Hello. You can call me Androgeos Exeunt or Altiris Helios Exeunt, since I use either one as my nickname. I've been a (somewhat) regular player of FreeSpace 2 ever since I came across a torrent containing the ISO files for all three CDs of FreeSpace 2.
Most of my time on Hard-Light Productions is spent crawling the forums or editing certain portions of the wiki. My main focus are the FreeSpace 2 Main Campaign articles. However, I also do a spell-, grammar- and/or punctuation-check from time to time on random articles.
I used to do quite a bit of FREDding on fred2, so I know a bit of FRED language. However, I'm more of a pilot than anything else, and not a very good one at that.
2001 - How I Came Across FreeSpace 2
One word: coincidence.
Back in 2001, I was ten and very young. However, I already knew how to view the contents of a CD on Windows. Some months ago, I learned how to install a game called Descent 3, which came with my family's second desktop computer. As the second disc of Descent 3 did not have an AutoRun script, I decided to look at its contents. Most of the CD's disc space was taken up by installation files for Descent 3, which were useless to me, but I did manage to find two trailers, one of them being the FreeSpace 2 Trailer. I was completely swept away by what I saw. I re-watched the trailer many, many times over, but at the end of it, I felt that such a game could not exist because it was far too realistic and ambitious, so I gave it little thought.
2003 - www.FreeSpace2.com
2003 was the year when my family finally subscribed to a dial-up Internet service. One of the first sites I visited was www.FreeSpace2.com and, to be quite honest, I didn't expect much from that site. The main page seemed to hold true to my expectations, but then I discovered the Downloads page, and I realised that, far from what I initially thought, FreeSpace 2 had been released - one year before I came across the trailer, in fact - and that there was even a demo available.
Sadly, I was on dial-up, which meant that I couldn't download the demo due to its size. 62 MB is a lot to ask out of a 56 kbps connection. If you've never experienced dial-up before and think that I'm spewing garbage, here's a little note: it takes one hour to do 12 MB, and that's not counting the probability of a timeout, which usually happens about 36 minutes into the download. What I did do was to steal the ship images, wallpapers and music from the site before I began to bide my time.
2005 - Demo Pilot
My dad purchased a new desktop in 2005, shortly before we upgraded our Internet connection from dial-up to broadband. When the switch was done, the first thing I did was to download Little Fighter 2, which until today is probably one of the few games I like above FreeSpace 2. The next thing I did was to download the FreeSpace 2 demo and give it a try. I played with it for several months, while at the same time generating a huge liking for the GTC Aeolus due to Crisis in Capella. I also generated a huge liking for the GTM MX-64 Rockeye and the GTW Prometheus R, because they were the best weapons available in the demo.
My family's new Internet connection came with an old IBM PC that was acquired by Lenovo. This third desktop PC would not play a very prominent role until much later.
2006 - Frog Ship
Shortly after reading on Wikipedia that the FreeSpace 2 License Agreement had a clause stating that the game could be freely distributed at no charge (or so I thought), I decided to see if it was possible for me to obtain a copy of the full game myself. As coincidence would have it, I was also doing a little reading-up on the BitTorrent protocol at that time, and I eventually decided to settle on trying out Azureus after Mainline failed to work. Shortly after I learned how to get the client to bypass my modem's firewall, I did further research on the protocol and found The Pirate Bay. I did a search and immediately found what I was looking for: a torrent file that contained CD ISOs of all the three disks of FreeSpace 2. The torrent file also listed a fourth file; this was the installer for FS2_Open 3.6.5. I downloaded everything and learned how to use Alcohol 120% to burn the ISOs into CDs, effectively creating a hard copy backup for the game. After playing the first few missions of the full version, I got bored with the differences between the demo and it and tried the 3.6.5 installer. Because of my actions, I learned what SCP was and subsequently learned about the FreeSpace 2 Source Code Project, as well as Hard Light Productions.
By this time, I had already recognised that PlanetDescent was probably the greatest Descent resource there is on the Internet, and I've taken to reading the news. One of the snippets was pretty interesting: a member called "Rake" had cancelled a project called "Fusillade" and was about to shut down his website, but not before letting everybody know the links to all the trailers and videos he has made thus far. These included his Flail videos which, among others, also comprised of "Flail Descent", "Flail SCP" and "Flail Babylon". Watching "Flail SCP" gave me a new link to FS2_Open: scp.indiegames.us. This was the site where I upgraded my copy of FS2_Open to 3.6.7.
For a time, all was well.
2007 - SCP Problems
In early 2007, the desktop that had FS2_Open installed broke down due to a burnout of both the graphics card and motherboard. Until today, I still suspect that the eye-candy of both Descent 3 and FS2_Open were too great for my computer to handle. Indeed, slowdowns were pretty frequent while playing FS2_Open 3.6.7 when the computer was still functioning.
When the desktop was repaired, I tried to install FS2_Open 3.6.9, but to no avail. Each time I tried, the game crashed, so after a few weeks of attempts, I gave up and let it be until near the end of the year, when I decided to install the game and run Just Another Day on the IBM PC. It crashed on that computer too. At this point, I finally gave in and did something that I've been thinking of doing ever since the start of the year: join Hard Light Productions. My first posts were fairly long and contained lots of crash code. A significant number of HLP members in good standing pitched in and eventually helped me out by telling me to update my IBM's graphics card drivers.
2008 - RTM
Now that my problem with FS2_Open 3.6.9 was solved and I had an account on HLP, I decided that I should start trying out some of the mods and campaigns. I spent the first six months playing FS2_Open on the IBM before I switched to playing FS2_Open on the MacBook I bought for school. I felt it was appropriate since the IBM was essentially an old reliable that can't keep up with the advancements in FS2_Open.
The MacBook provided me with all the hardware I needed to run FS2_Open to its fullest. The only drawback is that there was no Mac version of fred2_open. Fortunately, I had left the fundamentals of FS2_Open on my IBM, including fred2_open and the basic components of FS2_Open 3.6.9. It was during this phase of using both Windows and Mac for FreeSpace that I created and released Training Simulator Module TSM-69, which simulates a broadside battle between the GTVA Colossus and SD Lucifer. This single mission, designed for FS2_Open but possibly runable on retail FS2, was fairly well received.
2009 - Present Day
And so here I am, eight years from the day I came across the first link to FreeSpace 2 and one year from the day I joined HLP. Most of my time on HLP is now spent welcoming new members using a modified beam graphic and more or less trying to be helpful.
I use the keyboard. It's a bit unwieldy, but it gives me all the keys I need to fly a ship in FS2 properly.
Cheating is a common practice of mine during single-player, as well as playing on Very Easy, but do not mistake this for poor flight skills.
My preference in a dogfight is to unload as many missiles as possible at long range before moving in and attacking using primary weapons. My primary weapon preference is a dual loadout that either emphasises on a good rate of fire or a combination of high shield and high hull damage. Naturally, my preferred primary weapon will always be the GTW UD-8 Kayser. As for secondary weapons, I prefer missiles with extreme range and/or high damage. Hence, I use GTM Tempests, GTM Tornados and GTM Trebuchets most often.
My ship choice is a toss-up between the GTF Ares and SF Mara (Terrans). While the Ares is good because it has six gun mounts, the Mara is arguably better because it recharges energy faster, has larger missile banks and is more manoeuvrable than the Ares, although it only has four gun mounts.
A Chronology of the Sites I Use for FreeSpace Reference
The former FreeSpace 2 official site, www.freespace2.com, was my first source for reference. However, it was mostly eye-candy and not much information. They did have some nice downloadable content, though.
The next site I went to was Volition Watch, and in particular, their Tech FreeSpace section, which gives detailed statistics for every single canon ship in FreeSpace.
Following my entry into HLP, I've switched to using a combination of this wiki, the HLP forums and the HLP IRC channel as references.