I spent a lot of time over the weekend working on the staff project. I managed to get the staff's shaft cut to the right length, smoothed the ends, applied to blue window tint, and prepared the internal reflective and refractive films. With great pleasure, I can say that the blue window tint worked amazingly well on the shaft. Unless you look very closely, it really does look like the shaft was made of blue polycarbonate. Putting the tint on was pretty time-consuming though. It requires you to cover the whole thing in soap and then wrap it and slowly push it down over and over as the soapy water evaporates and the sticky part of the film returns to stickiness. Rolling up and inserting the diffusion and reflection film was straightforward. You can see what the tube looks like with no film inside and what the film looks like outside the tube in the photo above.
Unfortunately, the theory that the light could be transmitted down the surface of the tube and reflected using the internal films was a COMPLETE FAILURE. Light just doesn't want to travel down the tube that way, or if it does, the effect is so small as to be invisible. It's back to the drawing board on how to obtain light down the shaft in a space-efficient way. I tried a couple different methods of trying to light the shaft using a slightly different method, but it failed as well. So it's back to the drawing board. I did find another potential technology, though: Lightpaper. I contacted the manufacturer to see if they plan to make it available in the near future. After that, EL tape and EL wire may be my best bet for now.
In light of the lighting situation, I elected to shift focus slightly. Now that the shaft is the right length, I thought I would print out the tips to get a good idea of the scales involved. That way, I'll have something tangible to think about when designing the internal mechanisms and lighting layouts. It took about 13 hours, but I printed the Super Smash Bros Ultimate version of top tip at actual size with a hole just big enough to slide the shaft onto it. Literally all I did was scale it up and prepare it for printing, but it's otherwise exactly the same 3D structure, polygons and all, as the in-game model. The print came out amazingly well for its size. It's really one of the easier things to print. Here it is compared to a previous proof-of-concept print.
When I showed this off yesterday on Discord, a couple people seemed interested in getting a copy of the mockup 3D print for their own. If you're interested in one, I can print you the top tip like this one for $20 plus shipping. Send me an email if you're interested. In the meantime, the next thing I'm going to do is prepare a mockup for the lower tip that will fit onto the shaft. That way, we'll be able to see a mockup for the whole staff at once.
On this day in 2020, Star Fox Assault has been out for 15 years. The perfect day for love letter to Star Fox fans, Star Fox Assault was released on Valentines Day in 2005. Released first in America, it would be released in the following days and months in Japan, Europe, and Australia.
Also important, Super Smash Flash 2 version 1.2 releases today. It has Krystal as a playable character. What are you still doing here?! Go play it! Go Go Go!
Game development experimentation channel Mix and Jam produced a wonderful video showing just how simple it can be to recreate Star Fox's Arwing flight mechanics and level layout systems. Follow along with the tutorial, or even download the source files to improve and expand the ideas into something greater. Everything can be done for free with the Unity game engine. The sky is the limit!
Xevelous contacted me a few weeks ago about a project. He got himself a resin printer and had previously printed and painted a miniature of the free Krystal model by JCThornton. Resin 3d printers are capable of very, VERY precise prints with lots of detail (unlike FDM printers like mine), though the prints may not be as sturdy or long-lasting as other types. Perfect for little figures like these.
Xevelous wanted to test his printer's capabilities by creating a much larger figure, and to thank me for my work on the Krystal Archive, he insisted that I have it. Wouldn't take any money for it either. Well who am I to say no? Thus, early this week, the figure arrived at my house. At just over 3.5 inches tall, it is incredibly detailed, and still has its supports attached (to make it safer to transport). It took about 25 hours to print. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Leave the supports on? Take them off? Paint it? We'll see.
Thanks so much for the wonderful gift, Xevelous. I will treasure it!
UndyingNephalim continues his slow progress in improving his fangame Star Fox: Event Horizon. This time, he shows off gameplay of a Venomian beach landing force verses a Lylat city's defense forces. The game engine it's built on really isn't designed to handle this, but he does it anyway. Mad lad!
The development team over at McLeod Gaming asked Smash Champion and Krystal Fan ZeRo to share the release date for version 1.2 of Super Smash Flash 2 (the one with Krystal in it). SSF2 is a fanmade, sprite-based Smash game with lots of fan-favorite characters, notably Krystal! The game will be publicly available for download and play this Friday, February 14th, 2020, Valentines Day and 15th Anniversary of the Star Fox Assault release date.
The Krystal Staff Project is my attempt to create a game-accurate prop imitating Krystal's Staff from Star Fox Adventures and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. In this ongoing series of posts, I detail my process for creating it from scratch.
The project began over a year ago. I've been looking into the design and technical requirements of making Krystal's Staff from the games. Since this is the first post, I will detail the desired features:
- Lighted shaft (like Technicolor Cosplay's Staff)
- Raised details along shaft body
- Glowing bottom tip
- Glowing gems on top tip
- Opening and closing action on the top tip
- (Optional) Smoke/fog generation in the top tip
- (Optional) Sound effects in the top tip
- (Optional) Physical switches to control actions on the shaft itself
As I mentioned in the last podcast, I've already begun work on the project long ago. I've already explored 3D modeling the top tip for the purpose of 3D printing, and I've already mapped out a high-quality, game accurate texture for the shaft.
In Part 1, I want to tell you about generating the base shaft. After a bit of exploration, polycarbonate tubing seemed to be the way to go. It's both optically clear and very strong (used for lightsaber blades you can actually fight with). Basically glass but much stronger and lighter. The goal of the shaft is to have an underlying blue color which can project blue light outward along the blue channels in the original texture. It was important to have a blue color naturally so that it would still appear blue even when lighting effects were turned off. The tube would need to be flat at both ends so it could be lit from both directions. My thinking is that by keeping the lights at both ends, the center of the shaft can be used for the bulky battery power storage. Time will tell whether this is a workable strategy. Normally lighted tubes like this (as with lightsabers) either run the lights down the center, or rely on the center being open to shine a bright light down. Shining the light just on the edges is something novel, I believe.
Covering the blue areas would be the "gold" portions with printed or resin "carvings" glued on to give the shaft a physical texture of having actually been carved. That will be a subject for another time.
So, I got to work. First, I looked into many different forms of light generation. Since I wanted to have battery storage in the shaft, that meant very thin light source or a light source outside the tube body. I looked at OLED, Lumilor light-emitting paint, EL tape, flexible light guides, and LEDs in the tips. Sadly, all of the technologies except the last one was either completely unavailable or prohibitively expensive. The quote I got for Lumilor would have been around $2000 just for the paint, and it likely wouldn't have been bright enough anyway. LEDs in the tips it is!
I spent several weeks talking to several companies about obtaining blue polycarbonate tubing to use as the underlying Staff shaft. In addition to contacting a few plastic supply companies, I spoke to two different lightsaber companies, Kyberlight and TheCustomSaberShop. While they both had blue polycarbonate tubes, the longest one I could find (from anyone) was this 40 inch tube. That's not quite long enough for Krystal's Staff, and it is probably tipped with some a saber blade tip reflector, further reducing its length by a few inches. It just wasn't good enough. Sadly, while there are plenty of companies willing to do a custom order on colored polycarbonate, they usually require large batches, meaning I'd have to buy 500+ of them just to get one. Even at $10 a piece, that would represent a huge cost.
So, I had to try the consumer version. Polycarbonate tubes of much longer length are kept on hand by many sellers, but they are always clear, no colors. Acrylic tubes can be found in different colors, but I decided that acrylic would be too fragile for this prop. The goal would be to get a long, clear polycarbonate tube, and some way to color the outside blue. For that, I found some blue window tinting film. On top of that, I wanted to create a perfect internal reflection and diffusion system for the inside of the shaft, so bright lights shining down the edges of the tube would light up the whole length evenly. With some advice from Technicolor Cosplay, I settled on a pearlescent transparent wrapping film, which is often used by hobby lightsaber makers to diffuse the light source. To prevent reflections into the shaft body, I got a roll of highly reflective mylar film. That will go on the inner-most part of the shaft to separate the light and the batteries.
- Transparent Packaging Wrap, Opal - $7
- VIVOSUN Horticulture Highly Reflective Mylar Film Roll - $22
- Clear Polycarbonate Tubing 6 Foot - $20
- HOHOFILM 60"x20" Colored Window Film Clear - $15
- Total so far: $64 (though I can get at least four shafts done with the films and tints)
Next, I plan to assemble these materials, test it with light transmission, and figure out how to make the raised "carving" parts of the shaft.
Lastly, several people have expressed interest in me making them their own copy. I'm doing my best to keep costs down, but I have no idea how much the finish product will cost, both in terms of materials and labor. I'd like to make Staffs for people if they can pay, but be prepared, the cost will likely be well over $500 by my guesstimate right now.
See you next time!
I've been posting a bunch of stuff right away, instead of spreading it out. The reason why is because real life has been super busy and I'm about to leave for a trip, so I won't be able to post tomorrow. The good news: you get a week's worth of posts today! My final post for the week will be coming up in a few minutes.
YouTube user Luphine Howler used various Garry's Mod assets to create a very accurate version of Crazy Taxi with Krystal as the main character. 10/10 Game of the Year IGN.
Mild language warning.
Here's a quick summary of the basics of Krystal's history and position within the series. Probably little you didn't already know, but there may be some tidbits that are new for you. I have some slight disagreements with conclusions, but overall this is a great introduction by Miharu The Fox.
Thanks to Craig Beverlin for the heads up.