Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Itty Bitty Combine Soldier

Rawr! After a suggestion from PlanetPhillip for a combine-manufactured headcrab, I couldn't stop myself. It was originally meant to be a reskin, but I am a little girl who has lost her mummy at Cronulla beach when it comes to texturing (that means I cry), so I modelled instead. Luckily I have been fiddling with compiling animations onto existing rigs with custom meshes over the last few weeks and it was all fresh in my mind. This was also designed to slip straight onto the headcrab rig, so it was pretty smooth sailing in general. I think I might do a tutorial on this sometime soon.

Overall the model took me about four or five hours, the texture took maybe 12 hours and the source-related stuff took under two hours. It took me three days from first vert to finish, and that was working in my spare time between other more important models (more on them later perhaps). If anyone happens to read this and has any idea about how to package it so anyone can download it and plonk it in their map without overwriting the old headcrab, please leave a comment, I am really struggling to code this in.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Models? On my modelling blog?

That's right!

I finally have something to put up here! I have recently started up, a prop modelling on-demand commission site dealy for source engine props. I was actually still coding the backend of the site when I got my first job request! Since then they have been coming through steadily, and I am on my way to being a self made freelance artist! That makes me so happy in warm fuzzy ways! Anyway, onto the pictures!

The first one is a Makarov pistol, a Russian weapon designed to propel balls of metal at high speeds with intent to harm, using a system of sliding metal parts and small amounts of pre-packaged explosives, all set off right in the palm of the wielders hand. It's an out there concept I know, probably won't catch on. Anyway I made it all from scratch and handpainted all the textures. It's the first ever weapon model I have made from start to finish, and I gotta say it was a bit of fun. As usual, loops and poles swung into action, even on this very inorganic model.

After the model was handed over to the dude, I needed to make some pictures to showcase it for the site so I quickly replaced the existing pistola in HL2 and recompiled. After some very quick adjustments and minimal changes, it used the existing pistol animations seamlessly, like it was made for it. Faaaaantastic. here's a picture of it reloading:

The next one was an SKS rifle, another russian weapon, but this time the dude had a highpoly model already made. After adjusting it to suit blender a bit I modelled the lowpoly out and baked the details on then textured it. Again, I compiled it just to showcase:

So, after making these and getting them to work in engine, I see now that I baked out way too many details. There are a lot of parts that I could have left on with no detriment to budget, since I could have deleted all the backfaces. You don't see the backfaces on viewmodels, but the engine renders them anyway, so you're better off baleting them. If I were to do it again I would leave a whole lot more poly details in since source is where normal maps go to die.

I have more requests coming in and I am currently working on one that I am excited to show here. Soon... very soon...

Chase that feeling

It's a pretty common misdemeanor

In the modding community to announce a project long before any concrete work has been done on it. All too often we will see threads requesting feedback for a project that hasn't even been started on. These are often met with a mix of disdain and helpful advice, in varying proportions.

I think the reason for these underproduced projects isn't completely from lack of skill or motivation, as one would assume. I think it comes from the same reason that I don't like posting WIPs. When someone has a brainstorm for a project (especially ADHD 12 year olds from FPSBanana) it's not the finished product they are striving for. It's not the experience gained from working on a mod nor the relationships created between mod team members. It's the feeling they are chasing. The chemical reaction in their heads that tells them they are or have been a part of something.

I think everyone can relate back to their first modding idea. It was going to take the scene by storm, the internet was going to love it and it would have the biggest mod community out there. People would line up around the block for your every blog post, just like you had been for the mods you were watching. These thoughts would fill your 12 year old brain and make you feel elated. You would imagine every outcome, have conversations with yourself about your mod, plan what you would say when people would beg to join your team, and start designing logos before even opening hammer.

Now while you are thinking these thoughts, your brain is releasing the chemicals (enzymes and endorphins and shit, I guess) that you would feel if you actually were in that situation. This makes you feel like you have already accomplished all these things. It's the same reason that people who hang around distinguished martial artists and watch heaps of kung fu videos but have never raised a finger assume they could kick a palm tree in half, Van Damme style.

Once that post requesting for help is up there, the experience is over. Those chemicals have done their rounds and your pancreas is all out of ammo. People may find your idea interesting, but anyone with the nous or tenacity to see a mod through knows better than to pledge allegiance to your over thought out, under media providing, catchword using fanboy speech. This is the part where the thread dies with a measly 7 replies, 4 of which are yours.

The proper way to release or announce a mod

Can be viewed here, here, or here. Notice the provision of media, the unassuming thread starter and the "yeah, we made it, so what" attitude. These are hallmark signs of a productive mod team. They are busy actually making the mod, not telling everyone how great it will be when they make it. Now I'm not saying that in order to glean a good following and public interest in your mod you have to be side on to your audience, but approaching a project with an "anything and everything" acceptance is a terribad solution to a simple problem. That problem being that you are 12, have ADHD, play CS:S for 90% of your spare time, and have little modding skills but want someone to make a mod "with" you.

My point here is not "lurk moar noob" nor is it "no media no recruits". No amount of cajoling, namecalling or rageposting is going to change the fact that everyone has to be a jellybean before they can be a jaguar. My point here is that they aren't seeking a mod team, community or even any real success. They are chasing the feeling they would get if they had all those things, without the large amount of work required to gain them, and the mere act of posting a thread gives it to them.

Or maybe it's just that they're 12, from FPSBanana and skinned a crate from CS:S once with a texture they found on the first page of google images.