I am your host Angel (Meteorafallen) Hernandez, and tonight I will be sitting down and speaking with one of the most widely known contributors of the Star Trek modding community.
This person has been around since the days of Starfleet Command and has released such classic mods as Universe at War for Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates, and the TNG Mega Mod for Starfleet Command 3. His latest and largest project that I was happy to have been a part of for Star Trek: Legacy, "The Ultimate Universe" has grossed more than 150,608 downloads and that number continues to grow by the minute. He has also caught the attention of people that are involved with Star Trek such as: Derrek Chester, George Takei, and Leonard Nimoy. Each who were gracious enough to donate their talents to the mod.
He is the Founder of Chris Jones Gaming, the director of Star Trek: Legacy The Ultimate Universe, and a very good friend of mine. Please welcome Mr. Chris Jones!
Q: So how long have you been in the modding community for? And when did you start?
I’ve been modding Star Trek Games since the year 2000 – when I started playing Starfleet Command – the 1st game in that franchise.. Awesome Game!
Q: What was it about modding that fascinated you, and was that why you ultimately got into modding yourself?
The idea that I could make the game do something other than what it was originally intended to do was a concept that grabbed me from the beginning. SFC1 was a great game out of the box, but not totally my idea of Star Trek. The whole Starfleet Battles thing bored me actually, I wanted my TNG ships and that sort of feel.
Q; Do you remember the first you attempted to mod, or build?
The first thing I modded was the FBB – or the Federation battleship in Starfleet Command 1. It became uber! I have to credit my brother Steve for alerting me to the fact that things could be changed in the game. He sent an email about what he’d done to the Fed Battleship – and I tried it myself – the bug started there.
Q: How was it that you heard about the modding community?
As time went in 2000-01 I found that a lot of people were actually building new 3d models for SFC1 – Rick Knox for 1 – Moonraker – and I found that a community had sprung up around this game, dedicated to making it look better and play better. I was hooked. I never became a modeler myself, I was too fascinated with using everyone else’s cool stuff.
Pretty well as I recall – the SFC1 community at the time was loving this new Star Trek game – and a lot of them wanted to see newer cooler stuff in one place.
Q: What was your first mod released? And how well was it received?
My first mod was a total conversion for Starfleet Command 1 – Lots of TNG and stuff the original game never had – and new missions which I was proud to have scripted myself. That mod is still online here..
The link to this mod can be found in the show notes...
There’s an update to it on that site as well. For a time I was an admin on SFC3 Files. Those were the days, lol. I would say that it was received very well as I still to this day get comments on it..
Q: Do you mod for any other games other than Star Trek ones?
No. The reason was that I was so intensely into the Star Trek games there really wasn’t time for other games and still have a real life. I think the Star Trek Gaming community might be glad I didn’t do other stuff. I put almost my entire life into modding Star Trek games.
This next section of the interview moves into gaming, and other Trek related topics.
Q: So what are a few of your favorite games (And they don't have to be Star Trek games)
Garry’s Mod on Steam. I love messing around with that – seeing where it takes my mind. How many versions of Alyx are there? Lol.
Gran Turismo – the entire series.
I don’t play a lot of games – you’d think I would with me owning a website called Chris Jones Gaming. I like to report on the gaming industry and such, but my real life doesn’t leave time for a lot of gaming. At this point I’m playing my own mod, Star Trek: Legacy The Ultimate Universe and looking for bugs. No new content from me anymore.
Q: Do you console game at all? And if so what is your preferred machine? Also would you like to share your gamertag?
Playstation only – we started with the PS1 back in 1996 – Loved Twisted Metal 2 – still play it to this day. I don’t have my own gamer tag, but if you see my son on the Playstation Network, NYJonesy26 – say hello.
Q: What are your favorite Trek games? Which was your first one?
The first trek game I played was Starfleet Command 1 – I’d have to say my favorite is Star Trek: Legacy – modded – not stock. Legacy, even more than Bridge Commander, is a game, through modding, that has been my realization of what I want in a Star Trek Game. Ever since SFC1, I’ve wanted what I see in Legacy. Just a note – Star Trek Online is an awesome game – I just don’t find I have time for MMO’s like that – they can suck your life away. When I mention Legacy as my favorite trek game – that’s the modded Ultimate Universe version. Stock Legacy was, in all honesty, crap out of the box. It took a lot of heat from other Trek game communities, but what my team and I did to it made it respectable, and to this day, thee most popular Star Trek Legacy total conversion mod.
Q: How long have you been a Star Trek fan, also what was your favorite and least liked series growing up?
I have been a Star trek fan since the 70s re-runs of TOS – yes I am old enough to remember the Watergate scandal interrupting my Star Trek in the 70s. I was angry, lol. I was not keen on TNG the first two years of it.. but.. a co-worker in 1990 told me I had to see this one episode. I did, and forgot about TOS for a long time. The episode was ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’. Now that was/is Star Trek at its finest. I was hooked, and followed TNG into the DS9 spin-off series. By the time Voyager came around I was a little burned on all the Trek. Voyager did not capture my interest like TNG and DS9 did when I first saw them – and the Voyager series finale was VERY anti-climactic – I hated how it ended. Great episode up until the very ending. Enterprise caught me in the beginning, but my interest faded until the last season. My Favorite eps of Enterprise were the ones that tied into other shows – ‘In A Mirror Darkly’ – where we have a TOS bad*** ship. That was a tie-in to ‘The Tholian Web’. Love that, lol. – and ‘Regeneration’ – the sequel, if you will, to First Contact.
..and don’t forget The remastered TOS – on blu-ray. NOTHING beats Doomsday Machine on blu-ray. Nothing. Don’t even try to argue with me, lol. and don’t mention JJ.
Q: Do you have a favorite Trek movie of all time? And explain your reason behind the choice.
Let’s begin that by mentioning my least favorite. JJ’s Star Wreck. That movie has no business calling itself Star Trek. ‘nuff said – I’m not using this interview for a JJ rant.
My favorite Star Trek movie – ‘First Contact’. Yes you might think I’d pick a TMP era movie, just by my age, over 50 – and it goes without saying that ‘Wrath of Khan’ stands as the most popular of all time. I am able to acknowledge the greatness of the original cast and move on. Of course without Kirk and TOS – TNG wouldn’t exist. I know all that. I choose First Contact as my favorite Trek movie based on the fact that it is the movie I pop in the blu-ray to watch more than any other Trek movie.
Q: What is your favorite class of ship? And what makes it unique to you? (It can be either canon, or non canon)
Galaxy Class. That ship, along with The Next Generation, re-awakened my Star Trek love back in 1990, and gave the franchise a fresh perspective for me. The Galaxy Class is graceful, sleek, and a powerhouse. A close second, if not a tie, would be the original Constitution Class – the one seen on Star Trek – remastered.
Q: Do you have any favorite mods, aside from your own of course?
I haven’t personally played a lot of other mods, but the Bridge Commander mod, Kobayashi Maru, comes to mind. That mod is so well put together, some say it is unbalanced, but I don’t care – it’s not like the modders get paid to mod and balance. They do it for love. KM combined a lot of mods that make Bridge Commander fun, including some maps a friend named Jeff Watts, Jr and I did together. I will say I never want to python code ever again, lol..
8: If you could recommend any one of your mods to a first time Star Trek player, which would you suggest and why?
The Ultimate Universe – as it is, I feel, the most successful mod I’ve headed up. To me it represents our best effort – playability, missions (historical and original), awesome ship models, etc..
Just a note, I had mega fun putting together my SFC Orion Pirates Mod, Universe At War. – but at this point it is extremely dated. The Starfleet Command community still thrives, though. I have talked to Firesoul recently and his idea of a mod and mine are completely different – and we have mutual respect for each other. He’s the guy that, for himself and not the community (he says) made the vastly popular 4.0, based on Starfleet Battles.
My various mods for Starfleet Command, and Legacy, represent what I believe the vast majority of Star Trek Gaming fans want, not just a niche group’s favorite stuff. I believe that is the reason that The Ultimate Universe has many thousands of downloads, and the website I’ve dedicated to UUM gets hundreds of unique visitors every day.
Now we will move on to some of the more in-depth questions.
Q: So what was your first reaction to Star Trek Legacy when you first played it, and what ultimately made you decide this game needed the Chris Jones treatment?
Here’s the scenario. The year is 2006. I am completely burned out on Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates – and we get word of a new Star Trek game on the way. With the promise of great gameplay Legacy is released. A lot of people liked it out of the box.
Here’s how I judge a Star Trek game. How does the TOS Enterprise look and feel? Well, in this case, very bad. The model itself was crap, the registry fonts were all wrong, the nacelle bussards were the wrong color, and the sound effects were completely off base. It was a POS. To me, the lack of detail on the most popular ship of all time, and the ship that even non-trek fans recognize, speaks volumes on how the rest of the game most likely is. As I played the game, I was just angry at a lot of aspects of the game. Granted the campaign was fun, and the large battles looked kind of cool. I decided, along with some other people’s support, that I was going to head up a new mod project to make this game the best it could be.
Chris Jones Gaming as an entity began in December 2006. It was founded by myself, Mindwipe, and Scott Murphy, with some assistance from Victor 1st.
Q: Ultimate Universe has been in development for almost four years now, is there anything you would have done differently given what you know now?
Not much really, because a project this big involves a lot of people doing their own unique thing, and I think as time went on we evolved quite well. We had some personality differences along the way, and they worked themselves out. This is the case with any big team – and the same in corporate offices and businesses all over the world. We treated UUM like a business, with promotional releases and such. The Ultimate Universe continues to evolve to this day.
The mod was and is governed by one basic philosophy. No time limits on anything. (well that part is not business like, lol). That philosophy is my personal take on how to get the most creative ‘product’ from team members – and it works. Look what we received from our awesome pool of talent. Moonraker’s models – Phoenix’s ever growing talents with modeling – Muldrf’s scripting and now modeling – Mindwipe’s and Laserdisc’s multi-media talents etc.. I could go through all the credits here, but the list gets too long. See the UUM site – http://www.ultimateuniversemod.net – for full credits.
Q: Working on this mod you has given you the opportunity to meet some rather noteworthy individuals, who were you most excited to be given the privilege to work alongside of?
I would have to say Derek Chester – the campaign author for Star Trek: Legacy. His insight and experience in the Star Trek franchise provided our team with a lot of motivation to keep moving forward.
Q: In your opinion what is the one defining feature of Ultimate Universe, that no one else has yet to accomplish?
The one defining feature of UUM is the replayability of it. There’s always something you haven’t seen when you play the mod.
Q: What else does Chris Jones Gaming have in store for Legacy, and is there anything special you would be willing to share with the readers?
As of this writing, Phoenix is working on his TOS Federation ships, and updated versions of his Romulan TOS ships. A shout out to Nix here – I have watched his talents grow for three years now – am glad I put him in charge of the Dominion add-on pack back in 2007. He is a true friend and awesome talent.
Muldrf – who is now the ‘Quality Assurance Director’ and the 2nd Assistant Director of UUM – is also a very talented scripter and more recently has been porting and fixing ship models. 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.
The Ultimate Universe will keep growing until the people that still have the passion get tired of it. The passion has not died. Like I just mentioned, No time limits..
Q: Where do you see Chris Jones Gaming headed after the completion of Ultimate Universe, and what game would you like to see modded next?
Chris Jones Gaming has no definite plans for modding anything more at this point, and here’s the reason. I have been modding Trek games since 2000, many mods for the Starfleet Command series, the Bridge Commander years of 03-04, and Legacy. I am burned out on modding and have officially retired from it to focus more on real life. That’s not to say someone else can’t do a mod under my banner.
Q: It's well known that Ultimate Universe has a vast collection of ships to choose from, do you have any favorites that you were excited to see added to the mod?
DJ Curtis’ two ships, The Century Class and the Vivace. DJ is one of the most talented 3D modelers in the community, and had sworn off Legacy, not allowing his ships to be converted under any circumstances. When he agreed to let Ultimate Universe use his ships we were all quite grateful. There is a Century Class variant in UUM known as the USS Chris Jones. Awesome..
Also, Wicked Zombie’s awesome collection – He is/was an old friend of mine from the Starfleet Command days, and had also sworn off Legacy. UUM was the only Legacy mod to get his ships.
The Borg Cube with the actual First Contact textures!
Q: For a number of years, people believed that Star Trek Gaming was only kept afloat because of games such as Bridge Commander and Legacy, as well as their associated modding communities. Do you think the introduction of Star Trek Online has or will change that perception?
Possibly, due to the fact that it is Star Trek. STO is not in the same league as the moddable games because it is an MMO. STO has carried Star Trek gaming along a bit further..
Q: Out of everything that Chris Jones Gaming have accomplished so far, in your opinion what has been the most difficult aspect?
Hard to say – perhaps my own personal sacrifices over the past few years..
And I think we will end the interview with this final question...
Q: How do you see Star Trek gaming progressing in the next few years?
I’d like to see an STO like game, with better ship graphics perhaps, that is not confined to just being an MMO.
I really hope that we don’t get games based on JJ’s crap…
It’s been a pleasure answering these questions...
And I would once again like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule, to take part in this interview.
Having the privilege to work for Chris was a tremendous honor, I never thought I would find myself working under someone who I consider to be one of the forefathers of the Star Trek modding community. His dedication and passion, has led to some of the greatest mods I have ever played. Having been behind the scenes myself, and seeing firsthand how he is connected to every aspect of a mod. I not only felt like a part of his business, I also felt as if I were a member of a rather large family.
He knows when it was time to act professional, but he would also on occasion joke around with the rest of us. He gathers everyone into TeamSpeak and lets us all talk to him one by one, and he will look over every small piece of detail that goes into the mod, before giving it the Chris Jones Seal of Approval. This level of dedication I had never seen before, before joining the "Ultimate Universe Mod" team I was used to working with only a hand full of individuals and a limited amount of resources, I learned a great deal in the time I spent working with everyone.
Chris may now be retired, but the idea of Chris Jones Gaming will continue to live on for years to come. Wherever there is a font out of place, or a bussard the wrong color, you can bet that Chris Jones Gaming will be there to do whatever it takes to make it right.
Once again, I am Angel Hernandez, and this...has been Spotlight.
The Official Chris Jones Gaming Website:
The Chris Jones Gaming Forum:
The Official Website For Star Trek Legacy: The Ultimate Universe
Chris Jones' SFC Mutli-Era Mod Download page:
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