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 Post subject: Interview with Robocop, FLU Admin *
 Post Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 12:58 pm 
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Hello Robocop, what other names have you been known by in the Freelancer Community?

I've been playing Freelancer since September of 2003. The huge majority of my playtime has been spent on the 24/7 FREELANCER UNIVERSE (aka FLU) server where I was a member of the Great Legionnaires clan (GL_) and was known as GL_Kyp_Durron. My original character name is still in play, but not everyone on FLU knows that that player is also me, and I'd like to keep it that way. Over the years I've had a lot of names, but these would be the two I would be best known as. Regrettably, I've never played much outside of FLU, so, outside of FLU I'm pretty much an unknown.

What part of the world do you live in?

I live in the grand and glorious People's Republic of Illinois (The land of indicted governors), USA, near the city of Chicago. I was born here and am desperately trying to figure a way out.

How old are you?

Old enough to know better, old enough to start caring, too wise to tell. Suffice it to say that I'm probably old enough to be the father of many of those reading this.

How many years have you played Freelancer?

Lessee now... 2009 - 2003... ermmm... looks like it's coming up on six years. Kinda sad, isn't it? I'm not sure what's more sad, the fact that I've been playing so long, or that no one has come up with a game yet that can tempt me away.

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

I'm a modding noob. What I'm really good at is detail work. Most of the FLU mod was written by me but ONLY with a huge amount of input from legitimate modders and contributors such as Eagle, W0dk4, Chips, DownUndr, and many more. To list is to exclude. I think it's safe to say that without sites like Lancer's Reactor, The Starport, Haven Admins Forum, Freelancer Admins Forum, and of course the Freelancer Community site, not only would there not be an FLU mod, there probably wouldn't be an FLU. The members of the FLU Modding Team prefer to remain anonymous but a great deal of thanks goes to them as well, those who are still around, and those who've moved on.

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

Tutorial? What's that and how do you write one? Can you recommend a tutor... oh...
Umm, other than tutorials on basic FL play and my very detailed lists of locations of hidden wrecks and the benefits they offer, no. I can't say I have.

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

Nope. Banzai aka Starving_Zombie[X] is a member of FLU and at my commission developed a couple of tools we use on FLU. One is a tool that parses the information generated by FLAC in the statistics output and puts it to an html file we can post on our website. It shows who's online, what they're flying, and what system they're in. It's basically our version of the FLStat file that IONCROSS fronts but works along with FLAC. Banzai also wrote a program that goes through all player accounts and deletes any empty comments.txt files and bank balance account files generated by FLAC. This helps us in keeping our player database trimmed down.

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

I'm very busy in real life and survive only by not sleeping. I figure I'll have plenty of time to sleep after I'm dead. For a while I was a moderator on Haven Admins to assist Dazzla, but other than that my moderating and admin time is spent on the FLU website.

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

When you get to be my age, memory gets a little fuzzy but, as I recollect, I first started playing FL when I received a demo version on a MaximumPC disk that came with my magazine. BTW, if you're looking for a good magazine that's computer enthusiast related, MaximumPC is a good bet. I very much enjoyed that game. Before then I played the single player versions of X-Wing (DOS and W95), TIE Fighter (great game), and X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter (even better game, but no story...). I'm a SW geek as you may or may not be able to tell. I was looking for a new space combat flight sim game and got hooked on FL almost immediately. It wasn't long before I found Lancer's Reactor and started messing with mods. You can beat single player fairly quickly just with the beam weapon mod btw... (gasp). I found a full version of the game I was able to download (yeah, yeah, I know. I'll justify it later), and played for about a year on the FLU server. I think I ended up on FLU just because at the time it was the first server on the global server list (remember that?) that looked like it had players on it. This was my first MP gaming experience. After about a year of gameplay I decided I needed to be honest and actually buy the game seeing as how I spent so much time playing it. Since then, over the years I've bought copies of the game for players that have lost their disks, or couldn't find one for sale anywhere. It doesn't justify the original piracy, but perhaps it makes it easier to forgive. Am I the only guilty party here? >.>... <.<

At any rate, after a couple of years on FLU I made Server Police, and a year or two later I found myself in the position of Admin. Now I'm the main Admin on FLU. Rags to riches as they say.

What aspects of Freelancer are you most interested in?

I'm only an average fighter. I suppose I could be better if I had more time and energy to devote to developing my skillz, but a lot of my time is taken up with modding, managing the server, and doing the very important 'customer' service work that is necessary to keep a server alive. More and more FL has become a very complicated and visually involved chat program. That's OK, it's relaxing after a long day of working, family, and kids. When I was playing more I functioned as cannon fodder and designated decoy for the Great Legionnaires clan. My function it seemed was to fly around shooting my guns and getting killed so that the better fighters in the clan could actually take out the enemy. I also became very good at trading.

What groups / clans have you been affiliated with?

See above...

List your accomplishments and projects you have participated in.

Let's see, Been married for coming up on 20 years... to the same woman..., two fantastic kids... Oh wait. That's not what you're asking, is it?
Well, becoming admin and writing the FLU mod would certainly be in there. Keeping FLU alive for coming up on six years might do it.
Keeping FLU in the top rankings of FL servers out there is something I'm especially proud of. FLU originally started out as a Lord clan training server. It was started by Lord~Q, aka as Universe in his admin persona. He opened it up to the public in early 2003 and ran it for a few years before he decided to give it up. FLU was always a vanilla server but we were losing a lot of players to modded servers and our population was dwindling. The bills for the server weren't going down though. I took over from him in order to keep it alive and began the optional FLU mod we're running now. One of the mandates we had when running FLU and writing the mod was that whatever we did, it MUST be 100% compatible with the unmodded player. We still keep that as our goal although it does limit our options.

List any awards, offices or positions you have held.

If I did, I'd just be redundant. I'm not all that glorious.

How has the Freelancer scene changed since you started playing?

Well, I think the hacking, player modding, and cheating have gone WAY down since the global server shut down. I think most of the jerks have moved on to other games. It seems like the population is a little more mature, tolerant, and respectful of each other. Of course there are exceptions, sometimes significant exceptions but, I think the players have become friends. Of course there's little new blood. When we see new players it's often because they're coming from yet another server that's gone offline. It's regrettable that the Global Server has shut down, the game is no longer on the shelves, and that MS does not seem to have any plans to re-release the game and/or develop a FL2. That's one thing that LucasArts did well. They kept their older games alive by re-releasing them in different packaging. I imagine that if MS developed a new more secure global server and then re-released the game even without modifications, they'd sell a lot of them. There just aren't any good space flight sims out there. I'm not even sure if there are any bad ones either... This genre has almost been abandoned.

Are you currently active on any servers?

Just FLU. Don't have time for any others.

What mod really stands out in your mind?

I really liked the Freeworlds mod. I suppose it's because I'm biased towards anything Star Wars, but I think it's very well done. I just wish I could find my way through that d*** Kessel black hole area.
Other than that I'd have to give props to Chip's Server Operator 2 mod. That's really how I got my start modding. We started modding FLU by doing server side only mods and I dissected the SO2 mod nine ways from Sunday to figure out what to do and how to do it.

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 is all right, FL had one of the better story lines that I've encountered but, SP gets old after a while because it's always the same. MP is where it's at which is why I think Dark Star One didn't do well. A lot of people had high hopes with that one and the lack of MP turned them off. In my mind, the best part about FL is the ability for anyone to run their own server. Be it for a few friends on a local LAN, or a worldwide server available to people from all walks of life. I HATE the movement towards pay to play servers like WoW and EVE. Everyone HAS to go to one server and play the game the way someone else wants it played. With FL, if you didn't like the way one FL server ran things you could always develop your own. If your way was better, you'd know it by your population.
Where hugely modded server fail I think is when they abandon and lose that FL feel. It's different with a TC mod like Freeworlds. You're not trying to incorporate your mod into Freelancer. Let's face it, a Battlestar just doesn't belong in Sirius. (Neither does a Star Destroyer lest you think I'm biased). Players often tell us that they like our mod because we're not trying to do too much. On FLU the game is still Freelancer.

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

I'm committed to keeping FLU up as long as players are willing to come. As such, we're still developing the mod. Right now we're experimenting with adding new systems while keeping the mod optional. We have a fully working version which adds Omicron Minor, Omicron Major (Nomad Lair System), a system I named Omicron Zeta (outside the Dyson Sphere), and a system which is the interior of the Dyson Sphere. It's not up yet as we're still in the testing and development stage, but I'm completely inexperienced... all right, I'll say it. I have no idea how to add missions, interactive NPCs, NPC encounters, and some of the other things that make a system alive rather than just a big space with sights to see and wrecks to loot. When I get a handle on that (as time permits), We'll be able to move forward.

Describe in detail any memorable Freelancer experiences.

The old wars on FLU that never went anywhere (but a lot of people died), farming junkers outside of Rochester base, flying brand new starfliers to freeport 9, I'm still learning stuff in the game. It's all good.

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

I love the game, I love the people, and I love the server. It's a great hobby that doesn't cost me a lot of money.

What other games do you regularly play?

What? There are other games?

Do you have any hobbies other than games?

Reading, and I suppose shooting although, that's getting more and more expensive.

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

More debt, more taxes, the ruination of America. Other than that, I can't think of anything right now.

How do you view the future of Freelancer?

Freelancer is on the wane. Let's face it, without new blood we will only continue to decrease in popularity and player base. Unless MS re-releases the game, We will continue to see server after server turn off the lights. We just hope to be one of the last to do so.

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

If you can get ahold of him, one of our players, Chessalavakia, knows more about the game than anyone I know. He would be an interesting subject to interview. I also have a great deal of respect for Morpheus from the 24/7 Freelancer Roleplay LV server. For a long time they were our benchmark to beat. The had an unfortunate hardware related server problem that took them out of the game for a while and they never recovered. Finally, the founder of FLU, Universe, would also be a good one. He was there at the beginning and still provides us our forums in order to remain involved.

Are there any last things you would like to add?

Just for the admins out there. The better you treat your players, the more they'll stick with you. One of the things we, and I personally, pride ourselves on is our 'customer' service. It's not at all unusual for us to have a player that's dropped out of the game come back even after a couple years and we're able to restore their old characters. This permits them to just pick up where they left off. As far as I'm concerned, if it doesn't hurt the server, give the player what they want. I say that with a qualification. Obviously it's not our job to play the game for them. I'm not talking about giving money to those who ask, or beaming them around the server so they can make cash quickly, or avoid hostile NPCs. What I'm referring to is the server stuff that only you can do. If a player is going away for a while and asks you to back up his player chars, why not do it? If they need a name change and your software has the ability to perform that function, take care of your players. We get so many people who compliment us on our attitudes toward the players stating that where they came from, the admins were jerks/abusive/arrogant/unavailable, etc. FL will only survive as long as we can keep players interested and coming to our servers. At this point, most of the remaining admins who have servers with any population are already doing this. For those of you who want to start a new server, or revive one that's been slow or sleeping, your attitude goes a long way to supporting your existence. It's people that make a server, not benefits, not your mod, not the fancy features or the special ship you can get nowhere else, it's the players and the admins. One can not exist without the other.

Finally, I would like to bow in respect to all the other admins out there who keep this game alive because they love this game. I'd like to recognize each and every one who makes themselves available to noobs like me in order to help us keep our servers alive as well. Keep up the great work.

Thank you for the interview! It is the contribution of folks like you that help to keep the game and the community alive!

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