Austavin - Build Log
> Austavin is the Internet persona of my oldest nephew Austin Luke. Up until recently, I used to tease him a lot, as shown in my Teasing Austin series. However, in July of 2015, I issued a challenge to Austin where I would show him something that was meant to anger him, and if he got through the whole thing without getting upset, I would keep my teasing of him to a minimum. I would also make the creation of a Quake 2_plugin player model of him, which had already been underway since May of that year, a priority. I showed him a mock Stepmania mix where I had collected existing songs and changed their names to ones that were meant to upset him, such as "I Said NOOOOO!!!!!", and "I'm A Pretty Boy". Surprisingly, Austin won the challenge, putting the creation of his PPM on the fast track to completion.
3/11/2016 - Merely 18 days after the initial release of my Austavin_Quake 2_PPM, I'm already ready to release a minor update of the model. In the initial release, I had forgotten to switch the color mode of the Capture The Flag icons from RGB to Index Color, and to apply the Quake 2 palette to the icons. As a result, attempting to use the CTF skins resulted in an error which made the skins unplayable. This problem has been fixed in Version 1.2. The model also had a minor issue where thick seams would be visible on certain parts of the model while running in OpenGL mode. By tweaking both the skin map and the skins themselves, I was able to eliminate the worst of these lines, particularly on the sides of the shirt and on the arms. However, this fix increased the Wasted Space of the skin map from 17% to 20%, but I think that making the model look better in game was well worth it.
2/22/2016 - At long last, after about 10 months of on and off work, I am finally ready to release the first official version (Version 1.1) of my Austavin_Quake 2_PPM. The model is far from perfect and there are many things about it that I'm not happy with. First off, at 1619 polygons, the polycount is uncomfortably high. Second, there are weird lines in the skin that only seem to show up in OpenGL mode. Third, I was forced to place the weapon model unusually high up in Austavin's right hand in order to prevent it from clipping too badly into the left hand during the run animation. However, I can fix all of these issues in future versions of the model, if I ever get around to it. But for now, I'm all burnt out and I consider the model to be good enough for the time being. My nephew Austin will be using this model a lot when he plays on Tastyspleen, so if you want to see him properly, go grab yourself a copy of it.
2/17/2016 - The fifth and final phase of my Austavin_Quake 2_PPM is currently underway. This phase is the VWEP phase, which stands for visible weapons package, and involves creating weapon models for Austavin that will represent each of the twelve weapons in Quake 2, including the grappling hook. Austavin will use my universal 1-handed VWEP, which he will share with two of my previous Quake 2 PPMs, Chuckie Finster and Dib. However, he will use a unique hand grenade model, which is basically a pipe bomb with a wooden handle. The hand grenade model is completely finished; the model has been built in Animation: Master, optimized in Quake Model Editor, skinned in NPherno's Skin Tool, and then scaled and aligned to the right hand of the Austavin model in QME. Here's a few preview pics that will give you an idea of what the hand grenade will look like....
> Three of Austavin's other weapons; the blaster, the railgun, and the grenade launcher, are all pre-existing models for the universal VWEP, so all I had to do was to align them to Austavin's hand. The other eight weapons will be aligned to Austavin's hand over the next few days, and then I will try to officially publish the first official release version of the PPM on the 20th of this month.
2/11/2016 - Austavin's default skin is now completed, as well as his two Capture The Flag skins; red and blue. This concludes the skin phase of the Austavin_Quake 2_plugin player model, and I will soon be moving on to the fifth and final phase, the visible weapons package, or VWEP for short.
> Flat shaded...
> Austavin skin...
> CTF Red skin...
> CTF Blue skin...
- While working on
mapping the polygons of Austavin's hands in Npherno's Skin Tool, I found a
strange indent on the base of the left thumb. I was able to fix that by
opening the model in Quake
deleting the three polys and the isolated vert that made up the indent,
and then patching the hole with two new polys. This lowered the overall
polycount by one. I also found two additional hidden polygons inside
the first joint of the thumb that I had somehow missed during the
optimization phase, so I deleted them. After these fixes on the thumb
were finished, Austavin's overall polycount dropped from 1624 to 1621.
> Later on in the skin mapping process, I found that the back two polygons in the top row of the crotch segment would never be visible during gameplay, and so I deleted them in QME. This brought the polycount down from 1621 to 1619. At this point, I don't think I can lower Austavin's polycount any further. The skin map took several days to complete, but when I did, it turned out to be 256 x 256 pixels in resolution with 17 percent wasted space. The next step is to draw the default skin, a task that I plan on starting tonight.
1/24/2016 - Ten days ago, I began the optimization phase of Austavin's Quake 2_PPM. After adjusting the rotation, translation, and scale of the model for use in Quake 2, I exported the model as a series of 3ds files and opened it in Quake Model Editor, where I then exported it as a single md2 file. Austavin's 1004 patches translated into 1714 three sided polygons, which is quite a lot for a Quake 2 model. As I was adjusting the normals in the hair, I noticed gaps where the hair met the forehead, so I went back into Animation: Master and buried the hairline's verts into the forehead, and this fixed the problem. I also took this opportunity to remove even more unnecessary patches in the model...
> The top of the crotch was permanently and completely buried within the bottom of the shirt and would never be seen. There were four patches sealing this area closed, and after removing them, Austavin's patch count went down from 1004 patches to an even 1000.
> The tops of the shoes were completely buried within the bottom of the pant legs. There were two patches sealing the top of each shoe closed, and after I deleted these four patches, the patch count went down from 1000 to 996.
> I saw what I thought was a chance to shave off a lot more patches from the model when I examined the back of Austavin's shirt. I saw that this part of the model was somewhat flat, and the central vertical spline may not be needed, so I removed it and adjusted the patches above and below it in order to accomodate the change. Surprisingly, for all the work I put into this edit, I only managed to lower the patch count by two, bringing the count down from 996 to 994.
> After going through the exporting process again, I found that Austavin's polycount had dropped from 1714 to 1690. I then went on to correctly flip the rest of the normals in the model, but I also had to apply backfaces to the hair, and this increased the polycount to 1752.
> Once all of Austavin's polygons were facing the right way, I moved onto eliminating the model's permanently hidden, and thus useless polys. I began with the hair, where I found a total of four hidden polys near the ears, two on each side. After deleting them, the polycount dropped from 1752 to 1748.
> Within the ears, I found six hidden polygons in the middle of each ear, totalling twelve. Deleting these polys lowered the polycount from 1748 to 1736.
> Next up was the eyebrows, where I found two hidden polys inside each brow. Getting rid of these four polys further lowered the polycount from 1736 to 1732.
> The open mouth segment had only 40 polygons total, but eight of them, a fifth of the total, were hidden and useless. Once they were gone, the polycount dropped from 1732 to 1724.
> After all of the extra polygons in the head had been eliminated, the next step was to drastically edit the chest area in a way that would take down the polycount dramatically. The collar of Austavin's shirt was open so that the polys of the chest could be seen. My plan was to seal off the collar, eliminate the chest under the shirt, and later to simply draw the collar onto the skins during the upcoming skin phase. Sealing the collar closed added nine polys to the model, increasing the polycount from 1724 to 1731.
> Once the shirt collar was sealed, the polys in the chest were now completely hidden and useless, allowing me to delete the entire chest. This wiped out a whopping 44 polygons from the model, bringing the polycount down from 1731 to 1687.
> With the chest now gone, I moved on to fixing the hands. I was able to find 13 hidden polys buried in the five fingered left hand, most of them at the base of the fingers. Removing them lowered the polycount from 1687 to 1674.
> As for the right hand, which was a permanent fist, I was able to find ten hidden polygons. After I deleted them, the polycount dropped from 1674 to 1664.
> When I examined the crotch segment for hidden polys, I managed to find six of them near the bottom. Once they were gone, the polycount went down from 1664 to 1658.
> The next section to be fixed was the shoes, and this area was particularly bad. There were a dozen hidden polygons in each shoe in the form of a ring around the top section. These polys were actually inside 24 poly rings, and shared the same vertices as them. I simply exposed the 12 poly rings, and eliminated them, lowering the total polycount from 1658 to 1634.
> The final section I worked on was the bottom of the shirt. There were 20 polygons sealing the bottom edge of the shirt, and I felt that I could seal that edge with fewer polys. I eliminated the middle row of vertices and reconnected the outer ring of verts with a new set of just ten polygons. This change made the bottom edge of the shirt flatter, but also reduced Austavin's polycount from 1634 to 1624.
> With all of the visible polygons facing the right way and the errant ones eliminated, the optimization phase of the Austavin Quake 2 PPM project is now completed. The next phase will be the skin phase, and I'll update this log again once that phase is over.
1/11/2016 - Six days ago, I finished Austavin's three standing death animations, completing the last of the 20 animations. Here are some previevs of what these animations will look like...
> After completing all 20 of Austavin's animations, the next step would normally have been to compile the animations into a single, 198 frame choreography in preperation for export into a series of 3ds files. However, I first wanted to take some time to reduce the model's rediculously high patch count. Austavin weighed in at a hefty 1230 patches, and this would translate into a much higher number of polygons by the time it was ready to be used as a Quake 2 model. So I began removing unnecessary patches from the model, one body part at a time...
> I began by turning Austavin's right hand into a permanent fist, since he uses that hand primarily to hold his weapon. I deleted the right hand, copied the right fist from my Dib model, and pasted it onto the Austavin model. This was by far the most difficult change, since I had to then make sure the fist was the right size and shape, and position it so Austavin would still look like he was holding his weapon convincingly without having to change the position of the right palm's bone. As a result of this change, the patch count was reduced by a whopping 149 patches, bringing the model down to 1081 patches.
> Once the fist was done, I moved on to the ears. By flattening out the concave front of the ear, I chopped off 13 patches from each ear, totalling a reduction of 26 patches. This further lowered the overall patch count from 1081 to 1055.
> The next part of the model to be edited was the bottom of the shirt. I removed the middle spline ring and reconnecting the rest of the splines, and this lowered the patch count by another twelve, bringing the patch count down from 1055 to 1043.
> After editing the bottom of the shirt, I moved on to the irises of Austavin's eyes. Since the back six patches were completely hidden by the eye whites at all times, I chopped out those patches. I also flattened out the front of the irises by deleting the center vertces and replacing them with horizontal splines, cutting four additional patches from each iris. I ended up chopping a total of 20 patches from the eyes, ten from each iris, and this lowered the model's patch count from 1043 to 1023.
> The lips were simple and had only three cross sections. The back cross section was completely hidden by Austavin's face at all times, so I deleted all five back splines that made up that cross section. This brought the model's patch count down by another nine patches, reducing the total patch count from 1023 to 1014.
> Next up to be edited was Austavin's head hair. After I deleted a few splines from the front of the hair, the hair was lightened by six patches, bringing the total patch count down from 1014 to 1008.
> After the head hair came the eyebrows. I deleted three permanently hidden patches from the back of each eyebrow, totalling six patches taken off of both eyebrows. This reduced the model's patch count from 1008 to 1002.
> While working on the reduction of Austavin's patches, I discovered a hole on either side of the head on the hairline between the ear and the eye. I fixed these holes by adding a single polygon to either side of the head. This fix added two patches to the model's total patch count, increasing it from 1002 to 1004.
> At this point, the animation phase is completed apart from the 198 frame animation choreography, which I plan to work on today. Once that's done, the animation phase of this project will be officially completed, and then it's on to the optimization phase. After I get through that, I will be writing the next update to this page.
12/29/2015 - I recently completed all five of Austavin's crouching animations, which are crouching stance, crouch walk, crouching attack, crouching pain, and crouching death. As of the completion of these animations, 17 out of 20 animations were completed, and all of these animations span 178 out of 198 frames. At this point, the standing death 2 animation is also completed, and I'm currently working on standing death 1, so it won't be long until the animation phase is out of the way.
12/17/2015 - Yesterday, I finished Austavin's Point animation, which means that all five gesture animations are now completed. Along with Point, I've also animated Flipoff, Salute, Taunt, and Wave. Since the Grenade Toss animation is simply Wave played backwards, and is seen much more often than Wave, I decided to dedicate Wave to look like Austavin throwing a pipe bomb. Sometime in the near future, I'm going to reverse the frames of Grenade Toss to make Wave so that it will show properly in Quake 2. Now that all five gestures are now out of the way, 12 out of 20 animations are completed, as well as 135 out of 198 frames.
12/15/2015 - It's been nearly a month since the last progress update of Austavin's Quake 2_PPM, but I now have the completion of four more animations to report. All three Standing Pain animations plus Jump are now completed, and you can get an idea of what they will look like by viewing the two animation tests below. It didn't actually take me this long to finish these four animations; I actually finished the Pains on the 29th of November, and Jump on the first of December, but due to a missing Blaster model from my Universal 1-Handed VWEP, I couldn't demonstrate the Pains' completion until it occured to me recently to borrow a ray gun model from the data library from the Animation: Master CD. During my efforts to solve the Blaster issue, I completed four out of five gesture animations so I wouldn't fall too far behind my schedule. As of the completion of the Standing Pains and Jump, 7 out of 20 Quake 2 animations were completed, as well as 72 out of 198 frames. Since most of the work is already done for the gesture animations, expect the next update very soon.
11/18/2015 - Austavin's Run and Standing Attack animations are now completed. Although both of these animations presented their own challenges to create, they were still nowhere near as hard to complete as Standing Stance. With 3 out of 20 Quake 2 animations now complete, I now have 54 total frames completed out of a total of 198.
10/23/2015 - Nearly two weeks ago, I completed the first Quake 2 animation for my Austavin model, which is the Standing Stance, or simply Stance as officially known in Quake 2. It was a lot of hard work and took several days to finish, but was the result worth the effort? Check out the video clip of the animation below and decide for yourself.
9/22/2015 - Back in May of this year, I began working on the Austavin_Quake 2_plugin player model. After creating the mesh of his head in Animation: Master, I copied the body of my Creamy Goodness model, pasted it onto the Austavin model, and adjusted the proportions to fit a five foot, two inch tall Austin. I then fitted the model with a skeletion, and applied its bones to the mesh's vertices. The next step was to apply the SmartSkins, which improve the movement of the mesh when certain bones are moved. Once the basic model was finished, I put some clothes on Austavin, applied the skeleton to the outfit's vertices, and then apply the Smartskins to the outfit. This step was an absolute bitch, particularly the X-axis for the biceps, and preventing the shoes from burying themselves in the feet when two or more of the feet's three axes were bent at the same time. Finally, I deleted the unseen skin under the clothes, and this reduced the patch count from 1488 to 1230. I will now close this initial log entry of the Austavin Quake 2 PPM with a short clip of a standard idle spin of the model. Enjoy. :)