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! ^_^;