JKFiles Interview Series: An Interview with Several Sided Sid

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Note from the Manager: JKFiles will be starting an interview series, which will be executed by former staff member and current site supporter Nozyspy. Interviews will be sporadic, and not on a set schedule. If you are interested in seeing a particular community member be interviewed, or have any questions, please drop me an e-mail rather than using the comments for this purpose. Thanks, and enjoy the interview!
An Interview with Several Sided Sid
First of all I would like to give a warm welcome to our guest today, the very experienced mapper, Several Sided Sid.
  • So, Sssid, tell us a little about yourself.
  • Well, mapping is by no means my first creative venture. There are several sides to Sssid… as the name suggests. At 36, I’m probably the oldest mapper in the community so I’ve had plenty of time to express myself in many different ways. I’ve spent many years as an aspiring screenwriter, novelist, poet, cartoon illustrator, song-writer, musician… you name it. I’ve written several full-length movie screenplays and some shorter scripts too, including a sitcom, which I am presently shopping around the production companies and literary agencies in the hopes of attracting the right attention. I’ve also written a handful of children’s stories, an absolute plethora of poetry and prose (both serious and also nonsensical… I thrive on nonsense!) all of which are presently doing the rounds and will hopefully get me finally into print. Not to mention a couple of novels I am working on too! Plus a whole collection of cartoon drawings and greetings card designs which I am also hoping to publish - and a script for an animated movie I have written around a family of cartoon characters I created. Plus honestly around fifty songs and an additional thirty or so pieces of music, all composed and recorded by me alone. Now, I’m not saying they’re all world-class… but if you lock me in a recording studio I will emerge with one big solo album and rather a lot of B-sides, remixes and extras. Only one problem though… my singing is REALLY REALLY BAD, which is why I never submitted my songs to anyone in the past! I’ve also played bass and keyboards in several alternative rock bands and appeared on stage a few times too. I thought I was gonna be a famous rock star way back when, but I had to abandon that goal when it started to interfere with my being a dad. Did I mention I’m married and have two kids?
  • So what attracted you to mapping?
  • Well I’ve been a fan of Star Wars all my life because I was only seven when it first hit the screens. When I left school I worked as a graphic designer and an architectural assistant for a time. I’ve always found buildings to be works of art, especially having spent those years working with the people whose profession it is to design them. The most interesting point I ever heard made whilst working with the architects was that each and every building that is designed and built, is done so in a way that it will be easy for future generations to dismantle it and replace it with their own. Imagine a permanent building, one which is outdated but one we are stuck with. That would be absolutely terrible. Anyway, I’ve also worked as a proof-reader and copy-writer on a range of magazine publications and newspapers - I was an advertising consultant for five and a half years. I’ve also had the usual grim depressing jobs too, but throughout it all I’ve kept creating, whether illustration or writing or music or whatever. And then George Lucas announced that he was to start filming on Star Wars Episode I. When I was a kid, computer games were basic to say the least. Now there is virtual reality and at last I can run down the corridors I always wanted to roam freely as a kid. As with most things I see and do, I just had to have a go at creating some virtual worlds of my own. The virtual world amazes me. It is like a manifestation of the mind. Anything is possible. And I’ve always been one for escapism. And that is basically what brought me to mapping. And as a Star Wars purist, I’ve also really concentrated most on extending what we see in the movies, rather than inventing totally new worlds. Which does not show a lack of imagination. There were several places from the films that I really wanted to understand and explore anyway, so I thought the best thing to do was to build them. So I did.
  • And where did you get such an interesting name?
  • Heh. Thanks. It describes me: my several sides. And anyway, my previous gaming names were far worse. ‘Like Darth Diarrhoea’ or ‘… this the knitting class?’ which got at least one laugh on a server one night, and also explained my poor fighting technique at the time, as I was an out-and-out noob. In fact, I was seriously considering releasing my first map, Mos Eisley Meanstreets, under the name of Knitting Class Productions (thankfully I didn’t!)
  • Are you working on any maps at the moment?
  • I have a couple of unfinished maps, which are sort of being merged into one, I think. The Apoplectica, which is a dark doomy ship environment which I also developed in the Doom 3 engine for an Irish computer game developer but sadly never actually got commissioned. My other project still in the works is my biggee… Several Sided City. The home of Several Sided Sid. This map was originally begun as an apartment for inclusion in Sith-J-Cull’s JKA Galaxies mod, but has become an individual thing as that mod seems to be delayed. I hope to finish this one soon but it has had to take second place recently to my attempts at becoming a published writer. All my work to date can be accessed from my site: www.several-sided-sid.piczo.com Please check it out!
  • What can we expect to see in these maps?
  • My can of coke, for a start! Well Several Sided City (Sssity) is basically an airborne apartment complex with, of course, a personal FFA arena attached, which has a huge core shaft that is proving challenging to create and which is the reason the map is not out yet… that and my being busy on other things, of course. Apoplectica is all corridors and rooms and one big hangar bay, but is far from finished unless I release a smaller version early. Time will tell.
  • Oh yes, the can of coke! All your latest releases contain a hidden can of coke for people to hunt down and destroy! What started that off?
  • When I finished Mos Espa Outskirts, it was so vast and detailed that I really didn't want anyone to miss a thing... so I thought searching for something would help people to ensure they saw the whole map. I thought it would be a fun way to force people to properly explore. I wondered at first if anyone would bother looking, but within an hour of the first release, someone in Iceland contacted me with a screenshot of where the can was! I’d hidden it as best I could too, behind a crate. In the second release it is in a far more wicked place! They are pretty hard to find, but never impossible. I always welcome screenshots from people, as proof you actually found the can of coke! Good luck if you try to find them!
  • You have certainly made some impressive maps in your time, including some excellent movie based maps, such as the Rebel Blockade Runner and the Jedi Temple Exterior. But you have also made a fair few Tatooine themed maps. Do you plan on doing any more Tatooine maps, or other movie based maps, or would you rather work on a location of your own imagination?
  • In the short term, my writing is preventing me from mapping anything new. I have been asked to help on certain mods and projects but I can only really concentrate on finishing Sssity and Apoplectica for now… when time allows. But hey, if anyone has ANY interesting work invitations… I’m always ready to listen :D I could happily map Tatooine forever, though. I’d thought of doing a Mos Eisley Meanstreets day, because it was always intended as a daytime map until someone suggested I make it night time and I loved the result. I would still like to see a daytime version released, except my mapping has moved on in leaps and bounds so I wouldn’t really want to release it as a new map anymore. Also I’d like to do a night time version of Mos Espa Outskirts, but I reckon people would get sick of me always releasing Tatooine maps. Maybe they wouldn’t. Who knows? I’d also love to do a beat-up version of the Tantive, you know, after the attack but before the Imperials disintegrate it and inform the Senate that all aboard were killed, with lots of sparking circuitry and missing ceiling panels, holes in the floor, explosions going off, that sort of thing, really dangerous, with working escape pods that take you down to Tatooine. If only I had the time…
  • Which of your maps would you say is your favourite?
  • So hard. Probably Mos Espa Outskirts. Tatooine is my favourite Star Wars location and that map is very close to my heart. It’s so big for a start. It contains all the best bits of Mos Eisley Meanstreets plus my Mos Espa Slave Quarters… not to mention the hangar section supplied by my good friend SathiroN, who was built so many maps – all of which he has NEVER released! – as to defy credibility. It’s quite fun having a force-speed race with someone around the entire map. Three whole laps, starting and ending at the foot of the Falcon’s ramp. I also love Mos Eisley Trap, which I did with LivingDeadJedi. We included Sith-J-Cull’s Falcon but apart from that it was all done by LDJ and me. LDJ did most of the lower slung buildings and I took care of the taller ones, walling the world in, as it were. I do love all my maps though. I spent so much time on each one; they are like babies to me. And cost less!
  • What are your favourite map(s) made by the community?
  • Gosh, now that IS a hard question. There are so many amazing maps built by community members. Without a shadow of a doubt my favourite maps are unofficial, built by fans who only build because they want to. People like LivingDeadJedi and Sith-J-Cull, who both really inspired me to map in my early days. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t choose between their maps. They are each top-class. Though it was LDJ’s original Carbonfreeze map for Jedi Outcast that first made me ache to have a go at mapping myself. Another of my firm favourites was SJC’s Kamino for a long time… probably until he released his Millennium Falcon, which is my favourite vehicle and so consequently is probably my favourite ever map. It’s so true to the original too. There are too many other good mappers to mention, so I won’t try, because I’ll miss someone out and that won’t be fair.
  • Let's move on to your mapping process. Perhaps you could describe for us how you go about making a map. Do you plan it all out before hand, make concept art etc? Or do you just start off with an idea and develop it as you are mapping?
  • I guess it’s a mixture of both for me. It depends on the map. If I set out to create something complicated, like a piece of machinery or a vehicle or a certain architectural style, then I might need detailed drawings to work from when I come to build, just like with any model-maker, but at other times it is great to just muscle on in there and see what grows.
    These pics show early stage concept drawings and early stage in-Radiant shots of various bits I have built for Apoplectica. I made sure I had complete schematics for the Elevator Booth and Switch Booth before I started to build, so I knew what it was I was aiming for. The vehicle pictured here is my ‘Trilong’ creation, which can be found in Mos Eisley Trap and will also be featuring in Several Sided City.
    With Tatooine, I sketched every building I could find, so I could recreate and adapt the whole feel of the place, and be true to the movies too. With the Blockade Runner I found it really essential to make sketches too… and lots of floor plan blueprints. Lots and lots of them. Besides, it saves putting the movie on and pressing pause all the time. I REALLY laboured over that map. In fact, as I remember, it was a long time after I first put pen to paper that I actually started to build the Blockade Runner. I spent AGES just trying to decide on a floor plan that I liked and also one which represents everything we see in the movies, and lots lots more. We don’t really get a good enough look at things like corridor corners and stuff on board the Tantive IV, so I had a lot of creating to do. Hopefully I’ve covered practically every possible variation of architecture I can, using what we see in the films. It was really exciting to build the Tantive. It’s such a beautiful, crisp clean ship. And the Falcon too. We DO NOT see that particular floor plan in the movies; instead we are teased by various angles that always left me wondering what was round that bend in the corridor, etc. I yearned as a kid to understand the full layout of that ship. SJC’s Falcon follows a slightly more extended layout than my own. Sith-J and me discussed the Falcon floor plan for hours one night… if you look at the blueprints he included in his version, you’ll see he put ‘approved by Sssid’… which is cool! I’ve even been known to take photos of the telly on my mobile phone and keep pics of the Jedi Temple as reference for when I come to build those bits! So really, anything goes. It’s definitely a different process for each and every map. And I always learn something new each time, too. Mainly off other members of the community, which is great. Everyone is always so eager to advise.
  • I know I sometimes have the tendency to lose interest in a map if I’ve been working on it too long, or another idea has come into my head that I want to make. Do you ever get this problem, and if so, how do you deal with it? I always end up with lots of half finished maps!
  • No, I don’t. It worries me to have too much in the works at once. I prefer one project at a time. Though that’s not normally how it ends up working out. But each to their own. I find a few projects at once simply slows each one down and I am always eager to finish a map as soon as possible and get it released. Mind you, ‘as soon as possible’ for me is invariably several months or so! But that’s what dedication to detail does for you… and time restrictions too. I don’t really get bored of mapping at all, though. I find it all fascinating. Except compile errors! I hate compile errors! There’s nothing like a ‘float plane: bad normal’ to ruin an otherwise alright day!
  • Quite. What game types do you prefer, and why? (E.g. FFA, Siege, Movie Battles etc.)
  • I’m an FFA man myself. Especially if laming is allowed. At least if it’s allowed you won’t get kicked!
  • What kind of map do you prefer? An indoor one, an outdoor one, or a mixture of both?
  • Favourite sort of map? Preferably movie-based, so inside/outside, it doesn’t matter to me. I love to explore familiar settings wherever possible, I like to see recreations that are uncannily similar to the scene they are trying to copy, that really transport you to another world. Attention to detail is everything in a map. It is worth every hour spent on getting the little things right. And lighting is amazingly important. There are more light entities than world brushes in my Jedi Temple map. Lots of tiny lights, meticulously placed to recreate the lighting that spills out from the hidden entrance behind the pillars. Boring to do, so many test compiles, but each one absolutely vital to the overall effect. The bigger the map the better as well. Sprawling maps amaze and excite me.
  • Well I think that that just about wraps this interview up, before we finish do you have anything else you want to say?
  • Just that I’m offering my services as a freelance script-writer on any computer game project any company might be wanting to source new writers for, whether in the UK, where I am based, or otherwise (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)… And especially, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has ever downloaded one of my maps and enjoyed it. It’s meant the world to me. If you want to get in touch, I am: Andy Reeves (a.k.a Several Sided Sid) and you can reach me on: sssid@hotmail.co.uk Don’t forget, all my work, both released and pending, can be viewed by going to: www.several-sided-sid.piczo.com where I will be posting any info relating to my writing too!
  • Excellent, Sssid, and thanks for taking the time to have a chat!
  • Any time. Thanks.
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