Babylon 5: A Dream given Form is a modification for X³: Terran Conflict, a space-trading and combat simulator made by German developers Egosoft. Kasabian, Mod Realms (www.modrealms.com/
) resident B5 aficionado, talked to the mod leader, I_E_Maverick, about where B5X3TC is now and where its going.
MR: So to start this off, for those that unfortunately do not know, could you briefly tell us what Babylon 5′ is?
B5X3TC: Babylon 5 is a TV series from the 90s. The name belongs to a space station in a neutral sector, which is also the main place for the series action. Special about the series is that all special effects were done with computer generated graphics, which was new in that time. It also had an epic plot, which was planned for 5 seasons from the beginning. That showed the way forward to different series now showing as well. Last but not least the series had very good actors and characters with believable turnarounds. To make it short, it was a perfect sci-fi series from start to end. Thats one of the reasons we are doing such a mod.
MR: Babylon 5: A Dream Given Form is a modification for X³: Terran Conflict why did you choose this game in particular?
B5X3TC: There are not that much space-games out there anymore I am afraid. Nevertheless X³: Reunion, which we started with, and X³: Terran Conflict are great space-games, which are easy to mod as well. It offers a lot of options to change the game. Furthermore it offers a free gameplay from the start. You can do missions, trade, explore sectors or even build your own business empire. All these aspects fits a Babylon 5 universe very well and especially the way of
traveling the universe is very similar to they way it was in the B5 universe. Besides the graphics are fantastic and there is nothing similar out there. These are the main reasons for choosing such a game.
MR: You made the jump from X³: Reunion to X³: Terran Conflict, why was this? And if there were to be a new engine released, would you make the jump again?
B5X3TC: The main reason for this was the change of some of the scripts and the mission director. There were also some tweaks to the graphics and a new interface. If something like that would happen again I think we wouldnt change again though because we are too far along now for that. The change from X3 R to X3 TC was quite a big change, which brought a lot of new options to us but also was a lot of work. At a certain point it is just not worth it if you have to start from the beginning again.
MR: Could you give us a description of your B5 mod and what your aim is?
B5X3TC: This is a tough question. In the beginning it was our idea or wish to bring in all the B5 ships from the series. Now we are working on a total conversion, that means we are changing every aspect of the game. We want to create the perfect B5 game. To do this we have created a complete new universe based on a semi canon map, so estimated 400 sectors including the hyperspace sectors though. Certainly we have built a lot of ships by now. Not only the canon ones but also a lot of our own designs to close the gaps which are necessary for the game. This applies especially to stations which were hardly seen in the series. I could tell you about a lot of other things we have changed, but this would go beyond the scope of this interview I guess. Let me tell you one thing though: We want that every player get the feeling at all times to be part of the series.
MR: There is much fan fiction, official books, games and quite an extended universe beyond what is shown in the TV show. How will this affect the modification and will the TV show get priority in regards to the mythology?
B5X3TC: The series has absolute priority but we use every possible source of information to make the mod as realistic as possible.
MR: The TV show only has limited amount of ships and in particular station designs compared to X³: Terran Conflict. How do you plan to fill this gap and flesh out the game?
B5X3TC: As said earlier there are gaps we have to close with our own designs, especially for stations. We get our ideas from a lot of stuff. Nevertheless we try to make every object in a way that the player can see which race it belongs to, which isnt that easy at all. The station problem is solved differently though. We simply decided not to build that many stations. It doesnt make sense for example to build up a big food production in space. This would be up on planets or colonies. So we decided to build planetstations which simulate the trading of planets and colonies. Of course there are space docks, mines and other stations as well, but not as much as in the original X3 TC.
MR: We have seen the inclusion of Jumpgates and Hyperspace, which is quite groundbreaking. Are there any other features which you are proud of?
B5X3TC: You have already pointed out the best i guess, at least until now. There are a few things though that we are proud of. Of course there is the station B5 itself and its sector. It looks very similar to the series and in some ways even better. On the other side we have a complete new universe with nearly 400 new sectors which are all going to look different from one another. We are also very proud of the sector music which is composed especially for us and which assigns every main race its own theme. Last but not least there are the shadows, which really give you the creeps and feel exactly the way they are described in the series and books. Not to forget our latest addition the main menu, especially because nobody else has changed this menu the way we have as far as I know. It is a work of art, as are the animated jumppoints we have in-game now.
MR: Voice acting, I think we can all agree it is a touchy subject in the world of modding. It can be hit-or-miss when used, what are your plans?
B5X3TC: We are trying to use real voices, which we are currently working on to get them perfected. As we just started with voice acting though I cant tell you much about it at this time. We do have some voice actors, including ourself of course, but we could always use more. There is going to be German and English voices to compliment both of these languages versions of the conversion.
MR: We have seen many screenshots and videos of the progress made so far, do you have any special previews for us in the near future?
B5X3TC: Hard to tell to be honest. Especially videos like our last released ones are hideous as they need a lot of work. As the whole team doesnt have that much time we all think twice before deciding to do one. There is going to be video in the not so far future, but because of time problems we are not able to do the necessary things for that. So this can take some time until we are able to release a new video. In the mean time we are trying to release some screenshots, render pictures or wallpapers to keep the fans satisfied.
MR: Where does the project stand at the moment?B5X3TC: To give an accurate percentage is quite difficult as this is a huge project where anything can be added. But a very careful estimation could lie around 40-50% i guess. We have finished the universe structure minus the graphics of the sectors and such. There are many models still missing, but the main races are already playable. There are many weapons done, you can trade, so we are progressing very well. But there is also a lot of work ahead of us still.
MR: A hard question to answer I know, but roughly when is the first planned release?B5X3TC: I would like to quote from many other mods for that: When it is done! You shouldnt question this to any mod team, because there is always something that kill your plans.
MR: The highly detailed ships, new effects and massive map and additional scripts would naturally have an impact on performance. How are you finding the difference in performance to the basic X³: Terran Conflict game?
B5X3TC: We are working very efficiently. Most of our ships and stations use way less polys (triangles or faces) than the original ships of the game. We also have less stations in a sector which are very polyintensive. The performance, if it changes at all, should be better then. But we cant be absolutely sure about this until the mod is complete. So far none of us could notice a performance loss, rather the opposite was the case.
MR: Will we hear new music in Babylon 5′? Will Christopher Frankes work make an appearance?
B5X3TC: There is going to be original music of the series and new music as well. We have a very talented musician who is composing music especially for us. We have already tracks for hyperspace and Centauri sectors and all of those are absolutely fantastic. Everyone will be very pleased with it I think.
MR: Can players start as any Babylon 5′ race and fly any ship in the game? Or is the mod more restrictive for storytelling reasons?
B5X3TC: Depends. As a matter of fact you can fly every ship in the universe once it belongs to you. There are exceptions though because of the game itself or our understanding of fun. It doesnt make sense or fun to fly a ship of the size of a whole sector in our opinion. Except that you are able to fly any ship though. Start positions vary a lot. A lot of parameters depend on that as well. After all it will be role playing game like because your decision during the game will determine your career. We are still in a developing stage with that, so this might change in the future.
MR: For anyone who wants to contribute to Babylon 5′, can they still do so? Where should they express their interest?
B5X3TC: We always need good people. Because of the amount of models and textures we are needing 3d and 2d artists are favoured, but anyone wishing to help is welcome. There should be some quality in his or her work though to keep with our high standards. This shouldnt frighten anyone though. I can teach for example a lot of 3ds Max, but there should be a least a good basis for that.
MR: Have you had any difficulties during the development of the mod? Anything you have learned and would like to share with other budding mod makers?
B5X3TC: Oh dear, there are too many things I am afraid. As nice as the game is and as many options you have to tweak it, there are some, excuse me Egosoft, totally weird things in the game which can hardly be understood. I can only advice anyone not to give up. There are some things that cant be done of course, but there is often a workaround to make it work.
MR: In just one word, how would you describe Babylon 5: A Dream given Form?
MR: Anything else youd like to say?
B5X3TC: At this point I would like to thank the whole B5X3TC modding team who made all this possible. All of them are doing a fantastic job and create small wonders despite a lack of time, families and jobs. Thanks to Amras for cool looking ships, fantastic new designs and the will to make every model look perfect, even if it caused some discussions between us . Thanks to Spuddy for all the work on the map and the economy and for other little things. Without him only few ships would be in the mod by now. Thanks to Savo for those little wonders like the jumpgate effect and the menu and other things, without which the mod would only be half as good. Thanks to Xell as well for creating and working on the website. Without it we wouldnt have a place for our fans, releases and plans for the mod. Thanks to Asprin for fantastic Music. Thanks to LC4Hunter for originally starting this mod project as well as Dragon4day who works as a voice actor with his girlfriend and thanks to Syr3l for working on the voice acting sounds. Thanks to all the Fans of the mod as well as to Kasabian for giving me the opportunity to do this interview.
MR: And we would like to thank I_E_Maverick for giving us this closer look at B5X3TC and its development process. If you want to find out more about the mod or just look at more screenshots or videos you can, and should, visit b5.hc-gamer.de/
The original interview: www.modrealms.com/modification…