Making some progress on the Wildcat interior. About half way through the High Res interior texturing now. Still some reworks to go and some more detailing.
Formerly Known as "WIP Wednesdays". Now its probably best to think of this as "When we get chance Wednesday".
Making some progress on the Wildcat interior. About half way through the High Res interior texturing now. Still some reworks to go and some more detailing.
Anyone want a bathmat seat cover?
The joy of procedural materials. You really do have to check your settings.
Ok, So Siddy asked to be teased. What better way then "Guess Who".
Back to work on the Pumas today Making progress. And I've added some fictional skins for variety. #rksl #arma3 #rkslxmas
Sorry folks, life has intervened and caused a delay for a few days. I was planning on releasing the Puma today but the real world screwed that up. Pics instead, release in a few days #rksl #arma3 #notmyfault
After three days of fighting with Modo, trying to get a decent baked texture.
I'm still working on the Airweapons Pack v3.100 and I'm just finishing up with the WK450 Tactical UAV aka The Flying Lawn mower, Its finally ingame and flying!
If you follow the RKSL Facebook or Twitter feeds you may have seen my recent post about failed baking and the ever extending time to bake progress bar.
Just for the record it took 17 attempts and over 3 days to get it to bake properly in the end.
I am actually quite happy with the result. Even if it did nearly result in my having to by a new keyboard.
As with every model i make i learn new things. Not always necessarily about modelling. More recently about the rigidity of Corsair mechanical keyboards, but in the past lessons have included such gems of wisdom as:
I could go on, thinking about it, there is probably another couple of blog posts about things that happen while waiting for a bake to finish. Anyway, the WK450 (as featured in an earlier post) is now fully textured, configed and LoD'd and flying. It just needs tweeking, trimming up and a few bits of polish.
I did start painting it in Substance painter but i found that to be a bit too frustrating. I dont think Substance lends it self to making base textures and details that well. Atleast not in my corrupted and winding workflow. It does however make weathering and dirt etc so much easier to do convincingly.
There are a few more thing I want to do with this, Shelters and extras are yet to be textured. But I'll take it as a small victory over the Evil Dark Gremlins of Modo. And the curse of the random PC lockup.
Coming soon to a British Forces Faction near you.
I’m still grinding away, slow progress with the air weapons pack. Motivation is a bit of a problem this month as I’ve been working some really odd hours and completely lost my regular sleep pattern. And if I am being honest I an really sick of configs and texturing endless missiles and bombs. So, I’ve returned to my first love, modelling. 3D modelling not the catalogue kind. The Rockape swimsuit edition would be truly terrifying. Nobody needs to see that.
This week I’m still working on the RPAS (Remotely Piloted Air Systems) aka UAVs. The Reaper is almost done. The first round of testing has brought up some new issues, I have some config tweaks and resolution lods to do before it can be unleashed. Not to mention the issue surrounding the weapons, which brings us back to the dreaded air-weapons pack thats holding almost everything back. So, I’ve jumped onto the unarmed RPAS while I await more feedback from the Test Monkeys.
Watchkeeper series of Tactical UAVs
These are the Watchkeeper series of Tactical UAVs. Larger than the man portable systems but still smaller than the larger MALE (medium Altitude Long Endurance) systems the TUAV call is typically designed for Artillery spotting and local recce.
There are actually two airframes that carry the Watchkeeper programme name:
These are actually renders of the older model. The wingbox has since been replaced with a better and more accurate one.
Watchkeeper 450 flanked by two H450
The Watchkeeper programme was intended to replace the much older and less capable Phoenix Drone system. Officially the Phoenix was said to perform well but its crews christened it the “Bugger off drone” or something more, colourful depending on the mood of the operators.
Pheonix and a sometimes a ball of flames
In 2006 some of the UKF guys and I went to a British Army Open day at the now demolished Chelsea Barracks. We spent the day geeking out on all the kit. One bit of which was a Phoenix. The crew of which were really helpful and a damn good laugh. They were happy to share stories of driving all over the place looking for missing drones or of irate land owners demanding, “they come and get their toy plane out of his field”. And explaining the unusual recovery methods and situations. eg, 20ft up a tree, in a pond, broken into a thousand pieces etc.
It was a bloody good day out. Even if Messiah did lose his camera in the pub after.
Launched from the back of a specially adpated truck, the Pheonix had the advantage of operating from unprepared areas close to the battlefront but this was a necessity rather than by design. It simply did not have the range and endurance of modern RPAS. Nor could it land and be turned around quickly.
The typical Pheonix operating group was 12-16 men. A launcher, generator trailer, Antenna/Datalink trailer, Command/Operator Shelter Vehicle and at least one or more 110 GS Landrovers or a similar recovery vehicle.
'Landing' was by parachute, which flipped the vehicle upside down to protect the sensor pod. Utilising a frangible hump on the back to protect the airframe on impact. And typically trashing the tail on contact with the ground. In the lucky event of the chute opening properly.
Once "landed" the recovery team would have to find the drone, man handle it onto the cradle and partially dis assemble it before returning to the launcher and in very rare circumstances "refurbing" it in the field for its next flight. I've been assured this did not happen very often if at all.
You can really see why the Royal Artillery wanted a reliable and modern replacement so badly.
The Watchkeeper and the Hermes can operate from semi-prepared strips, roads and flat areas quite easily and unlike the Pheonix can operate for extended periods of time with a range of 300km and endurance of 20+ hours.
The amount of deployed equiment is also reduced. Operating typically from airfields or prepared Forward Operating bases both the H450 and WK450 benefit from a simplified supply chain. Each system can be operated from the same command and control shelter. More than one airframe can also operated from the same hub. Maintenance including Spares and repairs are largely modular making in theatre maintenance much easier.
The shelters etc will make an appearence in game with the drones themselves. including the other supporting equiment such as the MAGIC ATOL landing system and datalink antennas.
The shelters are all modelled and are in the paint shop. I have modelled in the interiors but I need to work out how to make them more of a practical option rather than just set dressing. I may stop short of making the full transit containers for them but the idea is that you will have assets that can be destroyed by opfor that will affect your ability to operate UAVs in your missions.
H450 came into limited service in 2007
Watchkeeper, in the guise of the H450 came into limited service in 2007 ending the service life of the Phoenix. During operation in Afghanistan eight British Hermes 450s were lost for various reasons. And as with any new system, the programme has had more than a few bumps along the way. Cost increases, technical problems, Politics, Pilot shortages, poor weather you name it. It caused problems. The cost has grown significantly over time too. A prototype WK450 was also lost at a key point in the project schedule during a very hard landing at Parc Aberporth causing a lot of embarressment and red faces as well as a further delay to an already over running programme.
Originally the French government was keen to buy the Watchkeeper, indicating that they would share some of the development costs at the start of the project. This evaporated much like their interest in the HMS Queen Elizabeth variant, PA2 with the UK MoD fronting 100% of the development. Unlike the PA2, they approached the UK MoD again in 2014 with an RFI (Request For Information) only to later select the solely French made SAGEM Patroller. Arguably a more expensive and less capable system.
In August of the same year the WK450 became operational and was deployed in Afghanistan for the first time to operate alongside the existing H450 platforms, providing force protection and target cueing for the RAF MQ-9 Reapers as well as mortar and ground based Force Protection units.
The Watchkeeper 450 is likely to continue in service for the next 20 years at least.
Lesson over for today. Tune in next week for something completely different.
Every time I do one of these “Guess whos” I end up dropping a clue that gives it away. I’m going to have toughen up. I definitely made this one too easy dropping that last hint. Siddy, didn’t know about this aircraft and so asked for a “RKSL history lesson” so here we go… if you aren’t interested there are pretty pictures too.
May I present the A-12 Avenger II. This is one of the most controversial and interesting aerospace projects of the last 30 years. It’s one of the few 80’s era Stealth programmes that came out of the Black world and into the White, public view. It’s been the subject of several books and in the Defence Procurement Industry it’s held up as a perfect example of mismanagement. It’s also responsible for ending the careers or more than a few managers, business men, lobbyists and the odd US Senator.
A-6E Intruder Replacement
Intended to be the replacement for the A-6E Intruder if it had continued into production it would have given the USN a stealthy strike platform to massively exceed the USAF’s F-117A combat capability. The A-12 was a subsonic aircraft capable of carrying internal weapons but unlike the F-117A, the Avenger II was fitted with radar and was capable of air-to-air combat.
“Aircraft that never flew”
The A-12 has been one of my favourite “Aircraft that never flew” projects for a very long time. Personally, I have always had a soft spot for unique and exotic aircraft. When I worked at Bae Eurofighter my boss gave me a book for my birthday many years ago; “The 5 Billion Dollar Misunderstanding: The Collapse of the Navy's A-12 Stealth Bomber Program” by James Perry Stevenson. The A-12 Programme much like the Nimrod MR4 project and the Nimrod AEW3 before it was marred by spectacular cost over runs, design changes and incredibly bad mismanagement. So much so that the cancellation of the programme resulted in a reform of the US Procurement system and the end of several high-power people from the halls of the Pentagon.
Stealthy Strike Platform
Carrying a wide variety of ordinance, the A-12 was primarily a subsonic carrier based strike aircraft just like the A-6 it was designed to replace. It was subsonic and had two missile bays intended for Short or Medium Range Air-to-Air missiles and two larger “bomb” bays that could house up to 6000lbs of ordinance on four stations. Two of which were intended for, but not limited to, AMRAAMs. There was also facility to attach two external pylons; mainly designed to carry fuel tanks but also capable of carrying 2500lbs of weapons on each station. Giving a max payload of just over 11,000lbs.
A-6E Intruder Replacement
All up, this wasn’t quite the same punch as the A-6E (18,000lbs) but the A-12 was much Stealthier and therefore able to penetrate further into enemy airspace undetected. Making the Avenger a perfect “First day of War” aircraft capable of exploiting its Anti-Radiation capability to remove the threat of enemy SAMs from the battlefield. The exact same mission the F-117A was designed for.
Just as a bit of trivia: The A-12’s cancellation in 1991 led to Lockheed proposing a Navalised F-117 to the USN in 1993 - The design itself being quite a radical difference to the existing F-117A.
UAV and UCAVs
What makes the Avenger particularly interesting to me is not only the unusual shape of the airframe, but the technology that came from it. If you look carefully you can see the A-12 design influences in later aircraft. There is the also the uncanny similarity to the large number of UAV and UCAVs we are now starting to see come into the light. The design and development work done on the A-12 wasn’t really wasted. It spun off into many other projects and most notably the later models of the F-18 series benefited from the Cockpit design improvements born from the Avenger II project. There were also composites manufacturing techniques developed together with new and different Radar Absorbent Materials (RAM) that changed the US Aircraft industry permanently.
Another point of trivia. The XF-32 JSF contender actually used the same type of structural composites developed for the A-12. Patents for which Boeing acquired when McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing in 1997.
The A-12 sadly only ever made it to full scale mockup stage. In the age before full scale 3D CAD modelling there were several versions of the cockpits made to help with ergonomics and development and PR. The cost of building a special hanger and creation of these mockups was also a major feature of the subsequent investigation into the excessive spending. Something McDonnell Douglas were very heavily criticised for.
Back to the Games.
I made the first A-12 model in the OFP era. And again, in ArmA1 and 2. Resulting in a ‘meh’ model and a complicated mess of scripted weapons bays and poor textures. The older game engines aren’t as friendly as A3 is today. (and A3 isnt *that* friendly).
Despite what appears to be a fairly simplistic shape, like many other stealthy planforms it’s a pain in the arse to model properly. Since the A-12 never made it into the air there really isn’t a huge variety of reference pictures out there. Without decent references, its actually quite a difficult shape to make and it look good. Fortunately, I stumbled upon some of the production drawings on http://www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com
Iif you are into Space and aviation History its worth spending some time browsing the site. It’s really interesting. Scott – the author – has some brilliant sources and sells some really good high res and vellum prints of aerospace design blueprints. (I’m not on commission Just a huge fan.)
The current model is probably the 5th or 6th version of the model but represents about 12 attempts to get it in game and working.
There still a lot of details to do. Textures to polish, Instruments to finish, HUD and MFD work. Oh and lots and lots of Baking.
Crashing on Tonoa
So I’ve been somewhat successful. The beta is ingame. There is still quite a bit of texture work to do and I’ve got a tonne of work to do with the Air Weapons pack too. So, we are making good progress. And despite crashing on Tonoa so often that I’ve removed about 20% of the tree coverage the flight model and weapons delivery development is proceeding well.
Oh yeah. Have I mentioned that I really hate the PhysX implementation on planes.
17 Sept 17.
Its August Bank Holiday monday in the UK and for once its not raining!
But as per tradition I am working on addons... while drinking...BBQ Chicken and or steak may be involved later.
I don't know how many people will know or even care but the Hawk T1A / Mk60 series aircraft doesn't actually have a HUD like other aircraft. Its only got a gunsight. My research suggests that its a Ferranti Type 'F'-95.
So its really just an aiming point. Its going to be a bit f a challenge to setup I think. Atleast when it comes to the non-RAF loadouts on the Mk60 series.
"Pretty in Pink"
My god daughter was over today and here first response when seeing the pics it was its looks pretty in pink. She is eight and at that stage where everything is pink. Her bedroom looks like a pink paint bomb testing ground.
The joy of unwrapping and materials.
The pink is the base material colour, it makes it easier to find the unwrapped and untextured parts.
Part way through the job
After adding some of the labels.
Cockpit "tub" bump mapping rivets. I'm not that keen that i need to count rivets and model them all individually.
These were all taken a few days ago. today's efforts were more focused on drinking the beer but i've been unwrapping switches and drawing labels so perhaps not as visially interesting.
28 August 2017
Yet another quick update. Ok so it’s not so quick and it’s not exactly what I was planning on talking about. This was going to be about helicopters. According to the plan, it should be about the helicopters but when I sat down to write it there simply wasn’t much interesting to write about. Simply put, things are proceeding slowly. They just arent visually interesting. Unless you want to know about hitpoints, rvmats and config settings.
Woe is me.
I’ve had some problems with my main PC recently, three hard drives dying one after another. Had to swap out the motherboard too, headset died, driver issues all sorts plaguing me. I’ve still got one bug that I just can’t shift. Random lock up – everything freezes and there is no coming back. You have to reset and it leaves nothing in the event logs. So, you can imagine, confidence that the system won’t just die on me when I’m baking or just modelling something isn’t too high. Progress has been slowed.
But things are moving. The helos will follow soon enough.
Hawks are flying
So recently, I’ve been playing around with the Hawk T1A. Mainly because I had reached a point with the Typhoon that i didnt want to mess with the model and setup. It became obscenely complicated because of the pre-Jets DLC menu system I'd been developing I didn't want to deal with untangling all the bits while I tried to work out the new features. So the Hawk T1A has become my testbed for the new feature set.
In this we have Success! Woohoo. If you aren’t a modder yourself you probably aren’t aware of some of the issues aircraft modders have been facing. The physX on the planes is a pain in the arse. The majority of people I’ve spoken too are having problems with it. Using Firewill’s tutorial doesn’t seem to help either. Mad things happen to the Hawk and others when I try to use it. I must be missing something but no one I know has got it working properly yet.
I’ve had some ‘fun’ with the ejection seat setup too. Attempting to follow BIS’s setup didn’t work.
First it was, "there is no seat". Then we had, "We have a seat but no pilot". Then we had "Spinal comression, my head is under my arse" (No jokes please) and finally we had sucess, albeit pressed a bit too far into the seat. Eddie aka WLD427 managed to sort it out for me in the end. As well as some problems with the ADEN 30 mm cannon pod on the Hawks. It proved a very frustrating setup but satisfying in the end. Without his help, I’d have gone back to making Rubber Ducks. It was just that frustrating.
Down the Rabbit hole
But it has led me down a huge rabbit hole or Air Weapons. I can’t tell you how much of a surprise this has been. Messing around with the Jets DLC has shown me that I needed to re-think some of my addons. Especially the weapons use. Then setting up the Hawk to use the new pylon system just pulled the rug out from under me. I’ve had to re-work and re-config all my weapons and make pylons, racks and rails for them. Given I had over 150 items in the pack to start with I now have 189. Some of which – like the rocket pods – I’m just going to have to remake. Sounds like fun doesn’t it.
Given the Air Weapons pack is common to 80% of the addons sat in testing folder and since I haven’t yet find a way around actually doing the work properly. (Although, If I’m honest I’ve tried) ; I need to sort the pack out first. before trying to add the pylons setup to everything else.
Procrastination is a true artform when done properly.
And with that insightful note. I leave you be.
Think of me sloggin through thousands of lines of config setting up all the weapons. Lots and lots of weapons...
Have fun because one of us needs to.
15 Aug 2017
Its many, many, weeks since I started this project and now it’s finally starting to move over to Object Builder. But honestly, it’s still not even close to getting in game. I can’t tell you how much of a struggle it’s been to get this far.
But the biggest problem is with time and motivation. People complain about being teased and “oh why don’t you complete X”. And all I can assume is that they’ve never tried to make anything more than a box. If they even tried at all. Try committing 20-30+ hours a week ontop of a job, household chores and some level of (none internet enabled) social life.
When you sit down and start to work on something like this it doesn’t actually hit you just how big a job it is until you get into it. Once the basic structure is done you start to look at what you are missing. Its then that the detail that you need to add that actually jumps out at you. Especially when you look at the real thing then look at your own model. Its odd things like pipes, light fittings, cabinets. All the things you ignore in daily life just because they are always there. Remove them and you suddenly notice and it makes a space feel empty and dead without them. Then suddenly you keep finding some little detail that you need to make then another and another. It does get repetative and kind of depressing. At some point you have to find something else to do to bring yourself out of the cycle of grinding out UV maps and textures. Moving the big stuff into Object builder is that for me.
Textures arent final!
The textures shown are just place holders. Don't judge yet. I've not really attempted to paint everything at this stage since the UV layout and texel count are changing all the time. My 'normal' work flow on this job has been thrown out of the window many weeks ago. After I made the basic hull I began focusing on features as shown in earlier updates, the CWIS and the Deck crane etc. But then i realised I was going to have to re-visit them to make sure they all fitted in to the hull's scaling and colours etc. So I've decided to go big first and then return to features. This will mean I get the Hull and interior done and unwrapped. Then I will detail it. Then return to make hi-poly/res models to properly texture, bake and create decent materials for the final product. It has been a completely messed up process so far but I am learning new things. And re-learning more than a few things I had forgotten over time.
Go Big or Go Home!
As of last night, there is 133,696 faces on the model in OB. This does not include the interior and more than half the detailing. The final figure is probably going to pass 280,000. Which is a lot but if you assume a lot of the recent planes when loaded up are 28,000-32,000 faces each is really only 10 planes. The killer, which shouldnt be a surprise to any addon maker, is the anchor chains. They are too big to use a texture trick, and too much of a feature to ignore them. But they do take nearly 17,000 faces. When you add over a kilometer of railings, post as well these things do add up really quickly.
Now might be a good time to invest in that new GPU you've been thinking about...
It’s at this point you realise that an obsession with detail may not be the best path to take. Before anyone panics too much I will LoD the hell out of this too to ensure the best performance I can.
I really do miss the Ducks. So simple by comparison. The Albion class will be:
Curse of the Real World
In nearly every project I've ever worked on, in this community or in the real world the requirements change. One thing that is guarenteed to happen is that at the moment you think you have a good accurate model. And I do mean the exact moment you sit back and say to yourself, "I'm proud of that". Some b@#$%£* points out that its isnt actually correct anymore. In this case, a really nice person (yes that is sarcasm), told me that the Royal Navy in Albion's recent refit had replaced the Goalkeeper CWIS with the Phalanx. I really liked my Goalkeeper model. They also swapped out the main radar and a whole raft of other changes.
You can imagine, I'm thrilled. Not only does it replace the CWIS but parts of the super structure have to be remade!
Okay so its not that bad. More additions than huge alterations but it was a pain in the arse. I will probably release the Bulwark with the Goal keeper and and the Albion with the Phalanx. But the in-game reality isnt that different.
Command & Control, Logistics
I’ve not really attempted to do much regarding the config yet, but I do intend on making the ship as practical as the game engine will allow. This includes leveraging the radar capabilities and attempting to make the LPD a floating command post for all the Milsimers out there. The model does feature a C&C compartment. Which If I can get my head around the radar and some scripting should morph into something usefull ingame.
I am also planning to create a series of resupply objects, material and weapons/ammo crate that can be loaded onto the HAM Trucks, LCU and LCVPs, even moved onto the deck and sling loaded, that will allow you to move your stores ashore to establish a base and re-supply from the ship as an when needed.
Progress of a sort.
Right at the start I said this was going to be a long job. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be either. The technical side isn’t too hard. But the LPD is pushing the limit of what the game engine can handle. It turns out its pushing my patience too.
I’ve had to re-build and re-map the Hull three times. I don’t actually have decent hull reference so everything is guesstimated. Which the Engineer in me hates. I have photos and a really low res drawing but no proper drawings so not everything wanted to fit together. Eg the LCVs on the davits. The deck was too narrow on the first build. Meaning you couldn’t get to the LCVP to deploy them let alone get in.
So, after a few weeks of frustration and no social life at all; I’m just focused on getting the external structure complete and then I’ll return to the interior spaces. But there is still a long way to go and a lot of detail to make.
Wish me good luck. I am going to need it.
ArmA3’s underwater features have always seemed a bit of an oddity to me. At release Bohemia made a big noise about being able to swim, dive and SDVs etc. But nothing was really made of it and the community has never embraced it very much either. Sure, there has been some subs but no one seemed to use them. Due to the game engine limits, they really aren’t practical either.
Size does matter
So, I thought I’d have a proper look at the capabilities and limitations. Leaving the actual model aside for a moment, it was the limitations that I wanted to get a grasp of. For those that don’t know ArmA has a geometry limit
BUT! In some cases, it seems you can get even longer providing it’s not as wide. For unknown reasons volume comes into play. I don’t know how or why but it does.
No solid rules in ArmA modding guys
Moving on, the best OPFOR Sub that fits that statement (and the IAP requirements) seems to be the “Kilo” class sub. It’s 74m long, 9.9m at the beam (widest point on the hull) and thanks to the quirkiness of ArmA3’s game engine is modelled as a single piece and is completely solid in game.
For my IAP project I wanted a to have a hidden threat to shipping, a way to lob missiles onto ground targets without being seen and generally cause havoc. So, torpedoes and sub launched cruise missiles are going to be on the cards at some point.
This in game version of the Kilo, is armed with the Russian Type 53-65 Torpedo and the 3M54 Klub Land attack missile.
A limited mixed load should help with balance. The real sub can carry 18x 533mm weapons or missiles. If you assume a load out of 12 Torpedoes and 6 Land Attack Missiles that should be realistic for a full war time load…? Overkill? Not sure yet.
But does it sink?
Just like the Vanguard class subs the Kilo is still too large to sink using the stock controls. Simply put the game engine just doesnt liek any subs larger than the SDV. So as with the larger subs I'm going to give it some scripted assistance. Which to be honest I think will be much more fun to use.
'Rig for Submerged running!'
'Blow All ballast'
'Dive planes to 10 degrees'
'Make revolutions for 5 knots'
C'mon you just read that in Sean Connery's voice didn't you! Hunt for red October: ArmA Edition anyway?
A few people that know me well enough know that I hate writing configs and I can’t write scripts well enough to do that much beyond the basics. So I’ve teamed up with someone else to do a trade models for coding skills.
I’m going to let him out himself, but the end intent for him is to provide a naval weapons/anti-submarine package that addon makers can eventually incorporate into their own addons. So, the Kilo sub will not only be released un the RKSL/IAP tag but it will also see Steam release via my new partner.
Should be good. I’m excited anyway.
Ok so it seems some people are still peed off at me for the Landing Platform Duck April fools Joke.
I say that because I'm hearing stories that several groups mistook it for a real LPD and wanted to add it to their mod pack. And when they found out it was a 40m long Rubber Duck they got quite upset.
Very upset apparently. So then came the nasty stories..."There is no LPD. Hes not making one..." you get the picture. So here I am beavering away in my dimly lit office working on creating phantoms of my imagination. Which is pretty much the only true part of the story. The 'phantom' part anyway
You see I'm having to make up a lot of the internal structure of the Albion Class ships due to lack of internal reference. Now this isn't really a big deal and I'm not in the habit of compromising the UK's security so having a realistic internal layout wasnt ever going to be on the cards. But it is becoming a bit of a challenge to make it feel realistic. I have plenty of pictures of the Well Deck so thats not a problem. The issue is getting you from the welldeck to the Heli deck and other key areas of the ship. Flyco, the Bridge and CIC etc for Weapons Control and access to other features.
A bit of history.
The Albion-class landing platform dock (known also as an "amphibious assault ship") was the newest type of amphibious warfare ship in service with the Royal Navy. The class consists of only two vessels, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, ordered in 1996 to replace the ageing Fearless class. Both ships were built by BAE Systems Marine at the former Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering yard in Barrow-in-Furness. Albion was commissioned in 2003 and Bulwark in 2004. Each of the ships has a crew of 325 and can accommodate up to 405 troops. Thirty-one large trucks and thirty-six smaller vehicles and main battle tanks can be carried inside the vehicle deck. To disembark troops and vehicles, the vessels are equipped with eight landing craft.
The Albion class LPDs have a length of 176 metres (577 ft), a breadth of 28.9 metres (95 ft), and a draught of 7.1 metres (23 ft). They have a normal displacement of 14,000 tonnes (14,000 long tons; 15,000 short tons), 19,560 tonnes (19,250 long tons; 21,560 short tons) at full load and 21,000 tonnes (21,000 long tons; 23,000 short tons) when the dock is flooded. The ships have a crew of 325 and can accommodate up to 405 troops, including their vehicles and combat supplies, in overload conditions.
The aft flight deck has two landing spots for aircraft the size of a Chinook, although it has no hangar or aircraft storage facility. Below the flight deck is the dock and vehicle deck. The latter has the capacity to hold thirty-one large trucks and thirty-six smaller vehicles or six Challenger 2 tanks and thirty armoured personnel carriers. The dock can hold four Landing Craft Utility MK10, each large enough to carry vehicles up to main battle tank size, which are then launched by flooding of the dock area. Four smaller LCVP MK5 that can carry thirty-five men or two light trucks are carried on davits, two each side of the ship's superstructure. Each ship also carries a fifty-two ton tracked beach recovery vehicle for assisting with landing craft recovery, as well as two tractors: one that can lay a track-way across a landing beach, and the second fitted with an excavating bucket and forks.
For defence against missile attack, the Albion class LPDs have two 30 mm Goalkeeper CIWSs mounted fore and aft on the superstructure and two 20 mm guns. Defensive countermeasures include the Outfit DLJ decoys, eight Seagnat radar reflection / infra-red emitting decoy launchers and a BAE Systems DLH off-board decoy.
Planned Features of this Addon
*Dependant on a functional crane script solution. I have an old one but ive not really tested in a while. One of the many hurdles to overcome at a later date.
So with the advent of the Jets DLC sensor upgrade I'm also thinking about Radar...Air Defence and game play. I'm really at an early stage in the config. Only just a basic prototype really but i have some grand plans for the enhancements the Helo and Jets DLC bring to the table. More on that another time.
Status and Progress
The original LPD model was really only ever 60% there. I made it in the ArmA1 era so thats circa 2007/2008 and because of the limitation of that game engine (Poor geometry interaction) I didnt really feel it was really worth the investment in time back then. it made cameo appearences in a couple of the RKSL Youtube vids of he time. The best view was in the "Puma HC1 with DRS" video. If you take a look you'll see it wasnt really anywhere near complete back then and It hadn't really progressed much until recently.
In the middle of March 2017 I went looking for the old model as a result of a conversation with some ArmA mates. Now, the game engine has changed. Polygon budgets for single objects have changed, we now have PhysX and the interaction of vehicle and object types becomes less of a problem... most of the time. It seemed like a good time to revisit the model. Not to mention with April 1st looming I got to finally - after 2 years of sitting on it - use the Landing Platform Duck model which is another story for another day.
As is my usual habit, I picked up the old model and decided it was crap. So I started remaking it. (Hey, it has been nine or ten years since i first made it!) Its still in pretty bad state but it is slowly coming together. I had hoped to show you more actual pics but its not really at the stage I want to share. Just yet anyway. Its is pretty ugly right now and doesnt look thats good. But I have been making significant headway. Screenshots and renders really dotn do it justice. You can see that from the the image of the very sparse WIP Welldeck below. There will be many more updates as time goes one.
Looking Aft in the welldeck with the ramp up to the flight deck in the foreground.
Early Version of the LPD interior. You can see just how big the Welldeck and storage areas really are..
Landing Craft - LCVP Mk5
I've also made the LCVP this weekend which is a significant feature of the Albion class ships.
The LCVP is a landing craft used by Royal Marines. The craft's primary role is putting ashore men and equipment. The Royal Marines also use the LCVP as a patrol boat and is armed with 2x 7.62mm GPMGs. It can carry up to 35 fully-laden Royal Marines and their equipment. Vehicles such as Land Rovers and Vikings can be carried and embarked by the Mk5 LCVP. The landing craft are usually stored on davits on on the sides of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark.
LCVPs feature aluminium hulls and are powered by twin waterjets. Their design includes a rigid and enclosed windowed canopy. LCVPs have a ramp at the bow that lowers for rapid unloading. GPMGs can be mounted when needed.
During Operation Telic, the UK's invasion of Iraq in 2003, Royal Marines patrolled the waterways and marshes of the South in LCVPs (amongst other vessels). A tragic friendly-fire incident occurred when a LCVP operating along the Khawr Az Zubayr River, North of Umm Qasr, was mistaken for an Iraqi patrol boat and engaged by a 42 Commando Milan post, killing one Marine.
LCVP Mk5 Specifications
Engine: twin waterjet diesel
Speed: 24 Kts - fully laden
Range: 210 nautical miles
Length : 15.7m
Width : 4.3m
Payload 3 crew + 35 fully-equipped Royal Marines + vehicle and trailer or 6+ tonnes of stores
So thats it. More will follow closer to release or when I feel its relevant.
Other things are progressing. Several addons are edging closer to escape...sit tight and keep an eye out.
And I'll leave you with a little bit of advice:
"If you can't say anything nice (or constructive), don't say anything at all."
I've chosen to be a bit quieter about what i'm doing because I seem to be getting shit no matter what i do.
Both of these just remove any motivation to do anything public again. And lets face it its not like you bought anything from me. You've never contributed to me and mine for the time we invested. So my own opinion/theory about whiners/whingers and abusive critics...you must have absolutely no life and probably very small genitalia to get so angry about a computer game mod. Just saying...
The reality here can be represented quite simple formula:
(Hours in the week) - (Work + Commute/Travel time + Social Life + Sleeping + Household chores) = Free Time.
So we then need to factor in the the esoteric variable of Motivation.
(Abuse / 2) * ((interest in ArmA3) / Fatigue)) = Motivation
You can also express this another way:
Abuse / (F@#%s given) = Motivation
Combining the two derived values we come down to the simplified expression:
Free time * Motivation = "Free Time to Mod"
So the bottom line is When Free Time to Mod is a lower value, very little gets done. No amount of abuse and little dicked people screaming and making up BS stories and fantasies about what i am doing right now only impacts motivation of public releases.
So in one last attempt at being open... Here is an honest statement of what i'm thinking right now.
And finally because I believe that if you cant change someone's perception of you by explanation you should just treat them exactly how they expect you too.
Here is the prebake model for the HAM aka MAN Trucks I've been working on since i got back from the UAE this earlier week.
So is RKSL dead?
Is Rock motivated?
To make things I want to make and how & when I want to make them? Then Yes.
Does Rock care about the petty abuse/insults/demands/lies/BS being spread by certain people in the ArmA3 community?
F@#k no, but I am tired of hearing about it.
Are we all Happy now?
Step change this month. Well not really but its the first time for a while we've mentioned IAP, islands and revisiting old ghosts.
IAP for those that dont know is short hand for Ilhas Africanos Project. Its a bastardisation of Portuguese for which I do apologise but if someone wants to put me right on the correct translation for African Islands i'd be forever grateful. Anyway IAP was/is/will be about creating a battlefield and OPFOR for community made National mods to fight against. Its ambitious, hugely complicated and fraught with politics and other "fun" things but it could just be great...Maybe...if the concept works.
For us IAP was an antidote to large mod packs dominating the modding and MP scene driving out the small mod makers. Lets be honest, you are more likely to download a huge mod pack to actually go online play with your friends than you are a collection of 50+ addons, that you have to collect together and may not exactly work properly together are you?
IAP was/is intended to allow all levels of modders to get involved in a community project. The IAP team/contributers would provide a core island, some basic addons and a story line. The subsequent releases would then be episodes in the story line. A new set of addons, a chapter in the campaign and etc.
So the first stage of that is to provide an island to develop on. And this means buildings, addons, missions and the detailed story arcs. In the ArmA2 era RKSL released an ALPHA of the Ilha Marrom Island. The intention was to gather feedback abou the island's size. To stimulate some interest and see if we could get some collaboration going. It was a slow start, but a few people did join the effort and we made some progress. But the ArmA2 terrain tools weren't exactly collaboration friendly. A number of community made tools did ease the burden but It was still hard for several people to work on the same files without negative effect. I dont know how BIS did it, but four people working on populating a huge island space was rather challenging to say the least.
So time has flown. The game engine has changed and so have the available tools.
I've been the owner of L3DT Pro for quite some time but its only been recently that i've really tried to use it in anger. Largely thanks to Spookygnu and Smokedog. Being sat on Teamspeak listening to them inspired me to bring Ilha Marrom out into the ArmA3-verse again. And L3DT was really the only tool seasoned terrain makers seemed to recommend. Atleast in the budget of a mere mortal.
The original island was a lot flater than this version. I decided to change that because of some lessons I learnt playing with other groups on other large terrains. Blocking the longer view distances can sometimes help with performance and it can make it far more interesting for aircrew and CAS. Ilha Marrom, even before the IAP concept was properly formed was always meant to be a truely Combined Arms map. Large enough to support not only Fast jets and helos but to make artillery and logistics practical and actually necessary. But, its more about gameplay. The steeper terrain channels people into choke points and it provided some interesting scenerios.
The heightmap is all hand drawn. Originally, in Daylon Leveler but the latest version was revamped and re-sculpted in L3DT Pro. The 3D scuplting and attribute painting tools make it a real pleasure to use compared to my old work flow. I absolutely hated making Sat-masks where every pixel drawn relates to a specific ground texture and material. Even then the output still, sometimes, requires a few tweaks in photoshop to get an output suitable for ArmA3's terrain builder to process. But its far easier than any other tool i've tried before.
Within a week i've got a basic-WORK-IN-PROGRESS satellite map and mask.
Neither is close ot the final but its enough to get an alpha ingame for some early tests:
I've already got a lot of the zones mapped. Alot of these are key to the story line and will require quite a lot of custom buildings but i've been busy building for quite some time. And we do have some promises of "donations" and "trades" once we get to the proper stage. I'm really hoping XCAM will be publically available before then.
There will be of course numerous little hamlets and places to explore as well as some offshore easter eggs to find and explore. I'm hoping that once we get something fairly basic out into the public domain and maybe more tools become available we'll be able to get a larger group of people to help populate the island. I've already got a few people interested in helping.
The idea is to create an interesting, fairly realistic and varied island to base the story on. Then expand and develop.
After a few weeks of muddy things we're back to working with aircraft again. One of Rock's childhood favourites. Harrier GR9.
He'll freely admit, all the recent ArmA2 Harrier ports inspired him to drag this model out of the archive and push to get it finished to an A3 "standard" (Im still not 100% sure what that really is )
Returning to the principle of: "A picture speaks a thousand words" from earlier weeks. How about a video with a few thousand words...Well Rock waffling for twelve minutes?
Rock first made a Harrier GR7 model in 2006 in OFP as a platform for a new VTOL system. Originally for the OFP based 1982 Falkland Mod. It evolved into - for the time - a very complex scripted setup but as we continued development we also found out some MP issues. Nothing too serious, but it definitely wasn't ready for public release and after several frustrated attempts to sort it out we both put it aside and focused on the Cargo System and other addons for the moment. Sadly we never got back to it until ArmA2 with its native support for VTOL. Even then I didnt have enough interest to re-visit it properly.
DON'T GET TOO EXCITED! I uploaded this video to illustrate a couple of features i'd like to bring to the new A3 Harrier. We aren't going to directly port this particular system but you may well see the features shown here appear in the ArmA3 incarnations.
The Harrier model, much like the real thing went through a number of incarnations before settling down and becoming a bit more stable. The model in the video below is V7.31.
But it was remade, re-unwrapped and re-configured that even though it may look similar, over time it really did become a new model. By the time you get it the completed addon will probably be marked 3.xx1 so its probably best not to read too much into any version numbers. They mean something for me but it may not always be logical to you.
More details will follow. Have fun.
PS This is late I know but its been a long month and we've all been enjoying the summer.
So on the principle of: "An picture speaks a thousand words" I'm going to shut up and let you look at the pics...
Its July and its holiday season... so we're going to have a break for a while and get back to you all when it cools down a bit.
DK posted a few teasers over this last month. So its Chally2 time as promised. And a preciously unseen bonus. Well unseen if you arent part of several UK themed Game Units. The AS-90 makes its first 'proper' public outing.
Right, basically DK has taken over the entire Challenger MBT project. Taking the unfinished, undetailed base model that Rock made way back when and started fixing it up. Changing so much that it may as well be a new model. And hes been cracking on with the AS90 too. More of that later...
There are three or four other people out there making Challenger 2s. We started making ours aaaaages ago, so why stop now?
Anyway, as some will be aware DK is a real life Tankie and something of a detail-monkey wanted to pick up the challenge(r) and try to make one specifically for the RKSL and UKAF collection.
The model in the renders is obviously the Hi-Poly version. Coming in at nearly 100,000 faces its a bit of a beast even before he's gotten around to detailing the turret. As you can imagine with over 30,000 faces in the tracks alone its never going to get in game like that but it will be used to bake the detail onto the Low-poly models.
DK has gone to town getting in as much detail as he can before poor Rock has to unwrap and texture it all.
The aim of course is to get it down to about 16-22,000 faces but we will be using proxies for extras and misc detail.
DK was working on this for a while before joining the RKSL Team but he needed a little help "to get it that last mile" as they say. Kiory had been helping with all the rigging and the track model and textures.
So when DK rocked up with a UV mapped and mostly textured model he got Rock to tweak the recoil anims...
The plan is to try and make an AI friendly version and then a more advanced Fire Control System later on. Together with a few other features..
Rock being picky then decided to "fix" a few other things and re-bake the textures. So you could say that its one step back and hopefully a giant stumble forward in textures.
He managed to remap the turret uv tile with a higher texel count (pixels per area) so that should give us a much better normal map. It looks a bit naff right now but these are just bump mapped materials that will look quite a bit different after the baked normals are put in place.
It is obviously all very WIP but right now Rock says he is enjoying the texturing so hopefully it will all come together into something special... eventually.
Last month I showed you all the new cockpit and the old A2 external textures this month I'm showing you the upgraded externals and some of the baked details.
We're are taking the view that the Gripen will probably be used by several other mods, given the number of requests we've had for it. So we're going to make it as paint kit friendly as we can. This isnt exactly as simple as it sound given that Rock is baking most of the textures and detail onto the low poly.
Step One is to get all the panel lines drawn in high resolution.
Step Two was to make high resolution textures for special areas. Things likes the afterburners, interior panels etc that wouldnt have a high texel count. (number of pixels per area) so that we could get as much detail in as possible. That meant we ended up with 11x 2048x2048 textures and about 20 hours of painstaking work. It should have taken half that but Rock was drinking the first night and it got a bit messy in places she he had to re-do some of it the next day.
Step Three is going to be baking those HR textures down onto 3 lower resolution panels for use ingame.
Each of the High Res panels covers a part of the aircraft:
Rock has tried to get as much detail in as possible so when it bakes down onto a lower resolution texture you will be left with the faint impression of proper panels and rivets rather than clumsy thick lines in a low res normal map. Something that we all believe ruins the immersion of the game.
By the way, the green panels either side of the rear fuselage are the internal airbrake detail. We've had to move them outside of the model so they bake onto the low poly model easier.
The Low poly/in-game version uses:
Which with materials and the quirks of alpha layering equated to 11 sections this will hopefully improve ingame performance too.
The intention is to bake all the panel lines on a white background to that they can be left on a layer in photoshop with a "multiply" blending option. This allows people to create their own camoflage on layers below that and still retain detail. And we'd then have the weathering and details on other layers for you to use. Or just remove so you can make your own.
Rock has already begun painting and detailing the aircraft prior to baking it onto the low poly model.
He'res a partial paint job...
And the fully textured version. Please note we are going to leave things like the intake warnings etc. off the paintkit version so that people can make their own national versions with the warnings etc in their own language.
We're also taking advantage of Modo's rendering capabilities to produe the Ambient Occlusion and Specular maps. Which anyone that makes thier own will tell you is a pain in the arse to do by hand.
Finally, the addon really is ingame and we are testing the new flight model and various quirks of ArmA3's new features right now
So I've been spreading my time between getting things moved over to A3 and finishing off projects that were intended for A3. Right now this something of a delight. Just getting back into the swing of making models but also a break from the horrors of configs. Seasoned modders out there will know exactly what i mean when i say that. While A3 isnt a million miles away from A2 there is a lot of learn and work out. New Features to experiment with and new config bugs to squash.
I'm really not a coder or scripter. I just like making models... this is one of my favourites.
Created at the end of the cold war and sharing a lot of features of the Typhoon and Rafale, the Gripen is the much cheaper cousin. It may cost less but it is arguably almost as capable. Which makes it almost perfect for balancing the Resistance forces against NATO and Former Soviet-bloc or the newer Chinese aircraft.
When I first started this model it was as a distraction. I had just spend nearly 4 weeks solid developing the HUDs and MFDs of the Typhoon. I need a break from coding and testing. This was it.
Oringally I was going to use it fro the IAP Government Air Force but as we developed the IAP story line it just did not fit in. We toyed with the idea that South Africa would be leading the ASA (OPFOR) for a while and discounted that pretty quickly. Just too contentious really so its technically "homeless" for the moment.
You will have seen screen shots from earlier attempts to get the model in ArmA2. There are quite a few on this site, but i've never quite had the time or drive to get the cockpit finished until recently.
The Gripen is actually a really small plane and the cockpit is actually quite small. But like most 4th Generation Aircraft it is actually quite sparsely populated. I started with the main console and bit by bit built up the components.
I'm going to revisit a lot of the Class MFD setup that i developed for the Typhoon with the Gripen but i also have a few more interesting ideas i want to try.
Its not finished yet but its getting there slowly... It might even be finished for next month's update.
So BIS have released all the tools, Rock's got his life back and has an internet connection that actually works 24/7 and is actually faster than the Postman...So we're back. After a 6month hiatus for personal reasons things have finally settled down and we're slowly starting to pick up where we left off. To that end I am delighted to announce that we will soon(tm) be releasing the ArmA3 native Typhoon v3.000.
All the joys of ArmA3 features and the usual RKSL ones...
And a few more...
Q: Will WIP Wednesdays be returning?
A: Yes but only once at the end of each month. As much fun as they were they turned into a bit of a monster in terms of time to prepare and publish. They took quite a lot of time away from the actual act of making content which wasnt the point.
Q: Will you be bringing all the old RKSL content over?
A: Yes, eventually. One by one we will port the existing models over and include the new ArmA3 features. The first releases will be direct ports with the basic A3 features etc. Later releases will see improvements or in some cases new models.
Q: What about new content?
A: Yes there will be some new content but we are going to focus ont he stuff we have shown you already in the previous WIP Wednesdays.
Q: When are you going to release XXXXX addon(s)
A: If you've been hanging around in this community long enough you already know the answer to that. If you are new... (Old timers all together now)... "When its done!!"
Q: Whats happening with IAP? (Ilhas Africanos Project)
A: We'll create a new thread for that at the appropriate time.
Ok so this is a revisit of an old project. I've not had a lot of free time the last few weeks so this is something that should really have been posted in June.
I was recently talking to someone about materials technology, specifically aerospace composites. (We have some 'interesting' chats) We were originally discussing aeroelasticity in aircraft design, then we predictably got onto stealth technology. And of course, which is best etc. F-22 vs the world kinda BS (More on that later) but the Chengdu J20 came up and then we finally got back on to addons...
Now when the J-20 first appeared on the public scene and the first pictures came out i started on a model. I have a thing for exotic and unusual aircraft, so new tech demonstrators and projects always get my interest up. The original model I made turned out to be out of proportion in a lot of areas. In my defence there weren't many actual pictures at the time but more have become available the last year or so.
You can see the original model I made in these WIP updates:
Honestly I wasn't unhappy with the model at the time, but it did just look "wrong". So it got left behind. Every time I went to pick it up it didn't feel right so I dropped it in favour of doing something more constructive. Finishing the Typhoon usually. But in early June this year I came across some decent high-res pictures of the J-20 prototypes.
They sparked my interest again. So I remade it:
The original model just looked... well a tad anorexic. At the time one of the original comments was "Give that plane a sandwich!" As I said there weren't too many decent pics available at the time so I didn't have much in the way of reference material. But armed with the new pictures it got more interesting and I spent a couple of days re-working the original model.
But that didn't last long, I ended up remaking about 70% of it.
If you spend the time looking at the actual plane and then again at my model you can see the difference and why it needed an upgrade. I'm actually rather embarrassed about it. The proportions were terrible! About the only thing I got right was the length.
When I started making this i had no plans for it what so ever. I just thought it was cool and wanted to make a J-20. Now with IAP and other projects slowly maturing it seems like a it might just have a place in the story lines.
With ArmA3 looming in the near distance this will definitely only be an ArmA3 project. After the game goes gold we (RKSL) will probably make the jump over to the new platform. That all for this week.
Phew... after a very busy release period for RKSL, we've finally found a little time to catch up on our lives, go on holiday, and enjoy the sweltering weather. Personally, it's been a relief to have gotten the Foxhound out as a public beta, and the feedback received has been fantastic, as well as some extremely useful bug reports and general wishes in terms of functionality and config. I'm working on a small update which should be finished soon, that will address some of the main items people responded about, and from there it's off to ArmA 3!
On the subject of ArmA 3 (and somewhat 2, depending on my time as ever), I've been tinkering in O2 once more, trying to make amends for my previous attempt at creating a Jackal. Now the UKF one wasn't horrendously bad, but looking back it left a lot to be desired, and with BAF introducing the Jackal 2, it did look rather dated. However, I felt the BAF could be improved on/corrected, as well as a few iterations added.
So, what actually started as a quick 'what can I model in 24 hours, purely in O2', has come a little further. The model is fairly complete, although there are a few items missing here and there, and the face count needs to be reduced a touch.
Eventually, I'll also be adding a lot more clutter and equipment, as well as the various weapon systems employed on the Jackal. We'd like to see it in both ArmA 2 and 3, but time will tell. As ever, these have been modeled completely in O2, just rendered in another program for added 'dazzle'.
Hope you're all having a great summer.