Modding, Nondescript

Blog 376: Retrospective

So, 2009 is at an end. It seems strange to think about, but actually my entire life has happened in the past decade. Yeah, I lived for eleven and a half years before the dawn of the new millenium, but I didn’t know anything about anything back then. I just… Existed. When I talk about things occurring “before living memory”, I mean things that happened back then, things that are so very dimly remembered as to be mere ghosts of memories.

I suspect, actually, that most of you will be in a similar position; it’s unlikely that I’ve retained any oldsters from, say, the A-ha forums.

2000: The family has acquired their first ever computer, and Robbie discovers the joy of scenario building with Age of Empires II: the Age of Kings. He goes into overdrive when expansion pack The Conquerors allows a unit’s name and hit-points to be altered, effectively allowing the creation of custom hero units.

2001: Robbie gets Lego Mindstorms Vision Command and makes a series of stop-motion films. Lego Character “Sam Grant” does shit and is awesome. Ninjas battle the Slizer “Jungle”. Bandits try to steal the Shogun’s gold. A Space Policeman and a Blacktron face off over a ghetto blaster in a titanic battle.

2002: Warcraft III is released. Robbie putters around in the editor and achieves nothing. Burgeoning internet usage requires him to adopt the alias Robe, as was his fantasified name for Baldur’s Gate, and its alternate form The Rober Dozer; which finally mutates and settles down as Rao Dao Zao.

2003: Expansion pack The Frozen Throne is released. Robbie putters around in the editor and achieves RDZ’s All-in-One Micro Map X; a singleplayer game crammed onto a 64×96 map that attempts to encapsulate several well-known multiplayer game types, squeezed into a tiny map because of the low-end computer. He’s really proud of this project, because it has a story-line and is actually pretty complicated under the bonnet. Due to problems with trigger-work in the end sequence, the project is ultimately abandoned.

Somewhere between 2003 and 2004, Robbie learns how to edit models and replace textures and generally import files. He also learns to love music.

2004: Robbie gets his own computer. It is better than the family one. He chooses to abandon old map projects during the move. RDZ’s All-in-One Micro Map X is deemed unfinishable and discarded.

The aptly named Islands in the Sky 2004 is developed, with a raft of absolutely abominable edited character models, though there are some nice effects like the lurid green lights of the nuclear fallout zones. RDZ Industries is born as Robbie turns model editing with Milkshape into model creation with Milkshape. RDZ Industries Series X is absolutely terrible (though he wouldn’t have admitted it at the time), but serious progress is made towards general understanding of how Warcraft III‘s model format works. Models get progressively flashier.

2005: Islands in the Sky 2005 appears. It’s the basically same map with more content and improvements. Robbie goes to his first real concert — A-ha’s Analogue tour. They are fucking awesome. RDZ Industries continues to do stuff. Various miniscule map projects are born and die.

2006: Islands in the Sky 2006 appears. Robbie can actually work the trigger editor these days and begins to understand how shit actually works. After working on the Micro RDZ RPG XK, he suddenly pines for RDZ’s All-in-One Micro Map X, feeling that he now has the ability to finish it. The map is miraculously discovered in his dad’s My Documents folder on the old family computer and greedily reopened.

Robbie starts keeping “Excerpts from the Life of RDZ”. What he intends to achieve with this is unclear. Apparently, some people even read it.

Robbie goes to university. Robbie learns to drink alcohol. Robbie meets Kilbirnie. Shit gets real.

When the Freedom Slips Away emerges from the chrysalis of the Micro Map and people seem to enjoy it.

Work on the RDZArena is surreptitiously commenced. The map is somehow finished before the end of the year, according to old post dates. Everybody loves to hate it.

Robbie whimsically decides to go and see Gary Numan. Numan performs Telekon. Robbie buys Telekon and plays it once per day for approximately three months. Robbie never looks back. Robbie also sees a Human League poster and decides to see them about three days after Numan. Robbie is a happy man.

2007: Robbie starts cultivating a beard. Nobody appreciates the beard except him (as usual). Naturally, he keeps it.

“Robbie, have you shaved this morning?”



Robbie takes his parents to see reformed Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark perform Architecture and Morality plus hits. They are absolutely amazing.

Work commences on World of RDZArena; a large-scale RPG that aims to incorporate all the excitement of the Islands in the Sky series with the fantastical world of When the Freedom Slips Away, and all the expansions made to it for the RDZArena. A goal is set to achieve four hours of gameplay, a rough match for Gravano’s stupendous Season of Uncertainty: The Dark Phoenix.

Another RDZ Industries total conversion is attempted: the RDZArenaY2 grows out of the RDZArena and then dies.

2008: This Wreckage is finished, sporting almost seven (and in some incidents, even more) hours of gameplay. Preparations are made for a campaign sequel that would include bonus maps such as the long-awaited Islands in the Sky 2009.

Too much Unreal Tournament 3 and Supreme Commander destroys Robbie’s old computer. It is retired in favour of the mighty Daedalus, whose monolithic metal form spits upon the previously deemed behemothic size of the last machine. The door and shelf are removed from the scanner cupboard to fit it. Daedalus has LEDs.

2009: Ultravox reform. Robbie sees them live and deems his life complete, accepting that it is now okay for him to die.

One of Daedalus’ hard drives manifests bad sectors and he is formatted due to a RAID 0 setup, but comes back stronger. Daedalus kills the old speakers, monitor and mouse over the course of the year. Though the mouse may well have been suspect all along. The only original feature is now the keyboard.

Shattered By Light goes nowhere and is abandoned. Start- and end-points for the plot are defined, but too many holes in the middle and a lack of inspiration cause the project to be abandoned. One day, when This Wreckage and When the Freedom Slips Away are remade as the bastard children of Morrowind and Deus Ex, Shattered By Light will join them to complete the trilogy.

Blizzard fuck everything up with patch 1.24 and This Wreckage is taken down for essential maintenance and upgrades, including the salvaging of new artwork from Shatter and beating its “additional scripting” into working again (that’s what you get for abusing bugs to create gameplay effects. Luckily knockback and double damage are non-essential, so could have been dropped in the absolute worst case).

RDZ Industries Series Y4 produces some rather competent artwork at last, with Milkshape’s inclusion of precision texture-mapping tools. Polycounts drop while designs get better. Observations of character models from Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight allow further refinement of RDZ Industries personnel models.

MySpace becomes shite and the Excerpts move to

2010: You read this blog entry. This Wreckage Version Gamma is released. Arena Y4 is released?

Nothing happened before the millenium, nothing at all. I got up, went to school, went home, did my homework, played with Lego, went to sleep, got up… I was a good little boy (most of the time). As always, I dreamed of writing novels and making films — though since we were too poor to afford a computer at that point, a desire to go into level design had never entered my head.

Then we got a computer, and it all went downhill from there. I’ve come a long way… But then again, ten years is just under half the length of my entire existence (not counting the twenty-five or so years my unfertilised egg sat inside my mum).

I hope 2010 works out all right. I’m going to be leaving university, getting dragged kicking and screaming into the real world at last…

Happy new year, everybody!

2 thoughts on “Blog 376: Retrospective”

  1. Happy New Year.

    And at what point did you decide Islands in the Sky was embarrassing and you made it impossible to find?

    Anyway, yeah. decade number one always seems a little empty. Nothing you can do about it.


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