2005 - Earth 2160

Right after joining Reality Pump in 2005 I started work on Earth 2160 which was the next in line in the series after 2140 and 2150. The latter was one of the first fully 3D RTSs and 2160 was determined to keep the series on the cutting edge of computer graphics. It wasn't shy to show it off by letting you view the action from the perspective of individual units in a PIP or full-screen mode. The camera wasn't much constrained and you could zoom in out freely. The game was confident to deliver on every scale.

The games in Earth series are all real-time strategies but far from your common backyard variety. Earth 2160 offered you 4 races which had different gameplay styles - which is a feature claimed often but rarely delivered upon. In this game the differences go far beyond the usual unique technology trees and mean real game differences.

For example building a a base when playing as ED meant having to connect all buildings with corridors and if the circuit was broken in an attack the detached buildings would not function. The aliens on the other hand did not have any bases whatsoever and relied on mother units which had the unique ability to split into two as long as they had resources. To get units you had to mutate the mother unit into whatever it was you wanted - including a stationary plant-like spitting turret. If that's not enough variety for you most factions could customise their units with different modes of propulsion, weapons and armour - depending on your strategy or technology level.

The game was really impressive graphically; it used a powerful particles system which the company later packaged up and started selling as middle-ware.

All models relied on the today standard fare of diffuse, specular and normal maps. The detail of buildings and units was for that day impressive and the game was extremely demanding on the hardware if you wanted to enjoy all the eye-candy.

From the modelling point of view it was a challenging job. The models needed to be proper closed meshes with no open seams or poly-saving cheats due the fact that the game showed the damaged state of buildings by overlaying a destruction texture on them and applying vertex transformations to make the structure look deformed. If there was an open seam somewhere it could show up as a hole after such a deformation.

I got to work on many neutral structures and some game vehicles and my first organic unit - which was the alien mother creature which was used as the unit producer for the Alien faction. I also had the duty of doing some of the less exciting jobs like creating LODs and fixing meshes from the technical side and optimising them where possible.