Shared posts

20 Oct 20:09

Realistic cactus cupcakes

by Xeni Jardin

tumblr_ndl49kB3qb1qlq9poo1_1280

From Alana Jones-Mann, a baker, culinary artist and DIY enthusiast in Brooklyn, cupcakes that look like miniature cacti. They're so cute, they're even planted in crushed graham cracker soil.

Read the rest

18 Oct 19:20

If you don't agree to the new Wii U EULA, Nintendo will kill-switch it

by Cory Doctorow
Markku.lempinen

I have no words to describe this.

When you bought your Wii U, it came with one set of terms-of-service; now they've changed, and if you don't accept the changes, your Wii seizes up and won't work. That's not exactly what we think of when we hear the word "agreement." Read the rest

19 Oct 23:56

The Guardian has arrived

by Josh

Swestar has released a new mech into the wild. It answers to the name “Guardian” and it’s pretty dang cool. But I especially love the atmosphere he has going on in the base/hanger in which he introduces the Mech. The presentation is just about perfect.

Guardian arrives

16 Oct 22:16

FBI chief demands an end to cellphone security

by Cory Doctorow
Markku.lempinen

Because law-abiding citizens have nothing to hide and so on, hm?

If your phone is designed to be secure against thieves, voyeurs, and hackers, it'll also stop spies and cops. So the FBI has demanded that device makers redesign their products so that they -- and anyone who can impersonate them -- can break into them at will. Read the rest

16 Oct 12:08

How Microsoft hacked trademark law to let it secretly seize whole businesses

by Cory Doctorow

The company expanded the "ex parte temporary restraining order" so it could stage one-sided, sealed proceedings to take away rival businesses' domains, sometimes knocking thousands of legit servers offline. Read the rest

16 Oct 12:39

Virality, conversion rates, LTV and why I care

by cliffski

So here are some harsh figures that will make you cancel your ad spending for your indie game.

In the last 8 days my figures show me this…

For every 100 visits to my index page for D3, 48 people will proceed to the register page. Of those, 11 will hit the buy button, of those roughly 1 will buy the game. That earns me about $22.

so the maximum cost per click that makes sense is $0.22, or £0.13, which is practically unachievable.

So how can ads make sense?

The beauty of ads is that the person who comes and buys the click is just one factor in the equation. There are many other factors, and the problem is they are hard to quantify.  Here are the ones I think matter and the rough guesses.

  • The life time value (LTV) of the customer has to include every other game they buy, including DLC. Assume D3’s DLC adds 10% to total income, and assume a 20% chance of buying another positech game eventually  so LTV factor is 0.3.
  • The virality of the customer has to include friends that he persuades to buy the game. This is hard to tell, but lets say it’s pitched at roughly 20%. So one in five people will eventually lead to another sale, either directly or indirectly through a forum post or tweet about the game, so this includes people they have never met. So this is 0.2
  • The untracked sale. This includes people who visit the buy page at work/school, then buy at home, or view it on mobile but buy on desktop. I suspect that is around 10% so another 0.1.
  • The delayed / wishlist/ bargain hunter. I crunched the numbers once for Democracy 2 and found roughly 33% of revenue was from sales, so thats 33% of income not being tracked here, or earned here, but stored for later, so lets say 0.33.
  •  The impression that wasn’t a sale. This is a big thing. Some people used to say you needed to see an ad 5 times before it worked. Other research claims even 1 impression has an impact, and >5 can still help. Because click-through rates are pretty low, we are totally disregarding the impact on brand awareness. Essentially you visually prime a customer with your logo to ensure subconscious recollection when viewing a review, portal listing or whatever else. Personally I think this is a big factor, lets say at least 25% to be cautious.

So if we add that up, we get 0.3 + 0.2 + 0.1 + 0.33 + 0.25 = 1.18, so an extra 118% of income generated by that sale. In other words our 0.22 is really 0.48. That *is achievable, although still not easy. What should be immediately obvious is that we have a LOT of fuzzy numbers and guesses in here that really cannot be tracked. Putting hard numbers to some of them would help a lot.

Looking at it the other way, we have to take into account the fact that a big chunk of site visitors are not ad related but coming from reviews, portal links, tweets etc. Ideally I need to deduct that traffic to get a better picture (which would make my figures much worse).

So for now, lets assumed that we break even at $0.48 per click, what are the possibilities for making an ad-based strategy work?

  • Target traffic more cleverly so the people who arrive are more suited to purchasing. That would push up that 48% who go to the register page.
  • Increase the lifetime value of the customer. More games. Cross-promotion. Maybe more DLC, or sequels, there are various strategies here, but I’m already doing most of them
  • Reduce leakage points. Find out why people don’t hit the buy button, or then hit the actual order form buy button. A/B testing to improve both stages.
  • An ad that more clearly prevents non-buyers from clicking, and thus targets better. I don’t want people who expect a free game, or a mobile game. Luckily adwords lets you analyze each ads performance. I should do this…

Fun fun fun…

 

 

 

13 Oct 12:26

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind

by but does it float
The Bus by Paul Kirchner Title: J.G. Ballard Atley
12 Oct 00:00

10.12.2014

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic.
11 Oct 16:14

Forum Post: RE: 1:48 Sally B B17G

by Richard Spreckley
Markku.lempinen

The evergreened interior is going to be insane, when it's all done (as it's pretty insane already) :o

More detail today, I wanted to show the little known or portrayed life raft stowage compartment, so I have cut out the access door and scratch built the interior, I will add the liferaft at some point.

09 Oct 17:50

Jakub Rozalski's dystopian sci-fi countryside paintings

by David Pescovitz
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The future bullies its way into the traditional European countryside in German artist Jakub Rozalski's dystopian paintings. (more…)

10 Oct 02:42

The fiery world of Mustafar sculpted from 60,000 Lego bricks

by Nannan

Michał Kaźmierczak has built several large dioramas, and they all keep getting bigger and better. His epic rendition of the volcanic world of Mustafar from Star Wars captures the fiery landscape and the realistic texture of the lava. The diorama rests on a footprint of 35 large gray baseplates. Here is a photo with the builder for perspective.

mustafar08

The microscale imperial shuttle in this photo really shows off the scale of this massive display.

mustafar02

09 Oct 09:42

Finland Wants to Kill Crowdsourced Copyright Law

by Andy

In 2012, Finland introduced a modification to its national constitution which allowed the public to provide input into the kind of laws being put in place.

The changes, which allow citizens to put forward legislative proposals for Parliament to vote on, came at a time when restrictive copyright was already under the spotlight.

As a result the citizen-drafted ‘Common Sense for Copyright’ initiative quickly gathered momentum. It was hoped that the proposals would influence updates to copyright law being prepared by Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture.

The draft, the brainchild of the Open Ministry nonprofit, calls for reduced penalties for copyright infringement and current penalties to be applied only in cases of a commercial scale. Fair Use provisions would also be expanded, alongside exemptions for those wishing to backup purchased media and time-shift commercial content.

In July 2013 the initiative made history after reaching the required 50,000 signatures. It was submitted to Parliament in November 2013 but now the future of the proposal is in serious doubt.

Much to the disappointment of its backers, the Finnish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee is recommending that Common Sense For Copyright should be rejected.

European Digital Rights (EDRi), a group which defends civil rights in the information society, reports that the Committee concluded its handling of the initiative yesterday as expected.

“In its report, the Committee notes that the initiative suggests several ambitious amendments, but that it considers it impossible to propose, based on the initiative, even partial changes to the existing copyright law,” EDRi notes.

“The report states that the initiative includes internal contradictions and that many of the amendments it suggests are too significantly incompatible with the current legislation.”

As late as last week, Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi), the Finnish Pirate Party and the Open Ministry submitted complaints to the Chancellor of Justice over the way the Education and Culture Committee has been handling changes to copyright law.

The complaints allege that drafting has been carried out in secret, contrary to the Committee’s obligations under the Finnish Freedom of Information Act. Furthermore, the criteria to be applied in web-blocking cases had not been made available.

Parliament is expected to vote on the citizens’ initiative next week but after the Education and Culture Committee’s recommendations the odds are stacked against it.

Any rejection of the key points will come as a big disappointment to the 50,000+ citizens who supported the initiative. Many had signed following widespread outrage provoked by a police raid on the home of a then 9-year-old girl whose Winnie the Pooh laptop was confiscated after an allegation of file-sharing. The case was later settled for 300 euros.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

08 Oct 20:31

Forum Post: RE: Star Wars AT-AT Imperial Walker 1/48 Scratchbuilt

by Movie Kits
Markku.lempinen

Wonderful work!

Here you have an advance of the first paint layers on the head (using the salt technique) and the work with the 7 led circuits covered with a see-through posterboard. More detailed info in our site :) moviekits.net/star-wars-at-at-148-scratchbuilt-2

03 Oct 09:00

Working on a shared code base

by sharhalakis

by Etan

03 Oct 21:22

I'm sure this is what parenting will be like. I'm sure of it.

05 Oct 23:30

CRT-themed Super Win the Game recalls the good old days

by Thomas Schulenberg
Markku.lempinen

SWtG is awesome 8)

Modern, retro-tinted platformers have got the whole "classic graphical style" thing down at this point, but emulating the warm glow of CRT TVs is a rarer feat. Minor Key Games has coated Super Win the Game in the softer presentation, pairing with...
02 Oct 21:54

Holy ravioli!

by Iain

Tumbler schmumbler, if you’re an old fart like me then there can be only one true batmobile, and that’s the one from the super-camp 60’s TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward! As many of you know, this year marks the 75th anniversary of Batman, and than means we’ve seen a lot of new LEGO sets and fan builds celebrating the Batman franchise. Including one rather disappointing attempting by the LEGO company to create an exclusive “chibi” batmobile for ComicCon. So many thanks to Orion Pax for rectifying the situation with this super-accurate version!

And you can check out the full gallery of images over on Mr P’s website here.

02 Oct 09:22

Show Me The Games updated, needs games!

by cliffski

So, my little side project (not so little any more…) showmethegames has been converted to wordpress. You probably can’t tell, it looks exactly the same, but what this means is…

  • submitting a new game (still done by me) is much easier
  • Submitting an article (done by dan) is TONS easier
  • It has comments!
  • It has endless-scrolling!

All of these are GOOD THINGS. For those new to this blog, SMTG is my indie-promoting site that acts as a database of cool, high quality indie games you can buy direct from the developer. You can get almost all of them from Steam or GoG too, but we like competition, so we support multiple payment options for gamers.

What I need is… MORE GAMES. The requirements are pretty simple:

  • Game must be high quality. Something that actually sells. If it’s not going to sell 100 copies, it’s probably just your first game, and thats *fine*, but not what the site is aimed at.
  • Game must be available from you, thew developer, through any payment system (Humble widget, BMTMicro, PayPal, fast-spring) in some format, not a portal-exclusive.
  • It must be finished and on sale, not a kickstarter, early access game. And currently not a F2P game, sorry :D
  • PC only.

If your game fits all those criteria and it isn’t already on there, email cliff AT positech dot co dot uk with this…

  • Game Title
  • Game Description (about 100 words)
  • Game Genre
  • 445pixel width screenshot of the game in jpg format, the best one you have to summarize how the game plays
  • A single ‘feature image’ of dimensions 740px by 356 in jpg format
  • A website URL
  • A demo URL, if available.
  • A purchase URL
  • A contact email (not published)

And I’ll add it. What’s in it for me? NOTHING. I just like supporting indie games. What does it cost you? NOTHING. How much traffic will it generate? err…some, but it will be veyr targeted and high quality.

If you are looking for something else to read now, go read dans summary of adventure games on the site.

01 Oct 17:30

US top cop decries encryption, demands backdoors

by David Kravets
Markku.lempinen

"Think of the children" and "NINE ELEVEN NEVER FORGET!" are my two favourite excuses for all the stupidities on Terra. Or not.

US Attorney General Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder, the US top law enforcement official, said it is "worrisome" that tech companies are providing default encryption on consumer electronics. Locking the authorities out of being able to physically access the contents of devices puts children at risk, he said.

"It is fully possible to permit law enforcement to do its job while still adequately protecting personal privacy,” Holder said during a Tuesday speech before the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online conference. “When a child is in danger, law enforcement needs to be able to take every legally available step to quickly find and protect the child and to stop those that abuse children. It is worrisome to see companies thwarting our ability to do so."

Holder's remarks, while he did not mention any particular company by name, come two weeks after Apple announced its new iPhone 6 models would be equipped with data encryption that prevents authorities from accessing the contents of the phone. At the same time, Google said its upcoming Android operating system will also have default encryption.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

22 Sep 15:37

Announcing Big Pharma – The pharmaceutical strategy game

by cliffski

Regular blog readers might know that I published a game by a third party indie developer called The Tiniest Shark which produced Redshirt, the sci-fi comedy social-networking life sim game, which you can buy HERE. I enjoyed taking on the role of indie publisher, for all kinds of reasons I’ve talked about before. And lo, so it came to be that I was pitched another indie game that I’d love to see made, and it’s called Big Pharma

logo_300width

Big Pharma is being developed by another UK studio called Twice Circled, and designed and coded by Tim Wicksteed, whose blog you will find here. We also have a bare-bones facebook page for now for the game here and an actual website for it (with some very early images) here. In terms of genre, it’s a strategy game based on running a large pharmaceutical company, that is part biz-sim, part isometric factory/lab building sim, and it looks like this…

bp1

bp2

I LOVE the design and idea behind big pharma. I want to play it right now. It scratches that itch you get from games like Anno 2070 about laying out production lines, without having to use uplay or wait 40 minutes for the game to load. It’s also a proper biz/management game, which is obviously right up my street. It *is* quite early to be announcing this game, by positech standards. We normally wait much later, but the reason to announce now is that YOU CAN PLAY IT if you come down to the Eurogamer expo in London this coming weekend. Big Pharma will be there, alongside Gratuitous Space Battles 2.

So journalists…come…be our friends. We will shake your hands and talk enthusiastically about both games. You can have a go, and ask us questions. Big Pharma is NEW, nobody has played it yet, or heard about. Come and be the first to tweet/blog/write novels about your impressions of it. We dare you! And obviously come play Gratuitous Space Battles 2 as well. It is a sequel, but it has spaceships exploding, so swings and roundabouts…Plus we will have badges. Actual proper badges.

Me and Tim will be at the show all four days, so no need to book a time or anything. We will be in the indie area near prison architect. Oh, and if you like the look of Big Pharma, pls like it on facebook so we don’t feel lonely there…

18 Sep 13:51

Introducing The Heat Signature Team

by Pentadact

Last month I made a new video of my ugly prototype for Heat Signature and put out an open call for artists and composers who might wanna work on it. When I did the same thing for my first game Gunpoint, around 30 artists and 40 composers applied. For Heat Signature, 81 artists and 232 composers applied. This was extraordinary and flattering, then daunting, then impossible, then exciting once I finally had my decision, then absolutely horrible when I had to tell everyone I hadn’t picked. You don’t really know how many ‘313 people’ is until you have to say no to 310 of them.

My deep, deep thanks to the amazingly talented people who applied, it meant a huge amount to me that people of your calibre were interested in my thing.

Here’s who I picked:

Alex Burnett, composer

I said if composers wanted to make a sample piece for Heat Signature, they could have a go at both the peaceful music that will play as you fly around space, and the tense music that will play once you’re inside an enemy ship. Alex did a fantastic job of both, but his peaceful track in particular is just divine. Testing it in-game, as some of the first art started to make space look beautiful, it just perfectly matched the feeling of awe and serenity I wanted that experience to have.

Ivan Semidolin, composer

Ivan didn’t try to match the sample tracks I posted, which I mentioned was an option. His full-length track captures a mood I didn’t know I wanted. It uses industrial sounds that evoke the workings of this large machine you’re aboard, and has this unusual rolling, clicking beat I can’t get enough of. In-game, lots of great ‘tension’ samples made me feel like I was in a dangerous place – Ivan’s made me feel like a dangerous person.

John Roberts, artist

Exterior

Several artists’ samples made me say “Wow” out loud, but I think John’s was the first that made me say “Holy shit!” Did we make the game already? I appear to be looking at several screenshots of a rich, meticulously detailed, satisfyingly chunky, gorgeous and completely finished Heat Signature. How does this already exist?

Interior

Apart from the crispness and vividness of the thing, what I especially love is the sense of solidity in the interior shot: I feel like I know how heavy these walls are, what the worn floor would feel like to touch. And it’s full of clever game-savvy touches: all the interactive things are picked out in white, and boundaries between solid and empty space are stressed by hazard lines painted on the floor.

Silhouette

Sharp observers might recognise John’s name: he was also responsible for the best art sample I got for Gunpoint, and therefore became Gunpoint’s main artist. Heat Signature’s style is radically different, but apparently he’s just incredible at everything. Several other people I’ve worked with before also applied for these positions, and I didn’t give them any particular advantage for that. But I also didn’t exclude them: the point of the open submission process isn’t to avoid previous collaborators, it’s just to make sure that if I do work with them, it’s because they’re the absolute best fit for this particular game.

It was tough getting there, but I think that’s what we’ve got, and it’s really exciting to see it take shape. Obviously it’s early days, but if you come and play it at Fantastic Arcade in Austin this week (free), or EGX in London next week, you’ll be able to see how some of this stuff is already working in-game.

When’s it out? Dunno! But if you’re on the mailing list I’ll tell you once it is.

Can I test? At some point! Again, I’ll tell the mailing list when there’s a way to do that. I only use it for major stuff like that.

28 Sep 18:02

Let’s carve some meat!

by Iain
Markku.lempinen

Doom is awesome 8)

Well as long as we’re having a slow news day, I’ll use the opportunity to share the latest bit of rubbish that I threw together… Before Halo, before Unreal, before Quake, before them all, there was DOOM – the first person shooter that started it all. DOOM is now more than 20 years old, and still going strong! This is my homage to game:


 

Click here for tons of close-up shots. Or if you’re in the Seattle area next weekend, come see it on display – alongside a million other incredible fan-built LEGO creations – at BrickCon. But if you can’t make BrickCon, don’t worry, I created a little “fly-through” video for you:

15 Sep 18:51

Lego ‘SA-19 Grison’ Tunguska 9K22/2S6

by Nannan

Andy Baumgart (D-Town Cracka) is a master of military models, and this realistic 9K22 Tunguska Tracked Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft system is just proof of that. This new model is a redesign of an earlier version, and it’s interesting to note the differences between the two.

'SA-19 Grison' Tunguska 9K22/2S6

14 Sep 02:34

Kodos and Kang

by Simon

Jack McKeen (madLEGOman) has built possibly my two favorite Simpsons character (after Ralph), and with Halloween just weeks away, I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Kodos and Kang:

KodosAndKang02

12 Sep 06:12

Buni

by Ryan Pagelow
Markku.lempinen

Buahaha!

10 Sep 13:00

Bloomberg: Mojang's Notch 'unlikely' to stay on after MS buyout

by Sinan Kubba
Markku.lempinen

In my opinion, no sane and moral person would work for MSFT. But I may be somewhat biased.

If Microsoft's reported attempt to buy Mojang is successful, a Bloomberg source says founder and owner Markus "Notch" Persson is "unlikely" to stay on at the Swedish studio afterwards. According to the source, which Bloomberg notes as a person...
10 Sep 17:08

Guilty Sales Guy

by CommitStrip

09 Sep 19:24

Calvin and Hobbes

09 Sep 22:21

Tiger XL

by Sariel
Markku.lempinen

That's one beautiful MOC Tiger

Model of the famous WW2 tank. Features drive, steering, suspension, rotating turret, elevated main gun, panned and tilted front machine gun, V12 piston engine, openable hull, radiators with rotating fans, custom stickers and Lifelites LED kit.

Datasheet:

Completion date: 07/09/2014
Power: electric (PF 8878 battery)
Dimensions: length 44 studs (plus the barrel) / width 26 studs / height 22 studs
Weight: 2.238 kg
Suspension: oscillating bogies
Propulsion: 2 x PF L motor geared 2:78:1
Motors: 2 x PF L motor, 4 x PF M motor, 1 x 71427 motor, 2 x Micromotor

It’s been a few years since I’ve built my little Tiger tank model, just to check how many functions I can squeeze into a minifig-scale tank, and I never expected to build a Tiger again. Being an immensely popular tank, it has been built time and time again at every possible scale and style. About a year ago it occurred to me that I can’t recall having ever seen a LEGO Tiger with properly re-created road wheels, so I sat down and made a basic chassis utilizing 6×6 dishes. This started a long and tedious creation process: the chassis was initially equipped with NXT motors and NXT unit, because I felt like controlling the tank with my Xbox controller. Then I left it standing for months, and then I converted it to Power Functions system, because I felt like filming the tank outdoors – and that would be tricky with NXT control.

An important moment was when load tests proved that two PF L motors are perfectly capable of driving the model, in place of the usual XL motors. This was actually a drastic change: with the L motors being narrower by nearly a half, I suddenly had enough space to connect the motors, the transmission and the 8878 battery into a single compact unit that left most of the hull unoccupied. So much for “what are the L motors good for, anyway?”

A few months followed and sometime around June I’ve seen some more Lego Tigers and felt determined to give this tank my best. Starting in early July, I set out to create a model that was supposed to look as accurate as possible and to utilize the extra available space in a creative way.

All told, the model took 3 months of work, over 30 Bricklink orders and one fried Micromotor (NEVER use your Micromotor without the gray pulley attachment). The ammo box alone took 4 orders, including one that had to be re-sent because the seller got the colors wrong, and one of the other orders got lost, which has never happened with Bricklink to me before. The road wheels took about 10 orders, because there was only one 6×6 dish in this particular color in one rare, expensive set from 2003. At one point I was considering using light gray dishes on one model’s side just to save some money, but decided against it – the result is, at the moment of writing this article there is maybe a dozen of the dark grey dishes left in entire European part of the Bricklink, and you would have to buy them one by one.

The original Tiger became an iconic tank, and perhaps the most recognizable tank in history, which should mean that everything about it is known, and everything about it was built. But it is not so. Upon closer inspection, one can discover that the seemingly simple tank is actually full of traps for an inattentive builder. For example the thin towing cable was only present on left side, not on both sides, the upper glacis plate is not vertical but slightly inclined, the side skirts are mounted lower in the back and higher in the front, the turret had a slot below its front part, and the spare tread links were only mounted on turret in five-on-left/two-on-right set-up. Then there’s the fact that the Tiger has changed a lot between early and late production version, with some elements moved (e.g. on turret’s top) and some gone altogether (e.g. air filters in the back), not to mention the Zimmerite covering the late Tigers’ armor.

A well-known and popular tank, the Tiger’s history is actually a complicated one, and filled with contradictions. It was monstrously effective in right (or rather wrong) hands, yet it was rushed into service in a way that wasted much of its combat potential. Designed as a heavy offensive breakthrough tank, it was mostly used as a mobile defensive artillery unit. Highly complex and requiring a great deal of resources to manufacture, yet initially lost mainly to mechanical failures rather than enemy fire. Heavily praised by Nazi propaganda and feared by Allies, yet – at this point of war – overengineered and incredibly resources-costly (average fuel consumption was 430 liters per 100 kilometers, with sometimes twice as much in rough terrain – all of it right when fuel was in short supply in Germany). Designed according to an already outdated concept, as a king of 1:1 skirmishes, with strong armor and a gun far superior to any non-German gun, yet losing battles to packs of Soviet medium tanks or lurking tank destroyers. First tank in the history to have automatic fire suppression system or anti-personnel mine launchers on the hull, yet fitted with box-like armor that would have been dramatically more efficient if set at angle. Initially equipped with state-of-the-art snorkeling system, yet facing difficulties mostly from snow and mud of the Soviet front.

It was a tank that triggered rushed response in Soviet army, with new guns and then new tanks being introduced, eventually leading to the development of the IS heavy tanks. And the same tank was being hunted by specialized elite “beast-hunters” units of the same Soviet army just two years later. It was also a tank that triggered no real response with Allies, who have rightly assumed that constantly bombed German industry won’t be able to deliver a significant number of Tigers. All in all, a tank with many aspects and no simple summary.

Even if its introduction to the battlefield was unfortunate, the Tiger proved its worth, especially when handled by a skilled commander. The Tigers’ death-to-kill ratio at the Soviet front averaged at 1:10, and in some areas was many times higher. It is estimated that top “tank ace” among Tiger commanders destroyed no less than 168 tanks, and a number of other commanders were credited with over 100 kills each. Among them was Michael Wittmann, know as the Black Baron, who among his several Tigers used one with 222 number – the one whose markings I’ve copied in my model. The 503rd heavy tanks battalion, whose part 222 was, terrorized Soviet front destroying 501 tanks, over 400 cannons and 8 planes (!) while losing only 10 Tigers.

At the same time, it was tank whose design simply did not meet the reality of modern tank combat, extremely costly to make and devouring enormous amounts of resources from the already crumbling Nazi war machine. It is difficult to determine where its legendary status comes from – is it the technical sophistication, the initial fear it caused, the echoes of Nazi propaganda, or maybe simply the distinctive silhouette that made it stand out among many similar-looking German tanks? The truth is, for all its status it had little impact on the war, especially next to the tanks such as Sherman or T-34.

My model was based on early production version, with spare tracks on turret taken from later versions. It was built at almost exactly 1:18 scale, and it was imperfect and not fully acceptable by LEGO purists. Long story short, I would say it had 110% of the functionality and 90% of the aesthetics I was hoping for. As for LEGO purism – it used Lifelites LEDs because LEGO LEDs did not fit inside pieces I wanted to use as headlamps, it had custom twisted strings used as towing cables, and it utilized some unusual LEGO pieces that were probably produced to test molds and were not included in any LEGO sets – for example dark grey half-pins and unpainted round minifig shields. Tired with failures to get results with combinations of LEGO pieces, I have re-created the towing catches with a single LEGO piece: the extreme link from a LEGO chain. That means that I cut off rest of the chain, but the extreme links were technically unmodified.

From the very start my goal was maximum accuracy, and to that end I’ve measured not only distances in the model, but angles too. Early in the building process I have dropped the idea of installing a firing mechanism in the turret, and focused on re-creating its shape faithfully instead. The functions followed a “what’s the craziest thing I can do with so much space inside?” routine ;)

As for aesthetics, there was a number of solutions I was happy with, such as the front machine gun’s micro ball mount (below), but there was a number of shortcomings as well. Some of these resulted from the lack of some LEGO pieces available (e.g. gaps between plates that form turret’s front, which would require a wedge plate with 1×6 slant), some resulted from the lack of LEGO pieces in specific colors (e.g. the muzzle brake would look much more accurate built around a trans-clear 1×1 brick with studs rather than around a black one), and others resulted from my running out of ideas (e.g. the lack of a crossbar holding the spare track on the lower front glacis plate).

I’ve spent some time trying to use stickers to mimic rubber bands on the road wheels, but the curvature of dishes made it extremely difficult, and I didn’t want to resort to painting. And rightly so, because it turned out that shortages in materials forced using full-metal road wheels in later Tigers. Plenty of time was devoted to trying out various strings, because the towing cables on top and side of Tiger’s hull have specific plait, color and thickness, while string manufacturers lack consistency in declaring colors and thicknesses. The thickness was especially crucial to making the string stay on the model at all. The final towing cables made me happy – they looked good, added some extra colors, and were functional: meaning it was possible to take them off, tow something and put them back on. For a time the model was fitted with black tracks to add some color diversity, but close inspection of the few color photos of the WW2 era revealed that the original tracks were anything but black. And I have very quickly decided to put a LEGO Duplo shovel on the hull’s front, because shovels made with small LEGO pieces didn’t look good enough to me. In the end, I tried to pick interesting details, while intentionally omitting others: for example, I have ignored a manual fire extinguisher on the right radiator and the aforementioned mine launchers because they made the hull’s top look cluttered.

As for functionality, the road wheels idea that got the whole model started made suspension system not only possible, but in fact necessary – and that’s because of the complex way of getting just the right spacing between adjacent wheels. It is a little known fact that there are not two but three rows of the road wheels in each track of the real Tiger – which is fortunate, as I have replaced one of them with the suspension. Since torsion bars suspension did not allow me to place the road wheels close enough to one another, I have used oscillating bogies which proved to work quite well.

The road wheels, other than being extremely difficult to come by, were also concave, difficult to mount and not exactly fitting the track. In the end, the outer wheels are a bit lower than the inner ones, with the suspension bogies tilted slightly forward, but the entire set-up worked better than expected and performed flawlessly during any  maneuvers, even when driving on soft towel.

With the propulsion and suspension working just right, I have proceeded to utilize the remaining space creatively. I have installed a V12 piston engine in the back of the hull – as the propulsion was in front, just like in the original Tiger. Eight of the engine’s pistons showed when hull was opened, while the remaining four could be seen deeper, reaching deep under the turret. I have installed two Lifelites LEDs behind the engine hoping to make these four pistons more visible, but apparently it didn’t help much. The V12 was driven by a 71427 motor, which was short and ran quietly, and beneath it was a PF M motor used to open up the back/top portion of the hull to display the piston engine. Since the hull’s rear part was a fragile combination of plates and hinges, it was necessary to match the movement range of two small linear actuators opening it perfectly, so that clutches in the actuators stopped them from tearing the hull apart.

There was some space available on the inner “shelves” above the tracks, so it occurred to me that I could include radiators in my model. There are two radiators at the back of the real Tiger, each with two fans set at angle – I have re-created them carefully, with one fan in each radiator rotating permanently, and the other rotating occasionally, when the friction between fans was sufficient. The “fans” were actually Technic discs with fan-like stickers on them, coming from the old and rare 8269 set. Being rare pieces, they were difficult to buy, so I managed to buy the 8269’s sticker sheet instead and placed the stickers on plain discs. Both radiators were driven by PF M motor located above the left track – it was not possible to drive them and the V12 by a single motor without removing either the turret’s turntable or part of the V12.

Speaking of the turntable, it was rotated by another PF M motor, this time sitting above the right track. The mechanism was geared down to match the famously slow speed of Tiger’s turret rotation – something that probably saved life of many Allied soldiers. There was just a single wire going through the turntable, connected to yet another PF M motor inside it. This particular motor powered a small linear actuator controlling main gun’s angle. Even though the turret seemed large, I had a hard time fitting the motor and the actuator inside it, because most of the space was taken by a structure required to model the turret’s outer shape.

The last mechanism was the motorized panning and tilting of the machine gun in the upper glacis plate, which was controlled by two Micromotors. Both motors were synchronized with the turret, they moved the gun using towball connections, and their very low torque acted as a natural movement limiter. Unfrotunately, this low torque also meant that the motor controlling elevation of the machine gun was getting stuck a lot – it worked fine with the gun aimed straight ahead, but not so well with the gun aimed to the side.

All in all, I was happy with the model – it was good enough to make me proud, but not good enough to make me stop trying to do better. It has also convinced me that even with over a dozen tank models already built, I can still come up with something new and innovative. On the downside, I really didn’t like having two motors running all the time, especially the noisy M motor driving the radiators. It made playing with the model bothersome, it made me want to turn it off as soon as possible, and it drained the lone battery pretty quickly – which was ironically similar to the real Tiger’s fuel consumption.

Work in progress photos:

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Photos:

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Video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Media coverage:

8 Studs (Polish)The Lego Car Blog

09 Sep 18:00

Gunpoint Is In The New Humble Indie Bundle!

by Pentadact

I’m drunk to announce that Gunpoint is in the Humble Indie Bundle 12! Best of all, you get it no matter what you pay. No! Best of all is what else you get if your generosity stretches to the princely sum of ten dollars:

  • Gunpoint, I just said that
  • Gone fucking Home
  • Papers fucking Please
  • Prison fucking Architect!
  • Luftrausers!
  • Hammerwatch!
  • SteamWorld Dig!
  • What!

What is not a game, this is just an alarming selection of stuff. And for the first time ever, there’s also a $65 special edition that comes with a load of physical goods like:

  • A T-shirt featuring all these games!
  • A vinyl record with a song from each of these games – in Gunpoint’s case, The Five-Floor Goodbye.
  • A floppy disk! I don’t know what’s on that!
  • A manual! I don’t know what it says!
  • Some badges, or pins if you’re American!
  • It comes in an actual box!

This has been in the works for a loooooooong time, and it’s only thanks to the hard work of the guys at Abstraction that we have Mac and Linux versions of Gunpoint to make us eligible to be in one. I’m particularly delighted to be in this one, with such extraordinary company (two BAFTA winners!), because the biggest upside for me is the sheer number of people who’ll hopefully get to try our game. And when Gunpoint is nowhere near the headliner, lots of those will be people who might never have tried it otherwise.