Interview With Alex Alvarez, Author of Homeworld: MI Complex Mod

Alex Alvarez, the MIX Complex Mod, and Thoughts on Homeworld Modding Past, Present, & Future

Homeworld 2 has an incredibly active mod community despite the 11 years that have passed since it’s launch, and Alex is the man leading the team to bring one of HW2’s largest mods in recent history, the Military Industrial Complex mod.

What’s this mod you speak of?

M.I Complex is a modification based on the Complex mod and it’s daughter mods, bringing a “military/ industrial” (hence M.I) aspect to the game design. The focus is a spacial re-enactment of the opposing battle philosophies of the Cold War between NATO vs Warsaw Pact (quality vs quantity), set in the HW2 universe

Alex is a military  history buff, and decided to expand the older Complex and other mods into a total conversion mod with it’s own crew, rank, experience, and weapon systems, resource generation, destructible ‘terrain’, and added in features such as ship maintenance cost for added realism and strategy.

You might think a ‘mod’ is just a dude or two doing a bit of tweaking in his free time, but mods can be very complex, and modders often go on to create great things (heard of Counter-Strike?) and/or be hired by the very companies that created the game they’re modding.  In this case, the MIX team comprises of a surprising amount of people, which makes sense given the complexity of the mod.  I think it’s totally awesome that there are still people dedicated to producing (and playing!) excellent content, and I’m excited to feature the mod, team, and Alex’s interview here.

Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 9More screens below!

The MIX Team

HowitzerNAM (Alex) – Project lead, director
SirShelley – Lead scripting, Content Control, Quality Control, 3D Artist, Scripting, Balancing, Production, Content, Forum admin, 3d art, Scripting, and Creative associative
Joel ‘TheOwl’ Rowney – 3d modeling, Quality Control, Creative associative and 3D Artist
Petr “Pouk” Misak –  3D modeling, Quality control, Creative contributor and 3D Artist
Thibault Testart –  OpenGL programmer
Douglas William Bacon –  Homeworld Lore Historian
Honorable Contributing Member – Brandon Toomey

The Interview

In between traveling for his ‘day job’, Alex was awesome enough to answer some questions in detail as well as send over the screenshots you see here.  What an awesome guy!  My questions are in bold, with answers beneath:

When did you first start playing Homeworld?
I can’t really recall.  I had heard about it so much from a friend of mine in the local anime club and I watched him play the Star Wars mod, but could never really get into it myself.

One day (2007 or so), while looking though GameFly (when it was still in business) I came across Homeworld 1 & 2 and decided to give it a try.  I was instantly hooked to where I went out and bought the disks to play at home!  I  haven’t stopped obsessing over the game since!!

When did you first start modding?
To be perfectly honest, Military Industrial Complex (MIX) is my first attempt at “modding”.  Prior to that, I had literally ZERO experience with ANYTHING regarding modding or code writing.  I STILL don’t!!

What got you started?
What inspired me into modding was playing several other mods and seeing the what they had to offer.  Mods like Complex, Simplex, Complex Enhanced, Path to Victory, PDS, Homeworld Universe and many others had so many interesting ideas, concepts, ships and gameplay that I felt were excellent extensions of HW2 itself.  I especially found myself much liking Complex Enhanced, as it had all the elements of Complex but without the (what I considered) unnecessary Energy System as well as the Crew Recruiting system.  MIX is largely a collection of all the best elements I found in these mods, brought together into a single mod with my own changes added to the mix (pun intended).

Going off my own experiences in the US Navy, I used this knowledge to make a mod that focused on a strict military angle as I had felt was always missing from the original HW2.  The possibilities were there, but I guess the developers just didn’t have the knowledge/desire to take it to that next level.

What’s kept you interested in Homeworld?
The story and action!  Being somewhat of a military tactic aficionado, I had always had a fascination with naval warfare and battles.  This, paired with my very strong love of Science Fiction, just seemed to go well together.  That HW was a game that actually REQUIRED you to fight in REAL 3D combat tactics rather than just the normal 2D arena really drew me in.  I challenged me like I had never thought possible.

Why continue to mod, especially with the remastered version on the horizon?
Because the new stuff can only provide more options and better graphics to deliver even GREATER experiences than were not possible before due to technological limitations.  The updated re-release will give a whole new generation of PC gamers the opportunity to experience the game the same way us old HW fans did, while opening new doors to new possibilities.

That Gearbox is actually working WITH mod developers rather than locking them out in incredible, as it shows they acknowledging the legions of fans that have helped keep the franchise alive all these decades with  mods such as ours and respecting their efforts.  I think this approach will be very beneficial for all parties involved as it can only help the franchise grow even further.

What are your thoughts & hopes for HW:R?
My initial hopes was that Gearbox would have used an updated game engine to REALLY open the throttle for mod development, but understandably, that would take far too much time (3-4 years) or development and far more money than reasonable profitable (they ARE a business, after all) to do it, so I’ll just have to be content with the updated .DLL files and boosted graphics.
As for the re-release, I think it will only help to further spread the legacy that is Homeworld as more younger  players will have the chance to experience the game in it’s true form, spreading it’s influence upon other games and mods and increasing it’s popularity.

Shipbreakers: what would you like to see, especially from a modding perspective?
I really can’t say from a Mod perspective, but I do hope that Blackbird Interactive does their best to keep the story/plot and tech used within the game consistent with the established HW universe.  For me, consistency is very important to maintain the smooth flow of the franchise.  Anything less will only detract from the overall experience as you can’t keep the players engaged if they can’t understand how it all fits together.  The Gundam franchise is a very good example of what happens when you let too many original ideas happen in various parts of a “timeline” while still trying to keep it all canon.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Homeworld IP, and for it’s modding scene?
I think the remastered releases will go a long way to re-energize the franchise and boost general awareness of the game.  There are already so many game in development that use the same principle that HW established (Sins of a Solar Empire, anyone?) and there can only be better things on the horizon in regards to the franchise.
As for mods, newer technologies, newer techniques and fresh new players to the fandom can only help propel its status as an awesome Sci-fi space combat sim even further.   More players will learn from their experiences in the game and add it to their database of sci-fi knowledge and lore, helping create new generations of modders and developers, which in turn can only help not just the franchise, but the genre itself.

What can we expect in the future from your team?
We’re only getting started.  These is still so much more we can do (and are still working on) to make this the best military space battle sim we can possibly “produce”.  The newer tech in the Remastered will only serve to accelerate that and give us more tools and possibilities.
We already have some very exciting ideas and concepts that we will implement in further revisions on the game that will challenge even the most creative and experienced fleet commanders out there.

Stick around; we’re only just getting warmed up!!  😉

Many thanks to Alex Alvarez and the MIX team for taking the time to answer my questions.  Show them some love by downloading the MIX mod, playing it, and telling them how awesome you think it is!  You can also ‘like’ their fan page on facebook for development updates and future projects (and you should).

Homeworld MIX Mod Website
Homeworld MIX Mod Facebook fan page

Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 8

Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 7

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Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 4

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Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 2

Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 1

Homeworld MIX Complex Mod Screenshot 0

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