Bang bang boom boom

Experiments from the land of Lapsed Time...



My first encounter with 3D software — Vu-3D on the ZX Spectrum

I can’t remember exactly when I bought this, but it must have been sometime around 1983. Having seen Tron (and perhaps also The Last Starfighter) just around that time, and being young and mind-bogglingly naive, I had foolish visions in my head of now being able to do all that sort of thing at home.

Psion Vu3D for the ZX Spectrum

Naturally, reality very quickly made itself forcefully felt, and I had to be content with rather more basic selection of shapes and shadings. But it was still a fantastic introduction to the world of 3D, stoking an obsession that has been with me ever since. At the time (I was fifteen and had a load of O levels coming up) I spent hours goofing around modelling anything I could think of. I think my grades suffered a bit as a result.

Designing game levels, designing cities, all the while trying to find a way to avoid having to do it all manually ...

My attempt to do what CityEngine does...

My first attempt at a procedural city generator

I do like CityEngine. I stumbled across it whilst investigating ideas for procedurally designing and generating levels for an Android/iPhone game ... because I’m a one man band, and designing forty/fifty custom levels, all from scratch, all by hand, is just not going to happen.

So these are some of the results from my first pass at the problem. You design general areas where you want buildings, areas where different buildings are present in differing amounts, heights, cosmetic finishes and so forth. You define the areas where the various design parameters can vary. And then you hit “go” and sit back and see what happens.

Defining general areas of stuff

It’s not great, but it’s a good start. And it’s been fun hacking it together.

Defining general areas of stuff

The result

My first attempt at a procedural city generator

“Hollywood”, from White Hunter, Black Heart

Legendary director John Huston, in the guise of the character John Wilson (in the guise of the legendary Clint Eastwood) explains Hollywood to Ralph, one of his hapless underlings, in a scene from the movie “White Hunter Black Heart”.

I first saw this movie when it came out sometime around 1990, and loved it, although it didn’t really seem to strike much of a chord with the rest of the movie-going public at the time, which is a great shame, as it’s a fascinating story of obsession and making art versus making commerce.

This scene always comes to mind when I hear somebody sneering at Hollywood.

The movie was adapted from the book by Peter Viertel, which, although a work of fiction, is very much inspired by Viertel’s experiences making The African Queen in Africa with John Huston.

The endings of the movie and the book are very different. Although there were plenty of scenes in there which I assumed were to make the character of Wilson fit the Clint Eastwood screen persona, and then (upon reading the novel) discovered that no, they are there in the book as well. Whoops. Never make those kind of assumptions.