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Justin Fisher
The Doom add-on ALIENS-TC was released over four years ago.  In computer time, that's an eon.  However, any gamer who was around back then, or any gamer who has played the conversion since, remembers it intensely.  Who can forget the suspense of the first level which, in a stroke of genius, was completely devoid of enemies?  Or the frantic pace of the later levels where the player hurried to destroy the alien eggs before they had a chance to hatch?  ALIENS-TC struck a nerve in the gaming community which, since then, has seldom been touched.  Its creator, Justin Fisher, is still reeling from the enormous shockwave that his creation created.  Why did he make it?  What's he doing now?  Read on!
 
Doomworld: When did you first play Doom?
 
Justin: Late December, 1993. I managed to play for three hours before stopping because my nerves were shot and I couldnít stop shaking. Now, my hands donít even ever tremble; the only other time Iíve been left shaking was when I was hit by a car. Thatís how a gaming session should be! 
 
How long after you started to play Doom did you become interested in making levels?
 
The instant I heard that there were people making level editors. That was probably 3-4 months later. I spent the rest of the day wandering aimlessly, thinking furiously about what could do what, and how this or that could work, and heaps of other stuff. Then I realised I had better find out a bit more about what the editors were actually capable of changing. Having played a  lot of doom over those last few months, I had a very good idea of what the engine could do, but no idea of how much could be edited. As it turned out, not only were the things I expected possible, but most of what I hoped for as well.
 
How did you get the idea for Aliens-TC?  Were you inspired by anything?
 
Within five minutes of my first game, I thought Doom could make a great Aliens-style game, mainly because the atmosphere was so similar. Perhaps I had watched the film recently, I donít know. As one of my favourites, it would have occurred to me anyway. Probably my biggest inspiration (other than the film) was the experience of my first game of Doom.
 
Since you were basically making the first TC ever, were you in any way uneasy about what you would be capable of doing and how well it would turn out?
 
I was sometimes a bit worried as to whether I could ever finish it. But I was keeping up with what other people were making, which was quite reassuring (even back then, poor wads outnumbered good ones quite considerably).
 
Was Aliens-TC a completely one-man project?  I.E. did you make every single level, texture, graphic, sound, etc?
 
I offered the secret level to a friend (Richard Love) who was getting into level editing, and the video-captured image at the end of the game involved a friend of a friend with a video blaster (and he also operated that when I was capturing images of the queen model), but other than those exceptions, everything was done by me. 
 
Another great thing about Aliens-TC was its Dehacked work.  Dying aliens could spray bio-acid, eggs hatched, proximity indicators flashed, voices spoke at key moments.  Was the Dehacking completely original as well, or did you follow someone else's lead?
 
I didnít follow anybodyís lead (or even look at any example patches) so I guess that makes it completely original :-)  I just sat down, skim-read the Dehacked docs, played around, (and discovered that it was a mistake to just skim-read the docs :-) and learned what could be changed and how it affected things, what couldnít be changed, and so on. When I wanted to do something that you couldnít do, I ran through all sorts of things to do, mixed them, thought of new things, and so on, until I worked out a way to do the thing I couldnít do. Sometimes there would be kludgy side-effects or prerequisites, but usually they were satisfactory. 
 
How long did Aliens-TC take from start to finish?  How many man-hours would you guess went into its creation?
 
About six months start to finish. Regarding hours, I have no idea. Years ago I had a go at estimating this, and rapidly came to the conclusion that I Did Not Want To Know. A terrifying number of hours :-) The work involved in the conversion was also increased by the changing technology. I had to rework the levels about three times I think. The biggest reworking was from when dehacked came out - practically everything had to be changed as I was now able to create new types of monster, scenery, etc., and did so. Doom itself was also changing, which didnít help things. (Especially my attempts to make Aliens-TC a conversion that was simple to find, download, easy and reliable to install, etc., were completely foiled. Even the filename on the FTP site was wrong because the first upload attempt failed, and I couldnít upload over it, thus leaving a corrupt file instead of Aliens-TC (which briefly increased speculation that it was all a hoax :-) 
 
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