Freelance 3D modeller and games artist. Commenced my games industry career over 10 years ago, starting out at Warthog on the sci-fi FPS Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, and a space shooter of Battlestar Galactica. Most recently worked in house for Sumo Digital on a Tennis release for Sega, Virtua Tennis 2009 for PS3, Xbox 360 & the Wii, and I also worked on Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing. I have recently begun to teach 3D modelling and how that relates to games at several educational institutions including the University of Bolton on a part-time basis. Mod work includes development team leader, lore advice and modelling work for the Battlefield 2142 Star Wars themed mod First Strike.
In light of the new changes being edited into the Blu-ray release of the original trilogy, there has been the now traditional fan uproar. Some of the changes are inconsequential, some may actually improve the movies, and the prequels, but as ever there are some controversial changes that have not gone down well at all.
What makes all of this all the more amusing is this quote from George Lucas from back in 1988 when he was testifying before Congress regarding the plight to save the cultural heritage of classic films:
"These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with "fresher faces," or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor's lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new "original" negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.
In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be "replaced" by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten."
It does paint him to be something of a hypocrite, but they're his movies to do with as he likes, so what are you going to do? The following article is a good one on this subject and raises some interesting points:
And of course now it is time for the customary Hitler hates... video:
Hitler has never made me laugh so much.
All George Lucas has to do is release a cleaned up original theatrical release of the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray and then all the fan vitriol would go away. He'd be forgiven for all the tinkering of the special editions, as long as we have a copy of the original that we all know and love. Perhaps the fear is that if he did that, then nobody would buy his special editions and he'd have to face the cold hard truth that not that many people prefer them over the original cut.
Going to head off now to lock my tin box collection of the original videos and Dvds of the theatrical release in a vault now. Sounds like they're only going to become more precious as the years go on.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll remember a post a while back at the beginning of the year about a fan of our mod; First Strike, who was interested in taking our unique vision for the Expanded Universe vehicle, the Rebel Armoured Freerunner, and taking that into a solid real world model form through the process of Rapid Prototyping, a process by which a computer generated 3d model can be effectively three dimensionally printed in polymers or plastics to create a real model.
Well the process goes on, and on and off over time the modeller has been sending me a number of photographs charting his progress as he paints this model and layers on the detail, as well as to ask advice on the colours that should be used that will allow him to finally give us an accurate representation of the vehicle you see in our mod. I'll hand you over to him so you can get a feel for the process that he is working through, and then finish with a few more pictures to show his progress.
'If you recall, the last photos were of the base colour-- a grey brown. After cleaning my airbrush to get all the muck out-- I used Interior Aircraft Black and sprayed a thin line of black over the panel lines or where I felt the illusion of a panel line ought to be. I then was a tad more generous with the undercarriage and the engines were pretty much covered with a mist of black. Again, up top, I gave a light misting of black to the gun turrets.
Finally, I painted the windows black.
The kit will need to dry-- but the next step will be to cover most of the hull in camouflage grey OVER the base coat and the black. This will give the illusion of shadow and make the Rebel Freerunner look battle ready.
Well here is some possibly very good news, Battlefield 3 Blog have just posted an article in which DICE's general manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson states...
“We have heard the community very loud and clear on this topic — that they want mod tools. We are considering it, back in the studio. The game won’t ship with mod tools, but we have heard it. I’m not saying that we’re going to do it, I’m saying that we are thinking about it.”
This could be great news, but obviously nothing is cast in stone, after all just prior to the release of BF:BC2 they released statements that mod tools were going to be available to help garner goodwill and an edge on their just released at the time main competitor COD: Modern Warfare 2 which was not going to have any mod tools, and we all know how that turned out, but still I'd like to have faith in DICE to believe that community pressure on this matter could make them about turn on this. It would at least show they do care about our opinion and desires, and are not just after our hard earned dollar.
Here's hoping that they have listened, heed our wishes and release those tools.
Check out the link below for the full article at BF3 Blog.
Hi guys, just thought I'd share with you all a pretty cool new development.
A fan of our work here on First Strike requested a while back to be given the 3DS Max files for one of our in game vehicles. A long time Star Wars fan and avid modeller (as in model kits and unique miniatures, not computer based modelling), he fell in love with First Strike's unique take on the Rebel Freerunner, an Expanded Universe vehicle which has been around since way back in the old West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. It was from an orthographic sketch from a sourcebook from that game which I used as inspiration for my Freerunner model, just a side on view, so from this limited information I created my personal take on what the vehicle should look like.
Since that roleplaying game came out in the late 80's there have been a few new takes on the vehicle, most recently in the Star Wars Customisable Card Game which feature computer graphic images more 3 dimensional in their interpretations which show the vehicle to be a much more curvy affair than the angular approach that I took with it. I found this to be quite ugly and without any striking presence of form, quite frankly it just looked like a characterless blob to me, but then I am bias I guess.
This official interpretation of the vehicle just added more uniqueness to our model, with official movie based vehicles and assets obviously there is no room to manoeuvre and you should try and get your assets as close to their movie counterparts as possible, but with EU stuff? I like to think you can take that with a pinch of salt, they are more open to interpretation due to their level of canon (plus even official interpretations of some of these vehicles, races and characters can end up varying quite a bit depending on what media they appear in over the years), for instance recently I've seen someone's interpretation of an E-Wing Fighter from the Dark Empire comic book series which is just sublime and really improves on the original. Obviously if someone decided to do that with an X-Wing? Might not go down so well.
So in short the First Strike Freerunner is a unique interpretation of this vehicle that you'll not find anywhere else. And it was this unique design that caught the attention of this modeller. Being a long time fan of the Freerunner design from the original SW: Roleplaying Game he loved our take on the vehicle and requested the model files to help him in an interesting aspect of his modelling hobby. Not content with just the available Star Wars vehicle models that you can buy in the shops, this guy goes on the hunt for unique Expanded Universe models that might appear in Star Wars Mods like ours, and asks for a watertight version of the in game model files (watertight meaning very sound geometry). With these files he sends them off to a tooling company with Rapid Prototyping technology, a process by which products in industry can be prototyped from CAD files using a 3D printing process to create the asset carved from plastics or polymers. A similar technology to that used to prototype Star Wars figures in their initial design stages.
I found this to be a very interesting prospect. To see a model I'd built and that only existed as polygons in a computer fully realised as a tangible real world miniature model was just too good an opportunity to miss, and duly furnished the modeller with the files he needed. He showed me examples of previous Star Wars models he'd had Rapid Prototyped such as a model of a Chariot LAV and a Flurry Carrier, the results were impressive, and I was very interested to see how well the process would deal with the complex geometry of the engineering section to the rear.
Well now that modeller has sent off and received back his first copy (and currently the only copy) of a First Strike style Armoured Freerunner, and he has sent photos of the model which I would like to share with you here today. He has placed the model amongst some miniature figures to give an idea of scale, and will soon be painting the model, so as he updates me with further pictures of his progress I will update my images here for those who are interested.
So, another year and the voting on another MOTY comes to an end, and what a fantastic event it has been this year with many more incredible mod entries than ever before. Now comes the anticipation of awaiting the results. Will be interesting to see where we come this year. We should have a strong chance with the release of version 1.5 of First Strike a few months ago, but even after that the main issue our mod seems to have is of getting and retaining players, which is interesting, as every new player we get comments on how amazing the mod is. The issue they have being that there are not enough players. So we really have to work on getting more players on our servers somehow, promoting more events and just getting the servers populated so new players can experience the mod as it was meant to be played, in full servers recreating epic Star Wars battles.
Also an update on our progress on the map everybody is waiting for with baited breath couldn't have hurt our chances. Hoth is going to be a phenomenal map, the Holy Grail if you will of Star Wars battles, something so epic and iconic that it has to be got right, or what is the point of doing it? Our plans for this map are bigger and bolder than any game version of this sequence that has ever been produced before, mod or official game, so it is really gratifying to see the separate elements of this coming together, especially since we have been working on this map on the backburner for years now, but with the AT-AT Walkers finally becoming almost finalised, detailing on the massive Echo Base model I built years ago starting to come together, and a beautiful exterior landscape which is really nailing the look of the frozen tundra of Hoth, I have really high hopes for this one. Still a lot of work to go, but I feel it will be well worth it.
And so back to the MOTYs, how do I reckon we'll do this year? So hard to tell, but on past form we have done a bit of a Star Trek (I know, I'll wash my mouth out later ;P ) with odd entries being bad, and even entries in the movie series being good. In our case it is the same with the years of the MOTYs, in 2006 we got 3rd place for Best Unreleased Mod, and in 2008 we came 4th for Mod of the Year. So will 2010 be our year again? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Best of luck to everyone in the Top 100 this year. See you on the other side.
Irvin Kershner the director of The Empire Strikes Back passed away this weekend in LA.
RIP Irvin Kershner, and thanks for adding to the legend, it was with your entry to the saga that we knew for sure Star Wars was here to stay. May the Force be with you, always. Head over to the Star Wars website to see further tributes to the man:
That's right, looks like come 2012 we'll be seeing Star Wars back in cinemas, and this time in 3D, they've been talking about the possibility for a while, but with the current glut of shoddy 3D movies that have had 3D tacked on at the eleventh hour using the conversion process rather than being shot sterescopically in the first place (Yes Clash of the Titans, that's you I'm looking at) I didn't really have high hopes for this, but check out this article with John Knoll on the case talking about taking time and refining the process. If he can get the 3D conversion process to work as well on the Star Wars movies and give as good 3D results as say on Avatar? I'll be a very happy camper come 2012. The first Star Wars movie being released will be The Phantom Menace, so from that you can gather they'll be releasing the movies in chapter order rather than chronologically. 2012 can't come soon enough, as long as it doesn't result in the Mayan Apocalpse.
Well it is finally out there, after a hard long slog we've finally released 1.5. And a hard road it has been too with one thing and another. Anyone who has been following the progress of First Strike is probably well aware that we were planning to release 1.5 just after Christmas last year, but just before release we had to have a major rethink of how the gameplay worked on Jundland Wastes. This was quite heartbreaking at the time because we'd all put a lot of focused effort into getting everything done in time, and then it was like. No, It looks like we're gonna just have to stop and take stock, and look at the fundamental issues that need to be dealt with and then look at this again. Also with the lead designer and mapper on Jundland, Krenyo soon to become unavailable in the new year this was a double blow.
As a result for the last 8 months we have been slogging away at redesigning where the CPs are on the map, chipping away at how the CPs should be taken from a gameplay perspective, honing a gameplay design which would still give you the freedom to explore the map in its entirety, and yet still focus the gameplay enough not feel too spread out and impossible to engage the enemy. Also we have had the addition of such assets as the Sentinel which is a major plus, and then also additional little touches which just add so much to the polish of the mod, not to mention the addition of the space map Strike at Parmel.
In the Summer with the return of many key Dev Team Members we were able to capitalise on the work that had gone before and then really get a concentrated last push to get this out before the end of the Summer.
As always, as soon as you set a release date new problems start to arise, but you just have to tackle them head on with your eye still on the prize, and I think to a large extent we have managed to successfully do that. We still have a few issues in need of resolving, but with new updates on the way which can swiftly and easily fix these problems using our automatic updater system, there should be little or no issues for the player. Chief amongst these issues is a bug which has plagued the mod ever since the popular map Battle of Yavin first got released. A bug which causes issues for players using Nvidia cards. Well I can happily announce that after all this time we have finally nailed that bug, and the fix should be winging its way to you very soon. Once these fixes and any new bugs that become apparent after release have been dealt with? It will finally be time to rest, and then look forward to the next release of First Strike and what we intend to achieve there.
Either way, this delay has been a good thing, the result is much more polished, a lot more content has been added, and the gameplay of Jundland as a map is much more solid now which I hope will give the people who play the new version of the mod an experience which has been well worth the wait.
See you out there on the Battlefield Troopers!
Hello there. Has been quite a while since I've take the time to write a new blog, just been too damned busy of late I'm afraid, we have really been working our collective butts off on the next release of First Strike. We seem to have developed a reputation for the Trademark it will be out "SOON"tm remark, but at long last the wait might soon be over. It has been over a year since our last considerable new content release, and as a result the player base of our mod has failed a little, we still have a hardcore fan base, but the numbers are dwindling as no new content has been available in so long.
Well that will soon be changing. Bolstered by the return of several key members of the Development Team over the Summer, and a fierce desire to get all the hard work that has been put into the production of First Strike 1.5 to the public, there has been a flurry of activity these last few months that has culminated in this last week where an unprecedented volume of work has been put into the mod with constant test builds being updated, tester feedback considered, and new builds produced so rapidly that the mod has improved immeasurably in mere hours. Critical problems that have been hampering the mod have been tackled head on and bludgeoned into submission. Chief amongst these has been a critical class 'A' bug that was causing us some serious issues with one of the key assets of the next release, the much anticipated Sentinel lander. The problems were becoming so serious, and the delays caused by this were such that we had to start considering pulling the ship from the release and just pressing forward without it until the bug could be found and dealt with, but as luck would have it FSDev Krenyo managed to pull our fat out of the fire today and finally sorted out that pesky bug, and now the last hurdle keeping us from release has fallen away.
Another hero of this last big push towards release is FSDev Twigs who has really gone from strength to strength on this mod, starting off leading the Testing Team his desire to see First Strike's space maps rival the thrill of the classic X-Wing vs TIE Fighter games has seen him push himself to excel at mapping and coding, and the effort he has put into getting content into the mod these last few weeks has been nothing short of Herculean.
Together with this surge of development activity the testing team for our mod have really come through for us going above and beyond the call of duty to test all hours that they are available, not just the designated testing times. I guess with so much new content to see and get to grips with they have plenty to keep them busy, and the fact they stay on after testing is over to carry on playing the test builds of the mod even though they've already been at it for hours can only be a good sign.
There is so much to keep track of it is easy to get lost in it all. Safe to say that you have not been waiting over a year for just two new maps (wonderful as they are), there are also fundamental changes to a lot of existing assets, gameplay tweaks, aesthetic modifications, and still a fair few surprises that we have in store for you that we haven't let slip yet. So yes I know I've said it before, but I do believe you'll find it well worth the wait, and that wait is almost over. Look out for an announcement on an actual release date. Not long now.
It makes me very proud to see the team as a whole come together so strongly with such a clear vision and goal that unites us. To deliver to the public the best Star Wars game we possibly can, by the fans, for the fans.
See you out there.
A good positive mention of First Strike from BF:BC2 Producer Gordon Van Dyke when talking about DICE's relationship with the modding community.
Which was nice.
Unfortunately in the same article he also mentions that there will definitely be no mod support for this game as Frostbite just isn't currently capable of providing mod support which is a bit of a blow. So I guess when they were talking about providing mod support at some point in the future for Frostbite they weren't talking about at some point during this game's lifetime but future releases featuring the Frostbite Engine.
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