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Fan Feast update

26 Jul

I have finished another section of the shopping center. This is the strip between the Alamo Drafthouse and Highball.

Some of the shops can be entered and are detailed inside. 

fanfeast0008

fanfeast0011

 

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Posted in Gaming

 

Fan Feast: Shopping center

19 Jul

These images are of the part of the shopping center next to the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.

At first I was going to include only the building facade, but I decided to make it so the players can enter a few of the stores. For example you can head to the guitar store and get your self a guitar to use a melee weapon. Each store is filled with props to approximate the same type of store that is there in the real world. (Barber shop, Reality, Guitars, Books, Clothing store)

The sign textures are temporary placeholders for now.

Lamar Plaza

Lamar Plaza

Lamar Plaza

 

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Posted in Austin, Gaming

 

Fan Feast: Thundercloud subs

18 Jul

It is amazing how fast you can go from photo to awesome in-game environment using SketchUp and the source Hammer editor.

I am making this game map in modular chunks, finishing one section at a time. This should reduce compile times for each chunk and speed the overall project along.

Just six hours ago the "ThunderCloud subs" location below was just a reference photo. Now it is a creepy zombie hangout.

Note: the signs and textures are not yet final.

thundercloud0002

thundercloud0005

 

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Posted in Austin, Gaming

 

Fan Feast: SketchUp scale buildings.

18 Jul

I was able to visit the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar location and take lots of photos of the shopping center buildings. As well as the interiors of the Drafthouse and Highball.

But since the bowling alley and theater are located at opposite ends of the shopping center, I will need to include the entire shopping center in the game map.

The first step is to use my reference photos and Google SketchUp to model the different buildings to scale.

Below are images of the Drafthouse, part of the strip mall, and the Thundercloud subs located in the middle of the parking lot. Aside from the signs, all textures are rough substitutes using in-game materials. They will be later replaced with custom textures.

P1020938

SketchUp_alamo_01

 

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Posted in Austin, Gaming

 

Fantastic Fest Left4Dead2 map, scale test

15 Jul

Alpha scale test

These  images are VERY early prototypes of the game map. What I have done is to re-create the building scale and position. Because the video game scale is 20% larger then the real world a map can sometimes end up feeling too small or too large. There are set objects in the video game world such as cars or doors. These help to ensure the scale in the game matches the feel of the real world. Effectively making the map 1:1 scale compared to the real world. The games wide viewing angle skews the perspective a bit, but as far as props and traveling around the map the scale is spot on.

I will be taking photos on-site on Saturday, once I have my own reference photos the amount of detail in the map will greatly increase.

Alpha scale test

Alpha scale test

 
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Posted in Gaming

 

Fantastic Fest and a new game map.

14 Jul

SketchUp_Prototype

Fantastic Fest is coming to the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar again this year.

Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the United States. We specialize in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and just plain fantastic movies from all around the world. 

Along with the cool films they have the Fantastic Fest Arcade at the Highball bowling alley:

We are proud to announce our new independent games festival, Fantastic Arcade, which will run concurrent with the first four days of Fantastic Fest, September 23-26, 2010.  Designed as a games spin-off event from the main film festival, Fantastic Arcade will feature fresh, cutting-edge games designed by independent game developers.

I am now one of those independent game developers. The Drafthouse has asked me to again re-create one of their locations inside Left4Dead2. I will be recreating both the theater and bowling alley, along with the rest of the shopping center store fronts. Above is just the first few hours of work. Taking a satellite photo into SketchUp, and using building shadows to determine the relative height of each building.

 
 

The best pocket-sized camera, period.

11 Jul

This review applies to the Panasonic DMC-ZS3, however there is a newer ZS7 on the market with GPS capability.

Over the years I had owned nothing but Casio digital cameras, ranging from a whopping 2 mega pixels to 10 mega pixels. I had always been happy with their cameras for a variety of reason, however their latest 10mp was lacking in image quality compared to the previous models. So I started researching different brands. I had a big trip to Yellowstone National Park planned. This was something I had wanted to do since I was a kid, so I couldn't just go there with a crappy camera. I could have bought a SLR, or prosumer camera (same size as SLR with a fixed lens). However I knew how much trouble lugging a large camera around can be, so I choose to search for the best pocket sized camera on the market. I wanted something that I could carry with on a hike, or for miles in Vegas without wearing me down or getting in the way.

I researched every possible camera I could find, here were my requirements: Good image quality is a MUST, the higher the zoom the better, good image stabilization, HD video, long battery life, and pocket sized.

I researched over a dozen websites, but the two largest are DPReview.com and Steves-Digicams.com. Both had reviews of cameras that fit the bill, some from Sony, Casio, Canon, Panasonic, Pentax, and more. What drove me towards the Panasonic was that every review for it was great, and in several head-to-head multi-reviews it won out. I had never owned a Panasonic device and I didn't know what the build quality or battery life would be like. But I ordered the camera based on the good reviews. If you are more interested in consumer reviews there are over four hundred 5-star ratings on this camera listed on Amazon.com.

I bought the camera, a case, a gorilla-pod, a 16GB SD card, and an extra battery. One item of note, and my only con about this camera, the battery has a chip built-in that makes it so only genuine Panasonic brand batteries work in this camera. At first this was a huge annoyance to me. It took a long time to find a good price on an extra battery. However in the end the battery in this camera lasts so long that I have only used my spare battery three times in the year I have owned the camera, and that is only after taking over 300 photos using the flash for most of them. So don't let that hold you back.

It has been a year since I bought the camera and I can say I am never looking back. If this camera is ever broken I will not hesitate to replace it with the same model or something a bit newer in the same line.

 

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Posted in Travel

 

Seaholm Power Plant: Photos from deep inside.

06 Jul

Power

Escape into the dark

I have been looking for an event to help get me (legally) get inside the Seaholm power plant to take reference photos for research into my Left4Dead2 game map. So here is a shout out to The Electric Company for hosting their 4th of July event at the Seaholm Power Plant and being a cool host.

I was able to roam around the plant for over an hour. I took over three hundred reference photos and a few videos. While the reference photos are not yet online, I have published a set of artistic style photos of different areas of the plant. Some are enhanced for effect while others are right out of the camera.

Please enjoy these and leave me comments here or on flickr.

Seaholm Artistic Photos on Flickr

 
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Posted in Austin

 

Seaholm Power Plant: 4th of July Celebration

03 Jul


I will be attending the 4th of July celebration at the Seaholm Power Plant.

July 4th – Great Music -BBQ – Cold Beer & Cocktails – Fireworks in downtown Austin – It’s Electric Company’s inaugural event and it’s free for the whole family! T- Bird and The Breaks, The Bright Light Social Hour, ‘Til We’re Blue or Destroy, benefiting Anthropos Arts. Not attending is downright unAmerican :) More updates coming soon.
Make sure to RSVP here:
http://www.july4thaustin.com/

Facebook | 4th of July Celebration.

This is both for fun, and to get in some serious research for my Left4Dead2 campaign based on the location.

Austin Modders – L4D2 map: Seaholm Power Plant

 
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Posted in Events

 

ZapWizard.com is back!

02 Jul

ZapWizard

It has been five years since I last updated my website. That is a shame, but I am back!

I have have been busy working on all sorts of cool projects, mods, and events but I didn’t have the time to really get those items posted to ZapWizard.com because the old website was a painful old-school frames and hand-written HTML website.

If you are looking for something on the old website you can find at at the link below, but no guarantees that any of the old links or pages still work.

http://www.zapwizard.com/oldsite/

I will be posting a few catch-up posts for anyone interested in what I have been up to the past 5 years. But most of the new stuff I was doing is posted at www.AustinModders.com

It will take some time before the site is running at 100%, to please ignore some of the bad links.

 
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Posted in Catching up