Merry Christmas frens, and welcome to the first edition of Telvy Has Spoken. The premier blog series on this site where I talk about any and all things me, Telvy Phil, as well as any experiences, shower thoughts, expressions, or things I would like to share in regards to my life, my personal projects and work online.
To those who follow me from Discord It appears to be a Christmas miracle of sorts by how I have finally been able to unearth myself out of the void in these past few months. This website, as with many other things I have online, have mostly been abandoned by me due to indifference and preoccupation with more personal matters. Perhaps I’m just too busy and distracted to take the effort to use them to my advantage, instead preferring to sleep through whatever available free time I have when not working my usual 9-5 job. That is something I want to change, or atleast make an effort to not become the norm of my activities.
There is a lot for me to unwind about my whereabouts these past couple of months, and I mean a lot. It first helps to contextualize who I am briefly to the few who stumbled across this site be it by intention or by accident. So yes, hello! My name is Telvy Phil, or Telvy for short. I’m an aspiring game developer and digital content creator and my main fields of expertise focus on project management, design and writing. I do specialize in programming and some level design and sound design, but I see myself as a producer and designer first and foremost. I’ve been tinkering in the Source engine for around 10 years on and off, and I’ve tinkered in other engines such as Unity, Godot and Unreal 4. I would say my peak in terms of semi-professional game development was around 2018 when I was one of the many unfortunate freelance developers that worked on the infamous standalone Half-Life game Hunt Down The Freeman.
Now that I have your attention from that, I can direct my focus towards the few who follow me here on Discord or elsewhere to explain why I’ve essentially ghosted everyone for almost half a year. While I have been relatively active in the formal half of 2022, the latter half took a massive turn due to events that have ended a long arc of my life, paving the way for a new one. To further contextualize, I must turn the clock all the way back to around December of 2021 up to January of 2022 and onwards, and it all started with the development halt of Tactical Thot Exterminators.
Around early 2022 I began a new chapter of Source modding shortly after I made the tough yet necessary decision to shelve any and all development of my previously active modding project Tactical Thot Exterminators, or TTE for short. TTE was a long and arduous journey where I spent a hefty 4 years of my life working to the best of my strengths and resources on a major total conversion mod for Half-Life 2. I began the project way back in 2018 as a one-off joke with long gone friends and acquaintances in a Discord DM chat group around the same time I was still working on Hunt Down The Freeman. It was a surreal, chaotic mess of memes and ideas that eventually grew way out of scope way too fast and ended up becoming a long term endeavor. Shortly after Hunt Down The Freeman released and the catastrophic calamity that game had on the Source modding scene, I was left with TTE. TTE was eventually left with me as well since the DM group I was in quickly dissolved and I never talked to anyone in there ever again except my one friend Hunter who played the role of TTE’s first major supporting character, Thicc Nibba.
Months have passed since then and I was practically isolated from anyone and everyone online, and I spent a large chunk of that time creating whatever I was able to make of TTE with what little knowledge and resources I had on Source SDK 2013. While I had worked on a relatively massive project as HDTF, I was still fairly intermediate in regards to making anything proper in Source like maps, models or anything that truly made one polished mod stand out from another. Eventually I coincided and released the first version of TTE known simply as the Alpha Playtest Demo. A buggy, unfinished, bloated build that was a conjoining of whatever I had to show to the world of my modding prowess, the Alpha Playtest Demo was released on Moddb around mid 2018. With the help of some networking in the Source community, specifically with Source mod YouTube lets-player Bolloxed, I managed to get some traffic of my mod out there with 2 gameplay videos of two separate sections respectively of the build that amassed around 20k views on YouTube. Not so big of traffic to be significant compared to other games or mods, but massive enough for me to fully devote myself to the project and create the first iteration of the TEAM TELVY developer Discord server. Thus, the TEAM TELVY brand was born.
Since then for around 2 years I worked on TTE extensively, writing lore, characters, story, recruiting developers to my project that came and went, and things were happening and content was being made albeit extremely slow. Things turned for the worse around 2019 when the Covid Pandemic came into center stage and the global shutdowns resulted in my whole dev team becoming unavailable overnight. People’s lives were turned upside down, nobody was able to do anything productive, and the whole project took a massive halt for the worse. Since then for around one and a half years, TTE’s development reached an egregious slow pace to the point where it might as well be considered a dead and inactive project.
Things had to change, and I knew for a fact that the whole project needed to be shelved in favor of something more efficient and tangible if I wanted to improve the brand image of TEAM TELVY. Eventually I made the conscious decision to halt TTE’s current development and plan ahead for something completely new in the future. While I never truly “canceled” TTE and scrapped everything I had, I did at least shelve it aside with the intent of potentially coming back to it, albeit a completely different mod in the end. For once I was filled with a newfound sense of excitement and confidence for TEAM TELVY’s next potential mod project. There were many ideas of what I wanted to make, and I had to be careful not to create the same mistakes that I did with TTE. Many ideas were floating around on what I could potentially make, but the fundamentals were broken down to ensure that this next project was much more tangible to create and within my scope. Thus, TT2022 was born.
TT2022 was the codename for the newest TEAM TELVY mod project and was a placeholder name for whatever title the new mod was going to have. At the start of this endeavor there were around 5 or so different premises that the mod could take place, 2 of which were actually proper and tangible ideas while the rest were vague and unclear, mostly concepts thrown together with no substance. As I gathered with what remained of my dev team, there was one idea that was way more fleshed out in premise, design, aesthetic and narrative that I really liked, and coincidentally everyone really liked as well. It was an idea I actually had for a completely different game that I conceived many months prior when I was still working at a small gas station convenience store, a part of the grocery store I was working for during school. The premise was simple yet very appealing and easy to understand: A stylized, retro-futuristic first person adventure game, set in a gas station for spaceships out in the stars. A game that combined a youthful and extremely relatable cast of characters, in a colorful and fantastical rendition of the future once long forgotten, with a truly dense and rich lore set in a small corner of the universe. To the Zodiac we blasted off to and thus, Aldebaran Express was born.
Set within an expansive logistics network of intergalactic routes spread across the Zodiac, Aldebaran Express tells the tale of space retail workers in the middle of an isolated fueling station within lightyears of brushing distance of the massive red giant of the Taurus Constellation, Aldebaran. While the general premise of the mod’s setting was simple, the style of presentation and aesthetic was what was truly captivating to the few working on the project. Within the early days of pre-production we had a solid goal in mind, and we spent a lot of time organizing what needed to be done. About a few weeks of planning we announced development of Aldebaran Express within the Valve Modding Community Discord server and reserved a channel for the mod’s development progress.
Things were off to a strong start. We had asset production, a formation of a script with a cast of characters, and the process of piecing parts together started relatively smoothly. The progress of pre-production eventually led to a basic stage of development consisting of level design prototypes to test what we could do in terms of style and aesthetics. One of the core goals of Aldebaran Express, and for that matter TT2022, boiled down to the following: create a solid, playable mod within 3 to 6 months. It had to be a short and compact experience, within the boundaries of our strengths and weaknesses, and must be unique while not ambitious. Overall while we were within the lines of those goals, things began to conflict very early on that gradually shifted the direction of Aldebaran Express’s development.
The first major issue was obviously the Source Engine’s limitations in regards to level geometry. Aldebaran Express was first and foremost a style-over-substance game. Gameplay was intentionally basic by design and the whole appeal of the game came strictly from both its characters and artstyle. The game’s setting and visual design was overall smooth and elliptical in nature, something that Source is obviously not very good at unless you take the plunge into environmental mesh work versus traditional BSP brush work, and that required a serious amount of work to get right. The second issue was modifying shaders which was a whole new can of worms in itself. Considering we were attempting to create a vintage, grainy celluloid anime style look with no one of such technical prowess, that set us apart in terms of the mod’s visual design. While minor technical setbacks in the grand scheme of things, the biggest shift in development came when my final university semester graduation project became a second thing to worry about
For context, I was in my final semester as a student of the School of Arts, Technology and Emerging Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas right exactly at the same time Aldebaran Express started development. As an ATEC student, in order to graduate with your degree certificate, you were required to submit a Capstone proposal which eventually led to the creation of your final Capstone project. Essentially what I had to do was create literally anything to demonstrate my skills in my field of focus, specifically games. At first I decided to just work on a very basic game prototype in Unity, but afterwards after consulting with my Senior Seminar professor about Aldebaran Express, he said I was able to use that for my capstone project! While cool considering I was able to create a game on a 10 year old game engine in order to graduate, it permanently altered the original plan of Aldebaran Express. Now it was a matter of time trying to do anything with even less time and people in order for me to graduate than to make a playable demo within the timeframe we set.
Development shifted, production was flipped overnight, and eventually most of the time spent on Aldebaran Express was collecting whatever my dev team members created in as little time as possible. A collage of every asset and concept art was placed in a very appealing blog post here on this website to demonstrate to the whole school what I was capable of achieving, you can check it out here. Ultimately it turned out pretty well considering I was able to graduate from it, even if it wasn’t my intention to do so. While for the general fact we were unable to meet our goals for Aldebaran Express, let alone TT2022, we were at least able to create a very appealing mod project that was way more well received by many members of the Source modding scene. We thought we could keep making more content, but the more we tried to add more stuff the more ideas kept coming in, we came into a sudden realization throughout weeks of discussion.
Overall, Aldebaran Express was a very unique project, and something that was deeply personal to me in regards to its inspiration and upbringing. I knew for a fact this mod had the potential to reach a massive audience, and I’ve even been told by others that games like Aldebaran Express are preem content for big name content creators and influencers to play and get massive exposure. It was a small, short mod with lovable characters and can be completed in a very short amount of time, and we came to realize the fact that Aldebaran Express was just too cool to be limited to a source mod. It needed to be on a much more modern engine, something that we had more control over in terms of licensing and franchising. I even fancied the idea of making the mod a VR game, or atleast giving it a VR mode.
The ideas were endless, and for the first time I was genuinely excited for what I had created. Eventually, while I had yet to announce this to my dev team, I ultimately placed the mod on hold in search of other engines that we could continue work on. I’ve searched for other alternatives, the obvious being either Unity or Unreal, but there were also smaller, more niche engines that other colleagues recommended, even volunteering to create frameworks for me. Still, Aldebaran Express’s development remained frozen since then and other life events appeared that are halting any kind of game development time I have. This honestly led me to my current explanation of why nothing has been done since then.
THE END OF AN ERA
Now here we are, the part where I actually explain why I’ve been gone for so long. Some of you reading this may be aware of my whereabouts, yet obviously for everyone else, clueless. The situation goes as follows:
There is no doubt in my mind that I am currently undergoing an immense transitional period in my life ever since I graduated from university. A complete arc that has encompassed most of my young adult life has ended, that being the pursuit of higher education for around 7 years. School was always a painful and miserable experience and the countless unspeakable hours spent just pushing it through to the next day are no different in terms of strife. The times I’ve fallen down, the times where I was on the brink of failure, the times I just wanted to give in and give up have all just ended just like that. To think that I have just “finished” is something that I still cannot fully understand or grasp the scope or immenseness of as of now. It was as if I was always just this, a student, whose sole purpose is strictly just academia, nothing else mattered but that. Now it’s all over, and the shock afterwards began to set in.
Around 2 months into post-graduation I wasn’t really doing anything at all productive. I was essentially in a complete NEET state that mostly involved waking up in the morning, meandering around on my phone or around the house and sleeping throughout the whole day. I was dazed with no clear goal or direction, and the only thing that kept me preoccupied was a small business startup partnership that I was involved in way before graduation that dated back to the Fall of 2021. It was an overall one-sided endeavor that punctured a massive leak into my savings that, with each passing month, got bigger and bigger and eventually got to the point where I had to split from it.
Lost, no purpose, and being dangerously low on money, I was stuck. Really the best thing for me was to get some basic wage job to make back all the money I lost, be it from the startup or from school. It was annoying at first trying to find jobs out there and my mother kept getting increasingly pissy with my behavior and attitude with trying to find work. Eventually, things changed later around the Fall when I secured employment for the new HEB grocery store that was opening up in my county, the first of its kind this north in Texas. I worked for their BBQ restaurant department and for the first few months, as I was getting adjusted to it, life for once looked promising.
By then I was out of the business partnership, I was making way more money than I ever made in my life, and I began to take initiatives to improve myself mentally, physically and spiritually. I began strength training at my local gym and took the initiative to ride my bike the handful of miles to get there. Around the few months working in, I was finally able to work through the effort of securing my driver’s license and finally, around November, I took my driving exam and finally after 7 arduous years of fighting for it, I got my license and became more autonomous than I have in the past. Life was getting good, really good actually, or atleast much better in terms of self-esteem than I was for the whole year.
Do not be mistaken though, I am struggling still, yet that is the way of life. My job, while good in its own respects, has essentially eaten up my time for these past 4-5 months with no clear sign of change for a while. The staffing shortage due to post-grand opening in my department had ultimately forced me to work full time hours as a part timer which practically erased me from any form of online activity. Alongside going to the gym around 4 to 5 times a week training extensively, I literally had no energy or rest to do practically anything in my free time. That is changing though and life is actually looking promising for 2023, more than anything else recently for that matter.
I can say with great conviction that the world of tomorrow is veiled with uncertainties beyond our comprehension. From what we see out there it seems that the world is on the verge of collapse. We flush ourselves with too much information and data on the internet, and the results make reality turn out more grim than it seems to be. Truth is, it’s not what it all seems to be, and really to any young viewer who is chronically online reading this, trust me when I say this it’s not so bad. The drama, the news, the events, it’s not real, and really the best you can do for yourself is to take care of yourself first and to the people actually close to you in real life. It is not your obligation to let the weight of the world rest on your shoulders, that responsibility belongs to one person only, and that person we celebrate His birth on this very day.
Starting in the future I have no clear goals as to what I want to do in regards to my online life. I eventually plan to start a new Source mod project that won’t be as complicated or unique as I’d like to think, and I intend to venture into other engines to expand my horizons. With all the money I’ve been saving I plan to build together an actual proper new workstation desktop PC that will last me for the next 10 years. I want to develop more skills, and learn new things to make me a better artist and creator than before. From then on only God will make witness to my reality and reveal the truth of my destiny to me. I think deeply about the world, and really when it becomes all too overwhelming, I’d like to turn to Scripture for the answer:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the list thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”
[1 John 2:15-17 KJV]
Merry Christmas frens. That will be all from me for a while. For now cherish this day, and rest easy. Expect more to come from this page in the coming year, and as always stay tuned for more.
O come, O come, Emmanuel. To free your captive Israel.That mourns in lonely exile here.Until the Son of God appear.Rejoice, rejoice o Israel.