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Friday, November 07, 2014

Rising Early & Killing Time

I haven't always been an early riser, but the last few years I've made a habit of rising by at least 5:30am in order to get to work by 7am. Usually I'm awake sometime around 4am though. This gives me several hours to kill until I have to actually work on stuff for my day job. One of the things I've found I really enjoy is doing 3D art. I used to fumble around with a Japanese 3D program called DoGa, and then moved to Moray and POV-Ray. Lately though, I've been using Sketchup 8 (from Google and now Trimble) and learning SolidWorks. Sketchup is an extremely flexible and, in my opinion, powerful program and the extensions and sheer number of models available through the Extensions and 3D Warehouses truly expand the power and flexibility of Sketchup. I've been using it to do 3D models for machine setups at my day job. A 3D model is much more informative than a simple line drawing done in Word (which is how the setups were illustrated for years before now). I do the models in Sketchup and then render them using the POV-Ray plugin. Here's an example,
This is an example of a cylinder body being machined in APSCO's (Air Power Supply Company - my day job) HCN4000 horizontal mill. I also use Sketchup for concept images for my writing and I do 3D modeling as a form of relaxation and meditation (I guess you could say). Here's an image I did for the Fire On The Suns universe and which is my current screen background at work,
And finally here's an image I did using DoGa way back in the day,
The background here was done using a program called Universe. The background for the image just above this one was done using the Galaxy include file for POV-Ray. Universe is handy for doing planet images and backgrounds including planets, but I've found it more useful for lens flares, stars, and explosive effects in images (done using a combination of lens flares and stars - it gives a battle image a really dramatic effect). So, that's one way I kill time and "meditate" in addition to writing. Thanks, Greg

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

More FOTS Grand Tactical

I haven't written anything for the blog in awhile as I've been busy at work (I do tech writing for a manufacturing company in Tulsa, OK) and publishing a new ezine for Fire On The Suns titled "Firepower! The Journal of the Fire On The Suns Universe". Our next issue is going to be over 15 thousand words for just $0.99 and will be available via Smashwords hopefully by Thanksgiving. Anyway, as my last post had to do with FOTS Tactical Command and the grand strategic scale, I thought I'd offer up a little teaser for doing vector-based movement the FOTS way. I know it's not entirely a hundred percent accurate physically, but this map was easily done using Excel.
You could just as easily plot the same thing out on a sheet of graph paper or even a hex map (I really like the old Starfire system hex maps as you can have a really huge playing area). This plot, btw, is the last phase of the ending battle in my novel Fire On The Suns and was a lot of fun to plot out. The nice thing about using Excel is that you can easily copy and paste the current map to another page in the workbook and keep every turn together in the same workbook. The standard number of worksheets allowed in a workbook is 255, but you can continue adding additional sheets until you run out of system resources. That is an awful lot of worksheets potentially (heck, even 255 worksheets, each representing a single turn of a game, is an awful lot of game potential). This means that a GM for a game like Starfire, for example, could pass a workbook back and forth between players, possibly rolling for who has the initiative each turn in an IGO-UGO fashion. And, since the FOTS system scales from light hours down to whatever scale you want it's easy to see how this could work for grand tactical maneuvering right down to close-in combat passes. There will be additional information included in the coming issue of Firepower! as well as upcoming issues as they get published. Have fun playing around with this if you've a mind to. Thanks, Greg