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Large S.T.A.L.K.E.R. inspired Island "NOVA ZONA"

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I think he LIVES in The Zone... ;)

That's pretty easy to do when the State and country that you're living in is collapsing! ;)

Thank you for the warm remarks gentlemen.

I just tried a REALLY ambitious mod for the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobryl, and it's entitled "STALKERSoup," and can be found here: http://www.moddb.com/mods/stalkersoup If I'm not mistaken, they've got EVERY STALKER location available on one map, plus a handful more. One can choose to play the game with the default campaign having significant additions made to it, or one can play as a special class, the Collector, in a totally free sandbox environment. I've put a few hours in as a Collector, with realistic weapon settings (and "Yes," the weapons handle as they should!) and it's been fun. They really overhauled the appearance of anomalies and artefacts, and one could just stare at their surreal beauty for hours. They even have a Librarian from Metro 2033 in there! For all of the positives, it has a good deal of really annoying stability issues to iron out, and the developer said that this week a new update's coming out.

The point of my bringing it up here, is that it seems like the size of the STALKER series modding community just keeps growing and growing. If this mod has already achieved an "every location available" type world map, then more are sure to follow, and each with their own twists. It leads me to conclude even more strongly than before that the best way to approach this island for ArmA II and III is to make it its own beast. Some might not be happy with that decision, but I've no doubts that if one wants all of the STALKER series' locations available, they are/will continue to be so through robust mods for the STALKER games. No, it won't be the same as if they existed in ArmA, but I've no doubts that this island will be something uniquely haunting and hypnotic on its own.

I purchased the Humble THQ Bundle, and tried Metro 2033 for the first time. The game's graphics were gorgeous, the best I've seen, I had the graphics settings maxed out and it ran silky smooth. That said, according to Steam, I played it for 38 min. before uninstalling it. I hate rail shooters, and it's been years since I've played one. Metro 2033 is that in spades, and makes Call of Duty's railroads look loose and sloppy.

I might go through the trouble of trying it again, what say you?

Edited by Kyle_K_ski

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Hey up,

@Acoustic- thanks for your comments man, I appreciated it.

@Kyle- Alright man..! :D Aye, I am wanting to make this Island unique from the start, as there are so MANY Stalker mods out there with all the locations etc already in, so I thought it best to expand on that and try to situate it in a real world setting, a la' ARMA...

I want this to end up so a player can wander through huge marshlands for ages, come out at a road that leads through a blighted irradiated village, then over the next set of low sodden hills you can see the masts and chimney stacks of a huge factory complex- that kind of thing. Huge, sprawling landscapes that beg to be explored as they could be rich in artefacts or treasures...

I know it's going to be a LOT of work, but this map has simply GOT to be Chernarus sized imo- it won't be worth it if it's not.

On your Metro question- aye, it disappointed me in so far as it was on rails, but there were some amazingly Stalker like places in it underground that mad it all worth while. It's up to you if you play on mate, but if time's short, then it's a tough call. I played it simply because I wanted to check out the environments, and the game play itself was nothing special tbh...

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It leads me to conclude even more strongly than before that the best way to approach this island for ArmA II and III is to make it its own beast. Some might not be happy with that decision, but I've no doubts that if one wants all of the STALKER series' locations available, they are/will continue to be so through robust mods for the STALKER games. No, it won't be the same as if they existed in ArmA, but I've no doubts that this island will be something uniquely haunting and hypnotic on its own.

I agree 100% with Kyle on this, especially the underlined part.

The way I see this it'll be alot better for MeanMachine to create his island using his own imagination instead of trying to recreate something already existing because no matter how hard he try, people will complain no matter what. They'll complain that he didn't include this or that and some will freak out that he didn't get something the right way. It'll save him so much headache if he choose this direction. Sure take inspiration from every interesting source you can find out there but it'll be best for him to keep it with his own vision of the post apocalyptic world, that way he'll create something really unique and fascinating.

Look what Sumrak did with his Namalsk island project, he created something really special without trying to copy any existing stuff and all that while using almost only BIS objects. Can you imagine how awesome it'll be to explore this island with all the new top quality objects all around the map ? We'll spent hours just exploring and I'm not even talking about the time we'll spent while playing and making mission on this island. I think it'll be more interesting to explore a universe that we don't know than one that we already know, don't you think guys ?

Anyway, that's just my humble opinion on the subject. I'm so exited about this project that I'm going bananas :yay:

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@Scorpion- No worries mate, I've stated from the start that I do not intend to make this another duplicate Stalker map, just churning out the same objects/locations as can be found in the GSC games, fantastic as they are.

From the first post in my dev blog to put your mind at rest lol:

"I should point out that this isn't going to be a duplicate of any current Stalker map- it's going to be a lot larger, and will use certain areas of previous Stalker maps as ref points to those games, but will basically be my own take on the series so it will have a lot of new areas of varying size and structure.

I'm aware this could spiral into a wacky arcadey version of an exaggerated Zone if I loose the original intention, but will do everything I can to keep it real, keep it authentic and keep it true to Stalker."

"I'll include some of the classic areas (Or approximations of them) like Yanov and Garbage etc, but will expand and modify them as I see fit to allow for more scope.

I'll mainly be creating new areas of interest with a mind to adapting the landscape to become a more gruelling and formidable fight for survival in the irradiated wilderness of the Zone..."

So it should be roughly 90% made up content I'd say, with the remaining 10% adapted and expanded/changed from The Zone in GSC games.

Everything will be created from scratch though- no porting at all.

I hope that's cool with you..? :D

Ps; Namalsk is my favourite ARMA2 map for atmosphere- amazing how desolate and windswept it feels- fantastic island.

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instead of trying to recreate something already existing because no matter how hard he try, people will complain no matter what. They'll complain that he didn't include this or that and some will freak out that he didn't get something the right way. It'll save him so much headache if he choose this direction.

Oh yeah - I totally agree with you on this one. NOTHING's more aggravating than receiving complaints from someone who's not really a contributor. Valid critiques are a whole different matter - if they're backed up with factual observations then they're valid points that should be seriously considered. But look at most development threads, few of even the beta testers are actually writing up reports that are useful, or are written in a way where the developer is left having to ask a hundred questions to determine when/where a player was when they experienced a bug, and how many testers go back to retest a bugged area SEVERAL times to ensure that it's "really" there before reporting it. Beta testing is not very fun, as if it's being done correctly, it's mostly real work. Alpha testing? Alpha testing makes beta testing look like preschool.

Namalsk is my favourite ARMA2 map for atmosphere- amazing how desolate and windswept it feels- fantastic island.

I agree with you on this one. It's just too bad that it's so unfriendly to AI in regards to utilizing structures for CQB (to be fair, I know it's been updated within the past couple of months, and I have yet to try that build, so it's possibly better than it was before).

But Namalsk is brilliant in every other way. The sound design is just spot on perfect. I've spent a couple hours' worth of time just exploring that space in the editor.

My father used to belong to a hunting camp that was surrounded by a birch tree swamp. The constant sounds of branches clacking into one another, and the creaking of their brittle trunks... I've got goose bumps just thinking about it. I wish that I had some superb recording equipment, as I'd huff it back there just to record a half hours' worth of environmental sounds. It would work great on this island.

Hmm... I might have to do some checking around for some recording equipment. If I could find some, I wouldn't hesitate to do this.

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Making this as "its own beast" is a great thing. I look forward to it. It'd be great to get that stated up front and remove any assumptions that it might be yet-another-stalker-mod.

Namalsk's genius is the sound design, IMO. Turn it off and it loses most of its atmosphere. Ambient sound is "critical" in setting the mood. Whether it's Mooze's industrial-ambience from SoC or even the Fallout 1 soundtrack, it adds to the feeling of the game.

STALKERSOUP - all over it and have been contributing in rewriting dialog to cleaner English. Also made available weapon edits to line up with real performance. One of the issues with default (Terra) is that they have no idea about the effectiveness of modern body armor and the game implies the body armor is "5 minutes in the future" in that it's superior to what is available today (think all those exo-skeleton variants). Quite frankly I think the efforts of STALKERSOUP are wasted on the old xray engine when something like ARMA2 is available. All those loading transitions between "levels" gets annoying and I often pine for a single environment that easily allows co-op. Ah well.... it'll come eventually. :-D

Keep up the great work meanmachine1 & team!

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"I should point out that this isn't going to be a duplicate of any current Stalker map- it's going to be a lot larger, and will use certain areas of previous Stalker maps as ref points to those games, but will basically be my own take on the series so it will have a lot of new areas of varying size and structure.

I'm aware this could spiral into a wacky arcadey version of an exaggerated Zone if I loose the original intention, but will do everything I can to keep it real, keep it authentic and keep it true to Stalker."

"I'll include some of the classic areas (Or approximations of them) like Yanov and Garbage etc, but will expand and modify them as I see fit to allow for more scope.

I'll mainly be creating new areas of interest with a mind to adapting the landscape to become a more gruelling and formidable fight for survival in the irradiated wilderness of the Zone..."

So it should be roughly 90% made up content I'd say, with the remaining 10% adapted and expanded/changed from The Zone in GSC games.

Everything will be created from scratch though- no porting at all.

I hope that's cool with you..? :D

I'm totally cool with that and I think you did the right choice by doing that. I was simply asking just to be sure so sorry if you already did answer that question. I'm sure we'll hear that question a few time before the release simply because of the thread title. They'll see "Large S.T.A.L.K.E.R. inspired Island" and they'll assume that's gonna be another STALKER island forgetting the key word was inspired.

My father used to belong to a hunting camp that was surrounded by a birch tree swamp. The constant sounds of branches clacking into one another, and the creaking of their brittle trunks... I've got goose bumps just thinking about it. I wish that I had some superb recording equipment, as I'd huff it back there just to record a half hours' worth of environmental sounds. It would work great on this island.

Hmm... I might have to do some checking around for some recording equipment. If I could find some, I wouldn't hesitate to do this.

I hope you're lucky trying to find some recording equipement since environmental sounds will help alot the creation of a great atmospshre for this island. I can already imagine going into a deserted part of the island with heavy fog barely able to see 100m infront of me, hearing sounds coming from the surrounding not knowing what will came out of the fog. I got chill just thinking about it.

P.S. I'm happy to see that I'm not alone loving Namalsk island for his atmosphere.

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Hey up guys,

Here's another structure, slightly larger this time for a Laboratory:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/86890612@N02/8329703524/

This one is the basic structure, a block with two floors and a double stairwell- others using this texture set can easily be put together in various formations like T shaped or C shaped etc, you get the idea.

Anyway, I hope you like it and please feel free to bombard me with crits and suggestions..!

Also, on my blog there's a short descrition of why this one seemed to take so long:

http://meshcarver.blogspot.com/

Take it easy..!

Ps; does anyone know a good file format to save these images for Flickr, as upto now, it seems to be really chewing the images up and leaving them looking really pixley and rough..?

Edited by meanmachine1

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As far as i can see you 're doing excellent work with the models (as a Pro you are)

Now i hope -in time- you 'll have the 'stomach' to create a wide range of such buildings (and various other types of models)

for sake of 'uniqueness' of each location..an awesome amount of work -i know-

Please keep up the good work :)

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Hi man,

aye, I'll be doing a fair few variations on each building I come up with. Also, there will be a lot of unique buildings that are created just for specific areas, to add to the immersion and not suffer from repetitiveness.

I'm going to take as long as it takes basically..! :D

I'm slightly concerned that in trying to make EVERY single structure enterable I'll shoot myself in the foot and will run into performance problems further down the line..? I just don't know, but I'll carry on with the plan to make everything enterable anyway...

Thanks for your kind words aswell mate, appreciated..!

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Cheers GRS, I intend to.

Tomorrow I'll be starting another little sort of checkpoint guardpost for next to the railway system...

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.

Nice structure! Modularity in all of its brilliance!

I really like your blog entries on this - particularly the philosophical approach that you use as a schema for your (very good) work habits. Needless to say, I appreciate them so much because that's how I work myself! :)

I have a strange personality trait, where the closer something is to being the way I like it, the more I enjoy it. Yeah, I know - weird! :popup:

Getting lost in the details is pointless if they aren't attached to a good and solid foundation. You're doing terrific work.

Needless to say, I'm happy that you made it through the food poisoning. I had it once so bad that I thought that I was going to die. Couldn't tell up from down, and on a certain level, I didn't even care the pain was so bad.

Thank you for sharing the latest, and let's all try to have a HAPPY New Year!

:dancehead::218:

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Excellent job on the laboratory building Mean, that's another top quality object you created right there. I can't wait to see your checkpoint guardpost, I'm sure it'll be another awesome object like all the others.

I'm slightly concerned that in trying to make EVERY single structure enterable I'll shoot myself in the foot and will run into performance problems further down the line..? I just don't know, but I'll carry on with the plan to make everything enterable anyway...

A island maker could probably anwser that question better but I remember that it was a issue in OFP. Maybe they did some change in Arma 2 to allow more enterable building this time without hitting the performance too much. Personally, I would love if 100% of the buildings were enterable but I think will be more safe with something like 75/25 or 60/40 just to be sure. I'm playing alot on Lingor lately and most of the building are enterable(75/25 probably) without too much performance problems. In fact, the FPS drop more while I'm running in the jungle than when I'm fighting in the city.

Anyway, did you know if you could use the already existing building to make one non-enterable ? That way you'll not have to recreate lots of buildings from scratch and it'll save you time and work. Another thing to consider is how many objects using the same 3d model vs lots of different 3d model. Let me explain what i mean by that, let's say you've 100 objects using all the same 3d model with different texture will hit less the performance than using 100 different 3d model. Like I said, island maker and object maker could probably anwser your question way better than me so maybe it'll be good to go and ask them.

P.S. I'm glad to heard that you're feeling better and happy new year everyone

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FPS hits are in heavy vegetation or similarly heavy concentrations of buildings - like big cities. This is about polygons within render-range. As the LOD increases and there's more polygons to increase the detail on, the performance hit is factorial, if not exponential. Have a look at some of the larger urban areas in game to get an idea of what causes performance hits. If you keep the urbanization limited to a level like the GSC games, you'll unlikely notice any performance hits. However, if you wanted to but the Duga/Woodpecker right next to the CNPP plant, and the iron forest (transformer & distribution site), you'll likely see a hit. :-)

IMO you're not going to see a problem and if you make 100% enterable but turn out not to need it, then at least you had it - rather than the inverse, need it and not have it. If you're going for a simulationist experience then arbitrarily blocked and indestructible buildings are a no-no. Quite frankly you can't really go wrong modelling every structure as enterable (if it logically could be entered).

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Hi guys,

thanks for both your comments and suggestions..! :D

Aye, I won't be having MASSIVE urban areas, although they will be bigger than the GSC ones from the Stalker games. There will be more little village "hamlets" and townships/settlements rather than big cities everywhere.

I might have one larger city mass, but with an eye to keeping performance first...

Thanks also for your suggestions of saving workload by reusing geometry, very useful..!

I'd love to have 100% enterable, although if I did make some non-enterable it'd be purely for a gameplay point of view. I hate it when game show you things like "LOOK! Look at this cool awesome structure...but just look, you can't actually go in it..."

Also worth pointing out is that the interior details of these structures will also be performance first, so it won't be quite as detailed as the GSC games (At first), as again, this is an ARMA addon and little details are secondary. So for now, I'm concentrating on the actual structures. When all those are done and in situ, then I'll see how far I can push it to add various bits and bobs inside to flesh it out...

Anyway, thanks again you two..! :D

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Alrighty,

Here's another update, this time a smaller building like a sort of Control Room for the railway or something.

I'm creating a lot of buildings sort of "generic", as then there's greater flexibility and they can be added to later to make them more specific.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/86890612@N02/8341647902/in/photostream

Also, if any of you seasoned ARMA modders out there have any advice in regards little details like the broken window frame or the handrail (If it's worth including these in the geoLOD/fireLOD etc... practical stuff), then I'd be REALLY interested to hear your advice and suggestions please.

I realise these little details all add to my workload, let alone provide potential difficulties further down the road when I try to get these in game, but I think they're necessary overall- for atmosphere- and it'd be a shame to leave them out.

Anyway, thanks for your time again gents..!

Marc :D

Ps; I've just noticed, the images are better quality if you view my devblog instead of the Flickr links I keep putting up. Flickr must really chew them up or something..?

Anyway, here's the link again:

http://meshcarver.blogspot.com/

Edited by meanmachine1

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OMG, you did this in 4 days and it's still top quality stuff :butbut:

You never cease to amaze me Marc

BTW, if you're confident that you can make a non-enterable building out of your already existing building just make all of them enterable and if the need arise, you'll have your model as a base. I'm sure it'll be nothing for you to do that.

I got a question for you about the units, what you've in mind for the units ? Are you going to create units too for your island or are you planning to use the already made units ? I ask because I'm really curious about that and I'm sure that if you decide to make your own units, they'll be simply amazing just like your buildings.

Awaiting your next creation

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.

I'd love to have 100% enterable, although if I did make some non-enterable it'd be purely for a gameplay point of view. I hate it when game show you things like "LOOK! Look at this cool awesome structure...but just look, you can't actually go in it..."

I'm totally with you on that one. It IS very frustrating to see some structure that's eye-catching, only to discover that it's not explorable in any meaningful way.

One of the ingenious aspects of the first Half-Life (noticed I said the First one) is that tramcar ride into the bowels of Black Mesa. When you got to fight your way out of there, having to survive sizable chunks of areas that you already saw (or thought you saw) on that tramcar ride - well, it was pure genius.

The BEST map I've ever played in any game was for Dark Forces: Jedi Knight. It was a custom made map, and what was ingenious about it is that one unknowingly started in the bowels of the map, and through one sly means after another, unwittingly worked one's way up and out of it, sort of in a reverse-spiral. Most of the time, there were some opportunities to look back at where one was at, but it wasn't till the very end that one could see the original starting point, and nearly everywhere else, at the same time, and the entire map was just mammoth. I wish that I called remember the name of that map. It's posted somewhere at Massassi Temple, and I wrote a detailed and glowing review of it. Psychologically, it was pretty breathtaking, and a real masterpiece of design.

It made you feel as though you climbed Olympus Mons (one of the tallest mountains in the solar system on Mars, for those that don't know).

One of the issues with today's ultra high fidelity of computer graphics engineering is that even the most "rudimentary" structure that is not intended to be entered always looks like it SHOULD be enterable. And when that artificial barrier is encountered, it breaks immersion, and to my design sensibilities, that's a sin that should always be avoided whenever possible.

I'd rather explore a low fidelity world graphics-wise, as long as I'm totally free to go where I want. For then there's an all important game design consistency that to me, anyway, easily overcomes the supposed lack of visual bells and whistles.

Well, I could go on for hours about this stuff, but Old Man Time has my number, so...

But before I go, Marc, I've downloaded every image you've ever posted, and they look fine with me when I zoom in using FSViewer, and I'm downloading those, most of the time, from flickr. Even in flickr, from my end, they look great, although flickr's "zoom in" user interface feels kind of awkward. Once zoomed in though, your screenshots look fantastic. As does your latest creation, but happily no surprise there.

:)

Thanks again for sharing, and I look forward to whatever else you have in store!

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Hi again..!

Aye, been awhile again but other things take priority I'm afraid..! :(

This one is of another style of house, the kind of grim house you will see in a lot of villages in the Zone:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/86890612@N02/8387039412/in/photostream

And there's a full description in my dev blog too:

http://meshcarver.blogspot.com/

Take it easy chaps..!

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I put the same love into my model creation as you do into yours, and so I always enjoy seeing your updates. I wish I could texture like you do, though. Do you think you'd find it in your heart to come up with a couple of work-flow videos to teach us plebs your craft?

Abs

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That's another great model you got there with impressive texture like always. We all know real life come first so just take your time to come up with the best model as you can, no need to hurry. I'll play with your map even if Arma 4 have been released.

Lastly, there's a proper fire place (dead centre of image) with connected chimney stack that you can't really see from this shot, but you will be able to light fires in it on those cold grim nights in the Zone, gather your friends around and swap tales of daring do and the manly man things lonely men do in the Zone.

What happens in the Zone, stays in the Zone...lol ;)

Nice addition right there, I already have a mission idea for this building.

P.S. Bolded part...:rofl:

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Hey guys..! :)

@ Abs, I've checked your addons out and they're spot on mate..! Your texture work is great and I'm not too sure I know that much that's worth showing lol..!

I'll just say that I've built up a huge texture library from my travels, and also have subscribed to a few texture sites- pretty standard stuff really.

When creating textures, I always experiment with different layers, changing the mode and opacity etc but it's very important to have a solid idea in your head before you start, otherwise you'll be throwing around a lot of random looking textures with no consistency really.

I'm sure you know all this anyway man- as I say, what I've seen of your work seems top notch..!

@ Scorpion, thanks again for your kind words..!

It's great to know there's others out there who have the same passion for STALKER as I do..!

Lol, aye... "What happens in the Zone, stays in the Zone..." I can just see it now:

"I'm sorry..! I didn't realise it was a Bloodsucker..!? I swear it felt like a sleeping bag..!!! It was so dark..!" ;)

Anyway, I'm really busy with work atm, but my next update will be me trying to get one of these structures fully working/set up and into the game itself, so I can familiarise myself with the process more fully.

Plus, I just want to run around a Stalker building popping caps lol..!

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Yep, What happens in the Zone, stays in the Zone... lol

That's a good idea to familirize yourself with the process of bringing your model ingame, that way you'll see if any issue come out once ingame. Sometime weird thing happen. Last thing you want is having to redone all your models because you did a simple mistake affecting all your models once ingame.

Can't wait to see your stuff ingame, I'm sure they'll look gorgeous :ok:

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