Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ode to Rick Parks

I was exchanging emails about Eye of the Beholder with the other day with Irene who goes by the handle Sentinel69. I was pointing out which avatar portrait from the game was based on me and which were other Westwood employees. The portraits were done by the late, great Rick Parks (aka the Center of the Universe). So I got to thinking about him and decided to Google him. I found the dedication video that was included with Lands of Lore 2 after he passed away.

Oh man, watching that gets me right in the chest. He was such a great guy. The way he is laughing and such on the video was the way he always was. He was always in a good mood and just uplifted any situation. If you were wondering why he appears kind of stiff in the video, its because he has some other medical problem that eventually led to his neck being fused so he couldn’t turn his head from side to side.

When Rick first came to Westwood he was so out of our league. He had been playing around on his Amiga drawing pictures, and getting some fame among Amiga users for doing so. I just tried searching for some of his Amiga pictures but struck out. The one that I remember the most was a simple picture of a Mickey Mouse drinking glass. Another had a man and woman holding a torch and walking away from the camera with purple marble pillars on either side.

He also did the mural of the Excalibur casino in the old ‘Strip Joint’ (as in Las Vegas Strip) employee cafeteria in the Mirage Hotel and Casino. The cafeteria used to be full of parody art about the other casinos such as a statue of David representing Caesar’s Palace where the statue is posed as if he was embarrassed and trying to cover his nakedness. Ricks mural was the scene where the young King Arthur is trying to pull Excalibur out of the rock but having trouble and even his horse is holing onto his cloak and trying to help pull.

The mural above the bar in old Mount Charleston lodge above Vegas was his as well done sometime in the 70’s. He did some a lot of work at Siegfried and Roy’s house, some mural on a boat owned by Donald Trump and much more.

Brett and Louis (Westwood’s founders) told him they really couldn’t afford to pay him what he was worth, but they worked out a deal where Rick would get time off to do other projects because he really wanted to do work on the computer because he thought it was so fun.

He brought the quality of Westwood art up so much. Not just with his own work, but just by his presence, everybody else’s work as well. I know I got a whole lot better after he started to work there. I remember thinking my pictures for DragonStrike were much better than anything I thought I was capable of at the time.

Now since all that is making me kind of sad, let me end this with a funny story. I mentioned this all started with the emails I was writing to Irene aka Sentinel69. So I just assumed the 69 was the typical number thrown onto the end of handle as the sexual reference. (In Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure voice) “Sixty Nine Dude!”

Years ago one of the in things to do was to steal the yellow plastic table numbers from Carl’s Jr. and put them on the dashboard of your car. I had the number 68 on the dashboard of my very sporty Toyota MR2. (Just tried looking for a picture of the Carl's Jr. Number thing online and again struck out) Several times I would have a girl in my car say something to the effect of, “Shouldn't that be 69?”

I would reply, “No I wasn’t born in 1969, but now that I know where you mind is let’s say we skip dinner and just go back to my place.” I won’t comment on the success of this particular pickup line because a gentleman never tells. (That and I'm sure you are sick of the baseball analogies.)

Anyway, what makes this funny is when I went looking for Rick Parks stuff and found this video I noticed it was actually put onto Youtube by Irene. Except on Youtube she signed up as Sentinel1969. I’ve been busted by my own joke.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

10 Questions with Australian Gamer

Australian Gamer Interview Banner
My "10 Questions" Interview is up at Australian Gamer. There is a forum link at the bottom where people can discuss the interview and I am supposed to answer questions. I am thinking about posting the rap lyrics I wrote to the Lord of the Rings back in 1990 instead. Well see.

But thats not why I gathered you all here today. I wanted to tell you about my post. The day before yesterday I created a forum account and started poking around reading various topics. I stumbled across the ‘relationship’ thread. It was nine pages long and had a few humorous posts but mostly it was a car wreak that I couldn’t stop reading. When I got to the end I just had to add a post of my own.

I met her while I was working as a soldier in the pay of the Argentine government. Her name was Rachel and was an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency charged with the training of counter revolutionary anti-Sandinista Guerrillas opposed to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Read More

The post has even been nominated for Post of the Month!!! That’s right baby! I could win a Ghost Recon II t-shirt and Xbox 360 faceplate! You can be damn sure I’ll be reminding you when it comes time to vote!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Supanova 2007

The Supanova pop-culture expo (or as the rest of call it: sci-fi and comic book convention) was this last weekend at Supanova. I was on a panel about ‘why video game character’s work’ on Saturday. There were much better topics for other panels but thats my luck. I spent all day Sunday working our booth where we were running 4 versus 4 Vortex matches of Fury.

There were lots of people saying how great the game looked and I told them that the Sanctuary and War Zone in this version has already been replaced by much much much better stuff. Some of the new levels that are starting to come out now are looking really awesome. If you haven’t signed up to get into the beta you should head over to www.unleashthefury.com right now and get it done! The pre-beta version isn’t that far away and it will support lower machine specs than the previous alpha version.

Other things at Supanova was Alex Maleev who is a noted comic book artist know for his Daredevil run with writer Brian Michael Bendis. His credits also include Superman vs. Predator, Avengers Illuminati, The Crow: Flesh & Blood, Silver Surfer and the upcoming Halo 2! I got him to do a sketch for me that I will eventually get around to scanning onto the computer. I told him I took one of the Marvel Civil War: The Confession pictures off his website and colored it. He told me I should send it to him and actually sounded like he meant it. I told him He should do a coloring contest with some of his artwork. He said I should do a coloring contest. We finally settled on me trying to get the Bullpen Bulletins podcast to do a coloring contest; which I did and they seem to think it’s a good idea. I need to rework my colored version though, something I did while killing time and watching TV isn’t really my best effort.

Ron Glass (Shepherd Derrial Book from Firefly/Serenity) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian from Star Wars) were at the show. I wasn’t able to get away from our booth because there were only two of running things on Sunday, but I got one of the guys on the Battlestar Galactica XBox Live team who was standing in line to get Aaron Douglas (Galen Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica)’s autograph to get Ron Glass to sign his Serenity comic book cover for me.

Marv Wolfman, writer of DC's famous Crisis on Infinite Earths among many other notable accomplishments in the comic book industry, was there hanging out in a back corner of the Pandemic Game's booth. He had a panel where a good number of people showed up but he was mostly sitting by himself at the Pandemic booth. I have the New Teen Titan's issues he wrote back in the 80's, but they are in storage in Vegas. I didn't have anything in the small part of my collection thats here in Australia that he's written. I talked to him for a few minutes asking him why he was at the Pandemic booth. He said he is doing a project with them that he can't talk about yet. I bought the scripts from Nightwing #129 and #130 from him just to have something for him to autograph. I'm going to have go find those issues. I've always been kind of interested it writing for comics and like to read issues along with the script just to see the different ways different writers do it.

Overall though I was disappointed I the show. I was really hoping to find some back issues on my want list but it’s a pretty small convention and not a lot of non-local vendors whose shops I haven’t already searched showing up. The girl who showed up last year dressed as Cammy from Street Fighter 2 was there in costume again this year. Yes the costume was exactly like it is in the video game and yes she had a body that could wear that type of costume. I went through puberty all over again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Flurry of Fury!

I have been too lazy to update with all the post-GDC reviews and instead have just let them pile up. I started to think I just wouldn't link them anymore because as the game gets closer to release there is just going to be more and more of them. But since I had been saving these and I haven't had time to update the blog in awhile I figured I would just dump them all in one messy post. They are kinda in reverse order and I hope all the links work since I haven't tested them since reading them originally.

You will notice that some of these are more in depth reviews by the people that just gave it a quick look see at the Game Developer's Conference.

Gamasutra article about the Auran & CDC deal

March 30th post talking about the next Penny Arcade Expo that shows Fury being played at PAX 06

Tony being interviewed at Ten Ton Hammer Part One

Part Two:

The Fury Myspace page

The ABC2 (Australian Broadcast Network) April 27th broadcast of ‘Good Game’ with a couple of 5 second sound bites from Tony and Paul



Warcry GDC preview


Games Radar



Game Informer

MMORPG Newsletter

In other news, Ability Icons are finished!!! Yay!

Connie just had her pictured published in the April 2nd Brisbane Issue of the MX News newspaper.

I will have an interview up on Australian Gamer in the next few days.