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Starfleet Command: Inerviews: SFCShadow

By Captain Stoneyface (hawkeye) for BlackOps Station, 2001-06-04

SFCShadow aka. Dennis Greene
Writer and Inner Circle member

(Interview conducted over ICQ)

I had the chance to talk to Dennis Greene last night, better known in the community as SFCShadow. As the author of the Starfleet Command 2 Strategy Guide and a member of the Inner Circle of Beta testers, and all around cool guy, he had much to say. Look for the Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates Strategy Guide soon from him. This interview was conducted over ICQ and also had some interaction from the GameSpy Arcade crowd in the SFC2 room. With that said, let’s go to the interview...

Hawkeye: Will this work for you

Dennis Greene: No away.

Hawkeye: So, you were saying you were just invited to a convention, tell us about it.

Dennis Greene: Yes, one I used to "hang out" at when I was just a geeky eyed fan, meeting friends I haven't seen in a year from last time, and now I'm being asked to be one of the panelists.

Hawkeye: You don't walk around in the StarTrek Next Generation suit do you? You know, the overly
tight ones. <grins>

Dennis Greene: I don't do that.
Well I used to do the circuit though for Sci-Fi and Gaming conventions around the country (when I was younger and apparently a lot richer, though I don't recall being richer. LOL).

Dennis Greene: I met my wife as a matter of fact at a Star Trek Convention for the release of the Second Star Trek movie (The Wrath of Khan). But this is more a local convention here in Tucson, sort of a lesser cousin to LepreCon and HexaCon in Phoenix and Scottsdale. (Which I used to hang out in too).

Hawkeye: So how is the book going?

Hawkeye: The next book being the SFC Orion Pirates Strategy Guide

Dennis Greene: About usual, lots of frustration, panic and desperately trying to do a great job in a very short time.
I've written about over 98,000 words for it so far. :)

Dennis Greene: Correct, I'm writing the next strategy guide for SFC:OP

Hawkeye: How many words was the SFC2 Strategy Guide

Hawkeye: What, are you counting right now lol.
(Hawkeye: picks up his copy. 1...2....3....4.) LOL

Dennis Greene: Umm...well, not that many. <smile> I think it published with about 58,000.
There were only 23 chapters and 3 appendixes.
This book I had hoped to do about 47 chapters with 3 appendixes. But I'll probably end up doing about 34 to 35 chapters and 2 appendixes.

Hawkeye: Had you the choice, anything that you would have done differently with the first one?

Hawkeye: HeeHee as long as this is fun for you.

Dennis Greene: Oh hell yes! LOL More time! As a writer I have really very little say in what time I'm allowed as a
writer. The first book I was given 4 weeks to write it, and we ended up spending 7 or 8 weeks I think. There is so much I wanted to include in the last book (which I hope to address in this book), but a lot of things can conspire to prevent many things from happening, but the biggest one is time.
This book I've had three weeks so far. Writing strategy guides is all about VERY short deadlines.

Hawkeye: What do you want to cover in more detail?

Dennis Greene: Well, this book will include a (well as complete as I can) compendium of EVERY ship, for EVERY race and Cartel present in the game, something like 2000 ships. That's a complete history and description for every model, variant and ship present.

Dennis Greene: In addition to more strategies, and tips on how to improve your game from newbie to veteran.

Hawkeye: All those ships, with histories is a big undertaking.

Dennis Greene: Yes it was, a MASSIVE research project and it took a lot more effort then I thought it would.

Hawkeye: So, also will this be a Dynaverse 2 Strategy guide as well?

Dennis Greene: The goal was so that EVERYONE, that played the series whether they had the SFB background or not, had a common frame of reference.

Dennis Greene: That is one of the things I hope to cover in this book, a lot of that depends on Taldren/Interplay at the moment and unfortunately I can't make comment on that right now.

Hawkeye: So what do you use for references on that kind of project like that, in regards to ships and races?

Dennis Greene: Well first I contacted Chris Taylor through Taldren. I told him what I was doing (at that time I was just doing it as an independent effort and was going to privately publish an addendum to the game manual for SFC2). He sent me his original manuscript for the SFC1 manual. From there I looked up references in SFB material, websites and people I knew who might have the information I needed.
When I was offered this book I knew I wanted it in that book because it would reach a much larger audience then I could reach by myself. So I expanded it to include all of SFC2 and SFC:OP as well, which as I said is over 2000 ships now.

Hawkeye: Wow. Do you want to give us a brief overview of the rest of your work?

Dennis Greene: Work as in writing work or in General?

Hawkeye: Writing mostly, but anything else that you find interesting enough to mention

Dennis Greene: Well lets see, credits listing: Written for the following paper magazines:

  • Battle Technology
  • White Dwarf
  • The General

Written for several online magazines like:

  • Shocked
  • Gameaxis
  • CombatSim

Developed my own online Magazine (put out like 8-9 issues and the first 6 issues were included in the SFC2 bonus CD published by Interplay) Hailing Frequencies.
Worked on a tremendous amount of computer games as a beta tester, over the last 8 or so years, the titles would take forever to write out.
Worked on a couple of computer games, both as a lead tester and tester as well as some work for Taldren: StarFleet Command II: Empires at War Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates
Masters of Orion writing contest, placed fourth out of 57 entrants. (I had only a 12 hour lead time, I'm betting I could have won it if I had known about it sooner. LOL).
Published two books:

  • StarFleet Command II: Empires at War Official Strategy guide (by BradyGAMES)
  • StarFleet Command: Orion Pirates Official Strategy Guide (by BradyGAMES).

That a good enough summary?

Hawkeye: Wow, amazing!

Dennis Greene: Realize though that as a writer, professionally I'm just getting started. I really just started to do this professionally in the last two years, and been trying 'professionally' in the last three.

Dennis Greene: So I'm still pretty new. :)

Hawkeye: Do you go to the Fan Fiction Forums much at Taldren's forum

Dennis Greene: Yes, I know a few of the writers there, some of them I speak to on a regular basis and give as much encouragement as I can.
I love writing fiction (I'm much better at it then at strategy guides), but I needed to break into the "biz" somewhere, you strike where possible and this was possible. :)
I want to write fiction and plan and hope my career goes in those directions, but I'll take any work I can get. Most writers I know would. I'm no different.

Hawkeye: Plans for your novel career? Is this your favorite genre?

Hawkeye: And did you go to writing school at all? or just pure born talent? ;-)

Dennis Greene: I love Sci-fantasy or sci-fi. Yes I hope to get published in those areas this or next year.
I've already gotten a trilogy written that is Sci-fantasy based and I'm going to take a stab at sci-fi as well. (I've already started an outline for a book or two in that direction), and as soon as I'm done with this book I plan on "hitting the pavement" as it were to get them done and published.
This industry has a funny kind of catch 22.

Dennis Greene: LOL... I wish!
No, I never took any writing lessons or anything like that, I curse the days I didn't pay attention as much in English class in high school as I wish I had. So I guess it's all raw talent, though probably more raw talent combined with long experience. I've been a hobbyist writer for almost 20 was just that I had a career and never had to pursue it like I have to now. Necessity is sometimes the source of all incentives.

Hawkeye: True.

Hawkeye: So, with your busy schedule, do you get to play very much?

Dennis Greene: Not when I'm actively writing. When I'm on the job so to speak I write or research 16-18 hours, I average 14-15 hour days when I'm in "writers" mode.
When I'm not actively writing, well before I starting pursuing this as a career I had a lot more time, now. Not as much, because I'm always thinking about the next project and the future, but I do have more time then now for example. LOL

Hawkeye: lol

Hawkeye: What is you favorite race to play when you have a chance and do you have favorite tactics?

Hawkeye: Which Dynaverse2 server is you favorite?

Dennis Greene: I play them all, I have no real favorites. My favorite is the one I'm currently playing. I find some like the Romulans and Lyrans to be pretty simple, but I am as skilled with any race and have not specialized, or perhaps I should say that I've specialized in SFCx as a whole and not on just one facet of it. But Dependent on my mood, it can be any this about describes me in SFC....

Hawkeye: Okay, shoot.

Dennis Greene: I play them all, I've mastered them all. Currently the Federation and Klingons are the ones I've been playing a lot. But that can and does change at any time. I have the heart of a Klingon Warrior, the convictions of a Federation Starfleet Officer, the cunning of a Lyran commander, as ruthlessness of a Mirak leader, flexibility of a Hydran merchant, the Mystery of a Romulan Centurion, toughness of a Gorn Warlord, and lay down justice like a member of the ISC.
As for favored tactics, well the ones that allow me to win of course and I study them all and I try to master them all. :)

Dennis Greene: I enjoy Arcticfire’s and Elfe Wolfe's servers the most I think.

Dennis Greene: Actually that quote was an old quote, I've been playing more Lyran and Hydran of late. :)

Hawkeye: Excellent, very eloquent response. So much like a writer. Who is the quote from?

Dennis Greene: From me, the website put up about me for Task Force Delphinus.
It's about a year out of date now, but that's where I got it. :)

Hawkeye: Excellent, I will have to check that out.

Hawkeye: So, how is the testing for SFC:OP going. When does the serious Beta testing take place

Dennis Greene: Ummm...I can't comment on that. It goes.

Hawkeye: Okay, understood. Can you discuss your opinions or impressions at all?

Dennis Greene: I think it will be a lot of fun. It adds a very important element into the game that has been in each of the series before it, playable Orions. It will have outside of SFB, the most comprehensive ships to date, as I said over 2000 ships. It will do everything SFC2 does and then some, I'll be using it when it comes out and I'll buy a copy of it (like I have for every SFC title).
I just hope I'll have time to enjoy it with the many friends I've come to know in the over two years I've been involved with project. That is probably my greatest regret is that doing what I do, is that it takes time away from the friends I've made along the way. Despite that, I make EVERY effort to remain in contact even if it’s only to have a quick chat.

Hawkeye: Very cool. I will be buying it too. I can't wait, no matter what.

Dennis Greene: :)

Dennis Greene: I do hope that more play the game then debate about it though in future. That is probably a vain hope, but I do hope it just the same. LOL

Hawkeye: LOL

Hawkeye: I like a lot of the player made scripts because you can play as Orions in a limited way. How much do you get to play around with the modding community?

Hawkeye: Be it either ships or scripts

Dennis Greene: I love a lot of what the mod community has done and think it's incredible. I get to see and get invited to test some of the material that goes out, which is cool. I really look forward to its maturing and coming out with stuff we think is impossible now.

Hawkeye: Yes, amazing stuff is available. Right now we have a hosted Dynaverse2 friendly mod pack by Rick (Pneumonic81) and I love to see his ships in the Dyna. I am glad that Taldren asked some of the Community for involvement with SFC:OP

Hawkeye: I love the ships I have seen so far by he and Cleeve.

Dennis Greene: :)

Hawkeye: What do you think of the ships so far. Have you seen them In-Game?

Dennis Greene: No, we've not gotten to see the new models or artwork yet.

Hawkeye: Hmm. Oh well...Have you seen the screenshots from the various sources?

Hawkeye: How is it working for Taldren?

Dennis Greene: Like any job I imagine, it has it's ups and downs. Taldren is a group of great guys and
I'm honored to have gotten to know them. I wish them nothing but the best, they've earned it in my opinion. I'm not currently working for pay with them, but I will always support them.

Hawkeye: Absolutely, I will support them as best I can Too.

Hawkeye: Do you mind if I get say 3 questions from the community?

Dennis Greene: Ah, sure, fire away.

I then opened the floor on the SFC2 chat on GameSpy and told the room that I was interviewing SFCShadow and I would take the first three questions for him.

<nevian> SFCShadow: What was your favorite part of working with OP?

Dennis Greene: Getting a chance to write the next strategy guide. :-)

<afCUB-K9> SFCShadow: what’s is you favorite race to play and why?

Dennis Greene: (Interviewers note. Dennis gave the same answer as above for convenience.) I play them all, I've mastered them all. Currently the Lyran and Hydrans are the ones I've been playing a lot. But that can and does change at any time. I have the heart of a Klingon Warrior, the convictions of a Federation Starfleet Officer, the cunning of a Lyran commander, as ruthlessness of a Mirak leader, flexibility of a Hydran merchant, the Mystery of a Romulan Centurion, toughness of a Gorn Warlord, and lay down justice like a member of the ISC.

<EFF-Ams_-Murjuri> SFCShadow:: What’s it like turning SFB into 3 different games?

Dennis Greene: Fantastic

Dennis Greene: But you have to realize, that I didn't really turn anything into anything. Taldren did.
I been there for the ride perhaps, and in whatever small way I've contributed, but they did the work and they deserve the credit.

Hawkeye: Thanks Dennis. That's all I have for now.

Dennis Greene: No problem, wife wants to watch a movie anyway. :)

So, there you have it, all. I want to thank SFCShadow for taking time out of his busy schedule to do this sit down. I also wanted to thank the community for being able to provide interviews and for their questions on GameSpy Arcade. Dennis is very busy right now with the next strategy guide and is one of the most professional people I have met in this humble community. My appreciation to you, sir.

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