Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Favourite Games of 2010

Well as this year draws to a close, I'd like to share what I think my favourite games of 2010 were.  My choices are just that, my personal choices.  I haven't taken into consideration sales figures, meta-scores, or anything like that.  And as someone more involved in Animation than Games, I honestly don't PLAY that many new releases.

#5.  Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

This was a late release - happening on October 7, and I actually didn't find out about it until October 19!  (my birthday!).  Despite it's sluggish controls, the music salvaged this otherwise, somewhat FORGETTABLE release.  It's nothing you haven't seen before, but as one of the biggest Sonic fans from back in the day (I even had a Sega CD!) It was nice to hear a MIDI soundtrack rendered through that ancient Yamaha YM2612 chip!

How can Sonic actually be SLOWER on a console that's over 100 times faster?  Well...  My guess is that people took the logical steps of Walk - Run - Speed WAYY past cool.  The old Sonic started at walk then went to speed.   There is too much of a buildup that it takes from the time I smash right on the d-pad or anaolog stick and the time when Sonic unleashes.  This has its uses (I GUESS) in the 3D sonic games but in a 2D platformer, it feels very sluggish.  All that aside, it was nice to see Sonic back in his element, albeit a bit handicapped.  It's worth 800 Microsoft points for the fan, but fans who never played the ORIGINAL sonic games, might not be that enthralled. 


#4.  Perfect Dark (Classic Arcade)

Another classic revamp - I must say that I LOVED the original, and clocked COUNTLESS hours that old cartridge!  The only things changed from this version from the old N64 were the graphics.  New HD textures and some (slightly) higher res models replaced the blocky N64 ones.  My disappointment lies in the lack of XBOX LIVE Co-Op - which should have been VERY easy to implement - or the lack of Simulants (bots) on Xbox live as well.  But what can I say, it still holds up really well.  My biggest problem was pressing Y on the Xbox controller trying to reach for the C-Buttons which shows you how ingrained in my head that N64 controller was.


Once again, with much more advanced shooters out there, I can only recommend if you were a fan of the original.  But I liked it.  PRO-TIP - get a headshot and then you can get hot pink avatar shirt.


#3  Fallout 3:  New Vegas

Did you like Fallout 3 but found it too easy or short?  The Hardcore Realism mode adds a new level of depth to your wasteland adventure.  I loved this game and clocked MANY an hour on it, just wandering around, getting side-tracked on side-quests.  I spent probably over 100 hours in Fallout 3, and New Vegas is just as good - better in fact.  My favourite part was the ability to TRULY choose your path, rather than being pigeon-holed into a Brotherhood of Steel lackey as in '3.  I never liked the BoS.


For the hours you'll spend playing it - it might be the best 60$ you'll spend all year!  ((Only 50$ if you buy it on PC!!))

#2.  Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 1 was as I always joke, "The Game I always wanted to play but never knew until I played it!"  It was the perfect RPG - combining both skills and level advantages in a way I had never seen before.  I loved the sci-fi rather than fantasy setting - something only the FINAL FANTASY series had even REMOTELY touched on.  I loved the soundtrack, the art, the level design (cookie cutter or not) and I loved this game!  Mass Effect 2, took everything I liked about the first one, and made it that much better!  I loved the loyalty aspect of the game, the more simplified but much more rewarding level system, the art and sound were still TOP NOTCH, and truly, were it not for my own bias, I would probably give this the number 1 slot.



Companies like BioWare and Bethesda have really revolutionized the RPG genre, so much so that I can't even dissociate Final Fantasy from Generic anymore.  Mass Effect 2 is, for me, the perfect RPG.  I couldnt get enough of it and probably had about 4 play-throughs.  An Excellent Game!



#1.  Halo:  Reach

I have been a fan of Halo since 2001, when then FIRST one came out.  I loved it!  To me, it's perfect.  I will defend it VEHEMENTLY.  It is a rare point when I simply CANNOT see the critic's point of view.  If you like shooters, what's not to like about this one?

REACH, specifically, is the most PERFECT prequel to ANYTHING since Godfather II.  It is THAT GOOD.  From the art, to the music, to the flawless and VASTLY improved multiplayer, this game is my absolute favourite game of 2010.  Very few games can move me to tears, but Halo Reach is one.  For the Halo fan, the loyal, devoted, halo fan, this game has everything you want.  And what prequel - in HISTORY - ENDS with the first lines from the next item in its series?

*SPOILER ALERT*

The last scene in halo Reach, is the FIRST SCENE in Halo Combat Evolved, if you unplugged Reach, and put in Halo 1, you would not miss a SINGLE SECOND of the storyline.  It is tied together that well.  I loved every second of it, and will play through it again and again for years to come.   My #1 game of 2010, and (in truth) #2 game of ALL TIME - Halo Reach.



((My #1 is Half Life 2!))

See you on Anniversary Day!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fly me away, Odyssey Rocket...



This video was done in three weeks, one scene per week, after one of the executive producers decided to start over halfway through production. You can still see the original animatic in the previous post.

If you don't know Odyssey is a learning tool developed by CompassLearning to help students learn via online classes. While it is available at all K-12 levels, it is mainly used at the elementary level in this county.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Soaring to Success


For the past few weeks I've been working on realizing the video for PCSB's School Technology Service annual DIP Luncheon, entitled Soaring to Success.

This time we find Coach Buck Willis, angry with the government for spreading lies about global warming and cable boxes.  And forcing baseline evaluations on everyone too.  He decides the only thing to do is to go to Tallahassee himself, and talk to those government people himself...




The coach lives deep in the pine forests of northeast Polk County.


His house is a digital painting.  Gnats and bug zapper hits were added when I made this in flash.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 11: Congratulations! (2010)

Ten years have passed since that 14 year old child, came up with the ideas that would become Allied Forces.  Ten years since I set my life on a track that I seem to have become powerless to dislodge.  Ten Years of production, thought, introjection, triumph, failure, success, and sadness.  Ten years of Allied Forces.
 
As of June 29th, 2010, these are the PRIMARY stories which make up the Allied Forces Universe. (and the date of their original creation) - using their official 2010 title setup.


Allied Worlds (2001)
Allied Forces(2000)
Allied Forces OCS:  Remnant (2000)

Allied Forces OCS:  Twin Spires (2000)

Allied Forces OCS:  The Unknown (2000)
Allied Worlds V (2000)

Allied Worlds SV (2001)
Allied Worlds Revelation (2002)
Millienium:  Allied Worlds (2008)

As I prepare to celebrate the 10th Foundation Day, I can't help but remember the first, when I saw my creation online, with 300 hits.  I didn't realize then, that I would be still thinking of that moment, a decade in the future.  Ten years from now, what new horizons will I be looking back on.  To my story, Allied Forces, I thank you.  To the past, farewell - I will never forget, and to all the children... congratulations!




...and many more to come.


 

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 10 - She said, "Don't make others suffer for your personal hatred." (2009)

2009 Began on a high note.  In fact, I cannot, in my lifetime imagine a time in which everything was going my way more.  By summer that had all changed.  I wasn't hired at PCSB, and I had become disillusioned and overstressed with my work, social, and spiritual life.  I came close to dropping out twice - once going so far as to call the registrar to speak with someone about withdrawal.  Looking back, luckily, the person I needed to talk to wasn't in their office.  The entire summer was a miserable affair, working at the worst job I had ever had, and indeed ever will have.

It was early september when I called the registrar.  She wasn't there.  I looked around my apartment, surveying everything that I had, just four months previous been so proud of - when it caught my eye...  a picture hanging on the wall of my guest bedroom.  An 11 x 17 printout of this...


Whatever it was about this picture - inspired me.  Perhaps the defiance against all odds - as going on in the story, maybe it was the remembrance of how hard I had worked to get there, or maybe it was realizing how quitting meant I would never share the story in a meaningful way.  Whatever it was, this single image kept me going.  More than ever - it was at that single moment - that I realized just how far Allied Forces had taken me.  The story which had been my life for nine years took on a near-religious reverence in my mind.  I would keep on going.  I was going to live on.  Almost two months later, I finally quit the job that had taken so much out of me.  I thought of the final line from Allied Forces R, spoken by the same character in the picture... I'm free.

*   *   *

2009, despite being the END of Allied Forces, actuall saw some interesting developments in the series...

In March, while taking Animation II, I finally found a way to combine my two styles into one.  The result was this...
While the overall design elements do tend to lean more towards anime - without a doubt, they are definitely not traditional.  These are not the cookie cutter characters that everyone draws - or even thinks of when you say anime - these are proprietary - these characters are mine.

*  *  *

That November, when things were starting to look up, I decided to play with the idea of a reboot of the series - the biggest change would be the main character.  I tried to think of another name - other than my own - that the main character could adopt.  After a couple weeks of thinking I finally came up with a possible solution...  Alex "Fox" Harper.

When December came, I didn't plan on making an Anniversary Special - but I did celebrate the day.  Now more poignant that ever given how close I was to having nothing to celebrate.  It was that day when I officially decided to change the name - and several other aspects of the story.  All of which would take effect on JANUARY 1, 2010...

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 9 - Animation Ascendant (2008)

By the time 2008 had rolled around, I knew that I wanted to be animation.  I had decided to return for graduate school at SCAD and after graduation, began working on my portfolio.  The portfolio would be a two part process, a 3D component and a 2D component consisting of storyboards.

For the 3-D aspect of the portfolio, I decided to return to the idea - and indeed many of the same environments, that had served me so well before.  I storyboarded a new Twin Spires Short trailer and began to work out the renders.  It was the rendering and effects that truly made the difference here.  I adjusted the texture on the water EVERY SO SLIGHTLY - got rid of the mistakes in the original, and added some atmosphere, motion blur, and depth of field to the shots.  For the outer space scenes, I also re-worked the background textures.

Also - instead of a trailer for a trailer (as the original short trailer was) This NEW trailer, called the One Last Time Trailer - was a trailer for the film.  If I ever made Twin Spires into a real film - this is what the teaser would look like.

It was rendered in full 1080p for a Blu-Ray release.  The first Allied Forces project made for Blu-Ray.




If you hadn't noticed already - almost all of the trailers I make use music by the composer Martin O'Donnel - from the various Halo games.  While the stories have no similarities - I think the music fits it very well.  I sent in my portfolio on a DVD - using this glowing wireframe theme to unify all of the aspects of the portfolio.  The looping background image was rendered in 1080p, then taken into After Effects to give it this HDR bloom effect. Inspired by the full render to wireframe effect found on the Halo Legendary DVD.



The video game Halo - and my career at SCAD have some odd parallels.  When I got into SCAD, I used music from the first game in my portfolio.  During my first quarter, Halo 2 was relased, and During my LAST quarter, Halo 3.  It seemed only fitting that I use the music again when I went back to grad school.  And now that I near my 45 hour point - and the downhill spiral to my MFA Thesis - the final Halo project by the original creators is being released.

*  *  *

The 2D aspect of my portfolio would consist of some life drawing, and storyboards from two films I worked on in my senior year at SCAD.  I would also create NEW storyboards - based on a short passage from the novel version of Allied Forces R.

They were done in my mainstream style - as I did not want to submit anime in my graduate portfolio.


These are just a few - and in no particular order.

*  *  *

After submitting my portfolio, again, SCAD gave me one of their highest scholarships, again, and I got to go back to SCAD... again.

I was in a Polk County School Board van, driving around Lake Wales with Russ, when I got the call.  It was on a Friday.  And it was one of the happiest times I can remember.

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 8 - Renaissance (2007)

If I could credit one person with teaching my how to draw, it would be Tom Lyle, a sequential artist who I had for Drawing for Sequential Art.  I had taken art classes before, but it was this one that I took the most out of - at least in terms of my field.  Since I had trained in the Japanese style of art, using books, tutorials, media, and other resources and I was fit to be an anime factory worker.  Tom Lyle opened my eyes to another way.  Eager to de-anime my story a bit, I was ready to learn and couldn't wait to do each project.


The entire point of the class is to learn to be able to draw various poses without a model - and to not draw anime.  Lyle was not a fan of anime - much to the dismay of others - but in truth everything he said about it was correct.


My output in drawing was back to pre-SCAD levels.


And now, I had developed skills and was finding a stylistic voice of my own, rather than the cookie cutter and filter of manga.


It was around this time, that my drawings split into two distinct paths.  Mainstream, and Anime.  Whenever I drew something - it was either ONE or the OTHER.  Never both.


*  *  *

For Anniversary Day 2007, I had planned on making a full special like I had done in 2002, and 2003.  But it was not to be.  I still have a lot of the artwork for it - some anime - and some mainstream...


My time at SCAD was coming to an end and I would find myself at another crossroads, re-hasing that same tough decision I had thought I had already made...

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 7 - Slight Revisions (2006)

2006 began with me taking my first animation course at SCAD (ANIM 132 Motion Studies).  Though I did nothing Allied Forces related.  Still unsure of a direction, in Spring 2006 I took Intro to Video and created Yuurei, which was just the second project at scad to ever use the WPA logo.

As for Allied Forces, I believe it was in 2006 that I finally decided to change some of the names in the story to prevent any likeness issues.  The first would be General Andrew "Falcon" Pridgen - whose name was now - General Andrew Falcon.  Another was to change Tigershark's last name from Simpson to Jenson.

I would also officially change the idea that the Allied Forces was a union of two military forces (which was a key plot point in the original game).  Allied Forces was simply the name of the military state that developed out of the Allied Worlds - rather than the combination of Eagle Claw Alliance and Wolf Pack Self Defense Force.  The story written by a 14 year old, being read by a 20 year old, seemed to be anime'd to death.  And 2006 saw the first major downplay of that.

*  *  *

Up to this point at SCAD I had not made a B in any class, and indeed had not made a B on any PROJECT in about three quarters.  My life was consumed with the numerology of grades, and as a result - I was burned out on every break.  That Anniversary Day - I had planned on making a new trailer in 3D, but when the time came - I only made a storyboard.



Not a bad one by the way.  The only significance of this one was that in Winter 2007, only about 2 weeks after this was made, I would be in SEQA 104: Drawing for Sequential Art with Tom Lyle, learning how to truly draw for the first time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 6 - Into the Wasteland... (2005)

As a full-time student searching for a real direction - (did I want to switch to animation!?) or keep up in film?  A decision I would make in 2006, and remake in 2008 - never to look back.

Nothing happened in 2005 in relation to Allied Forces.  I celebrated Jake War / Foundation day on June 29 with a small memorial.  For the first time in 3 years I didn't make a movie on Anniversary Day (Dec 23).  But overall, nothing spectacular would come of 2005.  I made a Twin Spires website for a computer class in November 2005.  Other than that, nothing.  Ironically, in my mind, 2005 carries some of my fondest memories, yet none of them are related to Allied Forces.  It was a hiatus of sorts.  A long twisting road winding in no particular direction.

In October I toyed around with an idea about combining a completely seperate story I had imagined in 2004 into the main Allied Forces Universe.  But ultimately abandoned it.  SCAD and work consumed my time and I wondered seriously, If indeed WPA would exist only in name from then on...

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 5 - End of an Era (2004)

After the marathon production of Twin Spires and the 2003 Anniversary Day Special, I was content to coast my way through 2004, all the way to college.

In march of that year however I started planning for another live-action trailer, simply because I wanted to create something. I boarded the film but never made it - lacking necessary funds and - in reality - the time to do such a venture. I was submitting my portfolio around that time.

One thing I did create was a remake of the earlier Unknown Trailer, based on Allied Forces OCS: The Unknown developed in 2000.  Other than my graduation special (a looping DVD of almost everything I had created) that played at my graduation celebration - this was the LAST piece of animation I developed while still a High School Student.



Around that same time, one afternoon I decided to sit down and write an overview for Allied Forces: Revelation, at the time, the final chapter in the Allied Forces Universe.  However, I kept writing and writing.  Around page 30, I started writing dialogue, and what was going to be an overview became a first draft of a novel.  I would spend the next two months writing, finally finishing on APRIL 18, 2004.  At 77 pages (single space) and almost 38,000 words, it remains to date the longest piece of fiction I have ever written.

By May 2004, I had earned a full scholarship to UCF, which I turned down to pursue my film career at Savannah College of Art and Design - where I had also received the school's highest scholarship for incoming students.  That summer would see several hurricanes in Florida.  During a week long power outtage, I rediscovered Final Fantasy X, began drawing again, and almost went crazy for the first time!

My first quarter at college would begin exactly on September 10, 2004.  The week before I left however, I made one last piece - an animated storyboard for the last scene in Allied Forces Revelation - which I had finished only a few months before.  It would be the last production of Allied Forces related art in over a year. 



On September 10th, 2004.  I arrived at SCAD - coming this close to turning back the night before.  All production abruptly stopped.  It would be some time before the Wolf Pack Alliance logo, would be seen again...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 4 - We Have a Situation (2003)

In 2003 I was a Junior in high school.  The time was at hand to attempt to get into a college.  Having given up on animation (seriously), I decided to focus on film.  I toured the UCF campus and realized that to get in, I would need something amazing.  Some kind of brilliant student film that would surpass almost everyone else's.  I didn't have the fancy equipment, the best actors, or even the best computers, but I did have two things.  A functional copy of 3D Studio Max, and Allied Forces.

JANUARY, 2003

While visiting my grandmother's house for some kind of family gathering, I sat on the porch with a composition notebook.  For the past year I had been doing test animations in a vastly revised Twin Spires testbed environment.  I had a certain knowledge of how to make flyby's and spacecraft look fairly dynamic.  I was also coming to understand chroma-key technology.  For one reason or another, I decided that the time was right to make a combined live action and 3D short film.  My last attempt at a pure live action film in August 2000 having failed miserably.

I began to pen down some storyboards in the notebook, and after about 20 minutes, I had boarded out the scenes that would become the Twin Spires Theatrical trailer.  Two weeks later, I had borrowed a camera from my High School, purchased a blue tarp as a matte, and was ready to start shooting.  The result was crude, but it was far better than anything I had done before.

Not the greatest, but a phenominal improvement over the earlier versions.  Keep in mind, the shot with the actor was filmed outdoors in front of a blue tarpaulin!  I filmed on January 25th, and completed the edits on January 26th, 2003 - Twin Spires Day.

SUMMER 2003

Flash forward into June.  After touring the campus of UCF I knew I needed to make a short film, or at least an edit reel.  I already had a movie - and a GOOD one at that!  I just needed a little more money and a lot more 3D knowledge to realize the vision.

I spent the rest of the summer saving money and studying up on 3DS Max.  In a couple months I learned how to make realistic water, terrain, and some atmospheric effects.  I put my skills together and released a trailer, for my trailer!  The result was the Allied Forces OCS:  Twin Spires Short Trailer.  The tag line was "See them again, for the first time,"  alluding to the fact that the improvements in visual style were so vast that to see the same place again, would look completely new.




I think I succeeded.  The short trailer is still one of my favourite pieces of art.  In October, when I bought my first DVD burner, it was the Short Trailer that became the first movie I ever burned on DVD, and saw on a television!

In November, Over a period of 48 hours, I refilmed every scene from the original theatrical trailer and even a few new ones, and re-made my film.  The total cost of the film (including a cheap MiniDV camera) was around 1000$.  Over time, to date, Twin Spires as a whole has been my most profitable IP I ever developed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 3 - Into the Third Dimension (2002)

After the release and success of Allied Forces I began to work on the prequel, Allied Worlds.  This game would feature a vastly improved communication system which allowed first-person choices in flight, similar to the communication system with player chosen objectives from Wing Commander III and IV.

The communication system was developed and I made it as far as mission five before I began to lose interest in the WAY the story was being told.  The character of Alex "Fox" Harris (now Harper) was always the lead and focus of the written story.  And playing as a witness to the events around this character, at the time, did not thrill me.  You weren't getting the story the way I saw it, simply the way an outside party could see it.  As a result I posted the first little bit of the campaign as a demo in 2002.  The demo made it to the #5 slot on the top 20 campaigns, and was still there when the site (Volitionwatch.com) eventually went down.  The biggest asset was the communication system, which I was the first to develop for Freespace.  Having recently edited my first movie, I began to want to show the story in that way, as a film or as an anime.  As a result, the 2002 release of the Allied Worlds Demo would be my last foray into game design.

Sometime in May 2002, I would finally acquire, through my school, a copy of 3D Studio Max 4.  Knowing that this tool would allow me to create my own proprietary objects for movies was very exciting, and I set to work teaching it to myself immediately.  Reading through the packaged tutorials and learning the art of 3D animation from the ground up.

My first movie, made only about a day after reading my first tutorial, was a throw back to that ancient piece of concept art I had done way back in July 2000.  The Twin Spires!  This was largely due to the fact that the Twin Spires were two, pyramid shapes extending out of the ocean.  Which meant that I could create the basic scene using only Two pyramid primitives and a plane!

This was the movie that I created.  I used the music from Halo 1, which was and still is, one of my favourite soundtracks to anything.  Marty O'Donnel is a genius...







For the rest of the year, my main focus would be on re-creating scenes from this environment, slowly and surely learning more and more about 3D Studio Max, as well as other programs like After Effects.  In addition to developing in my art.  The original Fox had undergone some changes, and was now much more mainstream anime in his appearance.

Other short trailers would come from this period, however most were simple experiments in animation.  All of the work would pay off however, as the crowning achievment of my budding carreer was just around the corner...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 2 - Anniversary Day (2001)

 PART 2-2

The crowning achievement of 2001 however, was not the creation of Allied Forces, or the advancements in my artistic technique, but my first movie.

On December 23, 2001, I edited my first movie, a short music video trailer for Allied Worlds using in-game cutscenes and custom graphics.  Before the movie, everything was done in stills, after, nothing would be the same again....

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 2 - The Masterpiece (2001)

 PART 2-1

When 2001 began, I had released two games, developed my first consistent drawing style, and was pretty much working on random side projects.  The real goal of early 2001 was to develop my drawing skills, which were primitive, at their best.  Much of the art from this period was lost in what came to be known as The Purge.  As a young artist, I was under the impression that I should only keep my good drawings.  As such MANY of the drawings that were failures, or just sketches I threw away when I cleaned out my files one day.  The path that my art took to the final variants, things that would be invaluable to me today, were tossed away casually.  I never throw away anything anymore, as a result.

The Birth of "Allied Forces"

Having spent the better part of a year working in the Freespace 2 Mission Editor (FRED2) and I was fairly proficient at it.  Infinitely better than when I started in April 2000.  I decided to re-work the original two Jake War games into one, long game with the title Allied Forces - Since the two games were really part of the same story arc.  From March to December, I worked on the missions.  Sometimes spending 3 days to a week per individual level.  I finished the last mission on Friday, December 7th, 2001, and sent it to the publisher later that night.



The improvements on the game were NUMEROUS.  For example, in the first Jake War, and parts of the Jake War 2, Mission Objectives were not tracked, or not tracked well.  Now, the game provided an in-game message system telling the pilot what to do, and when it was completed.

Customized messages now told the story and added pilot chatter to the mission.  Before they were simple, and sporadic, now the game had scripted events and episodic plots that would unfold before, during, or after combat in a mission.


Space nebulae were added, as well as a customized planets.

Missions now had a branching aspect to them, with multiple paths to success.

Customized logos were plastered onto every ship to show which squad they were in.  And characters now appeared in-game and flew alongside the player.

And ultimately, the story was told in the absolute best way that it could have been, given the limitations of the game engine.

Allied Forces was as professional as I ever got in the field of game design.  The publisher finally released it on January 1st, 2002.  It remained in the Top 20 User Rated Campaigns until the site went down.  When released in 2002, it was at #15.  When the site finally went down in 2005, Allied Forces was still in the top 20, at #18.

*  *  *

Jake War Day / Allied Forces Day

On June 29th, 2001 I celebrated the first year anniversary of the release of my first game.

*  *  *

Allied Worlds

Allied Worlds was conceptualized and canonized in early 2001.  Allied Worlds was supposed to be a prequel to Allied Forces.  It would eventually become the series starting point.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 1 - The Beginning (2000)

PART 1 - 2
(see part 1-1 here)

After the initial success of the game, I sat back and watched the downloads keep coming.  Though I can't say why the game received so many hits after such a short time, I believe it was due largely to the fact that it was released during a slight stagnant period when many other mods were under development.  Still, the game did fairly well and managed to creep into the top 20 user rated missions, despite a few glitches.

I spent the rest of the summer working on ideas and laying the foundation for the rest of the story.  Originally planned to be a trilogy, ending in a battle between Fox himself, and the leader of the NMA.

In July I drew a picture of a lonely landing rig, floating in a vast ocean with two points sticking above the water.  I called it Twin Spires.  I came up with the concept for The Unknown, OCS, and the story of General Falcon.  All of which served as the basis for what the universe is today. 


* * *


Around August 2000, for the first time in a LONG time, I started to take a real interest in drawing again.  Don't get me wrong, I've always drawn and always been fairly good at it, but I was never good at drawing people.  I was just discovering anime and really wanted to draw in that style.  After a few weeks of slogging through online tutorials and drawing various characters, I began to apply what I had learned to drawing my own characters.



This is Fox, Revision 1.  The first drawing of the character I ever did.  Completed on some saturday evening in September 2000.

Later that month, I developed the character design for Fox's daughter, and planned out the story for Allied Forces V.  Of which about 5 pages of manga were drawn (with John Simpson on board as a background artist).



*  *  *

Around that same time, I began working on the video game sequel to The Jake War.  It fleshed out the universe a bit more, showing a few more planetary systems and explaining how they related to the Allied Forces Universe as a whole.  (including Vega, Arcana, Triverde/Triumvirate, and Tartarus.)  The missions were vastly improved with fewer errors and a bit more complicated objectives.  Though the basic flow was similar.  It was considerably shorter than it's predecessor, only lasting 18 missions.  It was released in October.  Although it was not initially as successful as the original, it did have a steady stream of downloads over the course of its availability - as well as positive reviews.

 By the end of the year.  The Jake War had become a recognizable series within the Freespace Community, as it was the first published user-made campaign to use the engine for an alternate universe story, rather than one based on the Freespace continuity.  Drawings and character designs were drawn almost daily, though not all of them were kept, and the Allied Forces Universe had a strong foundation.

But the best was yet to come...

10 Days of Allied Forces: Part 1 - The Beginning (2000)


The story of the Allied Forces Universe truly begins in the year 1998.  As a young person I had always had many ideas for movies and games and things which I had no way of making into a reality.  They way I worked around my monetary limits was to plan out these ideas, as if I was GOING to have a camera, have a computer, have a means of creating them.  It was out of this morass of development hell that the ancient proto-genesis of Allied Forces was born.

In those days, the Space-Combat Flight Simulator, a genre which is all but gone from mainstream today, was actually a popular platform.  I was introduced to, and immediately addicted to the Wing Commander through a friend, Alf Kinsey.  I played through Wing Commander IV, then III, then Prophecy, and by 1999 I had finished and acquired almost all Wing Commander games in existence, including the rare Kilrathi Saga!  Having nothing left to do, I thought about creating a campaign for Wing Commander.  Using the internet I found other people making Mods and custom games and tried to help as best I could.  I quickly learned that programming was not my strong point, and the project never went anywhere.  Later on I found a graphical mission "compiler" which allowed me to create missions using a very basic system of point, click, create.  They had no breifings, in-game messages, or custom anything, but at least it was something that could be played!

With that in mind I planned out the whole game on a legal pad, and set to creating the missions.  The story involved the titular character Fox, and his son, Foxhound fighting an organization called the J.A.K.E.  I never found a site to host my lackluster attempt, but I had discovered something interesting - a story!  Using the characters Fox and Foxhound, I created spin-off stories for every game I had at the time that had any semblence of customization options.

* * *

Sometime in February or March of 2000, I heard mention of a newer spaceflight simulator called Freespace 2.  I also heard it had a built in Mission Editor that could be used to create dynamic branching missions and campaigns.  By April I had saved up and procured a copy for myself.  And by April 8th, I had made my first mission!



Sometime in late May, the game was complete.  Over the course of 25 Missions, the game told the story of the Allied Fleet's fight agains the Nataas Military Alliance (NMA) in a few remote systems in space.  The character Alex "Fox" Harris hands out missions to the player and occasionally joins them in a few sporadic missions.  The game's story arc can really be divided into five sub-plots.

Missions 1-5
The Allies prepare for an assault on an enemy carrier.

Missions 6-10
The Allies enter the nearby nebula and discover the secret behind the NMA's ships, but are forced to retreat after the enemy ambushes them.

Missions 11-15
The Allies regroup and push the enemy back.  Major Jeanette Romier defects to the Allied Forces and reveals the locations of the remaining three NMA carriers.

Missions 16-20
 The Allies assault the remaining carriers but are ambushed by the NMS Satanic, a large ship of alien design.

Missions 20-25
The Allies assault the NMS Satanic, chipping away at its defenses before it is finally destroyed in Mission 25.

* * *

After searching a bit on the net, I finally found a website where the missions could be hosted.  I uploaded the campaign which I gave the (now embarassingly juvenile) title The Jake War.  The game was posted on June 28th, 2000.  But I did not find out about it until the next day, JUNE 29, 2000

When I finally saw it, the next day, it had received over 300 downloads.  The story had begun!

(continue)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Found Objects: Character Layouts 1

Character Layout Drawings for Found Objects





 Also - check out the edited version here....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Found Objects - Cinematic Concept Illustrations

More digital paintings for the project.

These were done in about 45 mins - 1 hour total.  That's BOTH in 45 mins to an hour.  Granted, the second one is a little rough.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Found Objects - Background Layouts

Background Layouts used in the presentation storyboard.