After watching Part 1 of Combined Arms, I knew I wanted to learn more about the production, the creator, and his overall vision for the series. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here it is! Then check out the interview and a couple of bonus videos at the end.
For our readers who may not be familiar with you, who are you?
I’m Terallian, or Tera, and I’m from South Australia! We’re a rare breed in the SC Community. I got into Star Citizen in February 2016 if I recall correctly because it looked like an amazing game. And it is! I’m currently unemployed but studying Films & VFX at University, for video games and other digital media.
My current goal is to work on Combined Arms Part II and III, while working on my course. My long term goal (no secret) is CIG of course. I’m 17, but turning 18 in a couple of days.
How did you learn to use CryEngine?
I learned to use CryEngine by just diving in headfirst and spending as much time playing with it as I could. Really, I think the best way to learn is to just tackle each issue head on, and experiment as much as possible.
Where did the inspiration for Combined Arms come from?
The inspiration for Combined Arms is a little murky, actually. Originally, I wanted to reboot the Omega Team series I’d been working on with a short, 5-10 minute film. Working on a series (and I’ll admit, a comedy is not my strong suit…) from the get-go was a bit daunting, and I lacked the inspiration to continue Omega Team. The film, originally called Omega Team Operation: Combined Arms, was just going to be a one-shot, but at some point, during development, we decided to branch out and turn it into a series. I’m really glad we did so, because the film ended up being wildly popular, and the feedback we’ve received is incredibly useful.
What were the biggest challenges with the production?
I think the biggest challenge was, is and always will be animations. The fair majority our ours for the film come from Squadron 42’s first mission, just some odd Outlaw animations for a couple scenes, mostly idle stuff and the like. A little bit is from some of CIG’s demos, and the rest are SC’s in-game player animations. Unfortunately, this does mean we’re very, very limited in what we can do (no fist fights, dramatic fleeing, extended dialogue, etc). It’s a shame, but we’re hoping sooner or later to get some mocap up and running. The issue is just dealing with character rigging for now.
The second biggest challenge was facial animation, which I sort of ‘cheated’ at doing in CA. The speech animations we used were pre-baked, and a few of the extra ones were from the ROM tests (stretching the face, preparing it for mocap). Fortunately, with a bit of mixing and matching, some blending and a bit of careful scripting, we managed to pull it off! Hopefully, soon we’ll be able to work with our own, fully mapped facial animations.
What was the most fun part?
The most fun part was the glitches. Oh dear lord, the glitches. Seriously, I had pages and pages of gifs from the bugs and mess-ups and weird freak outs from the skeleton. Hit me up sometime if you’re eager for some nightmare fuel– that’s an open invitation for any brave enough!
How long did it take?
Combined Arms took a total of three months if I recall correctly. It was ‘finished’ around the 2-2.5 months mark, but I left some time for our composer to work on the score, while we go the audio polished a little more.
What’s your over-arching vision for the series?
We’ve got our sights set on three parts. Part II is deep into development (around the 5-minute mark, and pushing).
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes! I’d just like to share that if anyone is interested in joining the project, we’re eagerly looking for talented character riggers for both body and facial skeletons– it’s a tough job, but one that opens up a million avenues of storytelling. I hope everyone keeps an eye out for Part II, and joins us for development in the future! We’re learning as we go, and we hope you’re along for the ride.