lightsaber outtakes

With the recent hype around Revenge of the Sith hitting the silverscreen I was reminded of the heap of work we had done for the Max Payne 1 total conversion (TC) Lightsaber 4 (LS4), but which never was included into it. Lightsaber 5 (LS5) never was completed, so everything done for it counts as an outtake, I guess. Quite some of this work never saw release, but only was circulated amongst the members of the modding-team. After the ludologist officially having created the new genre of fake computergame-outtakes here now are some real outtakes from a computergame modification—the Lightsaber project of nearly forgotten fame.


One of the coolest features HairlessWookie was able to pull of with the Max Payne 1 engine is stealth aka cloaking or invisibility. To my knowledge this ability never was an element of the StarWars-universe, and we indeed cracked our heads about how to integrate it storywise. First we thought it to be some The-Force trick mastered by Jedi and Sith. But then it would have appeared seldomly in the game. So we cooked up the subterfuge of stealth being some secret piece of Sith-technology. So all the bad guys on the Sithlords’ payroll could have it—and getting hit from seemingly out of nowhere indeed would have been a surprise to the player as invisibility never was seen before in the realm of Max Payne. A killed invisible man would have dropped the stealth-device and the player would have been able to pick it up and use it him/herself. Wook didn’t go for complete invisibility, but for transparency, as you can see above—note the cloaked figure nicely being highlighted by the muzzle-flash. The weapon was not yet transparent in this build.

Along this line Wook had achieved nightvision for the MP-engine. Switched on in a completely unlit room the non-player-characters and there foot prints are seen as thermal images. Storywise we were tempted to implement this feature not as a technical one, but as some kind of Jedi-clairvoyance.


Wook is a virtuoso creator of particle effects—the PFX to be experienced in LS4 are ample proof of that. But back then he had some things more up his sleeve. First of all evil-emperor style force-lightning accompanied by matching sound, and truly devastating in its effects. Mr. Skywalker demonstrates it nicely for us in Mr. Payne’s living room.


Secondly he created new lightsaber-effects producing a blurred, smearing glow of the blade. The idea was to combine these effects with Max Payne’s unique concept of bullett time in order to generate a completely new experience. Going into bullet time while wielding the saber would have resulted in a visually enhanced fencing ballett. Once having made the way to Mr Payne’s living room there was not much begging needed to convince Mr. Skywalker to show off some slowmo swordfighter-stunts and tricks. How Mr. Skywalker appropriated Lord Maul’s double-saber, and why he fools around with it in Mr. Woden’s backyard is beyond our knowledge.


But all that originality had to be backed up by ‘genuine’ Starwars items to create the feel of said universe. So droids and the like found their way into our strictly in-team builds of Lightsaber.


But not only the enemies should gain profit from the implementations. So Wook gave a speederbike to the player. And believe me, it’s a lot of fun to whoosh through the original Remedy-levels on a speederbike. We cooked up plans for a huge level to be mastered only by use of the speederbike—it never saw the light of day.


Luke, the droids, a TIE-pilot, the AT-ST (which made it into the release!), and the speederbike obviously were taken from *cough* somewhere else … but for LS5 we strictly wanted original material created by our team. Quickly I had talked endo into the boat and he started to model weapons from scratch: Above you can see his renditions of the droid blaster and Chewie’s bowcaster. But the original-weapons scheme wasn’t limited to recreations of StarWars armament—Wook also created code and effects for a railgun, which works like a charm.


But not all weapon-coding worked out flawless at the first attempt. One of the most astounding features in LS4 is the player’s ability to deflect enemy projectiles by means of the lightsaber. With a little patience one even can aim the deflected projectile on a target—just like seen in Episode I. During the implementation process Wook sent me a build inside which something got messed up in respect to weapons and decals. The surreal effect was that shooting at a wall resulted in sten guns stucking in the wall—like the weapon had fired guns as projectiles. A true outtake.


All characters of course were planned to be original work, too. Maybe the biggest step to success of LS4 came when StratonAce joined us. Strat didn’t content himself with recreating, but cooked up a completely new character: Darth Malice. Above is an early rendition of Lord Malice—the version included in LS4 looks decidedly different.


My humble self is neither the coder- nor the PFX-type—my task was to create convincing StarWars architecture and geometry. I did my best with the bridgeroom of Lord Vader’s Stardestroyer. Very early in the planning stage of LS4 LordHelmet had the idea to have a saberfight in the bridgeroom while simultanesouly seeing starships battling outside, in space. Knowing close to nothing of the engine’s capabilities at that time, I went to work and more than one time drove MaxEd right over the edge by hilarious boolean operations. I succeded in merging the bridgeroom’s uncomfortably angled windows with a large outside space and even was able to create the exits/portals. Not very much later the complete geometry to be seen in the screenshots above was scrapped. My TIE-fighters were a much better idea, but never made it ingame, although Wook already had done huge robotic arms automatically doing repair-work on the TIEs in the Stardestroyer’s dockingyard. By the way, my Imperial Shuttle is a nice piece, too.

Those were the Lightsaber-outtakes, folks—but a lot of goodies actually have made it into the final release of LS4. I won’t start to jot down spoilers here, because … I ran around the net today but couldn’t find a decent download opportunity for LS4. So, if you want to have this legendary ;-) MP1-mod, feel free to download it from my server [.zip | 52MB].

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