With the recent release of Yankee Air Pirate 2, SimHQ thought it would be interesting to have an interview with the Producer, John “zerocinco” Shelton. We wanted to know some YAP background, how it got started and continued, YAP 2’s story, the difficulties and successes and what’s next.
John has put substantial time, energy, and money into the YAP series, which spans about three years of work. Many of you know him from his postings in the forums and you know that he’s a straight shooter. He tells you like it is and doesn’t pull punches. Well, maybe some. For some more insight into John’s background, we highly recommend a reading of his bio from the YAP website, here.
If you’ve a mind, drop into our Yankee Air Pirate 2 Developer Forum, and say “hi”, leave a question or a comment.
And with no further adieu, our interview with John Shelton.
SimHQ: Thanks for sitting down with us John and discussing the new product. Let’s get rolling. Was YAP your idea?
JS: I think story telling is the oldest form of entertainment in the world. So in that respect, it is not my idea. I just adapted a very old idea to a very new medium.
JS: Years ago I had an adventure and tried to write about it. It was boring. But when I illustrated it, it was almost as exciting as the real thing. I started thinking about graphic story telling… sort of a poor man’s Hollywood. When I saw TK’s game on a monitor in Best Buy, it all clicked.
SimHQ: What is your background that makes you wish to be a story teller?
JS: I have flown since I was 16 and I am 63. I have flown everything in just about every place. I found that the only people who would listen to an amazing story were fellow pilots unless you could write…and I cannot. It seemed a shame to let entertaining little stories disappear just because nobody could tell them in a way that people would listen.
SimHQ: Who all worked on the original YAP series and is the team pretty much the same for YAP 2?
JS: People have come and gone as real life ground them down. Diego was an important part of the original game. Crab brought his perfectionism to some of the most important objects. Sundowner can make painting in this medium look easy… and real. Eightlein does the most amazing thing with lights and has discovered many very nice tricks because it’s his specialty. But mostly, he tests and tests and nitpicks. Everyone likes to do airplanes. Having someone on the team who will test it all anchors the whole effort. The credits for YAP v2 include everyone in both versions but the most important parts of the game are TK’s engine, Deuces environment and the stories.
SimHQ: We assume the team is located all across the country. How difficult is it to coordinate activities, make deadlines, all the typical things that development teams do, but remotely.
JS: They are across the world and it’s impossible. Sundowner just sent a new skin for Julhelm’s RA-5C… That’s the UK and Sweden. The helicopter beta tester is in Afghanistan. Jeff is doing two airplanes right now in… in… where the hell is Jeff anyway? Mike is in Detroit and seems to never sleep. We have had artists in all parts of the world but the ability to communicate clearly is the most important factor in getting something right. I spent ten days and 36 changes on part of one airplane because we did not speak the same language.
SimHQ: When was the decision reached to develop YAP 2? And why? Were there advances in the objects, terrain, carriers, that you wanted to carry on, more stories, both?
JS: Refueling changed the game. I had an idea but it was very rudimentary. I asked Deuces his thoughts. And then Mike ground through every possible setting until we came up with the right numbers. Once there was a way to run out of gas or take on gas, every mission we had written was nonsense. The market was saturated by YAP and we were about done. But if we could reach a wider market with a better product, would it be worth the effort. I laid out a plan and we pressed ahead on what we thought was a 3-month job. When Deuces offered his jungle and clouds I thought it would be a nice addition until I saw them. Then I knew we had a whole different product that could butt heads with any aviation sim out there. I am still amazed when I see the game in action.