We all knew Brian Smith, in a sense. He helped create one of the living, breathing worlds that Origin was so famous for. Who among us didn't spend their youth exploring every guild and shipyard in the Gemini Sector? We have a unique set of shared emotions because of that incredble game. We all know the lonely feeling that came from staring out your fighter's monochrome cockpit into the starry universe. We have all felt the thrill of a chase through a Kilrathi star system, the martial glory of a fleet of Paradigms and the purile enjoyment of a pleasure planet bar. We all fought the Steltek drone, laughed at the Retros and searchd in vain for the Kilrathi asteroid. The unprecedented scope and grandeur of Privateer are a strong common bond among all Wing Commander fans to this day. Brian helped make that.
Privateer had seven artists, Righteous Fire had three. We can't know which individual bases or which specific ships Brian might have created. Lets honor the man by celebrating the entire thing. A collection of original sketches from Privateer is available here. You can see how the team developed the fighters and the gameflow screens that are so ingrained in our memories. More than that, you can appreciate how much fun the group must have been - from using the Millneium Falcon as a placeholder to listing a different bad movie in the 'project' field for each storyboard.
We've also decided to make available 270 megabytes of Origin's 3D models including most of those created for Privateer. These are the source 3DS files used to render bitmaps in the games. For the first time you can awe at the incredible amount of detail that the art team put into each element of the game. Ships are dotted with writing and detailing that wouldn't have shown up if the in-game bitmaps were a hundred times their size. It's absolute proof of the dedication Origin's artists - including Brian Smith - put into their craft. You can download the collection here.
I hope, very sincerely, that you will write in. If nothing else, give us your fond Privateer or Ultima or Longbow memories. It seems like a fitting tribute, to remember those worlds. I also hope that someone who knew Brian will find their way here. I'm selfish: I want to know what kind of person he was, I want to hear about those days creating worlds. We fans will remember the artwork for the rest of our lives... and I want to have something to remember about the man behind it, too.
(Please contact email@example.com to contribute.)
- Wing Commander: Privateer - Graphics/Artwork (1993)
- Privateer: Righteous Fire - Art (1994)
- Ultima: Runes of Virtue II - Additional Art (1994)
- Metal Morph - Art (1994)
- Wing Commander III - Concept Sketches (1994)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow - Art (1996)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: AH-64D Longbow: Flash Point Korea - Art (1996)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: Longbow 2 - Alias Animator (1997)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: F-15 - Alias Animator (1998)
- Jane's Combat Simulations: A-10 - Alias Animator (Unreleased)
- Ultima Online 2 - Buildings, Objects & Creatures (Unreleased)
Brian Smith's complete resume is available here (.DOC).
The following article about Brian Smith appeared in the September 24, 1993 issue of Point of Origin:
Billy Cain was kind enough to forward these pictures from Brian's friends and family:
Brian Smith is one of our many talented artists who happens to build models when he is off-the-clock. Brian has been an artist on the Privateer and CyberMorph teams, but at home he has spent many hours, years even, building model spaceships from construction paper. One example of this is his 5-foot model shown above. It is a science-fiction genre space ship and it took Brian roughly five years to build. It was one of the major things that Brian thinks contributed to his hiring at ORIGIN. "They knew I was serious when they saw all the detail," Brian says. "This model was a lot of fun to build and not counting one minor collision with an ORIGIN employee that took 6 months to repair, has lasted quite well." It was recently shown at the local Star Trek convention where trekkies couldn't help but swarm around it and admire its perfection.
Brian began building models when he heard that professionals in this field made $65 an hour. (I'm sure we've all heard that one before.) Besides, he recalls, "it kept me out of the bars." He also started building them in hopes that they could be used in a movie production, which is why Brian added a lot of detail. One ship even has working running lights in the hangar and rotating radar dishes. Another model was designed to look like it was transported in pieces by the shuttle and assembled in space. It is a more "realistic" model, says Brian, who hopes to attract an audience that is interested in the current progression of space exploration. Brian has written some produces who said they would contact him if a movie came along where his model would work.
Brian shows a lot of enthusiasm for his hobby, which seems to tie in to his current job at ORIGIN. He's now learning the standard drawing programs and 3D Studio, which will allow him to build models on computer. "It's one thing to draw," says Brian, "but a painting or drawing truly comes to life when it is fully modeled."
Images from Metal Morph-
My friend and colleague Brian Smith was an amazing and eccentric man that made a huge impact on me.
First of all I should say that it is difficult even using the past tense in referring to Brian because in my mind, he's still in the middle of a move to Colorado. It is even more difficult because I would have liked to have been more active in his last days but I could not due to family commitments. Let me see if I can go back to the beginning for a bit...
I first met Brian around 1991 when my friend Steve Powers got a job at Origin Systems. He was one of the many ridiculously talented artists that was working on Privateer. Brian had pictures of his "work in progress" spaceship, and I believe, he even brought it up to work at one point although the details of that are a little blurry. I do remember that he invited us all to (and I attended) a model show where his HUGE model was the hit of the event. And of course, it still wasn't detailed enough for him. :) So it went back under constant updates.
One of my earliest games at Origin with Brian was a title called Metal Morph. I am proud of what we were able to accomplish with the small team, on a small budget, and the fact that it made Origin's quarter for that part of the year. The reason that I bring it up is that Brian was responsible for a good portion of the intro sequence, in particular, the parts with a human or human-ish person are actually Brian! He took a series of pictures of himself for reference and then painted it, pixel by pixel, into the computer. It's easier nowadays, but this was close to the video game stone age so take that into consideration when you see them. And he was working on a new system with tons of limitations he was learning at the same time. He asked a lot of questions, but he delivered in spades!
Brian was the kind of guy that always had a smile for everyone - unless he was frustrated by the programs he was using, but even then his frustration was directed at the program. He would always tell jokes, forward crazy emails, put magnetic "bullet holes" on your car, put a static-cling golf ball (with crashed glass) on your front windshield, and play along with any pranks you could imagine. Some days you would find Brian sitting at his computer working in his German Army helmet, just like it was a baseball hat.
One thing that was "larger than life" about Brian was his art reference collection. If you were doing a game with anything that resembled a plane in any timeframe, he had about twenty books that would provide guidance. And he had the index in his head!! I think he started dozens of reference trips to the bookstore himself, now that I think about it.
I had the distinct pleasure of working with Brian after Origin as well as an owner of BigSky Interactive. He was an artist on Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. No airplanes, but he did a great job nonetheless. His army of laser rifles sat outside his office in the hallway, always at the ready - in case we ever needed a little break from the pressure. :)
Brian and I stayed in contact after that although our lives and work took us in different directions. He would send emails about projects he had completed, professionally and personally, and we would chat about trying to find ways to work together again. Unfortunately we were always busy on other things when we needed one another.
In the last few weeks, Brian completed a project for another company and my company did not have anything for him. We looked to see what we could do, but nothing was there. Finally he decided (or it was decided for him due to lack of funds) that he needed to move back to Colorado. He started giving his things to the Salvation Army when he fell down in pain in front of the Salvation Army donation person. The man from Salvation Army called 911 and Brian was taken to the hospital for a hernia operation.
He did not have insurance so his friends were trying to find a way to get him some cash to help with it and his move, and I believe it was somewhat successful, but I am not sure Brian wanted to take that money that way. I wish it was taken as a sign to him that we loved him, but I think somehow his heart was broken.
When I got the news that he had had a heart attack (I am leaving out some details since I am not sure of everything and I do not want to misrepresent anything), it was a blow to my solar plexus.
Brian loved space. He loved planes. He loved being thorough. And he loved life. His friends loved him, too, because he was infinitely likeable.
This last week, I have been at Full Sail in Florida talking to students that want to get into the game industry. You can see that spark in a few of them. In that way, Brian's still alive.
I went to the Magic Kingdom yesterday and it is always a way to get rejuvenated because you can always look for extra detail everywhere and you will usually find it. That was Brian's style. I rode Space Mountain and as I was standing in line I realized that I needed to dedicate the ride experience to Brian because he could have easily been one of the Imagineers that made that ride - and if he did, it would have been that much better. I paid extra attention to everything as if Brian had made it and it all made sense to me, just like Brian's spaceship he designed so that it all could have been taken into space, piece by piece, by the shuttle. When I finished the ride, I shed a tear for the man that we all loved and respected... our friend, Brian Smith.
May your journey to the stars take you to points that only you could have imagined. I will always miss you.
Brian's Mercenary Guild Fixer Artwork (Click for Animation)-
I worked with Brian on the Jane's Combat Sims from 1993-1999, after Origin formed the Skunkworks team. We at first shared a pretty big room with 4 cubicles. There were 5 of us artists, well actually 4 at first for the first month or so. We were all model builders and animators on Alias Software. Brian had lots of really wonderful 2-D art that he had done for the Wing Commander and Privateer games. He loved drawing women as much as any tank or aircraft. I remember one he showed me was a woman sitting at a desk filing her nails. It was just a short looping animation, but it was beautifully done. He'd used his sister as a model. His drawings were beautiful.
He was intensely curious, detail oriented. He always had a new stack of books from Half-Price Books for reference on whatever he was working on. Or on self-sufficient or experimental housing. He had a 3D model going of his dream house of several interconnected domes. He still had a lot of kid in him, loved playing practical jokes. He loved animals -- especially his cats, but would have all wild creatures eating out of his hand eventually, maybe it was the oreos ;) . He had the same old brown jeep the whole time I knew him. He also spent years working on a big multi-canvas painting of a view of the earth from a star port. It was amazing to see. He tried to get it printed, but the prints were not great. His model of a big spaceship cruiser is really something also. He put running lights, teeny people, opening bays etc.. Its made entirely of found objects, cardboard, glue, and electronics he put together. He was an extremely generous and selfless person. I'll miss him and his silly emails and links to who knows what.
The first time I met Brian Smith (or Brain, as he preferred to be called) was at Big Sky Interactive. He and I shared an office- and what an amazing few years that was. Brain always had a story to tell (usually involving his jeep), and a practical joke to pull on some unsuspecting target- but never in a mean way, it was just his way of saying "howdy"... He was also an amazing artist- far better than I will ever be, but he was still incredibly humble about it. To him, art was his life- he was constantly researching, trying to improve his work.
You'll always be missed, Brain.
I sat next to Brian for during his time at TKO Software and worked closely with him developing new content ideas for Ashen Empires. Brian was the most happy-go-lucky and positive guy I've been around. He never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. He was always trying to make you laugh with some kind of dryly delivered joke or wacky story.
The image I'm including of Brian's work isn't something that he would consider his best, but it helps to zero in on Brian's personality. This piece was for a pitch doc for a gangster-mmo we were shopping around. Brian completed this in just a few days, with very little direction other than show some thugs with guns, a shiny low rider and some graffiti in a scene with the game's title. He by no means had any experience or interest in the thug-life culture, Brian in fact was probably the ‘whitest' guy around. He however approached the project with gusto and even though it wasn't something he would have created on his own, did a great job of bringing our some of the base concepts of the game to life.
At the end I remember him showing me a photoshop layer with the ‘liquor, guns and bibles' sign unhidden. He got a nice chuckle out of that and loved the fact that we actually left it in. That sign kind of goes back to who Brian was. He was always trying to find something interesting and fun about his work. He wanted to make others lives more enjoyable – whether it was through his art or his corny jokes. Brian will be missed...
Brian was a gifted artist and a human being who left you richer by knowing him. I hadn't seen Brian but once or twice since we had both worked at Origin, but we had resumed contact recently via email. I hadn't worked with him on any projects, and so in many ways I got to know him much better vicariously these last few years over the web than I ever had at the pixel mines. His ideas and the range of interests that he shared with me have been treasures from home down here in the Southern Ocean -- all animated by the memories of him and his model in that truck at Wild Basin.
Pictures of Brian's Spaceship-
Pictures of Brian's Spaceship from Sean Murphy-
First and foremost, thank you to Carol Roberts. The album cover is beautiful, Brian would have been impressed.
Brian and I met as sophomores in high school, when he applied for a job at the Dairy Queen on N. Lamar. I remember him walking in and filling out the application, I told my bosses not to hire him as ‘I had seen him at school and thought he was weird' (I had never met him, I just had an opinion). Needless to say, no one listens to me, especially bosses. He got the job and became my life long friend.
He and I had the same style of humor and we laughed at each other, with each other and more importantly, at the expense of others. As an adult I look back and I am appalled at our behavior, but as teenagers, we thought we were normal and it was everyone else "that didn't think like regular people".
I was with him when he purchased his first car, a 1964 Barracuda, or BackaRuda as he liked to call it. It was a fun car, he had it repainted and restored the interior, installing bucket seats from a early 70's Challenger. He loved taking dates to the drive-in, driving into the parking lot with the back end pointing towards the movie screen so they could look out the back window.
He was so excited when he bought the white 73 corvette shown in one of the emails. Brian loved tinkering with the stereo and adding speakers. We would put in a Genesis tape and drive to San Antonio just so we could turn around and come back. He loved the way the door allowed his arm to rest as he cruised North Cross Mall.
There was a dark side to the corvette. A School bus driver backed into the vette, (email photo shows a missing front fender). He and I crashed it racing a 240Z, winning I might add and taking out a 100yards of Oleander bushes. Then I crashed it once after trading my motorcycle with him for a weekend. The car eventually died when the mechanic he hired to rebuild the motor totaled it on a "test drive" going over a 100 mph, on a Friday night, drunk, with his buxom girlfriend and brother in the front seat.
Brian lived in Snowmass Village , CO for about three years where he started building the famous "spaceship". He and I worked as conference support at the Stonebridge Inn. We used yellow 8.5 x 11 writing pads as part of the attendee meeting room setup. I started noticing the cardboard backs of the pads were missing. "Dam Brian what are you doing with the backs of these pads?" His reply was, "I got this idea for a spaceship!" He was using the cardboard as fodder for the spaceship stating to me "this cardboard is perfect".
I remember he would drive to Glenwood Springs (40 miles away) on his days off to visit Radio Shack to purchase boxes of robot toys just to get his hands on the motors and gears. "Dam Brian, why are there so many robot parts in our room and more importantly what the heck are you building?" The spaceship started to make sense when he showed me the tracer lights inside the landing bays at the back. I especially loved looking inside the windows to see the bathrooms and the bridge. I was amazed and admired him for what he could do with yellow writing pad cardboard, L'eggs pantyhose containers, Dial antiperspirant tops, and glue.
Brian was fun, he taught me to laugh so hard at times, I could not breathe. He truly loved practical jokes especially if he was the brunt of the joke as he would take mental notes to reuse the ideas. I remember showing up at Jake and Brian's apartment one Saturday and knocking on the door. They opened the door with five-gallon buckets of water and doused me.
I'll never forget seeing him in the front yard with the vacuum cleaner, vacuuming the grass. I had teepeed his yard with IBM punch card chads and he was madder than a wet hen. I feared for my life as I watched him chase me in the rearview mirror of my car. Holy Smokes was he mad, no telling what he would have done if he had caught me.
Brain made a movie once. He and Jake drove my 69 VW camper from Aspen to Santa Cruz , California . He mounted his video camera on the back of the front seat and recorded the entire trip. Yes, six or seven VHS tapes, from the driveway in Aspen to Santa Cruz . After four hours of watching this silly ‘documentary', he got very excited and said, "This is the best part". The camera panned from the front windshield to the front driver's seat for 3 minutes showing the drivers seat was empty. He and Jake were riding in a car with no driver, the camera then panned back to the front windshield as my VW drove itself to California . I still laugh at remembering the nutty movie he made.
After Brian moved back to Austin , I received daily updates on his project of trying to get a job at Origin. I felt as if he was stalking everyone that worked there to give him a chance. Then the spaceship turned out to be the key that opened the door, truly inspirational.
He was the first person ever to send me an email. We were mesmerized by the instantaneous contact of this new form of communication. ‘Hey Brian, what are you doing?" , the reply was always, ‘playing at work, Me". He explained that part of his duties were to go to Wal-mart, buy models of patriot missile launchers, tanks, helicopters, or airplanes put them together in order to have a 3-D model to start drawing with his computer. He would send email saying, "I cannot believe I get paid to do this, Me". I made it a point to take my nephews Chris and Kyle by his office when I was in town. They loved Brian's enthusiasm and more importantly all the toys and gadgets that existed in everyone cubicles.
We drifted apart after a while as we all do, but stayed in contact via email. He sent email after he made the decision to return to Colorado letting me know of his plans. I helped him with locating a place to live that would give him the privacy he loved.
I have other photos to share but cannot find the album. My wife Kaet and I have moved 4 times in the past 5 years and it is lost in a box, somewhere in the garage. I did however find a few slides that I have attached. They are photos from the mid 70's, before becoming adults, just being guys hanging out.
The photo of Brian that looks like he pissed on the wall (he didn't) was my idea, 'hey Brian, stand there with your hands on your pants, this will made a good photo". He was always a willing subject.
The photo of him in the Coke shirt was taken after a red pen leaked in his pocket, I thought it was funny.. 'hey Brian, let me get a picture of you with that red stain!
Brian in the BackaRuda
A photo of Brian giving shit to Jake is always funny, no matter what when or why.
I will miss my friend Brian, but will cherish my memories and especially knowing he did not die alone, his friends were with him, more than willing to jump in to help when he needed it the most.
Brian's Space Window Painting-
My memories of Brian are all politically incorrect because we were just boys when I was friends with him & politically incorrect humor was popular back in the '70s. I don't think I've seen Brian since around 1974, but somehow I ended up on his email list a few years ago and he has included me ever since.
Brian and I were roommates with Darryl Walker the summer of 1973 after we graduated from high school. We both worked for the same framing contractor, we both smoked cigarettes and we met through a mutual friend named Bo Farmer.
The first day we showed up for our summer job, the foreman came up to us and said, "Are you little f***heads going to f*****g stand around f*****g off all f*****g morning or do some f*****g work?!?!" Brian and I were at first stunned and then we started to laugh, which was totally not what the foreman expected. He asked what was so f*****g funny and we said we'd never heard anybody use the word 'f**k' that many times in one sentence.
We developed a stupid routine with the foreman where whenever the foreman hollared for 'Brian' we'd both hollar back, "Which one?" to which the foreman would always reply, "The dark-headed Jew -looking bastard!" (me) And, like kids, we always thought it was funny.
Sometime around 1974, disco became popular and I was working as a DJ in a club called 'The Still'. I purchased what I thought was a very hip jump suit to go along with the job. When Brian saw me wearing it, he said, "Hey, where'd you get the fairy suit?" That may have been the last time I wore it.
When all the emails were circulating about his health and money problems, I contacted him directly to see if he needed help. He told me he was fine and cracked some jokes, so I figured he'd come out all right, like always.
I still remember Brian's low, calm voice and his laugh. And I enjoyed having him as a friend in high school. I never understand why some of the happiest people who make life happier for the rest of us get called too early in life. I'm sure Brian is making them laugh in the hereafter.
My brother (my "Big Butter Bian," in young-Laini speak) was one of a kind. He was 12 years older than me, so we were never as close as I would have liked. That span of time was quite a gulf to bridge. And Brian did not have a demonstrative personality. Because he was a very straightforward guy, hugs and kisses made him uncomfortable. When I was little, I wanted to be cool just like Brian. He was all I had for reference, and his influence rubbed off early. I didn't know any other kids my age who had hand-me-down 45s of Cream, Badfinger or the Plastic Ono Band. They were all still listening to Donny Osmond and the Partridge Family. I can still remember watching Star Trek and The Monkees with him when I was all of about 2 years old.
I'll bet many of you didn't even know of his time in Italy. He was three when my dad got posted to Aviano AFB, and he was six when they came back to the states. Immersed in Italian nursery school and then the equivalent of 1st grade, he spoke Italian every day, and for all intents and purposes was a little Italian boy for three years. But when they came back, they were posted to Outer Mongolia, Michigan, where there were no ethnic Italian neighborhoods to practice the language with native speakers. When my parents tried speaking it to him, he claimed they weren't doing it correctly. Within a few years, he had forgotten it all.
When I was entering second grade, he was already graduating and moving out of the house. I remember riding in the BackaRuda once or twice when I was little. He jacked the thing up so high in the back that my forehead practically hit the dashboard, and I had to hold on for dear life so I wouldn't go through the windshield. Brian's love of animals emerged early. Working at a lumberyard out of high school, he found us a pale peach colored kitten that had made itself at home there. Tiger became our beloved family cat for 16 years. But Brian and I had an unspoken competition in bringing home strays. I think we stood at two apiece, because we knew my mom couldn't say no.
For some reason, he began calling Tiger "Puddin", I'm guessing after Tweety Bird's "Puddy Tat." After that, all cats were rarely called their names, they were "Puddin!" (to be exclaimed delightedly when he saw them). He upped his cat average a year or two later when he and his girlfriend at the time found "Scarlett," a girl kitty who quickly endeared herself to the household. "It's a girl," they assured us. We realized too late that Scarlett was actually Rhett, and was impregnating most of the girl kitties in the neighborhood.
There was one night years later that I was folding underwear in the living room, and my cat Larry crept by. Brian threw a pair of BVDs at him, which Larry of course had to attack. This led to both of us wrapping Larry in BVDs and letting him fight his way out of them as he attempted to regain his dignity and saunter across the living room floor. Brian captured the whole thing with his new 8 mm camera. Along with Larry sitting in the sink and attacking the water tap that Brian had let slowly drip.
Several years later, he bought me a pair of bear claw slippers for Christmas, and in goofy Brian fashion, put them on our cat Oreo, who was not amused. The photo I took of the event makes Oreo look like a deformed Sasquatch.
About 1991, when he was renting an apartment in West Austin built over a ravine, raccoons were regular visitors, checking out the balconies for cat food. "Watch this," he said one day. He had me stand in the corner, then he opened the porch door. He planted himself on the couch with a bag of Chips Ahoy cookies (always his favorite), and waited. Sure enough, a few minutes later, one of his masked visitors put in an appearance on the porch, then waddled into the living room and tugged on Brian's sleeve. "Ya wanna cookie? Here ya go!" he asked happily. The little fella grabbed his prize, took it out to the patio and attempted to wash it off in the water dish. He and I watched, trying not to laugh hysterically. They loved their cookies just as much as he did.
My main memories of my brother center around his art and his music. When I was young, he always had something set up on his drawing table that he was working on: a Life magazine cover of the Beatles, a self portrait, another Beatles poster, a Klingon or a Romulan, or any number of other works. He'd tuck his source page inside a plastic page protector, mark off a grid, then do the same to his posterboard or canvas. I was fascinated, and wanted to be just like him. We both had art talent, but I had to work so hard at mine, while his just flowed naturally- almost effortlessly it seemed to me. He did a bust of John Lennon in clay with little real wire-frame glasses in high school, and also built his first space station model. Sort of wagon wheel shaped, and an indicator of brilliance to come-- constructed entirely of spare cardboard. Unfortunately, he had it on a shelf in the top of his closet and it fell and broke.
Brian loved his Beatles. When we had to move in with my grandmother for awhile when my dad was posted overseas, my mom's sister was ready to throttle him for the repeated playing of "Hey Jude" over and over again, and finally hid the 45. Of course he bought a replacement, but she did get a day or two of peace.
Then, the Beatles morphed into all sorts of progressive music. Old Genesis, old Moody Blues...but the stuff I remember most would be the Electric Light Orchestra CRANKED (especially the "Eldorado Overture" and "Turn to Stone"). I don't know how many times I heard that moany beginning to "And the Lamb....Lies Dowwwwwwn......On Brooooooadway!" echo forth from his room, only to be followed a few seconds later by my mom's screeching "TURN THAT DAMNED THING DOWN!" from the other room.
For awhile in high school and just after, it seemed he was an adrenaline junkie. We always wondered what he was going to get into next. First he borrowed a friend's motorcycle and crashed it. I can remember spending all night in the emergency room (not fun when you're 7) because his arm was all scraped to hell from that. Then, he got the BackaRuda and souped it up, then he upgraded to one of those silver Trans-Ams with the Eagle on the hood, then the took the major step of purchasing the Corvette. He got really into skiing for awhile. Then hanggliding. I think Darrell wrecked the hangglider, if I remember correctly. He can beat me up through e-mail if I screwed that up. ;)
Then, there was the drum set. It was no big deal when he had his own place (except probably for his neighbors). But when he moved back in with mom and me for awhile, it was hell. He had them set up in the garage, and strung the cord for the headphones all the way through the house from his bedroom where the stereo was. He was actually an OK drummer, but all thought and activity pretty much ceased for an hour or so BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T HEAR ANYTHING OVER THE DAMNED DRUMS.
Brian was back and forth between Texas and Colorado for much of my life, sometimes because of the complicated relationship between he and my mom. My father died when I was 13 and Brian 24. She and he NEVER got along. And I got to play middle man for much of my life to keep the peace. Not a fun role. After dad's death, our family began to irreversibly fracture a little more every year. So I saw very little of him. And when he told me he was skipping my wedding (after being absent for pretty much most of my life), I was devastated. I did not speak to him again for five years, which I regret to this day. Partly my doing, but partly his as well. We Smith kids are so damned stubborn. If there is something we don't wanna do, there is no way in hell it's getting done. That goes for making up too.
In 2005, I contacted him through the lawyer working on our aunt's estate. I told him I was sorry and gave him my new address and phone number. And most importantly, my e-mail. He e-mailed me out of the blue just before he died, about a week after I arrived in Wisconsin for a new job. He was trying to find a home for his beloved cats, Cora and Puma. Unfortunately, he had waited just a few weeks too late. We were in the middle of trying to sell a house in Texas, settle into a new rental in Milwaukee (with only 2 pets on the lease), and we just couldn't do it.
According to him, he was not angry at me all that time, he was just afraid that I was going to share his information with our mother, whom he was trying to avoid at all costs. I offered him numerous suggestions for the cats, for updating his resume (and offered to do it for him, since I do this every day at my job). I told him he had help from me- all he had to do was ask. But anyone who knew my brother knew he would never ask for help.
Once he started e-mailing, it was like nothing had happened that kept us estranged for 7 years. I was starting to enjoy the fact that I had a brother again. The last I heard from him was just before he left for Colorado. He'd found a home for the cats (thanks Tom!) and would let me know when he had a new address and contact info. The next thing I knew, about a week and a half later, I got an e-mail from Carol Roberts, trying to find his next of kin. It was like a surreal bad dream, checking my e-mail at work to find that my brother had been found dead, alone, next to a river in Colorado. Just when we had re-established contact. It didn't seem fair that when he was finally on the way to getting a fresh start he was taken from us. I was so happy that Carol volunteered to host his memorial. To me, it seemed only fitting that those of you who knew him best be in charge of that, since you were the ones he let closest to him.
For everyone who has e-mailed or called or spoke to us at Carol's to let us know what an awesome guy my brother was, thank for your kind thoughts and remembrances. I know he thought the same of all of you. Brian had some amazing friends.
Tribute Art from Alex Von Tolmacsy-
My Top 10 Memories of Brian G. Smith.
10. Mountain Biking with Brian on the Greenbelt in 90 Degree +heat and sneaking into Apt pools after our rides. What a nut!
9. When I had lunch with Brian...his all-time favorite meal..........Quarter pounder with cheese, large chocolate shake and a biggy fry.
8. Brian Loved Cats. Did anybody see the cat tower he built for his cats? Holy Smokes.
7. The monster gun rack he built with the laser guns. What the......? Brian are you not telling us something? Are the Aliens coming?
6. Brian loved practical jokes. Did anybody find fake dog poop in their office? Or how about the crazy Buda statues that he put in front of Andy Hollis' office back at Origin Systems. He had BALLS! Lolo
5. Brian always parked in the SAME place at Origin ..Somebody needs to put a sign up on his spot at Origin systems. "Brian G. Smith parking spot. Nobody parks here."
4. The Brown Bomber! How many other crazy dudes drive a Brown Jeep! The damn thing has a zillion miles on it. When Brian moved from Colorado to Texas, he drove the brown jeep. On his return trip back to Colorado, Brian drove the brown jeep. Strange....
3. I thought I had a big book collection. Brian wins! Half price books was Brian's candy store! Thanks for sharing your hobby with me.
2. Brian was a big kid at heart. Before he left for Colorado I stopped by his place with my kids to pick up a few items he wanted me to have. My daughter is 3 and my son is 5. My kids had a blast with him. When we left his place, they couldn't stop talking about Brian. Brian this and Brian that.....they gave him a big hug! He will be missed! My son still wants to help him move and go visit Brian in Colorado.....
1. Brian's Space Ship that he built out of card board. He was the King of Detail!
Whom ever is the current owner of that model, we need to get that into a museum or see if Richard Garriott can add it to his personal collection. That model he created ...is Brian at his best. The MASTER OF DETAIL. Before he left, Brian did one last space ship show for my kids.
Thanks from the Heart!
For me, Wing Commander was a defining characteristic of my youth. I spent countless hours playing through all the Wing Commander games with my cousin. While we ejected every mission in Wing Commander 1 to see the cool cutscenes, something flipped a switch with me while playing through Wing Commander 2 a few years later. I discovered Wing Commander - as it were - for the first time. Origins motto had been "We Create World" an I had been sucked in. I convinced my Cousin to get Wing Commander 3 and we spent many months playing almost exclusively that title. He didn't need any convincing to get WC4, but it was that same enthusiasm that moved me to pick up Privateer. While I honestly didn't get into the Privateer game model at first, It expanded the universe I loved and it had a unique style that I've been discovering and appreciating more as time goes on. Some of my friends think Privateer is their favorite WC experience out there. I still maintain that Vengeance of the Kilrathi has the best balance and all around level of quality but that is beside the point. There's a reason that pretty much every space sim since Starlancer has adopted the Privateer style of gameplay. In the same way that the WC novels and movie expanded the series confines, Privateer shaped not just The WC universe but space games in general, and Brian Smith was a part of that success. Us fans will miss Brian Smith and what he represents.
My sincere condolences to Brian's friends and family.
Space simulator games these days offers great amount of graphics, realism, and special effects. A game cannot be born without its designers and graphics designers. Yes, there are a lot of space simulator combat games now and Wing Commander and Privateer games still is one of the best. Wing Commander introduced its groundbreaking space combat simulation computer game and until then, sequels and spin-offs were introduced, and a lot of different titles like Freelancer and Darkstar One borrowing the same freelance space sim ideas from Privateer. And I for one loved these space sim games when I was at my grade school years and until now in my college years, I still enjoy these groundbreaking space sim games specifically, Privateer. It was an amazing games, perhaps one of the best Wing Commander games I've come to love.
There are a lot of talented graphics artists and designers involved in the making of these games and truly, I find Mr. Brian Smith to be one of the best. Before, I did not come to know who made these privateer ship models until I dug up some more info about the game and I found Mr. Smith's name on the list. That was a long time ago. Then from my previous visit at WCNEWS.COM, I was shocked at what I found out in the news. "Goodbye, Brian Smith..." He passed away at a earlier age... Mr. Brian Smith was really one of the best. An ace of designing worlds for privateer along with other games. I did not know that he built an amazing model spaceship with blinkers and rotating dishes. I personally would like to see this masterpiece as I am very fond of model ships, fighter jets, and Zoids.
I have a message for Mr. Brian Smith. "Without you, there would never be great space sim games out there with amazing spacecrafts and amazing worlds to explore. You certainly are the ace... As with a plane without wings, would not fly but if you put wings on, it will start flying high and reach its goal... As with Mr. Brian Smith, I bid my last farewell. May you find great peace and happiness with the Almighty father. You'll explore the stars with him with your own grand starship and see that galaxy and its endless bounds."
I personally thank you for all of your masterpieces... Me and all of the privateer fans, and everyone you've knew will certainly miss you...
I'll be posting a tribute video for Mr. Brian Smith on Youtube soon after my work here is done.
Sincerest condolences for his friends, family and fans.
It's been almost fifteen years, but nothing has replaced the sense of freedom and awe of exploring the Gemini Sector. Thousands of us have fond memories of peering down the long corridors of asteroid bases, paying a visit to the Mercenaries Guild or getting caught up in the hustle of New Detroit/Constantinople. I spent many hours seeking out a friendly face in some space bar to talk to, and now we have a real face to attach some of those memories to. I'm not sure if he was aware of his creations' massive following over the years, but maybe he has a little idea now. Thanks for making so many of our good times come to life.
Tribute Art from Kevin Caccamo-