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 Post subject: Interview with Mario "HCI" Brito *
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:24 am 
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[align=center]Welcome to another addition to! As Freelancer ages, and us too, we thought it was time to start honoring those who have helped to make this such an enjoyable adventure. From tool makers to coders to mod builders to board admins, welcome to the ' Interviews'!

I have gathered most emails for these prominent members of our community and have sent out many of them (but not all). If you think you deserve an interview, feel free to email me [email protected]. You may also nominate someone for an interview, please give me their email.

Interviews will be posted in the order I get them back and will be showcased for at least one week. All interviews will be archived in our forums for prosperity.


Interview with Mario "HCI" Brito for the Bini ini decompressor and MFC UTF editor.

Hello Mario "HCI" Brito, what other names have you been known by in the
Freelancer Community?

Hello! I've been known by HCl on the Lancer community since the early days of The Lancers Reactor (back from the old StarLancer days).

What part of the world do you live in?

I live in Coimbra, Portugal.

How old are you?


How many years have you played Freelancer?

I've played Freelancer since before it was released (I was briefly involved in the Beta)

Have you released or helped to build a mod? Please describe it.

Not really, my work on the community has been mostly on modding tools.

Have you written a tutorial? Please tell us about it.

Sort of. I have written a several documents describing various game file formats, both from StarLancer (such as texture and ship formats) and FreeLancer (such as the BINI and UTF formats). These were mostly useful for people looking for information for building their own modding tools.

Have you created any tools for the community to use? What does it do?

I made a few contributions both for StarLancer and FreeLancer modding.

The StarLancer community was very small, but we were a great bunch. For StarLancer, i did some work on an early mission editor and made a decompressor and extractor for StarLancer's archive files, which ended up being included on Dustin Evans' SLEdit. I also completed Milkshape plugins for importing and exporting ships from StarLancer's format, and a small program (SLTool) used for placing weapons and missile points on imported ships. Ah, and a sprite decompressor for some StarLancer images (VDU ships and such).

For FreeLancer, i created what was probably the first FreeLancer INI decompressor, bini.exe. Also, i created a MFC UTF editor for FreeLancer UTF files, and a Milkshape plugin for exporting ships into FreeLancer 3DB/CMP format. These were, i think, the first experiments into importing and exporting ships into the game. There were some limitations however, regarding collision surfaces and wireframe representations... my work was incomplete on that regard. Still, I released the source code of all these tools and they could be found in the Lancer's Reactor for quite some time. I eventually moved to other interests and, over the years, various people in the community improved upon those tools (and eventually made better ones, so they may not be all that relevant anymore these days).

I also wrote documentation describing all these formats.

Have you ever been an Admin of a mod community or website?

I was a moderator on the Lancer's Reactor forums for quite some time. However, this was on the early TLR days, back in the times when Bargib was still active in the community (anyone remember him? :-) he was the original TLR founder).

Okay, let's get to the meat and potatoes! How and when did you first
get involved in the wonderful game of Freelancer?

Back when StarLancer was released, i was very active in the Lancer community. We were, of course, very excited about FreeLancer and eventually i became involved in the beta.

What aspects of Freelancer are you most interested in?

The single player portion of the game. I was never much of an online gamer.

What groups / clans have you been affiliated with?

I'm not affiliated with any clan, i am not much of an online player. I mostly played single player FreeLancer.

List your accomplishments and projects you have participated in.

All the modding tools and file format research i participated on, both StarLancer and FreeLancer (see above).

List any awards, offices or positions you have held.

The Lancer's Reactor admin / moderator.

How has the Freelancer scene changed since you started playing?

It definitely changed a great deal! There are a huge number of mods out there, which are incredibly advanced. Back when FreeLancer modding began, i remember a good deal of posts on TLR forums by very excited people, tinkering on the various INI fields and figuring out what did what. The level of complexity of today's mods would have seemed impossible back then, i would say.

Are you currently active on any servers?


What mod really stands out in your mind?

Hard to say... I'm not up to speed with current mod developments, as i haven't been active on the Lancer community for some time.

What do you find most interesting about Freelancer...the single player
aspect, clan wars, being a pirate, a cop, vanilla servers, hugely
modded, Star wars, what?

Single player, definitely.

What will be your role in Freelancer in the coming years?

Probably not very significant. I have been out of the loop for years and that will be unlikely to change.

Describe in detail any memorable Freelancer experiences.

I enjoyed modding the game as much as i did playing it. The experience i remember i felt most enthusiasm was the first time i succeeded in importing a new 3D model into FreeLancer. It was a TigerShark fighter, from Wing Commander Prophecy. The guns were not correctly placed, and neither was the engine flames... but damn, it felt really good seeing a new model in the game, going through the takeoff and landing sequences as if it had always been there :-)

Why do you spend countless hours building mods, making tools, answering
questions or writing tutorials?

I always enjoyed tearing things apart and seeing how they work, so game modding is something that comes naturally. It always allows me to learn something new. Of course, it's also great to know that my work is useful to other people in the community.

What other games do you regularly play?

Wing Commander :-)
Also Command and Conquer, X-Wing and Tie Fighter, occasionally. But i mostly obssess with the various Wing Commander games, both PC and Console games.

Do you have any hobbies other than games?

Not really. I no longer had the spare time i once had, having finished college and working full time.

Is there anything new coming up in the future for you?

In the FreeLancer community? Probably not.

How do you view the future of Freelancer?

Well, i hope the community stays strong! There are certainly a good number of mods out there, so i'm hoping the interest of the fans will stay high. I would love to see a FreeLancer 2, but that will likely never happen, unfortunately.

Can you recommend any others in the community for an interview?

If you can track him down, i would have to suggest interviewing Christian Koerner (Bargib). He was the founder of the original Lancer's Reactor and he definitely helped shape the Lancer community as we know it.

Are there any last things you would like to add?

Keep up the good work! Thanks for keeping the community alive,

Mario Brito

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