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phantom_games_development:staff:robert_fritzen

Robert Fritzen

As the founder and creator of Phantom Games Development, Robert Fritzen is the head developer and project lead behind most of Phantom Games Development's projects. With over eight years of experience working and developing on the Torque Game Engine, Robert specializes in systems development, cryptography, and game logic. Robert is a near full time Meteorologist with a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, having intent on pursuing a M.S. and ultimately a PH.D. to teach at the university level.
Robert Fritzen on a summer convective observation course (Photo Taken: May 28, 2013 near Salina, KS)

Personal History

Early Life and First Projects

Robert was born on April 27, 1991, in the state of Hawaii where he resided for 14 years. Having a near constant eye on the weather and having an interest in it since a young age. Robert also took into great interest a variety of Strategy games, including the release of Command & Conquer in 1995. It wasn't however until the release of Tribes 2 that Robert's interest in computer programming took off. Robert's first project was a modification of some of the game's weaponry, as with most starting programmers, messing with the color and damage values is always a good starting point. Shortly after the release of the Construction Mod, namely the 0.60 versions, Robert joined with fellow developer -Dricon- on the Punisher Mod project, which would ultimately become the Metallic Construction Mod. After a few conflicts of interest and coding however, Robert left the development team to seek development on his own project, the resulting Phantom Construction Mod was created at that point.

Construction Development and the new Name

After leaving the development team for the Punisher Mod, Robert joined up with another developer, [S]H[A]D[O]W (Now known as Stuff123) who at the time was a widely known developer of the popular ISRPG mod for Tribes 2 for the creation of a Shadow Construction Mod. This mod featured some new inventive packs, and mainly featured destructive weaponry, a new chat command system, and MPM war games as the primary focus. After a few months however, Robert lost access to his Tribes 2 account due to his password being hacked. After a month or so a new account was acquired, and the name Phantom139 was taken, this would be his name from that point forward. A few more good months of development on Shadow Construction Mod followed before it was finally dissolved near the middle of 2004.

Phantom Construction Mod

After the Shadow Construction mod was dissolved, Robert created a new modification for Tribes 2, and it would be his first official mod for Tribes, the Phantom Construction Mod. The early version of the mod used some key features from Shadow Construction while introducing a set of new packs to the construction environment. Most of the designed packs and systems were re-code attempts of the currently flourishing Quantium Construction Mod which was developed by a developer named SunQuan and his team. The release of Command and Conquer Generals expansion, Zero Hour, took Robert away from Tribes 2 for a short period of time. A subsequent move to the state of Illinois took him off the Tribes 2 radar until later in 2005, where another mod would take his interest.

The Creation of a Legend and the Birth of a Team

Tribes 2 has always been known as a fast paced shooter with a great deal of customization, even with the futuristic touch it always had the potential for something bigger. Enter the Combat Construction Mod. Robert first caught the attention of this mod shortly after the move to Illinois and began playing and conversing with it's developers in the main server. Upon the release of it's source code, Robert acquired permissions and using it as a base, created the Total Warfare project. Total Warfare mod introduced a wide variety of new weaponry to the mod, while bringing in concepts from his Phantom Construction Mod. A key feature however, was the introduction of a Boss fighting system under a Ranking/Progression system. The Tribes community caught on and Total Warfare Mod (TWM) quickly rose in popularity leading to the creation of a few Clans for the mod. It was around this time when he met with a few new players, DarknessOfLight, and Dark Dragon DX, who would ultimately join the development team of Total Warfare Mod. Total Warfare Mod progressed through twelve different versions (2.2) before it was placed on hold for something new.

Merging The Greats

Robert always enjoyed playing Tribes 2, about the only game he liked more, was Command and Conquer, so shortly before he decided to stop development on Total Warfare Mod, he created a new mod, The C&C Tiberium Conflict mod for Tribes 2. Using features of the now completed Construction 0.69a, Total Warfare, and even Phantom Construction, Robert brought the Tiberium Universe of Command & Conquer to Tribes 2. Like Total Warfare Mod before it, popularity quickly exploded for C&C TC. Robert wanted to bring two greats into one by bringing in a feature beyond his coding capabilities, the ability to have Construction Buildings represent the mod's structures. Seeing a task too difficult, Robert brough a new developer Alviss, onto the team. This was met by a great reaction from the community, and a multitude of community events featuring the mod were held. C&C TC reached Beta 1.2, before popularity finally fell off for the modification. A short and also popular spinoff, C&C Red Dawn was also made, featuring the Red Alert Universe, but the files were lost in a coming event.

Hitting The Bottom, and then, The Top

A few problems shortly followed around 2007. First and foremost, Robert's main development and server hosting computer crashed due to a motherboard failure, and a good portion of his modifications that were not already online were lost. A few community issues began to come forth in this time period as well. With the loss of most of his work, Robert had to start development on a new project (see below). One Last problem, was the end to the Tribes 2 Master Server late in 2008, which saw the Tribes 2 Community pretty much collapse due to the loss of the servers until the arrival of TribesNext in 2009. However, events would transpire at this point that would push Robert's development to a new level.

Classic Rock and Magic!

Shortly after the elections in 2008, Robert left his original music tastes of light rock/pop music and joined a following to more classic rock, namely Rush, it was also in this time period that Robert threw together a new project related to games he had a little bit of play time with. The resulting Powers Mod was shortly released thereafter and it accompanied one of his most successful modifications of all time.

Bring on the Sequel!

After the loss of his files and the slow decline of Total Warfare Mod (It was now at version 2.7), Robert decided it was time to introduce a new concept. A suggestion came along from fellow developer, DarknessOfLight, and the sequel, Total Warfare Mod 2, was created. Many in the tribes community were skeptical at this point, thinking a re-hash of a mod filled with overpowered weaponry, and high destruction wouldn't ever perform well. But after some critical thinking, and the introduction of a whole new line of gameplay and functioning, the mod's popularity exploded into what to this day would still be the most popular modification ever created by Robert Fritzen for Tribes 2. It was near this time frame that Robert would graduate from Stillman Valley High School and proceed in his education at Rock Valley College. Robert also got his hands on the Torque Game Engine for the first time at this point, and began to drift into even more complex systems and designs. Finally at this point in time, Robert decided that one last idea, had to come forth.

Foundation of PGD

It was therefore at this point in time, with a popular mod in the books, that Robert Fritzen, along with DarknessOfLight, and Dark Dragon DX, founded Phantom Games Development, on August 2, 2009. And the launch of the initial website (A base page with SMF forums enabled) was done. PGD would continue to develop modifications for Tribes 2 so long as the popularity remained. A few side modifications began to rise (namely, Powers Mod, Defcon, and Nighthawk Construction), but a small growing community introduced a new programming challenge for the team. At this point Robert welcomed Signal360 to the Phantom Games Development team. The two then collaborated and designed and developed the Phantom Games Development Connect system, a system which allowed players to save their buildings and game data on one server, and use it on another's server. After being employed at Rock Valley College, Robert saved up enough money before the collapse of IA/GG near the end of 2010, and purchased his own copy of the Torque 3D Game Engine.

Torque 3D

A new world of ideas began to come forth as Phantom Games Development would step out of the modification team, into the world of indie game development. A few short lived projects were introduced, and DarknessOfLight brought forth a few new website designs to accompany the purchase. The main problem would be for user security, and a year long hurdle to re-introduce a system used by TribesNext to Torque3D was completed. It was shortly thereafter that DarknessOfLight left the group.

After a few failed projects, Robert went back to Tribes 2 and met up with three fellow developers; DarkTiger, Dayuppy, and RK4000. All three showed great interest in developing modifications for Tribes 2 and working on Torque 3D, and so they joined the PGD Team. After a short RPG project was created and fell apart, one last Tribes 2 project was entered by Robert. A revival mod for ISRPG was under way, and Robert brought forth some of his systems to the team. A few weeks was spent on the project before it began to fall apart. This split would also bring the end of Signal360's time with Phantom Games Development as he withdrew from the team. It was now 2011, and Robert would graduate from Rock Valley College seeking to complete his education he has pursued for his life.

Illinois

In early May 2011, Robert was admitted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Robert took some time off from Phantom Games Development to learn the campus and ultimately meet some new people. It was at this time that Robert completed his XXZ-568 authentication package for the Torque Game Engine and released it to the public. Robert's programming knowledge at that point expanded to the C++ language as he begun to dive into the inner workings of the engine itself. After a few Tribes 2 systems were released to the public, he started experimenting with adding his T3D code to Tribes 2. Late near the end of his first semester at Illinois, Robert befriended a group of fellow students and left development at Phantom Games Development for a short period of time. As a computer programming course came around the next semester, he turned his attention away from game development, towards tutoring his friends in the subject in which a great deal of experience came from. Robert continued to build success in his course-work and in his programming as designs for his first Torque 3D pack, the Multiplayer Assembly Package was created.

From that point forward, development has been shifting back and forth between packages, his first game released (PGD Survival), Tribes 2, and his course-work. After being overloaded long enough, Robert decided it was time to take a long break from Programming, and again, he stepped aside from Phantom Games Development. TWM2 reached it's final version at this point, stopping at V3.8 and all of Robert's remaining modifications were either cancelled or development was halted. Robert's last move for Tribes, would be to release all of his source code he developed over the years to the community.

Robert's attention at that point turned to the Atmospheric Sciences, participating in numerous research projects and continuing to work hard in his more difficult classes. In his final semester at Illinois, he was recognized with the Ogura Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. A subsequent application to the graduate program would follow, but he was denied. Robert returned home in the summer of 2013 with his Bachelor's Degree and returned to Phantom Games Development to continue project development.

Current Day

Today, Robert Fritzen maintains the role of the owner of Phantom Games Development, dabbling in a few of his Tribes 2 projects, and continuing work on his current engine and Torque Products. Robert is currently seeking admission to a Graduate Program in Atmospheric Sciences and with be attending an admitted school starting in the fall of 2014.

phantom_games_development/staff/robert_fritzen.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/08 10:36 by phantom139