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Starfleet Command: Inerviews: Jinxx

By Captain Stoneyface (Hawkeye) for BlackOps Station, 2001-05-09

Greetings all. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jinxx of Taldren just these few days before the Dynaverse2 patch. He had a lot of things to say and some interesting clues to the world of Taldren. Because of his busy schedule, we did this as an E-mail interview.

Hawkeye: How would you explain the role you play with Taldren? 

Jinxx Taldren as given me an opportunity to grow my responsibilities. I was the Senior designer and Associate Producer on SFC2 and now I am Lead Designer and Producer on SFC:OP. Pretty cool. 

Hawkeye: How did Taldren start? what is the tie-in with 14 degrees east? 

Jinxx Interplay is a publisher, 14 East is a division of Interplay and Taldren works for that division. Some of the employees at Taldren worked in the 14 East division of Interplay. The success of Starfleet Command let those members form Taldren. Now Taldren is a independent entity. 

 Hawkeye: What would you like to say to all the detractors of the SFC2 community? How would you approach the constant bashing that Taldren takes in the forums?  

Jinxx Well I think there might be people that are critical of the game or us in general. They bought the game so they have that right to a point. The first thing I do is not consider it bashing, some people are better than others on expressing their feelings. I read all the messages as they come in and write down suggestions. I don't respond to everyone but they are all noted. The thing people have to understand is I have to look at the game as a whole. There are a lot of good ideas but we only have time to act on so many. I think SFC2 shows that we do listen to the public, many changes were customer based.
If you are asking for suggestions on how people should post, I would say just be polite and ask or question anything and everything. This has the same effect as yelling and it makes my job easier. 

Hawkeye:  How do you feel about people who mod this game, do you think it detracts or helps the game? 

Jinxx I am very impressed with modders, both scripts and ship models. This think they add to the lifespan of the game and we are happy to support them when possible.  

Hawkeye: How would you like the community to evolve?  

Jinxx As it grows it will evolve on its own. I don't really want to influence that much. I just want the intelligent and talented people to continue to add in anyway they can.

Hawkeye: How do you envision the future of Taldren? What's next for Taldren after SFC?

Jinxx Well the future is such a fuzzy place. We are pretty certain that it is bright however. New game announcements will have to wait for the proper time, but I think Taldren should be around for quite a while. 

Hawkeye: How happy are you with the latest version of SFC2? would you like to see it exactly like SFB or more independent of the board game. did you ever think that players would have this significant a role at shaping the game?

Jinxx Yes. I think the game is very fun to play and the only thing I'm waiting for is the Dynaverse II servers to be released. With that completed I think SFC2 will fully realize its full potential.
I think SFC has to be it own game because of the differences between a turn based game and real-time. As for more player involvement, I really don't know what more we can do. We have listen to the public and taken notes. We have even gone so far as to create a forum for trusted members of the community so talk about the game and its future.

Hawkeye:  What is the current status of the 2006 patch and will there be any after that? 

Jinxx We are hoping to release it very soon and we plan to make an 07 patch a few months down the road if needed.


I have sympathy for our German community. I feel like our product is very good at the time of me writing this with only one feature missing (D2).
The Germans unfortunately do not have this version. The problem is that we had 3 versions of the game that we needed to patch. Priority was given to the US and UK users since more people have bought the product and we wanted to make as many people happy as soon as possible. The UK and US version are now the same. This reduces the time to make new patches.
A 2.5 German version was made but was not able to get interplay QA time. Then we released 2.5.5 making it to fix any bugs on the German patch. So we have now compiled a German 2.5.5 patch that should now be in interplay QA again. For 06 we plan on making all the version the same so that we don't have this problem anymore.
In addition The Orion Pirates game will also be one version. The game will be in English but you will get a German manual.
Again I do feel for the German users but I think it is unfair to point the blame at Taldren, We have done everything possible to make our game the way we wanted it in the has taken a few more months but I think most of you will agree the wait has been worth it.
I hope for a German release very soon. It is completed and only need final QA.
As for the Magazine I would be happy to talk to anyone to give the "other" side of the story.
Thank you for you patience and I hope that the situation is solved to your satisfaction.
Joshua Morris

Here is your chance to defend yourself and let everyone know how you feel.

Jinxx Well as I write this the German Patch is being ready to release!

Hawkeye: How do you envision the Dynaverse2 unfolding? I am predicting a lot of chaos at first. What do you think the typical players experience to be?

Jinxx Think I there will be some chaos, but people will learn quickly. To be honest I think that the best servers to play on will be user run. Sysops are going to have a lot of flexibility of the type of game they want and I think people will flock to the best run servers. I think the GFL already plans on running 2 servers and I know there are many more with the same idea.  

Clarification, Hawkeye: Can you explain a little how the Dynaverse2 will work? map size, how to log on, accounts needed? just some details on how it will work. 

Jinxx Very much like the Single player campaign except that you can talk and play with others. It was designed to play the same way from the start. Having multiple people playing it at the same time however will bring a whole new level to the game.  

Hawkeye:  What is the working environment like as a gamer? Do you spend more time playing the game or dealing with politics? Can you describe a day in the life of Jinxx? 

Jinxx If you want time to play games don't make them! Just kidding. I don't get to play games as much as I like but I do spend as much time as I can doing so. I go through every mission in the game and make sure I like what I see. Our scripters are very good and I don't have to make too many comments. I go online sometimes to play against the best SFC players and often get my butt handed to me.
Day to day operations consist in no particular order: Phone calls, Email, Meetings, programming, art, marketing and design), Actual design work, Schedule maintenance, and miscellaneous producer tasks. 

Hawkeye: How about machine specs, personal and otherwise? what is the Taldren test environment like? 

Jinxx Varied. Programmers like to work in the Win2k environment as it cuts down on a lot of rebooting time, but we test and use everything under the sun and QA reinforces that.  

Hawkeye: How would you describe the Taldren family?  

Jinxx Like any tight knit group. We have our spats and arguments but the people are very professional and talented. This is a great group of people to work with.  

Hawkeye:  Favorite era, favorite race? Did you play SFB much? 

Jinxx I personally like the early era Fed CA. When I'm must play late I don't know of a ship I would rather fly then the Fed DNH. I played SFB some, and collected all the rules and SSD's but I never had a regular group however.  

Hawkeye:  How do you feel about the community's modding of the game? The user created models appear to be superior to the models included in the game, how does that make you feel as a game designer/developer? 

Jinxx Like I said I support it. I am glad that the community has the luxury to make high poly models that look awesome. SFC made the decision to make models that would run reasonability on lower end systems. Our Cruiser models are very low poly and most if not all are sub 500. I have seen user created models that have more polygons in an engine section then our whole models uses. I have seen our artists make high polygon models and all I can say is wow. Basically its a design decision that is the issue, not any lack of talent from our artist. 

Clarification, Hawkeye:  I certainly didn't want to imply that the Taldren modelers weren't without talent. I think the decision to go with lower poly models was a wise decision, for those of us who don't necessarily have the top of the line machines. Are you going to stick to the same formula with SFC:OP and keep the poly count low or raise the bar "So to speak"? 

Jinxx We raised it a bit but we still wanted the old models to look good besides the new ones so nothing huge in this department.

Hawkeye:  I would like to see a more community oriented environment like the Unreal Tournament and Quake sites. How about a "This modeler OWNS, this model" "This scripter OWNS this script" feature by Taldren themselves? 

Jinxx I don't think this is a decision that Taldren can make. Taldren doesn't own those rights, so Paramount and Interplay would have to make that choice. 

Hawkeye:  How do you feel about the Intellectual Property debate (see Hellchick's article at Gamespy, or Lucasfilms vs. BadKarma)? Does Taldren retain the right to just shut down a site or a site's content because it infringes on their IP? example: what if a writer mentions the Mirak, an obvious modification of the Kzinti (someone else's IP) and Taldren goes, no, cease and desist... the Mirak are our's.. 

Jinxx Again Taldren does not make those decisions. Paramount owns the right to the material and as I think you have seen so far they have been lenient. 

Clarification, Hawkeye: What is your personal opinion of the Intellectual property argument, not just in regards to your game, but in the gaming industry itself?  

Jinxx Well, I feel it is their property and others have no "right" to alter it and they should have every right to take down a site if they want. I don't think they SHOULD in most cases but I think they should reserve the right.  

Hawkeye: I would like to see some truth to the rumor about user created models/scripts in Orion Pirates. Is Taldren considering user created models or scripts in Orion Pirates. if so whose? Would you care to comment on that? 

Jinxx That's just a rumor at this time but if it is true you'll see their names in the credits.  

Hawkeye:  Are you working with Eagle Eye Software so ShipEdit and FMSE will be compatible with SFC:OP 

Jinxx Eagle Eye has done a great job on their utility so far and they plan to continue support of Orion Pirates.  

Hawkeye:  Who is cuter, me or Captain Starkiller? 

Jinxx Post pics, and start a poll. Maybe can help you.  

Hawkeye:  Do you ever visit some of the player made sites? If so what do you think of them? 

Jinxx Yes! and many are very professional, I would hope that some of them would find jobs as web designers. 

Hawkeye:  Do you have any favorite modelers/scripters? Who are they? 

Jinxx There is a very talented pool and I am happy to see all modders regardless of skill working on the game. I think they all work hard to add to the game.  

Hawkeye: What are you feelings about the move to gamespy? 

Jinxx Mixed. I worked for MPlayer for 3 years and they were the competition. I think the merge of MPlayer employees will help the company in the long run. Both systems were very strong and I think you will see Arcade become the best of both worlds. I think the community should give thee Gamespy guys a break as they work to integrate MPlayer tech into Arcade. It could be the best system out there when they are done.  

Hawkeye: What else can you tell us about Orion Pirates? I am looking at page 101 in the newest PC Gamer and it looks pretty cool. very exciting.

Jinxx We wanted to create an exciting project that involved more than just adding a new race (pirates). So not only did you make 8 distinct cartels that basically double the race selection available but also added a new "advanced era" that will have new ships and weapons for the existing races and pirates. This allowed Taldren to express some creativity while keeping the core game that you have grown to love intact. After you play the advanced era, you'll have a hard time going back, The new ships are a load of fun and the weapons really bring some new tactics to the table.  

Hawkeye:  Are you and the rest of the Taldren crew going to play in D2, how do you feel about unofficial Dynaverse servers?
What is your opinion of online leagues? 

Jinxx I know I am. I'm going to try as many servers as I can for deciding on which one to play full time. I think the user run servers will end up being better than any "official" servers as the sysops will have a lot of time to develop the way they want their campaign to work. The online league have added to the community as the modders have. I support anything that bring the community together.  


Thanks again Jinxx, it was a pleasure and I look forward to trying to find you in the D2...


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