The Archives

Speedmapping — Sewer Level

Monday · 25 Feb 08 · 02:39 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

After almost one year, SargeBaldy organised a Speedmapping event today.  This was the theme given —

"Your name is L. Shawn Tubbard, and your occupation is the exploration of sewers. But ahead of you lies a formidable task; the Great Sewer of Caerleon, one of the last holdouts of that huge demon plague a few years back. Although you meant to take along your shotgun and rocket launcher, you accidentally left them at home. According to an ancient scroll you purchased in a gift shop, the sewer is also home to a chocolate mine. The only way out is through..."

SargeBaldy Speedmapping, Karthik's map

The event got over about half an hour ago.  I took part in it and made a small level.  You can see a screenshot from that above, and as you can make out, the look is something I haven't done before.  The story mentions leaving behind weapons, so I didn't give any weapons on the map except for the berserk powerup!  I could finish the level in about one and a half minutes.

SargeBaldy would compile this level and other submissions into a package tomorrow.  I will add a page for this on my site once that happens.  For now, though, I better sleep because I need to get up for work tomorrow.

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Dark Fate 2 — Level & Commentary Video Released

Sunday · 24 Feb 08 · 06:32 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

Have a look at this —

Dark Fate 2, a level for Doom II by Karthik Abhiram

As promised, the level I mentioned in the last post has been completed, and is available for you to download right now.  It's called Dark Fate 2 and is a short, hellish level for Doom II MAP01.  You can click here or on the above image to view the relevant page and get the level.  I had fun making the level, hope you have fun playing it.  Comments are welcome!

Dark Fate 2 Commentary Video

But that's not all.  I also made what I call a "commentary video" for the level.  This is like Director's Commentaries which you find on DVDs — the video has me playing through Dark Fate 2 on my laptop and talking about it.  Click on the image or here to view the video [YouTube, 10 min].

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Doom Updates: A new map will be released this weekend

Wednesday · 20 Feb 08 · 03:26 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I installed Windows XP on my computer so that I could run Doom Builder.  I did manage to set up everything and even worked on some Doom stuff in the last couple of weeks.  And this time I have something to show for it — I will be releasing a new level, this weekend.

The past weeks, I've been taking stock of the incomplete levels I have with me.  There's Stygian_Nebula, on which I've finished most of the work.  Only one section of the map needs to be built (the section where you get one of the keys), but sadly that will take some more time to complete.  Sometime back I wrote about the E4M3 map that I had made for The Ninth Gate project.  This needs some tweaking but is otherwise largely completed.  There's also the discarded E4M1 from that project.  I am revamping this one and adding detail and new areas to it.  When complete, I will release both the new map as well as the original one together.  Then, there were two small levels that I had made in 2003 or 2004 and never completed (you could play the levels from start to finish, but the texturing wasn't done properly, and some rooms were just empty sectors without any detail).  What I did some days back is, I pasted the two levels together, and connected them up.  Essentially, a larger map has been created out of these two levels.  I got some work done on that over the last couple of weekends.

Then, there was a small level I made last year.  I was bored one weekend and just threw together a bunch of sectors in a short time.  Again, this was a level you could play from start to finish, but it was far from being in a releasable form.  That is what I corrected the last weekend.  And now, the map is done and I'm quite happy with it!  Here, have a look at some screenshots —

Screenshot of an upcoming Doom II map [spm1]

Screenshot of an upcoming Doom II map [spm1]

Screenshot of an upcoming Doom II map [spm1]

Screenshot of an upcoming Doom II map [spm1]

It follows a texture theme I haven't used in the past, so it was interesting for me while building.  It's a dark level, and uses a custom sky, which I edited from one of the sky graphics in Heretic.  Apart from that I used only the stock Doom II textures and nothing else.  It's a small level and very linear, but it's pretty well interconnected that you should be able to play a decent deathmatch game in it.  I tried that out a little using ZDaemon with bots, and that's what you can see in the fourth screenshot.

I need to come up with a name for this level and choose a music track to use.  Then one final round of playtesting is required (I will ask for Varun's help in running through it once more), and it'll be done.  The map will be released this weekend.  So stay tuned!

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Pachaikili Muthucharam Drawing

Sunday · 10 Feb 08 · 07:21 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Today, I installed my scanner on my Windows XP, and was looking to scan something to try it out.  Hence, I quickly did this drawing in pencil and scanned it —

Pachaikili Muthucharam — Drawing by Karthik Abhiram

You can click that for a larger image.  By the way, that's a drawing based on the movie Pachaikili Muthucharam, a 2007 film from Gautham Menon, director of Kaakha Kaakha and Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu.  I've wanted to see this movie for quite a while now, so I'm glad I got it today.  The movie stars R Sarath Kumar, Jyotika, Andrea and Milind Soman.  The interesting thing is, the end credits of the movie state that the story is inspired by the novel Derailed by James Siegel.  That book was adapted into an earlier movie starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston.  There are many Indian movies that are lifted from Hollywood films without crediting the source.  It would have been all too easy for Menon to do just that.  It's nice to see that he has adapted the novel and given it due credit as well.  Anyway I'm looking forward to watching the movie.  The songs and music are by Harris Jayaraj and are very good.  Some parts of the movie are shot right here in Hyderabad (during the song "Kaadhal Konjam" you see Hyderabad Central and the Prasad's IMAX theatre, and the opening scene of the movie takes place near Charminar).

I'll make another update after watching the movie.

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Aliens vs Predator: Requiem

Sunday · 3 Feb 08 · 10:24 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

Well, I watched Aliens vs Predator: Requiem yesterday.  This, of course, is a sequel to the 2004 film, AVP: Alien vs Predator, which itself is a crossover of the Alien and Predator franchises (in film and other media).  Alien vs Predator was an enjoyable film, though it couldn't compare to any of it's predecessors.  It was also hampered by its PG-13 rating, which reduced it to a watered-down videogame-type movie (my 2004 post on that).  So, I was a bit skeptical when a sequel, AVP-R was announced, though my faith was restored by the awesome trailer, which made the movie seem like it would improve on every aspect of AVP.  But on reading the initial reviews for the movie, which all panned it, there was a sinking feeling that developed...

This is definitely a case where the marketing guys won out.  The initial reviews were right — the trailer and poster are far better than the actual movie!  So, what's AVP-R all about?  It picks up right where AVP left off — the Predator ship is leaving Earth after the battle at the end of the last film.  Of course, one of the Predators got itself infected by an Alien facehugger, so a hybrid "Predalien" is spawned.  It causes chaos on board the ship, and because of that the ship crashes back on Earth, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado.  Hold on.  Look, am I really supposed to believe that the Predalien grew to full size, and then caused chaos on the ship, all before it left Earth's orbit?  Were the Predators waiting for this to happen or something?  Well, anyway, back on the Yautja homeworld, another Predator is alerted of this little "accident", and he quickly reaches Earth to clean up the mess (as I read in a few reviews, it seems the filmmakers nicknamed this Predator "Wolf", after Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction — he's the "hero" of the film and does everything short of saying "It's thirty minutes away.  I'll be there in ten.").  The town of Gunnison is soon teeming with Aliens running amok, and Wolf trying to get rid of them.  Some random human characters (many of them are "movie highschool" stereotypes) get tossed into the mix and have to stay alive in the crossfire.

AVP-R is not a good movie.  It's entertaining, but it's not a good movie.  There is zero suspense, and no scares at all (atleast, a few fake "boo" scares would have been appreciated).  You won't care for any of the human characters, and there is some horrendous dialogue that had me and my brother laughing out loud at some spots, when we were watching the movie.  For example, when the Predator blows up a power plant and plunges the town into darkness, a woman later remarks in Captain Obvious style, "the power's out".  A character later seriously says "people are dying".  And one of the most remarkable exchanges goes like this — one character says, "If you're wrong, and the helicopter's gone, we're all dead!", to which another character replies, "If I'm right, they're dead if they follow you!"  Huh?  That didn't make any sense whatsoever.  Sure, AVP had its share of not-so-good dialogue too (one character became "Captain Exposition" and says "The hieroglyphs are a little hard to make out.  But the story's all here.").  But I don't remember anything being as bad as some of the stuff in this movie.  Screenwriter Shane Salerno is to be blamed for the dialogue and the many illogical things that happen during the movie (the opening thing I pointed out, the fact that the Alien's blood is supposed to be acidic yet it corrodes stuff only when the script requires it to, the Predator having a limitless supply of that blue liquid, etc).

The filmmakers also threw in lots of references to the earlier films in the series (following AVP's trend, they even included a nod to Weyland-Yutani at the end).  Unfortunately, none of those had any impact.  They tried to recreate the scene in Alien³ where the Alien hisses against Sigourney Weaver's face.  Seeing an Alien hissing against the face of some random waitress (what!) here, just made me cringe.  It's one of the many things in this movie which will make you exclaim Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

The movie is directed by visual effects specialists The Brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) and granted, it does well in that respect.  Only problem is, a lot of the time, you can't clearly make out what's going on because its either too dark or the scene is cut very tightly.  Anyway, a bonus for us is that the movie is R rated, which means they show more violence than the previous entry.  Still, this is nothing compared to the brutal violence and action of Predator 2 (which, by the way, also had just one Predator in a city — and look how well they did with that) or the grotesqueries we saw in Alien: Resurrection.

At the end of it all, AVP-R is good for a laugh or two.  It's entertaining and easy to watch, and does surprise you now and then by killing off some of the moronic characters in unexpected ways (as you can make out from the trailer, a kid gets facehugged).  And for completeness sake, if you're a fan of either franchise, you won't want to miss this movie.  But it's sad to see the Aliens and Predators reduced to normal monsters here.  In the original films they were majestic characters, all that is lost in AVP-R.  All things considered, I'd rate the movie a 6/10 as I did enjoy it.

AVP-R Poster and Firefox Logo

Did anyone else note a similarity between the AVP-R poster and the Mozilla Firefox logo?  I can see it now, a web browser made by Weyland-Yutani — "HTTP code 937: All bandwidth rerouted to search for alien organism.  Your data is expendable."!

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Avril Lavigne: Two Drawings and a Video

Sunday · 3 Feb 08 · 06:52 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

Have a look at this —

Drawing Avril Lavigne on YouTube, by Karthik Abhiram

Yes, you can click the image above, or this link, to watch my latest Speed Drawing video on YouTube.  This is a drawing of Avril Lavigne, done in ballpoint pen.  The actual drawing took me around 20 minutes to do, but I sped up the footage so that the video runs three and a half minutes.  Just enough so that I could use one of my favourite Avril Lavigne songs, "Get Over It", as the music for the video.

Here is the actual drawing (you can click it for a larger version) —

Avril Lavigne Drawing 2 — by Karthik Abhiram

This drawing was done last weekend, and was a suggestion from Varun.  I actually did one more drawing before that one too —

Avril Lavigne Drawing 1 — by Karthik Abhiram

That one was done in pencil, and took about an hour and a half to do.  I actually filmed footage of myself drawing that, but didn't edit it into a video so far.  That's simply because there's lots of footage and I was too lazy to edit it.  Maybe I will do it sometime later.

Anyway, enjoy watching the video I posted, and leave your comments (on the drawings as well).  I haven't added these to my Gallery yet.  I thought I'd colour them sometime later and put those versions up.

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Dark Fate 2 — a Doom II map by Karthik Abhiram

Dark Fate 2 is a singleplayer level for Doom II, replacing MAP01.  It's a small-sized hellish level — and there's a walkthrough video as well.

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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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