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Creation Date: 2002-04-07
Today is all about Freedom Force. As I said yesterday, I've been playing it non-stop since you don't want to know when. Interesting things are all over the place. I think the most important lesson to be learned is that nothing is hopeless. This is something that I require myself to reaffirm from time to time. How do I do that? I play video games. You see, video games are supposed to be challenging. If they have no challenge, then why are you playing it? For the story? For the eye-candy? For the fun of having your friends watch you play for hours? *shrug* I play games because they present a challenge and they make me think while having fun. Freedom Force made me think a lot about hopelessness. It's a challenging game. On the easy setting, I'm having a bunch of trouble. Each villain is equally rougher than the last. I often end up having to use the shortcoming of the game design to win. Hiding under a giant duplication ray is actually the smart thing to do in real life, but for it to be fun, it should have machine gunners at the base of it or an electric fence. But anyway, I would die. I would say to myself: "This is nuts! How am I supposed to win? This is on the easy setting and I'm being clobbered." But then I thought: there's a lot of people who have beaten the game on hard and here I am complaining about the easy setting. So then I think, "I'll put a bit more work into cracking a few skulls together and then I'll get it." So I do and it works out. Doing things the hard way will get you nowhere. But giving up on a challenging task is hardly prudent. This can be carried onto real life. One may see that graduation is stacked against him/her, but doing it right, trying over, and sticking with it will win the battle. That is what a challenging video game should teach you.

But you didn't want to hear my theory of hope. You wanted to know who this character is. This character is the male_basic custom model/mesh for Freedom Force. I didn't do anything except download the character editor and printscreen the character. I wanted to show what freedom force stuff looks like. I like a lot about Freedom Force [see the last paragraph] but the main thing that is applicable here is the very strong player models. They use the comic book style with shading up the wazoo. The muscles are shaded so beautifully that I just like looking at it. This model has the least amount of shading of any of them since he has such a non-shiny suit, but still. One might criticize that they didn't use cel shading, but I say that it is even more comic book like by shading it like they did. It looks very stylized. I like it a bunch. You can easily see in this picture that the shoulder is messed up. Why? I assume that it wasn't a simple mistake. It was a concession, I believe to the fact that correctly skinned meshes take far more CPU than we're willing to give. It's no one's fault, just that the CPUs still aren't fast enough. Can you believe that? But really, it isn't noticable in 98% of the game. When does a person say that it is good enough? 99%? 100%? 110%?

Freedom Force uses the Net Immerse engine. It's a no-royalty engine that costs $150,000 for one computer unlimited use. So if I was making a video game that I wanted to sell by myself, I'd pay them $150,000 cash in the back alley of some seedy Silicon Valley neighborhood. *cough, cough* Anyway, it's a pretty decent system. It has the goodies that developers want and it'd take developers about $150,000 and eight person-months to create it. I'm not justifying it for anyone with a brain on their shoulders, but I'd say that it makes sense to the people who want to make money. A few interesting points on the technology are on the Character Tool Help page and are quoted below.

"The number of triangles used per character varies between 1500 and 2000. In Freedom Force it is best not to model any character above 2000 faces, as greater numbers of triangles will slow down the engine."

"Freedom Force characters are generally unwrapped onto a single 256 x 256 texture map saved as a TGA. This is not a rule however and a character can be textured with as many maps as required. It is best to keep the number of maps used to a minimum as the more maps you use will slow down the performance of the game."

"Freedom Force supports up to 512x512 maps on characters however extensive use of large maps will quickly fill video card texture ram and slow performance."

On that, I'd like to give you a few thoughts. First off, the JF meshes are around 500 triangles. 2000 triangles is a lot of triangles to me, but very few to many modellers. Also, the textures I use are all 256x256. Most modellers that I've spoken with say that decent looking textures with 256x256 is impossible. Obviously the people of the industry disagree with those modellers. I think that Freedom Force is a great example of low poly modelling, even if they go for 2-4 times as many triangles as I do.

The game Freedom Force is completely amazing. The story is deeper than most that I've played. It reminds me a bit of System Shock 2, Irrational's stupendous Sci-Fi first-person-shooter/RPG. The depth of the characters and the power of the stories are exceptional. It is only a cheezy silver-age comic, though. You can't give them too much credit since the cheeze goes a bit over the edge. Anyway, back to what I like. I like the character models. They're all really well done. The eyes blink. That is HUGE. The lips move as well as the teeth and they have a huge range of expressions that they use throughout every spoken word. Body language would have been cool, but you can't have everything. All of the cutscenes are ingame. That is huge for me. Being a real-time 3d medium movie maker, I've always thought that the industry should take advantage of what great stuff they have. They all have good content, but sometimes show their dependence on the rigid system (character animations are stiffer than they should be if they were perfectly scripted). Upon seeing the Freedom Flier drop down with cubemaps (an effect that lets you see your reflection in a shiny object like a spacecraft), my eyes nearly popped out of my sockets. I love cubemaps, but I've only seen them in the past month. The RPG elements were refreshing. Between missions, characters level up so that you can buy all kinds of powers for them. One interesting thing is that you cannot increase their abilities. Their speed, strength, stamina, agility, intelligence, and wisdom are capped where they start. That makes custom characters and odd-ball characters the best. Powers define a person, but only if they can stand up when they need to. Check out my man El Diablo. He can fly. Guess where he is when everyone is running to the scene of destruction? He's beating up bad guys. Sadly, his best power (Inferno) has a blast radius of the entire screen. Hehehe. If the enemy is on screen, you blast him and yourself into smithereens often. Also, I say oddballs and custom heros because their powers are much better for the tasks at hand than normal people. They implemented an entire superhero generation system that is extensive to say the least. The multiplayer is said to be good, but I haven't been able to get in a game. People aren't interested in teach a n00b the ropes.

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