Whew. 2020 really was…something, but now that its finally a brand new year, its time to move on as better things await us. Last year I had started the huge project that was The History of Sonic Adventure DX Modding and at the end of it, I also managed to complete it after months of setbacks and fixes (as it was being released by parts; but now you can find the whole thing from the beginning). It involved a lot of research, revisiting old and new mods from that game, and of course interviews with a lot of great people; truly felt like an experience to do all this as well as highlighting all that went down along the years.

On the fifth (and final part) I had provided some insight from Roaxes (a Chao Island admin) and Sora (the developer of SA2 Conversion); but I still had to publish their full interviews. So…here we are again, as I’m bringing today the full interview with Roaxes (and soon enough, Sora’s interview as well).

If you haven’t read the aforementioned SADX Modding History article or just aren’t familiar with Chao Island, the Chao Island is a fansite dedicated to documenting everything about the Chao Gardens in the Sonic Adventure games; which has also spawned a Chao-centric community with a lot of great people. Roaxes is one of the administrators of this site along with Mooncow (the founder), and gave an insight about his story of how he got into that place, as well as his experiences with Chao Island and its community.

On top of that, he’s also a Source Filmmaker user, which essentially amounts of doing from scenes/pictures in 3D, to short and long 3D animations. Of course, to be able to use SFM as a way of animation is a skill that is hardly earned, and its great to see such efforts into making their ideas a reality.

…And well, I don’t think I can add much more to this introduction that you can’t see from what has been said, so I hope that you enjoy this interview!

This interview was conducted in December 27, 2020.

First of all, thank you so much for this opportunity! Getting to revisit many things about Sonic Adventure was a blast of the past, including the Chao Gardens. I always have been fascinated by the amount of effort that has been put into Chao Island and I’m really grateful for everybody that worked in there!

Heh, its amazing how long Chao Island has been around for all of us to continue helping people just getting into the Chao Gardens.

What can you say about yourself to begin with?

Nothing much really, I was always a lurker through most of the Chao Communities history and only started getting involved around 2014 with my blog “Chao-Studios“. Which seems to have accidentally propelled me into the community xD. Next to Chao, I’ve always been a big fan of The Legend of Zelda games, which my Youtube, Twitter, and main Tumblr are more dedicated too.

That was mostly thanks to “ChaoGardenBuster” who was an old friend and co-host of the Chao Studios blog, nudging me to talk to more of the community like DarkyBenji, Mooncow exc

Welcome to Chao-Studios!

Around what time did you join Chao Island?

While I lurked on it since at least 2003-2005+, I finally joined the actual site with an account on July 22nd, 2014.

What can you mention about your current role in Chao Island?

I’m basically one of the social media managers and one of 4 admins for both the Discord and the site. I control the Tumblr branch, and help Mooncow with the Twitter branch as part of the “Social Team” role.

The admin part is pretty self explanatory, making sure the community runs smoothly and try to defuse or just step down on conflict. We occasionally deal with spam bots attacking the CI forums as well.

Do you have any story of how you ended up in the admin spot?

Before the Chao Island discord became public in December 2018, I was originally an admin on a previous Chao-related Discord called Chao Live Chat. Mooncow joined at some point and was impressed by how much of the community was still interested in chao and found out I was running a big blog involving Chao.

So while he was revamping Chao Island, I slowly ended up becoming one of his advisers when it came to what to add and what not to add. He’d have me proof read occasionally, and I would also pitch in with better quality images then what the site originally had. At that point we became friends and hung out a lot in DMs.

When it was finally time to release the site revamp, and make the Chao Island discord public for all instead of just the CI developers, he decided to make me admin for both helping with the site, and my prior experience of moderating with the old Discord.

That’s nice!

How do you recall your earliest days at Chao Island? (Back when you were a lurker and after you had registered)

Heh, like with most communities I was pretty nervous, it was an ancient community with many veterans that I didn’t want to risk annoying, even before the site revamp became a thing, I attempted to offer a new Chao Karate image cause I realized the site didn’t have one, but got blocked by a post limit requirement for posting images xD

I think I warmed up to it far faster with the introduction of the Discord servers, as I got to talk and understand the people off the community more in casual talks rather then professional forum posts. But back when I registered, at first it was mostly to ask DarkyBenji, creator of Chao World Extended, a question regarding his mod.

When I was a lurker, I mostly only spent my time on the Information part, I never even touched the forum/community parts so I didn’t really have anything to say about them other then the site was incredibly useful for info I didn’t already know

What can you comment about the two Chao Editor programs? (Fusion and Krzys)

Both are very revolutionary both for Chao Research, and just seeing how the Chao actually operate internally. I have massive respect for both the creators and their programs. But I do feel like people get too attracted to the editors and start soley only using the editors rather then actually playing and taking care of the chao through sheer hard work.

Unfortunately with the advent of massive mods, FCE (fusions editor) has started to fall out of a favor, it has served the chao community for years. It is still very viable and usable though for unmodded games or light modded. Krzys2’s new editor offers what FCE did and a ton more, like editing trees, Mod compatibility specifically with Chao World Extended, and is much more friendly to modded games in general, where as FCE would actively seek to replace new items added by mods, KCE ignores them most times even if new item hasn’t been added to the editor.

Now that you mention modded items, what can you say about Chao World Extended? I was aware that it added a lot of extra features, like items, new chao expressions and such.

I have a lot to say about that mod. I honestly can’t go back to playing the Vanilla chao gardens after witnessing and experience the true glory that is of Chao World Extended. It caters almost completely to what I wanted of a future chao garden, more Chao colors, chao interaction, chao breeds, unused content, ways to get jewel and character chao and loads more. Best of all, most of the mod is very optional, meaning you aren’t forced to the gameplay standards CWE has set.

Definitely has a ton more mods then what I mentioned included within it too, its big enough to even have its own page on Chao Island, and it still has a massive sense of progression. The mod doesn’t just dump cheaty and free stuff to you, you still have to earn them through normal gameplay unlike with an editor.

Currently its only avaliable for Sonic Adventure 2, right?

There’s actually a version for Sonic Adventure DX made by Exant that includes some features but not all of the features in SA2 CWE, but also has a few of its own features as well, like 3d emotionballs, and ports some of SA2 vanilla stuff like the Chao Garden TV toy. However, I don’t have much experience with that mod.

What could you say that were your best experiences in Chao Island?

Honestly just being a part of it in general, its been a very unexpected blast of a time, most of the people there are very chill, and they all in general have a love of the Chao Gardens. It’s very topic driven rather then just a bunch of off topic only swamping out the Chao aspect. I love to provide pictures for the site too as its one of my strong suits!

What is the achievement that you have been most proud of when playing on the Chao Garden? (Say, a certain Chao you have raised, having got a specific Chao raised like a Chaos Chao, getting all the medals, etc)

That’s a toughie, but I think im mostly proud when I manage to get a really cool looking two tone chao through breeding, and having my current garden being around since 2014 now whereas before on my gamecube days when I was younger, If i didn’t play for awhile, i’d want to start over and just for some reason wipe out my old chao garden saves

Do you know of any future plans intended or anything along those lines for Chao Island?

At least for the Discord part, there’s a bot in development to sort of automate the daycare channel, as for many updates for the site in general, alot of the updates are taking place in the wiki part of our site by the Wiki dev team, which that page specializes in more in depth information then what you’d see in the normal info center page tab, which is more geared towards getting to the point quickly and simplifying stuff.

For recent updates though there are definitely still a lot of pages with missing information that needs filled some day, such as the lost chao locations page and more that we’ll hopefully have some day. I hope to see the site continue to progress rather then stall for several years like it had prior to the recent revamp of 2018

Now on a slightly different topic, what would you say or remember that was your first experience with Sonic?

The Sonic Adventure games for sure, my sister had both of them and so I started playing them on our Nintendo Gamecube. Being so young at the time, I didn’t know much about taking care of Chao, so I was kind of a train wreck at the system and not many of my Chao really made it far xD

But I was also entertained by both games main stories. As of now I prefer SADX for its main story more, while I enjoy SA2B for its Chao Garden system. I also used to explore Newgrounds a lot for flash videos regarding the Sonic Series.

What are your favorite mods for SADX/SA2?

For SADX, the “BetterSADX” mod. The steam ports for both games are very broken and bugged, so for SADX, the “BetterSADX” mod basically uses an older PC port of the game that functions a lot better and is more playable.

For SA2, definitely Chao World Extended for its extension of the Chao side of things which many mods at the time didn’t focus at all on, as well as fix port issues of the Steam port.

Editor’s note: BetterSADX is a bundle of several enhancing mods like Dreamcast Conversion, Lantern Engine and such (as well as having the Mod Manager); its sort of an offline alternative to using the SADX Mod Installer.

At the beginning you had mentioned that you were a big Zelda fan; I’d like to hear more about that part (or how you interacted with that community)

Funnily enough, I haven’t really interacted with many of that community, I sort of do my own thing like posting Zelda animations from my youtube channel, as well as SFM (source filmmaker) posters on my main blog and Twitter.

I started playing the Legend of Zelda series back on Nintendo 64 with Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and immediately got hooked. My favorite of the series is Majora’s Mask for the darker tone it had compared to most of the games, as well as the amount [of stuff] to do within it.

Oh wow, you make SFM animations? That’s quite cool!l

Gmod was sort of my natural progression into SFM. Gmod and SFM in a way sort of compliment eachother, with workshop items from both being transferred between them when applicable. Before I started using SFM for Zelda and Chao animations, I’d use some stop motion addon on Gmod to messy effect. I’ve found both easier to use then scary programs like Blender :O

Funny question but what would be your favorite Zelda titles?

Heh, after Majora’s Mask which is my number one spot, its a tough choice, but I would say: Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild. I still love most of the other mainline titles as well, but those would be my top.

How would you say that has been your experience with making SFM animations since 2016 (your first year) on both learning and also interacting with the community?

I very much enjoy reading the comments of my animations, see what parts interested them, see if they found any secrets I sometimes would sneak into the backgrounds. The only issue when it comes to the more negative comments is that people don’t understand the concept of “constructive” criticism very well. They’ll often tell you it “sucks” without providing any reason or advice on how to improve it, But they’re very much in the minority, and most are respectful if a bit excitable xD

The things I struggled with most was timing things right. When I first started, a lot of my SFMs looked like they were in slow motion with long awkward pauses I attempted to do for “comedic effect” that when I look back, are just painful and don’t know how I misjudged them so hard and thought it was acceptable. I have definitely improved on speeding things up as the biggest improvement to my animation, but I still despise doing Walking/running animations to this day despite them being a necessity xD

Do you have any advices for anybody that would want to get started with Gmod/SFM animations?

For SFM specifically, if you have a lower end computer like I use to when I started, it would definitely be to disable ambient occlusion, which is a horrible lag fest (especially when my lagtop at the time didn’t support it anyway). That’ll definitely stop some lag you might experience and turn you off from said program at first. Definitely don’t be afraid to look at some Youtube tutorials as well for things you might not understand.

What did you think when I reached out to you for this interview?

To be honest, I was surprised cause I sort of tweak things from the shadows, letting other people have the public face usually. xD

Do you have any special thanks for someone?

Hmmm i’d say Mooncow, DarkyBenji, ChaoGardenBuster and Mindacos for breaking my shell and getting me to actually communicate with the community, and I still play games with them to this day as friends. ❤

Do you have any message for the Chao Island members/community?

Keep going strong, that I hope they continue to find our site and community both useful as a tool and fun to chill and communicate with, and thanks for those who have taken the next step to actually help us out in making the community great, such as Erubbu, Nostalgia Ninja and ex admins like Nacho Pikachu and Runasutaru for helping keep the community from going out of control and keeping it a positive atmosphere.

Got any message for all the modders at X-Hax?

I personally don’t have any experience with them, but I thank them for all the help they’ve given us in growing the Sonic Adventure 2 modding community, especially with helping out on the Chao part giving assistance for coding of many mods, whereas before the chao part was on its death knell

Thank you so much for this interview! It was fun to know more from you and Chao Island, as well as learning that you had a hand with SFM as well 🙂

Yeah, I really hope it stays tightly knit<3

If you enjoyed this, you can check out all the other interviews I have done with several other X-Hax members (as well as some few emudevs; more of these soon), and I also work on articles (like the finally completed SADX Modding History article, but also got some newer ones planned).

If you liked my content, sharing this with others helps me out; and you can lend me a hand through my Ko-fi page as well! Any feedback and ideas are appreciated, so don’t be afraid to drop a message either here or on my Twitter.

Stay tuned for the next interview featuring Sora, and see you next time!