The History Interviews

Barry Brien | Kevin Buscemi | Death_Blood_Fire | Paul Fenney
Matthew Hallaron | Intjacob (Stryker One) | Jeff Walters

Barry Brien

Q: What was the first level you ever made?

When I started editing DF many many years ago I was always really eager to build a Mos Eisley level. I had made many attempts, but none of them ever saw the light of day. Tatooine has always been my favorite Star Wars locale. It's such an interesting place in terms of people, places, landscapes, etc. Look at the amounts of DF levels set on Tatooine, there are so many. I can think of at least 10 off the top of my head. So at this time I also started getting into building WAXs, FMES, and 3DOs (not of very good quality though). I was still learning how to use dfuse100 when I released my first level.

Q: Was it ever released? And if so, what did it rate as?

Yes, unfortunately my Star Destroyer level "Oppressor IV" was released when I was about 14. A terrible level. The Crow's Nest gave it around 60%, I don't know why. There are so many things wrong with that level it's comical.

My next project was "The Rock," A 4 level series I was working on with with Clayton Cameron (Bossk Trandoshan). He was to build levels 1 and 3, I was to build levels 2 and 4. Level 1 was based loosely on the Movie "The Rock". It was quite a good level. Level 2 was set on Nar Shaddaa, and I spent about 2 years working on this. Unfortunately, in the meantime Jedi Knight came out and Dark Forces just seemed to die. I gradually fell out of contact with Clayton, and things really slowed down. I lost interest in finishing my level, it was just too big. I had been in correspondance with Sheldon Friedman at the time as he was quite eager (and still is) to see the level released. I agreed to send him my unfinished demo for his own private use. I then gave up Dark Forces for good.

Lo and behold, 2 years later I stumble across a link in a search engine to a site called I see that my demo of the Rock 2 is available for download. I was absolutely horrified. The fact that I'd never really left anything worthwhile to the DF community was bothering me, so I decided to give it one last shot. Sheldon urged me to finish the Rock 2, but I really didn't want to. I decided to start fresh, but I still wanted to set the level on Nar Shaddaa. I began a project called "Repair Stop on Nar Shaddaa" where Kyle had to stop in Nar Shaddaa to make repairs to his ship, pretty boring stuff. But because Kyle had been in over 200 DF levels so far (as well as a load of Jedi Knight levels), I decided to give him a bit of a holiday, and changed the level to "Boba Fett Episode 1: Assassination on Nar Shaddaa". It took 2 years to complete, was released to a fairly good response, and has just been voted into the Hall of Fame. Something I really don't understand, but hey, I'm not complaining.

So I have left a mark on the DF community, but I'm not stopping now. When I first left the community I was a pretty medicore editor who didn't understand a lot about DF editing, but after 2 years away I came back being rather good. God knows how that happened. So to summerise, my first level was crap, my second level never got finished, and my third level was pretty good.

Q: What would you say was your finest work (level wise)?

The project I'm working on now, The Dark Tide 4. I finished building AoNS about a year ago, and I was convinced it was the best work I could do. Now looking back on it I really cringe at certain aspects of that level, because compared to the Dark Tide 4 it's fairly average. Working with Matt Hallaron on this level has being very good for me. He is quite the perfectionist when it comes to visual effects, and that has rubbed off on me a bit. Visually, this will be the most stunning Dark Forces level you'll ever play, I can guarantee that.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

Sort of - AoNS Special edition, the sequel to AoNS called Blood Money, my train level, and the open project. I would also like to release a few more mini levels where you get to play characters from the movies. I have one already where you play Luke, but it's not that good. I also really want to build the definitive Mos Eisley level. Archangel 1 was a great level, but it really didn't resemble Mos Eisley too much, I'd like to build a level that resembles it exactly, and perhaps have the player as Han Solo, like an extended version of Escape From Mos Eisley, I suppose.

(Note: At the time of this article's writing, Barry was working on an entry to 2003's Secret Base Remake competition. He later completed his entry, entitled The Death Star Plans, which went on to take home first place in the competition. You can find out more information on the Secret Base Remakes here.)

Q: How far along in your editing skills have you come since then? (Improvements, group projects, better plots, etc. etc.)

Since I began back in 1996? In leaps and bounds, in all categories. Since I released AoNS? Well, I'm pretty much at the same stage now as I was then, I know a few more tricks, and I have different ideas about architecture, I'm better at making textures, that's all. I'd like to point out that a running theme thoughout all my levels (except Oppressor IV) has been urban areas. I really prefer building cities and towns to building Imperial bases. Maybe that's because there were none really in the original DF levels that worked well. If you are building a city anything can happen, nothing is ruled out.

Q: Favorite SW character? (Can be anyone from the movies or books)

Darth Vader of course! I also quite like Han Solo and Obi Wan Kenobi. Pretty much all of the characters in the prequels have been quite bland, though I do like Count Dooku simply for the fact that he's played by Christopher Lee.

Q: Favorite DF level?

Just one? I don't know, there are so many. The first level that I really enjoyed was the first Tatooine level in Don Sielke's level pack, it was the first Tatooine level I'd ever played and it really had an impact on me. I do remember waiting months and months for the release of DF96, checking the website daily, staring in disbelief at the screenshots. It's funny how badly some levels age. Nowdays my favorites would be Prelude to Harkov's Defection, Condition Red, Dark Tide and Stars End.