Hello, and welcome to the first in a series of interview with the founding members of NDEX, one of SimTropolis' BATting teams. Today, we will be talking with Equinox, the modder, and as some say, heart of NDEX (not to mention the founder).
What made you choose SimCity 4 over the more popular [sims] games that are out there?
I've always loved seeing something come together, from start to finish (hence, the SimCity affixation). The answer, in short, is that SimCity 4 is the most dynamic and open-ended game I've found. It's not the same type of open-endedness as what The Sims 2 offers, but SimCity allows more individuality and creativity to show through, especially with custom content added to the picture.
What is your favorite time of day to "work"?
Between 12 AM and 4 AM I am the most productive; I despise sleeping, and consequently the late night time is great for getting things done. I do my modding all throughout the weekend, but in the end, most of it is done during this time period. (I also do even more tedious things here, like extracting game soundtracks by hex editing, or whatever the case may be.)
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I enjoy playing my Xbox and PSP a lot. I also like to read books (my favorites would probably be the Descent series by Peter Telep, and the Halo books), listen to music, draw, and learn new things - as long as it's not biology.
Do you have any bad habits, and if so, what are they?
Yeah - not sleeping. I have a tendancy to put off sleep as a minimal priority and at times I go three or four days without it. I don't ever really feel tired, just obligated to sleep. I also tend to talk too much - or sometimes my thoughts go on too long for my friends' patiences.
What is it that keeps you motivated to mod?
The results: getting those well-balanced, tweaked lots to grow in the game. In addition, the fans and their feedback (via comments, ratings, and downloads) are very important to me. (Thanks for the continual support, everyone!)
Where do you get all your inspiration from?
Inspiration for what? Perfecting and tweaking things? Probably my mom, who's really big into organizing things: I've always been the same way. This isn't just in real life: I can't stand it if my game menus are full of unorganized junk that's not up to the standards of what's already in the game - hence, my job as the tweaker.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for getting you into modding, and teaching you the ways of the trade?
DarkMatter: his continual patience and answering of questions (not to mention his programs) were really helpful in my learning how SimCity 4 functions and how to manipulate it. GrampaAl: always provided help when I asked, and even sometimes when I didn't. Very kind and thorough, and a good lot maker/tweaker, too. Vlakhaas/Daeley: they have been immensely helpful and informative in my querymaking and my minimalistic LUA scripting for SimCity 4. SimGoober: for pointing out that the Plugin Manager's statistics were skewed so heavily and causing me to look into the issue and discover just how inaccurate and unbalanced they really are. ... and last but certainly not least, Dirk, for providing an awesome site and an awesome community: a place where knowledge can be shared freely and people are kind and respectful.
What is your favorite website?
I've had problems with links to this site in the past and since this is intended to be a website appropriate for all ages, I'll just say it's written by a man nicknamed "Maddox". Beyond that, my favorite site is Simtropolis, of course.
What can you see yourself doing in the future, job-wise?
I can see myself being a programmer, an architect, or a writer (books - no media articles from this guy). I'm not sure which of the three ways to go as of right now, but I'm thinking of double-majoring in Japanese and computer science.
What is your favorite BAT on the STEX?
Without a doubt, Somy's Microwave Rectenna Plant. In just the Simtropolis community, it's a harder choice ... I like the PDA Headquarters Building, Club Riddle Me This (by N74704 - the derelict nuclear plant-slash-nightclub), the Bosworth Tower (by Oneil_1), and the Nitron Center (by Superstar).
What have you enjoyed working on the most?
I don't know that I enjoy working on anything, really; I do it for the end results (to be perfectly honest). So the technical answer to your question is "N/A", but in relative terms, I liked working on Somy's Fishing Harbor 2, or Oneil_1's Bosworth Tower.
Who is your favorite BAT designer?
All-inclusive: without a doubt, As for in the Simtropolis community ... there's a group of people, each with his own strengths. Best Utility Buildings: RalphaelNinja Best Residentials: Oneil_1 Best Commercials: Superstar, PDA Best BATs Overall: N74704
What's your favorite Maxis-made building in the game - either Rush Hour or SimCity 4 vanilla, and why?
Lucky Lizard Lofts. I like its general Euro style and my favorite colors are black and white. I like how detailed the building is, as well. (Then again, all of the Maxis buildings are high-detail). I also like the Hurt Enterprise Headquarters, because - as mentioned below - it is based off of one of my favorite buildings in real life, the Commerzbank Tower.
Do you actually play SC4 any more?
No, not really. Given that my time on the PC is restricted (my parents think my 3.6 GPA is not nearly as well as what I could get if I weren't so distracted by my PC - a good point) until school's out, the only time I ever spend in the game is testing lots to make sure they show up in the game and work. Once summer arrives, I probably will be playing a lot more, especially since I'm building a screaming new PC.
Is there any advice you'd like to give people learning to mod?
Be patient, read tutorials (although admittedly, sometimes they aren't so helpful and end up leaving you more confused than you were initially), and don't be afraid to ask questions. Also, don't shoot yourself if you post one of the Modding forums and get bashed for "not searching first": the forum search system here is questionable, and even when it works, it's hard to find answers to specifically what you're looking for. Even if it is a duplicate thread of some other long-buried one, people usually will give you links to places that explain your question. Use your head; the modding programs (and the way SimCity 4 itself works) are really logical. It really helps to be a person who thinks almost enitrely with the "logic" side of their brain - for the basics, I hardly ever used any tutorials; I just fiddled with lot files and saw what changing different things did.
What other, non-Maxis games do you play?
I play just about any racing game out there (I'm cutting class tomorrow to go buy Forza Motorsport on its day of release - hahaha). I also play Unreal Tournament 2004, Lumines, and my all-time favorite game: Ninja Gaiden. Oh, and DOA3 ... but that goes without saying.
What kind of music do you like?
I have a few kinds, really ... original game music (take that, EA!); trance - and J-Pop, too - Ayumi Hamasaki; techno; and finally, classic rock ... I like a lot of different bands in this category, but I'd have to say my overall favorite would be Pink Floyd.
What do you want next from the Maxis guys?
hmm ... I'm not really sure, but it looks like between The Sims 2 + expansions, SimCity, and the new Spore, it'll be hard to wish for anything more.
What's with your Hitomi obsession?
Originally, I was playing Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball - since all the characters are girls, it came down to who looked the best (of course), and I choose Hitomi. Later on, while having an Xbox party and playing Dead or Alive 3, I picked Hitomi as my character and ever since then, that's who I've used in any multiplayer fights. I guess that's really all there is to it. (I now have a Hitomi "skin" for the exterior of my Xbox, even...)
Who do you enjoy working with most?
First, I'm assuming you mean within the NDEX team. With that said, all of the NDEX members have their own qualities that make working with them a pleasure. They're all excessively nice and quite funny, so I don't really favor one person (although I tend to talk to Decius and Fosterk about personal matters more than anyone else; don't know if that counts as working or not).
What's your favorite building or landmark in real life?
The Petronas Twin Towers, without a doubt. (The Burj Al Arab looks pretty awesome so far, as well.) Second-place is the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt (that's spoofed in SimCity 4 - look at the Hurt Enterprise Headquarters).
Do you have a specific dream or achievement you'd like to accomplish in your lifetime?
Yes. I aspire to learn Japanese in Seattle (University of Washington) and then eventually move to Japan. That would be a dream come true for me: everything about Japan I find to be very interesting, and the vast majority of its culture I find much more respectable than that of Western societies (although sadly enough, the two are getting closer together all the time).
Have you played any sports? Do you enjoy watching any sports?
LOL. No, I have never played any sports and find P.E. class to be bad enough, to be honest. As for watching, I think golf is pretty cool, probably because of the strategy and true skill it takes, rather than the ability to run around in circles beating other people up, or kicking a ball through two posts, or whatever. I love to watch racing, and am a big rally race fan, although I don't know if racing is really considered a sport.
Any thoughts you want to throw out to the community?
Please watch the NDEX lots for updates, particularly the older ones. They all need to be updated to give realistic statistics and to have balanced properties, plus there are bug fixes and lot/model improvements to be done on some of them. ... Oh: two thumbs up correlates to "perfect", so if I have a lot with all two-thumbs-up icons next to the comments [on the STEX], why do I have a non-10 rating? (you have to post before you can rate.) I don't understand that, although it's not a very big deal.
What do you enjoy the most about the Simtropolis community?
I like the interfacing between adults and teenagers. I think it's great how well the two "parties" (the BSC and NDEX) get along and are able to cooperate so well - the BSC's demographic is mostly adult professionals, while NDEX's demographic is mainly high-school to college-age students. On most forums, let alone in the real world, I doubt such thing would ever be able to exist and work nearly as well as it does here. Hopefully NDEX can show people that there are still a few respectful, polite, talented, and determined teenage members of society who aren't rap-listening drug-dealing rebellious high school dropouts.
Finally, what's your secret to being so gosh-darn awesome?
If you mean being helpful, nothing, I guess - I enjoy being able to help others learn and improve upon the quality of their stuff, and I try to do what I can to assist, whether it's writing tutorials for modding, answering questions, or just doing the modding for others' creations, because they're too lazy to do it (j/k).
And that concludes the interview with Equinox, and I extend a special thanks to him for taking his time to answer my questions. Thanks to the readers, too, and remember to look out for interviews with other founding members of NDEX, in the near future.