Andzia9: "Can you tell us something about yourself?"
Mugs: "I am 62 years old, divorced, and I live in St. Petersburg, Florida with my two lovely black cats (Pi Ė of The Blue Pi fame - and ZoŽ). After I retired from a 30-year career in 1999, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of computer adventure games. My very first game was The Lighthouse Ė I think that was the name Ė it was so much fun Ė I was hooked. I tried Myst next, but wasnít really crazy about it and then I heard about Tomb Raider."
Andzia9: "What did your first time with Tomb Raider look like?"
Mugs: "I believe it was The Lost Artifact, Platinum Collection that I found on sale one day. I just loved it, but I soon realized that I couldnít simply play the game Ė I wasnít good enough and I was constantly getting stuck. I discovered Stellaís site with the helpful links and that led me to Michael Prager and his band of angels. The rest, as they say, is history. Once I had learned Laraís controls, I began collecting every Tomb Raider game I could find. The wait for new games to come to market was just unbearable! I think that is the reason I became a 'regular' at Michaelís and so enjoyed the forums."
Andzia9: "When and why did you start working with the level editor?"
Mugs: "I didnít begin my own adventure with the Level Editor until 2005, but I was an avid player of all custom games as they rolled off the assembly line. I was so intrigued with the fact that amateurs were producing these wonderful games. It naturally peaked my curiosity and so I started spending a lot of time following the conversations in the Level Editor Questions forum. I, of course, had the Level Editor and manual so I began studying it. Michael Bender (Tony Tomb) took me under his wing and mentored me. I will be forever in his debt and wish he would come back and say hello!"
Andzia9: "From what are you taking ideas?"
Mugs: "Hmmm. Thatís an interesting question. I think my game building has been driven mostly by the desire to try different venues and animated objects. So far, my adventures (excluding the BtBís) have included space, snow, and city. My favorite part of level-building is the creation of the texture wads. I can spend hours putting different textures together and draw inspiration from that."
Andzia9: "Have you got any original Tomb Raider games? What is your favourite?"
Mugs: "Yes, indeed, I do. Itís very difficult to choose a favorite, but it would be either The Last Revelation or Chronicles."
Andzia9: "Are you going to build new custom? If yes, do you have idea what will be about?"
Mugs: "I most certainly do intend to keep building. Iíve had some interesting roadblocks (health-related) thrown in my path lately, but the spirit is most definitely willing. Iíve been working on a couple of ideas Ė some of which didnít hold up well in testing so Iíve had to re-think the venue. I am currently trying my hand at a South Seas adventure so that I can incorporate use of the (enemy) diver and submarine. And Iíve been waiting for the chance to use the grappling gun!"
Andzia9: "Did you ever think to make a level by using DXTRe3D? Or do you prefer NG or something like that?"
Mugs: "Oh my. DXTRe3D? I honestly donít know what that is. Youíre talking to a novice (albeit an older one) when it comes to building. Not that age is necessarily a determinant of skill or knowledge. I can still make my way around the hard-core games with the best of Ďem. At any rate, I just love the NGLE and TRNG and learning all those bells and whistles is enough to keep me in and out of trouble."
Andzia9: "Have you got any favourite moment from your customs?"
Mugs: "My favorite custom game was Ice. I just loved building that game and I was so proud of what I was able to achieve. I think my favorite moment in the game was scaling the cavern and then having to deal with the guns and goons at the top. I personally thought it was great fun and couldnít wait for players to enjoy the action. I hope they did, anyway."
Andzia9: "Do you have any favourite custom from other creators?"
Mugs: "I have so many favorite builders of custom games. At the top of my list is: Richard Lawther, Scott Ginn (EssGee), and Titia Drenth (Titak). Wild horses couldnít stop me from playing a game produced by these builders. I think they are simply outstanding. As for favorite custom game, each of theirís is on the list, but my list isnít complete without TRLE Gold 04 Ė Lara at the Movies. This is one of the best collections of games and what a collaborative effort! Simply amazing!"
Andzia9: "Is there any chance that one day you will put in your new custom other playable characters, like Kurtis, Amanda, Doppelganger or somebody else?"
Mugs: "If you are talking about substituting one of these characters for Lara and building a game around that character then the answer is probably 'No'. Iím afraid Iím too much of a purist at heart. The game isnít the same without Lara in it."
Andzia9: "Which of your customs took the most time? And was the same one the most difficult to build, or was there another one?"
Mugs: "The custom game that took the most time to build was Ice. Each game presents itís own set of challenges Ė just trying to incorporate all the things I learn about building is more and more time consuming. Ice is the one game I wouldnít mind having the player return to and I feel confident that I could now greatly improve on some of the obvious errors that I made, but I think the 'bones' of this game were solid and thatís why it scored the best average."
Andzia9: "What in building caused you the biggest problem?"
Mugs: "I think one of the hardest parts of building is finding the best solution for an object from the existing 'warehouse'. Thatís not to say that there arenít thousands of brilliant objects available for our use (thank you TRSearch and the Levelbase and you fabulous custom object builders who are so wonderful about sharing your special creations!!), but I really struggle with my inability to make custom objects Ė I think thatís one thing that really sets a great game apart from the others."
Andzia9: "Will you take part in the Back to Basics project again this year or later?"
Mugs: "I love the BtB competitions. They are such fun to participate in, so I am sure they havenít heard the last of me. And I may try to enter the Christmas level building this year."
Andzia9: "Which other level builders do you respect?"
Mugs: "I have enormous respect for so many builders. Once you have spent the time creating a level of your own you realize just how much really does go into the production of a great game. Itís not just a story. Itís lighting and music. Itís gameplay. Itís venue (textures). Itís the proper scale and selection of objects. Thereís so much involved. You have to say 'bravo' to the builders who put in so much time and effort and get it right. Sorry, I got a little off-track of the question. Other builders that I love include: QRS, Clara, eTux, Cowboy, Agnes, DNF ProductionsÖ. The list is a long one."
Andzia9: "Do you get in contact with different creators of custom levels? Did you meet with someone personally?"
Mugs: "I had the extraordinary privilege of meeting Catherin (Tinka) a few years ago. She and QRS and I have always had a super relationship as Co-administrators here and our meeting was as natural an event as one can imagine. It was as if we had been friends for many years Ė which, of course, is true. I thoroughly enjoyed her visit Ė sheís a delightful young gal! There are so many people I would love to meet Ė both from our site and from Laraís Levelbase. I have a feeling I will just have to make do with the 'cyber-space' visits for now."
Andzia9: "Which other interests do you have except for Tomb Raider?"
Mugs: "What? You mean thereís actually something more to life than Tomb Raider? Well, okay maybe a few other interests. I love watercolor painting and try and spend time each week painting with friends. Itís probably more of an excuse to sit around and gossip and then go to lunch, but now and then we manage to produce some artwork. I love spending time with my sister and my nephew. Before my health became an issue, I loved working with elementary kids who were struggling readers. Thatís such a worthwhile cause and so rewarding when you see them achieve certain goals. And I loved working in the garden Ė as drought-stricken as it has been over the last 5 years or so here in Florida. Iíve had to curtail some of that, but more time for building TR games!"
Andzia9: "Have your family and your friends ever played your customs?"
Mugs: "Well, I have to laugh at that question. Each one of my family members has been dragged into the computer room and made to sit down and watch each one of my adventures. If that isnít enough, they also have to be led through the level editor phase so that they can truly appreciate all my hard work. They mostly laugh at me and tell me Iím off my rocker, or pat my shoulder and say 'Gee, what a great thing youíve done here. Can we go eat now?'. Probably about the same response from the reviewers of my extravaganzas. LOL!!"
Andzia9: "Do you read all opinions about your work or do you ignore them?"
Mugs: "Are you kidding? I read each one at least three times. If theyíve been kind, Iíll read them maybe four times. Seriously, I do try and learn as much as I can about my games from their input."
Andzia9: "Thank you very much for this interview, Pat!"