Lost Keys/Old Projects


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Thursday night I was chatting with a friend about artwork. She had expressed the desire to teach herself how to draw, eventually in hopes of starting a webcomic. I always love it when people show a desire to learn something new. People, in general, seem far too passive about creativity. We are, after all, a consumer culture. Creating new media can be a difficult role reversal.

During the course of the conversation, we stumbled upon CG and animation. I had done a bit of animation years ago during the InterLock project using Bryce 3 and 4. By today's standards, what I produced was terribly crude. Even today some of the old renders and sketches make me embarrassed. This is not to say that there aren't some images I rather like.

The problem was, I no longer had any of the project files on my machine. When I changed computers in 2004, I decided not to include most of the InterLock files. They instead, resided on a CD backup. I usually make a CD or DVD backup of my files every year. I keep the discs for about three years, and then I throw them away. I had assumed that I had all the files in the last backup, and it wasn't an issue. There was one image in particular I wanted to show her, one that I could see so clearly in my imagination but couldn't externalize it.

I keep most of my immediate CDs in several cases above my computer monitor. In those cases I found three discs, but none of them had the files I was looking for. Determined, I set about digging through every box in my small apartment to see if I had a copy somewhere. a half hour later, I came up empty. Did I really lose the files? Was what little that remained of the InterLock project gone forever? I didn't want to believe it. I had maintained the same file tree for my documents for years now, I even had the path memorized -- or so I thought.

When I went back to the oldest of the discs I had found, I discovered that the files I was looking for weren't in the directory I expected. Instead, they were in a subdirectory of the directory I expected, and curiously overlooked. Inside was a carbon copy of the InterLock website during the height of the project. And there were the images I was looking for.

After so much effort to find them, I thought it would be a shame to hide the images I found. True, they may be old, but some of them were quite nice given the level of technology I was working with. So, I decided to post them here.

Image previewDetail of Alpha an Gamma districts. This came before the complete design of Trace, which explains the tram tubes that run between them.
Image previewThis image was actually used as a promo for a beta testing (haha) of the InterLock battle system. As you can guess, we never got that far.
Image previewBeta District served as the reciving point in the Reflector network. It was also the most sturdily built of all the reflectors. This was because it had far more energy pouring through it than other ground-based reflectors. One plot device was to have the power downlink from space become misaligned, thereby destroying a good portion of the Commons.
Image preview Imagine this thing towering over you.
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This is the earliest image created for InterLock; can you tell? It was the scene of a critical plot point for Aaron Murphy. Having disappeared from the rest of the party earlier in the story, they retrace his path to this "crashed" ship. The ship isn't so much crashed as it is embedded in the landscape, almost impossibly. I had this idea after I produced this image, so it isn't shown above.

In the ship Aaron Murphy had left a message for Jenn. The two had formed a relationship over the course of the story. He asked for Jenn to give up. To forget everything they had found so far in the story. He also, however, left an encoded file that contained everything. Only the co-creator of file knows how decode it, Tera Rogue. While she's in the party at the time, she has to overcome issues of her own. Namely, the action of her sister, Erza Nelson the CNEO of the Debson Systems corporate nation. Ezra had taken away both Tera's husband, and her close friend, the hacker "Counter", when Tera defied her.

When the Synthesis file is finally decoded, they discover that Aaron Murphy is in fact, the hacker Counter. Erza had used a special varient of the InterLock protocol in order to rewrite his memories. Aaron Murphy was the result. While Jenn, Tera, CHAD, and Jason were discovering this, Aaron was moving to confront Ezra for the final time.

Image previewThis was the earliest image of the Debson tower, before the complete design of Trace. Instead of a singlular tower, Debson was just one highrise in a metropolis. This was the background screen for my Macintosh Performa 2600 for over a year.
Image previewIn an early draft of the story, the character of Jason Gray was an "Information Mercenary". He led Jenn to this hideout in the Beta District slums after her encounter in the Zeta District Kiosk. Shortly thereafter, C.H.A.D. entered the story. This was one of the last images I created for the project, and also the most advanced technically.
Image previewJust say to yourself, "Man, that fucker's BIG!"

That was the intent, anyways.
Image previewAnother shot of the Ocean Reflector, only with a sunset theme. Still one of my favorites from the series.
Image previewThe first reflector image I ever created. This was also had the oldest feel of all of them. Unlike all the other reflector designs, this one had a curved dish, with a hollow center. Newer designs had a complect center pillar with two plasma conduits running vertically on either side.
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In the InterLock universe, the nation-state system had collapsed in favor of tighter corporate-nations. The employees of this corporate-nation were it's citizens, with the CEO or (CNEO in this case) acting as president or tyrant. The seat of the Debson Systems Ltd. was the city of Trace. Trace is an enormous raised city dotted by five large towers. Each tower was referred to as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Zeta.

Alpha was the home of the Debson offices, a tall black building with the corporate logo on each side. Beta was the factory district and primary power generation sector. It's directly opposite Alpha and is marked by a large Reflector complex. One large reflector and three smaller ones. Gamma, with its large ring, was also called the Spacing District. Debson ran it's operations to the Reflector Satellite network through that district. Delta and Zeta are identical pyramidal buildings. Delta is residential and Zeta is retail. The towers were interconnected through a tram system. You could, however, reach them through the city Commons. The large platform that connected all the towers togeter was the Commons. The majority of the population lives there, often in less than optimal conditions. Below the platform were the slums, an older city which Trace was build atop.

If it sounds a bit like Midgar of Final Fantasy VII, you know where I got my inspiration. I probably wouldn't have designed Trace quite this way if I were to write about it now.

Image preview In the InterLock universe, the Ocean Reflector was the largest in Vaporspace. It was also the site of a terrible experiment of Ezra, the CEO of Debson Systems Ltd. and the co-creator of Vaporspace. Here, an experiment to control the InterLock protocol crashed, creating a choatic region of the simulation around the Reflector.

Of all the Reflector designs, the Ocean Reflector is the one that still captivates me. Unlike my first attempt at a reflector, this one was polished, refined, and even somewhat impressive. It formed a template for all the reflector designs in the story.
Image previewThis is an imfamous image. Years ago when I was working on the InterLock project, I found myself in need of a background image for my test application. Instead of choosing any image, I decided to fashion one of my own using Bryce 4. The test application was designed to use a prerendered background with overlayed 3D graphics. Since 3D hardware wasn't standardized at the time, I had decided to write my own rendering engine. It worked, but no where near as well as I hoped. In the end, I never saw more than spinning cubes in over this image. I still consider it one of my better 3D works, even years later.
Image previewThe Zeta Kiosk scene was the first -- and last -- closed scene I constructed for InterLock. I rendered a few shots of the other features of the room to prove they existed.
Image previewPart of the opening scene of InterLock, Jenn comes out of the elevator. It didn't turn out quite right no mater how long I played with the model.