GRAPHICS
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Freelancer.

Freelancer, aahhh now those were the days.

Okay okay, full disclosure; I was a dick. An absolute nightmare of a monster both as a son and as a friend.
Arrogant, self-obsessed, quick to anger... At the height of my creative career I was at my lowest as a human being.

It was during this period that I met a lot of interesting people, including my wife. Over the course of about a decade and some change I lost touch with a lot of them, but not her.

Lets see, what's most important... I think it was me picking up my creative writing skills and the foundation of the Mercury Empire.
See, while I started playing Freelancer in a PvP community... no wait, that's already a year in. Rewind that.
I started playing Freelancer before I took it online, at the cost of my College training -skipping class for two weeks straight- because the story and open world captivated me so much.

Seriously, this game was the most intricate one I've ever played(back then anyway), nothing compared.

DIgressing... Back to Online gameplay.
Asylum51, a PvP(Player versus Player, competative) community with a private server and modified game. I fell in love with not the mod but the recognition the contributors garnished. I wanted that, I wanted to feel loved, envied, populair.
So I started to join the Roleplaying subcommunity there, I wasn't very good at it, but learned a few things.

Drawing from my modeling experience for C&C Renegade I started to study the software and architecture of the game and it's graphical content, and sure enough the guy who recruited me asked me to design him a line of spaceships for his own faction, the Black Merx.

I still have the original files.

A week after I started I suprised him with a model, it was insanely low-par, a very high polycount yet lacking in actual details, but he was ecstatic regardless... Hey, who am I to argue with a satisfied customer?
The admin of the community and the devs backing him were non too pleased with the model, appearently it was trapaziodal which didn't make sense to me, and he had it re-modelled and featured, at first without a word of credit to me. Boy that rubbed me wrong, and after some bitching and complaining on my part I was credited for the design... but not the base model. At best that was a pyrhick victory, but I took it.

Flying with "Kaos" was fun, until he approved a Roleplay event where-in the Black Merx turned out to be turncoats.
That ended my run at Asylum51, but not my online play, because I was quickly recognized by a few players that invited me over to Phoenix-RPG, a dedicated roleplay server.

It was heaven, I was the only one there that knew how to model and program ships and equipment, I was given nearly limitless freedom to do as I please and man, let me tell you, that rose to my head quickly.

Over the course of a few years I hadn't made a whole lot of friends beyond those whom I've already met in the Asylum, this was because I reasoned that if you weren't usefull to me in some way, you were in my way.

I was given my own section on the forum, a shipwright, and quickly imposed some rules regarding spelling and grammar -the irony does not escape me-, and came up with a pricing scheme for custom designs.
This was also the time where I dabbled in numerous other online games so accepting in-game currency via other games seemed perfectly acceptable to me, up until the day I was commisioned for a ship with actual money on the line.

Eventually someone else saw what I had done and wanted that for himself as well, it was like a younger me, less skilled and less mature, and thus competition was born.
I didn't recognize him as a competitor, not at first and not ever, the quality of his work was subpar to mine and I used that fact aggressively in my campaign.

In keeping with the roleplaying and shipwrighting, this was also the community where the Mercury Empire started out, me and Sarah Delahue eventually got to the point where our characters were starting to grow into veritable deities, growing beyond the power of mere humans and started planning on much bigger scales. Our compatability was recognized by the others and they loved the detail and complexity of our storyarc... our characters even got married(it was politics) to solidify our cooperation.

Red was my diplomat at that point, and man was she good, everybody that hated me and wanted nothing to do with me was wrapped around her finger and did my bidding wether they wanted to or not.

Several even tried to recruit her from my service, yet she refused.

I didn't quite realize it at first, heck, when we first met she wasn't usefull to me so I did to her what I did to most; belittle, insult, torment, yell at... everything in my power to get rid of her, yet she stuck around, and even after that community fell to pieces we stayed in touch.

Anyway, just before the group fell apart -here's where "Conclusion" ends- I had a plan. I had already gathered a few trustees and had set up a seperate, secret forum and group. I had hatched a brilliant scheme where in an anchient enemy would make a new appearance, it would've thrown the other players and the admins a curveball they could not predict.

Alas... as my empire had crumbled in the story, as did the community.
Oh sure I tried to pick up the pieces, worked on my own mod and story line, but t'was for naught.

I still have most of the models and files from those days, but the only one I still stay in touch with is now my wife.