–Einfluss Archiv Pt 1 [April 2014].
**Nekro Engineer Stage III 2014 W.I.P. [For WordPress publication. + Mural Queue]
As displayed above, one my early developments for April 2014, most certainly an ideal working base to imitate future terrain textures. Although the intent was more along the lines of a silvery alloy warped by exposure to experimental energy, I’m not actually complaining because the end result was delicious. It reminded me a lot of the hellish lava rock textures featured later into Doom 3, actually while on that subject I stumbled upon my own images via google search regarding an idtech 4 query. Although it is not my intention to imply production of content for idtech 4 powered games, it is indeed a strong influence for me in terms of both general Art direction & id software’s very distinct form of Industrial Design.
IDTECH4(typically lower case sensitive) may be last generation in contrast to more recent engines like; idtech 5, Crytech 2/3, Unreal3 and so forth however Doom 3 still looks great nearly a decade later, albeit heavily modified with the appropriate high definition texture, shader packages i.e. Sikkmod(shaders) & Wulfen Textures. I make a point of this as Second Life is fully capable of looking like a decent Indie Game Engine, don’t hold your breath for Crytech, Unreal 4 or idtech5 level of fidelity, one might be better off founding a sovereign nation in Antarctica.
**id will power their new “Doom” with idtech 6 by 2016.**
Second Life would be lucky enough to reach an idtech4 tier of visual fidelity, although such would require a re-education of the general population(Purge, if I had my way.) and extra effort from Linden Lab management(Fat chance that happens ever.)
–Which brings me to the primary Article — Wolfenstein:
A brief early history: As important as Wolfenstein 3-D(1992) is historically to PC Gaming, it remains omitted from my timeline below due to utilizing the then faux 3-D imitation(Tessellation – Animated 2-D Planes) technique. As this game preceded the inception of true 3-D Polygon based engines due to technical limits at the time.(early through mid 90s.)
I recall playing Wolfenstein 3-D in grade school having convinced a teacher it was an educational title, fond memories. Quake though… that was quite the game changer the soundtrack alone had me hooked along a life long path.
The first full 3-D First Person Shooter came into existence with Quake(1996) – idtech 1, followed by Quake II(1998) – its first major competitor Unreal released within the same year. What an exciting time that was, a nigh endless war of Quake vs Unreal engine technology, a competition which has plateaued in recent years however gave us the foundation to multiple successful game engines we know and love today. Although there were more than three Wolfenstein games due to various spin-offs, those indicated in the article below are the most contemporary – at least within the spectrum of 3-D rendering technology.
–idtech3: Return to Castle Wolfenstein(2001) 500-800 polygons per character model.
Developed by Raven Software under the watchful supervision of id software & powered by the Quake III Arena engine a.k.a. idtech3. Return to Castle Wolfenstein was the 1st true 3-D Adaptation since the original Wolfenstein 3-D(We all know uses 2-D Tessellation.) Amazing how just nearly four years later id software releases Doom 3 – idtech4(2004) a massive leap in graphics technology at the time. Aside from being a dinosaur in retrospect the flame particle effects are actually still quite pretty to look at certainly much better than another engine I often ruminate upon.
–idtech4:Wolfenstein(2009) 2,500-3,000 polygons per character model down-scaled from a 6,000 polygon reference model.
Unofficially dubbed Wolfenstein: Blacksun due to the nature of this title.
Wolfenstein: Blacksun was built upon a massively overhauled Doom 3 engine, notable for Incorporates Bloom lighting a.k.a fake HDR(High Dynamic Range(Which is soft lighting for those of you who don’t know). Continued in the vein of the Occult & Super-science more so the central theme of “Veil Energy” which would play into both the narrative and game-play mechanics, not all critics received this title well, as well sales were fairly low(10K sales for North America). Issues aside, among die hard fans Wolfenstein: Black Sun was still was a cult hit.
Idtech 4 most notable for Doom 3 in the collective consciousness of PC gaming was the engine which forever changed how modern engines were developed. While only a handful of games utilized idtech4 (Doom3, Prey, Quake 4, Wolfenstein: Black Sun) in contrast to the massive slew of Unreal 3 licenses’.
One has to admit despite other engines out-grossing idtech it remains iconic for image & legacy alone, I can’t be the only person alive which immediately thinks of “Dark Industrial” when someone mentions id.
**Even idtech1-2 has incorporated dynamic shadows, normal mapping + specular highlights due to a robust modding community as well having gone open source.
**It is true a game does not need uber graphical prowess to provide a rich tangible experience ex: Luftrausers. However in the case of Second Life an antiquated, broken engine engulfed by some of the worst avatar design has tainted the public perception of its viability among both professionals & aspirants alike. Second Life is certainly not making up for its multitude of technical and visual flaws in current form. Plus as previously mentioned a more plausible goal would be achieving a last generation engine level of visual fidelity, one which isn’t 1996-2003 era.
–idech5:Wolfenstein: The New Order(2014) Poly count per character unknown. I have a hard time finding idtech 5 based numbers.
Really, this game requires no extended description – Wolfenstein ist legendär. But if you want… well, here is a snippet:
Deathshead seems like such a jovial character, I like him so much already. I can imagine him baking cookies in the shape of small children, only to snack on them with a tall glass of milk, giggling like an ecstatic school girl. All the while surrounded by steel clad uber-menschen who could smash a human head, in the same manner one makes mashed potatoes.
But seriously this game is not yet released, very soon though. From a glance Wolfenstein: The New Order appears to incorporate Metro: last Light esque stealth mechanics, a Dishonored esque slide mechanic, limited health regeneration with medkits(A mix of both new and old-school.), modern FPS features like an RPG-like skill advancement system, ironsights, dual wielding automatic shotguns even ripping off massive turrets from emplacements to use as standard weaponry. All the meatiness returns this time around, none of this disappearing body bullshit. Oh did I mention the alternate history setting? A perfect marriage of Dieselpunk aesthetics coupled with with the Atompunk movement post 1947, just minus the cold war.
To conclude this I’d like to address a recurring visual issue with this virtual medium, Second Life came into existence in 2002 its 3-D rendering engine just slightly more complex than idtech3, in polygon count it appears close to a match. Take for example the old Linden Avatar cloth system which is exact to the way game models in Return to Castle Wolfenstein have fabric meshes simulated, as well with avatar foot shadows(Semi-transparent blobs attached to the feet of character models) Yes Second Life’s infrastructure is indeed very old. The only pluses to the platform being limitless customization as an online creative sandbox as well an incredible ability to render some of the most insane geometry on screen at a single instance.
Whilst SL suffers from a general horrendous visual design it does possess the potential to evolve better than some older AAA engines. Linden Lab just needs to stop being lazy, provide users practical limits to prevent the eye-sores from popping up. The next thing LL could do beyond that is overhauling the Havok physics engine, OpenGL compatibility context & completed mesh integration. Lastly at least provide a tiny piece of art direction to give a head-start to users who are not so artistically inclined(This is never going to happen sadly LL is adept at being Jews not creators).
Style within regard of most Second Life users is not a viable counter argument, mainly due to the bizarre pseudo culture of stretched monstrosities(Scrubs.) Even stylized characters i.e. fantasy creatures, comic book/anime characters are designed by artists who first study human anatomy as a primary reference. Differences in style abide to a per-determined formula — rule of exaggeration typically as part of an individual design philosophy unique to a specific design philosophy.
Major animation & game studios do not want to see cartoon characters in the portfolios of their applicants. Rather studios seek portfolios which display a strong technical understanding. In Fine Art: Human anatomy sketches, muscle structure, skeletal references, gesture drawings(Quickly drawn posture/framing references.) Depth and lighting studies notwithstanding. Such is to determine the aptitude of its artists, only after such is actual imagination/creativity assessed to determine worthiness as an artist.
**A quick tip: place a hand on your face, the human hand with fingers spread out is proportionate to the front of the face, the forehead and top and skull proportionate to another hand placed over it. Now measure Arm length from bicep(top of shoulder) to finger tips, followed by measurement along the inner leg(Inseam length) – crotch to heels. The leg to arm ratio should be the same. Now you know a quick reference to keep things within proportion.