Saturday, September 27, 2008

Moving Pictures

Never judge a book by its movie
- J. W. Eagan

After the very basic video I posted last week, I thought I'd try my hand at something a little more creative. So, this week I've mis-spent my time by exploring the world of video editing software. That mostly consisted of me bumbled around blindly trying different settings until I worked out how the damned software hung together.

The video didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted it and a there were a lot of takes that ended up on the virtual cutting room floor, but overall I'm happy with the result.

Making movies took more time than I was expecting and I didn't have a lot of time left over for the 3D work this week. However, I did make some improvements to the model's visual effect by adding a weapon trail that momentarily flares up like a trail of sparks and flame and I've also included a low intensity flickering light. The light is most noticeable in the close-ups where it appears as though the flames are reflecting on the face of the PC.

I've also added a flaming club model in a similar style to the quarterstaff.

You can view the video by downloading the wmv file from the link directly below, or you can view the (much smaller) embedded video.

Download the large format video - BTH Flaming Weapons Demo 2

The limited time I had available for modelling this week was spent starting a new sword model. So far I have the blade mesh and the basic textures completed. I'll be working on the cross-guard and grip this week and adding some runes to the blade texture.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Playing with fire

My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - It gives a lovely light - Edna St. Vincent Millay

I've been fiddling with a new quarterstaff model today. And just like Millay's candle, it burns at both ends.

This quarterstaff has a burning heart that smoulders menacingly just under the surface. Red hot coals glow from the cracked ends of the staff while small flames gently lick the charred surface.

I love the concept of this model and I think I shall apply it to some other weapons. It would look great as a club or any other wood based weapon. I'll try to match a metallic texture to apply to blades. I'm thinking a dirty big axe or hammer.

I made the visual effect for this quarterstaff from the torch flame effect. I slowed it down considerably so it has a more gentle flame; one that suggests a slow smouldering core. It looks more ominous, or perhaps just quietly dangerous, with the gentle flames breaking through. You can get an idea of what it looks like from the video.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Simple things

The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on. - Ulysses S. Grant

One of my favourite weapon models from NWN was the quarterstaff made from a tree branch. I loved the simplicity of the idea. So with that unpretentious design in mind I set about making some new quarterstaff models for NWN2.

There is something that strikes a chord with me when my characters use a quarterstaff. Perhaps it's the simple brutality of beating the crap out of a monster with nothing more than a lump of wood.

NWN2 quarterstaff models are made as a single piece, as opposed to the sword
models that have three interchangeable parts (being the blade, cross-guard & grip). Unfortunately the single piece quarterstaff doesn't have the mix 'n match options of the multi-part weapons like the swords.

And speaking of swords, I have scaled the sword model 74 down to dagger size to complete the series for this model.

I was wandering around the net last night and I stumbled into Dirtywick's NWN2 Blog with screen shots that feature some of my recent watchtower models. The screen shots look fantastic. From what I can see he has really captured a siege environment nicely. It's a bleak and desperate place to be fighting a battle and it's pleasing to see my work incorporated into such a great setting. Dirtywick: Ingdals Arm Siege

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The pen is mightier than the sword

The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with. - Marty Feldman

My work on the new sword model continues. I've made some changes to the normal map of the hilt, added a small celtic trinity to the cross guard and adjusted the specularity of the blade. I have also re-scaled the original great sword model into bastard sword, longsword and short sword dimensions.

With the new specularity settings the edge of the blade now catches more of the reflected light and gives the sword a little more life.

I think I'm just about done with this model. The shot on the left shows the short sword version of this series of models.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Burning down the gates

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable - William Shakespeare

For the most part I like to make custom content that will be useful to the wider NWN2 community. Sometimes I do things just for fun, like the severed heads. Sometimes I make stuff that people ask for, like the Rune Placeables. My Module Testing Toolkit is targeted at a niche audience and I don't expect that will be hugely popular. But overall I like to know that I'm spending my time on building custom content that is appreciated.

The best way for me to gauge popular opinion on a particular project is to look at the downloads and votes that my NWVault submissions collect. So it's been two weeks since I re
leased the update on the BTH Watchtowers and the update has only attracted one extra vote and twenty downloads. I begin to wonder if I'm wasting my time making models that only a handful of people are going to use.

I've decided to drop the rural gate model and make the final watchtower update with the the new Archer's Platform and the walkmesh helpers. I still have to package the new models and write a how-to for the walkmesh helpers. It all takes time to do it properly and looking at the response to the previous watchtower update I don't think the additional effort involved in making a gate model is worthwhile. The new models are "more of the same" and it doesn't seem to be what builders want.

I had been thinking about re-vamping my house pack, but again, the interest in those models has been minimal. I have another 5 or 6 models that I had done previously for the Aussie NWN boys, all I need to do is package them up and submit them. But the interest from the community doesn't seem to be there.

In the meantime I've been playing with the texture for the new great sword. I have added a subtle pattern to the lower part of the blade. The pattern is a combination of diffuse texture and bump map. It doesn't jump out at you, but that was the look I was trying to achieve.

I also gave the blade a very sublte taper. It's barely noticeable, but somehow it improves the overall look of the weapon.