Well this post was for originally for January, but I had writer’s block. MAG was really something special. Massive Action Game, that cheesy title was the weird Sony PS3 exclusive that really grows on you after you dig into it. Imagine Battlefield + Call of Duty spiced up with Quake as opposed to the even mixture of something like a slower paced Homefront.
The MMO aspect was annoying yes, but there’s no denying how ambitious it was to have 32v32, 64v64, and especially 128v128 modes on a weak little console. (Yes, 256, two hundred and fifty six online humans.) The teams had objectives, platoon leaders direct squads, squads direct their group, it felt close quarters and wide open at the same time. Sometimes I would play after midnight and end up seeing lots of Japanese and Russian players. It felt like a real unified global community that is unfortunately gone now…
But I have something special being prepared. Before it was shut down, thanks to its screenshot feature, I managed to take over two thousand screenshots. The process was awful compared to having a hotkey for Fraps, so I mainly focused on the environments, buildings, and objects, which is perfect study material for level or asset designers.
If we don’t get a sequel, at least we need other games to take some of its ideas and mechanics. In the meantime, we can still enjoy people’s recorded gameplay footage and my screenshots once I upload them… just don’t hold your breath for them as I have even bigger plans beyond a single game’s screenshot archive.
My first complete skit from an idea onto paper and then realized in Cinema 4D. The contest topic was particles and I managed to cram multiple cheesy puns.
The footage is done entirely in a single C4D project file with no post processing and no scene cuts. All camera changes are keyframes of the stage object. The camera on the silent film text segments has a simple vibrate tag. The music comes from here.
It turned out quite nice and matches the concept storyboard sketch.
Here’s my entry to the Reddit /r/Cinema4D Contest. It all started with a little discovery and tweaking that turned into one large idea. Being relatively new to C4D, I decided to go into this direction instead of an actual sketch styled render with realistic objects.
Originally I was thinking of doing it at 15fps so I manually twisted a waveform to click at 15 hertz that would match the intro build up animation of the landscape. Eventually the animation seemed to look better at 30fps, but I kept the sound at 15.
The music is by myself in FL studio, I was going for a droney, spacey melody the way certain tracks are by Tycho. Overall this piece is basically a non-realtime demoscene type of music video.
Unfortunately video codecs aren’t designed for an animation of dots changing position every frame, so you can download a higher than vimeo quality version along with some test frame renders, most of which aren’t seen in the video:
The idea of this mix set was to transition from so-called ‘light’ drum and bass tracks towards ‘dark’ ones. For the cover image, I started arranging the words and three point lighting, enhancing the meaning of the individual words.
By this time, it’s taking almost 30 seconds to render a single frame just with medium quality global illumination. I wondered what kind of video can be made out of this along with what kind of alternate lighting could fit well with the idea. Turning off individual lights looked real nice, but once ambient occlusion was enabled and GI quality was turned up, a single frame is taking well beyond a minute. How could I even think of rendering a 70 minute video out of Cinema 4D?
While making test renders per light, the quick fix came… what if the images were loaded into Photoshop as layers, could opacity really end up looking as if the light intensity is realistically changing? Turns out this method works great as long as at least one light is exactly the same between two renders being blended.
Still in Photoshop, I needed to put some information on this cover image, so I chose my font, arranged it, added a very light drop shadow, then took it to After Effects to check if the same looking result can be done. Sure enough, being another Adobe product, the same drop shadow values match Photoshop’s and the opacity blend looks great in motion.
This is a blatantly simple example, but I can imagine running into this method again to change lighting through compositing instead of rendering in an animation (or even adventure game?), particularly if only the background needs to change.
One other SUPER EZ corner cut was an After Effects script that takes an .SRT format subtitle file and converts it to text with accurate keyframes for display.
Anyway, the final video is here if you actually want to hear the music play along with the (much much longer) video transitions you just saw.
Here I was messing around with abstract polygonal shapes, moving vertices around while using an isometric camera and somewhat flat lighting with ambient occlusion. This video contains the renders that were made while tweaking the positions, pausing on the better looking shots.
I’ve been trying out Cinema 4D very recently, I’m liking its workflow and features. Here’s a freshly made animation using the Sound effector to animate some Cloner cubes. I tweaked its settings so it looks decent for this audio and manually did the keyframes for the camera cuts. Yes I do now realize that these colors don’t play well with LCD response times.
Some DAWs like FL Studio only let you specify a single folder for VST plugins. This is a problem if you need to use more than one location, such as when you’re running low on space on the drive with the original VST folder and you don’t want to reinstall every plugin one by one.
The trick is to use NTFS junctions so that the application points to a single folder that has subfolders of the plugin locations. You can manually use the mklink command, but I used a tool called Junction Link Magic to make the junctions. Don’t mess around with any existing junctions that came with windows.
So make a new folder anywhere. I Made one called ‘VSTJunctions’ in the root of drive C. Then inside of this folder you’ll make an empty subfolder for each location of VST plugins that you have. If you’re using the mklink command, it will create these subfolders instead of you making empty ones. In my case, I just have one location of VSTs in Program Files and another one on another drive, so I named the 2 subfolders as ‘C-ProgFiles’ and ‘H-VST’.
Now in Junction Link Magic, hit the ‘create’ button and set your junction host and target for each of your VST locations. The host is one of the empty folders you just created, and the target is where the VSTs are actually installed. Now Junction Link Magic should look something like the following image:
Finally, set that initial folder you made that holds the junctions as your VST folder of your DAW. It should now see every plugin that has been installed to either location. Here is how FL Studio would look like:
By the way, this of course is not just limited to VSTs, you could try it on other things such as moving Steam games to another location without reinstalling anything or moving Steam’s location.
It’s been a while since I made an unboxing video, the previous ones being Bioshock 2 Special Edition and Mass Effect 2 Collector’s Edition. Now it’s time for LittleBigPlanet 2 Collector’s Edition. Check out the unboxing video and the photos below. Nothing really comes close to what was crammed into Bioshock’s box, but this one is alright. “Sackboy” feels decent in quality, other than the plastic zipper. The bookends look nice, but are slightly flimsy. Finally, 11 costumes for the game are included in the package, plus 5 PSN avatars. There is no special cover for the disc or case, just a voucher with the code for the avatars and in-game costumes.