Today I will be joined by another member of the Ultimate Universe Mod team, he has been part of the modding team for a little over three years now, and in that time he has done impeccable work for the mod. Recently he was made the second Assistant Director, and also holds the title of Quality Assurance Director.
Please welcome to the program Mr.Travis Durf, but we all know him as Muldrf.
Q: So how long have you been in the modding community for? And when did you start?
As far as the Legacy modding community I have been working with CJG/UU since the middle of 2007. I had done some minor things prior to joining the UU team but nothing I ever released. The first and only other mods I ever released were some maps for Doom 2 back when it was new. I tinkered around after that with maps for other games, but nothing very serious.
Q:What was it about modding that fascinated you, and was that why you ultimately got into modding yourself?
To me Modding is most fascinating in that it lets you add things to games that you always wanted. The reason I actively became a member of UU was because a special situation happened to overlap one of with abilities from my job, more on that later though.
Q: Can you recall the first thing you attempted to script?
As far as “Legacy Mission Scripting”, which is what most referred to in Legacy as Scripting. That would be easy, it was what became the Vs Battle mode. Remore, who happens to be one of the brightest people I have ever come across, was talking about something he found in the Mission Scripting that he expected would let you create a real customizable battle where you picked the exact enemy ships you would fight. That’s all the incentive I needed to learn scripting and try to tackle it. It was a major lacking feature in the game, and it was one I REALLY wanted. That’s what Skirmish should have been to start, and it came out far better than I ever though possible.
Q: How was it that you first heard about the Ultimate Universe Mod?
I came across UU on the no longer existing Official Star Trek Legacy forums that Bethesda use to maintain. I was very active over there, while I didn’t mod I got in discussions and followed all the modders there. I tinkered with a few things but left it up to the people with the time.
I was received very well by them. My work was on a very small part of the mod at that time, but we all talked regular on Team Speak and had quite a lot of fun those days in multiplayer.
Q: What was the first thing you released for legacy? And how do you think it faired within the community?
That would be the old Race Selection tool (which is now called the UUTools) that was part of the UU Dominion pack release in August 2007. It was a small part of quite a nice pack so there wasn’t a lot of feedback.
As far as an “independent” release. That would have been the Modified Legacy Mission Editor. I had done a fair bit of making the original Bethesda Mission Editor more user friendly. It was received very well by the mission scripters of the day.
Q: Do you intend to mod for any other game than Star Trek Legacy?
Not at this time.
In this next section we talk more about casual gaming, and other Trek related topics.
Q: So what are a few of your favorite games ? And they do not have to be related to Star Trek.
I play very little these days but some old favorites would be Summoner, Ultima Ascension, the Mechwarrior games and Mech Commander. I have to throw in Wing Commander Prophecy, X Wing Alliance. There really hasn’t been anything very recent that has left a lasting impression.
Q: Do you console game at all? And if so what is your preferred console? Also would you like to share your gamertag with the readers?
I don’t play consoles these days. Well I play a little Wii but I hesitate to call it a Console..
Ha ha, I would have to agree with you on that one. The only time I get excited about playing a Wii, Is when Wii Bowling is involved.
Q: Do you have any favorite Star Trek games, and which was the first one you owned?
Star Trek 25th Anniversary for the PC is my favorite all time Trek game. The first Trek games I ever had were Star Trek 25th Anniversary for the NES and Gameboy as I got both for Christmas that year.
Q: How long have you been a Star Trek fan, also what was your favorite and least liked series growing up?
I’ve been a fan since the mid 80s sometime. I was a bit young to call myself a fan but soon as I found the Original Series reruns I was hooked.
Q: Do you have a favorite Trek movie of all time? And explain your reason behind the choice.
Star Trek 2 of course is the all time best Trek film. It had a great nemesis, not to mention the most amazing space battle in the films. It wasn’t a one sided battle, and overall was largely a fair fight, after the ambush and trickery was out of the way.
Q: What is your favorite class of ship? And what makes it unique to you? (It can be either canon, or non canon)
My favorite ship off all time has to be the Original Connie. It was the true first, which makes it unique in a way that no others can be. It has a simple majestic beauty to it. There are a lot of amazing designs out there though.
Q: What are a few of your favorite mods?
Hmm. I’m a sucker for canon ships, what ever series they might be from. That is if they are done reasonably well. For specifics that fall outside that the first to come to mind are CoolGuy’s ships.
In the final section of the interview, we get talk more about his involvement with the Ultimate Universe Mod.
Q: What was your reaction to being made one of two assistant directors of the Ultimate Universe Mod?
“I don’t have the time”. I think that’s basically why when Mindwipe moved on that there became two of us. That’s the only way I would even accept the title. For a good while I had added “2nd” to the beginning of the title.
Q: In your opinion what is the one defining feature of Ultimate Universe, that no one else has yet to accomplish?
Chris is never afraid of “giving them to much”. People want options so Chris says give them options. So while some have in the past said there is “to much”, we prefer that to leaving people wanting more. Our goal is to make the best and most complete Trek Universe in Legacy, some might say to make the “Ultimate” Trek “Universe” for Legacy.
Q: So what was it that motivated you create the Ultimate Universe Modding Tools? Chris mentioned it as being a funny story.
The first thing I did for UU was the Race Selection tool. Chris had made some batch files that copied alternate race files to change what race you could pick ships from in the now removed One on One mode. I didn’t like having 6 icons plus Legacy itself for that. I had been writing batch files for fun and work for years, so I spent maybe an hour writing a single “smarter” batch file that could handle it all in one and posted it to the UU Forum. That wasn’t good enough for me so I looked of another framework to use and came up with what is called a hta file, basically an executable webpage. That soon gave way to a Visual Basic Application and the UUTools was born. They have grown in features ever since and are many thousands of lines of code. It has been a great learning experience.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most difficult aspect of scripting for a game like Legacy?
The biggest problem with Legacy mission scripting is that it’s “nearly” C++, and that good solid code doesn’t “always” work as expected. That quickly becomes frustrating to scripters. When you spend many hours making the script to find it does work right and spend many more trying to get it to work. Sometimes you find it was right, but because you used a specific variable name it failed to work.
Q: If you had just introduced a friend to the Ultimate Universe Mod, which feature would you point out to them first?
That would have to be all the amazing ships. After all this time on of my favorite things to do in the game is look at these beauties up close. In part it has to do with wanting to see more of the ships and that I loved onscreen, and in part it’s to look at the amazing work done by the artists and modelers. There are literally hundreds of ships in UU and they were created by a large number of talented artists, many for other games and some specifically for UU and/or Legacy.
I would like to read you a quote that your friend Chris Jones said about you last week, in the first episode.
“His attention to detail is second to none – and I can say that without him – The Ultimate Universe would not be where it is as you read this. His attention to the Star Trek XI pack resulted in a lot of players enjoying the level of detail. “
Q: What persuaded you to port Baz1701's ST XI Ships to Legacy, and the Ultimate Universe Mod?
We had been talking about doing an XI Pack since before the release of UU2.0 in November 2009. I eventually learned to port. After awhile I came across Baz’s XI and XI Inspired models and things fell into place. As I have that crazy attention to detail I included as many features in the porting process as I could. The less standard features of the models are that the station is usable as a dockable repair station, the shuttle has custom “smaller” lights to better fit it’s scale, it also shares the animated bussards from the XI Connie even though they are nearly impossible to see. For all ships it was practical I included breaknodes they also include plasma emitters which is a feature the stock ships had but I believe Moonraker is the only one to have used them in the past. The XI Connie styled ships all have the texture animated bussards and translucent bussard domes. All of the models feature low poly damage meshes, as well as custom strobe patterns on the lights. One issue that I addressed that is often seen with ported ships is the sprite based lights will show through the hull of the ship. Another issue we usually refer to as torpedo circling was minimized as much as I could manage, although it’s never perfect it is greatly improved from what it “would have been”.
Q: What is it like being assistant director of the Ultimate Universe Mod? I assume there are a lot of responsibilities?
Basically I coordinate and compile all our beta and release builds and keep track of what people are working on what part of the mod. I also contact people who release content we would like to include in future UU released to obtain permissions to use their work. I’m also the QA Director and take care to ensure that anything coming into the mod meets our release standards. I also work to bring anything already released up to our current standards.
Q: Now that you have begun to do touch-up on models, do you plan to begin to learn how to model, and eventually build your own ships?
I might eventually learn to make my own models, but honestly with the time I have to devote to it I doubt anyone will ever see something I built in Legacy.
Q: How do you see Star Trek gaming progressing in the next few years?
At this point Legacy has some age to it, and it wasn’t exactly the perfect engine to start with. I don’t know where Star Trek gaming will be in a few years unless something like Excalibur gets released.
And I think we will end the interview with this question...
Q: With the release of Star Trek Online, do you believe Chris Jones Gaming can continue to keep the Ultimate Universe Mod up-to date, and unique?
I haven’t played STO, so I can’t say how it might affect Legacy’s lifespan. I’m doubtful STO will have literally hundreds of unique ships at your disposal with the press of a button, so games such as Legacy will still have their place. We have long term plans of continuous improvement to the mod by bringing the quality of existing content up, as well as the inclusion of new content such as maps and ships and custom scripted missions. Until something better suited to our needs comes along we will keep improving Legacy to the best of our abilities.
I would once again like to thank Muldrf for taking time out of his work in the Ultimate Universe Mod, to participate in this interview.
I wasn't around much when Muldrf was working his magic, but I was very glad to see the end result of his hard work. And I can't wait to see what he brews up next for UUM. It's also nice to see that UUM is in good hands, with him and Phoenix as assistant directors.
Please join me for next week's Christmas special, and to keep it in the spirit of Christmas, I will make next weeks guest a surprise :D
Until then I'm Angel Hernandez, and this...has been Spotlight.
The Official Website Of Star Trek Legacy: The Ultimate Universe
As always please feel free to give your opinion on today's interview, and leave a comment.
I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that after the Christmas special, that I will be making Spotlight a one day a week event. This decision was made due to the fact that it will make it easier on myself to line up guests, and to ensure a level of continuous quality on each interview. They will be posted every Wednesday.