Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Transparent bases

This ork is my first experiment with a transparent base, which I feel is less obtrusive on the tabletop. Personally I feel that single figures with well modelled bases can look amazing on display, and units with matched modelled bases can look fantastic on display if they're in a matched movement tray, but on the tabletop modelled bases just look strange and out of place to me, I prefer unadorned black bases (which to an extent we can accept as being a "shadow"). However I think a good transparent base could look even better, so I'm experimenting with making my own.

This one wasn't too bad. I embedded the model in the transparent epoxy, which I'm not sure about - the next model will be pinned to the top normally so I can compare. The matt spray-on varnish "whitened" the surface a little, so I coated half of the base with a layer of gloss varnish to see the difference. As you can see here, it helped.

Also, there's four small button magnets embedded in base (I currently add magnets to the bases of all my models for transport), they look a little out of place but it's not too bad. There's actually a pair of magnets in his feet as well but this is tricky to do and weakens the model - a second ork I made with magnets only in the feet broke at the ankles. Though the attraction to metal was weaker, it still didn't move around (much) when placed it on a tin and shook it up, so I might try again, but not all model have feet / legs big enough for good sized magnets.

Here's a normal "plain-Jane" based ork for comparison:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Realism in games

There's many unrealistic elements of video games that we happily ignore, either because we know it's too difficult (or just not worth the effort) to make it more realistic, or we know that making it more realistic would not make it better, often it makes it worse.

But to an extent that's subjective - some people like realistic but complicated games, at least in certain genres. Take flight simulators for example. I think it's abaout gameplay first, but if an effective gameplay mechanic is also realistic, that can help immersion and enjoyment. Take for example the way current shooters often limit the number of weapons you can carry while older games generally allowed you to walk, run and jump while carrying many times your body weight in firearms. Limiting your carrying capacity wasn't done just because it was more realistic; it was and is done because it forces you to make strategic decisions about which weapons to carry. In some games this is an advantage.

So whenever we look at something unrealistic in a game, we have to consider if it needs to be improved or whether we should just maintain suspension of disbelief. However, today I had an idea that just might work.

In most shooters, when you reload a half-empty clip you don't lose the ammo that you dump (even though you clearly see it drop). This makes sense. But consider: if you tap the reload button in the middle of a firefight you drop the clip and reload as quickly as you can, losing the rest of the clip (though it falls to the floor and can be picked up later). If you hold the reload button you are treated to a more longer animation in which the character removes the clip, visible stowing it away thus keeping the ammo, before replacing it. This combines realism with an added layer of tactical decision making in-game. I think, for a modern-day shooter like Counterstrike, this could work. I'm planning to try it in my game anyway.

Of course it still doesn't explain how the ammo is consolidated from the half-empty clips into full ones, but hey; it's just a game. Right?

Also, I'm starting to suspect that I talk too much.