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.