Half-Life: NightWatch

Development Diary

20th December 2002 - by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon

There is no task worse, no undertaking more painful, and no quest more daunting. Non-Player Character modelers are impossible to find. Well, good ones, that is.

I’ve seen plenty of disproportional un-skinned model renders where the head and face may as well be a cylinder. I’ve seen the oh-so-wrong looking giant clown feet on military specialists. I’ve seen bulbous heads, twig-like arms, tree-trunk legs, and strange bulbous protrusions from ‘other’ parts of the body that just shouldn’t be there.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when not once but twice in recent weeks my inbox was graced with the application of a talented modeler. The first, Eugene Geer, is an established 3D artist in the gaming industry whose most recent credit includes a number of models from the game Arctic Thunder. Among his included portfolio were examples from this and other titles, some of his personal work, and an incredible military general, skinned by himself as well, that wasn’t even too far beyond the set Nightwatch poly limit. The second, named Javier, boasted an impressive portfolio of artistic non-humanoid designs.

The applications came in a couple weeks apart, but I immediately responded to both. There was no way in hell I was going to let these two slip by. In both cases, we exchanged dialogue; I answered what questions they had, and they asked more questions if I didn’t cover anything. Both seemed very interested in Nightwatch and eager to contribute to the project. I thought I had them both. Then, it happened.

They asked about pay.

I wasn’t as shocked as I should have been. I’ve found forum posts on the Steam forums, Barrysworld, and even ShackNews complaining about how Valve and Sierra are trying to further milk Half-Life with this new “Nightwatch” add-on – but I’d never actually had someone apply to the team who thought we were a professional/commercial endeavor. On those forum posts where the general population kept rambling about how old Half-Life is and how Valve and Sierra need to stop milking the franchise, I almost felt a sense of pride knowing that we have managed to give the appearance of a retail endeavor. However, as flattered as I was that these two modelers thought that of our team, it was just as much a kick to the crotch in knowing that I could afford neither. I couldn’t pay Javier’s bills nor could I support Eugene’s family out of my own pocket. I thanked them for their time, and they for mine, and headed our different ways.

Fortunately we have since found talented people who will work for free. I’ll probably impale myself on a blunt object if someone this good drops by again and then won’t or can't contribute as a freelance artist.

Previous diaries:
11th April 2003 by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon
7th April 2003 by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon
28th March 2003 by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon
21st March 2003 by Mohammad "BadMofo" Alavi
14th March 2003 by Matt "Chalupamonk" Michelson
7th March 2003 by Ryan "Professional Victim" Desgroseilliers
21st February 2003 by Adam "WhoMe" Foster
14th February 2003 by Dan "coil" Johnson
7th February 2003 by Francis "DeathWish" Woodhouse
31st January 2003 by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon
24th January 2003 by Mohammad "BadMofo" Alavi
17th January 2003 by Ryan "Professional Victim" Desgroseilliers
10th January 2003 by Ken "ken20banks" Banks
3rd January 2003 by Dan "coil" Johnson
27th December 2002 by Francis "DeathWish" Woodhouse
20th December 2002 by Andrew "KungFuSquirrel" Weldon