featuring a very special guest.
Today's guest is someone who has literally changed the way that we all look at Bridge Commander, in terms of special effects. And this guest is also responsible for the original tools that we all used up until recently to import ships and mods into Bridge Commander.
For the past four years he has been working alongside some of the communities finest and talented individuals to do the impossible, create a Star Trek game from the ground up. Using a game engine custom built just for this game, the Evolved Game Engine, headed by John Hardy.
While Hardy may handle the core components of the engine, it is today's guest who is responsible for the NanoFX Graphics Renderer, which is responsible for everything we will see in this game. From the visuals, to the particle, lighting, and special effects.
Though I am of course talking about only one game, and that game...is Excalibur.
Please welcome the Visual FX Leader of Excalibur Mr. Michael Braams.
Who is of course the one, and only..NanoByte.
Q: Could you tell the readers how long you have been with the community, and when did you start?
I guess my first public appearance was shortly after the release of BC, I followed the forums on BC Universe and got involved with the other modders there when something as simple as adding new ships to BC proved to be difficult
Q: What was it about modding that sparked your interest, and was this why you ultimately got into modding for yourself?
Initially it was when problems starting coming up in BC and people we having trouble. Modders like Dasher were providing ways to mod BC, but for the average Modder it was still way too difficult. So I decided then and there I could lend my programming talents and create easier interfaces to help people and thus BCMP (BC Mod Packager) was created. Later followed BCMI (BC Mod Installer) and there was even a BCME (BC Mission Editor) in the works, however I left the BC Community to peruse other interests.
Q: Can you recall your first attempts at modding, what was the first mod that you created?
My First attempts at modding were with Totally Games previous games the X-wing Series. I followed that community however I just watched the forums instead of participating. With those games I mostly just worked on bringing the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter Missions into the latest game X-Wing Alliance for my own personal enjoyment. After that I did a minor mod for Klingon Academy where I modified the ships to always have their glows on for the Warp Engines to be more like the show.
Q: You have been around since the days of Bridge Commander Universe, what is your opinion on the current state of the Bridge Commander community?
I really can't say as I have not followed the Bridge Commander community much since I left it to start on the NanoFX Game Engine, however I still get emails from people requesting to include NanoFX into their own mods, so I'm still rather impressed that the community is still making mods and trying to make things great for BC.
The interview continues after the break.
This is highly unlikely to ever happen, after all we wouldn't want to take away time from development on Star Trek Excalibur and the NanoFX Graphics Renderer would we? Unfortunately for BC, NanoFX 2.0 Beta is as good as it gets from me... but things were left in a pretty modable state, BC Modders should be able to take what I have done and complete anything unfinished, unless they hit an Engine Roadblock, which was one of the frustrations that lead to me leaving BC and working on my own game development.
Q: Have you in the past modded for any other Star Trek games other than Bridge Commander, and Excalibur?
This was mostly answered in the question about my earliest mods. The only other project I've done that most have never seen is a 3D version of Pac-man that I did to learn how to create a DirectX 9 game.
Q: Aside from working on Excalibur, do you have any other hobbies?
Surprisingly, not really, I live and breathe programming, aside from spending time with my family, that is all I do in my spare time and work.
Q: What is it that you do for a living?
I am the Project Manager and Programmer Analyst for a Computer Business Company that specializes in Inventory, Accounting and Point of Sales systems.
Gaming and Trek
Most of the Star Trek and Star Wars games really. Simulation games are primarily what I like, such as Space Sim, Flight Sim, Race Sims.
Q: Do you console game at all, and if so what is your preferred machine, and would you care to share your gamertag with the readers?
I have a PS3, Wii, and DS. I like them all about the same... The PS3 for more realistic immersion, I like games like Assassin's Creed, Batman Arkham Asylum, and Red Dead Redemption. The Wii, I love the Mario and Zelda games and how the family can all play it. The DS, well that's for on the go... Mario and Zelda there too.
Gamertag for PS3 should have been easy to guess... it's NanoFX :P
Q: If you do not console game what is your preferred choice of computer PC or Mac? And what does your setup consist of?
I used to PC game a lot, but then I got a PS3, so typically I'll play games on the 55" LED Big Screen now ;)
Q: What was the first Star Trek game you owned, and what are some of your favorite Trek games?
First Star Trek Game was Star Trek: 25th Anniversary followed by Star Trek: Judgment Rites and then Star Trek TNG: A Final Unity. Those games bring back the most memories, so they typically are still my favorite Trek games. I'd like to perhaps bring some of those gameplay elements into Star Trek: Excalibur if it's a good fit for it and makes it fun.
Q: How long have you been a fan of Star Trek, and what are your best and least liked series?
I've been a fan of Star Trek since about Season 2 of when Star Trek TNG was airing in North America. I'd say TNG is still my favorite... least liked series is Star Trek Enterprise (mostly because I never got into it, I haven't even watched very many episodes of it).
Q: What would have to be your favorite Trek movie of all? And explain your reasoning behind this choice.
I'd say Star Trek First Contact. It has the best action and I just love the scene with the battle of Borg Cube. If I can reproduce those on screen visuals into the Game FX of Star Trek Excalibur, I will be satisfied. And I've said before on the Excalibur forums that I won't rest until I am satisfied! ;)
Q: What is your favorite class of starship, and what about it makes it unique to you personally? The ship can canon or non-canon.
Galaxy Class. When first watching TNG, it was that ship that actually drew me into the show... I didn't even care about the characters at first, all I cared about was watching the show so that I could see shots of the Enterprise-D in action!
Q: What are some of the noteworthy mods that you have seen so far to come out of Bridge Commander, and Legacy?
I haven't followed the mods of those games at all, so it's hard for me to say, but when I do look at the mods, I look at the bigger ones or the ones that improve on the graphics either new ship models or Visual FX.
Q: Did you expect NanoFX to have the kind of success that it has had since it's release?
Not really, I knew what I was doing really helped the game because BC always seemed half finished, which was a let down for me because I was a big fan of Totally Games for their X-wing games. I suppose it could be expected that NanoFX would be popular because without it, the game does really seem to be lacking a certain wow factor by just itself.
Excalibur and final questions...
Excalibur will expand your vision of what a Trek Game should be about, BC and Legacy were ok with Battle Sims (more so BC than Legacy), but Excalibur is a game being built by the fans, so we already know what the game should be like to capture the essence of Star Trek.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard the news that Excalibur had been featured in PC Gamer magazine?
Oh it's great news to start being recognized by some more mainstream media. We now have PR team for Excalibur and all I can say is as time goes on Excalibur is going to continually get more and more attention like this.
Q: Can you share with the readers some of the features that we have to look forward to in Excalibur?
Well of course I can say the Visual FX, as I've said I won't rest until I get the game looking as close to the TV series and Movies as I can! Aside from that they can expect a great story and total immersion into the Star Trek Universe.
Q: What have been some of the advantages of creating your own game engine?
In creating our own Game Engine for Excalibur, it becomes a great advantage to achieve exactly what we want so that it can be represented in the game. With no limitations there really isn't a limit to what we can accomplish. The only problem is it's very time consuming and a TON of work, so I hope in the end the community really appreciates all the time and Dedication the Excalibur team has put into this project.
Q: is there any news or announcement that you would like to announce first here on Spotlight?
Hmmm while I'm limited on what I can reveal, I can say... I just finished initial work on Nav lights and I will be updating the Model Viewer one last time with bug fixes for the public.
No I don't think there is any of that, people are free to do what they want. We are building the Evolved Engine to be very modabble just as BC is. So I truly feel that after the release of Excalibur we will see many people from other Trek Modding Communities joining the Excalibur community to create mods for it.
The Evolved Engine will give people a new updated playground to work with that wouldn't have engine limits because we have the power (the source code) to change, modify and improve the engine well after the Excalibur game is released.
If anyone now is interested they should contact us to help out, this would help speed up development and the release of Excalibur as well. Any talented people we can get to help out with modelling
scripting or programming is always welcome.
Q: There has been a lot of speculation that Excalibur may never see the light of day. Is there anything you would to say to the readers, to reassure them that the project has not stalled or is dead?
Well I for one can say that I will work on this project until it's done, even if I have to do it all myself! And to be honest, the current Excalibur staff feel similar.
It is taking a long time because we only have limited man hours (our free time at home) to work on this project. But rest assured work continues everyday. I don't think anyone should worry about this project dying.
Q: What is your opinion of the Bridge Commander Universal Tool that was created by U.S.S. Sovereign, and how do you feel it compares to the tools you once created for importing ships and mods into Bridge Commander?
I can't say really, I've seen a few screens of it, but haven't actually played with it. Kudos to him for creating another tool, it it works better then great! Glad someone could continue to help the BC community... I did feel bad that I just left BC high and dry... but a man only has so much time in a day to get things done!
Q: Any final comments before we finish this interview?
Thank you for your time and thank you everyone for your support in my work and I look forward to showing you great things in the future to come!
I would like to thank NanoByte from taking time out from his busy schedule to participate in this interview.
I have never personally met NanoByte until before this interview took place, It was truly an honor to speak with someone who's work I see every day in Bridge Commander. From every blinker, to every warp flash. It could have not have been possible with out NanoFX.
If what we have seen from Excalibur so far is any indication of the level of quality that this game will consist of, then I can not wait to download my copy of it, whenever that day may be. Perhaps one day when my talents are worthy enough, I will help contribute to Excalibur as well.
Until next time, I am Angel Hernandez, and this...has been Spotlight.
Excalibur Website, and Forums:
NanoByte's BCFiles Profile Page:
And as always, please feel free to leave a comment, to share your opinion on the interview.
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