The party is still rocking over at the CIC Forums. Wingnuts have turned out in force to question and interrogate WC1/2 senior artist Denis Loubet. Especially savvy fans like Howard Day, danr, Dondragmer and others have delved deep into the original game's code, dug up exotic concept art and extracted digital specimens to help explore the happenings that resulted in our favorite games being made. Virtual archeology is tons of fun when you've got the live source to talk to! If you ever wondered anything about the original games' art, now's your chance to ask your questions. Denis will soon be kicking off a new project, and he'll soliciting ideas via his Patreon site to help him decide what to make. Support his efforts and help get something based on Wing Commander made!
LeHah: Yeah! I really liked the scramble animation! They shot some guys on a treadmill, and gave me the images to rotoscope from. I kept it simple and silhouette-like in order to keep the memory requirements low. I created the background as a series of tileable panels that could be randomly assembled into a background corridor. All the programmers had to do was slowly pan the randomly created corridor, and superimpose random running-character spot-animations. Add flashing lights and a klaxon, and you're good to go! :) I was big on using multiplane effects to create depth.
Jdawg: Things get kind of complicated at this point. I did the ship launch sequence for WC1, and the return battle damage. And although I did the tech that's behind the ship for the canopy closing, I didn't do the tech that stands in front of the ship welcoming the pilot back. That was Glen Johnson. I did the Battlestar Galactica launch tube effect with a series of multiplane background images, and I did the carrier-launch deckhand silhouette after watching a lot of old WWII footage of carrier launches.
Bandit LOAF: Speaking of atmosphere, I still like the hanger backgrounds I did for WC1. Those big hazy actinic light banks in the distant corners of the cavernous hanger just worked great for any spot animation you wanted to throw in front of them. (Yes, I'm unduly proud of those.)
Mekt-Hakkikt: I was walking a fine line with the colors! The more different colors you have, the faster you eat up your 256 color limit with the different necessary shades of each color. That's why the backgrounds sometimes looked a little -- or a lot -- posterized. It's because the forground objects left only a few colors for the background. The cockpits were a lot of fun. I'd kind of zone-out when doing them, just layering dithered gradients and throwing in highlights and shadows. I tried to create a unique feel for each cockpit, some were very geometric, and others all curves. Some were rugged and thick, and others were thin and spindly. I think we even managed to have a side-mounted joystick in one of them. But they all had to display the same amount of information, so I moved all the items around to make each layout slightly different.
Did you know I invented the radar display? :D The design for the radar screen came from an idea I had to simulate peripheral vision in 3D games. It would still work today, but might be completely annoying. Basically, I imagined the center of the screen to be your normal first person view, but as you approached the edges of the screen the view becomes more and more compressed and distorted until the rectangle of pixels right at the edge of the screen represent the single pixel directly behind your head. Or more realistically, the rim of pixels at the extreme edges of your peripheral vision. Due to the distortion, you might not be able to tell what it is that's in your virtual peripheral vision, but you would be able to detect motion and color, which is all the input you need to know you need to turn that direction. I took this idea and applied it to the radar. The edge of the radar is the point directly behind your ship, and although you don't know what the red dots are exactly, you instantly know which direction to turn to quickly bring them into view.