Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in review: a slow and inevitable year

For myself and many others around me, 2008 has been a blur, and not in any way that can be called "good". There isn't much I can say to it that has not already been said in the past, but I shall try, and I shall keep it brief.

I rode high for most of 2007. I set out to achieve alot, and accomplished most of it. The downside was that I wouldn't know how much it had cost me until the early days of 2008.

The road to hell is paved with the best intentions, and there is no doubt we came in to 2008 with some very high expectations and equally lofty goals. The fact is that I've done so much for so long, and with no pause, some form of burnout was only a matter of time. It would hit me like a tonne of bricks, and I would need a break.

2008 was that year.

Personal strife in January was followed by the lowest point of my life in many years. I didn't feel the full effect of it until May, and it was far too late to avoid. The enthusiasm I once felt for many things, including work, study and hobbies evaporated. I had no energy nor desire to do anything with my life, and didn't particulary see an end to it any time soon.

Yet there was still the hope that 2009 would be a better year, and we struggled on.

When I say I have needed this break for a very long time, it is not something that I say half-heartedly. Only at the very end of this year did things begin to come together, and it is in no small part due to my friends and family who have stuck by me through both the best and worst that this year could throw at me.

To Daniel G. Williams, Nathan Leong, Keith Carpenter, Michael Byrne, Peter Butz, Alexander Williams, Peter Gatward, Chloe Willems, Peter Hanshaw, the crew from CSU, all my very best.

To Daniel Watson - my heartfelt congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I'll see you next week.

To my family, who have continued to support me unconditionally throughout the year with much love and understanding, thank you.

And most especially, to Yvonne... I really need to say no more.

To all of you - Happy New Year, and all the best for 2009.

This time, we're going to do it right.

-James Ward

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reverence Project Conclusion

After many hours drawing, modelling, revising and tuning, the new Reverence class Battlecruiser is at last, complete, thus bringing to a close Atlantis's spring project. As it's already been covered here on Cape Cortez before, you probably already have some idea of what to expect.

So, there she is. These pictures - first posted on NCQ last night - probably won't make the Atlantis site, but any further renders and art done of the Reverence (some of which is coming soon) will use this new model and be posted, along with the ship's revised specs. They are as follows.

Reverence Class Fleet Carrier/Battlecruiser (CVBN)

Estimated Construction Cost:
Approximately 12 Billion USD per unit

Keel Laid:
Reverence CVBN-96 – 2037

Reverence CVBN-96 – 2039

Reverence CVBN-96 – 2039

Length: 270.0m
Beam: 110.0m

Submerged Displacement:
55,362 tonnes

Hull Composition:
Triple layered semi-organic pliant self-regenerating 3rd Generation Bioskin covering a titanium double hull supported by a reinforced composite steel/C65 frame. Hull is protected in key sections by 5 inches of internal, ablative composite armour belt.

Crush Depth:
Greater than 30,000 feet

Propulsion & Machinery:
2 Williams-Leong Ship Systems Taurus fusion reactors powering 4 Aqua-return hydrojet drives

Maximum: 153 knots
Standard Cruising: 130 knots

Computer System:
IBM-XA Integrated Optical Neural Network (Flight I)
Williams-Leong C.I.877-A-series Neural/Integrated Optics AHAI (Almost-Human A.I.) Network (Flight II)

Internal: Hypersonar; active and passive sensor suites
Effective Range : Approximately 140 nautical miles
3 Deployed WSKRS satellites
3 Deployed WSPRS satellites
Maximum Effective Range : Approximately 300 nautical miles


Torpedo armament:

16 Mk. 1 RAFIT (RApid Firing, Independently Targeting) Six-Tube 21-inch Torpedo Batteries (mounted bows, midships) (Flight I)

20 Mk. 3 RAFIT (RApid Firing, Independently Targeting) Six-Tube 21-inch Torpedo Batteries (mounted bows, midships) (Flight II)

Plasmer Particle Laser Cannon armament:

6 SLR-81 "Banshee" Long Range PPLCs (mounted bows & midships) (Flight I)
6 SLR-82 "Wraith" Long Range PPLCs (mounted bows & midships) (Flight I)

4 SLR-83 "Avenger" Long Range PPLCs (Flight II)
4 SLR-84 "Stingray" Long Range PPLCs (mounted bows & midships) (Flight II)

Missile armament:

12 Triton-V "Revelation-II"-class ICBMs, each with 8 MIRVs totalling 3400 megatons. Alternate arrangements can replace nuclear weapons with up to 96 Pathfinder-III hypersonic cruise missiles with either tactical nuclear or conventional payloads.

Defensive systems:
Mark IX and X Intercept Torpedoes
ECM Packages and Noise Makers

EVA Assets:
Up to 70 sub-craft of varying types. Arrangements vary from vessel to vessel, but typically:
36 UEO Raptor-II and NSC Seafire Subfighters
12 Stormhawk bombers
4 Sea-Launch Submersible Shuttles
2 Deep Sea Recovery Vehicles (DSRV) (“Pick Ups”)
4 Sea Speeder multi-purpose mini subs

Crew Complement:
Approximately 700 (Includes ship's crew, Marine contingent and EVA/Subfighter corps)

Yes, there have been revisions made to these statistics to those published on the site, and some might say the ship has been 'downgraded' from its previous speficiations, or at the very least has seen a major rollback on the number of laser cannons it has. I just thought that 16(!) cannons of each type was a little extreme, considering the Atlantis has barely half that in some instances.

Episode 6, which is being written right now, will see some big changes to the story and characters of Atlantis DSV after the events of Episode 5: Shattered Sword. Of course, the most obvious change is the ship the events will revolve around. The UEO Commonwealth will be that ship - the "last" of the original Reverence class Battlecruisers, and the first of the Flight-II variants. Set in 2043, the ship is commanded by someone we've all come to know pretty well. After three years of war, Jim Banick rose through the ranks to the post of Captain, and assumed command of the Commonwealth in late 2042.

The design of the new Reverence has been influenced heavily by the work of NCQ's DG Williams, who not so long ago built the rather popular Antaeus-class strike cruiser that was first read about in Episode 5, and many hallmarks of his design can be found all over the Reverence, including the preference for vertical fins over the previous side-by-side arrangement, a fork-prow, engine arrangements, fighter bays and "nestled" superstructures.

Originally the Antaeus design called for something far longer and dare I say "sleeker" than the compact gunship that resulted. To be fair, DG did such a good job in his work on the Antaeus that I have since had a very hard time seeing the Antaeus in any other configuration. So while the Antaeus is very different (but still very successful) from what I had original imagined, I was still eager to put my original thoughts to work.

It's possible - if I went with what I was thinking originally - that this ship might have ended up being the Antaeus if DG had stuck with that original 'draft'. Thus, the Reverence was born.

For comparison, shown above is the Reverence next to her very-near cousin, the Antaeus. Both ships are rendered to scale.

If you trawl over the earlier posts in this blog and look at some of the progress shots, you will see alot of the changes that were made to the Reverence more clearly. One thing that became very apparent when I first put the Antaeus next to the Reverence was that the top-sides of the latter were comparatively very boring, and didn't really respect the difference in scale between the two ships. This was corrected with the addition of further 'steps' in the superstructure, along with more pronounced bulges down the length of the dorsal hull. The final addition of trenches down each side for laser weapons, like those found on the Antaeus, helped add a little more interest.

Lastly, I want to post this and compare the sheer technical improvement over the original Reverence model made back at the start of 2006. Three years does a lot for 'efficiency'. The new model, sculpted from as few primitive objects as possible, weighs in at just over 75,000 polygons. The original monster was over 590,000(!) and was so render intensive that it simply wasn't really worth the effort.

Keep an eye on the website for all these updates, and new renders of the Reverence class that will be posted in the library.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Reverence Progress Log... Part 3

Another update to this most storied of classes...

Some background -

The UEO Reverence class battlecruiser was designed as the best answer to Macronesia's growing armada. While the Atlantis class DSVs hold the mantle of the UEO's most powerful warships out-right, the monstrous cost of these unique ships prohibits their construction at a fleet-wide scale.

The Reverence, weighing in at over 50,000 tonnes and sporting a full length not less than 265 meters stem-to-stern is one of the most technically advanced, well-rounded, versatile and best protected ships in the UEO fleet. First appearing in 2039 as a successor to the ageing, worn-out fleet of Poseidon class fleet carriers, the Reverence remains without peer in the UEO and Macronesian fleets. No single ship can match her in weight of torpedo salvos, and her formidable sea-wing of up to six squadrons of Raptor and Stormhawk subfighters are matched only by Macronesia's Honorious class carriers.

Thirteen vessels were constructed between the years of 2039 and 2042. They were the Reverence, Constellation, Poseidon, Saratoga, Ark Royal, Neptune, Seahawk, Sovereign, Archangel, Kitty Hawk, Royal Oak, Ticonderoga and Commonwealth. One of their number, Kitty Hawk, served as the flagship of the UEO 4th Fleet in the defence of Pearl Harbor where it was ultimately destroyed while holding off an entire squadron of Alliance Tempest class Heavy Cruisers for nearly forty five minutes.

Some of these vessels have gained as much notoriety as the fabled DSVs themselves. Ships such as the Ticonderoga, under the command of Admiral Mitchell Morgan continue to distinguish themselves in famous actions across the Pacific whilst acting as the flagships of the UEO's heaviest taskforces. If the location of a Reverence can be confirmed by the Alliance, it is almost a certainty that every effort will be made to dispatch it, or if the necessary firepower is not available, standing orders for Macronesian commanders are to avoid them at any cost.

The last of the class, the UEO Commonwealth rolled out of her San Angeles docks in late 2042. As of 2043, she is under the command of Captain James Banick.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reverence Progress Log... Part 2

So, a few weeks ago I posted a rather 'sketchy' (no pun intended) drawing of what is fanning out to be the new Reverence class Battlecruiser.

Well, after some work in Maya, she is beginning to shape up.

Here is the UEO Commonwealth, as she appeared 15 minutes ago.

Friday, October 17, 2008

...And to think they called me mad.

Banick frowned. “An aerial… what?”
“The Vengeance has a single squadron of a new prototype concept that’s been worked on by the NSC for some time. Rafale IIs are basically jump jets that can be launched from a shallow, submerged depth. Their engines can breathe water for extremely limited periods of time, or so I’m told, so it should be possible to deploy air forces without raising any unnecessary alarm bells.”
“Neat… when do we get those?”
“Don’t count on it. They canned the project last month.”

-Atlantis DSV Episode III: Rising Thunder

Far be it for me to claim this was an entirely original idea. Indeed, the first time I heard of this concept was many years ago in the form of seaFire ASV's "Peacemaker" class subfighter. Their version of this idea was far more 'extreme' than mine ended up being, but it has to be said - I never saw this coming.

More bizzare fact than strange fiction...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Drawing Board.

While work continues to progress slowly (as previously stated) there is still work being done... This one comes from the drawing boards of the ASDB. Expect updates on this one as it progresses.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The dragging of heels... (Important)

Hey folks.

If you're still reading this after so very long, then my thanks to you.

It has been a very long time since my last update to either this blog or the Atlantis website. I'd apologise, but instead, I'll try to explain why.

For the past several months my life has been a very mentally-trying, emotionally exhausting experience. My studies are not to blame, and neither is lazyness, which is probably what's bothered me most because both can be fixed with relative ease. The first is simply a case of time management, and the other will fix itself with a good bought of kicking myself in the ass.

Without bringing my personal problems to the internet for the whole world to see, I'll summarize: In the last twelve months, all of my usual hobbies have suffered a feeling of general lethagy, apathy and lack of enthusiasm. My studies have followed suit in a pattern of procrastination that dominates every facet of university and commitments, and I have had very little energy to do anything. This - as my friends have called it - is a "creative funk" that merely needs me to explore new things, and correct some problems in my life that have led to everything else suffering.
This, as you have no doubt gleaned, includes Atlantis.

This is not because I do not enjoy these parts of my life anymore. I do, and I fully intend to continue with them once my issues have been resolved, however sometimes - as I have been reminded by my family on several ocassions - it is necessary for every writer to pull their head out of the books and take in the world around them.

I have worked on Atlantis for over 5 years without pause or rest. In that time I have come to be very proud of some of the stories that have developed from it, and I have eagerly looked to the future of where the series is headed.

Let me say this now so there is no confusion.

No. Atlantis is not dead. If it does 'end', you'll know because I'll tell you, and because the website, everything on it, and this blog, will no longer exist.

Atlantis is continuing... You can just expect it to continue at a slow pace until such time that I can find the energy to give it the attention it deserves.

I will still answer any and all emails about the website, blog and series, but for now I just ask some understanding as I get my house in order.

As I always, I remain thankful.

-James Ward

Monday, June 23, 2008

Last Night in Melbourne...

It's been a very long week. I'm both sad and relieved to see it come to an end, but there is still much to be done in the next couple of days. So, you can say you heard it here first - the winners of the Melbourne International Animation Festival in the two key categories were:

Australian Panorama:
Winner: The Passenger
Honourable Mention: Global Warming

Best of the Festival (Overall):
Madame Tutli-Putli (Nominated for 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Short)

No surprise on the winner, when you think about it. If you want to look up any of the above three films, they're all well worth watching.

I fly back to Wagga Wagga at 3:00PM tomorrow afternoon. I expect to be in Sydney by Wednesday at 6:00PM

Well, I'm buggered. G'night all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Melbourne International Animation Festival, Day 1

Mornin' folks.

So, hello from grey old Melbourne, Victoria.

I'm down here for about a week until Sunday for the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF), which covers everything from Disney's latest work to the best short films from SIGGRAPH 2007. It's a full week of animation screenings, seminars and talks with some of Animation's most respected names. Next week I'll have the opportunity to meet Marcy Page, who produced the 2004 Oscar-winning short "Ryan" when she comes up to give a talk at CSU to the Animation and Visual Effects students.

This is officially my holiday for this semester. I don't expect I'll get to do anything like this again any time soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

That big project...

Ya. That one which I've mentioned twice before and not actually elaborated on.

You can track its progress here at

Friday, June 6, 2008

Server Problems and Updates

Hey all,

I've finally managed to upload the firts of the June updates to the site today. For the last week, FTP problems have meant I couldn't connect to the EPFarms servers to upload the new files. Thus the discrepency between the date on the update, and the actual day it's been uploaded.

This is as frustrating for me as it is for you, no doubt, so please bear with me while DG works to correct the problems. Sadly, I can't give you an indication as to when this situation will improve.

As it is, while Atlantis is up and running, New Cape Quest is not... Ironic that the FTP problems would be fixed only to break NCQ.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Final day of University...

I handed in my last assessment for my first semester of 2008 today.

I was required to write a production report on the outcome of the assignment, giving an objective view of the participation of those involved.

Thus we come to this;

"...And it is equally rare that such projects have run so grossly over time and budget while being plagued with a complete academic abortion of professional, organizational and technical discipline.

I've had an excellent day.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

The State of Atlantis... And Indy IV (May 2008)

Lines of Detention:
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.
I will not slack off on updating again.

Ok, now that that is done, let's move on to the fun stuff.


Remember the first post of this blog? It showed a shiny new Raptor mesh that was in the works and promised for release some time in the future. Well, that day is today.

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Exciting times... Set only to get more interesting after this week. This coming week is going to be unfortunately busy, putting a clamp on my plans to update some time in the next several days. I've just finished being the Technical Director on the Australian International Animation Festival (yes, it was big) and I'm wrapping up the University semester with a week full of assessments beginning 8am tomorrow (Monday) morning.

I've worked alot on the Raptor in the last three weeks, being sick of it in limbo and needing to get it out there with the new Atlantis mesh (watch that space, too...) so it's nice to finally see it finished.

Before I lavish this post with pretty pictures however, I'd like to take a moment to do something I'm not accustomed to; reviewing a film. This will only be brief.

Indiana Jones and the Kindgom of the Crystal Skull

I'm of the opinion that the worst thing that ever happened to George Lucas was the discovery of CGI as a tool in film making. Look what happened to the Star Wars prequels - they were ruined because Lucas spent so much time on visuals, and not enough time on a genuine effort to tell a story.

Sadly, it's happened again, this time with his other Fedora-wearing franchise, Indiana Jones.

I am a huge fan of the original films. They have a campy seriousness to them which, as someone reminded me last night, has me grinning from ear to ear every time I see them. I'm one of the silent few who considers The Last Crusade to be the best of the original three, purely because it did so much, and contained so many interesting characters and events. Raiders, while good, didn't grip me in that same way.

Let's get this straight - Crystal Skull has all the elements of Indiana Jones:
Harrison Ford - Check
Difficult and uncooperative female love interest - Check
Fedora - Check
Whips - Check
Stereotypical humungous bad guy who inevitably has to Box with Indy - Check
Evil Femme Fatale - Check
Plot to take over the world with some mythical device - Check
Obscene Car Chase - Check

Now let's change "Nazi" to "Communist", and we have Indy IV.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull suffers from the most classic trappings of both Spielberg and Lucas. It's as if the two of them couldn't help themselves. Instead of being treated to Indiana Jones on one of his ruggishly fun adventures, we're shown an aged, mocked old man who plays second fiddle to one Shia La Beouf, who is disappointingly assured to become the next titular hero. Ford's performance is good as the elderly Indiana, and it's nice to see him in the role again, even if the direction of the character seems to undermine that which we know him for.

To be fair, it is unrealistic for us to expect the same Indiana after 20 years on the sidelines, and it was nice to see Spielberg and Lucas pay their respect to the original trilogy with the return of an old flame in Marion Ravenwood (Once again played by a somewhat older Karen Allen of Raiders fame) and it was equally sad to see that neither Sean Connery nor John Rhys-Davis do not make returns. (And Denholm Elliot - "Marcus Brody" - died in 1992.)

Another disappointing turn is the new direction of the 'stunts', which have gone from a gritty, practical 'realism' in the original three films to a CGI-driven series of visual gags ranging from a flying refrigerator (I'm not kidding) to people being eaten alive by giant man-eating ants, which I could swear has been ripped straight out of Brendan Fraser'sThe Mummy. Come to think of it, the entire plot came from that film, so if you're expecting something original, new and fantastic... Look elsewhere. About the most 'impressive' stunt in the entire film involves a ridiculously forced sword fight where Shia La Beouf straddles two jeeps and gets whacked several times in the nether regions by spiky amazonian flora.

The classic Nazi evil has completely been replaced with the Red Menace of the 1950s, complete with an equally 'classic' plot involving Communist mind control, and spearheaded by an unbelieveably bad antagonist in Cate Blanchett, who was forced to look something like Dr. Evil's mother. So in fact, not only has this film got all the elements of Indiana Jones, it also has all the elements of a shocking '50s sci-fi. Area 51, Mind Control, World Domination and even... well... I just can't bring myself to say it. It might be a spoiler, but let's just say this wouldn't be the first series under Spielberg's hand to suffer from what I shall call "Season 2 Syndrome".

By all means, go and see Indiana Jones IV, because I dont know how much longer we'll get to see Harrison Ford in the role at all. No matter how bad, we may as well get used to reality and enjoy what little we have left while we still can.

...And now that I'm done with that, back to the fun stuff;

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Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just a note on the blog...

We changed the name. Being so entrenched in the submarine mindset around here, female colleagues and friends found the previous name just a little too amusing.

For peace of mind; "Hot, Straight and Normal" is a Submariner's term referring to the status of torpedoes after that have been fired. It is not a double entendre. Danke.

A big project is in the works. Those of you who frequent NCQ will be aware of it... if not, stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For those who asked...

People kept asking if they could see a photo of the Atlantis model made back in 2001 out of resin.

So, here it is.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Evolution of the Atlantis DSV...

The other day I was scrounging through old CDs and DVDs, when I stumbled across an innocuous disk labelled "Atlantis '05".

intrigued, I put the disk in the tray and found myself looking through a bunch of early 2005 photos, renders and works to do with Atlantis. Everything my first drawings through to the earliest website graphics were, in part, on this disk.

Comparing the designs of the Atlantis over the years is somewhat eye opening, and as many of you might know, 2007 saw one of the most significant design changes the Atlantis has ever been through as the ship was rebuilt from the ground-up in a new 3D mesh which replaced a stop-gap solution produced in around 2005.

Many people don't realise just how radically the ship has changed over the years, so I thought I'd post some of what I found here, and explain just how it's evolved, and where it's headed.

Aquarius ASV

Atlantis ASV

Way back in 1999, the Atlantis was drawn on the back page of an English class work book during my 8th grade of school. At the time, the ship was called the "Aquarius". A couple of years later, this concept developed in to the Atlantis ASV, and was published on a now-long-forgotten Geocities website.

Atlantis ASV in 2003...

Atlantis ASV in 2003...

The original design tried to draw from those of seaQuest herself - a long, 'modular' hull which tapered to an arrow-head prow sporting two large wings with forward-set canards that ran in to the bow. The core of this concept hasn't really changed in the years that have followed, although the evolution of the design has steadily streamlined the ship in to what it is now.

Evolution of the Design

The two most recent revisions of the Atlantis could be said to be the closest to what was intended for the design - being the first entirely CG versions of the ship, and while radically different from their predecessors, sought only to refine what had already been done.

Indeed, one of the more curious design features of the Atlantis happened by sheer fluke of misfortune, or luck, depending on how one views it;

Why the hooked nose?

When I made the first model of the Atlantis way back in 2001, it was in the form of a 9-inch-long Resin sculpt, and was built in segments working front to back. The result of this was that when the core of the bow was integrated in to the primary superstructure of the central hull, the resin took a while to set - and the entire front section of the ship warped in a downward sag that essentially gave the prow a sloping 'beak' which extended from the missile tubes as far forward as the prow.

What was an annoying fault in construction at the time has stayed with the design ever since - even when the opportunity presented itself to once again straighten the bow with the first CG model some years later. This pattern of "happy accidents" continued throughout many of the revisions, as the initial resin model was limited by my own ability to physically sculpt it in to something which resembled my intended design. The 'flaws' of those techniques developed over time to be almost fully incorporated in the design.

2005 vs 2007

Despite the changes in the design over the years, the aspect of the ship which I have consistently been happy with, and not inclined to change has been the side profile; the 'stepped' construction of the ships decks originated as much from my own attempt to build the ship in sections before integrating everything in to one hull as it did from design. While most ships and submarines have a very visible, easy to define 'center-line' which runs for the length of the ship, Atlantis has no such feature - her hull's 'waterline' defined by the changing position of her decks

2005 vs 2007

...The dorsal hull however, has been something which has just as often changed. In the above comparison of the 2005 and 2007 models of the Atlantis, some of these most recent changes to the design are highlighted, but this pattern extends as far back as the first drawing in 1999; the only features which have remained consistent are the layout of the wings and their 'shoulders', the canards, missiles and primary sensor dome. Everything else, almost without exception, has been the subject of change, from the bridge through to the engines. The 2007 model brings the Atlantis closer to something which is as 'refined' as it can be without totally changing the design.

2005 vs 2007

Atlantis DSV...

...The most important thing to note of course is that the one thing which has changed most in the last nine years is simply my ability to better present my work. The old days of taking photos of tiny minatures and adding a few filters in photoshop are well and truly gone, probably never to return. This said, I consider the ability to physically construct a model about as important as knowing how to draw - unless you have a basic understanding of 3D geometry, perspective and how things go together, then 3D will always be a challenge which one will have difficulty getting their head around.

The original model of Atlantis still sits on my desk to this day.

Where the Atlantis DSV will go next in design is anyone's guess, but it's a safe bet that the one we have right now isn't leaving any time soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The End of Free Copyright?

The world has gone mad.

Courtesy of the Animation World Network (mandatory for anyone who is remotely interested in the field of CGI), I've been made aware of something which has me slightly concerned.

The US Congress, in their wisdom, wish to pass an act which essentially tells me that unless I dole out 1000 bucks every time I wish to register a copyrighted name, concept or work (read: everything) then I will have zero control over who uses it, because apparently it "isn't worth anything" and is therefore considered "Orphaned" by its owner.


it's sad that if this bill goes to pass, Atlantis as we all know it may very well come to an end - because there is no way in hell that I am going to leave the work up for people to read with this hanging over my head.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

About the April updates...

Hey kids,

Hope you all enjoyed the April 1st gag earlier this week. For those of you who missed it, I'm putting together a site mirror so you can relive the madness of that particular day. In the mean time, here's a glimpse at what you missed...

Credit where credit is due; This particular April Fools stunt would not have happened if it weren't for the efforts of the folks over at New Cape Quest (link at right) and in particular, Daniel G. Williams who built the following, rather excellent 3D model...

"Yeah, right... Unsink the ship. Real original, Jackass! I'll just go build a time machine and be right back..."

In other news, I've been considering a few of the less-seen aspects of Atlantis, in particular, the NSC fleet and the UEO Marine Corps. Late last year, I wrote a library page on the Subfighter Corps to fill in those gaps surrounding the history of the Raptor subfighter and the growth of submarine fighter warfare, and there have been a few requests in the last few months that have asked me about these other parts of Atlantis as well.

The UEO marine corps are pretty hardcore - let's just get that out of the way now. They are probably the only force within the entire UEO that consistently kicks the backsides of Macronesia so hard that they probably taste shoelaces for a month. Captain Ainsley once remarked that Force Recon was not real, and was nothing more than a bed time story invented to scare the crap out of the Army... and he might have been right if their track record to date has been anything to go by.

As there seems to be the demand - and as I do have an interest in exploring these guys and girls further - keep an eye on the Library over the next week or so for a history on the UEOMC.

The second I mentioned - the North Sea Confederation - covers the growing influence which this Confederation's military is having on the UEO war against Macronesia. We first saw the beginnings of this in Episode 4, and it's being brought full circle in Episode 5 and the in-production Episode 6. Long time Atlantis reader and part-time staffer Keith Carpenter has been slaving away in his off-hours on a pretty detailed breakdown of the NSC's military forces, including their ships, fleets, commanders and force strength. As he's getting pretty close to finishing this work, expect to see the NSC appearing on the site soon, too.

Call me crazy, but I'm going to give you a link to visit:

EMPIRE (Formerly known as Deep Angel)

Far be it for me to plug the site of the Arch-Enemy of seaQuest (Deep Angel used to be seaFire ASV) but I'd like to take the time to acknowledge someone who works rather hard behind the scenes of Empire to make their site (as much as we hate to admit it) so pretty.

His name is Stuart Stitt; and he is responsible for the 3D models and graphics that you see all over the Empire site.

Stuart has been around the sQ community longer than I have, and I regrettably made an uncomplimentary Faux-Pas in regards to his work on NCQ a while back that he came to read. Surprisingly, he didn't take offense to this (and I am grateful, as none was intended) and we had a brief exchange of our views on sQ, Empire, seaFire and to my further surprise, even Atlantis. I won't go in to much detail for the sake of this being completely unofficial, but sufficed to say that the growing resemblence between Empire and Atlantis might not be so much of a fluke as I thought.

Note: I will go so far to admit on my part that the name of the "Raptor" in Atlantis did indeed originate from seaFire ASV way back in 1999-2000. Call it an "Homage" or a Ripoff, but the name has quite firmly stuck.

Stuart also said to me that he intends on spending alot more time on the New Cape Quest forums, so for those of you that go there - keep an eye out and make sure you say 'Hi'.

EDIT: Empire - 3D modelling by Stuart Stitt (Rendering by K. Kotwicki - sorry for any confusion here.)...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Updates! (April Fools 2008)

No, your eyes don't deceive you. Go check out the main site for some new updates...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

HMAS Sydney wreck found after 67 years

HMAS Sydney Found.

Not much more to say. It looks like one of Australia's greatest maritime mysteries might finally be solved.

The sinking of the HMAS Sydney with all 645 hands represents the single greatest loss of life in the nation's maritime history. Both the Sydney and the German commerce raider Kormoran were lost in the battle, and only the survivors of the Kormoran lived to tell of the Australian cruiser's fate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sir Arthur C. Clarke passes away at 90

From the Sydney Morning Herald

It's a sad day in the history of Science Fiction writing today, with the passing of Sir Arthur C. Clarke at the age of 90.

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge his great contributions to Science and the Arts. Like Jules Verne, Clarke was a visionary in science fiction, often grasping scientific concepts well before they were even known to be possible by his peers in the scientific community.

Throughout his life he wrote more than 80 books, among them the seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey. His final book, written in 2007 with Stephen Baxter, was entitled 'Firstborn'; the third in a trilogy called 'A Time's Odyssey.'

He was knighted in 2000 by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka due to his inability to meet the Queen personally,

In 2001, NASA named their "Odyssey" Mars rover after his most famous work.

In 2007, upon his 90th birthday, he proclaimed that he had completed "90 orbits around the sun".

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Let's make it official...

Just to eliminate any doubt in the matter - Atlantis DSV is continuing with Episode VI - Captain's Honour.

With primary plot work work now complete, we begin the long, laborious task of writing the next chapter in the Atlantis saga. Again, we're not committing to any particular release date yet as it's still far too early to tell how long it will take to write the story, but as of 8:25 this evening, the job has started.

More as it comes...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Marty! We must hit 88 Miles Per Hour!"

Those folks over at Williams-Leong Industries(tm) have presented me with a solution on how to fix the bind we've got ourselves in to with Atlantis...

A solution emerges.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Episode 6?

Afternoon, all.

Firstly, I'd like to point that yes - I am aware of the intermitent outages on the NCQ server. It's probably maintance, and as such there isn't much I can do about it.

In other news, if it weren't obvious by now (it's been mentioned several times), Episode VI of Atlantis DSV is being written. Work isn't as fast as I've been used to because of the nature of the story and the problems that have to be worked out after the events of Episode V. I am therefore not prepared to divluge many details on what the story is going to contain, and until recently I wasn't entirely sure myself.

I had a lengthy conversation with DG Williams from NCQ the other day (he's frequently been a 'sounding board' for Atlantis-related work) on the intended direction of Episode VI.

jjward: "Hey, DG. I'd like to present you with a question..."

So I gave him the abridged summary of Episode VI's plot...

Charlie Brown: "Ok, that's just a bad idea..."

Oh yes, it was a long conversation, but one that did end constructively, and eliminated much doubt over how the next episode will play out. I'm going to assume that anyone reading this has finished Episode V, so to put it bluntly - if you have not, then stop reading now.


Atlantis's apparent destruction in Shattered Sword might have been a shock to those who read it, but the problems it presents for the writer(s) are understandably greater still. It isn't like the ship was captured or just severely damaged, or "misplaced", as the original seaQuest season 2 might have shown... No, it was completely blown out of the water, with very few chances of recovery.

One doesn't just "build a new one" either, further compounding the problem.

Indeed, we've started asking ourselves if we should bring the Atlantis herself back from the grave. It might be that the ship should simply never be seen again given the circumstances.

Whatever we decide, Episode VI is going ahead just as soon as we've finished the plot draft. The story will pick up a full two years after the events of Shattered Sword, and the war, which has dragged on under the new (and ineffective) leadership of Secretary General James Cathgate has driven the UEO military to a point of complete disarray.

With this said, it should be pretty clear that the mood and tone of Atlantis is about to change drastically. It's my goal with Episode VI to bring the series in to a darker, more desperate arc, exploring primarily the changed (and changing) attitudes of the characters themselves, rather than the nature of the war, per se.

Much of this was hinted at or suggested within Episode V; especially within the last few chapters. The theme of the last two chapters in particular - "The End of Innocence" and "Shattered Sword" - looked at the simple concept that a major change was happening for the characters. The loss of Atlantis herself was nothing but a catalyst to that realization, and something that needed to happen in order for that point to be made.

By extension, the foremost question for Episode VI will be "How will these people have changed in two years time?" It's virtually assured that while they will be the same characters, they won't have the same attitudes. This is a basic idea done a million times before, but the scale of it in this case is going to be significant, and many of the characters might be barely recognisable from where they left off in Episode V.

Because of this, the presence of the Atlantis herself is clearly entirely secondary: it's not needed, and if Episode VI can be done without the titular submarine, then I'm of the belief that it should be.

(The above is the official "DSX Development Team" badge for the Atlantis class DSVs. inspired by Star Trek's USS Defiant "Assimilate THIS!" badge...)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

First Post and the New Raptor-II

It's been a while since we tried a blog for Atlantis DSV, and indeed, it's been a while since I've personally used one to log my work. Why the need for a blog? Simple - the regularity of website updates it sparse, and a blog is easy to maintain, simple to update and doesn't require a formal organization. In essence, this is a place where I can post works in progress, glimpses at work which isn't ready for the main site, and thoughts on where Atlantis is going at any one point in time.

It's worth mentioning that not all of what goes in this blog will be copied to the forums of New Cape Quest. Indeed, not all of what goes on the main site will be copied in this blog either. Still, I encourage you to leave comments and email me your thoughts. This blog is not just my sounding board, it's a place you can ask questions, request information or glimpses at work that might have slipped under the radar. I'll do my best to answer such requests, but time will tell just how popular this system will actually be.

To kick us off, I thought I'd share a couple of things which have been done in the last week or so, including the full size image of the Atlantis site's splash page, and a new model of the SF-38 Raptor-II Subfighter. By now, most people (I'd think all) have seen the new Raptor-III, so if anything, this new model should serve as reassurance that the old bird is not being 'replaced' any time soon. This new mesh is built from one 3D primitive, rather than half a dozen like the old one, and is significantly more efficient in polygon counts and mesh structure. In time, I hope to redo the entire UEO fleet in such a fashion...

Many will be pleased to note that the basic design hasn't changed much from what you already know. My goal here isn't to rebuild, it's to refine.

Raptor 2

Raptor 2

Carrier Commonwealth