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An Interview With Xistence

By TronFAQ on Monday, February 20, 2006 at 12:53 AM
Recently, I did an interview with Xistence. You may know him for his Disc Arena maps, his Ancient Disc mod, and as a senior member of the LDSO clan who has great skill at Disc Arena in Multiplayer.

This is the first of a series of interviews I'm doing, with people in the TRON community who I think deserve to be recognized for their efforts, and should be in the spotlight. Look forward to more interviews, in the coming weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, enjoy reading this first interview.

FAQ: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you come from, and what are your interests/hobbies (aside from TRON)?

X: Well I'm 31 years old, born in Germany and still living here. My interests are broadly based. But in most cases they are creatively oriented: Artwork, Design, making music, writing stories, poems and a book, doing programming, and developing programs and games.

FAQ: I (and I would suspect many others) consider you to be a very talented artist. Did you take any formal training? Is there anywhere that people can see your work, outside of TRON 2.0?

X: First of all, thanks for that compliment. And no, I never took any form of training . . . except for training myself. I practised and kept trying for a really long time. Everything I do these days, is based upon all the errors I made in the past: a learning experience that taught me how to do things correctly now. And about other samples of my work: currently my site is down. As it wasn't visited so much, there isn't pressure on me to rebuild it in a hurry. My site will be back, but my main focus is on The Digital Messiah these days. So the site re-design has to wait a bit. Then you'll also be able to see other (and unknown) work from me.

FAQ: When was the first time you heard about, or saw, TRON? Did you see the movie, or play the arcade game, first?

X: I saw the movie when I was a child. And as I'm a bit like a "freak", it impressed me very much. Some might know what I mean, when I say that I always wanted to experience TRON for real. Not just as a film.

FAQ: When did you first find out about TRON 2.0? Was it one of the demos? And what did you think of the finished game?

X: I thought that it couldn't be possible: but when the game TRON 2.0 was released, it was a step closer to that experience. So no question for me, that I had to own this game. And it's the reason why I've stuck with this game, since the first demo was released. Personally -- for me -- the story of TRON was always a kind of milestone in creating something really new, as it defined a completely new genre.

FAQ: When did you form the original DSO? What made you decide to form a TRON game clan? Have you been part of any game clans before that? Who were the first members of DSO, aside from yourself?

X: I formed DSO shortly after the full game was released, and my intention to form up a clan was the same as it is for most clans: you find people who are on the same "wavelength" as you. And as you get to know them over time, you eventually decide to take this form of friendship to a new level: a clan. Yes, I was in a clan shortly before I formed my own. It was the PD-Clan. But when interests and ideals start to become too different, it's better to go separate ways. This is the most diplomatic way for me. The real first members of DSO were Simanator and Nicola, aside from myself.

FAQ: I've already asked Mor.Evil-1 and Load"*",8,1 the same question, but I'd like to hear things from your perspective as well. How did the merger of the LD and DSO clans come about? What prompted the decision?

X: As I already stated in the answer before, the intention to do the merger is the same as why you sometimes form a clan: friendship. I met some LD members a long time ago, Mor.Evil-1 was the first. Soon, I realized we had the same perspective about the game. The ideas -- and the vision -- of how to bring respect and creativity into the community. There was no question that we should merge, because we weren't able to see a reason to stay separated.

FAQ: In addition to the more "traditional" artwork that you do, you are known for your breathtaking TRON 2.0 maps. You did a large number of Disc Arena maps, as well as a few Derez. Many (including myself) consider these maps to be as good -- if not better -- than the Multiplayer maps that came with the game. Where did you find the inspiration when creating these maps, and how long did it take you to make them? You did all the geometry in DEdit, correct? Rather than using a commercial 3-D package? That's remarkable.

X: Well, this may sound really self-confident: but inspiration for me is like breathing for others. You don't think about what you want to do. You just "do it". I've spent a lot of my life, living with this personal philosophy. I walk through the world with my eyes wide open: but also with my mind wide open. I see something inspirational in nearly every object, situation, or person. I have around 4,000 sketches on nearly every subject, and I'm working on a completely fictional world. (Some know about it, it's called Kenauer.) And I still haven't reached my limit, with my inspiration.

Making a map takes differing amounts of time, and is based on planning. Some of my "quickshots" (e.g. DA-BS-Disc) just take a few days. Others, a month or two. My current project, TDM: a year now. It's related to the time I have, and how precise my planning is.

Yes, all geometry was built in DEdit. I experimented with 3DSMax a few times after the tools were released, but found that the export feature was too inefficient for me. So I stuck with DEdit, alone. In the meantime I have discovered enough tricks, to create what I want.

FAQ: What do you think of the current state of affairs, on the TRON 2.0 scene? You and I are both part of a group of people interested in creating projects for TRON 2.0, called the TCDG (Tron Community Developer Group). We make our home on the Boxhat web site. There are several members, most of whom also happen to belong to LDSO. We tried very hard to get BVG to release more editing materials to the modding community, but there were strings attached and in the end we were rebuffed. How do you feel about BVG's lack of support?

X: Well, nothing lasts forever. I'm one of those people, who is hardened and realistic enough to realize this and take things for what they are. But TRON is more than just this game. Fans are still around, sticking with this story since the release of the film. So I'm not worried about a possible end of the whole TRON community itself.

About the game. Well, you'll notice different problems in every game that is created to attract a social group, a community. You have "good" and "bad" people. It only becomes a real problem if a community is too small, to compensate for the "bad" things. And here, the support from the publisher's side is important. In the case of BVG, there was no real support at all. Which doesn't really surprise me. BVG is, like most companies, only interested in making money. On the one hand, I can understand this. But on the other hand, I think entertainment should only be handled by those interested in doing entertainment. Not profit. It's the death of entertainment, in most cases. So I'm not really surprised or disappointed, about the lack of support from BVG. I anticipated this, and it's the reason why I have always followed my own path.

FAQ: Are there any future projects we can look forward to, from you? TRON 2.0, or otherwise? Such as The Digital Messiah Single (and Multi) Player mission expansion? Or your Kenauer MMORPG concept? Can you tell us a bit about them, and when they might be released?

X: Well, I currently have several projects "in the fire", trying to manage them based on the time which is left to me from my job. The biggest project I've been working on for the last few years, is my Kenauer concept. Its main goal is "creating a fictional world which is as detailed as possible". A side-benefit, would be that I can create a MMORPG out of this content. The release of this MMORPG is an absolute unknown, because I cannot do everything on my own. It would need too much time, for myself to learn all the stuff to do it.

Another project is an API called ENV, a kind of virtual environment/desktop: which can be used by other programmers and users for an unlimited amount of things. A release date or more precise information can't be given at this point, based on many different reasons.

The last important project is The Digital Messiah. It's a so-called "total conversion", so it's a completely new game. Not just a mod or a few new maps. It contains a complete story -- written by myself -- which is multi-threaded, very deep, and atmospheric (so I hope); with new Single Player and (if everything runs fine) new Multiplayer. Aside from that, I'll try to put in docs, tutorials, and other content: which should help those interested in working with the Lithtech engine. The story of TDM itself is not related in any form to TRON, but it does have something to do with a digital universe.

You could say I'm trying to implement all the ideas I envisioned, thanks to inspiration from TRON. All my answers to the questions asked, if you saw the film TRON or played TRON 2.0. Questions like: how is a digital universe created, where is it, how can a program exist, and how does it live in this digital universe. Plus much more. Don't think that I'm trying to make a plain, bad, modified copy of TRON. I really put a lot of effort into creating something new. I'm one of the biggest fans of TRON, so I would never harm the intellectual creation of Steve Lisberger. More than that, I will dedicate my creation to him, due to the respect I have for his great story. There is no release date for now, because I can't really plan the time for this project.

All I can say is: A.S.A.P. :)

I'd like to thank Xistence for agreeing to do this interview with me. In the meantime -- since the interview took place -- he has created his own new blog to document the progress on TDM. You can visit his blog by clicking HERE, or on the link to the right.
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2 comments so far.

  1. Anonymous February 23, 2006 1:38 PM
    All the still frame thus far look awesome! I look forward to X completing the project it sounds like it will be quite an accomplishment. Should be fun.
  2. TronFAQ February 24, 2006 1:17 AM
    You ain't seen nothing, yet.

    Those are old screenshots, from a long time ago. I've seen newer ones, that I know would make people drool if they could see them.

    X seems to be going for more of a "retro" original TRON style in TDM for his levels. It will remind you a lot of the original film.

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