Shining Aid » Interviews » Interview with Moogie

Interview with Moogie

“Episode” 3 of the Shining Style interviews series is an interesting one indeed. Today GoatS Moogie got sprinkled (or overwhelmed rather ;) with questions from Devlyn and some TSS regulars.

before the interview…

Moogie: It’s not the Spannish inquisition, is it?
Devlyn: Sure!
Moogie: ?!??!

Devlyn: Well, for a start feel free to introduce yourself. Who is Moogie exactly (for the absolute Shining noobs ;)?

Moogie: Moogie is a highly obsessive young lady, who doesn’t know when she’s had enough ;). She aims to please, and enjoys sharing her love of the Shining series with her fellow fans. She also talks about herself in the third person, leading most people to conclude that she’s a nutcase.

They’re probably right!

A lot of people seem to look up to me for all I’ve done, and I often feel undeserving of their praise. I prefer to think of myself as just another fan, who happens to be the one who’s crazy enough to spend so much time helping out other fans.

Well, the amount of positive reactions you get from your site is indeed pretty impressive at times. Do you feel that by managing Shining Force Central you’re also responsible for the welfare of the community?

Absolutely, though recently I’ve realised that I can’t please everyone all of the time. So, I’m trying to feel less responsible now, crazy as it may sound. For a while I let it interfere with my real life too much, so I’m toning it down. I still care very much about the community, but I’m not going to let myself lose sleep over it anymore.

Sounds like a very wise decision. I guess personal life should come in first, no matter what :).

Despite saying that, I’m sure I’ll end up pulling some more all-nighters to try to keep the peace at the forums! I think part of the reason I do this is my strong sense of loyalty (and the obsessive thing of course)… so, I feel I have to do what’s expected of me. As a forum admin and, apparently, influential member of the community, I’ve often felt it’s my job to be there for everyone.

How did you first get into the whole Shining scene? Or was there none yet back in your time?

Well, way back in *thinks* 1994 IIRC, I picked up a Sega magazine for the free gift. Later in the year I looked through it to choose a new game for my Mega Drive, and I spotted Shining Force. It reminded me very much of an old cartoon series, “Dungeons & Dragons”, and so I spent ages trying to track it down. By then it was already pretty rare, and I had to settle for Shining in the Darkness which was all the used games stores had to offer. Over the years I gathered more of the games, and when it came to SFII, I got stuck. Yup, the old “can’t get the wooden panel into the tree” stumped me!

Anyway, I took a look online (the web was pretty new in the UK back then) and found SirFil’s SFII site, and emailed him for help. We became friends and he encouraged me to make my own site, which I did. So, it was really around that time that I became a member of the community, sending out dozens of emails a day to help out other gamers who were having difficulty getting through SFII.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet or anything, but I think my forums were probably the first ‘popular’ Shining forums, and the community grew from there. I think the biggest time of growth for the online community was when I started the Ikonboard forums at SFC – people really flooded in then.

I guess that kinda means that I’m at least partly responsible for there even being a Shining scene online. But, if I hadn’t done it, someone else would have. It doesn’t make me special, but it does make me kinda proud that I’ve helped bring some likeminded people together.

Having that much interest in the Shining series as a whole, did you ever consider making a Shining fangame yourself?

I did more than that, I started one! Many many moons ago, I discovered Verge, and started to make a game.

Did it ever get to a releasable state?

I can’t even remember what I was calling it… I think something like “Shining Legend” (it turned out to be Shining Quest). I made the world map & a character or two, got some search functions in, and then started full-time work and didn’t get further. I seem to recall trying to build a battle engine in JavaScript too.

Then, when you showed me BABS, I thought about trying to remake Final Conflict in English… but I’m no progammer, and decided to let the pros tackle that! Now I’ve got another plan up my sleeve, but I’m afraid I can’t say more than that right now :P

Well, curiousity has definately been sparked here *grin*. Isn’t there anything you feel like giving away about it? ;)

Oh there’s lots I *feel* like giving away…

All I’ll say is that my other half is involved in it primarily. I just have plans for when he’s ready.

Hmm…it’ll be highly interesting to find out what that plan will be! What, in your eyes, does make a particular game “Shining”? Just the title?

There’s far more to a Shining game than just the title. It’s a hard thing to describe, because there’s a certain way Shining games make me feel. But, in essence they need to follow the Shining storyline (sensibly… as in, whoever makes it had better do their research *cough* Salamander Factory *cough*) and have the typical Shining menu system. Of course, depending on the type of Shining game it is, there’ll be different features.

For example, a “Force” game needs to have that classic overhead-view battle system. I also think that part of the Shining charm is in the graphics… though I do maintain that graphics don’t make a game, there’s something so endearing about the artwork in the series. I’d hate to see it change to a more “grown up” look.

Of course, there’s also the music, without which the Shining world would lack atmosphere and that Shining feeling. So, the ‘requirements’ to be a Shining title vary for the gameplay styles in the series.

With TSS only being around for a few years and all, do you recall any projects being in existance that never got a single mention on the source?

To be honest, I think the very first fangame I recall was in fact the Shiny Sword! Of course, in more recent times, there have been a lot of games in development, and I imagine at least a handful of those aren’t on TSS. But as for games that pre-date, TSS… I don’t know of any!

Some projects prefer to focus on the gameplay, using graphics from the original series. Do you happen to know whether that’s legal or not?

Well, I’m no lawyer, but I’d say the sprites/tiles are copyright of their original creators… so technically, it would be illegal. However, since they’re not for profit there shouldn’t really be a problem. I think in most cases, if a company finds you using something of theirs and they don’t like it, they’ll generally give a warning and time for you to change things before they pursue legal action of any kind. Not that I’m familiar with the situation or anything… *shifty eyes*

I think Sega’s a lot more easy-going when it comes to these sorts of things (unlike the big N), and I know Camelot are lovely folks.

Is there anything you still feel like mentioning?

Wow, that’s a pretty broad question! Well, I think it’s important that all Shining fans realise what a critical point the series has reached.

With the relative failure of Shining Soul, and the disappointment of many fans regarding it’s poor storyline, and general un-Shinyness (come back Camelot! We miss you!), we need to be sure Sega doesn’t get the wrong idea and start churning out more games like it. Some people say that we need to support the series, and that means buying Shining Soul… in the hope that Sega will relise we want more games. I say, Sega have already announced a new game… so there’s no need to buy Shining Soul. Buying it will only make them think we like it, and then they may try to pull the same trick again, and give us another poor game. We want a quality Shining game, not another “Boring Soul”. When the next game comes out, let’s hope Sega’s got the message and gives us what we want :)

On a more happy note, I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge “thank you” to everyone who’s supported my sites over the years, and especially to the members and moderators of the SFC forums for keeping the community alive. Without them, it might just be lil’ ol’ me, and that’s not much of a community. As it is, we have a pretty good thing going, and I the community stays together and continues to grow over the years… years in. May the Powers of Light be always with us :)

Newts turned out to be the only person who sent in some questions. Of course I took the time to ask those to Moogie as well :)

Obviously you’re well known throughout the Shining Force community and have a lot of support. Do you feel disappointed that reaction to the petition has been so lukewarm?

On the contrary, I found the reaction (from those who responded at least) to be very encouraging. It was, of course, disappointing that several of the companies did not respond, but the responses that were received were far better than any I’ve seen before. If I’m honest, I (and I think most people who supported it) knew that it wouldn’t have a huge impact. But, at least we did all we could, and we’ve made our point to Sega and the other companies. The ball is in their court now.

I didn’t expect Sega to say, “Wow, 5000 people want a game? Get me Camelot on the ‘phone, pronto!” … though that would have been nice ;). But, if there’s never another decent Shining game, at least no-one can say it was for lack of trying.

What prompted you to redesign the Shining Force Central site? Were you determined to stay above other well-designed sites, such as Shining Force World? ;)

Well, when I first designed SFC, I had no idea how popular it would become, nor how big it would grow in terms of content. It was beginning to outgrow it’s restrictive layout, and the design was starting to look old. I’d considered it much earlier in the year, and then decided against it because of the amount of work involved.

Then, Shinsachiel launched and the design was so beautiful… I realised that SFC needed to do the Shining series justice, and if that meant spending two months of my life getting it up to par, then that’s what had to be done. I don’t doubt than in another 12-18 months I’ll feel the need to redesign it again, to keep up with the latest looks, and of course to fit in all the new features that are likely to be suggested. Not to mention the fact there ought to be a whole new game to include before too long!

SFC will never really be ‘complete’ and as such it’s always under development, that includes every aspect of the site – navigation, layout and content. Of course, there’s also the fact that I thouroughly enjoy web design ;)

It’s not a case of staying ‘above’ other sites… I prefer to think that all the sites complement one another. I try not to double-up on content that’s already available elsewhere, and so I don’t feel SFC and other Shining sites are in competition. They’re all there for, and because of, the fans.

There has been much discussion about the poor player reaction to Shining Soul. If the players are so opposed to change in the series, is it a good idea for them to design their own games? Do you think we could end up with a glut of clones?

Well, I certainly don’t think it’s ever a *bad* idea for people to design their own games, and certainly if their games reach completion there’ll be a good selection of Shining-style titles to choose from. Of course, just as some officially released titles are not as enjoyable as others, there will be some fangames that stand out amongst the rest. There will also be some that are not of such a high standard (but enjoyable nonetheless, I’m sure) and may seem somewhat clone-ish. I don’t mind if fangames end up being rather similar… it’s if Sega start releasing lots of poor Shining titles that I’d be worried.

I don’t doubt that for many fangame authors, a lot of the pleasure is in the development of the game, and not in how many people play/enjoy it in the end. But, I don’t think the change in the series is anything to worry about – the Shining series has always undergone changes and will continue to do so. Sega ought to realise that Shining Soul was a bad idea, and try something different (or a known classic) next time.

And last, but certainly not least! Do you ever play Shining fangames? What do you think of them, on the whole?

I have been involved (albeit in a small role) with the Shining Dev project, and have played the various demos, and also Koshy’s Final Conflict GBA remake. Does that count?! *lol*

From what I’ve seen on TSS, there are some quality fangames being developed, with interesting idea and clearly some very skilled indivuals working on these projects. I’d like to wish them the best of luck with their endeavours – I know programming can be pretty gruelling at times!

Well, thanks for being around here and although it has been said a heap of times before, we all do own you a big one for creating and managing SFC. Thank you for the interview!

No problem, Devlyn, ’twas an honour!

Written by Devlyn, 10 November 2002