Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Newness... -ish.

Welcome to the "new" Forever Project site.

As you may or may not have known, the site has been facing some strange issues over the past few weeks. A while back a friend of mine had generously offered me server space for my website, and it had been there ever since. I've been ever grateful for her generosity, and it's helped keep The Forever Project running for just about 10 years now.

With a lot of sites on the 'net switching over to a blog-style site structure, I decided to try that route myself, instead of constantly updating the crudely slapped-together news updates I'd been posting for a good while. It worked out well enough, and became the face of the homepage for a couple years. Though it wasn't "the" homepage (just a part of it), it was probably the only part that most people saw anyway, unless they decided to take a look around (which, according to my stats, was mostly limited to the long-outdated UT2004 materials creation tutorial).

Thus, in an effort to save my friend some bandwidth expense and time spent on maintaining my part of the server space, I've decided to move my site to 100% blog till I can figure out what to do with the rest of the content I used to have here. Once again, to my friend who had graciously hosted my site for so long, thank you very, very much!

On a side note, while I've never been a fan of Apple products (save for when I was a kid, I loved my Apple ][GS), I have always understood and respected the changes Steve Jobs and Apple have brought to the market. Without Apple's effect on the masses, many of their competitors' products very likely would not be what they are today. Though my voice is small, I join the world in mourning his passing, and offer my condolences to his family and friends.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Felina Haynesworth Topic

Over the past number of years I've had at least a few requests from Felina fans regarding a port to UT3, the voice pack I had mentioned at one point, and the possibility of conversion of the skin to other games. I feel like I'm letting you all down by not doing anything about it, so I thought I'd give a little update regarding what's going on in my head about it.

First, a little info about how I tend to work when it comes to personal projects. Usually what ends up happening is I think of an idea, it builds up in my head to epic proportions, and I begin work on it, only to let it fizzle off to near-nothingness despite the project being very much alive in my own little world. In fact, the title of this website is so named because of it--all my projects seem to take forever.

Felina began her life as a little practice project. I'd never done a skin for any game before, and Hide's delightful cats series inspired me to try something a little different. Being a skin, I had to work around the shape of the model, so she wound up having the proportions everyone's seen: cat ears, short hair, animal nose and legs, a tail, and voluptuous proportions. The overall suit design was meant to take on design cues from one of my favorite character sculpts at the time from a company named Kip. I really loved the curves and proportions of the models, and I wanted to try and work that into my own character... but to be honest I was too lazy to start my own model from scratch. This was mainly because I would have had to not just build the model, but also research how to get it into UT2004, which proved to be a daunting task for someone whose main package was XSI, not 3DS Max or Maya. Hide's models were very close to what I was looking for, so with his permission I started working on the skin and Felina Haynesworth came to be. The rest, as it is said, is history.

After a number of alternate colored skins, I had toyed with the idea of bringing more life and individuality to the character by looking into giving her a unique voice pack. I'm very picky about my work and I don't like to infringe on copyrights, so I was left with three options:

1: ask friends or family
2: find a professional
3: voice her myself

Obviously #3 wasn't going to work well. #1 would have proven annoying, and no one in my family has that kind of voice. None of my friends did, either. Felina has a sweet, girly voice with a serious tone that no one in my vicinity had. That left seeking out professionals. I had found several candidates thanks to the wonders of the internet, but laziness and lack of funds got the best of me and the voice pack idea kinda ended there.

All this happened around the end of 2004 and mid-2005, if my memory serves me. Around that time I had gone back to school to complete my degree, which I had started in 2000 but put on hold to work in the game industry till 2003. That left me with very little time to do side projects, and most of my creativity was focused on school projects. Any UT-related projects were put on hold.

Cut to 2006. One of the classes offered for my degree was a game design class. Students were introduced to modding UT2003 and a mod based on a design I proposed became the class project. It was at that time that I created my first model for UT, John Dautry. He wasn't the greatest-looking character ever, but it was something, and it paved the way for a new version of Felina.

Around that time I was still very much interested in polishing her to a mirror finish. I had done several drawings of her, like the one below, to flesh out my ideas before beginning the process of making a model.

If you notice, gone are the animal legs and claws on the toes of the boots and gloves. This was much more the way Felina was meant to look, and I had even experimented with removing the claws from the original skin while it was in development.

As 2007 rolled around, more ideas came flowing out, mostly in the form of casual sketches, and her design slowly began to solidify. This was one of the earlier sketches, where you can still see some of the original suit's design present:

With 2008 came the announcement of the 2nd MSU contest from Epic, and by that time I was already out of school, and out of work. Sitting in the garage of my grandma's house with a friend, I drew out plans for some Felina-based contest entries.

Recall the title of this site and you might get an idea of what happened next. My ideas began to flow, and a nearly-complete cinematic now played constantly in my head. It looked amazing, right up there next to the cinematics that shipped with UT3. Unfortunately, my grand vision far outstripped my ability to complete the project. Time, will power, and a new job all started to play their cards against me, and the new Felina et. al. became another Forever Project. The designs exist, and I definitely want to finish at least some part of it at some unknown point in the future. We'll see how it goes, but it's possible the next-gen Felina may not appear till UT4 (or whatever it may end up being called).

Regarding requests I've received to port Felina to other games, I've had to turn model requests down or away due to the fact that I, nor others, seem to be able to get a hold of Hide. While I've been fairly open to ports of the skin (please request it first if you want to do so), the model Felina's skin resides on is still very much Hide's work, and one I cannot give permission to port. I can only offer my sincerest apologies to those who wish to port or see her in other games.

I close this post with something hopefully positive. I had begun work on a new model for UT2004 a while back that fits the newer design more. If and when I ever complete this model, it is one that I can give permission to use, since it'll be of my own creation. It may not be a UT3 model, but I'm rusty, and I haven't yet had time to learn Mudbox or Zbrush for the detail work.

Here's a screenshot of some model work I had done based on Hide's model. The finished product will be entirely new, and even the work in this image was done for practice and experimentation only.

For now, I must sleep. The real world beckons in a few hours! ^_^;

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Question for Visitors

I've got a question for those who visit my site: what do you folks think about sketches or WIPs?

I've been mulling over this idea for a long, long time, but haven't done it for a very specific reason: plagiarism. Plagiarism falls under the category of theft, and I feel it's one of the worst kinds of theft since not only steals someone else's hard work, but it can also prevent someone from getting a job if the plagiarist gets hired. Plagiarism is far more common than I'd like, and I've seen some people lie their way through jobs for years.

Because of this, I've been reluctant to show progress pieces, but I do understand that it would make my site more enjoyable. Typically, I just show what I think looks "finished," but there's a lot of material I haven't shown because they're just design tests or character development. You know, stuff that you might just skip over.

So, whaddaya think? What do you folks want to see?