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FPSB Legends: Millenia

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> One of the most influential and respected texture artists on FPSB, and he also happens to be our resident Skin Moderator. We all know his stuff, and most of us probably use it. I sat down with him earlier this week and asked him a few questions.


First off, why customize for Counter Strike or any other game on the market for that matter. I know its fun and adds a lot to the game, but why you. What about the practice made you interested in doing it?

It started off with small improvements to others' stuff or messing around default content and slowly evolved to me learning pretty much every development skill and doing my own stuff. Nowadays I really spend more time modding my games than actually playing them. I barely play any CSS even though I spend tens of hours modding it, I just enjoy the modding process. And yeah it took a lot of practice to get this far.



How long have you been doing it?

About 4 years now. I started with modeling although I primarily do textures.



What was your first successful modification?

My first complete one was a shitty retexture of the CS 1.6 Glock from November 2004 and the first thing I'm actually proud of was a texture for Schmung's MP5 a year later.



What games have you developed for?

CS 1.6, CSS, GTA: Vice City, GTA: San Andreas, HL2, The Specialists, Boiling Point, Insurgency, STALKER, Civilization 4, DoD, DoD: Source (Haha, that's quite a list now that I think of it). Less for some and a lot more for others.



Do you actually play any of the games you customize for? What are some current games you’re playing or some games you’re looking forward to that are coming down the pipe?

I play them to some extent of course but I do usually spend more time modding than actually playing like I previously said. I've mostly played CSS, Mass Effect, Guitar Hero 3, Civ 4 and CoD 4 lately (You can see all the fancy stats here (http://www.xfire.com/profile/arenovalis/). And the games I'm really looking forward to are a PC version of GTA 4 (Can't wait to mod that as well :p), Fallout 3, Mass Effect 2 and most of all, Diablo III.



Being in this community for the better part of 6 years now I know feedback can be less than favorable. I've seen people leave the site and quit doing this all together because of it. I'm sure you didn’t escape that sort of treatment. When it happened, and how were you able to get past it and move on? Why not just close Photoshop right then and there and quit?

There were times when it was harder and sometimes all I get is praise. I still occasionally get bad feedback and it's annoying, but I never even considered leaving because of it. I always did this work for myself and not for others so if they don't like it, they can sod off in my opinion.



This is the business of borrowing. Very rarely is any piece done by one person beginning to end. Depending on the level of customization you could be doing a simple reskin or a new model from the ground up. We all know how important it is to credit people who’ve helped you one way or another when creating these pieces. Have you ever had any run-ins with people you’ve built off of or worked with? Not the first timers but big names like Hav0k or JIHAD. If so how did you solve that issue?

Luckily I personally haven't had any trouble with people I've worked with, JIHAD used to be a pain in the ass from what I heard but I never really worked with him. Usually it's all fine as long as credit is given. Credit really is a must-have, I've had my work ripped off several times and I know how annoying it can be (Somebody was even selling my work without permission on Turbosquid once).


Has there been anyone that you’ve had the pleasure to work with? Someone at one point you only “dreamed” of working with when you first started? Maybe someone you looked up to?

I've always looked up to Thanez as a texture artist from the beginning and I never really thought I would be able to collaborate or talk to somebody as awesome as him. Nowadays we're always sharing our work over MSN and it's really motivating to hear praise from somebody you always looked up to.


Why FPSB? I know you’re on CDG, but why not STS or DLSS (if it still exists) or any other sites? You have your own studio and you’re a skin moderator to boot. What keeps you here?

It's really the huge audience more than anything else, CDG and DLCSS are not like they used to be - they're not half as active as in their days of glory. I dunno, there's just something about FPSB that I like, even though people are quite immature at times. I like being able to make a difference in the community both as a modder and as an authority.


What do you want to get out of all of this? This takes up a lot of your time unless you’re just that awesome. Are you going to try and make graphic design a career? Do you hope to get picked up by a game studio and develop original content for new games?

It does take up a huge amount of time; it's mostly what I do when I'm home. I do hang around with my friends / girlfriend quite a bit as well though. Hopefully I'll be working on a nice project in a couple years from now; I've still got some education and my compulsory military service ahead of me.


How long do you plan on doing this?

Modding? As long as it's interesting, hopefully for many years from now


Are you still learning new things? What areas, if any, do you think you need to improve or plan on improving?

Naturally. Even after you've been doing this stuff for so long you still improve with every piece, pick up new tricks or techniques. I'm trying to improve on other aspects besides texturing at the moment since they're my weaker points, I'll most probably have a better chance of getting a job as a 3d artist if I'm more versatile.


Do you have any big projects in mind that you’re either just starting or currently working on?

I was working on a project of my own (a post-apocalyptic HL2 mod), but after most of the team went missing I kinda lost the motivation to work on it as well. I still do have the models and everything left so I might revive the project at some point.


What was the hardest project you’ve worked on? What made this particular piece so difficult and were you pleased with the outcome?

Texture-wise Twinke Masta's M60 was the hardest thing I ever did since it's so massive, there's so much detail and stuff to texture and it did take me a few months to finish. I was really satisfied with the results though.



What advice would you give to a new comer to the art of customization? Not a tutorial but some pointers to keep them from giving up possibly.

Well tutorials are, in my opinion, way overrated. People always assume they automatically become awesome by reading one tutorial on how to use a couple filters to create a base texture and get frustrated when it doesn't look like a Thanez texture. All you need is a lot of patience and preferably some reference pictures of the real weapons so you can get an idea what to aim for. And it's good to think about some basic stuff when you're working. Like picking a light source and trying to stick to that. And thinking what parts would get the most damage.



To what extent, with the damage. What does damage influence when creating a texture?

It defines the essence of the texture - a rusty, through-the-hell-and-back AK47 has a completely different feel to it than a sqeaky clean M4 with fancy attachments plastered all over it. And I personally find clean textures harder to do than damaged ones since they look so bland to me.


Would you suggest a new-comer to release their first piece on FPSB? If not why and where? If so why?

I'd suggest them to post a lot of WiPs when they're working on it to get some constructive criticism and take all that to heart. If it turns out any good, definitely release.

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