Friday, October 29, 2010

Kaidan lives again!



“Far to the east, away from the lands you know, there lies an island called Kaidan. Shrouded in dark mystery for centuries, its ports are at last being opened to foreign merchants and opportunity awaits the bold. Yes, I have heard the stories you have heard. That it is a land where the dead rule the living. That in Kaidan no man ever truly dies. Who can believe such tales? We shall discount the rumors, you and I, knowing how it is sailors talk. I have a gift to carry to one of the Lord's of that land and I need stout souls to protect it on its journey there. Will you not make this journey with me and see the wonders of the far east for yourself?”

Kaidan is a Japanese ghost setting compatible with Pathfinder. And I did three covers for it in the past.

Since the previous publishing company had problems, Michael K. Tumey (the creator) transferred Kaidan to Rite Publishing and they're doing a patronage. Don't know what a patronage is?
Go here and find out:

You can support the development and get all the materials previously made. I haven't read it all yet, but it seems very cool, there's a ton of aaaawesome spooky artwork by Mark Hyzer and it's ghosts and samurai. What more do you want?!

You can get a free preview here:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clever blog post title

Not much yappin' today, mostly art!

Did you know that roughly (a couple of years here and there) at the time Caesar got stabbed in the Forum, something similar happened to Burebista - a Geto-Dacian king who united the various Dacian tribes?
(he was so busy fortifying his kingdom against a quite possible roman invasion that he totally missed a conspiracy by a group of unhappy chieftains)
(yep, I'm doing reading on Dacians because of my thesis. Very cool stuff.)


(more fairly quick encounter paintings for TLD. First two are shown when you're defeated as human or orc, other two are victory screens for orcs and dwarves.)

Now dinner and paint some more. Byeeee!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting old in computer years

This is mostly about TLD, so if you're not interested, maybe skip this one.

One thing I like about painting is - you can't really stay behind rest of the world very much. Sure, there may be kids painting with their minds wired straight to the computer, but if you do an oil painting, people will still like it and you won't embarrass yourself (unless you're a bad painter).
Computer games are different. You can't even claim to be retro in games, retro games have pixel art graphics and rip off pong or Megaman. If you get old in computer game years, you're simply a sucker.

When we started TLD these five years ago, we were setting the trends for MaB and even for its time it wasn't a bad looking mod. We were exploring the crap out of the technology, we had enthusiasm and thought we had all the time in the world.
Five years later, we're still pushing the technology and setting (some) trends, but it doesn't feel like being a giant space man fighting his way through a wave of star dust towards a shiny future. It's more like pushing a creaking wagon full of stuff that's breaking apart faster than you're fixing it.

We know, the MaB engine is old and not really supported and developed anymore. Warband is out there and most of the cool mod kids are there with it. Luckily, the MaB/Warband scene is not full of the bros who need to have a 3D shooter more realistic and hitech than the previous one every three months. But still, the old age is creeping on us.

We like to throw our 5 years of development around as a proof of being oldschool and therefore awesome. But it's also a stigma - fans expect nothing less than a LOTR roleplaying nirvana. And while I'm confident we'll release a good mod, I have no doubt we'll disappoint many people. It's just been built up too much. The more work we put into it, the more we realize we're pretty limited by the old clunky engine. (how awesome would it be to license the engine and be free to do our own modifications! Like getting rid of that nasty limit on number of usable races, or a bug with overflowing vertex buffer...DREAM ON, PUNY ARTIST!)

Sometimes I feel like whining (this post is a proof of that) about modding being hard and unrewarding. And then I take a look at our competition. It has two types of effect:
1) HOLY SHIT! Their models/textures/sounds/battle features/neat improvements are SO GOOD! Why aren't our as good?
2) How can we beat this?!

The first type happened with the Star Wars mod, which has an amazing amount of quality models, textures, working lightsabers, speeders, all the various aline races, jedi force powers, it's awesome. Recently this first type also kicked in while playing Rus XIII, which is still in beta as well, but is already AWESOME.
If you're into early medieval battles, you NEED to play it. Absolutely gorgeous models and textures of consistently good quality, great soundtrack (medieval music mostly), good features changing gameplay a LOT, it's the real deal.
I think I can let you guys know we're being inspired by the Rus guys in many ways. (and of course stealing their ideas. I'm only half joking. :D)

I'm sorry, no art today, I won't leak any secret info from TLD development either.
But be sure to check out those mods I wrote about:

Star Wars Conquest on ModDB (check out the video section)
Rus XIII 1st video - the Mongols
Rus XIII 2nd video - the Teutonic knights
Rus XIII - battle of Rakvere
Rus XIII - battle of lake Peipus

I promise there will be some art in the next post! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Personal vaporware

I think it's appropriate I do the first real post about something personal and important.

The Last Days - of what?!

The Last Days of the Third Age (or TLD) is a full conversion modification of a PC game I love.

It's called Mount and Blade and probably everyone into indie games knows about it. I won't write about that, if you're interested in free roaming medieval mercenary simulation/RPG where you can fight on horses, google it, read some reviews and try the demo of Warband. Warband is like a sequel of MaB with multiplayer options and better graphics.

However, we're making our modifications for the old MaB - (there are technical issues preventing us from porting to Warband.)
 The official website of MaB and Warband

What is TLD about? It's a bit like MaB, but set in J.R.R.Tolkien's MiddleEarth and much improved. In MaB you ride around as a mercenary, doing quests for various lords, fighting enemy kingdoms, raising your small band of soldiers and the general goal is to become a powerful warlord, have fun and roleplay your own story.

TLD takes the engine of the game and makes it all about the War of the Ring. You've seen the movies, right? Sauron and his orcs are evil, elves, dwarves, humans and little hobbits are good. They fight.
TLD is based on the Lord of the Rings books - we're trying to come up with our own designs for costumes and weapons, we try to show stuff they didn't put in the movies.

I started doing concept art for TLD five years ago and it's kinda cool seeing how I progressed from those first drawings I did at the dorm instead of studying.

My TLD concept art gallery on DA

To show something more up to date - here's a batch of very fast little paintings I did this week for ingame encounters (you can see some ents attacking the player's party, some tribal orcs, raiders and so on)
(they're all done in ArtRage with the watercolors and pencil, all under an hour.)

Here's another sub-project I'm trying to start for TLD - portraits of all the NPCs in the game. It could take another 5 years to do them all though :D
In this sped up video I draw a sketch for prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. Music and editing included!
Prince Imrahil - sketched in 14 minutes

Interesting and/or useful links I found this week

1) A bronze sword maker. Wonderful replicas, a must see for any sword enthusiast and fantasy painter
2) Plumtree - Scott Pilgrim (nice moosec)
3) MaB: Warband launch trailer
4) TLD forums (the public info is sadly quite old)

What else am I doing?

I'm repainting a cover of STREET: Empathy, the first book I did a cover for - written by my friend Ryan A. Span. (there will be a new edition of the book and they want a nicer cover. Can't blame them, the old one shows it's age.)
STREET website - you can read the book online (if you're into cyberpunk, I can only recommend it)
I'm also drawing and painting class illustrations for Dračí Doupě 2 ("Dragon's Lair 2"), there are quite many.
DrD2 website (czech only)
And last but not least - I go to school. ;) Mostly regularly. And researching stuff for my masters thesis - I'll write about that in a future post I'm sure.


...continuing my TLD story:
Being a huge Tolkien fan and enjoying the game, I simply had to get involved. I drew some elves and asked the mod leader if I could be a concept artist. Seeing no harm, he kinda agreed and I never stopped drawing stuff for the mod since.

I think I'll post about the process of making designs and putting (or not) them ingame some other time, this blog update is more about the whole idea.
We've had a couple of big releases, the last one a few years ago. And of course, without showing previews every week, people start to talk. "The mod is dead!", "It's vaporware" (google if you don't know the term) and so on.
It's not easy to keep calm facing such allegations, but we do. Mostly. ;) We've been through a lot - our mod leader disappeared a year ago, along with all our code and his unique vision. (we think he must've passed away, he wasn't a person to just walk without a word), so a majority of the mod had to be remade from scratch. Members of the team come and go, some stay for years, some contribute a bit and lose interest. We've had a great old time member leave us recently, which was a really unfortunate and sad thing for all of us. Creative disagreements happen.

But I've been very pleased with recent progress, we're finally getting to the phase of a playable mod, features are popping up and being tuned, most of the graphics are in and looking very cool. It all starts to feel like Middle Earth.
Beside doing concept art I also did texturing, model adjustments, feature design and recently also GUI adjustment and repainting of menus and such.

We still don't show much progress to the public, but we slip screens and info here and there. If you haven't yet seen it, take a look at our last official preview:

TLD: game locations preview thread

I think I'll post this now before it becomes even more obscenely old. If you've read past here, you deserve a giant cookie and a hug!
(ask for it in the comments. :D)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Introduction and cake

Welcome to the blog!

I haven't felt the need to set up blog up till now - either I didn't feel like updating it often enough, or I thought my DeviantArt journal was just fine.
Well, not everyone's on DA and lately I wanted to write something longer than just my usual annoying Facebook status updates.

So what will be on here?
Art, when I paint or draw something I'll be allowed to share and show.
Film, book and game reviews, impressions, musings and buggery in general.
Philosophy if I won't have anything else.

Before finishing this first post, I'd like to ask you to bear with my English - it's not my native language and I will make mistakes. Feel free to point them out to me if that's what you like to do, but I won't spend an additional hour polishing the text.


PS: if you haven't figured it out yet, the cake was a lie.