If you had the opportunity to speak with someone famous – someone who you would expect to be unreachable – what would you ask them? Would you ever take that chance? What would you do if they actually responded? Let me tell you, folks, it is quite exciting when this happens.

Now, it’s not every day you get to chat up people you admire. Even less frequently does it happen where they offer you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to glimpse into the original work that they based your favourite video game on. This happened to me, very recently, when I was looking for (get this) a large picture of a turkey. (Seriously. I needed a turkey. What’s “Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3” without a turkey?) Let me explain. I’m working on a customized startup screen for Windows, and wanted to incorporate the turkey you ‘punch’ in the game into the picture.

It’s not real. Please don’t go calling PETA. Really, it’s not real. Seriously. Here — this is a picture of it, just so you believe me.

(Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww… He’s cute, eh?)

Unfortunately, the only picture I could find online was very, very small. I spoke with some of the artistic types on the BYOAC Forums, and they were able to blow it up to insane proportions, as you see, above. It doesn’t look perfect, sure, but I really appreciated the people who did their best with what they had.

Then, it happened. One of the Members posted a message and let me know he had done some research. With his amazing Google-Fu skills, he had tracked down the ENTIRE Art Team for Doom 3, and even better, their E-Mail Addresses! I was overwhelmed. This was amazing.

I spent that evening crafting a very polite E-Mail, letting them know what I was working on, what my inspiration was, and why Doom 3 was my favourite game. I tried to keep their interest, so that my E-Mail didn’t (quickly) find it’s way into their junk folder, and I asked if there was any way I could find a better picture of the turkey. I guess, somehow, my E-Mail must have worked, because I received an E-Mail a couple of hours later:

Hey Rick,

You are in luck…I created the Turkey Puncher game, so I should have the source art around somewhere. I can’t remember if I created the art at the low res used in game, but I seem to remember coloring in the sketch a bit bigger. It’s probably not very high res, but should be better than the tga sprites in the base folder. Let me dig through my archives a bit.

patd

I thought for a moment, “Hold on a second. The name ‘patd’ looks very familiar… I know I’ve seen this name before.”

Well, as it turns out, I had seen it before. I had visited a site about hidden “easter eggs” in Doom 3, and Pat Duffy (Media Artist at id Software responsible for some serious immersion in Doom 3) had managed to sneak this signature onto a monitor in the game itself!

(Yes, that’s “patd was here”, hidden on the bottom of the monitor in the game. I love when people have a good sense of humour!)

I was amazed! Not only did I receive a response from “The Man” responsible for creating “Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3”, but he was going to send me some of the original artwork!!! I received a follow-up E-Mail a few days ago, as their Teams have been very busy working on a new game…

I pulled up the archive and found some of the stuff, it looks like I created them at the size needed in-game so it’s not very high res. I’ll go through and pull some psd’s and send them over when I get a chance.

I think it’s great you are working on the project, it’s always awesome to see the cool things people do with our games! 🙂

There’s no higher praise than hearing that the person who created the work you’re painstakingly trying to bring to life likes what you’re doing. It’s also a testament to today’s corporate culture that allows regular people to be able to connect with those who – let’s be honest – you wouldn’t be able to get within twenty feet of, ten years ago.

Wow. I guess I really need to do a good job now, eh? Pat Duffy knows I’m building it, and that means id Software knows I’m building it. If it’s ugly, I can’t imagine what they might send my way…

Yeah. I think I’d better do a really, really good job.

😉

Well, winter has hit our city with a vengeance this year. I really can’t complain, though. While we received a couple inches (if that) of snow over the weekend, it sounds like every city around us is getting dumped on. It’s not that bad, really. It’s just COLD. I mean, time-to-put-on-your-wooly-underwear-under-your-pants-to-go-to-work cold.

Sadly, that means my build has all but stopped. I had planned to do the last little bit of wet sanding and then paint with the clear coat, but I can’t do that when the paint in my rattle-can freezes as it comes out of the nozzle. I’ve moved along to redesigning more of the internal structure, and in doing that, I’ve been working a lot in the evenings with Google Sketchup.

If you haven’t used this free program for 3D modeling, it’s surprisingly simple, and extremely forgiving. The best part, in my opinion, is the community of developers who have already shared a lot of their renders online – for free as well. If you’re using the program to design a house, and need virtual people to fill it, you don’t have to draw them from scratch. Just search the web, and download the models right into your workspace! It’s amazing.

As an example, I searched the web for “HAPP Competition Joysticks” and buttons, which are the model of hardware I’m using on the control panel. A couple of clicks later, and voila! I had the models integrated right into my control panel. Take a look:

As you can see, with little work, I was able to get the look I wanted – joysticks and buttons, all laid out nicely on the panel… …close to exactly how they’ll look, once the control panel is complete!

I have also started to concentrate more on the ‘little things’ that will make the project stand out. If you expand the picture above, you’ll note I’ve duplicated the original panel artwork, but as the original text was close to unreadable from the source pics I have, I chose to include instructions on how to make the game ‘work’. I will expand more on that in future posts, and provide better pics.

For example, the back of the cabinet is something that NOBODY (short of the original Design Team at id) has probably ever seen. In Doom 3, the arcade game is positioned up against a wall, so unless you have developer tools, and are able to extract the model from the game itself, you’ll NEVER see what’s back there. Thankfully, I was provided these models by some very industrious friends, and have a view of the back. Here’s a small view of the lower quarter:

…and here is my work:

As you can see, I have tried to keep the detail as close to the original as possible. The venting system is intact, and accent ridges are found in the appropriate spots. (For the nitpickers, don’t be too concerned with the multiple lines that carry through the rear ‘feet’. I designed everything on the model for construction using 3/4″ MDF, so that’s just showing where the ‘layers’ will meet. It will all be buffed out and painted smooth when the time comes!)

As it is, I’m hopeful that the weather gets nicer soon. Warm is always good, but I’d settle for sunny and “cool”. If I can find the time on a nice, sunny day, to get outside and do some more work, I will. I’m not too impatient, but I know this guy is:

😉

Sure, it took a while, but finally, I’ve got the control panel almost looking whole again.

After the horrors of my mistake with the router, and two or three ‘miscoats’ because I had a lack of willingness to sand the entire panel AGAIN, I went ahead and stripped back much of the paint I had painstakingly laid, until much of the bare wood was showing… It had to be done, simply because my cuts were much deeper than I had thought, and because some of the original cuts did still show through a bit – and once I knew they were there, I saw them every… damn… time. I had hoped I could just spot sand the specific parts I could see, but after a few coats of paint, I noticed way too much pitting and the router marks were far too visible. So, a week and a bit later, I give you this:

That’s a pic from my deck in natural light, and you can see the shine is a little dull yet – the base coat is after 150 grit sandpaper. There’s more green painters tape on the sides, since I’ve covered them off to redo the complete top and front, properly. Here’s a pic from inside, which helps to convey the paint colour even a bit better.

I just noticed you can see a bit of the surrounding reflection from the other items – the chair and the pizza box I’m using as a drying stand – in the paint’s finish! Nice! Regardless, if you haven’t noted already, these pics were taken with my digital camera, rather than my phone, so if you blow them up, you’ll probably be able to pick out the problem areas I have yet to fix.

The ‘next steps’ are to go to Home Depot to replenish my supplies – I’m out of sandpaper, and my second can of spray paint is now empty. (Yes, I’ve used two complete cans of spray paint so far on the panel alone. I’m hopeful that I can rectify that little wastage before continuing with the other parts of the cab.) I already have my gray and clearcoat ready to go, so once I’ve sprayed a couple more layers of red, I’ll be ready to remove the tape, fix up the sides (one of the gray sides needs redoing) and then, we’re onto clearcoat!

I’ll post more pics of the control panel once the it’s constructed. By that time, I hope to show you it clearcoated, with the art put on, the plexi installed, and assembled with joysticks and buttons. But if the weather holds out, you might see more pics of something else by Monday!

😉

Hello.

Posted: 2010.11.24 in Status

Look at your status, now back to mine, now back to yours, now back to mine. Sadly, yours isn’t mine. But if you stopped posting about other things, your status could be like mine. Look down, back up. Where are you? You’re on my blog, reading the status your status could be like. I’m on a computer.

I felt really proud yesterday, when I completed the paint on the sides of the control panel. The sides of the panel need to be gray, while the rest of the panel remains the nice, deep red. I started by running a nice, straight line of painter’s tape along the red sections to protect them, and once done, I laid another line of tape to hold down some newspaper to cover the rest of the control panel. I was surprised at how well it worked, and the sides painted up really, really well.

When it dried, I removed the tape and it looked amazing. The lines were crisp and clean, and the paint was smooth and glossy. I figured I was really ready to do some final wet sanding, and then lay down the few layers of clear coat that would seal everything in, and bring this part of the project to a close.

That’s when disaster struck. This disaster is called ‘User Error’. I call it such, as I have limited experience with my router, and obviously, I made some type of mistake.

I had bought some clear plexi to lay on the top of the control panel to protect it from fingers, scratches, and damage. To match the shape of the panel, I clamped it to the top of my nearly complete panel (tell me when you figure out my mistake) and adjusted by flush-trim bit to only cut the depth of the plexi. The cutting portion of the bit would not touch the panel, and the bearing would roll along it’s length, setting the cut up so that it followed the shape of the panel. I did my first test along the back, where the panel would attach, as any mistake would be hidden. This cut, was smooth, clean and quick, with no damage to the panel at all. The bearing rolled along the panel, and the cutting bit above did it’s job. In two passes, I had cut the plexi to the appropriate size.

Then, my first tooling failure occurred. I rechecked the depth of the bit, and it still looked fine. I made no adjustment, and started on the front of the control panel, to cut the shape of the ‘wings’ into the plexi. As the router moved across the face of the panel, I didn’t notice that somehow, it was cutting a deep (in my opinion – others might call it a scratch) furrow into the face. I stepped back, looked in amazement, and became overwhelmingly sad at all the work I had just thrown away. I cut into the side to complete the plexi, with a similar result. I looked at the depth – again – and still could find no issue. I still have no idea why there is a cut in the side of my control panel.

Here is a picture of the painted side that I DIDN’T destroy with the router… I’m very proud of the work completed here. I am totally surprised by how nicely it came out.

You’ll note in the pic above, the large furrow down the front. Here it is, in all of it’s ugly glory.

Router Mishap!

The marks you see on the far right are actual plastic from the plexi that melted right to the control panel.

It’s been an uphill battle on this, but I’m learning as I go. It’s certainly a labour of love, as I’m still excited to continue, given the setbacks so far. I know it will turn out great, as I won’t accept anything less than my vision come to life. As I said to my Wife, “This is my own, personal version of ‘art’. Some people can sculpt, some can paint, but I’m building an arcade game that’s never existed outside of in a video game. That’s my art.”

Rule #1: Never expect your tools to do the same on the second pass as they did on the first.

So, has anybody out there played Doom 3?

Doom 3 Logo

The game came out in 2004, and was a reboot of the groundbreaking Doom franchise by id Software.  I used to play the game for hours on end, back when my Wife and I lived in our apartment in the West end.  She used to laugh at me, mainly because I couldn’t play the game beyond dusk…  I’d play until it got dark – and then, my imagination would take over.  That’s it!  The game would be turned off until the next day.  You can read more background information about the game on the Wikipedia Article, here.

The first level of Doom 3 has you, a Space Marine, walking around the Mars Base in 2145, before the base is taken over by demons and other creatures.  During this walkabout, you can visit the kitchen, and if you want, play an arcade game called, “Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3”.

Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3

It’s a classic ‘easter egg’, inserted into the game to invoke some nostalgia of the earlier Doom games.  The face in the top left corner is the “Doomguy” that you used to play in the original, and the textures on the background (including the fist) come from the earlier game as well.  (Spoiler: if you play long enough, you get the ‘high score’… …and then receive a chastising E-Mail on your Doom 3 PDA.)  Well, being a big fan of Doom 3, and being a Member of the “Build Your Own Arcade Controls” forum (located here), I decided to BUILD IT!  (Just for background – the BYOAC is a group of people who restore, or build their own full size arcade games.

Thanks to a couple of Members on the BYOAC Forums, I was provided the reference images from within the game itself, giving me every angle of the STTP3 game, and allowing me to build this image in Google Sketchup, which allows me to extrapolate a full, three dimensional image of what I’m designing.

The design process has taken a few months to get to the point where I’ve said, “this is it!”, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed, every step of the way.  I decided to start working on the Control Panel first, as it had some angles which were a lot more challenging than some.  First, I started by measuring and cutting, and came up with this:

Unfortunately, after assembling everything, I noted that there were a LOT of cuts that would not give me the flat surface I needed, so I restarted from scratch, and finally came up with a design that worked. Here it is, assembled.

It wasn’t a lot to look at, and I still tried to figure out how the seams were going to look after filling and sanding. I was really concerned that it would still look ‘choppy’, and I hoped my woodworking skills would be up to par… I was very happy with the way it turned out, after only one filling, sanding and priming session!

I have a lot more work to do – but I’m excited with the progress so far.