Next-gen Z

Ideas, technology and contributions to Z modifications

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Electro
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Next-gen Z

Post by Electro » 2007-07-04, 14:51

I know i know... taking things from pixel art to where lighting alone is higher definition with per-pixel lighting is a bit of a stretch. ;)

I'm not sure how active this place is, I can only really see posts mainly from a couple of months ago. Hopefully there is enough interest for a project of this caliber to keep me motivated.

At work today I was a little bored in the afternoon with no tasks left to do... so I thought I'd take a stab at what is the beginning of an Enemy Territory Quake Wars mod. Which I'm sure many of you would be familiar with.

The following is the low poly mesh and I intend to stay as faithful as I can to the original Z (maybe some hints of Z2 in terms of building visual diversity). At the core though I want the same awesome Z gameplay that I loved many years ago. The designs will have some overhaul in areas to bring things up to next-gen status, so the robots will still have their crazy personality, but will be easily distinguishable on the field just by looking at them with their unique figures (think Team Fortress 2 in production by Valve).

The model will have a lot more detail later on once normalmaps/specular are added (and obviously diffuse).

I work professionally as an environment artist and have been in the games industry for a little over 3 years now. Previously I was modding for Quake.

Anyway enough dribble, here's a screenshot of what I whipped up this afternoon.
Image


Here's a quick cheesy little fly around cam vid render.
http://www.bendarling.net/z_mod/zbase01.avi

A friend of mine at work who is a concept artist will be designing the new robots... until that is done and in as much spare time as my girlfriend allows me... I will probably start churning out more and more building models and possibly vehicles too (although we will be concepting vamped up versions of those also).

If this project is of interest to anyone.. please let me know!
Go easy on the building, I know the front is wrong I only had a rear screenshot to work with at the time and I will most likely fix it tomorrow... it's also first pass detailing and will be more polished before texturing commences.

Oh! and please don't hesitate to say... DO NOT DO THIS OR THAT BECAUSE YOU WILL SEVERELY DESTROY ANY KIND OF FAITHFULNESS TO Z :)

Cheers!
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Post by CHYROS » 2007-07-04, 15:30

Holy crap, that looks awesome man!

And before I forget; welcome to the forums! :cheers:

Actually, the forum is most certainly active. We have extensive support on technical issues and workarounds, modding info, strategy discussions and numerous projects that some of our members are involved. Just about every day a new member joins. So yes, for anything Z, you've come to the right place :D .
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Post by Ravey » 2007-07-04, 15:37

Yep, welcome! :cheers:

This forum is pretty active and I know a lot of people will be interested in your project. Seeing as you're new to the forum, you should probably create a website at some point to show that this project isn't going to be abandoned if you're serious about it.

I'm a little curious about your engine decision, since we don't quite know how difficult it will be to churn out an entire mod with it at this time, but at the same time I think the detail of the environments in Quake Wars would probably suit Z nicely... However I still like the Quake 3 engine and would like it to be made as an open source port built in IoQuake3. Using this engine would probably reach a larger audience because it would be portable and stand-alone.

Keep it low-poly! The ETQW engine would definitely kill a lot of PCs with all those layers of texture maps put on top. I'd prefer the game to have a distinctive style with well modelled environments/characters than an abundance of polygons. It doesn't have to be next-gen quality, sure it would be nice to see but in the long run the gameplay will keep me playing.

The network code would also have to be re-written if this is going to be an RTS like the original Z games rather than a class-based action games similar to ETQW. Again i'm going to mention Q3s excellent stability and net-code.

If you're going for the authentic Z experience, flying vehicles would probably not be such a good idea... Someone could just take one right over to the other base, pop the turrets and walk right in... This is of course unless the flying vehicles had a weakness that prevented this from happening - The unit could be bonded to the vehicle and unable to leave or the turrets could be extremely efficient against aerial attacks making it best for securing flags.

What you will likely know is the importance of the robot designs and their distinctive personalities which was lacking in Z2. It was only made worse by the weird formats used in that game so we couldn't mod the designs ourselves. I would have loved to seen those guys from the original in 3D.

German/Russian/etc translations, i've noticed a large part of the Z community would appreciate this and would probably be willing to help out if necessary.

As for your 3d model of the base design, I thought it was spot on! Noticed some proportional differences which made it fit better in the transition to 3D which is very good. The front looks fine to me but if you're going to improve it, that's cool. I'm interested to see how it will look when it has been texture mapped.

Keep us posted. :idiot:
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Post by Electro » 2007-07-04, 16:03

wow! posts already, definitely active :D

CHRYOS: cheers dude :cheers:

Ravey: I'm heavily educated when it comes to engine features.. and unfortunately the Quake3 stuff would look rather bland, especially using brushes for the terrain. It doesn't have good texture blending that isn't a pain to work with and requires 1 shader at least written per texture... and forget about blending more than 2 textures! QuakeWars would obviously solve this (and no tiling!) by having the terrain all as 1 big piece of custom made mesh that is smooth and chunky in all the right spots ;) Naturally with the megatexture technology the terrain will look a lot more interesting too. Megatexture in QuakeWars is a little disappointing up close, but i think at the distance the camera would be away from the ground for this, it'd be perfect :)

As for all the layers of textures in the quakewars engine (diffuse/normalmap/specular) it's what the engine was built for, all of their content uses it ;) (although the 'normalmap' for the terrain is baked into the diffuse so it's lighting is done with a more traditional style lightmap approach)

The network code won't need to be rewritten as the game is already setup to cater for a large number of entities. With regards to units navigating, only 1 unit per squad will do the actual navigation, with the other units in the squad following as closely as possible while sticking to their formation (if there is room to).

Translations are a must judging by the screenshots I've seen.. and forum posts in russian! I can't understand any of it hehe

For the record i have no intention or desire for flying vehicles. I didn't like them in Z2 one bit to be honest.

I intend to keep this running at the same speed as QuakeWars (faster hopefully), and if you fire up the beta you will see that that the features are very scalible making it still be able to run on lots of older hardware too.

I have a friend at Splash Damage that I used to work with here in Australia before he moved on... trying to poke and prod him for info on polycounts they've used for their stuff so I can get a better idea now before release. It looks like they spent around 5000 polys per character, whereas I will most likely be looking to spend around 3000, this will not only allow more characters, but make them appear even higher detail at a distance. It should be good to see with all the explosions lighting things up and particle debris and stuff flying everywhere :D

Maybe tomorrow if i'm bored at work I will have the turrets modelled for the top towers of the base :roll:
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Post by Ravey » 2007-07-04, 16:10

You make the engine sound so tempting now, just go with what your gut I guess. From what i've heard and seen from the engine, the environments are quite low poly similar to Doom3/Quake4 - With the real detail brought out by the texture maps and such. The advantage for this is that if computers can't handle it, they can just scale the advanced stuff right down and underneath you have a fairly low polygon game which will work good on a great range of computers... Doom 3 was scalable to work on a pair of Voodoo 2 cards with help from a patch which goes to show how impressive it is!

The gameplay speed... A lot of people prefer the very slow pace of the original Z for DOS. There's a lot more strategy involved when it's slowed down so you can anticipate attacks and make decisions early on. However speeding it up would be closer to modern RTS games and with the use of hotkeys and macros it could be just as strategic...

I grabbed a screenshot from the Z cutscenes:
Image
I don't know if you're gonna go by the game design or the cutscenes, but there are notable differences to the sides and inverted archs on the front.
Last edited by Ravey on 2007-07-04, 16:15, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by KISSMAD » 2007-07-04, 16:11

Excellent work Electro. Welcome to the forum, good to see another Aussie here. :cheers:
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Post by Electro » 2007-07-04, 16:19

wooo! another aussie, sweet! :D

HMM i will have to try and get the game working again so i can see the cutscenes, does look a bit different there, definitely.

I guess i will try and go with whichever looks best, maybe a mixture. Want to try and keep the look and feel of the original though :)

As for gameplay speed... hopefully that's something that should be fairly tweakable at a later stage.

haha didn't know doom3 had a patch so it could run on voodoo2's... not that I'd want to see it running with those ;)
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Post by Ravey » 2007-07-04, 16:24

Electro wrote:haha didn't know doom3 had a patch so it could run on voodoo2's... not that I'd want to see it running with those ;)
Quake 2 all over again. :D

There is a Z patch available that will allow you to run the game in XP and as far as i'm aware, Vista as well.

Link: http://zzone.lewe.com/index.php?option= ... &Itemid=56

You'll need your original Z cd in the drive and when you run the patch it will install Z along with the patched files.
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Post by Electro » 2007-07-04, 16:27

I hope it works with the ISO. I've had to obtain a copy online unfortunately, my original cd and manual that I want back badly is at my dads place on the other side of the country.

Fingers crossed it works with that.
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Post by Ravey » 2007-07-04, 16:32

Electro wrote:I hope it works with the ISO. I've had to obtain a copy online unfortunately, my original cd and manual that I want back badly is at my dads place on the other side of the country.

Fingers crossed it works with that.
That will work fine, from what I can tell it requires Z95... There used to be an iso on the forum which included the game and the patch bundled together but I presume it was removed due to copyright issues...

Also you can find the cutscenes and unused resources from the game on this site:
http://zzone.lewe.com/index.php?option= ... &Itemid=56


Oh yeah, I re-read your post about the megatexture technology... People seem to think that the retail game will look better because they may have had to downsize the megatexture to make it easier to distribute. Personally I think it looked fine and from an RTS perspective it would be perfect.
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Re: Next-gen Z

Post by BallWin » 2007-07-04, 22:41

Welcome Electro!
Electro wrote: Previously I was modding for Quake.
The similar work is executed for Unreal in 2002:
Image
(http://generalzod.narod.ru/images/fort2.jpg)

sceth robot (2002):
Image
(http://generalzod.narod.ru/images/Pilot/ROBOT33.jpg)

Unfortunately this work is lost. Is present only initial Z-level for Unreal.
There there is a fort. Inside a fort it is possible to make excursion and to look. In a fort 2 floors. To rise it is possible on the lift or on a ladder. Textures for a fort are taken with scrinshots of videorollers Z.
Z-Level for Unreal: http://generalzod.narod.ru/file/Cachatka/Unreal.ace[/img]
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Post by Electro » 2007-07-05, 04:21

Ravey: would be cool if that's the case, we'll just have to wait and see, my mate at SplashDamage says that's pretty much how they will probably end up being though.

Ballwin: hah cool! Running in and through the base didn't even occur to me, bit hard to do as a RTS ;)

Well... bored again so here's the turrets on the base, switching the camera to orthogonal view was a big shock, the similarity is pretty close to the original hehe

Turrets aren't manned yet of course.

Image

Might make something else later today too, we'll see! :)
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Post by Ravey » 2007-07-05, 05:11

Oooooh turrets... They look great. Looking forward to seeing more stuff along side it!
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Post by Electro » 2007-07-05, 15:43

Yeah will be good when I have a bunch of stuff all made and can have them all in a scene and have it looking like the original Z :)

Maybe I will replicate one of the screenshots in the image gallery! heh

Anyway, here's the radar station
Image

Won't be able to see inside it in-game like you can now, I have a rather dodgey light setup for these at the moment, it'll get better I promise!

Maybe tomorrow I will do the robot building factory ;)
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Post by CHYROS » 2007-07-05, 18:13

Jeez man, your models look so much like the originals! Tasty! I'd love to see this game...
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