Imperial Library
With DF fan Emambu calling the questions, GAdRS fills us in on his Dark Forces project, Imperial Library. We hear about the author's entry to editing, current level efforts, and reasons for choosing DF as the medium over the more modern JK and MotS engines.
For starters, tell us a little bit about yourself: who you are and what got you into SW and editing.
Well the truth is I still don't remember what got me into SW. However, I never would have gotten into editing if it wasn't for the Rebel Squadrons. I remember first starting out with editing a while back, I believe it was 1997 or so. Oh wait, that's for the next question.
Many people, including myself, have played your level "Imperial Library." However, do you have any past experiences with editing?
Why yes in a way. Like I said, back in 97, I moved into it. I got WDFUSE and the such and did the tutorial. Later I ended up doing it again because it had been two years since I'd opened up WDFUSE. Anyway, I started up a project, failed it, maybe there was another, I'm not sure.
With the availability of the JK and MotS engines, which are more advanced, why was "Imperial Library" constructed with the DF engine?
Why, it's Dark Forces! Simply because that's what it is - it is great. It probably also has something to do with the RS again - while I was in the RS, many of my peers were Jedi in character. I always resented that, I thought that everyone wanted to be a Jedi. Therefore, as JK began to explore Kyle Katarn as a Jedi, I didn't like that at all and decided to stay away. Also, I guess you could say I don't like change.
Also, many consider you to be a leader among the DF community. Would you agree with that statement? If so, what do you believe is your role?
I guess you could say that. In between my craziness and disorganization, sure, I could be a leader! Well - okay. I'm not sure exactly why I'm a leader. I have been involved in stitching the Dark Forces community together a few times'after the initial move to DF-21, there were several huge hardships (I hate to say that I was actually the cause of a few of them). However, I do believe (get set for deep stuff) that I'm here as a moral leader. I've experienced horrid things that I simply despised because of my moral standing. So I like to go into something with the hopes that I'll be a small light in the darkness.
You have a review site (with about a dozen reviews) on the Internet as well as large cache of older and newer DF levels. Any comments towards your goal in undertaking something like this?
Well, I would suggest to people not to start a review site unless you really have a lot of time. To get that site back up, I'd have to quit the RS, and after 4 years of service that's not something I'd like to do. The review site is essentially dead. However, the levels site is well alive and kicking. My goal on that is simply to have everything there. It started because there were no real sites devoted to holding levels that were updated anymore. I think that I started it when the entire SWGAMERS server went offline, which has to be the greatest storage place for Dark Forces anywhere. I didn't want to see it go away, so I set out to get them all.
This is more of a question from one reviewer to another, but what are the key things you look for when reviewing DF levels?
Everything. You can't sum it up. I look at architecture, texturing, stitching, enemies, power-ups, you name it, I pay attention to it. The point is, everything is important in the reviewing process. There's also a certain factor of time - back in the original Golden Era (some could say that a new Era is beginning in DF), they didn't have the capabilities that level authors today have. So you've got to cut older levels some slack. However, I personally believe that newer levels will always best the older stuff, simply because of that.
Now I think it's time to get into the level itself. For starters, what gave the inspiration for your plot and setting? Out of an almost infinite number of possibilities to base a level on, why choose what you chose? know I think I started out with the idea of going to Coruscant. And, it's worth noting - I never intended the level to turn into a trilogy, that just kinda happened because I had a long story to tell, and I couldn't put it in one level. With me, usually I just start going, and it develops along the way. And, I can't remember my inspiration. However, I do know the inspiration for my newest idea for a level - James Bond! Once I finish the Information trilogy, I plan on making a good James Bond level, complete with the essential opening cutscene...
How did you go about making the architecture? Did you make it up as you went or was there some initial planning first?
No planning at all. I just developed. I knew I wanted to start in a hangar, move through a civilian area, into the Library itself, and end up in a spaceport. The idea for the ending sequence came up later. And actually, I hate to say it, but I'm not too happy with the architecture. I don't truly believe that I did my best on it, and there's nothing to be amazed at.
Will we see any new faces, or will it be the usual cast of characters?
There's the old guys, then there's also the captain of the Destroyer Abnaki, then there's a guy planned for Demeter Expedition. I'm not sure what his role will be yet, but I'm gonna have him there. There were no new faces in Imperial Library.
From your progress updates over at DF-21, it seems that you were very enthusiastic to let everyone know about all of the new features in this level. I won't ask you to comment on all of them, but is there any one enhancement in particular that makes you exceptionally proud?
I hate to boil it down to one, but it has to be the narrated custom textcrawl. I truly don't believe that it's ever been done before, and it just seemed like a good idea. So I did it, and my LFD guy, Maverick, did a great job of putting it in. Now that I've answered your question, I'll go back and talk about it all again. I've got my lengthy ending credits on Library that I'm quite proud of (once again Maverick did great). I've made some innovations in the level itself, too.
What kind of atmosphere and mood did you try to create with this level? Do you think you were successful in doing so?
Was I supposed to make an atmosphere? I don't think there is one in Library. I don't think there will be one on Abnaki, either. Ugh, I'm not doing so well in that respect. However, I think that there will be a great one for Demeter - 'tis going to be very foreboding and also quite mysterious.
Now, this level, from what I understand, is the first in a three level set. The next one will take place on a Star Destroyer. Can you tell us a little bit about the plot, and some of the new things that will be in store?
Hmm, I've already been talking about this all along. Oops. Well anyway, yep. As many of you know now, you get captured at the end of Library. To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure what Madine (my helper who is graciously doing Abnaki) is planning, whether you'll fight your way straight from the ship you're tractored in, or if you'll be taken to a cell first, then you escape. I'll have to ask him about that. Then, one way or another, you'll manage to get off the Abnaki. Now, of course, after that I can't tell you. Of course, I've already told you there will be the Demeter Expedition, and if you see any of my drawings I've posted over at my levels site, you know it'll be jungle like. Also, the name kinda gives it away, if you know Greek mythology. As for new things...I'll continue the tradition of LFD greatness, each level will have a narrated textcrawl, lengthy ending credits, and tons of new stuff. Also, each level will have a GOB of over 5MB.
Do you have an idea on when the next level will be released or is it too soon to ask?
Way too soon to ask. Madine's been currently having a little trouble, and Demeter...well, it obviously can't be released until Abnaki's done. I plan to start really working on it at the beginning of the summer. Until then, I've got a class going in the RS where I teach a new generation of Dark Forces level authors. Currently, I have a whole 3 members. But, if I only get 3 guys interested in DF, it'll be successful.
Do you have any future projects in mind after this three level set is completed?
Like I said, there's that 007 project...ugh...nothing yet. However, if what's happened in the past continues to happen, I'll have another great idea within the next month or two. Hehehe, I just get too many good ideas. I rarely really decide on an idea, but the James Bond idea sounded really great. The opening cutscene will be terribly difficult, but I think I can get it.
Overall, will you try to surpass what you accomplished with "Imperial Library?"
Oh yeah. Like I said, I wasn't too satisfied with Library. I think Abanki will be great, and I'm hoping that Demeter will go well too. Library just didn't go anywhere. It could be said that it was a major experiment for me. I tried a whole bundle of new stuff with it, some of it caught on great (the LFD) and parts failed miserably (the codes, they seemed obvious to me, but for others...).
"Imperial Library" has some interesting puzzles to it. In fact, I haven't yet beaten the entire level. Are you going to release some kind of walkthrough later on down the road?
Not really a walkthrough, but I've been giving out tips on DF-21. Like the code part, I can't think of hardly anyone who got the first code right off. Some of my other stuff is confusing...I don't think people quite figured out what to do with the crane part. The problem there is that the Sensation idea to put a VUE on a player is useless - if you're shot, the VUE starts right up. So people, when they see it, will assume to hit spacebar. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. Just walk straight onto it! Yeah, I'd probably better do something about that.
Any final Comments, thoughts, criticisms, or reflections that you'd like to add?
Ah well...I'm not happy with Library, it's first on my list for Special Editions. Of course, it's also my first level, and Dallas is an awesome city. And DF-21 is the best thing to happen to DF since Mt. Kurek. And I'm tired of Microsoft. And Bill Clinton...wait, never mind.
Just out of curiosity, what does GAdRS stand for?
There's two answers for this. First, my real life reason. In the Emperor's Hammer, the nemesis club to the RS, their leader was once a guy named Ronin, with the rank of Grand Admiral. That's the first time I'd seen Grand Admiral spelled as GA, and that gave me the idea. Actually, it's really GadmiralRS, hence the rank part... Then there's the character reason. Lemme post a bit from a story I wrote a while's kinda lengthy, forgive me. And, my full name is John "Jukaga" GadRS: John GAdRS thought about his family, or what was left of it, that he had left back in the Calcour Heights on Coruscant. His culture, his society, was unlike any other found. Instead of carrying on a last name as a family name, his society carried on a first name as a family name. His family, all the way back to a President of the Republic, had carried the name of John. When one of his culture reaches such high status, he is allowed to change their first name. However, the person chooses at adolescence their nickname from one of two sources. One - the person may choose a name from literature, Two - the person may combine the first letter of his mom's last name and first letter and second letter of his dad's last name, and put them together. John GAdRS's dad had done this - G was for Golgotha, Ad was for Adonyea. John had chosen Jukaga from a piece of interesting literature from long ago, in a strange novel about a race called the "Kilrathi". Baron Jukaga in that story was a high-ranking Kilrathi who, alone, studied and understood Humans. No other Kilrathi did, and when Jukaga died, there were no others to advise the Emperor on Human thinking, and the Kilrathi lost the war. Therefore, if Jukaga had a son to carry on the name of John, his name would be John Jukaga. He would choose a nickname. It is also customary of his culture to, when a man grew old enough, to join some Armed Forces. If his last name was chosen by his father as the initial sort, then the initials of his forces are added. RS stands for Rebel Squadrons (or Republic Shield, as it was temporarily renamed).
I thank you for your time. From what I've seen "Imperial Library" looks to be a solid level. I eagerly await the next one in this set. Just a reminder to all who read this, you can check out the status of the next level over at the projects section of DF-21.
Thank you!