Return to JKMAG Main sponsor

Page 1

Page 2

In Discussion with Al McDonald

Page 1




IP Board


This, our first Editorial, is a discussion conducted by Al McDonald, one of the most talented skin artists for JK/MotS out there, with two other top skin men, Marc Sauvé, and Red of the Skinners group. See what is on these skinner minds, and how they do what they do and with what tools. It should influence 'newbie' editors and spur some thought about the influence of Star Wars: Episode 1 on Jedi Knight and MotS in 1999.

- Chyren - December '98 -

Al McDonald:     Things have been pretty quiet lately. What are you working on at the moment? I'm waiting for pics from the Episode 1 trailer to surface.

Marc Sauvé:     What a coincidence, me too! Actually, I'm really anxious to know what Lucasarts is planning as a follow up to JK and MotS. You really didn't think MotS was it, did you? Me neither.
I bought the "Behind the Magic" CD encyclopedia and even though it was quite enjoyable (love that "Weapons test") there really wasn't much about the new movie.

The last thing I worked on, was a clan skin which wasn't used because the clan couldn't be reached. I still have it. I also worked on a lot of Single player models for a JK level I'm planning to do.


Rugar-Boss and friends    Rugar-Boss contemplates

I did put up pictures of a new monster I had created. It's sort of werewolf-like. I also worked on a lot of new bosses for single play. (I've got a few shots if you want). That's about it. I still answer a lot of e-mail from burgeoning skin makers. I also try to update my editing site using gamers suggestions as much as possible.

Red:     I've been real busy with the dreaded REAL LIFE :-) I've waiting for things to calm down at school and work to really go back into Jedi Knight editing. I've been playing good ol' Dark Forces lately (I am too much of a newbie to have edited Dark Forces - actually Jedi Knight is the 1st game I've ever edited) and it's giving me a lot of ideas.

Al McDonald:     Do you skin for any other games? I ask this because I've done some skinning for Quake and I found that I was able to use my imagination a lot more. I don't know if this is because Quake is cross-genre: you can do any skin for it and it fits. There are skinners for Quake that have a real style, whereas I feel that Jedi Knight skinners are stuck trying to capture the look and feel of the movies. I think this is partly due to the cartoonish nature of the Quake player model. Most of the Jedi Knight ones are fairly simple but accurate renditions of a human. Sans big bunny ears, of course. It sometimes gets to me that I'm nearly always copying something created by someone else.

Marc Sauvé:     I've toyed with the idea of doing skins for Quake 2 and Unreal. But I still have to do anything about it. I still consider myself a bit of a newbie when it comes to that. The only other games I've ever edited was Doom and Doom2 which I did a few levels that I've never released. I still have them and some were actually fun to play. I also had fun with a Duke Nukem 3D level, but I never finished it because of my university.

I do agree that the Star Wars universe is limiting when it comes to style. But I can see a big difference between the best JK skinners. Talent always has a way of creeping in. We simply have to work with what is there and make the best we can. I've been thinking of doing a "Spice Girls" skin patch for MotS. Any takers?

One of the reason I think Quake skins have more variety is because the game, although quite stylish, doesn't have a strong enough personality. The fact that you are playing some anonymous bozo marine certainly doesn't help, I guess. Whereas in JK, you play Kyle Katarn, a man with a past and a mission. Even if some of Jason Court's acting isn't always great, it's enough for the player to get right into.

Red:     Nope. I did work a bit on an actual game skinning a CAD mesh but that's all. Another odd thing is, I can't draw worth anything. I haven't taken an art class in 4 years. The main thing that makes a skin a good skin is texture. If you want Kyle to have blue pants, you can't just have a solid blue color. I'm a big fan of tinting too :-) I'm sure anyone who's seen my work realizes this. Quality wise, I try to make my skins look like LucasArt's. Sometimes, I can add more detail, but I feel that it might put it out of place.

Al McDonald:     I know the Star Wars universe is big and bold, but do you feel limited by it? Outside of TC's I tend to think that the Jedi Knight community appreciates authentic Star Wars stuff more than home-brewed creations.

Marc Sauvé:     I certainly appreciate authenticity! But I don't mind when someone comes up with a new twist. "Infiltrate" was a nice one, but I recently played a MP game of "Jedi Ball" which I thought was quite enjoyable. As far as single player levels, "One Rebel's Sacrifice" was interesting. I missed the Jedi aspects, but the levels were fun.

Red:     Call me old fashioned, but yeah. I've only made 4 skins non Star Wars related. That was for the JiB vs NetSquads "War" last year :-) Little do many know, but I am the co-founder of NetSquads. Speaking of them, they are still working on their huge merge (in case anyone wanted to know).

Al McDonald:     What do you think of other FPS games? I've played a few, but find them a bit repetitive. I know Quake II is more technically advanced than Jedi Knight, but I think it's a bit garish and blockheaded. On the other hand, I think Jedi Knight is a little too subtle for it's own good, all that sneaking around in elevator shafts and making use of the cargo transport systems. I think it lacks the simple, epic punch of Dark Forces. I should mention that as a player, I'm rubbish.

Marc Sauvé:     The only reason I play computer games is because I discovered "first person shooters"!

My first was "Wolfenstein 3D", I then got Doom which I played until my eyes were red and my (ex-) girlfriend got too tired of waiting for me. I was, what you might call, a late bloomer. In '92 I was 27. So I had missed on a lot of stuff. Still can't stand arcades though! Dark Forces was, of course, a game I enjoyed quite a lot. Still do. Duke Nukem is still fun to play once in a while. Quake was too limiting. A blast in MP, but the in-game bosses were too stupid. I love a good "end boss" and a lot of games put me off because of poor bosses. I still have nightmare about "Cyberdemon"!

"Cybermage" is one game I had quite a lot of fun with. Now that I think of it, there are quite a lot of similarities between that game and JK in terms of character development. Your character even has a "lightsaber" later in the game. And I like the mixing of modern weapons and mystic powers.

Although I prefer Unreal to Quake 2 in term of overall design and environnent, MP Quake 2 is quite a blast. I've great hope for "Half-Life" and "Thief: The Dark Project". I'm a BIG fan of Looking Glass. Right now, I'm playing "Rainbow 6" which I love. Very different from most "shooters", it's also the one that's giving me the worst nightmares! The other game is "Interstate 76: Arsenal" which is quite a blast too. "Tie-Fighter" is also there in my top ten. I've also started playing "StarCraft" which I never thought I'd enjoy in million years. Good design, great story and very easy to get into. I recently had the chance to try the demo for "Heretic 2" and think this one has some potential. Oh, and of course "Outlaws"! (Drop that gun!)

Al McDonald:     Jeez, you're a gonzo gamer! I think I own about six games.

Red:     I'm actually not much of a gamer. I have the worst internet connection! I have been playing Doom II and Quake on my school's LAN :-) hehe the Computer teacher doesn't really know about that though ;-)

But, by what I see, I think that Quake is a bit better to edit and MP. But, where else can you wield a lightsaber?

I almost think that Dark Forces offers more to edit. I've never done so, but if you spend good time on on a WAX (I believe that's it's term) you can make a heck of a lot better new person then if you are limited to LucasArt's Models, etc as in Jedi Knight. But when that 3do editor comes :-) I must remember though, that Dark Forces level editors may have years of experience :-)

Al McDonald:     Yes, you can put a lot more into a DF Wax, but it's verrry time consuming. I spent a good fortnight building my zero-g spacetrooper, and boy was I glad to see the back of it. I'm kind of tempted to pull out my ol' DF WAX files and have a look at them...

On a different note, the kids out there might be interested on what equipment you use to make our skins. I use ConMan, MatMaster and Paint Shop Pro v4.14. You?

Marc Sauvé:     Well, I use Conman too, but before that I used GobExplorer. I preferred it to earlier ConMan because you could specify which folder you wanted to put your files in. Of course, Matmaster was always on the menu. All my 3do mesh editing got done in Notepad or Wordpad depending on the size. BMut I used for saber menus and the loading screens in my "Tales" patches. For making the actual textures, I used "Photoshop". It is, of course, way too expensive to buy this program just to make JK skins, but you can do so much with it it's incredible.

Red:     I use ConMan, Matmaster, Ulead Photoimpact SE (hey... it came with my scanner! :-) to edit mats.

To edit 3dos I use good ol' Wordpad, JED, and sometimes 3do Converter to scale.

If you want to start editing 3dos, etc START SIMPLE :-) My first skin took like 3 days :-) I wasn't smart enough to just change kyle's face and be done with it - no, I had to do every skin and test it with out any previous editing experience! Do a new chest mat 1st.. then maybe try a whole skin. If you get that mastered move on to grafting bodyparts (I believe an old issue of Darkness falls has a tutorial on that) etc. I learned by trial and error :-(
If you run into a problem your best bet is to try to work it out, that'll help you out a lot in the long run.

Jedi Knight Editing isn't for everyone. Expect to dedicate a lot of time to it. I am odd enough to be able to edit almost anything JK related (not to sound cocky :-) That didn't come overnight. JED took about a month itself :-)

Al McDonald:     Do you get a lot of requests, and if so, do you think they're a hassle? Be honest.

Marc Sauvé:     Well I can understand it up to a point and I always try to be nice. Some were interesting, others were simply too strange. One guy once asked me for a nude Mara Jade. Now I'm not that kind of a Jedi...but I admit there were quite a lot.

Red:     Doh! 'Be honest' :-) Yes I get a lot of requests and yes I think they are a hassle. I may do the request if I am in the mood for it. But guys... I can't do a good Yoda with the tools I have, sorry :-)

Personally, I don't think they're a hassle, but I then tend not to do many of them.

Al McDonald:     I've never been asked for a nude, but I have been asked for a sheep.

Marc Sauvé:     Where's question number 7?

Al McDonald:     I lost it.

Goto Page 2