*** Ion Storm's Finger Server
User name: cbruce
Plan modified: Thu May 31 15:23:50 2001
Christopher L. Bruce - Lead Animator
Ion Storm - firstname.lastname@example.org
Project: Game X
ANYTHING EXPRESSED IN THIS FILE DOES NOT NECASSARILY REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF ION STORM OR ANY OF IT'S OTHER EMPLOYEES
May 31, 2001
Web based game sites really should check their sources before breaking a "story" that could potentially cause problems for everybody. Have some journalistic integrity guys.
April 20, 2001
Found this one over the weekend...
I won't even go into how blatently ignorant people can be.
That is all.
April 20, 2001
A big congrats to R13 and the gang over at polycount.com for being the top site on the gamespy network (in their tier)...that's in number of hits per day. Those guys work hard to make sure everyone's got lots of nifty neato custom player models for their favorite games and is generally considered one of the best places for people interested in making cool shit for games to go and hang out.
So stop by and pick up a new ride for your favorite game.
April 3, 2001
Got my very own copy of Black and White in yesterday (didn't post it yesterday because I was too busy playing the thing) and it is by far one of the best games I've played in YEARS. If this sucker doesn't take every single award that comes up, I'll know it's because the winner paid a substantial fee for said award. Except for PC RPG of the year, which will go to Anachronox unless Neverwinter Nights makes it out this year, in which case, it's anyone's ball game.
The gestural commands are something I've wanted to see in a game for a long time, and they've implemented it very well. It's not completely necessary to master them, you can get along just fine without ever having to use them at all...but damn if they aren't a convenient shortcut and an extremely good way to physically involve the player in the game playing experience. I suspect we'll see more of it soon, and I know of one RPG game in development that uses a gestural command system for drawing the runes of spells. I hope its not abused and used properly
The creature avatars are absolutely endearing and highly addictive to play with and train. I have a happy tiger running about, eating sheep like a mad fool...and he's getting quite portly. Haven't mastered his toilet training...silly bugger wants to poop on trees instead of in the crop fields like I try to get him to. And he ate our beach ball. He's a greedy bastard.
Get this game. No questions...you must own it. I now have the unfortunate dilemma of splitting my time between FF9 and B&W
March 28, 2001
Jon Galloway's a bastard! He stole my copy of Black & White!!!
Just kidding...hope he didn't get one of those messed up copies.
March 28, 2001
About 30 minutes ago, I call EBX at the North Park Center, inquiring as to whether or not they have copies of Black & White in stock. Imagine my surprise, when I was told they did indeed have a few copies in. I asked if they could reserve one for me, as I was on my way down (a mere 10 minute drive from the Ion tower) "No can do," I was told. Bummer. Well I'll hustle down there and hopefully they'll still have a copy left to purchase.
I get there in record time, approach the salesman, and ask, "Black & White?"
To which he responds, "Your name?"
This puzzles me, and I ask him, "Why do you need my name?"
He looks taken back for a second then coolly replies, "Do you have a copy reserved?"
"We just sold out."
"But I just called, and you said you had some copies."
"We JUST sold out."
I wonder if I could have used my "illustrious status" as a professional to get the guy to set one aside for me. Somehow, I don't think it would have worked...but it might have been worth a shot.
So, I'm a very sad and disappointed developer, and I was daydreaming about playing a game where I could literally spank my monkey the whole trek to North Park. Thank god for the internet though...I now have a copy of Black & White on it's way direct from Ebgames.com, which should be in my hot little hands by the end of the week.
There was a moral to this story, but it's escaped the author's mind.
March 27, 2001
Finally picked up Final Fantasy 9, and it's fantastic. I was disappointed with some of the more cumbersome aspects of FF8, and I'm extreme Ely pleased to see that they didn't carry them over into 9. The game play is solid, art direction and style is superb, and the FMV is phenomenal. If you haven't picked it up yet, go get it now...it's down to $39.99 and well worth that price.
Got into a discussion the other day on the Polycount message boards about the importance of "drawing" skills when judging an artist candidate. If you've something to contribute, hop aboard at http://dynamic.gamespy.com/~polycount/ubb/Forum1/HTML/002618.html and share your opinions, call me an idiot, whatever...
March 12, 2001
Ok...this is a good one. My first "real" job was with a company in Russellville, Arkansas. This particular company was started by a couple of college computer science major type guys who were using 3D Studio R3 to make spinning shiny logos for car commercials. They quickly moved on to making full car commercials (now they make furniture commercials that look like car commercials). Most of our work there was bad. Not because I sucked, or the people I worked with sucked, but mostly because our clients were used car dealers. The only thing worse than having to deal with used car dealers is having to work FOR used car dealers.
Add to that mix one ex-used car dealer turned salesman who somehow managed to convince the two guys who started the business that he should be in charge, and hence appointed himself manager/salesman. (*cough...ass...cough*)
The work was crap, the pay was crap, and needless to say, after 4 years of that I was eager to get a job in the game industry.
My buddy, unfortunately, is still stranded there...plunking away making car commercials...er, furniture commercials I mean. (I keep forgetting that manager/salesman managed to piss off all the car dealers not only in the area, but also in the entire states including and surrounding Arkansas and promptly moved on to pissing off all the furniture dealers.)
ANYHO...my buddy sends me this (http://www.polycount.com/cottages/wrath/cartoon_concept.txt) today, which is the latest greatest idea for...hell, I dunno what you'd even call this. But the managerman offered Cliff (That's my stranded buddy's name) a sizable offer of $1500 or possibly $3000 to see this gem of creativity to fruition. He first showed it to Stephen, another worker there who told him that "Cliff would laugh at him.", which he indeed did. After Cliff wisely passed on the chance to work on this masterpiece, he asked that Cliff pass it along to yours truly in the hopes that I and/or the company I work for might be interested in doing it. Keep in mind that this project would be due in little over 2 weeks, and would pay about $3k-$5k
The point is...if someone out there is looking for a 3D modeler/artist type, working with 3D Studio since release 4, get in touch with Cliff Brannon (email@example.com) get him to send you some examples of the type of stuff he can do while working in a complete and total creative vacuum of a company and GET HIM THE HELL OUT OF THERE AND WORKING FOR A REAL COMPANY.
If however, for some reason, you'd love the chance to work on the April High Point Awards Banquet cartoon, contact Cliff and he'll put you in touch with the appropriate people. Tom Hall recommend sock puppets =)
March 09, 2001
Max 4's new camera based multi-pass motion blur and depth of field totally rock! You go Discreet! =)
March 06, 2001
Got a pretty huge response from what I put in my plan yesterday...didn't realize I'd be garnering such a big audience. Most people who wrote me generally agreed with what I said, so if I am a moron, then I've got plenty of brethren. ;)
Had a few interesting counterpoints sent my way, including one from Scott who pointed out that legalization of narcotics was considered during the Reagan administration, but that the cost would have actually been higher than continuing the war.
I believe that in some European countries (Amsterdam?) drugs, or at least some drugs, are legal. Anyone have specifics about this and how it affects things like crime, addiction, and all of that other nasty stuff associated with illegal substance abuse?
March 05, 2001
Went and saw "Traffic" last night, my general feeling about the movie was that they'd tricked me into paying $7 to watch a PBS after school special about drug trade. I felt the message was that a war on drugs dealers is futile. We should be fighting a war on the drug users. They did some nice things with a different visual style for the 3 separate storylines, and none of the performances were weak, but the pace was agonizingly slow. It was an informal film, but not terribly entertaining.
I'll probably get lambasted for saying this, but I sometimes feel we'd be much better off by legalizing drugs. I'm reasonable enough to admit that there's no possible way to ever keep people from abusing any drug, whether it's legal like alcohol or tobacco, or illegal...people will continue to use. By putting them under strict government regulatory controls just like over the counter medicine or even food for that matter, we'd eliminate the need for dealers and a lot of crime right off the bat. You then take the billions of dollars spent on trying to stop drugs from getting in to the country or prosecuting dealers, and put that into treatment, and more importantly prevention. I admit, it's a radical solution, but maybe that's what we need.
I'm sure there are many reasons why this is a bad idea, and I'd love to hear them...so feel free to email me your thoughts.
On a lighter (and hopefully more game related) side, I'm in the process of jotting down notes about things that I find important when creating game art...whether it be modeling, mapping, or animating (I don't skin, so go bug someone else about that) When I feel I've got enough, I'll probably organize them into something that will hopefully give some people a new perspective on some things. These won't be full blown tutorials, or package specific (Yeah! Go 3DS Max, you rule!), more along the lines of, "Hmmm...that's something to thing about."
Feb 27, 2001
I'm in search of a plugin, script, or even process for Max 4 that will either export each frame of an animated mesh (Character Studio and Physique) to a sequence of .3DS or .ASC files. I can do it by hand by making snapshots of the model and exporting each one individually, but it's a bit of a pain. Ideally, I'd like to be able to push a button and tell it to export every Nth frame. There were a few things for Max 2.x that I used to use, but none of them have been updated. Anyone have any suggestions?
I've using 3D Exploration (which is a very nice program, similar to PolyTrans, it will read/convert many different 3D and 2D file formats. http://www.wdsoft.com/explorer/) to convert models from a Max format to .LWO, and it's working beautifully...which is a treat as converting between 3DS and Lightwave is usually a nightmarish process for some reason. Nice program guys, keep up the good work.
Feb 26, 2001
Had to trim a few things from my plan as they were inappropriate...goes along with my need for the "Plan files for Dummies" book's Chapter 2, "What NOT to put in your plan"
Well, I now have a plan file viewable from the web; joy, rapture.
A big thanks to Richard Smith and Adam Coyne for adding it to the finger searches at webdog.org and planetquake.
Anachronox continues to progress at it's staggering pace, and the team is VERY close to being able to fully play through the game. The content has been there for a while, it's just being all stitched together. I'm looking forward to being able to play through it myself, I've always been a big fan of the Square RPGs and Anachronox seems to have a very similar flair to it, but with a very Western attitude.
I continue to explore the wonderful world of patch modeling in 3DS Max, I'm really going to push for full patch model support for GameX, as I think it's the absolute ideal solution for game geometry.
Feb 25, 2001
Makin' a plan file's not as easy as I first thought it might be. Sure, this typing stuff up part's a snap. It's just a text file in a folder on one of our network machines...but after that, there seems to be some mysterious process involved in letting people on the web know it's there for them to read through. And where the hell are the ".plan Files for Dummies" books?
I've been playing around with patch modeling in Max, and I must say it is exactly how I envision the ideal modeling solution for game art, especially using splines and the surface modifier. Many years ago when I was first hearing about NURBS, I hoped they would work like spline modeling does now. Unfortunately, they don't quite work that way.
My only complaint about the surface modifier is its inability to generate a patch surface using any number of points instead of needing to make a 3 or 4 sided patch. I understand why it needs to, but still something that I would really like to see happen someday. That and some better bezier manipulation tools for 3D spline shapes (which aren't terribly bad now, just a bit confusing at times) would make for an incredibly nice way of making models. I highly recommend 3D artists take a look at patch models.
On a side note, the mysterious "Max crashes when loading some scenes" mystery has been solved. It seems some strange option had gotten turned on in the preferences of the OpenGL display driver that the Matrox card did not like at all. Whenever it would try to display a texture in a viewport, Max would crash to the desktop...so loading a scene that had a texture set to visible in viewports would naturally crash Max. I turned of the silly thing and it works all fine and dandy now.
Feb 22, 2001
I'm sure a lot of people have seen the GForce 3 video, demonstrating its power at work on the Doom3 code. I've seen some of the more basic stuff before, when I was down for my interview here at Ion. They've taken it even further since I saw it a mere 2 or 3 weeks ago. I really believe that this type of graphic engine for games is going to revolutionize the way that developers approach creating them. We're going to need people who have experience doing movies, set designers, lighting designers...outside of the level designer we have now. It will be an interesting thing to see the game industry make that bridge between a game and a movie, since it will now be possible to create a visual experience that is for all practical purposes, cinematic work. I've seen this sort of revolution coming to the industry for a while, but to be honest, it's happening much sooner than I once thought. The game industry will very soon be going head to head against the Hollywood motion picture, and I honestly believe that we can take them. We're capable of giving the audience a much more impressive experience, that's already a given...what's been keeping us from really hitting with the mainstream is the visual quality of that experience. This new tech shows that graphic limitations will soon be a thing of the past. And once this hurdle is overcome, we'll be able to go far beyond the scope of any movie...we can do things in the computer that are impossible to create in reality.
Very, very exciting stuff!
I'd like to give my congratulations to the most talented group of people in the industry over at id Software. You guys are an inspiration to us all. Only one question remains...
Where can I pre-order Doom3?
Feb 12, 2001
First off, Happy B-Day to Ryan Butts (MrRogers) over at Sunstorm Interactive. Mr. Butts turns a health 22 today I believe.
Mrs. Wrath and myself saw "Hannibal" this weekend, and I believe we are deeply entrenched in the "hated it" group of people. The movie was extremely disappointing, I'm sorry to say.
Feb 5, 2001
Moved in to the new pad this morning...Mrs. Wrath and myself realized that 99% of our furniture is cheap crap and we're now looking to replace all of it with lovely new furniture that wasn't bought from a store with the word "mart" in it's name.
Max 4 has some very nice new features. The most obvious, to me anyway, is the complete overhaul of the IK system. Being a character studio fanatic, I have never used Max bones before and very rarely did I make my own IK skeleton using some boxes, heirchal linking, and a lot of fiddling about with Max's former IK. From the very brief look at the new system, it seems much nicer. The skin modifier has a very nice morph angle deformer that allows you set morph targets for parts of a mesh based on bone angles. That gives you ultimate control of the shape of geometry, which is extremely cool. That deformer on top of you standard bulge angle deformer and joint angle deformer makes for some very powerful and still very simple deformation setup. Ton of other additions and changes to the package...for more info visit http://www2.discreet.com/products/d_products.html?prod=3dsmax
A big congrats to Alphawolf over at Ritual, some of his Q3 models are included in the Discreet demo stuff on the Max 4 CDs. Though for some odd reason, the scene with Shek causes Max to crash to desktop whenever I try to open it.
Character Studio has gotten a few nice things, namely the selectable IK pivots for the feet and hands. It makes freeform animations with IK blends for the feet much more flexible as well as allowing animating quadrupeds using a biped extremely easy and precise. Haven't looked to much at the crowd feature, as I'll probably never use it, but it's closely tied to the new motion flow, which is still not done the way I'd like to see it done, but that's also something I very rarely use.
Character Studio has gotten a few nice things, namely the selectable IK pivots for the feet and hands. It makes animating quadrupeds using a biped extremely easy. Haven't looked too much at the crowd feature, as I'll probably never use it. Motion flow is still not done the way I'd like to see it done, but that's also something I very rarely use.
And finally, they were apparently filming something downstairs. I was informed that Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew Perry were outside the chase towers earlier this afternoon. I had to have walked right past them coming in, I was so busy gawking at all the cables and equipment everyone trying to figure out what was going on that I didn't even see them.
Feb 2, 2001
Finally getting settled in here at Ion, arrived in the very large city of Dallas, Texas last Friday with Mrs. Wrath
Very sad to leave Sunstorm, a lot of very talented folks hiding out there and I hope one day they'll get the chance to really shine. I am extremely excited to be working at Ion, I think the companies poised to move out of it's somewhat dark history and really take center stage in the industry...something that you can see from Dues Ex and will soon see from Anachronox, which are both very fine games.
Congrats to id Software on their 10 year anniversary. I too, of course, was a big fan of all the id titles way back to Castle Woflenstein 3D all the way through Q3: Team Arena...played them all, loved them all. I got a peek at some of the new tech that sick, sick bastard John Carmack is working on for Doom3 and it is going to be simply INCREDIBLE. Couple that tech with the amazing pool of talent they have in their art department and there is absolutely no way they can lose.
I am officially assuming the title of "3DS Max Guru" for Ion Storm, just got my copy of Max4 installed and am currently running through some of the new tutorials and such to find out what's really new, and what they just re-named and moved to a different menu. One big thing I've noticed is that when importing older versions of CS files, the physique data is all fuxored, forcing you to re-initialize. Hopefully there will be a workaround that little quirk I hope.
And finally, a quick shout out to my peeps. Meester John Sheffield, formerly of Ion now working with Legend for passing my goodies along to the appropriate people here. Thanks again. R13 and the rest of the Polycount gang for being such a cool group of people, professional and not-yet-pros. Ryan Butts (MrRogers), Jeramy Cooke (Agent/ook), Jason Smith (Frosty), Dave Manuel, Darren, Matt G, Ed/Dan, Kenneth, Pepper, Dustin (Monkeygod), Dave E (NPherno), and all the other chaps at Sunstorm. And finally, my most perfect wife, Jessica...who is currently in the process of trying to become a serving wench for Medieval Times. She left the University of Indianapolis and a whole gaggle of friends to come down here with me, and I love her dearly for being her.
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