Formerly Known as "WIP Wednesdays". Now its probably best to think of this as "When we get chance Wednesday".
Well this week its all about equipping the Ambassador III class missile boats. According to the published specs for the ship it has AGM-84 Harpoons. Well with this being for an ASA (OPFOR) ship I wanted to give it an alternative and more flexible capability. Which, in this case is the the GRAU 3M24 "Uran" (translates as Uranus according to Wikipedia) or Х-35У or AS-20 'Kayak'. Under NATO parlance its know the SS-N-25 'Switchblade'. How many names can this thing have?
It is also nicknamed Harpoonski for its similarity to the AGM-84 Boeing Harpoon which lets face it is a bit easier to handle. Either way its a cruise missile with both anti-ship and land attack capability. Which makes it ideal for the Missile boats.
The plan is to use the BIS Artillery module to control the use of these missile batteries which will give some much needed support for the ASA forces. And before anyone cries "But this is a cruise missile not artillery." Yes we know but right now its a very good way of getting the capability ingame without a long development. Which I'm sure you will all appreciate.
Anyway thats all for this week. Its been a close run thing getting this out before midnight. I was still making the launcher at 23:30
Messiah has handed over his pride and joy to me so I can bake it some blankets...Infra Red suppressing camouflage blankets to be precise. They are supposed to reduce the IR signature of a vehicle significantly. I cant really comment about how well they work in the real world but i can tell you they are a pain in the arse to draw. Especially when it comes to creating normal maps.
Which is why I tend to model things i cant draw and pray it looks OK on the bake.
So what I am doing is creating a tileable model that can be overlaid on the exiting UV layout and baking that onto existing texture. Like so:
Eventually it will cover the appropriate areas and then I can hand it all back to Messiah to finish off with some random colour variations and any extra kit on top of it.
Ok so have you ever heard one of your friends tell a story about their day that just had a series of almost unbelievable events as an excuse for being late?
So yesterday I got roped in to helping pick up a 12ft x 6ft (3.65m x 1.85m) Slate bed snooker table by my Step-Father. My Mum and he, have a house in western France and its their dream to retire there. And part of his dream at least includes this snooker table (Its a big house). So he bought it on Ebay from a Conservative Club in a town about 30miles from where he lives.
The snag is we had to pick it up within a 3 hour window on Wednesday and we had to load it ourselves. Thankfully it was already disassembled. Well the table is made up of five, two hundred kilogram slabs of Welsh Slate and another one hundred and fifty kilos of Oak. And hes 64 and I have a bad back. Cue comedy image... nah it actually went quite well upto this point. Well it did start snowing before we left at 0930 and by the time we arrived at the club there was about an inch of ice and snow on the ground. Oh and did i mention the entrance to the club is on a big fecking hill? No, well it was. I had to get out and clear the snow off and spread some grit before we could park up.
So we loaded up, the lads in the club helped and we set off in my step-father's crapped out 15year old Ford Transit that spends at least 300 days of the year pretending to be a large rusty blue garden shed. Its snowing really hard now, thick, huge flakes and a biting wind that chills you right to the bone and the heater is blasting away. We come down out of the Pennines and get onto the motorway. All going smooth so far...
...then it cuts out. The engine, radio, heater, lights everything just dies in the middle lane climbing up a long hill. We went from 70mph to ~30mph in just a few seconds. My step-father managed to get it over to the hard shoulder and we sat and looked at each other. So I ask him, "Who's your break down service with?"
"I don't know." he replies. Good start this. I should point out that my step-father and I do not get on very well. We've never hit it off as they say.
"You do have cover though" I say.
"Yes", he says, "But its with my old bank". Oh shit I think.
So long story short I take a guess an ring Green Flag and they send a local firm to come get us. Hurray, I think. So we spent 45 minutes sat by the side of the road rapidly freezing in the cab of a knackered old van that's got more holes in it than chicken wire and a side door that doesn't shut properly. Held closed with a padlock with an alarm that permanently makes a sound like a Geiger counter ticking near a Russian nuclear power plant.
The tow truck arrives and we get out and he hooks the van up and lifts the front wheels. At this point he realises that the rear of the van is very low to the ground. He asks the next obvious question. "What've you lads got in the back of the van?"
"A snooker table" we say.
"A slate one?" he asks.
"Yes", we say.
"No fucking way" he says and unhooks us. He was very nice about it. But hes not going to take the risk towing us with so much weight in the back. We need a bigger tow truck says he. We've got to wait another 45 minutes at least. We just spent 20mins on the side of the freezing motorway in howling wind and freezing sleet and snow. Back in the van we go. An hour later the second, large tow tuck arrives. A nice big flat bed. No problem, they load the van and we hop in and off home we go.
Now as I mentioned it's snowing and as any British citizen will tell you when it snows our roads turn to ice rinks and everyone drives like a granny. It's got nothing to do with the fact no one prepares for the winter weather or knows how to drive in snow. Honest.
So it takes an hour to drive the 20-25minute journey home, arriving at about 1545. Where there is 4 inches of snow. At this point I should explain we live at the foot of a long steep and famously ice prone hill. Parked cars either side of the road and off we go (we did give he a choice of an alternative drop off spot but he said he could make no probs). A few near misses. Im talking the width of a credit card kinda misses here and we get down to the bottom of the tarmac hill and unload.
We say our thanks, and wave the Tow truck off. Only they aren't going anywhere, wheels spinning and ice and snow spraying up but no traction. They're stuck. So off I go again and get a shovel and a bag of salt grit. Thirty minutes later I've cleared and gritted about 20m of the road and they manage to get enough speed up to get moving...
... with a final wave I start to walk home. BANG, Tinkle, tinkle... I keep walking...quickly and don't look back.
Wasnt me, I didnt see nuffink guv, not a blind f'ing.
On the way past our van I check to see it locked. The rear door was open and would not lock (central locking only on this model) and with the battery flat I'm screwed. Off I toddle for some tools to liberate the battery so that I can charge it up. Only the socket wrench is too big to fit in the space available under the seat. Joy, 30 mins with a pair of pliers and a flashlight and I managed to get the restraining strap off and lift out the battery.
Its time for a brew while the battery charges.
An hour later and I'm back out in the freezing snow and sleet shower with the battery. All connected up and the door lock securely. Just out of morbid curiosity I try to start it and it catches. Meaning we can move it the final 50m to our house.
And that my friends is why I didn't post this update last night. I was absolutely freezing cold, tired and I honestly could not be arsed.
Surprise! Its a J-10A. This has been my stress relief for the last month or so. As I've said in earlier post the proxy doubling bug has been driving me nuts recently so I started this because I was so pissed off I just wanted something nice and simple to do that did not involved chasing down bugs. Which is about 99% of all the outstanding live projects.
So yes I know its yet another "new" project and why haven't you finished the Tornado etc instead but guess what kids. its my free time and I'll spend it how I like so naaaaaahh!
Besides Its not really wasted is it. So far this has been a joy to work on. i've even enjoyed making the texture for it. Which is a first for me.
So its a Chinese fighter, which is also a first for RKSL but I rather like it and I've always wanted to make one. Aaaaaand i wanted one for IAP.
The justification for the IAP thing is pretty simple.
The Chinese PR machine would have you believe its a match for the Typhoon and other Generation 4.5+ aircraft. Personally I doubt it given the stated thrust rating and mass etc but I reckon its comparable with the earlier F-16C and Mirage 2000 era types. Still not a bad plane.
You can read all the specs and history for yourselves on the Wikipedia page But its got a capable suite of Air-to-Air weapons together with an equally capable if a bit limited range of Air-to-ground guided weapons. It should fit in well with the AI's ability to fly. (No hard to use weapons)
Given how well it's progressing and in-light of several recent fixes for the Typhoon I may well release this for ArmA2 as well as ArmA3. I've really only got some of external details and the cockpit to do and it should be ready to go not too long after the updated Typhoon and Helicopters are released.
As with the latest Typhoon we'll be providing plugin and texture templates for those that want to create your own skins.
Oh yeah and my step father ordered the Chinese. The Yung-chow fried rice is actually quite good with the BBQ spare ribs.
More typhoon news this week. We're pushing on with the fixes and some final polish. Da12thMonkey has been kicking my arse and finding bugs for me to fix all this last week as well as churning out even more plugins!
Ok so these aren't exactly true to real life but Da12th has obviously had some spare time on his hands (I will be fixing that in the near future too ) since hes managed to produce over a dozen or so "fantasy" skins for us to play with...
Skins featured are:
Ballistic09 was kind enough to take some screenshots for us:
A texture and config template will be available with the released addon... which should be available soon!
This WIP report should have gone out last night... I was nearly ready but I thought i'd just do one more little job. Which of course led on to just fixing that other niggly little thing... which predictably broke something else and before i knew it it was 2am.
So I woke up this morning, shoved the paper work off my cluttered desk and went hell for leather at the Typhoon... and at about 2000 tonight I finally finished it. Well not all of it but the niggly bits and the things that i broke last night!
What does this mean? Well the fix ends months of bug hunting and swearing, beard pulling and prevaricating over which model to bottom first. This will probably be the last big update to the Typhoon for ArmA2. I have a completely new model for ArmA3 so I'd prefer to focus on that from now on. But this is no small update.
According to my desktop bug tracker it represents 531 changes since the beta. Only a few of which have been mentioned in the updates over the last year.
It also opens the door for a lot of other aircraft projects in our archive to be finished. Largely thanks to the lessons learnt on this development. Displays and HUDs can be more practical now and less reliant of animations which may (or may not) contribute to server lag.
I have the last 3 recorded bugs to fix and then its only the updated documentation to do and it will be ready for release.
Watch this space...
Anyway, i haven't wasted the last 3 weeks. Despite spending way too much time playing Minecraft with Eddie and Sekra - waaaay too much time - I've managed to get quite a lot done. But very little of it is really visual.
I've largely solved my PC issues. For that last 3 weeks I've slowly been rebuilding my PC. Well to be precise I've rebuilt it about 6 times from the ground up. Swapping out either new or borrowed components in the ever more desperate search for the cause of my CTD and Random Restarts. I'll be honest I'm still not 100% certain but it looks like it was down to a combination of video and audio drivers clashing and just locking the machine. After the last OS install and slightly out of date driver setup the PC has been quite stable for the last few days. Fingers crossed it will stay that way.
You don't realise how much you rely on something until it's gone. I've been having Skype issues for a while now. I thought it was only a month or so but it turns out - according to Skype's customer support - it's been going on since last July. As I type this I'm waiting to hear if my normal Skype account can be saved. Its supposed to be something to do with the MSN > Skype migration. It became 'corrupt' at some 'unknown point' and has been causing problems not just for me but pretty much every server its touched. So if you have sent me a message or contact request in the last few weeks/months and not heard back from me please be patient and I'll try and get back to you asap.
As I said at the start my progress so far this year isn't really all that visual. I've been forced to run windows in a Virtual machine on my ancient SGI 02 workstation. Which rather ironically can't run BI's O2 modelling tool. It does run Minecraft though despite the horrifically slow CPU speed by modern standards.
So progress has been more config related and more bug fix related. Work has covered about 20 projects. Mostly fixing my dodgy config and coding errors. But several SAM systems now work at least as well as the BIS ones do and should be future proof in terms of patches and updates. As long as BI doesn't change too many class names
So that's about it. Messiah is off Skiing. I've been incommunicado so I have no real idea what the other lads have been up to. Hopefully we'll get a more interesting news package out next week.
To start, I want to wish a very happy new year to everyone, and I do hope everyone had a sterling evening and less of an abominable hangover as I did on New Years Day. Predictably it took its toll on most at RKSL, and productivity may not have been at its highest ever, but then we're all due a holiday every now and then
So, with Rock forgetting it was Wednesday last... err... Wednesday, this week it's back to myself, and the Foxhound. Texturing work has been going steady, with a large swathe of the diffuse now completed, and really all that is remaining is the TES/ECM gear, and then a few areas under the wheels arches and the odd nut, bolt, and tow bar - all being well, I hope to have this stage of the addon completed by the weekend.
I've really spent a great deal of time concentrating on the various parts of the vehicle, trying to produce a 'natural' feel to the textures, considering where people may step, place their hands, brush up against, leave marks, etc, and whilst there's still a way to go I'm very happy with it thus far:
Naturally, there are areas that still require attention, as well as a quick going over some of the areas I tackled first, to add a few more bits and bobs and apply techniques I felt worked well in other places.
And as ever, they're still a little clean (although far better than my Land Rovers and Jackals back in the day) - not to fret though, once the diffuse is completed, I'll be adding a final layer of extra grunge, dust, dirt and splatter to bring it up to standard.
After that, it's onto the joys of normal, specular, occlusion etc maps (a couple of which baffle me as ever, so I may have to pester Rock and Da12th once more), and then LODs, configs and testing. Still a bit of work left, but its always encouraging to get her clothed first, like a proper foxy lady.
That wraps it up for me today, and from us this week.
What a way to start the new year. I forgot it was Wednesday I've lost a day somewhere. I'll post something in a day or two. Sorry
...and all through the house all were snoring even the mouse.
Its Wednesday and we're all drunk. Or trying to recover from being drunk. So no updates today So not much progress going on. (apart from messiah he's just an over-achiever ) Personally I'm working my way through a 10 pack of Stella Artois and the Jack Daniels is looking very attractive right now and intend on spending the next 12-14 hours sleeping having worked most of the last 5 days solid on top of the usual Christmas drama.
I'm sorry to say that we in the RKSL house have failed in our tradition of Christmas releases this year. The unexpected floods in the UK have meant some serious time working away at very short notice for me. Not to mention being "trapped" for 4 days in a caravan in the Welsh hills while the roads were cleared and the power restored. Things got shoved further and further back. I promise we'll get the planned releases out as soon as physically possible.
All the RKSL Team would like to hope you all had a fantastic Christmas day wherever you are. And we hope you will have a a fantastic and safe New Year.
All the very best you you and yours.
... when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Well, its not quite the night before Christmas, but in a roundabout way, and especially as my work holiday began today, I'll happily pretend we're getting ever closer to the 24th/25th (Depending on what part of the world you are) and use this as my festive greeting and contribution this year.
Whilst no presents from me, I hope a quick update on the foxhound textures will suffice. The last update on the wheels textures went down rather well, and so today here are a selection of quick shots of the bonnet, front and front wings. There's a long way to go, and progress is slow as I'm being rather pernickety about details, and it goes without mentioning that these are early textures and that there's a whole host of grunge, dirt, dust, scratches and paint chips to add before we're even half way calling this diffuse complete (that and about 70% of the vehicle remaining to be textured)
Thankfully, given the tedious and dreary nature of Christmas at my family, and the Christmas break of 2-3 weeks, I've got a bunch of time to try and catch up a bit and make some real progress (although no promises, it all depends how boozy a Christmas it ends up being)
I guess that's about it from me for 2012. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and Santa brings you something particularly delightful. See you in 2013 and another year of RKSL.
A few weeks ago we showed you the renders of the newly completed SeaRAM Launcher and I promised at the time we'd explaining more in time. Well I'm working away again so time is pretty tight. Not much is getting done to fix my main PC and last week while i was away...we was robbed guv...
I feel almost guilty that hes going to open my rucksack and find a weeks worth of wet soggy underwear and socks that can quite easily climb walls on their own. Maybe the little fuck will catch something nasty from them.
Some thoughts can keep you warm at night... or at least smiling. So back to this week, I thought I'd show you one of the craft they would be equipping.
Its another IAP creation. At least that is its intended target (pardon the pun) but you might see it sooner in one of our partner's mod packs. Or an earlier release as a standalone since it appears to be progressing far faster than planned thanks to my ongoing PC issues.
Ambassador MK III Missile Boat
The Ambassador MK III Missile Boat is originally an American-designed patrol boat. It was chosen by the Egyptian Navy (An ASA Nation) first as a patrol boat for their Coast Guard Fleet, which already have several units and later as a platform for a large modern missile boat with a small radar signature. The new boats would contain an update in design meant to make the vessels more resistant to radar detection. Its design was conducted with the assistance of Lockheed Martin.
Its slightly over 60m long which makes it - just about - into the absolute maximum ArmA2 geometry envelope. This means it can be a single model and wont need any funky scripting to get it working ingame.
The real world version has a scary weapons load considering its size. Anti Shipping Missiles, 76mm Gun and a comprehensive air defence capability including the previously mentioned SeaRAM as well as Phalanx CIWS. I don't really see why we shouldn't have the same in game.
I chose this particular ship for several reasons:
* I realise the Type 45 is a destroyer and not a missile boat but with ArmA2's game engine limitations the ships would likely behave very similarly under AI control.
Obviously its still not complete. The Phalanx and Mk-141 missile (Harpoon) launcher are still in work but should be complete fairly soon. The sharp eyed may notice that the main gun is not a United Defense Mk 75. I swapped it for a gun that I already had modeled for another project because I thought it looked a lot nicer than the MK75 I made. And the mount is supposed to be a "universal" fitting so who knows what might end up on there.
But it may revert to the Mk75 if there is a driving need.
So that's it, I have new wellies. Fur lined ones too! Woohoo, I'll be back on the Welsh hills when this goes live so think of me freezing my arse off in a dodgy static caravan while you are tucked up nice and warm at home. Have fun.
...and the lads step up and save the day again!
Oh and I'm going grey trying to work out what is causing the proxy doubling bug on the Typhoons...
Right now I am stuck in Deepest, Darkest North Wales on an engineering gig that, quite frankly blows. There is a long and soggy story to this but its not worth getting into now but I will say I want to go home. NOW!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
I don't think we're going to be able to get out anytime soon one of the lad's cars was last seen a week ago, floating down the road. And I've already used by 4Gb data allowance on my new 3G dongle in 5 days. It was supposed to last a month. Anyhoo, back to the plot.
Since I've been a bit busy with work I havent had much time to do much more than tinker and try and fix a few bugs. Ever since Patch 1.62 some user made addons have been plagued by an odd bug that only seems to affects one or two addons.
Specifically some of FRL Mykes planes and of course our Typhoon. Now I would absolutely love to be able to blame BIS for this (Sorry guys) but I can't, well maybe just a little bit
So if you haven't already seen it this is the effect:
Its just a visual thing. The ammo count isn't affected but release one weapon and two disappear from the pylon. But only one drops or is fired.
The pic above is the test load out and you cant see any doubling of proxies at all.
And the conventional loadout works OK too...
As I said, it doesn't seem to affect the Tornado for some bizarre reason and I believe some of Myke's other planes aren't affected either. So it has to be something we did. But I'm buggered if I know what it is. Answers on a postcard, carrier pigeon or PM or anything... would be greatly received.
Many moons ago I said we'd release some national plugins with the version 2.X Typhoon. Well we've done them (Mike aka Da12thmonkey has virtually done them all, I helped a little bit) and hes added another Italian squadron to the set.
When someone starts talking about "rubber" and "dirt". Well I don't know what to say really, my mind just goes odd places. Of course we are talking about wheels and tyres. We at RKSL Studios are not publicly inclined towards discussions of a deviant nature...all the time.
Look at the wheel nuts on that! WOOOHOOO!
So you can guess whose making all the wheel textures from now on!
OK so I haven't made much progress. I'm bald already and I am rapidly getting greyer by the second. But at least the rest of the guys are making progress.
It's off to work we go
So its fair to say that its been a while since I've kept you up-to-date with the Foxhound, and this has mainly been down to landing myself a new job as a competition architect and being worked to the bone for the last three months or so (that and very few us can produce work at the same absurd rate as Rock ). However, now that I've managed to juggle my commitments and schedules, its about time I got on with finishing the Foxhound off.
It's off to work we go
So its fair to say that its been a while since I've kept you up-to-date with the Foxhound, and this has mainly been down to landing myself a new job as a competition architect and being worked to the bone for the last three months or so (that and very few us can produce work at the same absurd rate as Rock ). However, now that I've managed to juggle my commitments and schedules, its about time I got on with finishing the Foxhound off.
I've spent the last week or so finishing off the last few details on the vehicle; rear step, indicators, other little odds and sods, and have been slowly unwrapping the exterior model. Its been a bit of a struggle, moslty due to being rather rusty once more with O2, and having to contend with my Black Ops 2 and Hitman addiction luring me away from finishing off the fiddly bits.
Whilst I've tried to be fairly rigid and effecient with my UV map, there's a lot left to be desired, and there are certain objects that have been spread across the entire panel all in the name of using every last scrap of space, rather than increase the texel size. This will probably result in many frustrating hours trying to find parts of the model, but regardless, she's done, and now its time to start texturing her, and that's something I'm really looking forward to. We have a few new techniques we want to try out to really give a sense of depth and texture on certain areas of the vehicle, but we'll save that for another week and another update
As ever (and annoyingly) all unwrapping was done (frustratingly slowly) in O2
(and appologies for the shitty images, but I really can't seem to make bulldozer show anything nice these days)
It's been another week of computer woes. But not so bad actually. I replaced my boot drive with another 1TB Samsung I had in the cupboard and my main PC's stability improved. But it is still crashing so it's another "little bits and pieces update".
This week it's SPEARs. Not the long, sharp pointy things - although that would be interesting to see how we could get that working... might have to check out that Roman mod I saw last week but no its something a bit more modern. Selective Precision Effects At Range, SPEAR for short. It's the name for a weapons development program for the RAF.
There are 3 capability phases:
It's a 100kg class weapon powered by a turbojet engine. The exact details are still pretty vague but this is likely to be the UK F-35's main tactical air-to-ground weapon for some years to come. Potentially replacing the role of Brimstone and the already retired Maverick (The Harrier GR9 was the only UK aircraft cleared for its use) and will probably see service on the Typhoon and Tornado as well as a number of UCAV's emerging in over the next few years.
Designed for attacking high threat targets from a safe distance the SPEARs are being billed as the next big thing in weapons for 4th and 5th Generation aircraft alike.
The current requirement has the SPEAR 3 missile carried in packs of 4. Each pack designed to fit inside the internal bays of the F-35B much like the BRU-61 rack and GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb II arrangement for the F-15 and F-22. But CGI renders/pics have also emerged of the Typhoon carrying 16 SPEAR3s and fuel tanks.
Just to give you an idea of scale the image below shows the Tornado GR4 lower weapon pylon. Each SPEAR is less than 2m long and 0.18m diameter plus the wing pack obviously. Much smaller than the Maverick it would arguably replace.
Mounted 'upside down' the weapon is dropped like a conventional bomb. Internal gyros and control surfaces then spin the weapon 180 degrees as the wings and tail planes deploy. Unlike the GBU-53 SDB, the spear actually has its own jet engine which can propel it at high-subsonic speeds for up to 75km before striking the targets. The SPEAR3 is either GPS or INS guided and can be used to attack fixed and moving targets. With the coordinates updated via the parent aircraft or by an observer UAV or AWACS aircraft enroute.
If the claimed performance actually turns out to be true it's rather cool and a little scary when you think about it properly.
So that's it for this week. Another short and sweet one but hopefully next week should see a return to the planned schedule.
PS On the issue of scale:
The Stormshadow is a bit like a sledgehammer. Meant for killing large buildings and hard strategic targets.
SPEAR3 is more of a scalpel. I surgical strike weapon for taking out individual vehicles and objects like radars etc. Its more in the Maverick class of weapon.
So my technical woes continue. Random lockups, CTDs, BSOD, audio and video glitches noises and general witchcraft and vodoo are common now so some of the larger projects are being dramatically slowed since I cant get to my Storage array. Apologies to those wanting Part 3 of the Tut or the incredibly long over due and much promised Tornado update but they are all on my main workstation which is currently un-servicable.
Recently, WLD427 and I have been discussing common areas of interest for ArmA3. WLD427 has some areas of PRACS he would like to modernise for both ArmA2 and eventually ArmA3 and I have some things I would like to use for IAP and ArmA3. So I've dragged out my old laptop and I've been adding to the IAP library and my own Portfolio of models. Right now Eddie is doing the research and I'm cherry picking from his wishlist. This has led to some interesting possibilities, mostly Naval this week though.
I've come across a few ships and watercraft that I would like to include in IAP and WLD427 would like to co-opt for PRACS. Quite a few of them seem to share common weapon systems and equipment so while I cant access my projects drive I've been gainfully employed making common parts.
Mk49 GMLS and RIM-116
The plan is to build up a library of these common component to fit to future RKSL, IAP and Partner projects. This week's out put is a Mk 49 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) for the RIM-116 missile system.
Phalanx CIWS and SeaGnat are next.
Its currently used by Egypt which is an ASA (OPFOR) nation within the IAP-verse so will see use in a number of their ships etc. I've also given the model show above to WLD427 for use in PRACS so it might be worth keeping an eye on the PRACS website too.
Thats all I have this week. I'm going swap out my motherboard tomorrow with a borrowed one to see if I can resolve the problem so hopefully next we'll be back on plan.
I'm not ashamed to say that when the last Harrier flew out of Cottesmore after the MoD axed them I cried a little...*sniff*
So this week is late and it's not according to "the plan". It seems I have a random Audio/Video/Hard disk fault that is causing my system to lock and occasionally CTD. Really frustrating; so I have to rebuild the PC over the weekend. I've been trying the last few days to complete the Tonka and KC390 Tutorial but I can't run the PC for more than an hour without a lockup or crash. This makes doing any serious work a bit impractical.
Obviously I'm struggling to get either the Tornado or the Tutorials finished this week, as a small consolation prize. Now for something completely different:
I'm not ashamed to say that when the last Harrier flew out of Cottesmore after the MoD axed them I cried a little...*sniff*. For an aircraft with such a history to be so abruptly killed off was a crime. It really was. The forced retirement of the Harrier left a large capability gap in the UK Armed Forces, one that the government assured us did not exist nor was anything to be concerned about. I know several RAF and RN aircrew that thought otherwise.
If anybody remembers reading an early post about Harriers then you may remember that as a little boy the Harrier GR3 was the first plane I ever saw up close. Its stuck with me ever since. And much like the Tornado its a bit of a love/hate project. The Harrier is an iconic aircraft, you can judge that from many different viewpoints but its iconic to me for some very personal reasons.
There are other stories I could tell but I'll just say that much like the Typhoon the Harrier was and is still a milestone in my life. I want to do it justice, if ony in a 3D model form. But at the same time I cant wait to get rid of it... its hard work to keep going on something like this. But it is a lot of fun to fly ingame. Too much fun to be honest. I seem to spend more time testing than working...as usual these days.
The Harrier has been on the RKSL project list since OFP days and the model has been remade countless times. This is the 23rd version according to my notes. A fact that I am as much surprised by as I am ashamed its not finished yet.
You'll have to excuse the horrble normal map. The panel lines are obscenely thick. Trust me it wont stay like that.
The model is currently being what my office monkey fondly refers to as "Modo'd". His not particularly original way of describing my method of generating spec maps and tarting up old models and textures.
But it is already in game and flying, which is part of the problem. I just cant seem to stop playing with it...
And as with other RKSL aircraft, the amount of work to get the cockpit finished is rather daunting. Just like the ver2.5 Typhoon (hopefully the final build in ArmA2) the majority of the cockpit displays will be driven by the class MFD command rather than animations. We recently discovered - thanks to a a really crappy steam age gameserver - that the number of animations may have an impact on the MP game performance in ways we hadnt anticipated. Looking back its now rather obvious but at the time, not so much.
Anyway, cockpit detail will be a high priority as will functionality and reality.
So thats all for this weeks "not-on-the-plan-update" apologies for those eager for the next installment of the tutorial or Tornado update but it really has been unavoidable.
Yet another late one and still not a Tornado. I'm sorry (hangs head in shame) but the unwrapping is proving to be rather unpleasant and I've been prevaricating about getting it finished so I'm writing some tuts instead. And I'm running later than planned thanks to four bags of gravel, 2 of sharp sand and "Housemaid's knee" (It actually really hurts!). So here I am the last minute again, re-writing (again) a tut I wrote earlier int he week because my Laptop is now on its way to Southampton in the back of my former office monkey's car.
So making a Lifter in O2... well setting it up anyway. Today I'm going cover the basics of setting up to make a model in O2. These days you are probably more likely to make a model in pretty much any other tool, Max, Maya, Blender, Modo. But at some point you are probably going to end up in O2 and some basic knowledge is going to help. Let me be perfectly clear this is not going to be a complete start to finish tutorial for O2. While it is a pretty simple program it does have its dark murky secrets and I'm not sure I have the time to cover everything.
So I'm going to assume you know a bit about CAD/3D modeling but are new to O2 so If I loose you at any point feel free to post a question and I'll try to improve the tutorial. There are a few other things you'll need but I recommend a case of Beer, Stella Artois for preference and a large pack of Jaffa Cakes. Chocolate Hobknobs in a pinch if the jaffa cakes aren't available. Pizza is also acceptable but not anything with anchovies. YURRRGHHHH, evil horrible things.
Back to business, O2 is what is sometimes called a vertex modelling tool. It differs from "polygonal" modeling tools like 3D Studio Max, Maya etc in the way you create objects and faces. In O2 you create faces by placing vertices or points and "joining the dots". Where as in polygonal tools you place a a face or primitive (box, cylinder etc) and sculpt from there. For some it a small distinction but the work flow is different. If you have been formerly taught a poly driven tool then it might come as a shock.
Step 1 - Reference Images.
For the KC-390 I went surfing for pretty much any picture or document I could find. I tend to raid the news sites, Flickr, Youtube and the Manufacturer's website for any and all pictures and info i can. Mostly looking for any high-res 3 view drawing I can. Once you've found something good. You want to ensure that each view is all in the right proportions. I use Photoshop but GIMP or similar should work just as well.
Create a new 2048 x 2048 RGB image. I use 300 dpi since it mipmaps nicely but you can use whatever you want. So we need to make sure the reference image maintains scale and proportion. With most 3 views you will find that they are all the same scale. The trick is keep them that way. I've developed a simple method for doing this.
You should end up with 3 images:
Now we've got the reference images we need to get them into O2. Its surprisingly simple.
On your P: drive create a folder for your project. Lets call it MYPROJECT. Now I like to keep things tidy and easy to find so I'm going to create another folder called REFS inside the first folder.
Drop the reference images we created earlier into your REFS folder. So you should now have 3 images like this:
Step 2 - Your first breath of O2. (Too cheesy? Meh)
I'm going to assume you've installed O2 and have buldozer etc. There are plenty of tuts on the forums and Biki for that some I'll let someone else take the load. So once you open it up you'll probably see something like this:
Probably a single view, we need a 4 window view to do this next part so if you already have it, good for you. If not, goto your Window Menu and Click the "Four Views" option. And you should get this:
Little tip #1: You can change the size of these windows by dragging the "window frames".
Little tip #2: You make a window active by clicking in it. BUT be aware that you make accidentally move geometry if you use the Left (Select) Mouse button. So use either middle or Right buttons instead.
Through out these tuts I use the "pin" and "center on pin" a lot so I'm going to explain this a little bit first. It is important and you will use it a lot. Sooo, look carefully in the last screenshot. In the center you will see a darker + sign. A cross if you like. This is the pin. You can move it and make things rotate around it etc. And when it comes to placing primitives and verts It also has two modes:
So if you want to try it, you can create some verts by using your INSERT Key or by going to the "CREATE Menu > POINT".
Anyway... back to setting up references.
If you have created any point or faces, delete them or start a new model.
We're going to create a single plane at the origin 0,0,0. In O2 1unit = 1m in the real world. Well that is the convention anyway, one established from OFP times. but various people over the years have said its not quite true but lets just stick with community convention right now.
Make the FRONT window active by RIGHT CLICKING in it. You'll see a black line appear around the window. This show the active view port. Since we're going to be switching between view ports this is important to watch out for. Next goto the CREATE Menu > PLANE. A dialog box should appear. You are asked for:
For the KC-390 my largest dimension is 35.05m so I'm going to put that in the Size box for both X and Y axis. We only need 1 face, so leave 1 in the segments box for each axis. You should end up with something like this:
The next stage is to add and map the reference image to this face. We're going to start with the Front image.
So in the FRONT viewport we want to load an image that we can 'background map' onto the face we just created. To do this:
Now we have to create 2 more faces for the Side and Top/Plan views. We could just repeat the whole process, steps 1 to 7 again for each face but that takes time. There is a quicker way
You'll end up with something looking like the pic above. Three faces all mapped with the same image. Well we dont want that so we need to change the image mapped to each face.
Eventually you will end up with 3 faces and 3 unique textures. One per face. SAVE THE FILE NOW!!!!
If you turn on the DX Render and the Face culling etc on for the active view port you get a view like this:
Finally...close down O2. Open it again and load your refs P3D file. You'll notice that the images are no where to be seen. DON'T PANIC! If you have followed the tut properly restoring the background images is very very easy.
Select the face you want. start with the Front Face. Goto the Menu > FACES > BACKGROUND FROM FACE
Repeat for each viewport and there you have your reference images.
Next we need to create a new LoD and start modeling...but not today. Maybe next week
I'm not going to go much further today. I'm tired and its late, my leg is killing me and i ate the last jaffa cake about 2 hours ago so I'm going call it quits soon but just to round off this part of the tut let me explain why setting up the reference images this way is a good thing.
First of all. You can leave this reference object in the background of your model all the time and reload the images at will. O2 is not the most up to date tool out there. The Viewports don't automatically refresh or scale on the fly. So every once in a while its better to reload your background image to ensure you are working to the right scale and proportion.
Secondly, it means you only ever have to set up your images once. If you hadn't mapped these images to a face next time you come back into O2 you would have to set them up all over again. It saves you time but it also ensure that your references consistently stay at the same scale and proportion over the duration of development.
Two pretty good reasons to do it this way i think.
Anyway, I hope this helps some of you. As The tut proceeds/grows/evolves etc I'll get more into the nitty gritty of making models. I am going to skim over the laborious bits of making faces and creating complex shapes and bits but I hope to give you a good foot hold into O2 where you can jump off from to either more advanced packages or more advanced projects.
OK thats if for today. I'm off to cry in a corner this has taken about 6 hours to write and I ate about a week's supply of Jaffa cakes. I feel slightly sick...
OK so this isn't a Tornado. Maybe if you squint... nah not even then. For reasons out of my control I've not done as much on the Tonka as i hoped so I'm going to show you something a little different.
This is something for ArmA3, IAP was planned for ArmA2 originally. It was intended to be a very long term project but even the best laid plans of mince and men change (Well it just got longer). So, ArmA3 here we come...
I've been planning a project called IAP for a while now. At least 2 years and you've seen bits and pieces of the prep work for a while now. This week, much earlier than I planned to may i present something new in almost every sense of the word. The Embraer KC-390, I'm going to split this update into 3 or 4 pieces and make it a bit educational since people keep saying they like it when we explain our work flows. This week though is a bit of introduction to the concept and project.
Embraer KC-390 - The South American Lifter
When I first saw this on Flight Global last year I thought "I'd like to make that". I didn't have the time then and I probably don't have the time now either but I recently had the chance to give it a go.
This all came about thanks to a pain in the arse commercial client. I was asked to make a Proof of Concept model for a part supplier, contracts written and awaiting a signature. I was told it was delayed in legal but it was a done deal so I started on the model. A week later, its turns out that the deal was dead. So sod it, an IAP/ArmA3 project was born.
The KC390 is intended to be a replacement for the C-130 serving in Brazil and other South American nations. Embraer has a history of making some pretty good cost effective aircraft so the probability of this airframe making it into service is pretty high. And It looks kinda cool too. We havent seen too many none C-130 transport in-game so I thought it would look good in IAP colours.
Not my model BTW!
Embraer have already gone through several configuration and design reviews and the general airframe design has changed over time maturing to the final config shown below. But if you are a "rivet counter" like me you'll notice some differences between the refs used and the models over the next few updates.
All through ArmA1 and ArmA2 I've been wanting to making decent transport aircraft but the game engine has always defeated me. By that I mean you couldn't ever really use them properly. The AI wouldn't fly them properly, you couldn't load vehicles into them without heavy scripting etc. I've held off finishing several of our heavy lifters, even cancelled some projects but now with ArmA3's use of PhysX cargo handling and logistics have become a really practical proposition. The ability to drive right into the back and fly to the other side of the island, land and drive right out again without scripting as seen in VBS2 some time ago. It also presents some nice logistics scenarios, force protection etc. Certainly it opens up some really nice ideas for me at least.
Below are some O2 grabs show with the RKSL C-130 in the background for comparison:
Next Time in Part 2
Over the next few updates I'm going to explain how I set up the references and started to make model, add wings etc. A few O2 tricks and the odd bit of Modo thrown in.
Ok this week, is a bit overdue. Its Saturday night, wednesday is a long forgotten memory but I thought I should post what i had planned anyway.
This week's offering isnt really mine. Its CBFASI's but since hes in the throes of moving house and has virtually no internet access I thought I'd post on his behalf (Its his turn you see). Small craft have always been fun to use in-game so CBFASI delved deep into his model archive and plucked out a "Rigid Raider MK1". Used primarily by the Royal Marines the boats are made from glass fibre and have a monster (for the size and weight of the boat) 115hp outboard motor fitted. Which lets it get up to a rather scary 50knots unloaded and 30kts with a full load of 8 troops and kit.
This week again is more actual Work In Progress shots. CBFASI gave me the model to unwrap some time ago but I've only just started to texture it. And rather obviously its missing its engine. The original model dates back to the OFP era and the Falklands (FLK) mod so its a bit low poly in places so need s bit of "tarting up".
Modo renders again, but once we get the engine sorted and the alternate pedastal sorted we'll post some ingame shots.
Rock standing in for CBFASI.
Since this is supposed to be about Work In progress we thought we'd actually show you some progress (again). This is the Selex Enforcer II Remote Weapons System model made by Messiah that he showed you back in week 25. This time its been fully unwrapped and Rock is in the middle of texturing it.
The renders are from Modo, with a very simple environment. Nothing too special but its the pre bake version which uses 5 textures and about 20 materials. This should all be baked down to a single tile.
You'll have to excuse the crappy ammo feed link its going to be replaced with a high poly model later on.
Well thats it for today, short and sweet. We're all busy with real life this week so thats all we have time for.
... of mice and men, often go awry.
To start off, I'll have to warn you that this isn't going to be the most 'plus sized' of RKSL updates, mostly due to my own time schedule slipping, and perhaps in part to a three day binge in town thanks to a couple of old university friends who were visiting me in Copenhagen for the resultingly long weekend So, a slim update today, but part of a larger one I wanted to post about UV unwrapping the Foxhound, which will come in the next couple of weeks all being well.
Last time I posted, was about the progress of the foxhound and what was a fairly complete model. Since then I've added a few bits and bobs such as the rear step and corrected a few parts of the mesh, and progressed onto the interior. Vehicle interiors have always been a bit of a love hate relationship for any modder, being a rather detailed and labourious task, fraught with the usual (and more often than not, increasing) lack of reference that plagues all addons. Unwrapping the interior presents its own headache of small details, switches, cables and gear sticks, and it never ever seems to quite look... 'right' - as if its been setup to clinically, rather than a naturally lived in, working vehicle.
With the foxhound I'm hoping things will change. Thanks once again to the plain military guys and their superb reference, I've been able to knock together something that's hopefully fairly accurate, with enough detail to keep your eyes occupied, but not distracted from the road. With the eagerly awaited Render To Texture, the three interior screens will be able to show a variety of (switchable) views, including low light and thermal vision.
That (uv un-) wraps up the update today. Hopefully next time around I'll have a fully unwrapped exterior to talk about.
In the UKAF forums this week we've been having a bit of a debate about what to make for the UK Faction. Mainly about whats practical, you know the sort of thing. It looks so cool and interesting you really want to see it rolling around. But once you make the model is it any use in game? Can you get excavators to dig stuff up? Can you get cranes to work? Hovercraft? Making the model is, 'pretty easy' compared to making it perform how it should in the real world in game.
If you choose to make a complicated project its often the beginning of a long development process involving hundreds of hours of hard work. Is it worth it? Personally I love seeing something i work on come to life. Some projects have taken on a life of their own, becoming unbelievably complex and so very cool to play with. And not being a scripting person - i suck so bad at writing code for ArmA - i am always amazed at what UNN and other scripters like him come out with. But it does take time to develop a good, stable and MP friendly system.
So because of all this I've been looking at projects from a different point of view recently. I've been trying to prioritise projects that we can release and later upgrade and add functionality to as we go along without having to remake too much. Stuff that adds to the game too. So we have a base model with several derivatives. The first of these is the MAN HX series of Trucks. The textures are horrible and don't even mention the wheels!
I'm going to make it modular as we can. I've still got some experimenting to do but I do have several ideas to try out. But lets face it with ArmA3 coming and all its new gadgets and features it might be worth waiting a while:
The plan is to make the 4x4 and 6x6 HX based chassis and then make a variety of payloads we can swap via config to save on pbo size. I'm not to sure this will be practical in all cases due to roadway and cargo proxy issues but it might be worth a try.
Like a lot of the other projects we've shown you, these models are on the older side and considering the pace at which the UK MoD seems to change their kit specs they are a bit our of date so aren't the most accurate. Either that or I was not paying close enough attention when I made them.
I don't always get it right but I do try. I have to admit I don't often succeed but I keep trying all the same I'm going to remake some of the parts and I am a little concerned about the proportions in places so expect some changes, tweaks and outright replacements. The models were originally made in O2 about 2 years ago so what you see is really an low poly alpha model.
Logistics my lad, logistic and a little GBAD. The obvious answer is drive them around...short sweet and accurate but we being who we are never seem to do anything the easy way. My plan - and it is mine alone, I have to take the blame for this one -is to make the basic versions first these include:
And eventually the SX Improved Mobility Versions:
Well as I mentioned before I'm trying to find easy to finish projects that we can upgrade later. The basic HX versions all share a common configuration in terms of cabs, chassis etc. Its relatively easy to switch between the versions by adding/duplicating parts. The SX version is a slightly different setup and a lot of the SX based variants will require scripting. The idea is to make it easier for use to developed the models and systems together. It just gives us more time.
Well even though its sounds like it might be a digestive tract disorder FLAADS is actually Future Local Area Air Defense System. Originally intended to replace Sea Wolf as a close range air defence system on the Type 23 and eventually Type 26 Frigates its also being adapted to replace the Rapier FSC by 2018-2020. Designed around a new Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) derived from the AIM-132 ASRAAM the new system is said to be capable of enaging the full spectrum of airborne threats. Its designed to be fully modular and can be mounted on almost any platform.
Could be fun...
Have a good one
I tempted fate with last week's final "I'll probably be dead by lunch time with my luck." comment. I so wish I'd kept my big gob shut. I'm not going to go into details as to why I'm here but it is personal, unpleasant and i'm in the market for a comfortable rubber ring. Lets leave it there.
Moving swiftly on... due to unforeseen circumstances...again I'm unprepared for Wednesday WIP yet again. I have my trusty Dell XPS16, my crappy 3G dongle and VPN connection to my home network. But a shockingly low speed connection due to poor signal quality. I'm running at about 56-64Kbs. Dial up era speeds. So this isn't going to be the most graphical of updates. Even doing this remotely via my desktop to take advantage of my home's broadband line its horribly slow going.
Since I haven't got much progress to show you this week, im showing you another project we have lined up for ArmA3 and the "2020 plan".
BIS already made one of these for BAF, but being a fussy sort of bloke I didn't like how it turned out. I'm hoping the BIS guys don't hold this against me. But the model wasnt quite right. And to be fair to them when they started making it they only had a handful of the CGI mockup images to work with... Now that the real aircraft is flying around for all to see you can see the differences.
You can call me a "rivet counter" if you want but my background is Aerospace Engineering and details matter to me. And being a bit of a Westland Lynx 'fan' I wanted to have a good crack at the Wildcat and do it properly. I started the model about the same time BAF was announced and after its release my own model just sat dormant for a while. I'm not going to say it was from lack of interest but more from other distractions. The AW159 is one project that while it hasnt moved/progressed for a while I cant bring my self to move off the active list. I just like it
The BIS model was nice, fun to fly and perfectly practical ingame. But the inaccuracies bugged me. The tail rotor housing and boom was wrong, the engine covers and exhausts looked a bit 'wrong'. Not huge things but it still bugged me a bit.
I always feel bad criticising other people's models but I genuinely wanted BIS to get BAF right. I offered my own research info and advice at the time but it was a bit late in the day to get significant changes made. But I'll give BIS and especially Ivan and Damu full credit they were more than happy to take advice. Not many companies that will do that.
The Wildcat itself isn't a huge departure from the older Naval Lynx HMA8 in concpet and design. And as a result its come under fire for its limitations but its going to be a part of both Royal Navy and British Army inventories for a long time to come so its going to be a key model to make for ArmA3... atleast for me.
The current model is going to get overhauled. I've gotten access to some nice pics of the real aircraft now so I can see a number of areas that need re-making. I'm also hoping that with ArmA3's new render to texture and PhysX features we should be able to get some pretty funky features built into this.
Right now the real AW159 is undergoing trials and training workups, as more pictures leak out into the unrestricted internet expect to see more WIP updates for the Wildcat. I'm going to take my time on this one and get it right.
Right thats it. Its taken nearly 2 hours to edit and upload 5 pics on this connection so I've had enough of fighting with 3G I'm going to sign off and see if I can get that lovely blonde student nurse to give me a bed bath.
Oh what a fortnight I've had. Again apologies about missing last week's WIP Wednesday. Things have not been going to plan and the reasons are a bit like the old; "sorry but the dog ate my homework" excuse. Soooo, think of your own reason why it didn't happen, call me names and then leave it there.
Seriously Ive had a hellishly busy week. For those that don't know Farnborough Airshow was last week. I didn't get to goto the fun Flying Display bit. I got to spend four days touting for work in the trade tents and chatting up prospective customers. Its bloody hard work making small talk then trying to sell your services.
I did get to see lots of new tech and big boy's toys though. Some very interesting things are planned by the big companies and it seems that UAVs and especially UCAVs feature heavily in the defence industry's collective consciousness. (Here's hoping BIS make a really good UAV interface this time, we're going to need it.). The "new" BAE Systems Mantis UAV is particularly interesting, and its bloody ugly too.
We were staying in a really, really and I do mean REALLY naff Bed & Breakfast. It was so bad the fleas and bed bugs wouldn't stay there. Oh and the breakfast was best forgotten... swimming in grease, smelt bloody awful and even the beans had a pale greyish tone. I'm retching thinking about it.
And I have to mention the parking... There is a reason they gave us a GPS enabled phone app to get around the site. We ended up parking so far away that we might as well have left the car in Birmingham and walked. The 2nd day I wore my hiking boots with my suit.
On the upside I was fortunate enough to have a poke around the static display park. I got access to some nice aircraft and spent the entire time kicking myself for having forgotten to take my camera (Don't ask - you wouldn't believe me) only to remember half way up the M6 motorway on Friday afternoon that my Blackberry has a perfectly adequate 5MP camera. Oh boy did I feel like a prize pratt. The feeling lasted from Birmingham to Wigan.
I met some old friends on the Airbus stand and got to see my very first production A380 up close. When I left Airbus in 2004 the pre-production prototype was only just coming off the assembly line. I have to say though, the best part of visiting the Airbus chalet was that we got fed properly for the first (and last time) since we arrived.
The Boeing guys were polite but not very helpful. And they couldn't answer some of my technical questions which I thought was odd for a sales team. But hey ho. As usual the SAAB guys rocked. Really nice helpful and incredibly knowledgeable, major geek-out session. Their reps really do know their products. All in all a pretty productive if very hectic week. Lots of schmoozing, arse kissing and brown nosing really but if it gets me work... bend over and ill ... maybe i won't. Although there was one lovely lady on the BAE Systems...ahem.
The F-18 and V-22 teams were very nice guys, letting us poke around and answering nearly all of our questions including some very probing ones. They also introduced us to the US DoD team on Friday morning letting me crawl around the F-15 and C-17 cockpits. I even managed to get my sizable arse into the F-15 with ease. Either Ive lost weight or the F-15 has gotten bigger. (I didn't have any issue getting in the C-17 before Sekra pipes up)
So back to this week's update... the dog ate it.
Predictably things have not gone too well, I'll be honest. I'm having a shit one. My Mum got rushed in to hospital on Tuesday, she's caught a Vomiting bug from somewhere, which considering she has Bone Cancer and takes her Chemotherapy and pain medication orally is a very big issue. My plan for the next few weeks has just sailed gracefully out of the window so I'm winging it this week yet again.
I am ashamed to say I lost the USB stick with all the Chally 2 updates that should have gone out last week. (maybe Sally my dog did eat it I dont really know) So this week I'm going to blag it a bit with some old pics and waffle again. Sorry
I've had some interesting feedback and questions since i posted the Rapier FSC pics two weeks ago. It has prompted a bit of confusion and some discussion about what we're planning on doing. I've been trying to lay out the 'grand RKSL plan' with these update but its proving a bit chaotic so I thought I'd try again.
UK Ministry of Defence's Future 2020 Plan
Obviously we've formally added a few more "old faces" to the RKSL Team and we *appear* to be heading into Project-UKF-esque territory, creating a team to complete the full UK Faction etc. Well we are and we're not.
What this means is that some of the older projects, specifically older kit may get dropped in favour of sexier modern kit. There still isnt a complete list right now but I'm still planning on releasing some of the old favourites I have in the queue. As are some of the other guys but they probably won't be given a high priority.
Just as a bit of a tease: Some New (old) WIP shots. These are 6 month+ old shots, the Panther CLV was introduced recently in Afghanistan as a Command Liaison and (limited) Recce vehicle with both the British Army and the RAF Regiment. It's planned that it should continue in service well into the 2020s replacing FFR Land Rovers, Snatch and various other command vehicles.
PS To top it all last night my Q drive started to produce bad sectors like a Chav on benefits produces kids. By 1am only 4011 out of 129372 files was accessible. And for that brief moment everything was lost severe depression looked quite attractive compared to the mood I was in. Then just before i succumbed to the urge to go and play in traffic I remembered. SVN is a wonderful thing. New drive (Im going to RAID it) and several hours of formatting and all 120GB is restored. One evening lost but better that than all of my work.
Dare I say it? Maybe things will get better now... I'll probably be dead by lunch time with my luck. Check back next week to see if I'm still alive.