Shining Aid » Interviews » Interview with Matty B

Interview with Matty B

Matty B’s project, Shining Force Online, can be found here:

Newts: First of all Matt, it’s something of a custom for the victim to introduce themselves, so if you could give a little information about yourself we can get this show on the road! :)

Matt: Ok well, lemmie see… I’m Matt, or Matty_B, as I seem to go by a lot of the time, I’m from stafford in the west midlands, aged 20 heading 21 in a month or so time :). I’m what you could call the “dark horse” of shining force fan game making, I’m the one thats been lurking but never shown his face.

Well, nearly 21 eh? It’s a long way down the age hill from now :P So where have you been “lurking” around, and for how long?

I’ve been a Shining Force fan for the last 6 or so years of my life. The first game I played was Shining Force II on the Mega Drive, which I completed. I then moved to the Mega-CD and played Shining Force CD, which was a bit different to SFII which was slightly disappointing, but still a brillant game to play. I then played Shining Force I for all of a day because i couldn’t stand the music on it nor the storyline…

Anyhow, I’ve kept my eye on SF websites over the past few years and have grown up reading more and more about the games and their developers. I’ve also taken an interest in online RPGs, which up till now have all been text-based and boring! About two years ago I had an idea – what if I made an online Shining Force RPG with decent battle system and a graphical interface? I thought “surely that’s never been done before”. So I did a search on the net and found your site! At this point I decided it was time to start my development, and to make sure my idea was successful I decided to make it my final year university project :) Since my project has started to take shape, ie the single/multiplayer battle engine is near enough finished, I decided to bob my head up from the water and show my face.

Wow, that’s certainly an impressive history of lurking :P So that’s how you came to “Shining Force Online”, correct?

Yes sure is, reminds me of a certain other project named that ;)

Have you thought of changing the name? Shining Online is vacant now, you know :P

HAHA nice idea! My choice of name was simply because people doing searches are far more likely to pick up on a site if it has the full name of the game in it.

That’s true, although we get the most referrers from people looking for information on the movie “The Shining” :P So what were your main reasons for creating SFO? To do something nobody else has?

My main reasons for creating SFO were to make something different that goes beyond the standard internet RPG of text and a pretty picture, and I also wanted to try and integrate as many web technologies as possible. My main motive is the fact that no one has actually managed to finish a project of this sort… I’m sick of people dissing Shining Force fan projects, it doesn’t half get on my nerves… so I’d just like to shut them up really! :)

Good luck with that – we never managed to do it, they’re all too busy concentrating on the graphics. Anyway, whinging aside, how long has the game been under development, and who’s working on it?

The battle engine has been under development for a year, it does work (unlike some) and does play in multiplayer mode, it just needs a few tweaks here and there. Graphics can come later – the engine allows for graphics to be loaded in from any source, along with any other resources, which is a bonus. My project is a one man band for the time being – once it’s finished, done and dusted as a uni project, I’ll probably throw it open to other designers to help improve it. I’m also thinking of letting it go open source so people can learn from my mistakes… errm I mean my great piece of tech development ;)

What made you choose Flash as the base for the game? Were there any other languages considered?

Well, I was trying to open the door to as many people as possible, so it’s a mix of Flash and Director, both made for the web, so as the plugin grows more universal so too does my game! Linux, Mac OS, Windows etc. – every system will hopefully be able to play one day

And they’ll all be able to play together in the multiplayer mode?

Yep sure will! Multiplayer isn’t the most brilliant of games as it’s 1-on-1, but there’s nothing to say that couldn’t expand to 4 people in a few years of development.

Sounds interesting :) So do you have any definite plans for the game when it’s finished? You mentioned throwing it to other developers, as some sort of “RPG maker” perhaps?

The battle system could be used for any RPG with different graphics loaded into it, the magic is loaded in too so everything could be changed. When I throw open the door what I’d really like is for people, graphic artists etc. to work with me and make the system better, add their ideas, generally make the game better!

So you’re aiming to develop the project some more after you’ve handed it in as your Uni assessment?

Yeah I’d like it to extend far beyond the hand-in date, and onto something bigger

Interesting :) So far, most people have answered that question along the lines of “once it’s finished, I’m going to burn it all”, or “go and get pissed” or something… I expect you’ll be saying that soon :P

Hehe it’s a year away… I could be in that mood but I doubt it, I’d like to keep at it :)

Well, good luck! Aside from SFO, you and Bobby [Djobi] seem to be getting on well – any chance of a collaboration?

Mmmm I like Bobby’s ideas, he’s certainly got potential with his engine! It loads really quickly….just a shame once it has it slows down on any machines that’s not a top-end PIII/P4 PC. I’d like to help him out but I’d be interested to see if he’s worked out battles yet :)

So is that a yes or no? ;)

Maybe ;) Let’s see how things go with what I’ve got on my plate first :)

Very coy and non-committal :P Well, that’s just about all the questions I have – ready for the user-submitted ones? They’re tough, I’ll warn you ;)

Oooo roll ’em out, let’s see what we’ve got then :)

These next five are from Mage of Blackest Night… You’re using Flash to make your game – how did you learn to use it?

I started using Flash about 4/5 years ago when it was on version 3. When I first saw the program I thought “FLIPPIN HECK! There’s no way I’ll be able to use this”, but a few tutorials later I found it wasn’t so hard after all!

So you’re self-taught?

Yes, very much so :)

Coolio :) Do you know any other programming languages?

VB, ansi C, Lingo, bit of JAVA (which I hate), HTML, ASP, PHP, can’t think of any others at the moment.

Not a bad collection! What is your past programming experience? [I think he means pre-SFO :)]

Pre-SFO hehe… I’ve done a few bits and pieces – “Wheel of Fortune” in VB, a number converter that converted numeric numbers to several spoken languages [English, French, Spanish etc.], it also did Roman numeral conversion! A “Neon Genesis Evangelion” interactive guide, a “History of Super Mario” guide, few other things. Probably the thing that made me turn to doing my current project was my ASP Pokémon battle game, it works a bit like the current Shining Force battle engine, but in asp :)

Are those things available online? I’d love to give the Pokémon battle a try *is a certified Pokémaniac*

Haha! The Pokémon game is down right now, I stupidly took it offline :| I’ve got a backup somewhere though :)

And the rest? *is a Super Mario… erm.. fan too*

Haha that takes up a good couple hundred meg, but you can view some of the work at :)

Well it took some hard work, but I finally got you to plug your site :P Now, more user questions… What do you think of the Shining Source so far?

The Shining Source has been very helpful, especially the forums :) If I ever need feedback or some help with some things, I hit there first :)

Is the right answer! ;)

Is the only answer :)

Okay, Big Daddy Devlyn wants to know, what’s your favourite instalment from the original Shining series?

It has to be SFII, the artwork is far the best of the bunch! I’ve played SFI which drove me nuts, Shining Force CD lacked the walking around and was literally the Game Gear instalments put together… I have to say I’ve never played SFIII, but I’m not keen on its artwork, oh and Shining in the Darkness isn’t that bad :)

You don’t like the SFIII artwork? Why not?

I’m not sure to be honest, I like SFII’s cartoony look, SFIII seems to look more mature in design… that’s not to say the gameplay won’t be good, I’ve a video with the battles on and they do look pretty mint :)

You’ve just saved yourself there ;P I won’t stand for anyone disrespecting the mighty Shining Force III… anyway, next question ;P Which fangame project, other than your own of course ;), do you find to be the most promising?

It’s a bit of a race at the moment, isn’t it? The one I’ve taken most interest in by far is Bobby’s – he might not have that much to show at present but his coding skills seem to be up there at the top! I think with some help/guidance he’s onto a winner – it’s online, it’s universal and it’s not written in some pants Windows-only language, so his audience isn’t restricted! Once that engine works he needs to get down to the nitty gritty! All the rest seem to be JAVA freaks… I know JAVA is universal to most systems but it’s so slow!

Haha! I might have to edit that comment for your own safety – Dev and Nick are pretty pro-JAVA, and seem to know how to minimise its slowness.

Mmmmm chug chug let’s wait for it to compile! Oh finally, it loads :)

And obviously speed is the most important aspect of an RPG ;)

Haha loading speeds certainly are, I’m not gonna sit and wait for a game to compile itself before loading, unless it’s made into an exe ;)

My experience of JAVA hasn’t been too bad – Dev’s SMEE program runs fairly nicely over here, but you did mention Bobby’s engine is slow… I suppose we’ll wait and see how they develop :) Out of Alberto’s questions, I managed to salvage/decipher this… Are you meating your ecpectations [that’s “are you meeting your expectations?”, I think]

Oooo I guess so, I have certain restrictions due to me being a bit of a pants artist but that’s about it right now :)

Ahh, the age-old bugbear of GRAPHICS rears its ugly head… run for the hills!

Haha if your graphics suck you just get the code finished and find someone to help you out with it :)

That was our plan, and look where it got us! This is a cry for help – we need graphic artists!

May I recommend you go to some RPG art sites and ask there? There are plenty of them :)

They should have come looking for us!:P Actually, we did have a proper artist on board, but he was ill for a long time… Anyway, that’s enough about the game formerly known as Shining Online :P Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Oooo just to all the other fan game developers, don’t let the dissing put you off what you’re doing, keep at it :)

You could have told us that a few weeks ago :P

Hehe well yeah I could have but I probably wasn’t around :)

Never mind, I’ll just hold a grudge against you and blame you for the death of Shining Online :P Of course, I wish you the very best of luck in the future, and may everything flow smoothly :)

Why thank you ;) You should really reconsider Shining Online’s position at some point ;)

Maybe the temporary insanity that caused Ty to fly to America will survive the return journey :P

Hehe yes, we can only hope :)

Matty B, thank you very much! :)

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