Today I am excited to be talking with one of the most popular names in the Bridge Commander modding community, and his quality standard is one of the highest known. He has released such ships as the Galaxy Evo, the Wolf 359 and Romulan Warbird packs, and his famously known Excalibur Class.
Spotlight is proud to introduce Luiz Cordova Junior. We all know him more simply as Legacy, or LC.
Q: So how long have you been in the modding community for? And when did you start?
I've modding since 2003. Some moments where i had to drop it, but i never really left it.
Q: What was it about modding that fascinated you, and was that why you ultimately got into modding yourself?
I think the most fascinating part of it is the actual gameplay. Differently from CGI and 3d for movies, when you create a mod, you can actually play with it.
Q: Do you remember the first thing you tried to mod, or build?
That was a .40 pistol I've modded for Counter Strike 1.5
I was addicted to playing Counter Strike, and the whole CS thing is a mod for Half Life with open tools, so that were a simple movement.
Q: In your own opinion, how do you feel you were received within the BC modding community when you first started?
Back at that time, the BC community was still a young growing community. We all miss that time, when several mainline ships were still lacking. Every month someone had a different discovery about how to improve the game, and to mod something we all considered unchangeable. That's what got me into cracking the bridge making process.
Q: What was your first mod released? And how well was it received?
I think that was a port of a CGI model I've made couple years before. It was called USS Crusade A.It got some average reviews, a decent amount of downloads, but I admit that the model was seriously lacking.
Q: Do you mod for any other games other than Star Trek ones?
During the past years I have been involved with several other games aside the trek games (BC, SFC, Armada and Legacy).
I've built lots of stuff for Counter Strike (personal use, mostly), unreal 2004 (an SW project), Freelancer, TES 4 Oblivion, Command and Conquer and most recently I've signed to the Diaspora Team, which is producing a Battlestar Galactica Mod for Freespace OS.
Q: So what are a few of your favorite games (And they don't have to be Star Trek games)
Well, it's something that changes from time to time, but I like a lot playing RPGs and usually come back to play then again.
I can include Bioware's Knights of the Old Republic, TES 4 Oblivion as the ones I always come to play again. And the new Mass Effect series, both games have been great.
I also like to play Star Wars Battlefront 2 a lot, because of the space combat system.
Bridge commander spent a lot of time in this list, but it becomes really dated by now, and I hasn't it installed for a couple years now.
Q: Do you console game at all? And if so what is your preferred machine? Also would you like to share your gamertag?
No, the last console I owned was an old Atari.. he he.
The only console I play is my PSP 2000, which sadly is broken by now, need to replace the LCD (again!)
Q: What are your favorite Trek games? Which was your first one?
Good question, If I stop and think now, I'll choose Elite Force 2 and Starfleet Command 2.
Bridge Commander was amazing when it was released, but after 2-3 years, skirmishes become almost unplayable again. When the few mods with missions got released, BC had already lost its appeal to me.
Legacy was a huge disappointment as well and the other games got tiring after sometime, except perhaps armada 2; it can be fun sometimes, but it's no different than any other FPS in most senses.
The first trek game I've ever played was SFC 1. It was amazing when I got it and got able to play with all those TMP ships, just dropped it when I got SFC 2.
Q: How long have you been a Star Trek fan, also what was your favorite and least liked series growing up?
I really can't remember exactly. I remember watching the movies when I was like 10 y/o and some TNG episodes here and there. It's something that grew up with me.My favorite series is without any doubt TNG. It was an amazing re-take from the movies I loved and after season 3 the episodes became deeper and if I take my top 10 episodes of all series, likely 5 or 6 will be from there.
As for the least liked, I think it's more like the seasons I disliked mostly. I think all of the series have their own charm, but of course the writers had their good and bad moments.The season I dislike mostly is the 2nd of Enterprise. When I watch it again, I really can't find a single episode that I say "this one was really good!", all of them go from forgettable to average and that's all.
Q: Do you have a favorite Trek movie of all time? And explain your reason behind the choice.
Let's say it's a tie. I love ST II simply because of the Nebula battle between the Enterprise and the Reliant, it's a perfect blind space combat recreation. The other movie is surely first contact. I think it's the best of all trek movies if you consider the movie as a whole; good plot, good action, good FX, a very good movie overall.
Q: What is your favorite class of ship? And what makes it unique to you? (It can be either canon, or non canon)
I bet some people would expect me to love the Excalibur, as I devoted so much time to it, but no. I think my favorite class of ship is the D'Deridex Warbird (and I devoted quite some time to it too, he he).
The warbird is so unique that it stands apart from any other trek ship and creates the line that we all define as a Romulan ship design.
If I'm forced to pick a Federation design, it'll be the Ambassador. It's elegant, classic and tremendously underused.
Q: Do you have any favorite mods, aside from your own of course?
When we speak about ST gaming, I think the mods I've waited longer and kept installed for most time are the SNS Galaxy and some of Viper's bridges.
The SNS galaxy is an amazing recreation and the final result is amazing still now, although I considered it resource intensive when it was released. I liked it so much that I matched the look of my Wolf 359 ships to the look Scotchy put on it.
As for Viper's bridges, that’s because they are the unique real BC bridges I was not directly involved in developing. I and Viper worked very hard on getting those bridges to look as they should and I consider his solo works still amazing.
Q: If you could recommend any one of your mods to a first time Bridge Commander player, which would you suggest and why?
"Grab all my bridge sets and the 3rd Era retextures!"
Jokes aside, I think that my intrepid, defiant and warbird are still a most needed ones, also the Excalibur.
I still like a lot my ambassador lineage too, quite well optimized models.
Now it's time we get to the more in-depth questions, these will consist of multi-layered questions and detailed answers.
LC would also like to make clear that while he was involved with the development of Excalibur, that he is no longer a member of the team. This is something he feels that deserves to be finally made public. His opinions do not reflect Excalibur, or its development team.
Q : I understand that you were part of the development team of Excalibur, that must be a tremendous undertaking. Could you give the readers a small idea of what Excalibur is and what it is trying to accomplish?
Well, At a certain point we (developers) felt that Bridge Commander became much more of a boundary than the support to what we were trying to create. At that point we decided to move away from the engine of BC and create something that could support all the features that all trek gamers were expecting in a new ST game and that the new official releases like Legacy were lacking.
So, the basic goal of the Excalibur project was to create a new trek game, with up to date graphics that could astonish players as new games do, both in space as in away combat and would not limit the development so much as BC old engine did.
After a couple research for engines, open source or not, that could support this kind of development we assumed that we would not find the exactly match and decided to join with the Nano FX team that were developing a brand new engine that could be focused in accepting the exactly needs that Excalibur needed.
Sadly, a couple months ago I was forced to leave the Excalibur team due to personal life issues, but still, I left a lot of stuff to the team work on it, and a couple surprises.
When you start a ship from a 3d mockup, one thing that will really happen is that you'll end up fitting the shapes and details to the form and polygons you have on the mockup.
I consider that bad, because the shape ends up conforming the model and not the opposite. That's a weak designing technique.
I like to sit on the paper and sketch the concept a couple times until I like the overall shape and then I move into the model.
Collecting a good deal of references and studying the kind of class you want to build and it's requirements is also a very important step.
Q: What are the preferred programs that you use when you are building your ships?
I model in 3ds max, but it's more a question of taste than anything else. I used Max at work all day so I'm quite familiar to it.
For texturing I consider that Photoshop is still unmatched, although I know some people that like different tools. With so many available is always a matter of taste and knowing the tool.
Q: Are you currently working on any ships that you are willing (or able) to share with us? And will they be Excalibur-only releases or will they be also available for Bridge Commander?
Right now I'm not working on any Excalibur stuff. I just handed to the team the character I've started before leaving the project, which I finished as learning process, you may see it at the project soon.
I'm currently working at the Rising Star, which is a Battlestar Galactica ship which will appear at the Diaspora project and a couple other personal projects.
I'm also starting to texture my Galactica, which I've built last year before my life gone nuts.
It really depends on the model, the use intended and my free time.
I can produce an non-canon ship from concept to textures in 2 days, but that's not the usual.
The entire process of producing the intrepid package took nearly two years, due to real life issues, so it varies a lot.
Usually it takes about 40-50 hours of work to produce a good quality ingame ship model.
Q: Out of everything you have built so far, which has given you the most amount of challenge?
The character I've mentioned for the Excalibur project.
Organic modelling is nothing like producing ships, it's far more complicated to get something that look vaguely decent.
Q: This may be a touchy subject, but you have in the past expressed your position on individuals that wish to modify your work. I'm sure most of the veterans in the community including myself know why you have chosen to not allow your work to be modified, but a lot of people that may not be aware of this . Could you give the readers a small explanation of where you stand on this matter, and how it will affect your future releases?
Well, all modelers do create models because they love modeling. From those, some do that for publicity, some because they love that specific design, some to help the community. I do simply because I love those designs and to model.
Sadly, sometimes people become so much interested in publicity that take, let's say, "steps" to show up their names as much as they can, even if over other people's work.
From my experience, I've learned that those "steps" can include nearly anything, from not giving the proper credits to real mod theft.
In the past I had my models stolen, retextured/bashed/changed and re-released as a new product (mod-theft); models that were retextured and recalled in a way that makes the retexturer the one that produced the entire job (no less wrong); proper credited retextures made without permissions and most recently I found several of my models rendered in the deviant art galleries as if they were produced by the "artists", of course, with no credit at all, simply because the people were claiming all credit to themselves.
I consider this offensive because I, in the same way as any modeler, put a lot of effort in produce any model that were ever released to any game.
This kind of attitude just makes you stop and wonder why you let people use your stuff, if at the end, it'll be distorted in something different from what you wanted it to be; so I ended up cutting permissions to any derivative work and most of the portings.
I know that this decision punishes a lot of decent people that want to create new work from my work because of few individuals that have not acted well in the past, but the fact is that those "situations" happened way too much in the past years to continue to be ignored.
And now for the final question...
Q: Where do you see the entire Star Trek modding community going in the next few years?
I think that it all depends on the way the star trek franchise as a whole moves on.
I consider that the latest movie is a very good action/sci-fi movie, if you stop to be close minded to the existing trek and see it as a different perspective, separated from normal continuity.
If trekkers remain close minded and ignore that development, trek as a whole will come way too attached to the past to develop into new interesting stuff. And we all need new stuff to keep our interest on something.
Also, it depends on what becomes released for gamers on the upcoming 2-3 years. Legacy was like a huge hit on the community because it ended up being a lot less than expected, and I hardly see any commercial trek game to take the right time to develop in what people expect.
That's where projects like Excalibur come in; It's developed by people who really love trek and to do what they are doing, and that has much more chance to become the right kind of game a trekker wants than a commercial-bonded project, specially where it comes to modding and being open to changes.
If the trek gaming community becomes only the modding community, it'll be gone pretty soon because the existing games to be modded now are way too stretched to survive more 2-3 years.
Once again I would like to thank LC, for making the time available to participate in this interview.
I would also like to point out that after this interview took place, that LC was asked to rejoin the Excalibur development team. He has not as of yet made the decision to return or not.
It was great to get a look into LC's thought process, I have always been curious as to how some of these people go about creating these elegant ships.
It's kind of ironic, one of the first ships I fell in love with back when i first got my copy of Bridge Commander, was the Excalibur. Now almost a decade later here I am, now friends with the man who brought it to the community. The Excalibur was the reason I started to mod. And I can now I can stand before you, and say that my Excalibur Class retexture is one of the most downloaded versions on BCfiles. And if it wasn't for Steven Davis and Luiz Cordova Junior, I may never had gotten into modding, and this website and everything I have worked on, would not have existed.
Until next time, I am Angel Hernandez and this...has been Spotlight
If you wish to take a look a closer look at the work that LC has done you can find links to his portfolio, and galleries below. As well as links to his profile page on Bridge Commander Files, and the Excalibur forums.
LC's DeviantArt page:
LC's Gameartisans gallery:
LC's CGsociety gallery:
LC's BCFiles download pages:
Here is also a link to the 3rd Era bridges also on BCFiles, many of which LC has worked on.
Excalibur Development Forums:
Also fell free to give your opinion on this episode, by clicking on the comment button at the beginning of this article.
Please tune in next week, as we direct the Spotlight onto two more individuals within the community.
Spotlight is pleased to announce Bankrupt Studios, and Ultimate Universe Mod Assistant Director Muldrf.