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Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
Torque Game Engine 1.5 
Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 03:22 PM - Machinima
Heads up folks, a massive upgrade to the Torque Game Engine from Garage Games was released today. Includes all kinds of features that I feel make the TGE the most solid and well-rounded 3D game starting point.

Major Features:

Windows, Mac, and Linux support

Full engine Source Code //plenty of comments too!
BSP interior/object Support
Multi-Texture Terrain/hight map
Full featured light mapping
Seamless transition from indoors and outdoors
Create props and characters in Max/Maya/Milkshape/Blender, and more.
Includes a ton of ready to use example art for quick prototyping.
TDN: a massive Wiki for devs, and loads of other stand alone "getting started" docs included with the download.

And it now comes with ShowTool Pro. ShowTool Pro is a 3D model viewer that uses the Torque engine to render your models. You can test your props, characters, and animations as they really look, before you bring them into your game.

I'm starting to feel like a press release here, but I really do think Torque is worth $150, even if you've never done any game dev work. 3D Artist can use it to demo their props/sets/characters in a real 3D game setting. Machinima guys can use it as a fairly robust rendering engine. And of course, game designers can use it punch out games in significantly less man-hours.

But the biggest feature is the $150 license. I mean, a real honest to goodness game development platform license for 150 bucks. Create, release, collect!

They also have an advanced version for next-gen graphics, still in Early Adopters (beta) mode, it's not nearly as fleshed out as TGE, but Torque Advanced Tech (Still known as Torque Shader Engine, but the name change is coming) offers most of the TGE features, and adds many next-gen features. Normal maps, Dynamic lights/shadows, and shaders, just to name a few.

At any rate, the only thing missing is a Garage Games brand BSP editor... but that is on the way, and looks like a worthy competitor (feature-per-feature) for the Unreal Editor. Judging from the screen captures of the various beta versions, it certainly looks easier to use than the Unreal Editor too! It's currently called Constructor.
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Typical SummerTech Machinima Class Schedule 
Tuesday, October 24, 2006, 12:42 PM - SummerTech
Things to know: Only 3 Hours of "Class Time" each day. ST is a place to learn, but even more important than "classroom learning" is having fun. We interchange class time with game time every hour (closer to 40 minutes) until lunch. After lunch it's electives, dodgeball, dinner, and then more game time (or sports club outside.) Classes are college level intense, and the median student age is around 11. They soak it all right up. Dedicated pupils can opt to skip game time and work on their projects, and many do! (However, we never let them work too hard for too long. All work and no play = booo!)


Week One

Pre Production. Come up with ideas, concepts, and outlines
Propose ideas and concepts to instructors for approval and advice.

Script Writing. Once your project is approved, begin writing dialogue.
Submit script for proofing, advice, and approval.

Research game engines and collect resources, such as maps and models.

Week Two

Production phase. Assist classmates with filming as an actor, and direct classmates in your own film.

Audio Recording. Depending on multiple variables, either we pick an entire day, or interleave audio recording sessions between classes during game time.
Audio recording is setup to be fun and easy. A trained audio engineer mans the “box” while students simply go in and record their voices.

Week Three

Wrap up filming and audio recording, and begin editing!
We have a full day lesson in video editing, and the rest of the week is on your own to wrap your film.

Once a rough edit is made the instructors reviews it, issues pointers, and illustrates customized high-level techniques for additional polish.

By the end of Week Three, the film should be complete, and burned to a DVD!

Party Time!

At the end of each summer there is a SummerTech Film Festival where students can opt to show their film to friends, family, and the general public. There’s BBQ, live music, and movies going till late.

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Lots and Lots of Pictures! 
Monday, October 23, 2006, 10:21 AM - Everything
I was playing with the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom beta, and found that it freaking rocks for taking my digital photos, cleaning them up, and launching them into the www as very nice gallery pages. Much better than my previous methods, which was to try every gallery generator under the sun until I had a dozen galleries with no common, or clean, method of navigation. If you take a lot of pictures, and are not willing to own a mac, (three cheers for iPhoto!) this is an awesome solution.


Tokyo -Seven Days of Worldwide Adventure!

Five Months -Five Months of Camera Phone Pictures

SummerTech 2006 -Six Weeks of Dodgeball and Machinima!


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Boycott Time 
Thursday, October 19, 2006, 11:42 PM - Everything
I hate doing this to people I respect. You hard working 3D artist, animators, programmers, project managers, and dreamers.

However, leave it to your marketing people to screw you and I in the wallet.

What am I on about, you ask?

EA is including software designed to deliver in-game ads, starting with Battlefield 2142.


(right-click "view or save image" for larger pic)

Unfortunately this violates just about everything I believe in as a private citizen seeking escape from the 24/7 bombardment of loud, and obnoxious unsolicited suggestion. That EA would do this was inevitable, however disappointing. I wish the developers make their case on behalf of those who enjoy playing their games, as they have now gone from being valued customers to unwashed 'products'. As TV has proven, advertisement driven content can only go so far, before it becomes a self-censored mess of unwatchable recycled crap.

So, my formal response to EA for their inclusion of the IGA Worldwide Inc. ad software:

YOU ARE BANNED!

There will be ZERO EA games in my house from now on. Every EA game I own will be returned or traded for games by companies that at least pretend to still care about their customers. I will be encouraging others to do the same. At my next LAN party I will make an announcement that there can be no EA games installed when on my network, violators will be asked to leave.
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Machinima: What is it good for? 
Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 12:36 AM - Machinima
Years and years ago Mike and I got our start with Machinima by deciding to make a playable Half-Life map-pack to rival the likes of “USS Darkstar”. It was going to huge on story, and even bigger on scripted-sequence action. Every corner you turned would unleash a torrent of explosions, cinematic climax, and intrigue. When I sat down one night to type all of this out on paper, after weeks of telephone meetings and drawing sessions, I realized something important. We weren't out to make a playable game. We were out to make a film. So I phoned up Mike, sometime in late '99 early '00 and explained to him my idea of using the built in camera system in Half-Life to make a movie, instead of spending years fleshing out our mod. He instantly fell in love with the idea, and I was elated, because this was such a simple idea, I couldn't believe that we were the first to try it! About 9 months latter, I get an e-mail from Gordan over at Machinima.com... well, the rest is history.

Back then, we were punk kids. We didn't know what a budget was, after all, I'd filmed successfully in my backyard getting perfect results of GI-Joe's exploding in slow motion since I was 6. (Yes. I made the same 2 second film like a billion times, no, it's still not old.) The idea of producing a 'big' picture for free on the computer, using tools I knew by heart, was simply too awesome. So, that's what we did. 2299 came and went, foiled by our delusions of grandeur, but “Fake Science” was easy enough.

Okay, so now we're two years along, in College and taking on press like the Titanic took on water. All the while coming up with “The Next Big Thing”.

Then we learned 3D Studio Max.

Then, we realized that Half-Life was not going to cut it for our “The Next Big Thing”. In fact, we found that nothing else on the market could. UT 2k4 came close, but the pipeline was annoying, and the results only turned out if you could save-as every five seconds. From random crashes, to camera paths becoming corrupt. Bleh. Fuck it.

Break time. Finish School. Become a zombie member of the 3D Max army. Check, check, and check. Ahh, and don't forget to submit Fake Science to...

Ottawa. Oh god, did this ever open my eyes. (One to the wide world of travel, and two....)

So after a nice Machinima break after School and the horrific events in Ottawa, I had some time reflect on the merits of Machinima as an art form that I could embrace. I had grown accustomed to the ease of creation in Max, but still longed for the low-poly days of video-game tech. Without a game or engine that would accept me as I was, I realized that Machinima sucks.


SummerTech (part 1)

Just because I was mad at Machinima for its barrier, barring the non-programmer traditional 3D artist oriented “Jack of All Trades,” didn't mean I hated it. In fact, I loved Machinima, and that anyone could pick up a game, and make a film all their own in such a short time. So, when by the grace of karma, the opportunity to teach a six week course at a kids summer camp came up, I took it without a second thought.

Aside from the best summer of all time, SummerTech re-sparked my drive to peruse Machinima. So, without Mike, I made my way to the 2005 Machinima Film Fest in NYC. A bunch of awesome things happened, and I met a bunch of cool enthusiastic patrons and press. I also got to see what the ILL Clan was doing with the Torque Engine. (Which I had purchased the month before, for shits and giggles.) Very impressive. I put Torque in my back pocket, and pull it out to count it every other update or so. Expect great things.

With me going on and on about girls from Tokyo and rocket-scientist children wielding Machinima in NY all summer, Mike decided that he too should dust off the book of Machinima. We began work on the Space Man Biff project. On paper, it's the greatest Machinima film. Ever. Best part is, we can actually pull it off thanks to years of training and experience. No 2299 folly here.

SummerTech (Part 2)

Weeks before we were due to tag-team the 2006 Machinima class in NY, Mike and I decided to open up Half-Life for some old-school Machinima moving making. Thus Diet Cola.

We still think Machinima sucks. We still think that rendering it all out in 3D Max would be best. I'm almost positive that Machinima as it is now is “Just for Kids”. You can quote me on that.

At the SummerTech 2006 Festival, someone asked me what I thought of Machinima, and of the “Space Man Biff” project we had been brewing for the last year or two, this is how I replied: “Machinima, right now it's for kids. That's why Mike and I are here, showing these kids that the games they love can offer more than the pre-built ride. All you need is a good script, and an eye for direction. As for me and Mike? We're just about sick and tired of Machinima as it is today. Talking Halo heads and simple Sims. Not much better than the days of Quake guys, it's been over a decade of that crap! There are a few true artist out there making an impact, but it's not enough. Machinima is in it's pre-teens as it were, and so we're going to kick it in the nuts with the greatest fucking film you've ever seen. With luck, maybe a ball will drop.”

Thats right I said it. It's time to do one of two things. Either Dead on Que moves out, or Dead on Que moves up. Either way, I've safely distanced my self from the online Machinima community. Machinima.com has become a scary wasteland of I don't know what the hell, and the other Machinima sites are really too small to matter much. Machinimators would do well to distance themselves from the old-school ways too, and get into mainstream release avenues. YouTube, iTunes, Google, etc. Follow the people. Reach for the stars. Don't think it'll work? Then you need a lesson in Male Restroom Etiquette.

As it stands, Machinima sucks. You'll get like two films a year worth your time at this rate. Machinima needs someone, someone from their numbers, to take it pro and leave everyone else in the dust. Mike and I are attempting just that, while keeping grounded in the roots, and teaching Machinima basics over the summer seasons.

See ya.
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