Saturday, December 18, 2010

GAMES: The BerylTales-Hovercraft

In 2007 I started a cooperation with Xybris Interactive. Together we created a browsergame called BERYL TALES which ran from 2007 til late 2009.

BerylTales - browsergame from 2007 til 2010

Note the vehicle in the background. For BERYL TALES we came up with the idea of prospector vehicles, hovering over the ground of planets, allowing multiple actions like digging, mining etc.

First I created a very simple model and pasted it into a fakeshot done i photoshop, using isometric shots of the 3D-models. This was done to get a look and feel of the world.
Digital concept artwork
The next step was to make it more real. Again the need for "how does it feel?" arised. How high will the vehicle be flying? What shall the overall flair be?
Well, this was one of the early results. I smoothed the raw model by using NURBS. This wasn't intended as a piece of artwork, but was done in a very quick and dirty way. Those weren't images for others, but little 'helpers' to guide myself through the next steps.

Digital concept artwork

Later during development, we added more vehicles like this hover below, which came in different versions.

Early Ingame-shot: Exterior on Mars

You can see this was still under development, as some buildings haven't the final shadows or the landscape is still a mix of dummytiles. Anyway, this is how I build the raptor-style-hovercraft using Truespace.

Hovercraft prospector vehicle done in Truespace

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photography: Grabbing the essence ...

In 2010 on January the 15th I created the 'Lioness', an image I consider as one of my best, if not the best. It hit me as this was the one, which put it all together: This was the essence of a predator, wild and untameble. Proud and sensual.

'Lioness' by Michael T. Bhatty (C) 2010

After that I haven't been able to do more in that area: What could be done, has been done...

Michael T. Bhatty with camera (2009); this shot was done by my model while shooting...

Time out for now...

Photography: About beauty...

As an artist I am drawn to beautyfulness like to a moth to the light and I like the approach of Friedrich Schiller on beauty. Beauty isn't something on the surface. It is something that shall be emitted from the inside. It's a radiance with not only comes from the model, but also from the way we behold it.

Glamour-portrait, (c) 2009 by Michael T. Bhatty

Photography: The power of the eyes II

Another example for the power of eyes (here in a corresponding form to the slightly parted lips, which is an act of 'dramatic sensuality').

Hollywood-Glamor-Style-Portrait, (C) 2009 by Michael T. Bhatty
Each model has another form of sensuality. One might have a great body but appears rather 'cheap' in behaviour, and so she will bring that into her images as well. Another one will be a true lady, glamourous like those Hollywood movie stars of old times.

Photography: Glamourous poison...

This shot was inspired by Alice Cooper's song 'Poison'.

'Poison', (c) 2009 by Michael T. Bhatty
Don't let the song fool you. As a photographer you need to keep your distance!
Touching is (usually) forbidden, so you have to learn to give your commands for poses, gestures and mimics strictly verbally. Anything else will lead to trouble...

Photography: The power of eyes I

The eyes are the things we focus on. The Hollywood-Glamour-Photographers put a lot of detail in the eyes as well as on the hair. Well, create an image with blurry eyes and you will look away soon (most of the time). I consider eyes as gateways to the soul, so I put a lot of focus on them and enhanced them during post production by adjusting levels, brightness and radiosity.

Power of eyes in photography, (c) 2009 by Michael T. Bhatty

Photography: Hollywood Glamour portrait of my photographical muse

I am always inspired by women - my wife for example is my muse in aspects of writing novels and stories - and in 2009 I met a 'photographical muse'. I like the term as it covers more than just modeling. Creative collaboration might describe it, but then again... no, it doesn't.

Here we worked on Hollywood Glamour style, inspired by those movie-stars of times gone by.

Photography: Simple portraits...

In the early 90s I worked with a number of models. Each of of them had her own perspective of what they liked about themselves and I intended to capture that feeling - which is something you can only do, if your models feels comfortable.

Vicious mane portrait, (c) 1992 by Michael T. Bhatty

This young women had a tremendous mane and she loved to play with it. This shot was made during our warm-up.

Figure and portrait at a lake, (c) 1992 by Michael T. Bhatty

On occasion we went outside. This shot at a lake was done in the early morning. If i remember correctly we drove out there at 05:00 a.m. to capture the right light of the rising sun.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Movies: Creating locations I

To get the impression of a location, we learn to combine every aspect of what we see. So, what we did for Darkness & Light in 1992 (mustaches were still common those days;-) was a combination of different approaches.

Still from 'Darkness & Light', 1992, directed by Michael T. Bhatty

The stone wall with the ancient runes is a 1 m * 1 m cardboard, painted with black colour and sand and dry-brushed later. 

Still from 'Darkness & Light', 1992, directed by Michael T. Bhatty

The entrance to the cave was just a narrow stone bridge. A car almost crashed into the riverbed while we were shooting and the driver gawked fascinated...

Discarded CGI-test for 'Darkness & Light', 1992, directed by Michael T. Bhatty

An this shot one was one of the first experiments with CGI using Truespace. As we were unhappy with the result, we actually built the rock for live action, using chicken wire and plastering it with paper, then we painted like the wall (see above).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Photography: Going into the movie style...

This might be one shot who draws a connection between my movie making interests and photography as an artist. 
In 1991/ 1992 when I was right in my art and media studies, some freidns and I came up with the idea of doing another movie again and this time it should be traditional sword- and sorcery-fantasy. So we created a series of test images, just to see how costumes and light might work.

There isn't a costume yet, just a 20 cm * 20 cm piece of chainmail (it took me 10 hours to work it ring by ring) and the backside of an old leather jacked, where I cut the arms off. The most demanding experience was the sword, which was a great collaboration of two friends and myself. They created the rawform out of wood and I did the sculpturing of the dragon's head at the 'Forte' (below the hilt) and wrapped the leather for a better grip.
The metallic colour was from a model shop. something called 'polished steel'. this colour was dull at first, but could be brought to a shining surface by polishing. But the best part was, that the sword was so well balanced that we could use it for swordfighting in our movies 'Flashback' (1994) and 'Darkness & Light' (1992).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photography: My Caradhras

In 2006 an overnight snowfall changed the vista of Germany's hightest mountain, the Zugspitze (Alps). I created this shot which became my personal Caradhras, the famous Mountain range from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

Photography: Object II

Another early example for a more graphical approach. Here the idea was to combine the organic with the industrial structure of the paper background...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Photography: Object I

In 1991 I experimented with light and textures you can create. Paper and cardboard, ice and plants. Ans always I was playing with light and shadow. This is one exercise I did (and I guess none of my models where available that day so I used a flower instead;-).

The whole idea was inflienced by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who inspired this type of shots.

Photography: Hollywood Glamour Style

I wrote my M.A.-thesis on the history and marketing of Hollywood-Glamour-Photography in 1995. As a result I did a lot of research on Geroge Hurrell and Clarence Sinclar Bull.

I developed a love for this style and in 1997 with one of my models I experimented with sharp high key lighting, giving a certain glow on hair and skin.

Photography: Self portrait II

Sometimes you run out of a model and you have to pose yourself. As early as in 1992 I started experimenting with a Hollywood-Glamour-style lighting and posing. Here, this shot was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photography: Freezing Water in Time and Space

During my later studies in 1993 of Art and photography a fellow student and I were sent by our lecturer out to produce a series of shots, using yellow roses. As it was a hot day in summer, we spent most roses on the pretty girls in the park at the campus.

Anyway, we found a well and when my male model tossed the last roses into the water, we came up with this idea. Using a fast shutter (1/500 s) and Agfa PAN 25 film material with a high contrast in the gleaming sunlight produced this result.

Photography: Self portrait I

This self portrait was done in 1992, during the production of a documentation. It was the first time we got hands on a 'real' camera. These were my first experiments with the topic of creating icons in the style of the Hollywood movie makers.

Photography: The female Terminator

During my studies of Art in the early 1990s I experimented a lot with photography and movie making. During this period this shot was produced, which was strongly influenced by Terminator 2 from James Cameron. A fellow student posed for me and we came up with the idea for a female terminator. Well, that was in 1992, long before part III...

She became my first permanent model, as she prefered to pose only for me... Also, she provided me with a lot of feedback.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Novels: Runes of Magic - Origins of the knight Fantur

Sean Connery in Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, 1992

I often  work with movies to get a feeling for my characters. Look and feel, mimics and gestures are often influenced by movies I like. A good example ist the Knight Fantur, whom you might know if you have read RUNES OF MAGIC - SHAREENA (sorry, in German only - for the time being). Have a look at the cover and you'll rekognize the familiarity. 
I am plastering my walls during a writing session with images, so my characters can 'talk' to me, look at me, helping me to get them to know...

Actually I like the idea of a normannic knight and used as full name 'Guillaume Nathaniel Fitzfantur' for 'Fantur', with 'Guillaume' as the normannic/ french version of William. And 'Sir William' provided a good knightly feeling for me as well as the 'Fitz', which is used as 'son of';-))

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Runes of Magic: Origins of Jonesy, the ferret

In RUNES OF MAGIC - SHAREENA my main character has a pet, a ferret. This adventureous little thief got his name as an hommage to one of my favorite heroes in cinema history: Indiana Jones.

Now, why a ferret? In 2004 a friend of mine, the famous concept artist Daniel Lieske, and I were talking about a squirrel. I remember, Daniel had one right in front of his window, living in a tree. A few days later, my wife and I went to a restaurant, the Landhaus Ruhenstroth in Gütersloh, Germany, where they were setting up the autumn decoration and they had this clay squirrel models on the tables.By the way, this restaurant is a secret tip for one of the best cuisines you can find, especially if you in for really excellent steaks;-) Check it out!

I purchased one of them and gave it to Daniel as a token of inspiration. So we came up with the idea for "Squirrel Jones", a parody of this adventurous grave robber. However, that idea didn't got farther than the end of a Barbeque evening, until...

RUNES OF MAGIC. The game already had a pet system and here I remembered our squirrel. I put the characteristics, being bold and curious, into Jonesy, Shareenas ferret.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Runes of Magic: Your character in my new novel

Frogster announced a new event to my upcoming second RUNES OF MAGIC novel: I'll write your character into it!

Check it out (in German only, sorry, folks)!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Novels: Runes of Magic - Origins of the Shareena-cover

By accident I rediscovered some old - some very old, mark my words -  graphics done by myself as an adolescent. This was done during school in 1985, during a time, when I had no idea about anatomy etc. Thus hands and feet are to small etc. 

However the interesting part is the motif, as we find the female archer or hunter in the computer game SACRED as well as in my novel Shareena. Inspired was this image by a comic called Marada, something with a lot of sex and violence. Typical stuff of the 1980's.

Now compare it with the Shareena-cover. The circle is closing...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Game Design: Becoming a professor

Starting in October 2010 I am becoming a professor for game design at the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences for Media and Communication in Munich.
This will be the first university in Germany featuring 'the new role of the game designer as author and director' - a game director, something I worked on for several years now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Screenplay: The Beryl Tales Movie Experience...

... well, does not exist!

In 2008 during the production of our browser game BERYL TALES I wrote a demo screenplay (this time in English!). It features the same scenario as our isometric game, but was wroten in the Aliens-meet-Firefly-Style I had in mind, when doing the game world.

We never found investors for the TV-show or a cinema-version, but I still use this screenplay. Lately two very cool 16 year old pupils/ trainees did a two-week term in my company and created an animated storyboard for this sequence (I guess they had the coolest job during that time, compared to their classmates behind counterdesks ;-).

But first things first: Here is the link to the screenplay. Have fun and meet spacepilot MARC;-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Screenplay: Rolling Thunder I

In 2009, Nordmedia, the film funding society from Niedersachsen (a county in Germany) honored me with the funding for a screenplay. As I can't write short stories I wrote a big one for the silver screen, meaning cinema size.

However, this time it is an unusual story for me. A drama. A man between two women (OK, that is my style), but not action or fantasy this time, but a love story. He is a photographer and she is a dancer. When he meets a former love (that's the bitchy one), he is in trouble and she starts to fight for her love. Well, classical two dogs, one bone type of story telling... but at least full of emotion. Oh, and why is it called Rolling Thunder? Because he's in a wheelchair...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Novel: FarCry - African Telling Names

I like "telling names" for my stories. For SACRED I used names like DeMordrey or Shaddar for the bad guys and for RUNES OF MAGIC Brian Galart which has a sound of jelly, being slimy etc.. 
For my novel FarCry 2 - Blutige Diamanten (*Blood Diamonds) I did some research on African names and what they meant.

What you see here is my original document with the final names. You'll find Mugambi, the third warlord, as well as Chisulo, the former-mercenary-turning-good-guy as well as several other characters. Well, note the lines behind the names and you'll find that attributes within those characters...

GAMES: From Port Royale to Tortuga 2 - Sea Battles

Fellow Game Designer Daniel Dumont created Port Royale 1& 2 and the first Tortuga part. Now, his specialty was (and still is) creating very complex historical trade simulations, which only he can do (my deepest respect, Daniel!). Thus the concept of sea battles was one to be viewed from a God-like position and from the very distant.

Early press shot for Port Royale 2 (Design by Daniel Dumont)

Now, as I was asked to create the game design concept for Tortuga 2 - Pirate's Revenge (a midprice title announced for 2005 and which was released as Tortuga - Two Treasures in the end of 2007 as a triple-A-title). Anyway, I had a different approach as I come from action and fantasy. The first thing I did was bringing the camera closer, because I wanted to create a cinematic feeling like we knew from famous movies like Pirates of the Caribbean.

 Shot from Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
From this idea I developed a concept of three camera positions to provide overview and to experience the full and close sea battle feeling, which looked like this.

Official press shot for Tortuga 2 in 2005

And closer...
Official press shot for Tortuga 2 in 2005

Several things had to be done here. A skybox was needed and the water needed to be redesigned (we created four interferencing wave types to get an almost natural look). The game concept I had in mind was the answer to the question how do you navigate and fight at sea? 
The simple answer is: You drive in one direction, bring you ship about and THEN you fire to the sides. It's not like in a combat flight simulator, where you fire in the same direction where you are heading. With this pattern the whole team started a thrilling game design concept, where you implemented a lot of cool features like time-doistorted firering patterns of the gunnery crew. 
I remember our Lead QA say "This is the best sea battle ever created in this company!" Unfortunately some of the former department heads were pissed of by that statement and saw that completely differently. So they interfered in a way where one can only say "Love it (never!), change it (not possible without killing some jerk, which is illegal and therefore no option!), or leave it". Well, I decided to leave that company. 

The lesson to be learned for these guys was hard, because in the end they blew that title, doing too many redesigns with a number of good game designers on the cost of the title, the creativity and of the company: they broke after blewing SACRED 2 as well (because there they did the same)! 
The tragic thing is: Those department heads put a lot of good developers to the street, because of wrong decisions they made. So, the lessons to be learned are: 
  • You don't try to blew up a midprice title to AAA and get away with it.
  • You don't change the lead game designer who envisioned the concept, because you consider himan exchangable resource. There are guys for action and there are guys for sport games and for casual etc. You don't expect a good action movie from a documentary movie maker, either.
Well, what a bitter-sweet Pirate's Revenge that is...

Monday, July 12, 2010

About the climbing-topic in my novels

In my stories my heroes are often forced to fight, to fence, dive with SCUBA-gear, jump from high cliffs etc. Well, I did some of those things in real life (but not enough and so I still want to do such interesting things (OK, landing a Space Shuttle might be a little bit out of reach;-))

If you've read my novels, you might remember sequences where one of my heroes has to climb freestyle over solid rock, be it Jack Carver, the vet Paula or lovely Shareena. You'll found descriptions of how the rough rock felt under the fingertips or how they experienced the overall landscape surrounding them...

Michael T. Bhatty climbing, 1986
Those descriptions came from experiences like this one, a trip to Costa Brava, Spain in 1986, where a friend and I saw a cliffside and decided to climb there (Why? Because it was there!). I still use those experiences for inspiration, memorizing the flair, the wind in my hair and on my skin. So, as an author I am able to relive those thrilling moments... This is what makes writing fun for me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

+++ Breaking News: Get your novels signed! +++

The large bookstore Thalia in Osnabrück initiated an "Autograph Session" with me. So, you can get your FARCRY and RUNES OF MAGIC novels signed:-)

Thalia Buchhaus
Große Straße 63-64
49074 Osnabrück

Saturday, 31st of July 2010
between 12:00 o'clock and 2:00 p.m.

I'm looking forward meeting with you:-))



Friday, July 2, 2010

Games: SACRED - Home of the Seraphim

In SACRED the angel-like Seraphim play an important part. They are some sort of female Paladins - Jedi-like - fighting monks, only a sexy version of them. What you see below is the stronghold of the Seraphim in Icecreek Dale, build by - if I remember correctly - Markus Häublein, the level designer for this part.

I created a skribble in late 2002/ early 2003 on isometric paper (homemade, note the sloopy lines;-) to indicate what it was that needed to be build.

Also I presented the level designers images of mountains, rivers and ice and demanded to think "organic". They should learn what nature does, how water flows, what erosion is etc. I guess I was a pain in the ass to them, dragging them from their monitors out into the real world...

Novel: FarCry2 - Inspiration for the story development

How do I work when doing a novel for a game like Runes of Magic or FarCry? Well, first I play the game of course. As a real player without cheating and then again using developer codes for immortality, teleportation, upgrades etc. Anything to learn as fast as I can about the world.

Of course I do research, read books and web articles (here about Africa) - and I use artworks and make screenshots. Sometimes looking at a shot or artwork triggers an interesting idea which I write down (here, on paper prints).

For example, the image of the bridge gave me the idea for the shootout of my heroes who have just survided the plane crash in the jungle, engaging some nasty mercenaries and smugglers, working for the bad guy.So I looked at the image again and again, using the metal, the boat, the slimy water... pure inspiration...