Goodbye, Paul Steed Update ID

There is truly terrible news to report today: world renowned game artist Paul Steed has died.

Paul was best known for his work on the Quake franchise, but he got his start in the industry as a concept artist at Origin. One of his first assignments was doing gameflow storyboards for Trade Commander, later Privateer. His impressive ability to draw beautiful women, which would later be one of his well-known trademarks, was already apparent in some of those sketches.

He quickly developed a preternatural talent for low-poly modeling, a burgeoning skill suddenly in demand in the early 1990s as gaming made the transition to 3D environments before home computers had the horsepower to render truly complex objects. Paul was the best in the industry, using his genuine artistic talent to manipulate simple shapes and low resolution textures into believable--and beautiful!--fighter planes, spaceships and skyscrapers.

His credits at Origin read like a list of games you should play: Privateer, Strike Commander, Tactical Operations, Wing Commander Armada, Wing Commander III, Wings of Glory, Bioforge and Wing Commander IV. Faced with the prospect of losing him to another company, Origin offered him a chance to pitch his own project. The result was a never-realized racing game concept called Cyclone Alley.

Paul went on to create many other famous worlds for Id Software and a host of other developers. He wrote books on 3D modeling and served as Creative Director for Microsoft, where he helped launch the Xbox 360, and Atari. He founded and worked for Exigent, a 3D art outsourcing company, for five years. In recent years he had returned to game development in Austin. Paul was also a veteran, serving six years in the United States Air Force before becoming a game artist.

I corresponded with Paul on occasion and can say that he was a genuinely good person and always willing to spare time to answer questions about the early days at Origin. The industry has lost a truly great developer and the world has lost an incredibly talented artist. Paul was an essential part of Origin during its greatest days and we fans are forever in his debt that he shared his talent to help build our universe.

Chris Roberts provided the following memories, which best sums up how truly important Paul's contributions at Origin were:

Here's a story from the beginning of Paul's career that illustrates the impact he made in the video games industry. We hired Paul at Origin just out of the Air Force to work on Strike Commander. We didn't have the budget to hire a "proper" artist but we liked Paul's attitude and saw talent when he came in for an interview so we invented an art design assistant position for him.

Strike Commander was my follow up to Wing Commander and we were pushing the boundaries of what you could do on PCs. We had gouraud shading and real 3D texture mapping before anyone else had tried it in games. Originally we didn't think we could make the planes look cool enough in real 3D so we were going to use sprites rendered out from 3DS Studio, which is how Wing Commander 1 & 2 were done. We had built a utility so we could model and texture low poly buildings and objects for the ground terrain (this was long before such niceties as API and SDKs in things like 3DS Max and Maya to be able to import meshes into your engine).

We gave it to Paul to build objects as an early test. He came into my office a few days later and said "I want to show you something" and then proceeded to show a beautifully built 3D fighter inside our engine. Because of Paul's work and talent we decided to junk the Wing Commander sprite rendering and everything went 3D, including the cockpits - many years before anyone else had done any of that in a game. That's a testimony to Paul's talent and vision in our industry.

I'll miss you greatly.

Pete Shelus:

I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work with Paul Steed and the privilege to call him a friend. Some of my best memories of Paul are working with him on designs and ideas for Privateer 2, before our version of that project was cancelled at Origin. Like many great artists, Paul lived his life hard, created amazing works of art, and left us too soon. I will miss him.

STEED!

Pete Shelus
Lead Programmer - Wing Commander: Prophecy

If you would like to share your thoughts or memories about Paul with the community, please contact us.


Recent Updates


Wing 4 Trailer Plan Gets the Attention of Billboard Magazine

Billboard is a trade magazine for the entertainment industry which reports on the production and marketing side of films, television shows, music and others. In 1996, that included the burgeoning CD-ROM industry. We've found an interesting story in the February 3rd, 1996 issue about the marketing plans for Wing Commander IV... (2018-10-20)

PC Games Reviews Wing Commander

German gaming magazine PC Games began covering the Wing Commander series when it launched in 1992, publishing a variety of articles and reviews. Today we've collected the latter, their detailed reviews of nine games running from Origin FX in 1993 to Wing Commander Prophecy in 1998. (2018-10-19)

DefianceIndustries Breeds Raptors

DefianceIndustries is still doing what he does best: creating and updating high quality models of clasic Wing Commander ship designs! Today he shares his Vindicator and Raptor...I started looking over some of my older stuff and found a few issues with my original Vindicator model. (2018-10-18)

Wing Commander Civics 101

The Templin Institute is a YouTube presentation with a neat gimmick: they offer documentaries about different fictional realities! This week they've premiered a new show called 'Audio Log' that presents the history of a fictional institution with a dramatic audio recording. And for the pilot episode they've chosen to talk about Wing Commander's Terran Confederation! (2018-10-17)

Get Ready, Get Net

The American release of Wing Commander IV for the Playstation included two manuals: a 'Battle Book' which includes detailed controls for the flying portion of the game and a 'New Officer's Handbook' which shows new players how to navigate the game and lists specifications for several flyable ships (the European releases of the game had a single combined manual.) For today's update, we're looking at the cover of the latter booklet which is a little more interesting than it might seem!The single most fascinating aspect of the New Officer's Handbook is that it introduces a small amount of lore in the form of the 'login text' which shows a new officer (not Blair as they are apparently an Ensign) logging into a Terran Confederation computer system. (2018-10-16)

Follow or Contact Us

Forums: Recent Posts

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Current Poll

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Where to Buy

WCPedia: Recent Contributions

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Site Staff