Interview: Privateer Gemini Gold

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
There is infinite hope, but not for us.

(But seriously, I would like to see a translation, too.)


Vice Admiral
I've taken a longer coffee break and gave the translation a shot - it's not proofread, but I guess it's better than google.

Privateer: GG; Interview with John Cordell

After about a year of off-and-on, timing issues and vacation we finally took the opportunity to have an interview with one of the heads behind Privateer Gemini Gold.
We tried to get some answers to questions we think relevant to players of the original "Wing Commander: Privateer".

If this title doesn't tell you anything, please look at our privateer sections ans read the introduction and FAQ to Privateer.

STN: Hello John Cordell.

JC: Hello Station Network.

STN: For a start, it would be good if you tell us about your position and your task in the "Privateer Gemini Gold"-Project.

JC: My main task is project leadership, where I set the priorities of project development while being in constant contact to all team members. Other tasks go in nearly every other area, from web page and public relations to grahics, and balancing/debugging.

STN: We assume that a project that size can hardly be done alone, so, how many people are on staff, and in which areas?

JC: We're a pretty small team, consisiting of five people at the moment. Graphics is covered by Roman K., M. Edel and myself; here we're reconstructing the internals of all bases and planets as close to the original as possible. In programming we have help from Daniel Horn, who's lead developer of the Vegastrike Engine, and Claudio Freire, who, together with Andy Westrate, concentrates on the implementation of the authentic Privateer computer interfaces. But there are allways smaller jobs which are offered in our forums, and which get done by volunteers.

STN: What is the final goal of the project? Which differences will we notice in comparison to the original "Wing Commander: Privateer"?

JC: It's our final goal to present Privateer free and platform-indepenent, in a graphically attractive form. Also, we want to give the opportunity to "Wing Commander"-Fans to tell their own stories, using an easily modifyable universe.

STN: Will it be possible to play through the complete storyline, maybe even Righteous Fire? And what about the two guilds?

JC: The complete storyline of Privateer and Righteous Fire is playable even now, although the AI quality in the missions has lots of room for improvement. Concerning the guilds, both are very active in the Gemini sector, and are present on most bases.

STN: Let's head to communications: Will I be able to finally taunt furballs and no-tech idiots over the comms again, before blasting them into hard vacuum?

JC: But certainly!

STN: There weren't many ingame cutscenes in Privateer, but how will you implement those sequences in the project using the Vegastrike-Engine?

JC: Pretty simple: Instead of live rendering as in many "modern" games, we will use pre-rendered scenes and integrate them into the game as movie snippets, just like in the commercial Wing Commander games. But before you ask: The work for the new cutscenes hasn't begun yet, and the game engine does not yet support that kind of approach.

STN: Which kind of improvements, apart from the obvious graphics, can we look forward to? Will there be , for example, additional player ships or software, so that you could have your turrets fire automatically?

JC: We will not fulfill those wishes of many Privateer fans yet. It's our opinion that those game enhancements should be introduced into the Privateer universe in an additional campaign together with fitting content, in order not to lose its credibility. But as we currently strive for the resurrection of the original Privateer with all our might, we just don't have the resources for additional content.

STN: How far is the project advanced, if you can give us a percentage? Which parts are ready, which are just being worked on, and which are still untouched?

JC: To be honest, no part of the game is really ready, even the graphics engine will get a complete overhaul in the near future. The last published version enables playing through both the original- as well as the add on campaigns, but the fun compared to the original Privateer is reduced by many inconsistencies, such as bad AI/game balance, several bugs and lacking features. The version in development right now will definitely improve AI and balance, and will add newly rendered backgrounds to nearly all bases and authentic terminals, as well as integrate cutscenes, and squash some bugs in the upgrade/damage system of the player ship. But while backgrounds for bases are 90% ready, and computer interfaces are at 70%, the rest looks pretty dark at the moment.

STN: Last but not least the question which interests most of our readers, and which you will likely be most nervous about: When will the next downloadable version be ready?

JC: That question is a bit of a problem, as it can in fact not be answered. Pivateer Gemini Gold is free for everyone, none of the developers draws money out of it for his work, so all team members can only use their free time to contribute. With a higher age, our responsibilities in the real world grow steadily, which makes it difficult to find regular times for project development. It's also a challenge that due to the size of our team, the knowledge needed to resolve an issue is often contributed by one person only, so that the lack of availability of an important team member can shift a release date by months. At the moment nonetheless, the development pace is good, so there's a chance for the next release even before 2007 arrives - and the wait is really worth it, because the new version will make a big leap forward.

STN: Thank you very much for taking time for us. Is there anything you want to add in closing the interview?

JC: I'd like to say thanks for the interview in the name of the whole team, and for everyone who's interested in contributing to the project, I recommend to cast a glance into our forums.


Criticalmass, thanks for doing a translation job! That's great effort! John, thanks for sharing the interview with us. I bet it was rewarding to receive a little recognition for your team's effort. Good job, keep up the good work!