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Week 16 - April 18th - Projects that time forget...



This isn't exactly what I was planning for today but it's probably more interesting than baking tank tracks. At least I think so.

Wednesday 18 Wk16 : Days gone by.

A bit of Nostalgia today. I've been working on some things these last few days that had me searching my hard drive for reference material. What I found left me with a huge headache, extremely frustrated and a profound wave of nostalgia for the OFP era.

I'm pretty sure every modeller/addon maker out there has a folder full of incomplete and failed projects. Things that died off for various reasons, lack of time, interest, slightly more ambition than ability. Well I found a few of my old ones. And when a say a 'few' there are quite a few! I'm probably opening myself up for some abuse on this one but it's interesting to see how far we as a community has come. And it does illustrate the huge leap in quality from the OFP era to what is now expected by the majority of the larger community.

Anyway some of my favourites WIPs that went away to that far off land of Nevertobefinished:

Nimrod MR2 circa 2004

I loved making this model. It was one of the first planes that I really wanted to get in game but it was hard. The original model was one I made for Flight Sim 2002. The textures were pretty crappy in FS and they didn't really improve for OFP. It did finally make it into OFP and was released to my friends and a couple of game groups as a beta. But it had so many major problems.


The AI couldn't fly it. No matter how I tried they just crashed for no reason or flew off into the sunset never to return, no matter what commands you gave them. It couldn't Auto land and the AI didn't even try. In multi-player it had the most peculiar bugs, things that were never seen in single player; disappearing textures, odd bits of floating geometry in the pilot LoD. Lots of stuff I never found the cause of too.


It was also my first adventure with proxies and CoC's Torpedoes. Oh boy I spent many happy hours 'testing' chasing down and sinking Pauk Class boats. Eventually other projects took priority and it slipped quietly into the night.


I did try and resurrect it for ArmA:1 but again it got lost in the Great Server Suicide. My File server jumped from the shelving in my office and trashed the raid array. It was made up of the infamous Hitachi "Deathstar" drives. They were originally called "Deskstars" but they died so often they were renamed by the Geek community at large. Mine went the same way as the original Deathstar over Yavin. Many addons died that day...

Sadly with the demise of the Nimrod MR2/R1 and MR4 in real life I don't really have a driving need to resurrect it. Maybe one day though.

Boeing XF/A-32

This was another learning curve. And when I say curve I do mean it literally. It looks like a simple shape doesn't it. Well it's really not easy to do in 6-7000 faces. That was the poly count most of us worked to at that time. Very few people baked anything and ambient occlusion was something weird people did in dark corners.


For those that don't know what the X-32 was then shame on you. But it could have been the Joint Strike Fighter if, well if it had been any good. And it had been the actual design that Boeing were proposing to use for the production model. The X-32 was a delta wing. The proposed production model was a completely different configuration, which of course did not inspire confidence in Boeing's test results. From the rest of the world looking in the moment Boeing said, "Oops we've made a mistake the production model is not going to look like this", it was obvious the competition was over. Lockheed and the X-35 toddled off with the prize.


So back to modelling it, I decided to have a crack at the 'loser' since it was a much more interesting design. I have a soft spot for unusual aircraft and let's face it its bloody ugly. And since I'm not much better myself I was drawn to it. I probably made the first model in AutoCad 2000. It was my chosen CAD program at the time. (And the only one I actually owned - I used CADDS5 and Catia at the time for work but I didn't have a UNIX box at home). At the time I habitually ported the meshes via DXF (I don't recommend this format to anyone who is serious about 3D work, need lots of cleaning up) and proceeded to try to whittle it down to 6000 verts and faces. I couldn't tell you the original number but it took some time. I did eventually get it in game but I hit a couple of stumbling blocks along the way.

  1. My textures were utterly shite. Try as I might my mapping and painting skills were terrible. I spent hours making some really nice textures but once they were applied to the model in PAA and PAC format they just bleed out.
  2. I couldn't script to save my life. I tried several different ways to get the internal weapons bays working but lost the will to live after numerous attempts. Some led to CTDs and OFP's error reporting was a bit naff so finding the cause was often akin to holding a séance. If you believed strongly enough you might find the answers you seek. But mock the spirits and you are doomed! Well ok maybe not doomed but you would spend a lot of time retracing your steps and more often than not completely rewriting your scripts.


In the end well, it just fizzled out of my sight. One of those projects left in the darkest corner of the virtual closet to be found many years later. Much like the X-32 really. I did eventually solve the internal weapons bay issue a year or so later thanks to the legendary Footmuch but it was too late for the XF/A-32. It had long since been eclipsed by more interesting things.


Possibly the greatest plane that should have been. The TSR2 was a turning point in the British Aerospace industry. Years ahead of its time, technologically and aerodynamically advanced and so very expensive. It was eventually killed off and almost completely wiped from history by the Politicians of the day.


I'll go easy on the history because its long and involved. Not to mention it makes me angry that they threw such an aircraft away, not even using it for research and all for the sake of the F-111. Which they later ditched anyway since it proved to be even more expensive in than the TSR2... But I digress.


The TSR2 would have filled the role that the Tornado now amply occupies. Interdiction and Strike. It was a beautiful plane, fast, elegant design unlike the competing British designs. It should have been made but it wasn't to be. So I thought it deserved to be brought into OFP.


It was made on a very memorable train journey from Bristol to Edinburgh via London and back again. Memorable because I was travelling with a guy who managed to snore all the way from Didcot parkway to Paddington. Leave the train, into the underground, still snoring up to Euston and eventually to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I swear he did not wake up once. He just followed along like a freakish zombie. The return journey was also memorable for less nasal reasons. We got stuck on a remote piece of track for three and a half hours due to 'high winds'. I got loads of work on the model done though.


I never really finished the model because I found that it was a tad too quick for OFP size islands and it didn't prove to be very popular with the guys I was playing with at the time. I switched my focus onto helicopters for a while which brought about the Lynx and Pumas. Not so long ago I gave the source to someone to bring into ArmA1/2. I don't think it ever got anywhere. Which was a shame.

The Light Tower

At the time I released this in 2005 there were some issues with it. But it was the issues that made me love it so much.


For instance, shoot the base unit enough and a civ guy would pop out and run off, always good for a laugh in the middle of a game. And if you refuelled it the AI would occasionally drive off into the distance. Again, occasionally hilarious when you get passed by one when driving around Everon.

There is a new version in the IAP objects pack, but I'm still not convinced I should fix the bugs. They were just so much fun.

Lockheed U-2

I'm not sure why I started this. It was just one that popped up one day. I don't remember why I thought OFP needed one but it did prove to be a fun target to try and destroy.


I can remember several games where you had to destroy the plane only to find someone rolling down the runway in it only to sail off into the distance with all the Rambos chasing after it.


I did actually release the BETA on the RKSL forums at the time but I can't remember why it never made it onto the news sites. We had a few "stealth" releases in 2005. But very few ever made it to "complete" status.

Ilyushin Il-76

Another forgotten monster, I really rather enjoyed this build. It was nearing the end of OFP's natural life with ArmA1 looming on the near horizon. I was attempting to solve my on going crappy texture problem by modelling decals on the planes. It meant that I could skirt around the mip mapping issues by using much higher resolution textures on the areas that mattered. It sort of worked but it wasn't until the advent of RVMATs and their ability to control Z-writing that it wasn't really practical.


As with a lot of large aircraft projects things started to stall when I realised that the AI were completely incapable of flying the aircraft properly. That and without a cargo system they really weren't very practical in OFP. I mean seriously what do you do with a large transport plane when you can't transport anything? This is why we put so much effort into the ArmA1 scripted cargo system.


In the end it got relegated to Set dressing status in campaign that never saw the light of day. Sad really but the IL-76 was another project that taught me a lot and inspired several other projects that went onto better things.

Right that's it for this week. I'm running out of time and I need to crack on with baking some new textures. We hope you enjoyed it this little blast from the past. There will be more historical stuff when the main site goes live. But until then, have fun.



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