Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bristol Fighter release date

I have decided on January 21, 2006 as the release date for the Bristol F2B 'Biff' for CFS3 [barring unforeseen events].

The Sopwith Baby will most likely be released by February 11, 2006.

ED: these dates have now been revised - see posts above.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Baby on the way.

Sopwith Baby that is ;-) A little bit of respite from the Bristol Fighter which will resume next week. I'm now off to enjoy Chistmas.

Wishing all my readers a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What else am I working on?

I have just updated my 'who's who' entry at Sim-Outhouse.

I had to suspend or shelve many of these projects to re-focus my priorities and endeavours in late August and early September 2005. On the 3D modelling side of things I decided to focus on the Bristol Fighter until it was complete. The Bristol Fighter is a highly detailed model and has taken much longer than anticipated to complete but I am sure will have been worth the wait. The whole experience is very much one of learning in many ways - especially on the technical side of things with 3DS Max 7.0/8.0. I hope to take time out from aircraft modelling to learn more about rendering, lighting and animation. Despite having a long history with digital painting I am very much a 'newbie' when it comes to texture mapping and developing textures. The experience with the Bristol Fighter should stand me in good stead with future projects.

What will come next?

I'm not really sure. Firstly I probably will not have as much time for freeware modelling projects in 2006 as I have had in 2005. I have to earn a living and that has to take priority over pursuits such as 3D modelling. Thus modelling will be very much a weekend and occasional evening activity, at least for the first few months of 2006. The year 2005 has been a sabatical form my regular vocation which I will return to in 2006. I have used my time in 2005 to learn much, not only 3d graphics and other simualtion related activities, but much in the area of research , especially military and aviation history.

Returning to my meshes -
  • Albatros DV/DVa - needs an engine and cockpit and of course textures
  • Fokker DR-I - needs an engine, cockpit and textures.
  • SPAD S.VII - needs wing struts, cockpit, textures
  • Sopwith Snipe - needs engine and remainder as per SPAD
  • Sopwith Baby - partial mesh - only fuselage and floats as yet.
  • Sopwith Triplane - partial fuselage mesh and cowling. [OFF has a nice one by Polovski.]
  • Junkers DI - fuselage - maybe wait until FS10?
  • Hansa Brandenberg W.29 - partially complete fuselage. Along with the DVII will be another high detailed personal favourite.
There are probably other partial meshes reposing on my HD. I would also like to do some WW2 if I have the time.

Not all will be completed to the same level of detail as the Bristol Fighter. I am considering 3 ranges :-
  • QAD - quick and dirty ... a bit better than AI.
  • Midi - comparable to most freeware aircraft out there.
  • HD - High detail - almost payware level - [I may consider payware in the future - a big If at the moment].
The Sopwith Baby may be completed and released late January in my QAD range as a 'fun' model.

Anyway available time is the big question for 2006.

As a footnote I am no longer part of the OFF team. I originally left in early September for time management reasons as outlined above. There were other reasons too. I was asked to return to the team in mid October which I did. The deal was to provide the Bristol Fighter only, [as the others had been suspended] which I emphasised was very much WIP, with a lot of work still to be done as at late October. We agreed to touch base at the end of November. Anyway the guy in charge could not wait and I became ex OFF once more. The on and off of my association with OFF which is sort of off at the moment. ;-)

Don't worry the Bristol F2B should work ok in OFF, in CFS3 QC mode and CFS3 Mission Builder missions, as should any aircraft built in accordance with CFS3 SDK guidelines.

Edit : 14-1-06 - I have deleted some of the aircraft in the WIP list above as some of the aircraft will now be payware projects. Any aircraft project listed as freeware will remain remain freeware.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Weekend.....

....... was spent wrestling with a virus, resting, and of course downloading and trying out OFF [Over Flanders Fields]. I had to try out the 'Biff' of course...... some dawn shots in OFF.... back to the grindstone today.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Over Flanders Fields Released

Phase 1 of Over Flanders Fields more commonly known as OFF has now been released and is available for download.


The OFF team have kindly provided alternative download mirrors at




Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today's pic

A WIP pic I quite like. I now have to take a break for a couple of days or I will crash in a big way.

The Bristol F2B Mk1 is being built for Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 3 and also for MS Flight Simulator 2004. The FS2004 version will follow the CFS3 by a number of weeks as the FS will require modifications to the virtual cockpit and also the development of gauges.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I hate facets.......

.......as this picture shows. [A 3DS Max quickrender of the same mesh as below]

Part of the underlying philosophy was to create a model which was very detailed and smooth, yet at the same time remain functional within the game/sim. There is a slight FPS drop but not as much as one would expect. I remain amazed at how much performance and detail latitude the CFS3 virtual cockpit environment allows.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sunday WIP

A few more pics. Re-rendered all the ambient occlusion maps [shadows] and am gradually texturing all the bits.

I usually have a flight at the end of the day and identify any parts that need adjusting reworking. I can see I have to create a dummy full tank to create more realistic shading/shadows in the front cockpit. I hope to find a way to alpha map a shadow of the rudder pedals to a plane so that the shadow can be animated.

In the next few days I hope to block in and shade the rest of the virtual cockpit. Bare metal surfaces are difficult and need a but of work. Then comes the detail and dirt.

More pics in a few days.

An Update and a few WIP pics of the Biff VC

I haven't been able to keep this blog as fresh as I originally intented due to being very busy working on the Bristol Fighter itself. I intend to post further articles on the evolution of this project.

The Bristol Fighter or 'Biff' as it was known by its crew in WW1 is currently at the texture development stage. I am never happy with it and have remapped the aircraft twice and the virtual cockpit 3 times. I have just added a switch box in the observer's cockpit and am making up my mind as to whether to fit spare Lewis Gun magazines in the cockpit. The magazine on the VC Lewis gun is 1000 triangles in size. While that's ok for the main lewis gun adding 5 spares would add 5000 triangles - a bit much. I am experimenting with lower resolution versions of the magazine at the moment.

I have been experimenting with ambient occlusion maps rendered in 3DS Max 8 and composited in Photoshop 6. So far the results have been pleasing.

Here are some some in game [CFS3] WIP screen shots of the recently remapped virtual cockpit as at Sunday 11 December 2005 AM.