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After almost a year since my last interview with ShroomDuck, I decided to catch up with him and find out about the CTF map he was working on, any other plans he might have for the Jedi Knight series and what's going on with that little mod called Troopers.
Amy: It's been a while since our last interview with you about your CTF map for JK2. Then, out of nowhere, you create and release Country Academy. Why did you decide to continue mapping for a "series" you said you were done with? And can we still expect to see a CTF map from you in the near future?
ShroomDuck: Well, since the release of Country Roads 2, I had a few more ideas about how to bring new and fresh elements into the series. It's well known that I like being irreverant to Star Wars lore when mapping, and a return to Country felt right.
ShroomDuck: Yes ... a CTF map is coming. It's been a while in development, but with so many projects, it's difficult to concentrate on one thing at a time. A CTF map takes MUCH more planning than an FFA. In an FFA, you can just loosely design a gameflow, while in CTF, gameflow is the core design principle, and must be well thought out.
Amy: Do you have any plans to work on more JK maps after the long-anticipated CTF map?
ShroomDuck: At this point, I'm not really sure. We'll just have to wait and see.
Amy: Last time we talked, you were heavily involved in another project. A mod - Troopers - for UT2K3. Are you still working on that?
ShroomDuck: Yes! I've been working heavily on this project for about 2 years now. It's been a long journey, and we're not finished yet. However, a big moment is coming for us this Sunday (June 6th). That date will mark our biggest release yet, and we're very excited.
Amy: And this is still for UT2K3?
ShroomDuck: Actually, we've just transferred over to UT2004. It's virtually the same engine, so the transfer was quite painless.
Amy: What is the appeal of Troopers? That is, why would someone want to play the mod, rather than just the base UT2K4 game? (Aside from the fact that the mod is based in a Star Wars universe.)
ShroomDuck: The gameplay in Troopers is a lot slower and a lot more tactical than in base UT2004. Beyond that, we've spent a lot of time doing research and work on our particular theme.
Amy: What exactly is your role in the team for Troopers?
ShroomDuck: My role is 'Lead Art'. I not only do a great deal of the artwork itself, but make sure our other artists are staying on theme, and I approve that art before we make it final. I also coordinate with the modeller and coder leads to integrate all this. Beyond that, I'm creating maps, music, and generally helping to sculpt the game into our vision of the Star Wars universe.
Amy: Your style of mapping for Troopers really differs from your style for JK2/JA. Why is that?
ShroomDuck: Well ... for one, I have to actually do Star Wars based maps now! Hehe. In all seriousness, I felt very limited by the Q3 engine used for JK2. I never felt that it could create aesthetically pleasing Star Wars maps as I see in my mind's eyes. The UT2004 engine let's me accomplish this easily...
Amy: Since you're familiar with JK2 and JA and the community, would you say that those who play JK2 and JA would be interested in Troopers? And why?
ShroomDuck: For those that like the pure social experience and the force powers ... Troopers may not be for you. For those that like plowing down a small army of Rebels with an E11, modeled and designed after the actual movie props ... and those who just LOVE Star Wars and want to feel what is was like to be a ground troop in the most famous galactic war ... you'll love it!
Amy: And finally, when can we expect the full and complete version of Troopers to be released?
ShroomDuck: We're really not sure about that. So far, we've just been building and building. Sometime very soon, we are going to plan out what else we need to have in there, and set a limit. When that feature set is complete, that will be our final release. We all want to work on an originally themed game together... something that does NOT have to do with Star Wars. ;)
There's just a small taste of what the JK2/JA map Bespin Pads will be like. The loading screen is the first screenshot you see below. If you read the interview from last July, you'll see that the map bears a striking resemblance to a Bespin map Shroom did for Troopers. (July 2003 interview: http://jediknight.filefront.com/file.news?ID=5392 )
Probably one of the most anticipated maps from Troopers: Dawn of Destiny - the Deathstar. X-wings vs. TIES is what most are looking forward to. The third pic there is an impressive shot from that map.
Mos Eisley is a huge and wonderful map. You really feel immersed in the Star Wars universe. The fourth screenshot shows a few Stormies on their way to the first objective.
And finally, in my opinion, the most beautiful map added for this mod - Yavin. Believe me when I say that the screenshot does not do the map justice. You have to see some of these maps in-game. (Endor is also lovely, unfortunately, I didn't get any screenshots of that map.)
Troopers: Dawn of Destiny has more than just eye candy though. There are several new weapons, a new gametype, better gameplay, more features, a great customizable HUD thing and it's just a really fun mod. I'll be honest, a year ago when I played Troopers for UT2K3, after my interview with Shroom, I wasn't that impressed. A year and tons of work later, I played the latest version for UT2K4 and I have to say that if it weren't for Troopers, I would probably just let my UT2K4 gather dust.
The release is late today. Be sure to download the game tonight and come play with all of us. :) For more information on Troopers: Dawn of Destiny, please visit: http://www.ut2004troopers.com