quaker2k8

Rear Admiral
Don't have time for a long comment, so just for the record: Privateer 2 is probably my favourite game period. And the art in it still inspires me today, especially the cut-scenes when travelling on planets (public transportation; trains, taxis, zeppelins...), the on-planet "menu" still perspectives, all the places etc.. Aesthetically, Privateer 2 is an absolute benchmark for perfect design, everything about it is wonderfully beautiful, so exotic and intriguing and detailed.
 

Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
Don't have time for a long comment, so just for the record: Privateer 2 is probably my favourite game period. And the art in it still inspires me today, especially the cut-scenes when travelling on planets (public transportation; trains, taxis, zeppelins...), the on-planet "menu" still perspectives, all the places etc.. Aesthetically, Privateer 2 is an absolute benchmark for perfect design, everything about it is wonderfully beautiful, so exotic and intriguing and detailed.
WOW! Now that is a complement. Cheers!

For the life of me, I can't remember doing a landing shot, but the rest of the team did. I could be wrong I have a terrible memory, all the detail has mushed into one over the years. I did do quite a few still menu shots and backgrounds for the video sequences.

I remember doing a few blue-screen shots. One was the space ship/balcony (when the windows get blown out around 7:00): www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nycy5NLz6E

OMG, the Canera, this was the first Game and 3D shown on the BBC, for Film 1996 with Barry Norman: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nycy5NLz6E
That is how big this was then, EPIC.

I did a shot with Clive Owen walking through the hanger, then some doors open. See below:

I did some searching on old disks and the web.

This stuff was done in 3DS Studio. This is before 3DS MAX. I was working with Phil who did textures.

Yep, this one:

Mike_ 5-25-1998 3-41-00 PM 719x360.JPG


Here is Clive in Pinewood Studio, it's filmed by Adam and the team. You can see it matches the image above.

http://download.wcnews.com/files/p2/davidhassan.avi

Mike_ 5-25-1998 3-44-14 PM 757x322.JPG


Mike_ 5-25-1998 3-49-44 PM 640x480.JPG



Mike_ 5-19-2004 8-38-10 AM 640x444.jpg


This was not used. It was a background through a window. Why did we have a missile site?

Mike_ 5-22-2003 2-19-46 PM 640x480.jpg


This was the scene with Clive Owen and Christopher Walken. You can see part of the background image below.

Mike_ 5-25-1998 3-42-50 PM 766x313.JPG


Mike_ 10-15-1998 3-08-32 PM 719x362.JPG


http://download.wcnews.com/files/p2/rhinehart.avi
 

Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
A few have mailed asking about my Africa trip mentioned on my LinkedIn site.

I took a year out during 2010/11 to get away from computers for a while and see a little of the world. I drove around Africa in a truck with a few other travellers.

If interested you can check this out on a iPad blog I did as I went from place to place.

It can be found here:

http://mcottam.posterous.com

Here is the map:

map.jpg
 

Bob McDob

Better Health Through Less Flavor
I have quite a few questions, so please forgive me!

Thank you!

The in-game ships were designed by Nick and Phil long before I arrived. The earliest memory I have is a lot of (higher poly) rendered images on a wall, I don't remember clay models. The ships had to be made over and over again as we realised the limitations of the ram and CPU.

They still hold up quite well today:
lars_p2render_1.jpg


Paul Hughes released the game models and some other assets some time ago. I've looked through them, other people have rendered them with modern technology like above, and some people ported them to Freelancer, and in both still and moving form they hold up remarkably well - better, in my opinion, than the in-game models of the main Wing Commander series ships do.

What interests me the most about the ships is the textures; they're quite intricate and elaborate by the day's standards, but they're also handled differently than those Wing Commander ships: from Wing Commander III onward every ship had their own texture maps, whereas those in Privateer 2 shared their textures from one big pool, and had them color-indexed so that they could be reused for different factions. Were you involved with that aspect of the design?

How many of the ships were done in the high-poly, cinematic quality style? I'm quite curious about this, because not even Origin's own advertising used them - it was all in-game models. Only a few of them can be seen during the cinematic sequences (and the US box cover). If you hadn't posted those shots of the Tembler I would never have known that any of the pirate ships were done in greater detail, especially because that same U.S. box has the Tembler on the back, but the gameplay resolution version.

My first job was done well before the game started. I remember four of us in a little room (Cheadle near Manchester) we made the animation that got us the contract from EA. I was working at ICI at the time and worked nights and weekends on the intro animation. I remember leaving my job to work longer hours on the gig.

Later we moved into a small house in the same town and started modelling with passion.

Nick Goldsworthy said in an interview that "When I came in, there was just a team of artists who had put together a flick and some game models." I'm guessing this was you guys?

How fleshed out was the game at that time? Privateer 2 had a famously twisting and winding development, but I know very little about it.

This is when a few of us went to see Chris in Austen Texas. Returning we started building ships in EOR a really hard to use software package for making 3D objects.

During this time I was shown how to us 2D programs by Phil and 3D software by Nick, Jon (Rashid) and Paul Steed. It was very hard to get the software and the hardware then, (Windows had just come out). This all happened because Nicks Dad, Eric could get all our gear. I would have done nothing without the help of Eric and Nick.

Could you tell us more about EOR? I know that it was an in-house Origin software and it was used on both Privateer and the 3D Wing Commander games, but little else.

And Paul Steed, RIP: I bought one of his books a while back but had no idea of the revolutionary he was. What was it like working with him?

Do you still keep in touch with Nick Elms, Phil (Meller?) and Jon Rashid (who isn't credited for the game?)


Going back a bit, I see the Reliant computer terminal and it looks quite similar to the CCN booth logo. Were you involved in those areas of design?

How much leeway did you have designing the environments for Privateer 2? Was it "here's a drawing, now make it 3D" or were you able to improvise it yourself? Artistically, what was the process? Did you build the textures by hand in Photoshop, and what source material and inspirations did you use - so much of the Tri-System is decidedly non-electrical!

[EDIT: Just saw that you didn't do the textures, but I'm still interested in your insights about the creative process here]


(Hope this isn't too many questions!)




Don't have time for a long comment, so just for the record: Privateer 2 is probably my favourite game period. And the art in it still inspires me today, especially the cut-scenes when travelling on planets (public transportation; trains, taxis, zeppelins...), the on-planet "menu" still perspectives, all the places etc.. Aesthetically, Privateer 2 is an absolute benchmark for perfect design, everything about it is wonderfully beautiful, so exotic and intriguing and detailed.

Seconded.
 
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Red Baron

Rear Admiral
Yeah i wanted to comment on Darkening's unique style too. "Artsy" comes to my mind, but that sounds too diminishing. It really is unique and beautiful.
 

Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
I have quite a few questions, so please forgive me!



They still hold up quite well today:
lars_p2render_1.jpg


Paul Hughes released the game models and some other assets some time ago. I've looked through them, other people have rendered them with modern technology like above, and some people ported them to Freelancer, and in both still and moving form they hold up remarkably well - better, in my opinion, than the in-game models of the main Wing Commander series ships do.

What interests me the most about the ships is the textures; they're quite intricate and elaborate by the day's standards, but they're also handled differently than those Wing Commander ships: from Wing Commander III onward every ship had their own texture maps, whereas those in Privateer 2 shared their textures from one big pool, and had them color-indexed so that they could be reused for different factions. Were you involved with that aspect of the design?

How many of the ships were done in the high-poly, cinematic quality style? I'm quite curious about this, because not even Origin's own advertising used them - it was all in-game models. Only a few of them can be seen during the cinematic sequences (and the US box cover). If you hadn't posted those shots of the Tembler I would never have known that any of the pirate ships were done in greater detail, especially because that same U.S. box has the Tembler on the back, but the gameplay resolution version.

Nick Goldsworthy said in an interview that "When I came in, there was just a team of artists who had put together a flick and some game models." I'm guessing this was you guys?

How fleshed out was the game at that time? Privateer 2 had a famously twisting and winding development, but I know very little about it.



Could you tell us more about EOR? I know that it was an in-house Origin software and it was used on both Privateer and the 3D Wing Commander games, but little else.

And Paul Steed, RIP: I bought one of his books a while back but had no idea of the revolutionary he was. What was it like working with him?

Do you still keep in touch with Nick Elms, Phil (Meller?) and Jon Rashid (who isn't credited for the game?)


Going back a bit, I see the Reliant computer terminal and it looks quite similar to the CCN booth logo. Were you involved in those areas of design?

How much leeway did you have designing the environments for Privateer 2? Was it "here's a drawing, now make it 3D" or were you able to improvise it yourself? Artistically, what was the process? Did you build the textures by hand in Photoshop, and what source material and inspirations did you use - so much of the Tri-System is decidedly non-electrical!

[EDIT: Just saw that you didn't do the textures, but I'm still interested in your insights about the creative process here]


(Hope this isn't too many questions!)






Seconded.
Gosh,

I can't remember a lot of the details.

-Yes, Nick was on the team very early (also his brother Mark, he was dam good and still is, he was way ahead of his time), I know he was there because of this image: https://www.wcnews.com/wcpedia/File:dARKENIN.png this was taken in our second building just after we got the green light from EA. This is just after we became EA Manchester, (we were Digital Creations before that. Gosh, I was working at ICI, EZIT with Jon and Digital Creations. No wonder my memory is messed up). This was long before building three, where we started working with a larger team.

-Phil made our textures for most of the in-game ships. He had a great way of making them as efficient as possible. He would flip, mirror and loop/tile; it made it harder to UV the models but his work was so efficient and that means more ships to fight. We also changed the RGB colors to make one ship look like another (or was that Starlancer????). I've never worked with anyone that was more efficient than Phil at texturing.

-Nick was right, we did a short animation (Just four of us then) and later Nick E and Phil M modelled quite a lot of the fighter ships. I remember building some of them again later in EOR at first then 3D Studio. EOR was extremely painful to use, it was a 2d package that exported 3D - Hard to explain. I remember Jon and I had to work without any disturbances to concentrate, a single mistake would force you to start again, it was crazy. We must have switched to 3D Studio at some point because I remember completing the game using that.

-I still work with Jon Rashid now, but have not seen Nick or Phil since I left to work in America many years ago, I miss them both. I left the UK to try and get a job at Lucas Film, this was almost impossible, but I am very pleased to say I made it and here I am on the steps of Sky Walker Ranch:

Mike_ 5-2-2002 12-15-22 PM 1600x1200.JPG


-As for Mr Steed, I only worked with him for two days, maybe three. Paul was very helpful and showed us a lot in a very short time. This stuff was way ahead of it's time then. I believe these may have been the very first 3D objects in a game. Wing Commander was years ahead.

-When I first started working on Privateer, I remember doing some simple drawings/paintings of rooms, (one was used in a DK multimedia book after they visited our EA office).

This one:

The first Apple computer was in this book also Nick Goldsworthy.

screenshot_594.jpg


-Later I started building the environments in 3D Studio and designed them as I went along. I remember starting with Bex.

1.jpg


This took 14 hours to render.

-We were quite free to build our own thing at the time. I remember the "no wheels on space ships' rule.

-If you look at that image of the team again you will see images on the wall that Nick and Phil put together to guide us. I remember each planet had a style that they put in a design document. Later other artists started designing rooms as well, you can see a few of the drawings on the Privateer site.

-I did a lot of textures but during the first few scenes Phil helped me out a lot. That was our pipeline back then. Building models was a lot harder in 3D Studio than 3DS MAX today, so it was very time consuming. I think it took us 3 + years to make that game. (I made Need for Speed in less than a year).

-I'm sure I built the ship in your image. Looks crazy bad now. We had SO little texture space then.

-I think the textures were done in Animator Pro, only the UI was done in Photoshop later. I was shown how to use Photoshop by Paul half way through the game. Thanks Paul!

-Looking back, I have to remind myself how much Nick, Phil and Paul showed me. How did they know how to do all this stuff? Unlike today there was no internet (or browsers in the UK), books, lessons or help to be found. Windows had just come out and we worked in DOS. Some of the early packages were very simple. It was all experimental. I was introduced to the web while visiting Origin to see Chris and Paul.

-Our first textures were done in Animator Pro:

Autodesk-Animator_-01.gif


-For Alpha we used the pink found on the right of the palate above.

-To put this into perspective, EOR was worse than the first prototype of 3DS Studio (example found here http://www.maxunderground.com/the_history_of_3d_studio) and the first 3D Studio was not much better than the prototype.

-Hope that answers a few of your questions? (My memory sucks at times :eek:) Unfortunately I have to get back to work.


All the best,

Mike
 

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Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
Do you guys have the link to the Privateer 2 models? Jon and I want to take a look.

BTW, just asked Jon Rashid to join the forum. Expect a note from him soon.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Do you guys have the link to the Privateer 2 models? Jon and I want to take a look.

BTW, just asked Jon Rashid to join the forum. Expect a not from him soon.

Here's a link to the image and model archive Paul sent us: http://download.wcnews.com/files/p2/P2_Archive.zip It seems the textures on the models didn't include palette info so here's another post where someone tried to decipher how it worked https://www.wcnews.com/news/2010/09/18/privateer-texture-palettes-explained.
 
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Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
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LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Man, this is a great thread to read! What an oasis of good memories and interactions.
 

DopplerD

Spaceman
LeHah, I totally agree...but just one question or two, hell maybe three: Michael Paul Cottam, you did the art for StarLancer? Sorry but a little awe struck, think it is cool you joined the forum. But you did the art for just the Reliant? or did I miss that somewhere in this post? I really dug the cramped feeling, tight bulkheads, and how ya'll even fit a shower in there.
 

Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
LeHah, I totally agree...but just one question or two, hell maybe three: Michael Paul Cottam, you did the art for StarLancer? Sorry but a little awe struck, think it is cool you joined the forum. But you did the art for just the Reliant? or did I miss that somewhere in this post? I really dug the cramped feeling, tight bulkheads, and how ya'll even fit a shower in there.

Hello LeHah,

Thanks’ for your kind words! I must say I've been amazed with the response to this post.

Yes, I did help to do the work on Starlancer.

When I started at Warthog I had just left Psygnosis/Sony.

My first job was to build the Reliant. Later I did the hanger and the captain’s room for the Yamoto. After that I did an Ext shot of the Yamoto and two funeral rooms.

Paul Jones had established a cool way of texturing the levels, so I did the same and the work went smoothly. After Paul had finished his levels he started to animate and light both ships.
He also did all the 2D animations too. He did a fantastic job and you can see the results in the video I posted a few days ago.

While Paul was busy doing all that, I started to help Phil build in-game ships. He textured and I built the ships and UV mapped the models.

I am so happy you like the work.

Cheers,

Mike
 

Whiplash

Commodore
A few have mailed asking about my Africa trip mentioned on my LinkedIn site.

I took a year out during 2010/11 to get away from computers for a while and see a little of the world. I drove around Africa in a truck with a few other travellers.

If interested you can check this out on a iPad blog I did as I went from place to place.

It can be found here:

http://mcottam.posterous.com

Here is the map:

View attachment 6168

Awesome! You visited my neck of the woods! Hope you enjoyed the trip.
 

Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
If you are looking to get into the industry, here is a taste of my experience.

Getting jobs as Senior or Lead artist has been a hard task over the years. Finding the Job, doing the art test, getting the interview, visiting the studio and then getting the visa (while finding a place to live and moving around the world) has been exhausting. I once had to travel from Vancouver in Canada to Brisbane in Australia (and back) for an interview over the weekend and go back to work on the Monday morning.

The hardest part of my experience has been the paperwork and immigration. My first visa for Totally Games in San Francisco/San Rafael took a year to get. During that time I lost the same job three times (it must have been fate that I got that job in the end). I've had 3 American, 1 Canadian, 3 Australian and 2 Singapore work visas.

Here is the average one day art test while visiting a studio. A low poly budget, two 256 x 256 textures and I had to think of the game play too. As you can see I did't finish the work, but I had a good try. Remember, this is during an interview on a pc I've never used before and put on the spot. You have to think fast. However, I got the job.

With any job like this, you have to think how you can make a little look like a lot. I always design parts that can be repeated. You can see this in the rooms of the Reliant.

One other thing. I had been using Max for years and this test was my first attempt at MAYA on the day of the art test. You have to try that to understand.


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Michael Paul Cottam

Space Marshal
I found some work in an old mail. I must have sent it home to finish the it during time off. This is more Starlancer stuff. The door and the communication pod.


See the brown frame around the door, this is my repeatable piece that makes up the whole level. Used twenty times with different textures and fillings to make it look different. I always design levels that take the work load away, you have to think smart.

Danger do not open. Is that the door or the box? ;o)

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DopplerD

Spaceman
As much as i love ships, hence the fact I like most of all the space sims, the Reliant was one of my top two favorite carries. Design was straight forward, was an old work horse, and had a killer swan song ramming the on the Coalitions First Fleet carriers. Loved the look and design of the ship, just drop out the bottom and land via the top.