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Developer Profile - Kevin 'Keeper' Foster

This interview was conducted with Kevin, author of the UFO4DOS host add-on on Jan 22nd, 2006.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you have been up to since your last update of UFO4DOS in 98?

I took some time out to deal with personal issues and I’ve never gotten back into VGAP or any programming. I’m currently in school to get some IT Tech certifications.

What are your favorite computer / board games and how have they affected the development of your projects?

I’ve played all manner of computer and board games. I was a huge fan of the Star Fleet Battles “board” game as well as the more strategic Federation and Empire. A serious lack of local competition in these games is one of the biggest reasons I dove into VGAP when a friend told me about it.

Which race do you prefer to play in VGAP & why?

I like most of the races, but my favorite is the Fascists.

Do you have a favorite add-on when playing a game? Something that’s caught your attention and made you think, “I wish I had thought of that!”

Does the VPA client count as an add-on? I would have to say that the Race+ add-on is probably my favorite, and certainly one of the best add-ons made for the game. The numerous “wormhole” add-ons influenced me to write my own as well.

What's your favorite Planets game memory?

It’s been so long that I have few specific recollections. I do remember the wait to get my registered version, which wasn’t long but it seemed to take forever as I hoped to get it before my already-registered enemies crushed me.

What specifically inspired you? What were the biggest influences?

When I registered VGAP, I had no idea that there was a difference between the abilities of the DOS or Windows clients. Since I much preferred DOS, I registered for that version. After learning more about the game and the clients I was rather disappointed at the disadvantages that DOS clients had. And since no one else was doing anything about it, I decided to write UFO4DOS.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome due to VGAP's mechanics/limitations while working on your projects?

UFO4DOS was written specifically to overcome the DOS client’s limitations. Other challenges were easily resolved by testing or communicating with Tim W.

Were there things that you wished you had added to UFO4DOS …etc…?

No, I am content with how UFO4DOS turned out. I had intended to write other add-ons that actually added to the game, but at the time I was under the impression that VGAP v4 would be released soon and make any new work obsolete.

What do you think are your most important accomplishments to VGAP and why?

I would like to think that I helped to make a more level playing field where a player wasn’t handicapped by his choice of client.

In this time of graphically intense PC games, what do you think it is about VGAP that has people still playing a PBEM game that came out in 1991?

It’s a great game! Seriously, I think that the complicated simplicity of the decision making process is what makes VGAP great. I know that’s an oxymoron, but it really does best describe the process. VGAP has you making lots of little decisions, where a single decision is unlikely to win or lose the game for you. Rather it is the cumulative effect of making many decisions that affects the outcome. I think that most turn-based strategy gamers realize that graphics are just polish and are useless without solid mechanics at the heart of a game. Think of it this way … Why is chess still a popular game?

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that a game of this type should have?

Decisions. Lots of non-critical decisions that add up to mean something.

How has the internet affected the expansion of your programs internationally?

The very fact that it’s allowed my programs (and VGAP itself) to expand internationally is huge. I doubt my programs would have left my city or province back in the pre-internet BBS days.

What would your ideal computer game be like if you could have anything you wanted given the limitations of today's technology?

My ideal game would be similar to Civilization IV, but with drastically reduced system requirements. Really, an updated version of Civilization II would probably be better in my opinion. That game was great, and it was reasonably easy to make add-ons for it. Definitely a turn-based strategy though. Action games are fun for a while, but fade quickly.

What’s the status of your add-on development and do you intend to continue to develop them or new add-on’s for Planets v4.0 in the future?

I am completely out of programming for now. Even if I had the tools to get back into it, there are many other projects I would likely create first.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’m not really sure. 10 years ago I would not have seen myself where I am now, so I won’t bother guessing at where the next 10 years will send me. I just want to enjoy the ride.

Any last words to the Planets fan base?

I am surprised to see that there still a Planets fan base, congrats to those who are still having fun with it.


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