USCSS Conrad 8 : More building and lighting

Despite the lack of updates the work continues on the Conrad. Over the past few days I’ve been polishing off a lot of the scripts and builds that were just roughed in. Now all the doors work, trigger the correct lights; the cargo lift is functioning and the ambient sound effects system is coming along nicely.

The sound in particular is very important to the atmosphere. Despite my familiarity with the build I’ve actually got properly creeped out a couple of times doing a walkthrough with the lights out and the sounds on.

I’ve fleshed out the starting point of the experience at last. You begin in a docking tube extended from the USCSS Montero, a salvage ship, to an exterior airlock of the Conrad.


First view into the Conrad

First view into the Conrad

I’ve also added a lot more detail to the airlock corridor – texture work to add a patina of dirt and a lot of extra normal map detail to stop the walls looking boring and flat.


There’s also been a fair bit of work on props for the interior, the largest being an escape pod system:

Room for everyone

Room for everyone

Hmm...looks like someone may have got out

Hmm…looks like someone may have got out

Unfortunately as things go on it looks like I may have to abandon some of the things I’d planned for this build. I need to get it into an LI of less than 700 and I’m nearly hitting half that already without even really beginning on the lower deck yet. I’ll have to see what I can save with a bit of cunning linking here and there and maybe the odd rebuild of a prop or two.

I’ve had a fair bit of success in hitting my LI targets for the props – I’ve gone over a few times, but on the whole things have worked out about as well as I could expect.

There’s still experimental work going on and I’m still finding more efficient ways to get the effects I want.


Notes on lighting

As I’ve mentioned before a big part of the idea behind this build was to see how far I could push SL’s Advanced Lighting Model to get atmospheric effects. It’s a powerful system, despite a number of flaws and peculiarities, that I just haven’t seen used all that much around the grid. There’s not much call for it when you’re making clothing either 😉

I’m mostly making use of projector lights – if you haven’t tried them yourself or seen them elsewhere they act like a slide projector, shining an image into the scene.

For maximum effect they need to have something to project, of course. To get projection textures I’ve been making realistic physical copies of actual lights in Lightwave, creating models with emissive filaments, reflectors and lenses, then capturing their light as a baked texture. I’ve found that a lot of the time the best effects come from introducing some imperfections into the model – a misaligned filament, imperfect lens or smudged reflector.

These textures only need to be low-rez most of the time but the subtle texturing really seems to add something to the scene. It certainly introduces a lot of lovely soft edged shadows into the build, so I can’t complain.

I’m including a few of the textures I’ve been using in this post for you to have a play around with. I’m releasing these under a CC Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International license at least until the Conrad build is complete. Have a play for now and wait for the free components I’ll be releasing when it’s all done.

Luminous tube cluster

Luminous tube cluster

Point filament torch with imperfect lens

Point filament torch with imperfect lens

Linear filament with faceted reflector and perfect lens

Linear filament with faceted hemispherical reflector and perfect lens

Linear filament off-centre in faceted hemispeherical reflector with imperfect lens

Linear filament off-centre in faceted hemispeherical reflector with imperfect lens



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