Shared posts

02 Sep 04:38

Forum Post: RE: 1/72 Type IXC U-Boat Build Log

by Señormodeler
Markku.lempinen

Amazing

Time for an update.


Lately I've just been adding layer upon layer of weathering to the hull with Gamblin artist oils. I don't know where the finish line is but I feel like i'm getting close. I've been doing some sponge chipping as well.  Here are a few pics:





As I'm looking at these photos, I'm realizing that you can't really see all the detail I'm putting into it. They kind of look the same as the last group of photos i posted. Oh well.
01 Sep 17:21

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 : First battle video!

by cliffski
Markku.lempinen

It looks fantastic :o

Well I’ve been working on this beast long enough, so it’s time to share my efforts with you wonderful people of the internet. I have a whole bunch of stuff I’ll eventually talk about and show to you, but I thought I’d start off the Gratuitous Space battles 2 videos with a decent 9 minute explanation by me of the stuff that is new (so far) in the graphics engine for the GSB 2 battles. There is a lot to talk about:…

I tend to do more written stuff than videos just because I find the majority of video content moves ‘too slow’ for me. I want all the information and spectacle of stuff condensed as much as possible because I take information in very very fast. If someone has a really slow speaking voice it’s even more agonizing. But hey, I’m not the audience, you are, and the good people of the internet seem to prefer video content to written, so I’m going to try and do my bit to keep up with your youtube-watching ways. or twitch, or whoever is cool this week :D

It’s difficult because I hate my own voice, and I have broadband (ha!) delivered by a sliver of copper the size of an angels nostril hair, so my upload speed is about 45kb/s on a GOOD day. This vid took nearly 4 hours to upload. Grr. Luckily I should have a chance of getting fiber here in December.

Anyway, enjoy the vid, post any comments here or on youtube or on the GSB2 official forums. I have more stuff to show off in a few weeks!

 

31 Aug 16:53

Forum Post: RE: Painting figurines eyes

by jgeratic

tankerbuilder -   the bug eyed look results from having completely round dots.  If they are too large for the face, and adding surrounding white, just amplifies it that much more.

Yes some don't bother with the whites, and just leave it a flesh tone.  It's a step to add little extra to the figure, like I did with mine here:

regards,

Jack

29 Aug 18:13

Forum Post: Finished: Trumpeter Me 262B

by cnq
Markku.lempinen

Insane :)

I've just got this one finished. The camo is all hand painted. I could not find any good pictures of "10" so I did the camo followed instruction from Trumpeter but decided to go a bit tighter between the marks since I feel it would be  more accurate.

26 Aug 21:30

[anythingcomic]

Markku.lempinen

It happens...

25 Aug 14:21

An ode to the Steadicam

by Jason Kottke

A short appreciation of the Steadicam and its inventor, Garrett Brown. (Brown also invented the football SkyCam.) Features footage from Rocky, Return of the Jedi, and The Shining.

From Wikipedia:

The Steadicam was first used in the Best Picture-nominated Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory (1976), debuting with a shot that compounded the Steadicam's innovation: cinematographer Haskell Wexler had Brown start the shot on a fully elevated platform crane which jibbed down, and when it reached the ground, Brown stepped off and walked the camera through the set. This technically audacious and previously impossible shot created considerable interest in how it had been accomplished, and impressed the Academy enough for Wexler to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography that year. It was then used in extensive running and chase scenes on the streets of New York City in Marathon Man (1976), which was actually released two months before Bound for Glory. It landed a notable third credit in Avildsen's Best Picture-winning Rocky (1976), where it was an integral part of the film's Philadelphia street jogging/training sequences and the run up the Art Museum's flight of stairs, as well as the fight scenes (where it can even be plainly seen in operation at the ringside during some wide shots of the final fight). Garrett Brown was the Steadicam operator on all of these.

The Shining (1980) pushed Brown's innovations even further, when director Stanley Kubrick requested that the camera shoot from barely above the floor. This prompted the innovation of a "low mode" bracket to mount the top of a camera to the bottom of an inverted post, which substantially increased the creative angles of the system, which previously could not go much lower than the operator's waist height. This low-mode concept remains the most important extension to the system since its inception.

(via @robinsloan)

Update: Here's Brown talking about the Steadicam and his career. And here's Stanley Kubrick's introduction to the Steadicam, via a letter from a colleague. (via @poritsky & @LettersOfNote)

Tags: Garrett Brown   movies   video
26 Aug 14:09

Forum Post: RE: 1/6th scale M4A4 sherman tank Project

by armourguy

More progress on the model was made and the tank is another step closer to the finish line.

 

 

All the functions have been completed, this includes the turret and the hull functions.

 

 

With the functions now out of the way, the project's back has been broken and it is all down hill external detailing from here.

 

 

Like on my last RC sherman build I added the function of the pivoting loader's periscope. The kit has a nice milled recess for the periscope. To make the unit pivot I modded one of my resin periscopes to rotate on a sleeve plug.

 

 

The sleeve was then epoxied to the interior of the turret.

 

 

The scope is hooked up with the turret rotation function and pivots when the turret is activated. This function gives a little more animation to the model.

 

 

The last function that I added to the turret was the functional gunner's scope.

 

 

The gunner's scope on the sherman like with most tanks is connected to the tank's main gun... and elevates and depresses with the gun in unison. I wanted to add this feature to my build as it helps with the accuracy of the tank, and is something that I haven't seen done before.

 

 

The top plate was retained as it was the correct size and shape, only mods made were the addition of more fasteners and the split line detailing. The turret already has a nice divot in the casting and a securing plate for the scope.

 

 

 

The scope notch was drilled out, and pivot mounts were also added. For the scope itself I modded a spare panzerwerk periscope and fitted it to a rotor drum, finally for the top hatch door I used one of my resin periscope covers. To pivot with the scope the molded in hinge was removed and in it's place micro hinges were used.

 

 

As for the hookup I simply used a connecting rod to hook the system to the gun. this way like the real tank it moves in sequence and because it's passive no extra electronics are needed and saves interior space.

 

 

The last function that was added to the hull was the addition of the taillights. For the taillights I used one of my own sets, along with a set of my tail light brush guards

 

 

 

Like on my other builds I modded the LED to fit snugly into the tight recess of the taillight.

 

 

 

 

The lights were patched into the headlight circuit and works along with the other lights

 

 

 

After the last of the functions were added I started to comb through and add the remaining exterior detailing.  So far the front portion of the vehicle.

 

 

Starting with the sprocket, since the test drives showed that the sprocket needed no adjustments I fabricated a cover cap for the center fastener.

 

 

the cover cap was fabricated out of a thin sheet of brass. By being so thin it covers up the fastener and keeps the recess that is found on the center of the Sherman sprocket.

 

 

On the front plate the cast numbers, foot rest, welds, foul weather driving hood clips and the bow hatches were all added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used my early sherman hatches for the model, like with my other builds I used the panzerwerk periscopes. The interior portion of the hatches were painted and weathered

 

 

 

 

One mod that I made to the hatches though was the removal of the counter weight assist spring and mounts. Because this tank is being built as such an early vehicle these springs were not developed at this time. It is also because of this reason why I didn't add the brush guards to the periscopes on this tank... as they would be anachronistic.

 

 

On the tank's rear deck I added the fuel cover caps. The caps on this tank were supplied with the kit and they are from armorpax. They are very nice, easy to build and are fully functional. They were assembled out of the box.

 

 

 

I also fabricated the tank's grill work. The M4A4 had a unique rear deck setup compared to the other variants of the sherman. The A4 had a small intake grill just aft of the turret which was placed right in front of the engine's radiator.

 

 

The grill itself was the typical US design, where it used welded slats. The kit comes with a laser cut sheet metal grill. The kit grill is a decent piece, but rather than using the kit supplied one I went and scratch built a new one.

 

 

The new grill is all fabricated out of soldered brass strip, and sits in a box frame like the real one. Also like the real grill the mounting straps, and lift handles were also fitted.

 

 

 

The only plastic part is the bullet splash guard, which was made out of styrene. As I mentioned before the rear bullet splash rim was making contact with the turret and was deleted... What's interesting is that this same issue happened in real life with the real M4A4, and the designers redesigned the grill to have the bullet guard connected to it.

 

 

 

 

After the grill was completed the grill was primmed/ painted in it's base coat, and a weld was sculpted on for the bullet shield. The grill will be fastened to the tank after the radiator cover is fabricated/ mounted... more on that to follow!!

 

 

 

The fire extinguisher box was also fitted at this time, As of note you can also see that the guard has a notch cut out for clearance. The extinguisher itself is one of my resin units.

 

 

The top deck engine hatch was also fitted. The kit supplied hatch was a nice made component, but after I made some mods to the upper deck it was no longer going to be compatible. I obtained an aluminium plate of the same thickness and fabricated the new hatch for the dimensions of my rear deck.   

 

 

The A4's hatch was very simple, was noting more than a steel plate with some handles and lock fasteners fitted. These simple details were added.

 

 

For the hinges the kit hinges were used OOB, only mods made was the weld detail, and some cast texture that also covers up the mounting fasteners

 

 

The underside of the hatch was painted. With the hatch done I also mounted the control panel to the tank permanently, as no more RC functions will be added at this point.

 

 

 

Some turret details were also added. This would include the notch for the turret ring slot screws, and the cheek blister.

 

 

 

The shell ejection hatch was also fitted. The kit supplies you with a basic functional hatch along with the collar blister. The kit one could have been modded, but instead I swapped it out for one of my own resin ones. The collar blister was bolted to the turret, and body work was done to blend in all add on's to the turret cast surface.

 

 

 

 

more images were posted on the ECA facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/EastCoastArmory

 

and a video update was posted on youtube,

https://www.facebook.com/EastCoastArmory

 

I'm now finishing up the molding for the A57 multibank radiator cover. Once added I can finish off the tool post effectively completing the tank's hull! Once complete I can finish off the turret and get this bad boy into paint!! More to come!  

25 Aug 22:39

Forum Post: RE: FineScale Modeler Orphaned Armor Group Build 2014

by Bish
Markku.lempinen

Having the guy paint the Balkenkreuz on the tank is a pretty idea 8)

After the last update, I added the markings. I did try making a stencil for the numbers but that didn't work out so I bite the bullet and did them free hand and was pretty pleased with them. Same goes for the cross. Then it was just a case of how to finish it. I have never done a model with the aim of getting a freshly painted look. I know it seems obvious, just paint it, but things are never that simple. So after some thought, I simply applied a light raw umber oil wash to create some shadow and left it at that.

To finish off the dio, I used a figure from the Tamiya 251/9 kit, wooden fence and a few items out of the spares box.

So here are the finished pics.

As always, comments, suggestions, anything you think I have missed, always welcome.

Tim, Aaron, thanks again for another great GB idea. I have had this kit for years and it was always going to be built in German markings. It just wasn't on the radar to be built any time soon. So it was nice to be able to pull this one out of the pile.

I look forward to seeing the progress and completed builds of you all. 

22 Aug 17:00

The Dirty Dozen sale on showmethegames.com

by cliffski

Behold, it is announcement time! You know I’ve been blogging a bit about my indie game site at www.showmethegames.com, maybe mentioning all the new articles on there written by the talented Dan? Well that was just part of the SMTG world domination plan. Behold phase II!

It’s time for the SMTG Dirty Dozen Discount week:

ddd

So what’s all this about then? It’s a dozen high quality indie games you should know about, that all have the option to buy direct from the developer, and all of which are on sale for the next week. Some of them have huge stonking great discounts, like a political strategy game I’ve read *great* things about. You should go check out the page right now. And of course, you all know this, but it is extremely helpful if you can share the news on social media, twitter, reddit, facebook and so on. I feel a bit stupid asking people to do that, but then most people complain about paid advertising, and most people complain about self-promotion on social media, and it just ends up as an arms race to see whose readers are the most likely to retweet things, which I guess is inevitable but seems a bit weird. Anyway…. all such promotional help is hugely appreciated. Now… why should you care?

  • This isn’t a bundle. you can buy 1 game or all dozen, which makes a change
  • This is another place offering game discounts and offers, and variety is always good for the consumer in a free market.
  • 100% of the money goes to the developers. I run SMTG out of my own pocket. the site doesn’t take a single penny.
  • Did I mention 100% of the money goes to the developers?

So there you go…hopefully it gets noticed, generates some sales for the developers involved (including me, I’m one of the 12), and it justifies doing it again some time.

 

21 Aug 19:51

Air supremacy

by Iain

Proving that a LEGO model doesn’t have to be a spaceship in order to be totally swooshable, Dutch builder Red Spacecat has created the AV-24B Seahawk, an imaginary modern military VTOL gunship inspired by the AV-8B Harrier II jump-jet and AH-64 Apache helicopter.

As well as featuring the usual elegant lines and stud-free surfaces of his other builds, this one is also fully configurable and comes with all manner of interchangeable armaments, making for one fun toy!

And the attention to detail with stickering practically borders on the obsessive! It’s enough to make the model airplane builder in me salivate…

20 Aug 17:03

Breathtaking aurora snapshot from the Space Station

by David Pescovitz
wisemaaaa

Astronaut Reid Wiseman tweets from the International Space Station: "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this. 10 minutes ago on the #ISS #aurora." Another shot below. Read the rest

16 Aug 16:38

This is exactly why X-Files is better than CSI

19 Aug 03:14

Great snakes!

by Iain

As a tribute to the beloved Belgian comic book series Tintin, Canadian builder Paul Hetherington has perfectly recreated the cover of one of my favorite issues, Land of Black Gold.

The characters seem to literally fly out of the page at you! I particularly like that this cover has given Paul the opportunity to use some lovely ultra-rare turquoise colored bricks, for the Thompson Twins’ chemically enhanced beards.

18 Aug 14:42

Seeking the Temples of Syrinx

by Dan

Hans Dendauw (tigmon77) brings us an awesome little Neo Classic Space scene this morning. The little ship is a funky shape, and has some great detailing. The walls and floor are just detailed enough, and provide room for a little reference that goes in the title of the creation. Rush on over to check out the full album.

Seeking the Temples of Syrinx...

16 Aug 20:47

Civitatem et Flammas

by Josh

This portrait of Roman Emperor Nero by Mihai Marius Mihu is simply stunning. I love Mihai’s work and this definitely doesn’t disappoint! From the ruined and burnt bust to the city in flames…not to mention the laurel wreath that mirrors the flame motif…this creation is tied together incredibly well.

Civitatem et Flammas (Emperor Nero)

14 Aug 13:57

Video of Ferguson police gassing news crew and dismantling their equipment

by Rob Beschizza

A news crew, clearly no threat or impediment to the cops, films from a verge in Ferguson, Missouri. A pop and a cloud of white smoke marks the arrival of a tear gas canister at their feet, and the newscrew is forced to flee.

Read the rest
14 Aug 03:19

RIP Robin Williams – LEGO tributes

by Andrew

There isn’t a whole lot we can add to all the outpouring of love and grief over the last couple of days in the wake of the actor Robin Williams’ death. His humor and creativity remain inspiring to many of us, and the LEGO building community began showing their appreciation almost immediately.

Dave Shaddix created this beautiful and haunting mosaic in just two days.

Farewell

Meanwhile, InbBlotPhoto posted this group of minifigs inspired by Robin Williams’ many memorable roles.

RIP Robin Williams

14 Aug 03:24

Here’s another Comcast cancellation horror story, with video evidence

by Jon Brodkin

This story will sound familiar, but it's not a repeat. A month after AOL's Ryan Block posted an audio recording of a Comcast cancellation call that even a Comcast executive called "painful to listen to," another customer has posted a video showing how difficult it was for him to cancel service. 

Aaron Spain: Comcast put me on hold until they closed.

Chicago resident Aaron Spain explained in the video Monday that he was on hold for more than three hours, showing the time of the call on his phone as proof. He was calling to cancel Comcast "after a month of trying to get them to fix my service," he said. Spain was transferred to the retention department, but didn't actually get to talk to anyone. After using a different phone to call back the same number, Comcast's automated assistant told Spain, "I'm sorry, but our offices are now closed."

Comcast admitted fault, telling news sites today that “Under no circumstances is this the experience we want our customers to have. Our goal is to be respectful of our customers’ time and fix any issues the first time. We take this very seriously, and after investigating Mr. Spain’s situation, we want to apologize to him and acknowledge that his experience was completely unacceptable.”

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

11 Aug 09:17

John Cleese rants - Soccer vs Football

John Cleese tells the truth. From the excellent documentary "The Art of Football from A to Z". More info @ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0804228/
12 Aug 07:55

How Gary Gygax lost control over D&D and TSR

by Cory Doctorow


Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, tells the gripping tale of how Gary Gygax lost control over TSR and Dungeons and Dragons, ousted by his business partners after a series of miscalculations and mistakes. Read the rest

12 Aug 19:11

Pamphlet set of 1940s mail-order religious/child abuse booklets

by Mark Frauenfelder


How do you teach your child not to hit dolls or stamp chicks to death? Why, by beating them senseless, of course!

The Tantrums of Lil' Bess

12 Aug 17:21

It’s Time I Did Something About This ‘Gunpoint Ripoff’

by Pentadact
Markku.lempinen

Gunpoint is awesome and this one looks pretty interesting too 8)

Someone named Tomasz Waclawek is making a side-scrolling stealth game, with mouse-controlled jumping, set in office blocks with smashable windows, and which he himself describes as a “Gunpoint ripoff”. The game is called Ronin, and it’s time I did something about it. Specifically, it’s time I did a Let’s Play about it, because it’s really fucking cool.

It’s clearly not a Gunpoint ripoff, because the core mechanics are so different. A lot of what it does copy is superficial, and that stuff doesn’t matter. But the jump is pretty central, and if that was directly taken from Gunpoint, I’m delighted. I wouldn’t want anyone to reuse Gunpoint’s artwork or music, but the ideas in it are absolutely there for the taking. Every non-standard thing about it, from the jumping controls to the saving system, I did because I wanted more games to be that way. If there’s actually a case where Gunpoint caused more games to work this way, that’s a huge thrill for me.

I wrote about my process for coming up with that jumping system back when I built it in 2010, if you’re interested.

Update: Tomasz says “This is most disappointing. I tried really hard to make a Gunpoint clone and he says its not like Gunpoint. I really don’t know what I’ve done wrong:(“

The feud continues.

10 Aug 17:03

Puzzle Dependency Charts

In part 1 of 1 in my series of articles on games design, let’s delve into one of the (if not THE) most useful tool for designing adventure games: The Puzzle Dependency Chart. Don’t confuse it with a flow chart, it’s not a flow chart and the subtle distinctions will hopefully become clear, for they are the key to it’s usefulness and raw pulsing design power.

There is some dispute in Lucasfilm Games circles over whether they were called Puzzle Dependency Charts or Puzzle Dependency Graphs, and on any given day I'll swear with complete conviction that is was Chart, then the next day swear with complete conviction that it was Graph. For this article, I'm going to go with Chart. It's Sunday.

Gary and I didn’t have Puzzle Dependency Charts for Maniac Mansion, and in a lot of ways it really shows. The game is full of dead end puzzles and the flow is uneven and gets bottlenecked too much.

Puzzle Dependency Charts would have solve most of these problems. I can’t remember when I first came up with the concept, it was probably right before or during the development of The Last Crusade adventure game and both David Fox and Noah Falstein contributed heavy to what they would become. They reached their full potential during Monkey Island where I relied on them for every aspect of the puzzle design.

A Puzzle Dependency Chart is a list of all the puzzles and steps for solving a puzzle in an adventure game. They are presented in the form of a Graph with each node connecting to the puzzle or puzzle steps that are need to get there.  They do not generally include story beats unless they are critical to solving a puzzle.

Let’s build one!

I always work backwards when designing an adventure game, not from the very end of the game, but from the end of puzzle chains.  I usually start with “The player needs to get into the basement”, not “Where should I hide a key to get into some place I haven’t figured out yet.”

I also like to work from left to right, other people like going top to bottom. My rational for left to right is I like to put them up on my office wall, wrapping the room with the game design.

So... first, we’ll need figure out what you need to get into the basement...

And we then draw a line connecting the two, showing the dependency. “Unlocking the door” is dependent on “Finding the Key”.  Again, it’s not flow, it’s dependency.

Now let’s add a new step to the puzzle called “Oil Hinges” on the door and it can happen in parallel to the "Finding the Key" puzzle...

We add two new puzzle nodes, one for the action “Oil Hinges” and it’s dependency “Find Oil Can”.  “Unlocking” the door is not dependent on “Oiling” the hinges, so there is no connection. They do connect into “Opening” the basement door since they both need to be done.

At this point, the chart is starting to get interesting and is showing us something important: The non-linearity of the design. There are two puzzles the player can be working on while trying to get the basement door open.

There is nothing (NOTHING!) worse than linear adventure games and these charts are a quick visual way to see where the design gets too linear or too unwieldy with choice (also bad).

Let's build it back a little more...

When you step back and look at a finished Puzzle Dependency Chart, you should this kind of overall pattern with a lot of little sub-diamond shaped expansion and contraction of puzzles.  Solving one puzzle should open up 2 or 3 new ones, and then those collapses down (but not necessarily at the same rate) to a single solution that then opens up more non-linear puzzles.

The game starts out with a simple choice, then the puzzles begin to expand out with more and more for the player to be doing in parallel, then collapse back in.

I tend to design adventures games in “acts”, where each act ends with a bottle neck to the next act. I like doing this because it gives players a sense of completion, and they can also file a bunch of knowledge away and (if need) the inventory can be culled).

Monkey Island would have looked something like this...

I don’t have the Puzzle Dependency Chart for Monkey Island, or I’d post it. I’ve seen some online, but they are more “flowcharts” and not “dependency charts”. I’ve had countless arguments with people over the differences and how dependency charts are not flowcharts, bla bla bla. They’re not. I don’t completely know why, but they are different.

Flowcharts are great if you’re trying to solve a game, dependency charts are great if you’re trying to design a game. That’s the best I can come up with.

Here is a page from my MI design notebook that shows a puzzle in the process of being created using Puzzle Dependency Charts. It’s the only way I know how to design an adventure game. I’d be lost without them.

So, how do you make these charts?

You'll need some software that automatically rebuilds the charts as you connect nodes. If you try and make these using a flowchart program, you’ll spend forever reordering the boxes and making sure lines don’t cross. It’s a frustrating and time consuming process and it gets in the way of using these as a quick tool for design.

Back at Lucasfilm Games, we used some software meant for project scheduling. I don’t remember the name of it, and I’m sure it’s long gone.

I’ve only modern program that does this well is OmniGraffle, but it only runs on the Mac. I’m sure there are others, but since OmniGraffle does exactly what I need, I haven’t look much deeper. I'm sure there are others.

OmniGraffle is built on top of the unix tool called graphviz. Graphviz is great, but you have to feed everything in as a text file. It’s a nerd level 8 program, but it’s what I used for DeathSpank.

You can take a look at the DeathSpank Puzzle Dependency Chart here, but I warn you, it's a big image, so get ready to zoom-n-scroll™. You can also see the graphviz file that produced it.

Hopefully this was interesting. I could spend all day long talking about Puzzle Dependency Charts. Yea, I'm a lot of fun on a first date.

09 Aug 21:33

Kansainvälinen avaruusasema

by Jari Juutilainen

Kansainvälinen avaruusaseman ISS:n ja ATV-5 -satelliitin piti mennä tänään näennäisesti hyvin päällekkäistä rataa mutta ATV-5 tuotti negatiivisen havainnon. Lähes täysikuu ja taustataivaan tummuus ei vaan vielä tähän aikaan vuodesta riittänyt. Sen sijaan ISS näkyi todella komeasti.

Kansainvälinen avaruusasema Nikon D7100, 14mm/f2.8, ISO250, pinottu 44 x 5s, editoitu kuva

Kansainvälinen avaruusasema
Nikon D7100, 14mm/f2.8, ISO250, pinottu 44 x 5s, editoitu kuva

Kuten kuvasta voi huomata, kuvaan ajelehtinut pilvilautta on yhdistetty pinottuun kuvaan yksittäisestä valotuksesta, jotta kuva olisi hieman esteettisemmän näköinen.

Alkuperäinen pino on tässä:

Kansainvälinen avaruusasema Nikon D7100, 14mm/f2.8, ISO250, pinottu 44 x 5s

Kansainvälinen avaruusasema
Nikon D7100, 14mm/f2.8, ISO250, pinottu 44 x 5s

08 Aug 17:50

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 in multi-monitor mode!

by cliffski

At last a shaky-cam (well not shaky, but you know what I mean) video of GSB 2! I wanted to do this to show off multiple monitor mode with a lemon for scale. The video shows my dev PC with the game running. My PC is a i7 3770 quad-core 8gig RAM, windows 7 and a GeForce GTX670 video card, powering two 27″ monitors for a total GSB2 fun ratio of 5120×1440, or other 7 million pixels of lasers and explosions. Here is the video:

I’ll be doing more videos over the next few months to keep you all updated, plus other things are in the pipeline :D. In future I’ll capture normal in-game footage I just wanted to do a multi-monitor one :D Help me spread the word about 7 million pixels of explosions with ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. I reckon I’ll be more popular than these youtube kids by tomorrow!

BTW the games current website is at www.gratuitousspacebattles2.com (it will get a makeover eventually), I blog about the game here, occasionally tweet about it (@cliffski) and there are forum discussions here.

 

07 Aug 16:04

Fallout Enclave Vertibird in Lego

by Dan

The Vertibird is one of the more recognizable pieces of industrial design from the Fallout universe (and practically the only aircraft in the games). Justin Stebbins (Saber-Scorpion) has done a great job of capturing the shape of the original. While a trans blue cockpit may not match the appearance in the game, it matches the shape well, and still feels right.

LEGO Fallout Enclave Vertibird

07 Aug 19:58

Adorable LEGO Calvin and Hobbes

by Chris

Adam Dodge brings us this instantly recognizable brickified version of the dynamic childhood duo Calvin and Hobbes.

Adventure!

07 Aug 17:01

Heat Signature Needs An Artist And A Composer

by Pentadact

I've now made enough of Heat Signature to be fairly sure of what it is, which means a) here's a new trailer!

And b) I'm ready to start looking for an artist and a composer to work with!

Update: the deadline has passed and applications are now closed! We got a lot! More as I sort through them.

I'd like to do it the same way I did for Gunpoint, with Open Submissions. That means anyone can send in a sample of what they can do, and I'll pick the best artist and the best composer based on that. In this post I'll explain loads about what we're looking for, but the highlights are:

✓ Paid!
✓ No experience required!
✓ Work from anywhere!
✓ Flexible hours!
✓ Game already works!
✓ Application deadline: [EXPIRED!]

About the game

You can see what the game is really about in the trailer above, and I'm adding lots more systems to make on-board stuff more intricate and full of interesting possibilities. But for the purposes of this post, I'll try to give a bit more context.

It'll be set in a region of space prohibitively far from any planets, hidden from long range sensors by colourful vapour clouds, and dotted with dozens of space stations. Being so remote, cults, corporations and gangs fight freely over control of these stations, and form uneasy alliances to get what they need to survive. In the game, you'll hopefully be able to zoom out and see a sort of galaxy map of all these stations and who owns them.

Each time you start the game, you're playing as a different person - their location and the faction they belong to might even be chosen at random. They take on missions like the ones in the video to harm other factions, help their own survive, or in some cases maybe just for money. The galaxy is persistent, so anything you do achieve will change it for your future lives. I have plans for how that works, but I won't go into them too much till I've had time to try them out.

Death is permanent, though as you'll see in the video, there are ways to avoid it. If you want to stop playing or try a new character but haven't died yet, you'll be able to let your current character rest at a station until you want to play as them again. There will probably be some manner of written stories that you can stumble across out in space, but again, I won't go into my plans for that too much until I've had a chance to see what works well in this context.

Why open submissions?

I like to do it this way because it means:

  • People get judged by their ability
  • It gives first-timers a chance, breaking the old Catch-22 of "You need experience to get work, and you need work to get experience"
  • I can find the person whose talents best suit this game in particular
  • It means I don't have to restrict my game ideas to ones that suit the skills of a pre-existing team
  • It means I'm always working with people who are excited about this particular game

Gunpoint's main artist John had never done pixel art before. The other, Fabian, was a game design student. All six of us had other jobs or responsibilities. But it's hard to imagine that game looking or sounding better.

I've also been on the submitter side of it, for short stories, and it gave me the opportunity to get my first piece of fiction published without any connections in that world.

Who can apply

  • Absolutely anyone who meets the basic practical considerations (below).
  • You can be anywhere in the world.
  • No experience required.
  • Work whatever hours you like - look at the workload and time frame below and decide for yourself.

Sending samples

If you want to apply, all I need to see is a sample of your work that would be appropriate for this game.

  • It's fine to send in something you made for something else. Bear in mind I'm not a clever man, though, so if it's very different I might have a hard time guessing how good you'd be for the style Heat Sig needs.
  • If you do make a sample, don't spend too long on it. We had 34 artists apply to work on Gunpoint, so 32 of them did not end up working on it. Personally, I only apply to an open submissions thing if I want to make the thing for fun anyway.
  • Don't do anything until you've read all of this post! There are specific requirements.
  • Tell me how long your sample took you. Be honest, obviously - I'm not prioritising speed, I'm just checking viability.
  • If people are up for it, I could do a post showing off the best submissions - let me know in your e-mail if you'd be OK to be included in that. Fine if you'd rather keep it private.

The work: music

As you'll see in the video, your time in Heat Signature is split about half and half between flying through space and sneaking through the corridors of spaceships. You usually only spend 30 seconds to a minute in each mode, sometimes even less, so we can't have the music change every time you dock. But the tension in the game does vary wildly, from serene space travel, to fleeing a missile lock, to hiding in a corner and praying a guard won't turn round, to sudden outbursts of lethal violence.

I'm open to suggestions as to how to handle this, but my current thinking is that each track could have two layers:

  • A serene, beautiful layer that we ramp up as you spend time jetting around peacefully or in empty ships, then fade out when there's danger.
  • A tense layer that we ramp up when you're in danger, whether that's in space or inside a ship, then we fade this out once the danger is passed.

And that would be one track. The tracks themselves could be tied to regions of space, or we could just shuffle them.

I had some luck in Floating Point with writing an algorithm that controlled music volume according to a constantly changing level of 'coolness' of your performance. I found that it feels good for music to be responding to what you're doing, but the change has to be more gradual than the variable it's responding to, or it's jarring and annoying. I could easily track a danger variable in Heat Signature and have individual music layer volumes respond to a smoothed out version of that.

For peaceful music, I love slow, expansive stuff that conjours the majesty of space. Like this:

As a general track, which could probably be taken in a 'tense' or a 'peaceful' direction, I like this one from the EVE soundtrack:

If you're making a sample:

  • If you're able to have a go at both 'tension' and 'peaceful' music, that'd be great.
  • You don't have to include the transition or try to get them to work together at this stage.
  • No need to make a whole track, 30s to 1m of each would be plenty, or whatever you feel you need.
  • If you want to try something completely different to what I'm suggesting, go ahead!
  • If you want to try scoring an actual part of the video above, feel free - you have my permission to edit and distribute that video however you like for this purpose, as long as it's clear where it came from.

The work: art

I'm looking for someone to do all the art in the game, which I'll break down below. But first an important note:

Important note about style

Everything in Heat Signature will get rotated and stretched by Game Maker as it spins through space and we zoom in and out. There's some built-in anti-aliasing to this, so any per-pixel crispness will get blurred (it's possible to disable this, but then rotating and scaling mess up fine detail even more). With apologies to John Roberts, this is what it would look like if we tried to use Conway's sprite from Gunpoint as the player's ship in Heat Signature:

Gunpoint Heat Sig Art Comparison

That is a screenshot. I actually did this.

All this means is: avoid intentionally jagged diagonals or anything where the placement and clarity of individual pixels is critical.

Beyond that, the only styles I'm pretty sure I don't want are 'comical' or 'abstract'.

The art we'll need includes:

Space

Heat Signature is set in a region of space dominated by colourful gas clouds. These are huge, you'd never see a whole one on screen, so in practice it's more like each region of space will have a different background colour. I'd like some regions of darkness, but as you'll see from the reference pics below I mostly want space to be colourful.

I might have a 'burn colour' for these gas clouds, also randomly selected, that would flare up around your ship when you're hot. So if you're thrusting through a green cloud, you might see the gas you're cutting through burning red. You know that bit in the Voyager titles?

Voyager Gas

Here are some pictures of space that I find exciting. Sorry that only some of them are credited, my sources for the others were imgur links with no attribution or info.

Space 8
This one's from somewhere called StarArmy I guess!

Sins Ring
Sins of a Solar Empire

Space 6

Sins Dark Space
Sins of a Solar Empire

Space 5

Sins Light Space
Sins of a Solar Empire

Space 3

Space 4

It seems like most of these involve:

  • A strong colour, usually fading into another or into darkness. Not sure how we do this, maybe when you're in a gas-cloud-region it's a blank background colour, and when you're moving between them we use a giant gradient sprite that passes slowly until you're fully in the different colour.
  • Some kind of texture or patterning, sometimes like cloud, can be very faint. We could do this with a tiled sprite we layer over transparently.
  • Bright pinprick stars. I think these'll need to be individual sprites that we move and place in code, as they are right now. They're not actual stars, since those wouldn't parallax noticeably, so we'll say they're space stations.

As ever, open to totally different approaches if you have something you think will work. For a sample, I don't need to know what the individual layers are, I'm only interested in the overall look.

Scale

A ship module is currently 256x256 pixels - you can stray from that, but not too drastically. Anything solid needs to have dimensions that are multiples of 32: that's how big one unit is on the collision grid. That means the thinnest wall has to be 32 thick, and a person should fit inside a 32x32 square. Currently, interior rooms are 6 units across and doorways and corridors are 2 units wide. Click this for a full-size guide:

Heat Signature Grid Guide

Ship exteriors

Ships are made of square modules, as you've hopefully noticed, and the sprites for these are light greyscale, then the game colours them with the ship's randomly chosen colour. The way that mask works is that pure white in the sprite becomes the colour of the mask, so overall the sprite gets darker, and the luminance of the mask colour is the max luminance of what you see (i.e. white is impossible). What we can do, though, is layer another sprite on top of that that's independent of the ship's colour, for any glowing lights or features that should be the same on all ships.

The different modules a ship might have are:

  • Standard: no functional significance, so can look plain from the outside. Could be identical to each other, doesn't matter if they're not, as long as they don't look like they 'do' something.
  • Missile turret: gun part turns to track whatever it's shooting at.
  • Thruster: thruster part turns away from the direction the ship's travelling, emits a visible thrust whose length is proportional to acceleration.
  • Bridge: the most crucial module - if it's destroyed, the ship is effectively brain dead. On larger ships, it's set one module back from the front, to protect it. Needs to really stand out from the other modules even zoomed out, because it's life or death whether this module is still intact.
  • Probably a Defense module, that'd shoot down incoming missiles.
  • Maybe a couple of other module types, if more prove necessary.

Ship interiors

The modules that do stuff will obviously have the controls or workings inside: a seated gunner for Turret modules, a fuel canister plugged into some apparatus for a Thruster module.

I'd like the rest of the rooms to give a sense of the ship as a real place where people live. Some of these ships will be fighters, others transports, others scouting vessels, but almost all of them will be designed for people to spend more than a day on. So the Standard modules might contain:

  • Beds
  • Mess hall
  • Food garden
  • Space bathrooms
  • Armoury
  • Cargo storage

However! They also need to be massively reusable. Every bit of art will be reused hundreds of times on different ships, so if there's a plate on the floor and some food spilled next to it, it's gonna look odd to keep seeing that exact same mess in different places.

Depending on time, it might be nice to have an alternate set of these to distinguish between old, functional rustbuckets and shinier, more expensive new ships. Not vital though.

Space Stations

I don't know much about what these will be like yet, but I'm happy for them to be mostly made out of ship modules. They won't be bustling with people, but we might want a few civvies sitting at cafes or bars.

Player Pod

The tiny personal ship you fly around in. It will end up being longer and thinner than what's in there now - the interior will need to be 64 pixels wide and 96 long.

The player character

You'll be playing a different person each time you start a new game, so it'd be cool to be able to cobble different-looking characters together from component parts. But I don't know a) how much work that is, b) how much variety you can show at this scale from this perspective. Interested in your thoughts and ideas.

As a guide to the game's scale in pixels, here's the current player sprite:

sPlayerGun2

We can vary a little from that.

Animations will include:

  • Sneaking quickly
  • Pouncing on an enemy at short range and knocking them out
  • Sitting in a seat using controls
  • Shooting a rifle
  • Walking while aiming (in independent directions)
  • Getting non-fatally shot
  • Remote-controlling your ship
  • Adrift in space, unconscious
  • Adrift in space, shooting your gun
  • Adrift in space, remote controlling your ship
  • Carrying a body
  • Carrying a fuel barrel
  • All the rifle-related animations but with a pistol (held in both hands)

Crew

Guards: who patrol the corridors of the ships, with rifles and sometimes pistols, and sit in any pilot seats. For animations, they'll need:

  • Patrolling
  • Running
  • Shooting a rifle
  • Shooting a pistol
  • Getting fatally shot
  • Getting knocked out
  • Adrift in space, unconscious (they could maybe thrash a while before they pass out)
  • Sitting in a seat using controls
  • Possibly either surrendering or punching (if they're caught unarmed)

Other stuff

As mentioned, we may want a few people sitting around in space stations.

May want a 'Heavy' guard type who's resistant to conventional attacks, to encourage interesting ways of dealing with them.

It'd be good to be able to colour guards with the ship's random colour, through the mask system mentioned earlier. Individual variety would be nice if it's easy, but not essential.

Missile, explosion and impact effects.

Lots more stuff I'm forgetting or failing to foresee. As you can probably tell, I like to keep a game to as few unique elements as possible, and then only add variety if it really needs it.

UI

I'll design the UI, in terms of what goes where and how it functions, but I'll probably ask for your help in snazzing it up once it's in place.

If you're making a sample:

Something that shows a bit of space, a spaceship interior, and a person doing something would be awesome.

Time frame

This is contract job for one game, not a permanent position.

Cut-off for applications will be 23:59.59 UK time on the 22nd of August. From there, it might take me till sometime in September to figure out who to go with for both positions.

I'd like to get all the art and music in the space of about four months after that. That's not when the game will be done, it's just when I'd like that side of things in good shape.

As always with games, though, any part of it could run much longer than expected. I'll be paying you for however long it takes. If there's anything in your future that'll mean "I have to stop working on it by then", let me know when you apply - it may not be a dealbreaker.

Pay

  • You'll be paid by the hour, and it's up to you when and how much to work. I'll trust you to keep track of your hours.
  • If it's taking a large number of hours to produce a small amount of work, I'll give you a heads up that we might be approaching "I can't afford to employ you" territory.
  • Tell me when you apply what a fair rate would be - I have no experience with this.
  • I won't pay you less than I think is fair, even if you ask for it.
  • If the game does as well as Gunpoint in its first month, and you saw your part of it through to completion, I'll add a percentage bonus onto everything I've paid you.
  • If that happens and you were particularly great about replying to e-mails, making changes, getting stuff done roughly on time etc, I'll add an extra bonus on to reflect that.

How we'll work

You're probably not in Bath, England, which is fine. We'll communicate mainly by e-mail, so that any feedback/guidance is there for you to refer to, and I have time to articulate what we need as clearly as I can. If you also wanna Skype sometimes I'm up for that.

I will definitely ask you for changes to your work, regularly. Absolutely nothing to do with talent. If Leonardo da Vinci submitted the Mona Lisa, I'd say "Sorry, but for gameplay reasons the smile needs to be readable on low detail settings at wide zoom levels or players might mistake her for hostile. Can you make it a bit more pronounced?"

Even if you're better than him, and a telepath, I will still be asking for changes. If you're at all precious about your work or don't like being told what to do, don't apply. I need to be able to ask for this stuff without feeling like I'm asking for favours, or the game will suffer.

Practical considerations

  • You need to be at least 18
  • You need to be legally able to sign contracts for yourself
  • You need a bank account I can send money to from England (don't know of any exceptions to this, I currently pay to US, Chile and the Netherlands)
  • You must be the full legal owner of the work you supply - if you're under employment or contract with anyone else, check they don't own work you do in off hours. Many do. If they do, you can often get an exemption by asking, but obviously we'd need that in writing direct from your employer before engaging you. It's fine if you'd like to wait to see if you're selected before asking, but do mention it in your submission.

How to submit:
Alas, it is too late! As mentioned at the top, the deadline has now passed.

04 Aug 12:29

Pixel & Quantum

by boulet
06 Aug 18:12

Monkey’s selfie at center of copyright brouhaha

by David Kravets
Markku.lempinen

I thought that a photographer would know how the photo copyright goes... I guess it's just more fun to claim whatever the fuck you please instead of having a clue.

An English nature photographer is going ape over Wikipedia's refusal to remove pictures of a monkey from the online encyclopedia that he says are being displayed without his permission.

Wikimedia, the operation that runs Wikipedia, says that the public, not photojournalist David Slater, maintains the rights to the works. That's because the black macaca nigra monkey swiped the camera from Slater during a 2011 shoot in Indonesia and snapped tons of pictures, including the selfie and others at issue.

"We received a takedown request from the photographer, claiming that he owned the copyright to the photographs. We didn't agree. So we denied the request," Wikimedia said Wednesday in its transparency report.

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