Siamese Dream (wet)

I might as well have a standard Apology Notice that’s attached to the beginning of every one of our blogs…

The problem we constantly find here at Carma Towers is that we’re all always working on the game, and it’s rare that we really have time to sit back and write about it. But I know how you all crave information about development progress, so once again I have to say sorry for the gaps between updates and blogs.

The second part of my apology concerns something endemic to the process of game dev – that of the phases in the process where there’s a lack of visible progress. At the moment, we’re right in the midst of one of those phases. We have a LOT of great work that’s on-going, but if I was to take screenshots to illustrate it in a blog, we’d be inundated with unfavourable feedback due to the lack of visual polish! One very significant case in point here is the tech I was planning to discuss in this blog: the Car Crushing. Obviously, this is something that EVERYONE wants to see, as it’s absolutely core to the Carma experience. And the current state of Patrick’s code is “well advanced” – we know everyone is going to be blown away when it’s revealed as we’ve been blown away by the results we’re seeing from it in its current state. But right now… we just can’t show it. The code needs some further tweaks, and then the cars that have been made so far need to be properly set up to utilise it. It’ll be great – soon – but for the moment, it has to stay under wraps. Sad face.

So, what I’m going to do instead is talk about something else that we’re obviously beavering away on – the CARS! More specifically, the all-new cars!

One of the very best tasks when we worked on the original game was obviously that of designing the cars. In those pre-internet days we had to find ways to gather our references, and a lot of the automotive inspiration came from a local chemists shop (no, not from some kind of under-the-counter “powders” they sold – stop sniggering at the back there, McDermott S.). Because this chemists also (bizarrely) sold die-cast scale model cars – the Burago 1:18 scale jobs. Which are great things to hold, and pore over, and push around the office carpets going “brmm BRMMM!!” and smashing into each other. So company money was spent on getting together a sizeable collection of cool toy cars, which then fed into the decisions made on what sort of cars got adapted and modelled for the game. And by and large, those toy cars were based on big manufacturers’ shiniest and sexiest creations.

One of my big regrets in terms of “long lost work” is that we no longer have my Big Doc o’ Car Drawings. I drew every car for Carma as a side-on and front view, which became the master blueprint for modelling. Now forever lost. Which is a shame, as my drawing abilities were lost with it. See below and here

So anyway, all these years on, as I sit here looking forward to the Google Glasses world of tomorrow when I can just mutter, “Oy Google. Fuckin’ show me some COOL CARS. NOW.” and have dazzling images flash across my field of vision, just prior to walking under the all-to-real bus I failed to realise was bearing down on me, I can already bathe in an almost limitless stream of online inspiration just by typing the same thing into Chrome (other web browsers are available). So, what the hell is this massive meandering preamble all in aid of, I hear you grumble. Well, with great internets comes a great deal of RANDOM SHIT, and it was one example of this – forwarded to me by Dave “Trifle” Hosier, Carma Exec Producer – that inspired the car I’m revealing today. Here’s what Dave found, while no doubt browsing online for photos of “hot chicks out of the ‘60s wearing sailor outfits”. Like he does.

These sophisticated ladies have just been for a drive in their “Silver Fox” – a classic of 60s fibreglass and rivets creativity. What a shame that this prototype by Italian “designer” OSI never made it into mass production...

I initially just LOLed at the thing, but there was something about that twin-hulled configuration, with its potentially deadly front aerofoil, that stirred something in my imaginations… And very shortly thereafter I was hit with inspiration, and an idea for a car and its driver(s) sprang into my mind. My powers of pencilling having long since deserted me, I set to and tried my best to scribble down the idea…

Presenting an all-new awesome nobcar drawing:

Siamese Dream Driven by The Terrible Twin

What we have here is basically two jet fighter fuselages, joined at the nose by a razor sharp ped slicing aerofoil and at the stern by a jet turbine engine and tailfin.

Ped hits spoiler, and some if not all of the resulting parts are then often sucked into the turbine, processed noisily and spat out of the afterburner, barbecued.

The driver(s) is/are the Terrible Twin. Previously conjoined and now separated, if they feel lonely they can always zip themself back together. The half with the small head has a big arm, so he usually wins the steering contest. One has a big foot (not pictured as I only thought of it afterwards) and operates the throttle, the other has the small foot and is the brakeman. Natch.

In hindsight, the first sketch seemed too car-like, and so what I did next was try to express the idea as a simple model in Max, so that I could work on getting the shapes of the twin fuselage looking right. Here’s where that got me to:

And at this point, I felt happy to hand the new creation over to one of our PROPER artists Stuart, to take this crude starting point and polish it into a stunning piece of automotive silliness. What he will do next, is work the idea up into a more precise model, and then create some concept sketches by working over renders from the model, so that we can sign off on the detailed sketches before he goes ahead with the final modelling.

The idea is that the car will be powered by the huge central turbine jet engine. But, if it’s damaged, there’s a good chance that the whole structure will split, and in that situation one half of the car will continue to be able to be driven!

And as for the final concept drawings and progress on this car? Well, they’re almost finalised – and will be revealed in Part Two of this blog, to be published here VERY SOON! :D

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Siamese Dream: Part 2