Our finished machinima. I left this mostly up to Ben and Ross and was only involved with a few of the shots. The short narrative is basically just William Dyer finding the temple and making his way down to the main chamber. His presence wakes up the hibernating queen causing him to have to flee.

The intro shot was put together by Ross in after effects. It has 3 main overlapping layers; the background, including the sky and the temple itself, the foreground, used to create a depth of feild effect, and chroma keyed footage of our second life William Dyer walking in.

The actual machinima was shot by all 3 of us in Second Life and edited together by Ben. We ran into a lot of problems trying to get smooth panning shots while recording. I’m not sure if the problem was an inconsistant framerate, latancy from the server, or poor mouse sensitivity, but every attempt we made to get certain shots came out juttery.

The music was something picked out by Ben when editing it. I don’t know the name of the track, but it fits well (although it’s a bit of a deviation for our original tounge in cheek plan of using the turret opera song from Portal 2).

Hibernating aliens

We went through a great deal of discussion over whether we wanted to make our aliens as static sculpted prims, out of regular prims applied to a character, or as 2D textures set back in alcoves to prevent player interaction. We ended up going with the third option. It allowed us to have more detail in depicting the aliens and saved us a great deal of time that it would have taken to model them in Second Life or Maya. We did build the queen using a mix of default and scuplted prims, however she lacks the sense of realism that the others have. Of the queen had to be in 3D simply due to her positioning in the build, and her feature in the machinima. The fact that she’s incased in ice helps hide some of the crudeness of the model.

Decorative cravings

Part of the breif was that our build should include murals/carvings created by the aliens. I made this by applying a painted silhouette over the top of our rock wall texture. I then adjusted the values to make it look like it had been carved out of the rock.

I made copies of these and placed six of them along the enterance to the chamber.

More texture work

Some more textures I made to help decorate our area. The top one is snowy rocks. It was originally a photo of a wet rockface, but I added copious photoshop filters as well as some hand drawn elements to turn it into something resembling snow.

The middle one was planned to be used for our ceiling as a kind of clay/terracotta texture. However due to problems with Second Life’s permissions system none of us were able to edit the roof prims. We decided it was simpler to just still with the wood texture we used as a placeholder rather than rebuild the entire section just to swap a texture.

The bottom image is hand drawn and was intended to be used as a scrolling cloud layer. This was a response to the issue of other people’s builds being visible from our level, and possibly in the machinima. The plan was to cover our entire area with megaprim cuboids textured to look like clouds. Unfortunately the angles involved meant even covering the entire upper surface of our area still left some stuctures visible. There were also issues with the texture stretching when applied to a megeprim and animated. We tried to repurpose it as swirling mist for the main chamber, but the effect was too heavy handed and stole focus.


Using the photos Ross took I created these two textures, one for the tiled floor, another for the stone walls. Since those are two we’ll be using most I thought I’d tackle them before anything else.

The tile texture was made using a concrete photo as the base, and overlaying a photograph of some stone. I adjusted the hue and saturation for both images, darkening and desaturating the underlayer, and lightening the overlayer. I offset both layers and used the clone brush to eliminate edge marks. I then used a hard-edged eraser to cut a grid in the overlayer and drew in shadows and highlights to accentuate the tiles. I also made two variations, one partially damaged, and another fully damaged, to reduce the appearance of repetition.

The rock texture was simpler to make. I used several photos of mossy rock, offset to remove seam lines, and erased blemishes on the upper layers to reveal the layers underneath. The challenge was to make the texture as uniform as possible. Since its repeated on a large-scale any distinguishing  features quickly become apparent. I also made a variation with a large crack runing through it.

Main alter redesign

When I first designed the main chamber we had no idea what our alien race would look like. My idea of having one of the Elder prisoner inside a block of ice not longer makes sense in our insect based dynamic, since the queen would never be held in chains. Substituting her for an anonymous  victim in the ice would work, but require us to design a whole new area to display the queen.

In the new design the queen is sat atop a throne, around which the ice has built up over time. When healthy the queen would have sat there immobile issuing pheremone commands to the worker and soldier classes. Slowly as the ice built up her commands would have become disrupted and the chamber would have fallen into disrepair. Now with her full sealed the remaining aliens are leaderless, and have relapsed into hibernation. When William Dyer uncovers the chamber his tinkering with the ice leads to their reawakening…