Force Assassins
With his first level being the notable Dartana Spaceport, Ted takes the time to discuss the later levels of the upcoming Force Assassins series with interviewing mastermind Ryan. Some of the planned level enhancements and status are also covered.
For anyone who's not familiar, tell us a bit about yourself, and how you started editing.
Well, lets see. I am Ted Thompson, a small business owner and married father of two. My interest in editing began about a year ago. I was already well hooked into Jedi Knight, and frequented where I saw occasional news about the editor JED. One day I gave in to downloading it, and it just grew on me. Next thing I knew ideas for one level became 2, became 4, became 8... I knew I needed a story to tie them together and I wanted an "Expansion Pack" that really was that, just drop them into the right directory and play new missions on the old game. As opposed to MotS which really is a game in its own right.
Your previous experience includes the MotS level, Dartana Spaceport. How do you feel about that level? Is there anything you hope to improve in your current level now that the first has been released and reviewed?
My previous experience IS the MotS level Dartana Spaceport! (laughs) That level, which is now slated to be level 2 of the upcoming episode, was actually released in it's 'beta' form on my site "Federal Productions". I had become doubtful that I would finish such an ambitious project as a 5 level episode. So, I decided that rather then have that level become a victim of my apathy, I'd release it so that at least in some fashion it wouldn't have been a complete waste of time. I stuck it on my website and sent a mail into and all but forgot about it when I received an E-mail from the Admiral's Command Chamber asking if they could review it. I got kind of excited at the prospect and said yes. Later when the review came out, is was quite complimentary and I decided I would continue to develop the episode after all. As to improvements, I'd like to clean up the details on that level of course. More so I want to avoid some of the pitfalls that struck on that level, such as 'overused' traps, and way too long hallways.
Could you give us a general description of your current level's plot? Is it connected to the previous parts of the episode?
Well, here's the run down, and be warned you may recognize some old Sci-Fi themes in here, but I never claimed to be much of a writer. After Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, the destiny of Jan Ors seems to be in limbo. So, because she is not featured in later MotS levels, I decided to use her as the main character. One of the reasons Jan Ors seemed to be in just the spot Kyle needed her, was a latent ability in the Force. Mind you, she is not destined to be a Jedi Master, but she possesses some abilities that have been cultivated by the time of this episode. After the second Death Star was destroyed (in my story) many of the former regional Imperial governors attempted to form their own dominions from the systems that had once been there charge under the Emperor. One of them, has tried to solidify his rule by posing as a magnanimous ruler, with the result that the populations of his worlds want him as their dictator. It is not long before he proves true to his Imperial heritage. He sends out expeditions searching for a fabled technology that supposedly was once possessed by the Mandalorians. This technology could supposedly give droids force powers, and allow them to track Jedi, much as Vornskrs do. With these expeditions running around, rumors begin to circulate that he is up to something, so the New Republic plants a member of the RIA (Republic Intelligence Agency) at the 'Chancellor's Compound' on Dartana. This mole, Commander Rixx, soon uncovers a chilling plot. Fearing that a transmission of the data might be intercepted, he requests a courier to come retrieve the data for hand delivery to the New Republic. This is where the game begins, with Jan coming Dartana's Chancellor's Compound to retrieve that data. The Dartana Spaceport level ties in as level 2, but I don't want to give away any in game plot developments.
Will we see the appearance of any new main characters in the level? If so, what role will they play in relation to the story?
Main characters and new enemies...
  • Gakel Norpkin - Former Imperial governor (and quintessential devil in this episode).
  • Commander Rixx - Gets whacked really early in the game, Jan basically is thrust into continuing his investigation after he 'Buys the moisture farm'.
  • Cloaking Troopers - Stormies that can cloak! Inspired by the Dark Forces level Stars End.
  • Force Assassins - Nasty saber/Force wielding droids.
  • Mandalorian Defense Droid - or MDD, a ATST like walker with a mind boggeling array of weapons.
  • (Unknown) - A master computer which coordinates all the Assassins and MDDs (I haven't come up with a name for it yet.) It has a unique and horrific ability that you'll have to see!
In addition to characters, should we expect any custom components like COGs, MATs, KEYs, AIs, etc? How will these components enhance the level?
Well, I find I have to tweak COGs almost all the time, to get the result I want. I suspect I will make a few more custom COGs to add into the level, these are mostly for ambiance kind of things, dynamic details that make the level more immersive. As to Mats, a few, mostly displays. I am using an Al MacDonald skin for the Assassins, at least at this point. There are also some tweaked up AI's and ALOT of new 3DOs. Again mostly details that make the level more real.
Take a moment to describe the design of the level. How did you go about planning/creating it?
Well for Dartana, I was thinking: How would a spaceport look if it was like the LAX for an entire planet, handling people and cargo with the same flow and feel as an airport. What if it was rather old, and had arcane areas (where the level starts) and more sophisticated portions "out front". And finally what would one see sneaking in the back way to this area. Its never really addressed, but there's a drainage problem. That's the reason for the water filled shafts and interior water fall. Things like this were thought about, even though the player doesn't need to know it. As for the other level's, it goes like this...
  • Level 1 Chancellor's Compound, was based on the grounds layout of a Texas prison, and drawn out on paper before starting.
  • Level 2 Dartana, was a '... as you go along' type of planning, and I did A LOT of rebuilding on that one.
  • Level 3 Has not been started.
  • Level 4 will be a conversion (author approved!) of the DF level 'Stars End' by Jereth Kok.
  • Level 5 Will be as gloomily, and muted. So far though it's just 'artists conception' in my head.
How much progress have you made, and what are your current plans for completing the level?
Currently I'd like to think this will be ready to roll before this fall.
  • #1 - 20%
  • #2 - 95%
  • #3 - 5%
  • #4 - 66%
  • #5 - 2%
Any last comments on your level or editing in general?
Beware the editing! Once you start down it's path, forever will it dominate your destiny...
Thanks for taking the time for this interview.
Thanks for asking! It's really inspiring to know my work is so well received. Take care!