years ago for the first time.

Second, always remember that there is more than one way to an end.

Third, consider the many meanings of the last line ;)

Last,  never try to force inspiration.

Stormkeeper: Sound advice if I've ever heard it. Well, floor is open to Q&A, now. Have questions, do shoot.

HerraTohtori: ok!

Stormkeeper: While I shall scoot off for a while for a shower.

HerraTohtori: If you feel like answering... where do you live, what's your occupation and age?

0rph3us: Not into all detail but yes. I live near the city of Kiel at the Baltic sea coast of Germany, I am studying Chemistry at the Christian-Albrecht’s University in Kiel and I am (just) 21.

HerraTohtori: Cool. Wasn't expecting any more explicit answers. Well then, how and when did you find FreeSpace and FSO?

0rph3us: I got FreeSpace almost ... Heck that's almost 11 years ago after a friend of mine showed it to me .... I got FreeSpace 2 shortly after it was released (I skipped Silent Threat)....

When Babylon 5 was released on DVD I had flash of nostalgia and an old version of TBP on a CD  - I went out to check if there was something new to it and first arrived at HLP back then.

HerraTohtori: almost the same as me then, I too discovered FSOpen via TBP. What gave you the incentive to first start modding and creating things yourself?

0rph3us: I always been someone who is never alone when accompanied by his own imagination and the figures that emerge from it so it came natural to me that I wrote once I could hold a pen ... although at first nothing good came of it.

HerraTohtori: like all things

0rph3us: And then I was given tools like FRED ... and you can see where this is going.

HerraTohtori: Yeah :) What about other tools? Do you concentrate on writing and FREDing or do you do other modding stuff as well like tabling, modelling/converting, texturing, effects, backgrounds, scripting or coding?

0rph3us: I wish I could concentrate on FREDing and writing along.... but I do also some stuff along the road like tabling and interface art...

HerraTohtori: Oh yeah you posted that HOL loading screen earlier. Did I see GIMP's mosaic filter used on it?

Stormkeeper: I love tabling. Very much. Especially writing Tech Descriptions that no one ever reads. :(

HerraTohtori: I do read them, when I start a new mod.

Stormkeeper: Brings me new hope!

0rph3us: Not GIMP... I had a copy of Photoshop at that time.

HerraTohtori: I use almost exclusively GIMP for image editing, it's really quite powerful but the user interface is quite frankly pants but never mind that now.

0rph3us: Good

HerraTohtori: Forward the light brigade and so forth: You mentioned the "Constructors" earlier. If you're willing to disseminate this detail, are they an organic (naturally evolved) species that constructs, or are they some sort of von Neumann machines of sorts (like in 2001 Space Odyssey)?

0rph3us: You see my considerations taking some time.... A Von Neumann machine is very close to what the constructors are I guess.

HerraTohtori: Ok. Now a tricky question; what do you consider your best successes in the past? For added difficulty... let's say name three :)

0rph3us: Now you killed my ironic comeback

HerraTohtori: Heh heh.

0rph3us: Best success... hmmm...  I will exclude my real life from this.
1) The mini-campaign "Hellgate Ikeya"
2) The mission "The No-God"
3) The campaigns of "Drums Of War"

Those are the most satisfying achievements I can think of for the last five year (if I don't include my personal life).

HerraTohtori: Nice list. I still have a few questions

0rph3us: If no one else wants to ask, go ahead

HerraTohtori: How much do you play FS2? aside from developing stuff.

0rph3us: Right now 3-4 hours a week...

HerraTohtori: Ok.

0rph3us: It is hard since you are playing a lot of stuff over and over again...

HerraTohtori: Mmhmm. Any favourites? And what's high on your list of "anticipated items"? as in, mods, campaigns, TC's in development TBP is probably one of your favourites ;)

0rph3us: For what am I waiting for?
 - FS2-campaigns/mods:
1) Blue Planet: War in Heaven (who is not waiting for that)
2) Vassago's Dirge (I'm one of Axem's beta testers so I do know most of the stuff and still I can't wait to see it in full)
3) Diaspora
4) Ancient-Shivan War
5) The Scroll of Atankharzim

As for my favourites - no particular order:
1) TBP: Raider Wars
2) Blue Planet: Age of Aquarius (director's cut of course)
3) Derelict
4) Transcend
5) Hellgate Ikeya
6) TBP: Drums Of War

HerraTohtori: Okay, nice list.

0rph3us: There are also some good ones which don't recall by name.

HerraTohtori: What controller setup do you usually use for playing FS2? (joystick/keyboard, mouse/keyboard, keyboard only?)

0rph3us: Joystick + Keyboard, although I have most of my "everyday"-keys on my joystick.

HerraTohtori: Of course

0rph3us: Keyboard is for thrusters, advanced targeting, power and shield management only.

HerraTohtori: What difficulty do you usually balance your campaigns on? And what difficulty do you usually find yourself playing on when you're "just playing"?

0rph3us: I used to play "easy" up until 3 year ago... now I play at "medium", I wanted more of challenge but didn't want to lose the fun. You can see that reflected in the campaigns I released until then... The Black Hand 1, Drums Of War 1-3, Rain On Ribos 4, Hellgate Ikeya, and The Light Of Antares... they were made to be challenging at "easy"

HerraTohtori: Might be very... interesting to see what those missions would be like with Fury's AI modifications ... in a truly masochistic sense :D

0rph3us: Which made them quite hard above that.... when it comes to the RoR, HGI and LoA I have done some rebalancing lately. (lately = last year)

HerraTohtori: Okay, I have just a couple questions left on my list

0rph3us: Go ahead, unless someone else wants to ...

HerraTohtori: Do you have any other gaming interests?

0rph3us: Of course...

HerraTohtori: Do tell! My other main gaming interest is IL-2 Sturmovik

0rph3us: I am great fan of BioWare ... so right now I am waiting for the postman to arrive with my copy of Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening (long title, good expansion I hope)

HerraTohtori: Nice I like BioWare's games too.

0rph3us: Also I can be found playing Dawn Of War II: Chaos Rising

HerraTohtori: Baldur's Gate series, and KotOR especially although Mass Effect and DA aren't bad either. Dawn of War is a Warhammer40k game right?

0rph3us: Yes. I hope Dragon Age "picks up some speed" with Awakening

HerraTohtori: Interesting. Yes, DA while very rich in content and length does get somewhat tedious at times. If I ever set my foot on Deep Roads again it'll be too soon ;P Also, the everlasting Fade sequence with the Sloth demon episode in the Mages' tower ... but enough of that game. I have one more ever-important question.

0rph3us: ;)

HerraTohtori: How many bottles of beer on the wall?

0rph3us: Sorry ... threw my empty beers out yesterday ;)

HerraTohtori: Nice timing. Anyway, it was nice interrogating you. No further questions, the prosecution rests ;)

0rph3us: "The Inquisition never rests" :p

HerraTohtori: There must be some questions still left un-asked ...

0rph3us: Now or never...

HerraTohtori: Well, Stormkeeper has quite a bit of data already ...

Stormkeeper: And we will end on that note. Thanks for dropping by, 0rph3us.

General Battuta:
I need to play more of this man's work.

Also, Dirge of Vassago beta tester? Jealous. Very jealous.


--- Quote from: General Battuta on April 20, 2010, 08:18:34 am ---...
Also, Dirge of Vassago beta tester? Jealous. Very jealous.

--- End quote ---

Yeah, all the talk ( and occasional spoilers ) about that on IRC in the last weeks made me really courious.
Same goes for WiH.

Interesting interview, waiting for SoI now. :yes:

BTW, Drums of War is one of my favorite TBP campaigns. It's good to have the focus on other Races once in a while, especially since almost all races in the Babylon Universe are interesting and are well depicted.

Very interesting storylines. Good to see you're doing something about the (IMHO) lack of non-post-Capella campaigns.
I downloaded the teasers a while ago, and they were promising indeed :yes:

I just saw the image link for the WotP-loading screen is broken so:


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