SMC Freki by Raven

>01/07/2015 | BlackDove

As promised in my last post, the BWO team is proud to present the SMC Freki, Sol's Coalition of Planets (SCP) attack cruiser.

Larger than most other cruisers, the Freki's armament matches its size, making it a fearsome opponent. With dual torpedo launchers, the Freki is as powerful as Sol's Leviathan whilst possessing the speed and anti-fighter defence of the Fenris to match. One-for-one, a Freki can destroy nearly any cruiser in combat. The SMC often deploys them, however to hunt larger vessels with considerable success. Pilots who have seen groups of Freki-class cruisers in action have found it apt to call them 'Terran Liliths'.

Without going too deep into things, I'd like to explain what kind of weaponry the SCP's capital vessels use: Their main anti-capital ship weaponry are Magnetically Accelerated Torpedoes, an hybrid between a Torpedo launcher and a Railgun. The end result is a super fast torpedo, very hard to hit, but with very limited maneuverability.

To tackle fighters, they use a mix of lasers and missiles (short range swarmers and long range dual shot missiles).

The Freki belongs to the most recent technological generation of the SCP's warships, and as such, it also employs a couple of primitive AAA beams.

Like last time, lets take a look at the low-poly version first:

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So the things that jump out at me are that the Freki has 2 big sticks! (the MagTorp Launchers), protected by these shield structures on the side. Those are, in my opinion, the selling points of the design, so I want to not only transfer them to the HTL version, but also make them visually stronger.

Another element that I believe is quite cool, is those hexagon shaped panels, so I definitely want to nod at them when I re-work the model. However, I feel that they are too small, given that the Freki is just a cruiser.

Then there's that antenna array, an element shared between all the SCP's capital ships.

Finally, the color scheme. When the low poly models were made, the SCP's ships were all defined by having green and white everywhere, with dark blue lights. However, following discussions have led us to change how we want the SCP's visual identity to be, given their story, economic and political situation. So the color scheme will change. We'll reserve the breakdown of the SCP's design guidelines, and how we reached them for a future post, since it's a whole other topic in itself.

This time I won't go through the same steps as in the Selket's post, since the Freki didn't go through such situations. So here's the final result:

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So as you can see, I kept the general shape pretty much intact, but I opted to make the MagTorp launchers longer and more prominent in the design. I also changed the single missile launcher on the bottom to a multi-part turret, it became more vulnerable, but it also has a wider FOV.

Like I mentioned before, the texture scheme was bound to change, not only because the low-poly version was essentially tile textured, but also due to design decisions. In simple terms, the final decision regarding the SCP's color scheme was that in Sol, they don't have the resources to waste on painting their ships completely (not to mention that they are warships), but these guys are very nationalistic, so their ships are kind of like "flying flags" that boast the SCP's colors: blue, green and white. So that's what we have on the Freky, pretty much: most of its colors are derived from the armor materials (metals and ceramic composites) but then we have these bluegreenwhite motifs painted on top. And of course, it has a logo in there to boot! Because them hommies just love the SCP! :D

Now, speaking of motifs, color schemes and etc, take a look at this:

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The idea with BWO is that it won't be just a new campaign. It will also be a modpack that you can use and manipulate. What this means, from a development point of view, is that we're taking some care to build things in such a way that you'll be able to easily manipulate the assets as you see fit, to implement them in your own projects.

What this means for you, is that you'll have access to edited PSD files that have specific layers that you can turn on or off, masks that you can use to change colors or apply new texture patterns easily. The 4 above variations were done in literally 2 minutes each. You'll be able to do the same.

You'll be seeing a fair share of Frekis in BWO, and most often than not, you'll have to blow them up (joy!). Which leads me to debris. We're not really satisfied about how debris are usually done: you break the model into boxy chunks, apply a debris texture on a plane and presto! It works very well for fighters and small vessels, but for capital ships, the results end up being a bit too ugly.

We want to take it a bit further, so not only we try to break the model apart in a way that makes more sense, but also show some of the underlying structure of the ship. Here's how the Freki's debris look like, for the ships itself, and for the main batteries:

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We think these simple additions make debris look more genuine and pleasurable to look at, adding some extra motivation to blow them up :P

What do you think?

Finally some screengrabs:

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Many times, Frekis travel in pairs.

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And they can give you a wooping if you're not careful...

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So that's it for the Bonus Post I promised 2 weeks ago. Let us know what you think!

And stay tuned. There's more coming up next month, or at the most, in 2 months :D

What a lovely day!! - Dev Post: GVF Selket!

>02/06/2015 | BlackDove

By Raven:

This post will hopefully be the first of a series of posts that we intend to make on a regular basis (once a month or every 2 months). We want to start showing everyone what we've been up to, and also give you guys a glimpse on the tribulations and decisions that go into developing BWO, because reality is the project is slowly progressing not only because of real life concerns for everyone involved, but also due to a certain attention to detail that we like to employ.

This time, I'm going to show you the updated version of a Vasudan fighter that you might have seen before on BWO's website, the GVF Selket. I guess that the best way to go about this, is to show you where it all started!

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This is the original, pre-HTL Selket, modeled and textured by Bobboau, for an old and defunct project of his (Dark Breed, I believe). The important thing to note here, is that that campaign was populated by VasudanShivan Hybrids, which clearly influenced the design of the Selket. This theme of "union of technologies" is also quite prevalent in BWO, but we don't want to go so for over the top with it (it's not the main focus), so there will be some elements that we're not gonna translate into it's HTL form, in the end.

The first thing I did when I started this assignment, was to take a good look at the model, and identify the elements I think are crucial to the design (in red), as well as which lines I can use to build greebling (in green). Bobboau also chipped in a little, pointing out that he was quite proud of the cockpit circular shape, as well as that "tube" right behind it.

However, you'll see on the final ship, that it deviates quite a bit from the original. After some discussion, there was a general consensus that the original was too Shivan looking, and that we wanted to try another color palette.

Also, of course, I took a look at its specs and tech description, to get a better sense of what it's supposed to be. The best way of looking at it is as Vasudan Erinyes, with Shivan influences on its design:

Class: Heavy Fighter

Length: 19 Meters

Gun Mounts: 8 (6+2)

Secondary Capacity: 1 (50)

Manuverability: Excellent

Max. Standard Velocity: 75 m/s

Hull Strength: 300 ASE (Armor Strength Equivalent)

Shield Strength: 400 ASE

Manufacturer: Mekhu Enterprises

A next generation of prototype heavy fighter for the modernising GTVA fleets, the Selket sits alongside the GVF Tauret in terms of its firepower and capabilities. The peculiar design of the Selket is clearly influenced by Shivan constructs. This confers it distinct advantages in speed and maneuvrability over the Tauret, as well as a small forward profile that makes it difficult to target with guns and missiles. Though some shielding has been sacrificed to achieve this the Selket carries massive primary cannon firepower and a small number of missiles. Overall the Selket is suited more evenly to defence and attack than the Tauret, but is by no means a replacement for it.

So I got to work:

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Keep in mind that these 2 images translate literally years of modelling and re-modelling. On the right is my first iteration of the ship, which even got UVmapped (by Kobrar44, when he was still with us) and somewhat textured. However, it had a few issues that were always bugging me:

1- I knew that that area was going to get some light recesses, which I thought I could get away with normal mapping... however, that wasn't really working, so I needed to do some more 3d work on that

2- The cockpit wasn't really fitting with the rest of the design language, not to mention that it wasn't as interesting as Bobboau's 3 pixel texture blob :P

3- That area looked a bit too strange for me, didn't fit with the rest, and was looking too shivanish...

4- The missile launcher was too bland, needed more detail

5- Same as n°1 and n°4

6- Didn't like it for some reason

7- That spike was a bit too much in my opinion.

Before jumping to the image on the right, it's worth showing a step somewhere in the middle:

You can see that some of those points had been addressed here, but not all. However, it was important to me to start some sort of texturing process, to get a better idea of what I needed to do, as well as start experimenting with colors and patterns.

I still wasn't satisfied with the lights, they looked too alien. The cockpit and gun pods were looking quite rad in my eyes. I settled in more mechanical gun pods, to contrast with the other, more organic shapes.

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Going back to the above image, on the right we have what was pretty much the final version of the model: I settled with a honeycomb design for the missile launchers, took the light recesses on a more mechanical direction. As a bonus, I also added a bit of detail in that area behind the tubes, something that would make a huge difference in terms of shading, after the final texture was done.

I moved to actually texturing it. Like I mentioned before, we wanted to try a different palette from the original. I got somewhat inspired by Oddgrim's HTL Osiris.

For the first time, I used a lot of free painting techniques, instead of layering exclusively. I kind of like the more organic looking result:

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Keep in mind that the texture in the p3d isn't the final version, but it's quite close to it. In any case, it will let you see the final model.

Another thing to note, was that I tried some color variations after conversion (the bulk of it was done by Droid), for the glows and shine maps. I always take care of the shine and normal maps after the model is in-game, to see for real how it's going to render.

In the image below, you can see 3 of those variations. The alternative on the right is the final version.

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As I was working on the texture, Kobrar built LoD1, and I took a moment to generate the other LoDs and debris from his work. Note that you can see yet another palette variation on this p3d...

By this point, the Selket was pretty much done here's the final product, from various angles, as well as an ortho sheet.

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Oh and screenshots!!

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GVF Selket Credits:

Original Model: Bobboau

Mesh: Raven2001

LoDs+Debris: Kobrar44 (LoD1) and Raven2001

UV Mapping: Kobrar44 and Raven2001

Textures: Raven2001

Conversion: Droid803

Here's a bonus. I mentioned that we're going to try making these kind of posts once a month, or every 2 months. However, to make up for years of silence, I'll post about another ship in 1 or 2 weeks.

I hope you enjoyed reading this, let us know your feedback. :)

A New Update At Last

>12/10/2014 | BlackDove

Not to get your hopes up too much, this update won't have much new information, but we are hoping to start updating regularly with information regarding how game assets are progressing now that we've got a bit of a jolt by the end of summer.

We will also be trying to showcase some of the work that was completed during the very hibernatic development we have had during the past years.

Expect parts of this site to be updated, and we will attempt to post updates here regularly.

Progress at long last!

>03/08/2010 | BlackDove

Recruitment drive has proved quite the success so far, and some of our new talented artists have finalized many of the assets, as well as being hard at work on ones not yet finalized.

We will be showing off some of this progress soon.

Stay tuned.

When we need help, we'll ask for it.

>16/07/2010 | BlackDove

This was not a lie. Yet it was not true either.

We needed help for the past four or five years, yet whenever it came time for it to be called upon, looking one step ahead, there was really no foundation for it, and therefore nothing was done whilst time went on. For a very lengthy period of the project's existence, the assets were scattered between people, each holding a different part, and nobody knew what the other people had. Eventually in the void of the past few years, we did get all of our assets together as much as it was possible, gotten an SVN server working, and now a new website. I always said that if we were all able to give the project 9 hours of every single day, the project would be probably complete within a month. Alas, people have lives and the stretch goes on and on and on.

I've been struggling with the usual thought of simply releasing everything we assembled so far to the community for the past year, but ultimately decided against it as we've never really given the normal approach a try. I even made a big post in internal with some laughable timeline that ended this June, which is another deadline missed, nothing new for this project.

To keep the story short and to the point, BlackWater Operations is now asking for as much help as possible from the community. Considering that the project has only two active (and that's a stretch) people, it's in need for some staff to help and conclude the development sometime while we're still alive. I would have said young, but many of us are not young anymore, even if we may have been when the project began.

What BlackWater Operations needs at the moment:

Modelers: You will have to create HTL models from scratch, following already established designs. You will have to do LoDs and debris as well.

Texturers: You will have to create textures. Diffuse, Specular, Normal and Glow maps.

UVMappers: You will have to UVmap existing models. Both tile and single texture UV's.

PoFers: You will have to convert from our work formats to .PoF, be able to turret ships, and all the PoFing stuff in general.

Weapon modeling and effects creation: Self explanatory.

Skybox creation and editing

If you fit the bill and are willing to help, we can use your talent. Even if you're not awesome at these, Raven would be there to lend you a helping hand regarding how to do it at a level as high as his. If you're interested, you can send your body of work straight to him, and he will instruct you on how to proceed further.

Right now, that is it. We will need help with other matters later on, and we will ask (this time) when it is needed. Some things have to be finished before others.

In conclusion, while browsing the website you may notice all of the content is old. I will be adding new content periodically. The reason we migrated the old content was simply for the sake of posterity.

Hit us up on the forums if you want to discuss these developments.