Friday, December 31, 2010

New game concept

I recently finished Alan Wake, a game in which the enemies are weakened by light. The player uses a flashlight, flares and flashbangs, and seeks out lights in the environment, turning on generators etc. to help defeat the Taken. But I just remembered an older game, The Darkness. Based on a comic book, the protagonist has several powers that he can only use in the dark, the player must often shoot out light bulbs and turn off light switches etc. to give him an edge over the enemies. In other words, similar concepts approached from different sides.

And then it occurred to me, why not take the same idea and put it in a Left 4 Dead kind of game? One team of players control humans trying to escape or transport cargo or find an artifact or protect civilians or some other mission that has them traveling across or defending an environment, while the other controls the Darklings trying to kill them. All using light-vs-dark mechanics. The environment should have light and dark areas, possibly with changing lighting conditions to make the combat more dynamic.

Darklings are strong and fast and have various powers, but are weak and slow and lose some powers in the light. Humans have weapons and flashlights; if a Darkling can catch them by surprise they have the edge but if a human catches them in the light they are at a disadvantage. Flashlights have less effect than larger environment lights etc. The game could use many players per side, or the Darklings have minor AI-controlled darklings for gameplay similar to Left 4 Dead.

There you go, free awesome idea. You're welcome, games industry.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Soul Drinker

This is my first real conversion. A Space Marine of the Soul Drinker's chapter. The idea for the conversion came from my brother, then I remembered a bit from the second Soul Drinker's book, The Bleeding Chalice:
"We've had to take two Marines from Squad Luko off-duty entirely - one has claws that can't hold a boltgun and the other is growing a second head."

He / they were made from two AOBR space marines, which is why the right arm is in that slightly awkward position. I used bits from the Black Templars upgrade kit for the sword, pistol, bolter and shoulder pad (I filled most of the chapter symbols off but the parts are still recognizable from the chains). The base was ready-made, I don't remember where I got it from. I magnetized the left arms and shoulder pad to be interchangeable, and there's also magnets in the base. This was my first real use of green stuff, and it left something to be desired, but fortunately most of the crappy bits are hidden from normal view by the boltgun and backpack.

Typical pose. I chose two different helmet designs to make it look less symmetrical and more chaotic.

A shot taken without the camera flash. The arm can be rotated to vary the pose.

Shoulder pad. This was made by filling Black Templars symbols off a shoulder pad and green-stuffing a chalice symbol. The original shoulder pad actually had a skull that I cut off then later decided to try to blend back into the chalice. It didn't work very well, but it's still a little more interesting than just the chalice on it's own.

Backpack. The cables in the middle came from a flagellant from the Witch Hunter's inquisitor kit.

Right view with the bolt pistol arm.

The magnets on the arms and shoulder pad are 2mm diameter. If I was to do it again I would use larger magnets, if I had only relied on the 2mm magnets I don't think it would be strong enough. However I used a larger magnet recessed in the body and covered it with greenstuff except for a socket for the arm magnets. The combination of the stronger magnet and the tight-fitting socket holds the arms reasonably well.

I put a lot of effort into this one, not just in conversion but also in painting. Overall I would say this is my best work yet. The highlighting over the purple is a little too subtle while the highlighting over the black might be a little too obvious. I had some trouble with the gold and ended up using too many layers but in the end it turned out OK. I think I should have thinned the paint a bit more before painting the sword as it doesn't look very smooth, but it's not too bad and the "power-lines" look decent. The purity seals are better than my previous efforts - I managed to paint some pretty fine lines on the seal on the boltgun, I wasn't even able to repeat that for the one on the leg.

I've left him glossy for now as it seems to bring out the colours better and I've been having trouble with my attempts at matt varnishes. You have to apply matt varnish very thinly or it becomes glossy, so I'm planning to get some acrylic medium and use it to thin down some matt varnish so I can apply it more generously and hopefully get more even coverage. I might use it on this guy if the technique works, we will see.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I've been doing a little work on my engine these past couple of weeks. I wrote two different forwards renderers, but they both have trouble with the same bug in GLSL that I keep running in to; trying to access light data using a uniform variable just kills the whole shader. No error messages, it just doesn't do anything. I'm not really sure what to do about that, friends are suggesting switching to CG instead of GLSL, I might have to look into it.

Meanwhile I've also made some changes to my asset management code and put some more work into my Blender plugin. I cleaned it a little and added a material file exporter, I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to export most or all of the files used by a typical object in one go - currently I have to manually export each file. I'm starting to fill the screen a little vertically, I'm still undecided on whether to keep everything on one screen or use a lot of pop-ups for options:

In related news I'm looking forwards to the new Sony gaming phone; the Zeus Z1 they are calling it right now, though the theory is it will be called the playstation phone or something to that effect. Finally, true gaming controls in a phone - plus it has a touch screen so it can handle all the "casual" games currently out. I hope to be able to port my engine to it, perhaps that will give me a more tangible goal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So I'm finally on holiday! At last, time to relax, do some painting. Just finished my first Tallarn, which is actually the first time I tried to paint human skin, and a human face. Dry-brushing just didn't cut it for the face, I had to resort to actual manual highlighting (until now I've only highlighted edges), it wasn't a resounding success but it came out better than I expected. I left the arms dry-brushed out of laziness, and also to help compare the two in the finished article. The eyes also are not great (they look better in this picture than in real life because of the angle). The spray paint I used for an undercoat let me down, as a result the wash over the clothes pooled together in places because it wouldn't stick to the paint underneath (also my choice of colours for the wash were not perfect).

This was also my first attempt at using pre-cut clear bases. I used two 6mm x 0.5mm magnets under his feet, but they aren't strong enough, next time I'll have to use 6mm x 1mm, hopefully that will do it. They are a little obtrusive, but when you put it on a table from a few feet away they're barely noticeable.

I've also been trying to write lists for my Space Marines, Daemon Hunters, and Witch Hunters. It's actually quite a balancing act; I'm not looking for a competitive build as much as one that lets me use all my favorite units at the same time (hopefully in useful ways of course) - in other words it's driven by the models rather than the rules. However, one cannot help but notice certain opportunities - for example, the "six Dreadnought" build or the "all Space Marine Bikes" build. My favourite so far is the "Immolator Spam" build. So here's my take:

Palatine (Bolt Pistol, Chainsword, Frags), 5 Celestians, Immolator - 168 pts.
Palatine (Bolt Pistol, Chainsword), 5 Celestians, Immolator - 167 pts.

5 Storm Troopers - 50 pts.
5 Storm Troopers - 50 pts.

5 Celestians (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 150 pts.
5 Celestians (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 150 pts.
5 Celestians (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 150 pts.

5 Dominions (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 140 pts.
5 Dominions (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 140 pts.
5 Dominions (2 Melta Guns), Immolator - 140 pts.

Immolator - 65 pts.
Immolator - 65 pts.
Immolator - 65 pts.

TOTAL: 1500 pts.

11 Immolators and 7 Faith Points by my calculations, and everyone starts in an Immolator (plus one extra). Not the kind of list I'd use, but I find it amusing to contemplate. Immolators can move 12" and still fire their heavy flamers so it doesn't take long to start burning infantry, and also there's six units with two meltas each, so a fair bit of anti-tank. And with the small unit sizes things like The Passion and Spirit of the Martyr should be fairly reliable. Having said that, there's very little assault power, too many kill-points, and only two units of very weak troops wont work too well for holding objectives. Trading a couple of meltas will buy Cannoness (es?) instead of Palatines, which gets you two more faith points, or you can give the Storm Troopers Meltas or Plasma Guns instead. At higher points levels you could buy more troops and/or trade Storm Troopers for Sororitas, which would help a lot. You can probably also buy some Rhinos or Chimeras for even more vehicle saturation. Now, how about that "Nine Penitent Engines" build...