First things first – I will not be held responsible for any intelligence you may lose whilst reading this interview…
Newts: First of all, could you both introduce yourselves for the benefit of our less well-read visitors?
bEn: Well I am bEn, also known as Develin (all around) or DevelinTales at TSS.Being the initiator, webdesigner and lead programmer of SF:TA I am responsible for the overall appearance.
Grom: And I’m Grom, somewhat unknown at TSS, but more commonly known at SFC. I’m the self-appointed master of creativity. I’ve designed the story, some of the characters
bEn: In fact you are just fame hunting, but I guess I was not supposed to tell anyone about that.
Okay, I have to try and bring some order to this, so on with the next question! How did the project start?
bEn: In fact I had to do some project at uni (some network racing game). As this was finished, I was motivated to do something interesting, and as I hit SFC by chance I thought that it was a cool idea to do a SF game. Well, then I posted if that would be a good idea and the first poster was Grom, saying that he was in.
Grom: Yea, I saw his post, and read it, and thought to myself “hmm … I’ll give it a go”, but his post wasn’t receiving many replies, so it had a rather staggered start.
How many members are there in the team?
bEn: We have our small core group that has been with the project all the time: Produn, Grom and me, but after several entering and leaving we have also about 5 additional members. It is a bit hard to say, as you can’t really control a group over the Internet – we experienced severe trouble with that.
So roughly an 8 man team? That’s almost certainly the largest SF development team around. Do you feel as though having so many members is an advantage?
bEn: I’d say there are problems. I mean on the Internet you just can never be sure what a person will really do.
bEn: Well we had problems with fakers…
Grom: Allow me! Some dude posted a pic of the guy from the intro FMV of the Playstation remake of FF1 claiming it as his own work. Yeah .. right ..and that’s not all! What other game was it that he ripped graphics from bEn and claimed them as his own work too?
bEn: Chaos Legion first level.
Grom: Yea heh. So, to answer your question, it does have some advantages.. the bigger the group, the more work right?
And the faster the development, or so you would think ;)
bEn: As long as the group is motivated and sticks together, I’d say so. I guess we are on a good way to get there.
Okay :) What are your main aims for SF:TA?
bEn: Continuing where SO ended :-D I mean, there hasn’t been a real Shining game for years and we want to fill that hole. Besides that I guess it is a general learning project.
Grom: I just wanna make a Shining-style game that everyone can enjoy or at least, be part of it, I mean … *starts ranting*
bEn: My main goals were learning a bit more about programming.
Grom: I adore the early Shining Force games – SF1, SF2 and SFCD for example. SF:TA is actually my 2nd Shining project that is currently underway.
You have another one? What’s that?
Grom: Oh, it’s not very popular at all lol
Shining Online II? ;)
Grom: It’s an HTML-based interactive RPG where the players post their moves and actions in combat and I modify LOTS of screens to do all the in-game battle sequences for them. I say ‘currently’ ‘cos it’s an ongoing thing, been goin’ on for just over a year now.
Sounds a little similar to MattyB’s Shining Force Online project, actually :)
bEn: Not really, it’s more like email chess.
Grom: Yea, thats one way of puttin’ it. Hours of work .. summed up as email chess. Thanx bEn =P
As if one SF project wasn’t enough, you sure are a sucker for punishment :P Could you explain your reasons for releasing that early tech demo? It didn’t seem to show a lot…
bEn: Well in fact it shouldn’t be released at TSS or any other place besides our website. It was/is my test program, to see if the graphic core and sound core work. As I got some posts on several boards, I asked for help – if we hadn’t done anything yet it should be a prove of the work going on. Besides, I thought that the soundtrack was damn cool.
So were you pleased with the advances made between tech demos one and two?
Grom: I was =]
bEn: In fact the improvement, is not as large as everybody seems to imagine. The strategy of SF:TA is to develop the entire basics first, which is different to many fangames that start straight into the actual game. I mean it, still is just a graphic demo, BUT yes I am pleased as many of the things that gave me headaches for weeks were solved.
How do you think SF:TA will be different to other fangames?
bEn: Well one thing is that we will include 3D graphics – as far as I can see, no other SF fangame does that. Another aim is to be portable to other platforms, which is also not that common… and last, but not least, another idea is to keep SF:TA open for development. It will include heavy scripting ability, probably a map editor, so if you want to make your own version you will be able to. Any additions Grom?
Grom: Umm… not that I can think of… For once, i have nothing to add =P
What’s the reaction to the project been like? Do you have much support?
Grom: We have some support at SFC. A few people offering advice for the later development. Koshums has offered, I think.
bEn: Besides people at TSS are very helpful. I mean Cortez and Lazy Bum even want to participate as far as they are able to (as they have their own projects going on). But I must admit that people didn’t think of us being really serious till Tech2
Grom: Many people decide to make a SF game and give up after 3 days. We’re still goin’ strong ^^
Well, that’s pretty much it for my questions… ready to face the public?
bEn: But do we have a choice? ….
Grom: Go for it =]
bEn: Just try to make us look good …….I know that it’s an impossible task.
These are all from Devlyn…Why is sf.develin.de down?
bEn: Because I changed hosts with my develin.de domain and I haven’t built the redirection again, as our webspace moved to sfta.sourceforge.net a long time ago. I’ll adjust that asap *feels deep shame*
What are your favourite other Shining-style projects?
Grom: I’m fond of the FC remake
bEn: For me it was SO, because from the general impression there are certain similarities.
Be honest :P
bEn: In fact I am… ok I’ll say something different
Grom: Ok .. all your projects suck, I hate you all =]
bEn: Besides I am impressed of what the guys make with Flash. And I have seen the code of Cortez FC…he has done some pretty cool stuff. In fact, any SF project would be worth mentioning. I mean, we are working on the same thing basicaly. Well, I guess the community should stick together. It’s a shame that there is no real finished SF fangame.
It is, and I’ve often wondered why… what’s your view?
Grom: Ours will be the first =D How many people have said that? Probably everyone hehe.
bEn: What I experienced during all over is that people start projects without actually knowing the difficulties. Besides, I think that the core person should be those who can ensure the progress, so you can meet damn many people that search programmers on gamedev.net like “I have a idea can you programm it”. You gotta be realistic. Programming is like quicksand..you always get deeper into it without seeing a way out of the problems.
Okay, I’ve got a few questions from Ty now, ready? Are there any things you particularly want to achieve with the project?
bEn: To be honest I don’t want to see the good creative work wasted. That’s basically it.
Grom: An original storyline, one that will stick out amongst the rest. A story that will engulf the player a la FF7.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
bEn: Besides making Grom work….
Grom: Motivation. I’m one lazy sod …but when I do sit down and do some work .. it’s good quality right ben ?
bEn: One reason why I can’t stop the project… As a matter of fact I got stuck at some time with the damn model support … I was close to getting insane and I guess I crossed that line but after a 3 weeks break due to exams.
Ok, Last question. Of which feature are you most proud?
Grom: I’m mostly proud of the story so far, but no one else knows anything about it … =/
bEn: Well at the moment the game itself is just planned not realized. But there will be a bunch of new kinds of battles, which is damn cool imho
Grom: Ohh yeah, the new battle ideas are kool =]
*Insert top secret stuff here*
I’ll stop you there to avoid spoiling the whole game :P Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to your masses of fans?
bEn: In fact I’d say come on over to sfta.sourceforge.net and join the discussion.
Written by Newt, 03 November 2003