Shining Aid » Interviews » Interview with Devlyn

Interview with Devlyn

Newts has already been submitted to the wrath of Devlyn’s interview questions, and now it’s payback time!

Newts: For those readers who don’t know who you are, would you like to introduce yourself?

Devlyn: Allright. My real name is Derek Groen but most people know me by my nick Devlyn. On a rainy december day in 1999 I decided to start my own Shining Fangame, and that took quite the course ever since. I’m also the guy who started the Shining Source back in 2000 along with Elvenfyre and Koshums. :) My own project goes by the name of Shiny Sword, but besides that I’ve also created BABS, the Baby Battle System and I’ve been collaborating a bit on the Final Conflict remake. That’d be about it :).

You’re quite the man, it would seem! You’re perhaps most famous for the Shiny Sword (which I’ll come to later), but you also created and maintain the Shining Source. What makes this site so special?

The main special side of the Shining Source is probably that it fills a whole niche (albeit a small one) entirely by itself. Although there are other sites about individual projects, about rpg development or about the Shining series, the Shining Source really is the only site around that specifically focuses on Shining fangames and the development of those. Furthermore, the loose and non-commercial structure of the site adds a nice extra flavour :).

You write articles for the site, too. What articles do you have planned for the future?

You couldn’t be better with the timing, because it is this very week that I’ve got a bit of an overview of just how busy my schoolyear will get. In the very least I’m going to make a big article about Shining Game Management. This will mainly about how to avoid your project to become one of those 75% of the games that never met anyone’s demand… Besides that I plan on posting quite some interviews with other people, and some programming tutorials/articles :).

Sounds very promising! What’s the most interesting part of working at TSS.

The most interesting part? If I had to pick a single thing, it would be the sheer experience you get with everything related to making a Shining Game. When you can just talk about totally technical things in Shining games and still get your point across, that’s what I really like. That way I’m not only learning myself, but also preventing others from reinventing the wheel :).

I agree 8) What do you see for the future of the site?

The future of the site heavily depends on the future of the Shining Community and the individual projects. Without either the site doesn’t serve a lot of purpose. However, on itself I’m hoping that someday people can make a game flawlessly just by picking a game-maker, some docs and consulting the resources on the Source…

That’s quite a target, but I know sites that have done it so it’s possible Ok, onto game things now! What first inspired you to start the Shiny Sword?

Simply put, Shining Force 2. The game itself and the sheer impact it had on me and my friends back when it was just out. The game had such magic over it that the idea of making such a thing yourself just sounded like an extraterrestrial accomplishment. :)

Even now, many years after its release, no Shining fangames have even come close to matching SFII. Why do you think that is?

I’ve long wondered that myself. Sure I wasn’t the only one who liked to make a fangame, and surely people more skilled than I could complete it in a year or so? The years proved to me that it’s not that simple though. A lot of projects either run thin on motivation or turn out to have such a clutchy organization that they just don’t advance efficiently anymore. A lot of Shining developers program to learn as well, which kinda leaves them vulnerable to organizational blunders…

Perhaps this should be a message to potential fangamers – it isn’t easy 8) SS:CS has undergone many changes since you started. What made you change it so much?

I guess that would be a mix of practical reasons and personal changes. For example, when I switched from Verge 2 to Sphere I really felt that I couldn’t make a game without a development team. That was the personal part. The practical part was that I would never get my sprites walking properly in Verge 2 :p.

Now you’ve decided to continue the SSC legend in JAVA – were you happy about making this switch, or did you want to avoid it if possible?

Like more things, this had two clear sides to it. On one hand there is the somewhat negative side of having a development team during the “Sphere age” and seeing that team completely fall apart as they and I somehow just completely lost passion for the game. On the other hand though, JAVA is an exceedingly practical language that works on non-Windows systems too and this is a great opportunity for me to learn a real programming language to the core.

So we can expect the SSC fanbase to grow substantially with cross-platform support, then 8) Although you famously despise feedback, has the support of YoB and TSS fans helped to convince you continuing SSC is the right thing to do?

Not really. I’ve always known that it was the only right thing to do. It’s gotten so entwined with the rest of my life, that it’s a part of it really. However, they certainly did help with me actually coming to the point where I’d pick it all up again. As you may know there is a difference between planning stuff and actually doing it, but the peeps at YoB certainly helped making that difference a bit smaller for me :).

Well, it was a combination of gentle encouragement and not-so-gentle pressurising and threats =P What are your favourite parts of the SSC project?

The engines beneath. Mainly the battle engine, and I guess now with the port to JAVA, the map/sprite engine too :).

So you’re more interested in the below-surface parts, rather than the visual parts? Why’s that?

Well, unlike with graphics, you don’t totally do one thing after another, but instead build a thing bit by bit from the ground up. I like that idea, because it makes me feel as if all the effort put into it is doubly worth it :p lol! Was that even remotely sensible? ;)

Yup 8) So it’s nothing to do with your graphical skills, then? :P Well, the last question from me before I grill you with the Blahians’ submissions – what does the future hold for SSC?

It’s very vague, but I can tell that in terms of plot, it will be pretty close to the original Verge version. Also, I’m going to make a lot of editors with it, so I guess the program as a whole will be as much a game creation tool as it will be a game :). Finally I’m going to take some steps back in terms of graphics. That way progress will go faster, and that makes for a good motivator :).

Sounds like a plan, and of course I wish you the best of luck with it :) Now, after tormenting you with our questions, let’s see what the Blahians have to ask…

People had questions for me? :p

We have three, in fact :P Ready?

Sure! Bring them on :).

From Seanikins – what drives you day to day to create such revolutionary gaming experiences?

*laughs* Revolutionary gaming experiences. That certainly is a new sound to me :). I guess my main drive lies in realizing what an impact a simple game can have on people and that everything I do related to Shining programming is structural. You can forget your French lessons, but nobody can undo that demo once it’s out :).Although the RM2K peeps are trying really hard ;).

Ok, here’s a question from me =P What’s your opinion of the recent increase in Shining style fangames? Do you think it’s healthy for the scene, or that it could end up diluting the good projects?

I think it’s extremely stimulating for the scene as a whole. Not only do many of the new projects explore rather new areas (Shining Flash is a very notable example of that), but they also create a small amount of competition with existing developers, whom might feel the urge to reprove the value of their project. Still, some new projects never really come off the ground, and that isn’t too good…

Would you rather have few projects but high success rate, maybe not too high quality, or a lot of poorly-made or unfinished games with perhaps a handful of truly great fangames?

What counts in the end is the amount of games completed. High success rate isn’t necessarily needed to get a decent amount of full games. Whatever brings in more good projects deserves my preference :).

Well it’s good TSS is finally getting some publicity :) From our very own Edgemaster comes this question: SSC has a very rich sense of humour in the story – will it continue in this vein?

*grin*. I think the humour in the original Verge SSC has been one of the most controversial things of the whole project up to date. More than once I’ve had devastating criticism about it, but I’ve also had quite some people being cracked up over it. I think my sense of humour has changed somewhat the last few years, but if the people don’t mind it too much, I’d love to let it come back in the amounts it used to be around :).

I guess once you start taking the game too seriously you lose a lot of enjoyment from it, so I say put as much humour in it as possible, I know we will with Shining Online :) Well, I think that’s pretty much exhausted the questions I have… is there anything you’d like to add?

Yup. If anyone can tell me how to use the inverse Euler formula on x(t)=sin t cos 2t then I’d be highly delighted!

Well, I think that’s about it for now… :)

Allright. Thanks for the interview :).

Written by Newts, 8 November 2002