VZSciFi - John Freeman Interview

VZSciFi - John Freeman Interview
A chat with online comics creator Steve Conley about his comic, Astrounding Space Thrills. Held on June 8th, 2000 in the VZSciFi Convention Center with John Freeman as the moderator.

If you ever visited the VZConnections world back in the middle of the year 2000, you would've stumbled across a strange portal just to the west of the Detroit entrance which took you to another place.

The Detroit Entrance in 2001, with the VZSciFi sign visible on the wall.

Only it wasn't just another place, it was an entirely different star system, with many planets linked together by tubes left by an ancient space faring civilisation who disappeared at the apex of their empire.

The portal to VZSciFi, also from 2001. The sidewalk was not normally painted blood red, but was modified at the time of this screenshot.

This place was a separate section of VZConnections called VZSciFi.

Originally, when Avaterra had made plans for VZones, they wanted to partner up with other companies in order to advertise and bring people in, as well as earn revenue. They also decided they would create different zones based on different areas of interest, such as VZSoccer, VZEntertainment and so on. This plan never really panned out for Avaterra, but VZSciFi did.

Avaterra took over an existing company in the UK and renamed them as Avaterra Europe, tasking them with creating this unique area for VZConnections and giving them the remit of growing this place beyond just an area, but bringing more paying users in, making licensing deals with people, and turning it into something special.

The entrance to Space Port City in VZSciFi

Between 2013 and 2023, I had the pleasure of chatting with John Freeman, former Project Manager at Avaterra Europe for the VZSciFi project. I've spent the past couple of months compiling all of the archival material he sent me and his answers to my questions into an interview for you all to check out.

Avatars on a tour with Stig Redfin of the Ukrann visiting the T'Chell Palace on the planet Harvax

For the first time ever, I have a lot of companion material to go with this interview which includes:

  • The original VZSciFi internal development site with info on world building, unused and unfinished areas and comments left as the area was being developed
  • Transcripts of tours around the zone using several different avatars that John Freeman roleplayed on (Archivist Shiren of the T'Chell, Stig Redfin of the Ukrann and Mr. Templeton)
  • Transcripts of the community chats held with comic book writers, book authors and SciFi TV show editors are here, some presented for the first time in unedited form

You can check out our talk and all of this stuff in the Interviews section.

As a thank you to the people who have graciously supported this site as I transitioned it over to a new system, only paid members have early access to this interview for the first two weeks, after which point it'll then switch to being free for everyone to read.