Camen Design

© copyright

The Gathering Project—32 Questions:
Interview With the Creator of Yoderic’s Battle Arena

This is part of the reference material for a series of personal letters written to / from Tanner Helland during 2003–2005. These letters cover—in immense detail—events in my life during that period, including many unfinished and aspiring designs and creations. As a person however, I have changed from the inexperienced, often immature person I was and my skills in programming and web-design have changed just as radically.

Please note that this was not written by me (Kroc Camen), but by Clint Franklin.


Jeremy Yoder, the creator of Yoderic’s Battle Arena, recently conducted an interview with the president of The Gathering Project, Clint V Franklin. The following is a transcript of that interview.

Jeremy: First of all, do you have a name for your upcoming game? If not, should I refer to it as “The Gathering Project” (TGP), or is that only your development team’s nickname?

Clint: The name of both the game and the team is “The Gathering Project.” It’s a little bit like the way a music artist self-titles their first album. You don’t see that much in games, so hey, why not? To avoid confusion though, you may want to refer to the game as The Gathering Project (TGP) and the team as “the TGP team”.
Jeremy: Sounds good. Now, when most people hear “RPG”, they think of a medieval fantasy setting. Will this be true for TGP?

Clint: Nope. We decided to do things a little differently. We’re going for a more modern world, although with technologies way into the future. That way, we end up with a world that isn’t steampunkish, yet has lots of cool science-fiction elements to make things interesting.
Jeremy: Every game takes some elements from games that have come before, but what will be distinctive about TGP that will keep it from being a “generic” RPG? Or do you plan on mimicking a particular game on the market?

Clint: From the beginning, we have all said the one kind of RPG we did not want to make was a cookie-cutter clone of some mega-popular RPG. For one thing, making a “traditional” RPG in a modern / futuristic setting was a small step away from the norm. In addition, we’re using more uncommon conventions for things like combat and magic, and the content of the storyline will probably come across to you in a way much different from that of some of the more mainstream RPGs.

We’re basically taking the old-school with the new-school, bringing them together, and coming up with stuff that we’ve either never seen or felt we hadn’t seen as much of as we wanted.

Jeremy: Will TGP incorporate many of the RPG standards, such as inventory, one overriding quest with possible subquests, talking with NPCs, etc.?

Clint: I'll take these one at a time, since we’ve decided to stray off the beaten path just a bit. Inventory will be handled the old-fashioned way. You will have a weight capacity determined by your strength stat that dictates how much you can carry at once. If you go over your limit, your movements will be hindered. If you get too weighed-down, you won’t even be able to move in battle.

The story has a main plot, with several subplots that tie-in together in a way that probably hasn’t been seen many times before in an RPG. The way the story works, the second time you play the game may be wildly different from the way it was the first time around. You’re going to miss stuff unless you play the game more than once.

Talking with NPCs will be pretty much the same, except that major characters will have a portrait that changes to display a character’s expression while they’re speaking. An angry character will actually look angry. A character who’s embarrassed will have a red face. Those are just a few examples.

Jeremy: What about healing and magic?

Clint: Healing and magic will be a little different from the typical RPG. There is no magic to speak of in the traditional sense. Instead, more modern and futuristic conventions are used, and pretty much any arcane magic from medieval RPGs has been converted in some way to more modern standards. Some of the fundamentals are the same though. If you want to use a “fire spell,” you can take a can of spray paint and a Zippo lighter and torch an enemy who’s nearby, slightly like the use of reagents in more traditional RPGs. Or, use a personal flame thrower for added distance. For those heavy-duty burning jobs, pull your serious flame thrower and a bag of marshmallows out, and enjoy the roast.

That’s not to say that there’s no mysticism in the game. For example, characters can learn to focus their Chi in order to temporarily boost their combat abilities and perform manoeuvres they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. That’s just one example.

Jeremy: What about the combat system? Do you have that worked out yet?

Clint: That’s where one of the big changes comes in. A turn-based, standard battle system like those found in most console RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, and in RM2K games just isn’t very technically appealing from this designer’s standpoint, and can get a bit eye-glazing after a while from a gameplay standpoint. Except for the graphical wow-factor, there is just really not much as far as gameplay in my opinion other than “wait for turn, press attack.”

As for a real-time, Zelda-style battle system, that didn’t seem “RPG” enough, and most of us prefer turn-based anyway. Then there are the mindless clicky-clicky battle systems, like in Diablo. In the end, we decided on a battle system that’s similar to those of Fallout and Dungeons & Dragons. It actually came from a tactical battle game I'd been designing for about three years, and with some tweaking, it looks like things will work well.

Eventually, I named the battle system AtomicBox, based on the type of action I had envisioned for the system, and due to the shape of the field. The version that will be used in TGP is named AtomicBox Lite, and is specially-tweaked for use in tactical RPGs. It is meant to be simple to use, yet have lots of cool features and some over-the-top battle mechanics.

Jeremy: Can you give us any specifics on how the AtomicBox battle system works? Could it be reusable in other games or is it rather TGP specific?

Clint: As it is right now, A-Box is encapsulated into the TGP game itself. As we move along, we may create a separate module that will allow other developers to use the system by passing arguments to it, and after that, the system takes care of everything else.

AtomicBox is a strategic battle tactics system that makes each battle scene unique. Unlike some tactical RPGs, which form a prefab battle scene whenever a fight occurs, the AtomicBox system builds a battle scene on the fly to mimic the character’s surroundings. Walls, rocks, pillars, streams, everything will be in the same place it was on the map. This makes each battle unique, so your strategy will change each battle, depending on your surroundings and your opponents.

Not only that, but changes during battle are also reflected in the world map. If you shoot a boulder with a rocket launcher in the battle system, the rock is gone. When the battle ends and the game reverts to the world map, that rock will still be just a pile of rubble.

Basically, AtomicBox just takes a bunch of arguments, such as map layout, character and object position, and after that, it handles everything itself. That way, you could use the system as the battle system in your own RPG, and do as we did by letting the system take the arguments directly from the map system. Or, you could have a game that would feed AtomicBox prefab maps, in order to make an arena combat-style fighting game.

Jeremy: What will be the perspective of the game? Overhead? From the character’s viewpoint? 2D? 3D?

Clint: It will all be 2D. 3D is great and all, but there are several problems with it. For one, there are many more VB programmers out there who know DirectDraw as opposed to those who are skilled in Direct3D. Also, 3D games take much longer to construct. We felt that going 3D was neither necessary nor ideal for these and many other reasons.

That said, we decided to go with two views. The map system plays in traditional bird’s-eye view for a number of reasons. For one, it gives the game that old-school, traditional RPG feeling. Another is that it’s easier to code for, so the team won’t be caught in a tough situation if a key programmer leaves. On top of that, when we release the details of the inner-workings of the game to programmers, the information reaches out to a broader range of programmer skill levels when added to the rest of the game. It also gives you a larger field of view than the isometric viewpoint, which is used in the battle system.

Battles, like most console RPGs, occur in a separate engine from the game world. The system basically takes the player’s surroundings, changes the perspective, and zooms-in on the battlefield so that fights feel more up-close and personal.

Some people have found it odd that we took this approach, but that’s just how it happened. From the beginning, the team wanted to use a standard overhead view, while the battle system I designed had always had isometric in mind. It might feel a little weird to some people, but hopefully they’ll appreciate the work that went into designing it. If there’s much demand, we may even make the next version totally in isometric perspective.

Jeremy: How will the character move about the world? Meaning, will there be constant map scrolling? Or will “regions” be the size of the screen where you walk off screen to get to the next location? (I only ask because graphical scrolling it not something VB is known for!)

Clint: There probably won’t be many single-screen regions, and the game will have scrolling. VB alone is a little weak when it comes to graphics, but with the help of DirectX, we’re capable of producing silky-smooth map scrolling in an RPG.
Jeremy: Obviously, VB is not designed for game development; however, I've seen intense graphical programs (such as those by Simon Price) work extremely well if one learns and uses DirectX programming effectively. Is that the route you’re taking? Or are you attempting to squeeze water out of the VB rock another way?

Clint: We might be crazy, but we’re not stupid. :)

DirectX is obviously going to be a necessity to achieve what we have planned. From just looking at the prototypes of the battle system coded in DirectX for VB, I don’t think it would’ve worked very well without it. We want to make a game that people will enjoy more than anything else, so we’d rather incorporate DX into our game to make things smoother rather than crank-out a game done 100% in VB that runs at 10 FPS or less on the average player’s computer. So we’re not sadists, either. ;)

Jeremy: You read my mind for one of my previous questions, but since you touched on it, I'll ask now. So the TGP game, and even the source, will be shareware and free for anyone to download?

Clint: We don’t know yet. The deal is that I currently have no source of income, so TGP is basically my livelihood. I can just barely afford to keep the servers going, can you imagine how much more I'll have to pay if everyone can download the game in full right from the site for free? I can’t afford to pay for all that bandwidth, so unless we get some money somewhere we can’t even get the game out. If there’s any way we can get the game commercially published, I'll pursue it with the blessing of the team and hopefully the VB gaming world (how often do you see a VB game on store shelves?). We set out in the beginning to make a commercial-quality game in VB. The ultimate way to discover whether we have succeeded is to try and get it published. Hopefully this will pave the way to helping VB become part of the mainstream gaming scene.

As for source code, we plan to write a sort of “The Making of TGP”, which will include stories of each member’s experiences in working on the project, as well as the techniques used. While we won’t be releasing the actual source, we will give you tutorials on what we did. That includes everything from coding to artwork. I have just never seen the use in giving away source code. I feel people learn better by thinking for themselves, so I believe giving people the power to build a game like TGP themselves rather than just tossing its guts out to them carries with it far more merit.

We never directly used anyone else’s code, graphics, music, or anything, and we hope that by writing these diaries, rather than simply handing out source code, we will be able to teach others how to rely on themselves more and less on others. As for any libraries used, such as DirectX, vbDABL, etc., those can be used by anyone, so those will certainly be available to others.

Jeremy: You mentioned “construction tools,” which I assume means some type of “world editor.” Will this editor be the same tool you used to create the end game itself? Or is there lots of extra coding a programmer will have to do behind the scenes if they wish to make their own game with your tools?

Clint: Yes, the tools here will be what we use to create the game. TGP has its own utilities, including a world editor, cinema editor, scripting language, etc. The game will also be customizable. For instance, we’re working on a character creator where the user can create their own character, graphics and all, and plug them into the game. In addition, I'm interested in making the GUI skinnable, so users can customize the overall look and feel of the game.
Jeremy: Back to the game… since it’s a futuristic setting, will there be fantastical creatures to fight, or will the “enemy” be other humans, such as thugs and master villains?

Clint: You can expect most NPCs to be humans, but with a futuristic setting there’s lots of room to add other kinds of NPCs. Genetic experiments gone horribly wrong, cybernetic soldiers, mutated wildlife, giant robots, you name it.
Jeremy: How big of a world are you envisioning? Assuming the character takes up one tile of space, can you approximate how many tiles tall and wide one “region” will be? How many regions are there? Will this incorporate one city? Country? Continent? World? Timeline?

Clint: Oh boy, I'm not really sure how to answer this one. The game’s setting takes place across a small cluster of island countries, so it’s not like traversing through an entire planet or anything. There are currently several regions, including villages, small towns, major cities, mountainous plateaus, underground fortresses, and business districts. The world itself is actually more modern than futuristic though, so it’s not like the regions will all be drab gray-metallic compounds and post-apocalyptic wastelands. As for the timeline, it sort of goes back and forth, but everything takes place in the same time frame. You’ll learn more about that when the game is released.
Jeremy: From your previous answers, I assume the game will be only a single-player game?

Clint: Yes and no. The RPG itself is single-player, but there will be an external application where players can take their characters to do battle online against a friend. Players can use the standard characters from the game, or they can use the aforementioned character creator to make their own. The cool thing about it is that you and a buddy can compete to see who can build their character’s abilities faster, which we feel will add great gameplay value.
Jeremy: Will you be controlling one character at a time? Or multiple characters in a party? Or different characters at different times?

Clint: All of the above. At some points, you will be alone, and others you will have a full party. Sometimes you will take control of another character’s persona. Sometimes decisions you make at some point will affect whether a character joins your party or not, or may even pit you against each other as rivals.
Jeremy: Like all good fantasy, character and plot are pivotal to success. Anything you can tell us about either? Names or general story arc? Or is everything hush-hush at this point?

Clint: Well, I would hate to spoil the story by telling too much at this point. We’re taking great pains to create a story that is robust, with a wide variety of personalities, twists, and messages. We’re working hard to make a dynamic story, rather than just drag the player through a totally linear storyline.

It is really hard to give a very detailed storyline description, since there are many possibilities in the directions the story can take. It basically begins with your player character leaving home one day to begin a new life. So, basically it is like a new canvas for the player to create a character that is their own, rather than force your character to be a mercenary or some such. Of course, if you want to be a mercenary, the choice will present itself, and the story picks-up from there. Depending on where you are and what you do at a certain time will determine which events you will experience and what stories you will play a part in.

Jeremy: Will there be only one possible outcome to the game? Or multiple ending depending on choices the player makes? Or undetermined? Or is it an in-house secret?

Clint: It’s a secret at this point. :)
Jeremy: Will the “hero” be set? Or will players be able to dictate certain elements? Such as name, gender, class, race, stats, hair color, etc.?

Clint: At the moment, the character is mostly fixed as far as appearance. The name of the main character will be decided by the player however, and they will be able to adjust that character’s stats to their liking. Not only that, there are character templates and “stat ramps”, so the more traditional RPG players can manually adjust their stats at level-up, and the more console-oriented players can use stat ramps to automatically adjust their stats for them.

The player can also assign “Characteristics,” which gives their character its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. With these, characters with identical stats may still have an advantage in attacking, taking damage, and a whole list of others. Some are more specific, such as metabolism, which determines how quickly poisons and other harmful substances pass through the body, and ambidexterity, which determines how skilful a character is when using dual weapons.

The character’s personality will also be affected by certain decisions and actions the player takes throughout the game, so what you do dictates the way your character reacts to certain situations (but does not control decisions), and can even affect the direction the story goes at some point.

Jeremy: Will the game have voice capabilities? Or will it all be text?

Clint: The game dialog will all be in text; however, there may be some voices here and there. It may be just a few words, but if we feel that a short voice sample would contribute to a cutscene or standoff, we’ll do it.
Jeremy: Several elements go into a game music, graphics, programming, etc. Will all these be created within the TGP team itself? Or will some elements be borrowed or purchased?

Clint: We’ve had the good fortune to attract some very talented members to the team, and at this point it looks as though every element in the game can be created within the team. No ripped graphics, no borrowed sounds or music; we have a number of talented and dedicated programmers. TGP has been blessed with people who have stuck with us and who have great skills to contribute. Creating everything ourselves was our plan all along though, since to use copyrighted materials in a game that may someday be published or distributed via shareware could result in some very nasty legal penalties.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that TGP is 100% internally created. In fact, there are only two other parts of the game itself so far that we didn’t create ourselves. The first is the file packaging system, which is provided by Brykovian’s Crypt & Pack Library ( The other is the alphablending library, vbDABL, created by David Goodlad.

Jeremy: Easter eggs. There are few programmers who can resist them. Plan on hiding any “mini-games” within your game?

Clint: Let me just say that the very first game I ever programmed in VB had an Easter egg or two in it. :) There will be Easter eggs, in-jokes, secrets, and all sorts of little tokens that players can discover. As for hiding mini-games, we’ll be actually plugging those into the story itself, so if there are any mini-games that have nothing to do with the story itself, try dropping a quarter into an arcade machine within the game. :)
Jeremy: Are you planning on having a beta-testing stage? Releasing a demo? Do you have approximate dates for these, as well as for the completion of the entire project?

Clint: Yes, we will have a testing phase. We are going to try and release an alpha demo early 2003. This alpha will be released only to a few of the more active members in the VB gaming community to help us find bugs and make suggestions before the public beta is released for download. Depending on how long it takes us to fix as much as we can, this public beta may be released a few months after the alpha is released.

As for the final product, we’re hoping to have it mostly ready to go by the end of 2003. But as dictated by Murphy’s Law, everything takes longer than you think it will, so don’t get too angry with us once we post news of a delay. :)

Jeremy: VB Internet projects like this, no matter how well they do initially, seem to fall apart at some point before actually reaching completion. Would you dare to venture a guess as to the probability that TGP will actually one day be completed?

Clint: Actually, TGP has fallen apart before completion. The difference between TGP and other VB Internet projects is that we’re a resilient, determined crowd. I can’t tell you how many fights the team has gone through, how many hopeless times we’ve had to endure, but no matter how bad things seem, we always get back on that horse. From all that we’ve gone through, I'm sure we can take a lot of abuse before giving up. We’ve probably gone through more garbage than any other team like ours has stood to endure. But it’s our brash determination and defiance of hardship that separates TGP from the ghost town of large-scale VB game projects.
Jeremy: In the “VB Game Programmers Unite”† thread on the Visual Basic Explorer forum, which helped kick start TGP, you seemed rather leery of the whole idea. Yet since then, you set up the sites, made plans, became the team leader, etc. Why the sudden turnabout?

Clint: I guess I just got TGP fever. :)

It’s a rather odd story. I'd just started frequenting the VBE forums about a month before the posting of the VB Game Programmers Unite thread, and I started looking through the really old topics listed in the Projects forum. All I saw were dozens and dozens of subjects about this guy or that guy asking people to join a VB gaming team. Yet, few of them had any replies, and none of them seemed to have gotten anywhere.

On top of this, I'd seen many “community game projects”—developed not only in VB—that had just sort of faded away before they were finished, and not one that had succeeded. It’s just common sense. It’s really hard to get people coordinated on something as huge as a game (unless one person could do it, but then there’s no need for a team) unless you’re in the same room. Not only that, everyone wants to do everything in a different way. I imagined this in my head, and thought “no wonder these things never work”.

Then one day, I went into the Projects forum, and spotted a post entitled “VB Game Programmers Unite.” I had a look at the thread, and dismissed it. DemonSpectre, the guy who posted it, made a sort of cattle-call urging VB programmers to come together to form one huge game team to work on an RPG.

I didn’t need to see all the failed team game projects to know that having a huge team would be completely uncoordinated, disorganized, and the quality of the material would likely be lowered overall. I gathered that anybody who wanted to join could, and I could just see 95% of the members being young kids who’d been programming two weeks and didn’t know the first thing about designing—let alone programming—a game of a large scale. On top of that, everyone would have their own ideas about what would make a good RPG, so it was sure to be a recipe for pure chaos.

I relayed this to the thread, and went on my way. Some people echoed my sentiments, while a few others—who actually had something to show as far as game development—seemed a bit more keen on the idea.

So, after some discussion on the pitfalls of such a scheme, a little debate on the C / VB wars, and the origins of BASIC, a few people started getting serious about the idea, and started laying out plans right there. I'd seen plenty of game projects start, but this was the first time that I'd seen people actually plan things out beforehand. I think this was the point where I started to see some potential.

Well, before I knew it, there were six people who were ready to get started. By this time, I thought, "hey, why not?" and jumped on the bandwagon. I was 21, was still a nervous wreck from a previous job, couldn’t find another, and the business I was running was failing. I saw this as a chance to have something fun to do while trying to rebuild the skills I had neglected due to a lack of time and nerves from my last job. So, I decided to fire-up my favorite HTML editor (Notepad) and get to work on a quick web-site.

I'm not the best at making up names, so I just named the site “The Gathering Project,” since it was a place where these people could gather together to work on the game. After about two days, we had a site with general information, news, a member roster, a message board, and a chat room, hosted on ad-free ’Web space from the site of my business. The others approved, and we got to work. So, that’s the story in a nutshell.

Jeremy: It’s fairly common to have a general “cattle call” for programmers form on the Internet, but to make it last longer than three months is a miracle. I had success once, but only because I limited the team to three members-though even that had whittled down to two by the end. Yet TGP has multiple members and longevity. To what do you attribute such a feat?

Clint: I suppose it’s because TGP has become more than a game project to most of us. To me, it’s a way of life. The project did in fact collapse after the first month or so, when some members just became silent, and the forums were left alone. I for one wasn’t ready to give up, so I got in contact with the members to see who was still serious about trying to pick the pieces up and keep moving. After that, we still had four members including myself.

Things were tough for a while, but we didn’t give up, and soon my inbox became flooded with resumes from hopeful recruits. It seems that some good recruiting decisions were made, as the members we have now are all hard workers and are dedicated to the project.

The keys to keeping a project together are a strong leadership, a strong team, a sense of purpose, and a lot of luck. I've devoted all my time to ensure that the best quality goes into the project and giving the team ideas on making the game better, and the team seems to really appreciate that. To us, TGP is more than just a game, it’s a serious endeavor to do the best we can. And TGP is very lucky to have as many talented workers as it does and be able to keep them motivated.

Jeremy: What is it like to work with a team on something of this magnitude? Either from your perspective, or from your team as a whole. Any hard feelings? Rebellion? Or nothing but smooth sailing?

Clint: Well, I don’t know if I can really speak for everyone else, as I'm sure every member has had their own experience. I'm sure some feel as though they aren’t respected as much as others. I'm sure others feel as though everyone’s against them at times. And I'm sure others get sick of seeing other team members fighting amongst themselves. As you can see, it’s been anything but smooth sailing. :)

There is often tension within the team, but we all work through it. Problems don’t get solved by getting angry with someone and never speaking to them again. Although I feel things get done faster in a professional environment, I also know that it is very important to remember that we’re a team, none of us are perfect, and that we all have to be friends to be able to work together in this scenario. No promises of payment or success comes with being a member of the team, so it’s much easier to just up and quit something like TGP.

The thing that I think keeps TGP together is that we are like a family. I really do care about each member, although I may not show it as often as I would like. Sometimes it seems the only time I manage to say what I really think is when I'm angry, but I really… really don’t think clearly when I'm angry. I'm well-known for my temper (rather a lack thereof), and I'm not afraid to admit it, although I'm not exactly proud of it. But deep down, these guys and gal are my family, and I want to thank each and every member of the team, my family, for putting up with me for so long. :)

Jeremy: Have you had a lot of member turnover?

Clint: Surprisingly, not really. I suppose my resume selection scheme can be attributed to this. I like to run things as a business. If someone appears professional to me, that tells me that they’re typically serious about what they do. Whenever I get a resume, I pay close attention to everything from spelling and grammar, to the sense of excitement written into the resume, and I also require recruits to send actual samples of their work. Anyone who writes a resume using "hay can i join ur teem u guyz r kewl!!1!!11″ is usually ignored.

It’s just smart business. If someone can’t take the time to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation, how can I expect them to take the time to do whatever work they are assigned? If someone can’t write a quality resume, how can I expect them to produce quality materials? As anal as this may sound, everyone I've hired using this tactic has only served helpful. We’ve had only one member leave since I took over recruiting, out of a total of six “hired” members since then.

Then of course is the sense of spirit in the project. We’re not easily discouraged, and we are able to get over any problems we have with others in the team.

Jeremy: Assuming you complete the game, any ideas how you’ll advertise it? The idea of a “VB RPG” conjures up certain images… none of which are very positive. Any idea how you’ll get people past that stigma to at least give it a shot? Movies or trailers? Word of mouth? Sky writing?

Clint: Up until now, we’ve let longevity be our ad agency. We never post announcements to VB forums (except one time in the Visual Basic Explorer forums where the post that spawned TGP was made, and that was just to update the site URL when it changed), and only occasionally does it come into a message board conversation. Even with that, we’ve managed to get quite a few resumes, forum postings, and fan e-mails from people who know little to nothing about the project itself, just because of what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s a good idea to advertise until you have a substantial amount of work completed. People tend to lose interest in something over the months it takes to develop a game of this scale.

As for the future, we’ll simply use “target marketing.” If we post a message in a VB forum regarding the game, we’ll note that it is made in VB to attract that audience. If we post something in a general gaming forum, VB won’t be mentioned, because it should be a moot point there. People should play our game because it’s good, not because of the language it was made in. Likewise, if our game sucks, that should be the reason people don’t play it. VB doesn’t have any sense of fun, it just does what you tell it to (within reason). It’s not the fault of VB if a game is not fun, and anyone who thinks otherwise is blaming it on the tools and not whoever is using them.

We’ll probably let word of mouth do the advertising for us to some point. We may try sending demos to some PC gaming magazines that highlight certain independent games that stand out from the crowd. We’ll also take advantage of the two new VB gaming news sites to get the word out, and beyond that, there’s no telling. I suppose it mostly depends on whether or not TGP is commercially published.

Jeremy: Any idea what type of ESRB rating your game will be given in the end? Will there be excessive blood and violence? Nudity? Swearing? Bill Gates in a speedo?

Clint: Hey, how did you know we were going to have Bill Gates in a speedo?! :)

We’re trying for a T rating. Don’t expect mutilation or hot sex scenes, but don’t expect the content to be tame, either. There will be some cursing, although it will not be frequent. Of course, violence is something that’s hard to get around, but the only time you may see any blood will be during a cutscene. Don’t worry about fountains of blood spurting from one edge of the screen to another each time a character is hit in battle.

Jeremy: I recently came across a marketed, commercial game on the Internet made from QBasic, of all things, which can be found at I'd like to think if someone can go commercial with QB, surely someone can do it in VB. Regardless if that ever happens, do you feel any pressure, externally or internally, to actually see TGP project to completion?

Clint: .........QBASIC!? I really need to check that out!

It’s definitely inspiring. I'm not sure a game the scope of TGP would work under QB without a lot of retooling, but to hear that a game not coded in the almighty C / C++ is actually being marketed is a wonderful thing. These are the kinds of people who know how to make magic.

We haven’t had much pressure from outsiders other than those who say all large Internet VB RPG projects fail, but the members within the team believe in the project, and some dedicate all free time they have to the project. Most of the internal pressure comes from me though. I feel like this is the ultimate test that determines how I live my life from now on. I can walk away a loser, a nobody, and spend the rest of my life in BFE, or I can walk away a winner. Someone who knows that they have accomplished something where many have failed. It also determines whether I let down the members of the team by not helping them see it through to the very end, and I really don’t want to let them down.

Jeremy: I, as a VB programmer, am pulling for TGP and hope to see it one day reach completion. I am therefore thankful for the opportunity to conduct an interview in the hopes it will answer some questions I and others have had, and possibly spark more interest in the VB community. That said, do you have any closing thoughts? About TGP or what you would like to see from the VB community in relation to TGP?

Clint: I am thankful to you as well. A year ago, I never imagined I would be the head of one of the largest online VB gaming projects alive today and be interviewed by another successful member of the VB gaming community. It’s been a fairly wild ride for me. :)

I hope that TGP is something that the VB gaming community quietly observes, yet is rooting for behind the scenes. Something that isn’t noticed because of what it promises, but what it will be. We can go about posting in every VB message board about how great and ambitious TGP is, but that’s just noise, like a child showing off a new toy. Rather, I hope it is noticed because of the silent confidence we have in ourselves, and the example we set by speaking with our actions more than our words. Speak softly and carry a big stick. We’ll do just enough to remind people we exist, and let them know we’re still working, but that’s about it for now.

As for the impact TGP actually has on the community, only time will tell. I hope that the game gives developers new ideas, and sends sparks through the community that will inspire members of the society to work on the art form of game design. Games with new ideas, innovations, and mechanics. I hope it makes developers look at games in new ways, and rather than say, “I'm working on a game similar to Game X,” they will work on games that are unique. After all, game design is an art, and looking at 500 forged versions of the Mona Lisa gets pretty boring after a while.

I want to close by saying that I hope that TGP will be something that proves that just because someone says something is impossible, it doesn’t make it so. My goal in life is not only to make people happy, but to help them become better people. To inspire them that when they think they’ve reached their limits, to push themselves beyond those limits, rather than just walk away feeling as though they’ve failed. If it weren’t for this drive to keep pressing forward when it seemed that we’d done all we could, we never would have realized the potential we have discovered in ourselves the past year. Never be satisfied with mediocrity. Never give up, do whatever you can to push your limits farther, because only then will you ever discover what you are truly capable of.

Jeremy: Thanks for your input, Clint, and for the opportunity to conduct this interview on a project that’s making the VB community stand up and take notice. And not just from a programming standpoint, but from a managerial view since few, if any, VB RPG groups have had such longevity with a positive vision for seeing it to the end. Hopefully, this will not only result in a great finished product, but in a changed VB community mindset that this type of thing can be done and done well—if certain steps and precautions are taken early on. So good luck as others and I continue to watch and wonder at TGP from the wings. :)