Black Sun: Retribution, the Radioplay
"Adjak, advisor to Prince Adashim, recounts the major events surrounding his life and the Prince, hoping to decipher the riddle that threatens to destroy all he knows."
Download - 539MB
The nonchalant conclusion to an exhausting two-year attempt to revive Salvation has finally come to its close. A shadow of its former self, Retribution sees its final incarnation as three-hour audiobook/radioplay. Five years, starting with the dawn of Salvation's creation, ends this day.
Usage of studio headphones while listening to this production is highly recommended. Anything that gives you the most fidelity out of your audio. Turn off your color TV, your telegraph, unplug the fax machine, and turn down the lamps. This will demand your full attention to be appropriately legible.
There may be a few crackles. Blame Vegas. Autotune also created a few crackles. Blame me for having an inflexible voice and not knowing how to use autotune.
The following sections detail why this project was forced down this particular road, the many annuals regarding its production, and some information related to the actual elements within. While this project does not redeem Salvation, and nor does it even begin to approach what Retribution could have been, it brings closure to my time with the writing and world, and concludes my efforts with it for many years to come, if not forever.
Black Sun: Salvation, the original video project, followed a long series of iterations between various engines, initially seeking to become a TC, before it eventually degraded into its final form, whose most major work began in late 2009-early 2010. It was released in 2011 and deemed a subsequent failure. Work began in late 2012 under an agreement with Killer 11 aka TheCoach to recreate the project as it should have been, provided he would eventually attempt character models. As with most similar such arrangements, this was simply wasted energy in the making. In mid 2013 the project entered damage control given the lack of progress in models, in which I attempted to kitbash models from games to fit my needs. I immediately consigned to defeat and decided to simply wait it out. In February 2014 I discontinued the project due to it being pointless without models I can't create. I made a big no-no trying to form a team or depend on someone, even if that someone was someone I had known for years. Lessons of the past are often re-taught at your expense. This lesson was most expensive indeed.
I had put enough work into Sins to redo all of Salvation's assets, including particles, models, and textures, twice over, not counting the 3 new races I was making. Not a single one of those can be reused for a later project. To say I worked day and night nonstop would not be exaggarating. Although there were slow times, Retribution's work remained at the forefront of my life since the hour I undertook it to the hour I finally let it go. Losing it was excrutiatingly painful, especially seeing as I should have never needed to rely on anyone to begin with. Accepting that I would forever be incapable of making my own graphics was hard, but I accepted it no less. Retribution died with my last UDK scene, the Anahn Foundry. It is odd, really. Killer 11 had assisted in multiple ship models, and produced base meshes at the time. I may never truly understand why exactly he never wanted to try characters, despite expressing desire to at the dawn of the project. Whatever the case, the results were clear: Retribution was impossible.
During the months then and after I struggled with problem after problem, ranging from life-threatening pneumonia to months-long nonstop work trying to save the life of one of my cats. At the end of it all, I was evicted, and spent the next several months moving other people's shit and trying to find a place to live. Then the cat problems started up again. A year of hell, starting from September 2013, to September 2014, accentuated the anguish of failing yet another project, one I was certain was doable.
Once settled, I began considering old plans to revive Retribution as an audio-only project. After a short discussion with a fellow video creator, I looked into my existing assets and managed to recover the 3-3 audio composition mentioned in the Ret dev videos, which I had thought lost. Using this as a basis, I reconstructed a vast amount of the script and silently toiled on building the final installation of the project.
Although the audiobook would never approach the heights the main project could have, it would still prove to be ridiculously challenging to create. I saw it as punishment for being unable to learn character modeling, and forced myself through it at the cost of many, many hours of sleep.
The following sections contain spoilers.
Skin color - Dark gray
Role - Advisor
An Anahn firstborn gifted with a strong connection to both Adashim and Mal`Ash. Adjak's psionic potency is stunted by lack of training and a far-strung genetic strand. Because of this he is spared the suffering endured by the firstborn who managed to survive the Song of War. Adjak is observant and critical-minded, acting as Adashim's advisor. While he possesses the authority of a Admiral answering only to Haktish, he never directly involves himself in any given event, personally or figuratively. His sole mission is to provide an inalienable outsider's perspective to events in Adashim's counsel, and the price for this is silence to all others on such matters.
Adjak's curiousity leads him to attempting communication with the Kyru his prince calls Annashim. However, their first meeting changes much of Adjak's views on the world. Annashim reveals little to him directly, and instead instigates a psionic trigger within his communion that awakens his sensitivity. Since then, Adjak becomes increasingly more psionically active, eventually accidentally evesdropping on communication between Adashim and foreign powers.
Adashim - Kyru, Central Strain
Skin Color - Tanned Caucasian
Role - Prince of Blood
The youthful and tact Kyru, Adashim, fled his civilization as Mal`Ash laid waste to it. His fortune and curse was that the very thing he relied on to escape the massacre of his people slaughtering one another was one of the weapons Mal`Ash had implanted in the world to turn it against itself. An object that amplified the thoughts and will of that which communed with it. In an effort to destroy the artifact and hide himself, Adashim fell right into Mal`Ash's hands.
The following events lead Adashim into a deadly multi-faceted game of chess against many monsters. He had to be prepared to sacrifice much to buy time, and though few would ever know, the closest of calls were those that did not cost him entire fleets. Indeed, Adashim's foresight was greatly exaggarated by his children, for they thought he could predict the future in the flames of the Black Sun and carry them through difficult times. Adashim's abilities were much less romantic. He relied on reading the psionic motion of the world around him and, indeed, the demons who mocked him so. It was the gamble of calling bluffs and leading their greed in circles. In a way, Adashim was merely lucky that the Fear valued him so, for Mal`Ash's involvement surely would have arrived much sooner had he not entertainment. Adashim was well aware of this, and surely the Fear was, too.
Haktish - Anahn Pureblood
Skin Color - Crimson
Role - Grand Admiral
A man of few words, Haktish is captain of the Kerr`Ussan, the Royal command ship, and orchestrates the Royal fleets from his seat of power. Nicknamed The Vice, Haktish's legendary tactics and abilities to read his opponents are only matched by his brutality and decisive nature. Haktish is a military man and a man of logic, and tries to steer clear of the more fantastical nature of Adashim's history, focusing instead on how he can bring his Prince victory on the battlefield. Soon, though, he would have little choice in avoiding the strange and deadly nature of the world beyond the veil.
Annashim - Kyru, Unknown Strain
Skin Color - Teal
Role - Psionicist
The entity titled Annashim by the prince proper is no more Kyru than the Undead, Adjak would discover. More distantly so, she was likely an alien entity more important to his prince's schemes than all the Anahn fleets combined. Still, somehow Adashim managed to extract Kyru genetic data from her for his pureblood experiments. Had she merely fabricated such complex information simply to make him happy? Why did she care if the prince won or lost his battles? Whatever the case was, Adjak left their few discussions under the impression that Annashim was tremendously more powerful than he had been lead to believe, and that her involvement in Adashim's long-running charade was more dangerous than that of any of the demons he had yet to face. Even though Adashim holds her captive, he never oversteps his boundaries. He's afraid of her.
Mal`Ash - Kyru, Fringe Strange
Skin Color: Red
Role - Proprietor of Assmad
Mal`Ash, known by many titles, including Keeper of Secrets and Ruby Dragon, is responsible for the destruction of his own people by turning them against each other, and hunts the remaining few down in a deliberately slow, methodical pace. He commands the Phantoms, unliving Kyru spirits, which are more than a match for demon and man alike. Mal`Ash is feared by survivors for his god-like power and mastery over elements other Kyru have yet to discover.
The Fear - Unknown
The Fear is a demon warship that acts out of bounds from what is expected of Guola's unliving army. There is more to this entity than Adashim first surmises. Though the Fear's dialogue is often confusing, and tends to weave between both languages and methods of speaking, everything it has ever spoken has relevance of the world and events within it.
Xul`Amon - Unknown
Xul`Amon, the so-called Prophet of the Xy`Kranasha, is an organism that survived the destruction of the Xy`Kranash's original hive mind in events beyond Anahn eyes. Unlike its creator, Xul`Amon assumed a far more strategical manner of intelligence, and quickly and fervently assumed service of an entity it calls "The Eternal Dream". Whatever delusions fuel this creature's actions remain impossibly lofty to observers, but its fanaticism seems to have some manner of overarching strategy, one backed by the extremely deadly bacterial organisms known as the Xy`Kranasha. Xul`Amon's true form and voice remain a mystery, as it chooses to appear and speak to its prey as something they would find more palatable than what the Xy`Kranasha are normally known for - star-devouring organic husks filled with swarms of extremely infectious psi-communal living cells.
Xul`Amon remains relatively passive during most of its existence up until the Anahn attempt to expand into the Tiran Wastelands, where it suddenly decides to extend outwards and interfere in their affairs. The Xy`Kranasha seem equipped and prepared to confront the Undead that soon follow.
The Wayward Daughter - Unknown
A supernatural Xy`Kranasha entity created by Xul`Amon that seems to hold some kind of connection to Adashim. With a single tear she creates the like-named battleship. The Wayward Daughter is both merciless and righteous, an embodiment of Anahn ideals. Its battleship bears resemblance to Anahn, Undead, DyiithJhinn, and Xy`Kranasha designs. The Wayward Daughter herself appears like a fierce, well-toned female Kyru with ivory, scaled skin and shining white hair, but as far as Adjak can tell she has no actual relationship to Kyru, and much like Xul`Amon, assumes the form merely out of familiarity.
RN-BB Bloodstone Battlecruiser
No, for it was the Bloodstone Battlecruiser's immense power systems - Proteus cores, and many of them - that rendered their production stagnant for so many years. Indeed, the vessel's major weapon systems seem commonplace. Revolving Railcannons, Metalstorm cannons, and multiple large Fusion beam cannons. Its Flame Lance cannons were of great scale, and rightfully devastating. Elaborate, but hardly noteworthy for such size. Even the enormous star system-wiping Proteus Cannon, while deadly, seemed better placed on a Mobile Cannon chassis.
The Bloodstone Battlecruiser's true strength layed in its subspace-layered shield. With this defense, the ship could maintain a net of subspace pockets that allowed it to simply jump enemy projectiles away - even into its attackers - and jump its own projectiles into enemy ships. Though the system had its limits, the traditional shielding was of such strength that not once did a Bloodstone Battlecruiser's shields go down during the civil war. The vessels were, in a word, immortal. Such devastating firepower laid at their disposal, and yet further rendered untouchable to their enemy, that the dozen Bloodstone Battlecruisers quickly rose to legendary status. It was not long before many Warlords opted for suicide, or surrender, upon seeing these machines arrive in their territory. Those who tried to fight were drowned either by cannonfire or by the blue light of their extermination device. However, there were still only twelve such vessels, and they could not be everywhere at once.
When the Undead Myrookk fleet arrived, the Bloodstone Battlecruisers were easily overwhelmed by ships a third of their size. Their energy weapons useless, their shields incapable of stopping the bleed effect of Deimos, they were snuffed out in a matter of days. Transformed into terrifying behemoths, the dying emotions of their crew were soon turned against Adashim's faithful, and would lay siege to the Jordan.
The Knight's armor is fabricated with pure Tiran, and is laced with rudimentary particle scattering. This grants it exceptional resistance to current-type elements, such as Proteus, resilience against kinetics, and light resistance against Deimos radiation. However, the most notable attribute of the Knight is that its powerhouses are true Proteus cores, granting it immense advantages over all other Anahn ships constructed previous to it. The Knight's primary core is capable of generating over ten times the amount of energy an entire Royal battlegroup would have been able to produce in the Second Generation.
This energy is largely devoted to maintaining a potent Quantum-Proteus particle bubble around the ship. The term Quantum is unique to Anahn science, most other races would describe their colorless light as a dirty Proteus-based sub element, one unique to the way the Anahn generate particles, whose secrets are known only to Adashim. The end results are impressive, granting the Knight's shield almost complete mitigation capabilities against almost all known elemental particles, the most important being Deimos. The Knight is a premiere anti-Undead superweapon weighing in at five-hundred kilometers, and is capable of destroying most Undead vessels one-on-one that are double its size - a feat undreamed of in the Myrookk crisis.
The Proteus particles generated by the so-called Quantum cannons various fourth-generation Anahn vessels employ react with Undead in a remarkable way. If the Undead psionic image cannot resist the current, they may completely lose control of their frame for a split second. Repeated attacks from a vessel with particle generation as powerful as the Knight's can stun or even destroy small Undead ships very quickly without relying on disrupting their image by destroying their frames. However, Undead can become resistant to this interference, making disruptor weapons a poor gimmick to rely on.
The Knight saw extensive success throughout the Salvation campaign, but was unable to compete with the Xy`Kranasha, who had significantly superior defensive capabilities and Kato-based weapons easily overpowered the Knight's reactive armor. Its compliment of pure-blood Anahn psionicists were often driven mad by direct contact with Xy`Kranasha or Undead until newer generations were trained well enough to resist mental incursions. For this reason, the pilot of a Knight, who was fused to the ship's biocomputer, was instructed to use the vessel's self-destruct if the shields went down near overwhelming psionic activity.
The Emperor was not the first fourth-generation vessel created by the Anahn, with that honor relegated to the Knight. Instead, while the Knight served as a test platform, the Emperor served as the final product. The Emperor's turrets are notably different than those sported by the Knight, which more or less resembled traditional Anahn turrets, but instead used particle rails instead of magnetized barrels. The Emperor used domes and focus cannons, not like those later found on the DyiithJhinn. Using psi-graphed targetting, these huge weapons could still hit targets as tiny as a fighter traveling at light speed. The Emperor only had a few dozen of such weapons, but their destructive capability easily allowed them to overcome tens of thousands of similar-sized Undead in a few seconds.
The critical factor laying in the Emperor's power was the instability of its Proteus purity. It easily had the potential to exceed even strong Undead presence, allowing it to overcome their psionic defenses with its elemental weapons. This thus rendered kinetic weapons entirely unnecessary. However, these weapons proved ineffective against foes with very strong psionic presence, namely the Pride and Fear.
The First Emperor was able to defeat the pride by channeling its particles into an external singularity as opposed to an internal one, referred to in the variable QBC specs as an Omega-type. This allowed the particle count to exponentially increase beyond the capabilities of the Emperor's own mechanisms to control. Only the Emperor's mind needed be linked to the singularity as it formed for the ship to maintain ownership of the particles. At 37 exponent, the weapon was more than powerful enough to destroy the Pride's paradox galaxies and completely dismantle the Pride's psionic image, resulting in its destruction.
However, this weapon, even in this mode, was far less effective against both the DyiithJhinn and the Xy`Kranasha, who had anticipated fighting elemental weapons of this nature. The actively energized armor of DyiithJhinn was able to mitigate much of the current behavior of Emperor weaponry, forcing them to devote more particles to individual targets, while the Xy`Kranasha bioarmor eventually adapted enough to simply absorb a chunk of the particles. The Anahn would need more pure and stable Proteus particles, rather than the dirty and chaotic ones they currently used, to make another leap in potency.
The pilot of an Emperor utilizes an exoskeleton construct, as opposed to implants, to control its ship. The process is extremely difficult and highly destructive to their bodies, fusing them to their biocomputers. To synchronize mechanics and mind deeply enough that they could control their ship akin to their own limbs, yet remain fairly guarded against interference, was a true feat of Anahn engineering. Alas, the Emperors' minds could never be the same, and the First Emperor in particular suffers from the fusion. To try to keep the pilots sane, an ECS (External Communal Synapse) computer AI was devised that acted as a bridge between the Emperor and computations, and would act as the Emperor's subconsciousness.
Haktish in particular expressed disgust of the exoskeleton and ECS, and opposed the system as much as he could. His distrust of biocomputers was not new at this point, with the Great Knights greatly changing his combat doctrine and driving the Anahn away from what he viewed as "Righteous", in that they no longer relied on their own tactics and strengths. However, the Tiran Wastelands campaign was close to failure, and he had no choice in the end but to accept his Prince's plans. He vowed that no further Anahn would be forced to use such a system again, and went to great lengths to ensure fourth-generation Anahn were able to control their ships as Navigators did in the second generation fleets. This lead to the rise of hyper-communal implants and exceptionally advanced external AI's.
Kel`Aus Khorannarath Worldship
[NO MODEL CREATED]
The White Sun Cannon built into the Khoran is highly incomplete and doesn't feature the variable abilities of the Emperors. Instead of building singularities out of Proteus particles and formulating the so-called "Quantum" white light, it funnels energy waves directly from the Black Sun's manifold. Were the full capability of the system to be engaged, it is speculated that it would destroy all of the Khoran and then Creation itself.
As an added bonus, the energy waves released by the funnel system during activation creates a virtually impenetrable shield in the front hemisphere of the ship, and this wake alone would be enough to destroy most manner of opponents who may be nearby. Secondary weapons include supermassive quantum-matter hybrid Railcannons, QBC Titan-B variants, and other nature of fourth-generation weapons upscaled to appropriate levels. However, the Khoran's driving feature is still the layered shielding offered by the variable array, much like that the Emperor features, simply larger.
The Crusader's primary weapon is a focused Deimos beam cannon that slices through ships as opposed to bathing them in particles. The condensed particle stream bypasses shielding easily, pronouncing the bleed effect Deimos is most feared for. As a result, even Xy`Kranasha bioarmor offers little resistance. The Crusader also has a so-called Dread Cannon that can bath an entire star system in elemental particles, though it takes some time to prepare, and is used sparingly.
The Crusader makes a momentary appearance to defy the First Emperor, but is easily defeated by the Emperor's variable quantum cannon, and remains to be seen again.
The Pride itself may be considered lightly armed compared to other Undead constructs of its scale, but its abilities in psionic warfare cannot be underestimated. The Pride's decision to allow the Emperor to destroy it is debated somewhat within the Royal Family. Perhaps, the Pride was not truly destroyed after all.
The Emperors were unable to even slightly disrupt its psionic image. Had it so willed, it could have killed the twelve of them simply through a mindlock.
The Wayward Daughter has other properties that separate it from standard Xy`Kranasha capitals. Namely, its bioarmor is coated in a shimmering aurora-like cloud of light that acts as a shield, absorbing most particles that reach it. While its technical functions seem indifferent from that of traditional shielding, it does seem to funnel the energy it acquires into the vessel's proteus singularity, located at the rear. One can expect a devastating attack every time the vessel draws near elemental particles capable of being absorbed.
Mantrain Conductor - IskatuMesk
Mantrain Man-yew-script Ass-istant - DrSchwa
Mantrain Steam Valve Harmonics Booty Inspector - DrSchwa
Mantrain Hardon Quality Ass-urance - Nefarius
Mantrain Caboose Attendant - Milldawg
Mantrain Suspiciously Hairy Bagel Dispenser - Ricky Honejasi
Mantrain Hood Ornament - Wibod
Mantrain Emotive Mascot - Hix-e-Chan-Sama-San-Kun
Mantrain Productivity Pioneer - Lavarinth
Annashim & WD Voices - DrSchwa
Emperor Voice - Paul Clayton
Pride Paradox Ghost Fleet Laughter - Nefarius
Unlisted Voices - IskatuMesk
Unused Visual Credits
Some base meshes/feedback - TheCoach
Few base meshes, Railings - Jade Taggart
Very few base meshes - SolCommand
Base meshes I spent way too fucking long reversing from Homeworld 2 and fixing because they were ngons auto-triangulated by the converter and were horribly badly modeled but I suck so bad at making shapes I had to take what I could get - Relic, Axel, Whisper2Me
Base mesh from Homeworld 2 that was not a pain in the ass to reverse but I never finished - Siber
Edited Skyboxes & Patch Syncing (Sins) - GoaFan77
Some textures & 2 source particle systems for Sins - BailKnight
Some textures & a handful of source particle systems for Sins - Krdax DrKrun
Music - Far too numerous to recall. Some quick names - Yuki Kajiura, Hans Zimmer, Ace Combat, Joseph Loduca, Erdenstern, Shiva in Exile, World of Warcraft, Dead Can Dance, ...
Sfx - Sources include standard fare of commercial cd's, handmade/recorded material, and elements from the existing Black Sun: Retribution sound library. More obviously, I used some rips from Yukikaze in here, and a couple from Yamato 2199. If I can rip it, it was in my library and eligable to be used. This is fairly minimal SFX production compared to the Ret sins mod, though. Some samples from that include TitanFall, Aion, Final Fantasy 14, Lineage 2, Bulletstorm and Planetside 2. Also, infinity engines game generally had the best SFX out of available games, so there's quite a few from there, too. I found some nice unused SFX in Starcraft 2, as well. Funny how they used 1:1 stock crap for most of the ingame stuff when they had that stuff just lying around.
While my dry runs of the script, including all of those leading to the creation of the original 3-3 composition, were recasted sparingly, when it came to actually building takes I hoped to use in the final product, I often had to revoice certain lines dozens of times. Due to my disabilities, fumbling my speech or screwing up words was a constant nuisance. In rare cases I was able to use words from other takes and interject them, but this had to be done carefully, as each take often had different inflection, even if my goal was to reproduce old lines and just avoid pops that had cropped up in my new setup.
I would come to learn that any food I ate or liquids I drank dramatically affected my voice. Immense stress stemming from the cat problems, dying monitor, inevitability of a second eviction, and general depression made focusing on voicing difficult. Not to mention that I only had a specific window of time to get clear recordings, since for some reason a lot of people seem to drive cars around the neighborhood at 6am and evening is filled with the distant accoustics of screaming lolis. I wonder if anyone in the new neighborhood was startled by my repeated screaming of "fire!" for the Khendarva commander at 2am. Serves them right for being so noisy during my sleep hours.
Ultimately, due to constantly having to move hardware every time I wanted to cast, and being unable to do a large chunk of script at a time, every recording ended up sounding slightly different. Much effort was made to remedy this, but without an actual studio, and certainly without stability, I couldn't get that consistency. The area circulating the part 1 of the Retribution and Finalle sections took 5 production takes across 4 days to get into a satisfactory pre-production state, and even then I was cherry picking takes from each recording because of fuckups across the board. I took a 6th take after a week and a half break, and achieved nothing. These sections are at the very best an embarassment.
This situation was not alleviated by the fact that at the end of my failed attempts to re-voice those lines I had actually forgotten how to voice the character. Even when I managed to voice the lines properly and not fuck up the actual words, the lines had no inflection and didn't match the rest of the project. You'd think a voice that was so close to my normal voice would be easy, right? Not the case. Frustration turned to despair and I considered cancelling the project.
I've been building Total Conversions since 1999, but voice acting and radiodrama-like productions were a passion long before I first discovered computers. Retribution would test everything I had learned in those 20 years.
Some things, like the Fear, could use some refinement. However, I ran samples by several individuals, the majority who expressed no or very little difficulty understanding them. A few said some words were difficult, but I know these people are also using low-quality listening hardware. Milldawg was literally the only person to point out a multitude of extremely bad English fuckups in my casting. As it turns out, I don't know how to pronounce words like Disciple or Tapestries. Wowee. Canadian education hard at work.
The Fear concerned me a bit, but I could understand it fine, so I decided just to fly with it. You'll note the Fear in Retribution is using two separate sets of effects, and none of them are as heavy as those in Salvation (which I used in this production elsewhere). Of course, I have no subtitles to aid in understanding him, so this was necessary. Ideally, I'd have a means to refine the elements in a more stable environment (the plugin I used for its flange effect corrupts its own memory and constantly crashes audition). Alas, this wasn't possible despite my many efforts to arrange such a thing.
The reality is, Audition 1.5 is not very good. There is no precise control and no real project management. Much of what I do would be done through heavy multi-track edits in something like Pro Tools. However, Pro Tools doesn't work for me (no ASIO support, despite having it? Typical abble bullshit, not to speak of the crazy bullshit that program was pulling with Interrupts, causing tons of cpu lockups when it wasn't even running), and the newer versions of Audition are terribly laid out. ACID is not really a positive improvement from Vegas, which I had used to mix the project in the first place. I spent an exorbitant amount of time trying to create an old version of Pride's voice, and not only was I unable to re-voice it as I had in the past, I was unable to adapt the edits to its voice in a satisfying manner. Dozens of manhours were wasted on this alone. As it turns out, audio software is kind of in the same boat as game software: it's all shit. That is probably one reason why everyone uses stock assets and just applies an EQ to it. Kind of like I did for half of this.
During 2014 I dabbled further in Starcraft 2, but met great difficulties when faced with making a computer AI that could handle Build and Destroy properly. JademusSreg, amongst the most skilled Starcraft 2 mappers, had struggled since 2012 to assist my repeated attempts to break this sole barrier preventing such a project. Stagnation and imminent abandonment of this venture was a factor leading me to attempting Retribution as a radioplay.
Haktish was a tough voice. To sound older than you are, or to sound rougher than you are, are both literally impossible to do naturally. A scratchy voice doesn't command power, and my motor skills aren't sophisticated enough to articulate unique vocal architecture beyond the norm. Haktish was an immediate and decisive defeat - I knew no one who could voice him, and I at best could half-ass him. An expected failure. Ideally he'd sound something like Pyre Fierceshot from Guild Wars. Yeah... about that... Obviously, just changing pitch doesn't work. It sounds fake. It's easy to tell all the protoss voices in sc2 are pitch changes and no actual voice acting talent because that's all they are. That's one reason, amongst many, why they sound so fucking bad. I had hoped to avoid that as much as possible, delegating the most minor of pitch changes only to heavily edited voices so I could mask the flattening effect as much as possible. Perhaps another limit of my tools, but no matter how I changed pitch, whether it be through autotune or traditional means, it always sounded bad.
Even greater frustration awaited me with Adashim, a voice that demanded a certain level of charisma and arrogance. While I was sure I could get the prose right, getting another distinct sound out of a voice stretched nearly as much as goatse's gap, much less one super unique, was going to be tough. I went into the project thinking I could try an alternation of my Apex experiments, but the difficult and long-winding nature of Adashim's lines quickly rendered failure apparent. Not to mention, such voices stressed my throat considerably, and I risked physical harm were I to attempt even half of his dialogue. My voice is something I could not afford to risk, especially at so perilous a time. I experimented with a cross between an arabic and east indian accent I was able to forge, but it sounded much too goofy to possibly hold power in Adashim's dialogue. Maybe in Apex, but not here. Also, these fake accents were extremely tough to hold in the low key portions of the dialogue. I knew someone who could probably pull the accent, but inexperience barred the exceptionally challenging emotional and tonal aspects. Much like Salvation, I had to admit a decisive and devastating defeat with Adashim's voice.
The low key portions were actually the toughest part of Adjak's dialogue, too. When it came to the Prod12 recordings (the 12th major run of Adjak), I came to the sudden realization that the reason I was fucking up everything was because I was handling the low key tones differently every time. Tried as I may, though, I couldn't actually recreate the voice from the first 6 recording sessions, even though I had identified the problems I had with it. Boy, I'm stupid!
In the end, I acknowleged that I am no longer a voice actor nor a sound engineer. My abilities have not aged well at all, and I have forgotten most of the tricks that got me by in projects prior. While my skills may continue to serve game-like projects, projects such as this are too advanced for me, and I will not be attempting such a thing again.
While a great deal of effort was placed into solving the character model conundrum, including largely fruitless searches for applicable concept art, never was a single character model ever actually attempted by any party.
As I awaited my two outsourcees - DrSchwa and Ren - to fulfill their work, efforts on the project slowed to a crawl. Multiple more QA passes were made on the content, with lines being exchanged, re-voiced, and altered in between. The Pride, which I had accepted defeat on, ended up using a blend of the original dry run and the 4c runs to achieve a more unique, blended voice. I had done the dual laughter aspects far before trying this decision, which was conjured on the spot when I thought, "hey, I wonder if these lines are the same speed..." 15 minutes later and the whole set was configured to satisfaction.
Vegas was chosen to remix projects like this one and the Harry Potter BDSM albums because of its interface. To date I have found no other audio multitrack editor that is as good, not even Sony's Acid editor. Vegas makes up for this by being ludicrously unstable, hilariously buggy and having extremely poor VST and effect support. Bouncing between Vegas for timing/volume tweaking and Audition 1.5 for edits was very common.
Had I a mobile recorder, I would have recorded most of the footsteps and other foleys myself. However, I don't, and laptops are unlikely to produce good recordings. Instead, I used a great deal of foley material from Lineage 2, Bulletstorm, Dawn of War 2, Final Fantasy 14, Tera, and Aion. As it turned out, the commercial cds tended to lack good foley material - I was pretty short all-around of the kind of things I wanted. A lot of things, like general cloth/jacket movement, still remained elusive, and parts that could have benefited from those remained bare as I lacked the objects to record it myself.
While I considered building full FX suites for areas like the Fear Reconcile section, I thought they may detract from the voices too much, and opted to keep the settings as minimalistic as possible. Even background hums and drones for the station's interior were added, only to be scrapped, as I felt they upset the mood too much. Some subtle hums do exist in this section, but fade out as the scene progresses. The same was the case for the Khoran bridge sequences - a huge bridge demanded a vast FX orchestra, but I opted instead to keep it as minimalist as possible to focus attention on the voices and the content they were delivering. Much like the visuals for the late movie, I was going for a very classical and concise approach. For better or for worse, I stuck to that design throughout, even during the otherwise FX-heavy execution sequence.
I met an odd crossroads when deciding what to use for the Narrator's effects. A subtle reverb that added presence seemed a given, but no program or plugin I had available offered a pleasing sound. I tried a variety of commercial VST plugins, including Lexicon's, but they either didn't work or didn't provide any advantage over the stock Audition 1.5 reverb plugin. Ultimately, I settled on only applying a subtle EQ to normalize the narrator (and at times a second EQ to obliterate stray pops). I made this decision not simply because the reverbs weren't working out, though.
Indeed, the memory sequence nature of the narration might call for a reverb in standard productions, but I felt the lack of reverb made it more personal. Ultimately, even the subtlest of presence reverbs seemed to "distance" the voice, something I felt more appropriate for the Fear Reconcile and portions of other scenes, but not the narration as a whole.
At the same time, I was unsure if I should put a reverb on Adashim's voice in the Fear vision. I decided to keep with audiovisual clarity in this one, and once more refrained him adding effects to the voice. Meanwhile, I used com static to help differ Adashim and Haktish during the Khoran segments; one of them always was using a com (since they were on different ships), and DyiithJhinn jamming justified some light static. Since the two voices ended up nearly identical, I had to do something to ensure an undisciplined viewer knew they were different. Effects in this case were the only method, due to my inability to make the actual voices unique.
Adashim's voice in particular is regrettable. But after so many weeks of trying to find a suitable voice for him and failing, I had no choice but to go with the most consistent and reliable one. Such is the price of incompetence. If only I had such an answer to the graphics. Maybe then we would have something half-decent. Alas.
A momentary glimmer of hope appeared during Apex's ripping research in which I found a model that closely resembled Anahn from a very new Korean MMO currently in closed beta. Were the wings to be removed and the armor re-textured this might serve as a suitable Anahn base mesh. Since I couldn't re-texture the model myself this hope quickly vanished. Were I to find suitable models for Annashim and Adashim I would consider going forward with an Unreal 4 Black Sun project despite the improbability of being able to deal with the turret animations, and so I remain vigilant, albeit hopeless.
Honestly, I had a lot of trouble with editing the female lines. None of my traditional effects worked out. My efforts to make the WD sound liquidy were vain. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't attain it in Audition. I had to settle for sort of a halfway mark.
Annashim's lines were troublesome for Schwa-chan in some parts. There's a few that sound out of place due to the multitude of different takes and environments she made those takes in. While not perfect, I did manage to align them favorably, and I think they are reasonable given she was sick for most of them. She has improved considerably since Salvation, an improvement I had myself for the same reason - general casting. I certainly put her through her paces, and with every retake her improvement was apparent. Now, she's one of the best female VA's I've yet to meet despite inexperience. Perhaps the future will bring further refinement and experience for her. But, for now, I have no active projects, and don't plan to pursue further training for the time being. Should another project be attempted I will certainly strive for her continued involvement.
I had a potential high-experience alternative for the WD recommended by Crainy, but she never got back to me. I'll have to assume she was either too busy or too good for the likes of mods and radioplays. Nonetheless, the project was good experience for the two would-be actors I got involved, and that's more than what I can ask for. Setting the seeds for future work and improvement is more important than one-time deals to me.
Project Retribution is an audiobook/radioplay recreation of Black Sun: Salvation, ala Episode 1. It also features content from the third conceptual novel of the series, which preludes the Anahn's introduction to the world's primary arc, Throne of Armageddon, whose written work was my life's work that I failed miserably at. Gotta take what you get, I guess.
As for the actual written work, Black Sun: Retribution as an audiobook is essentially a bulletpoint summary from one in-character narrator, covering three novels worth of material - The Bloodstone Jordan, Salvation, and Retribution. As you can imagine, this project skips a huge amount of relevant material, so it's expected to be somewhat incoherent. Also, since Black Sun isn't actually the conclusion of this arc, the audiobook doesn't cover the whole story of the Anahn. Not even close. Only their history.
How do I run a 7z file?
You should consider using a Macintosh. They just work.
Episode 1 was a video. Why is this audio-only?
I had no character models to work with, which the project hinged upon. While many considerations were had for alternate methods, in the end I also felt bad about using Sins of a Solar Empire for the fleet battles portion of the project, which was at the absolute best 2001 technology, and greatly held the potential of even my limited skills back. Even warcraft 3 is a massively more advanced engine than Sins, and that's pretty terrible. As an example, in Sins you have no child particles, no triggers, nothing to script camera control, no control over the AI, texture entry limits, and of course the wonderful things like the vertex limits and animated texture limits of like 18 - when they worked at all, that is (wc3 supports at least 64!). Using sins to begin with was a dumb move.
So, why didn't I go to the UDK initially? I inquired on the UDK forums about potential logistics. While the general consensus was that the project was doable, managing the turrets would require a degree of unrealscript (C++) skill, something I did not know. While someone offered to help me, he vanished when I actually needed him to help me. Who does that remind you of? Yeah, nothing ever changes.
Why a radioplay? I wouldn't normally consider it, but I had some history that backed this idea.
My years of youth were heavily circulated around listening to radio shows like The Shadow. I've always wanted to (and back in those years I did!) try my own hand at such a thing. Retribution is very difficult to translate into an audio-only environment and wouldn't have been my first choice for a serious effort, but here we are. I'm not going to try it again, mind you, because it was a disaster in itself. But, nonetheless, here we are.
No, really, why?
Crainy said I should. I thought about it for a good minute and then said "ok". Well, I wouldn't have done it if I didn't find the 3-3 composition. But I did eventually. If I had known how much difficulty I'd have voice acting big words like "impossibly" I would not have started it. But you never get that until you're balls-deep in another man. After that, making a project is all about how much you can stand being disgusted at your own incompetence.
I don't understand what happens at X:XX
I didn't build this for an audience unfamiliar with the writing and never planned to.
I can't understand what is said at x:xx
I finished listening but I still don't really understand what happened.
Black Sun is the history of one race and a few characters leading into TOA. Its story doesn't actually complete until the end of the TOA trilogy, and this production does a poor job of even grazing the surface of that history to begin with. Since TOA is not within the scope of this production, Retribution is technically an incomplete arc writing-wise when considered in the scope of this project. Your questions will never be answered because the writing will never actually be completed. Tough luck.
Some elements in this are different than those in Salvation. Why?
Both Salvation and Retribution are based on Black Sun. Through adaptation neither of them are truly canon, or represent what actually happens in the novels, nor do they resemble each other except in their source prose. Salvation was extremely non-canon, as it for example lacked Undead Myrookk, and showed incorrect Anahn ships at all points in its timeline (as detailed in the Making Of video). Unless those novels were to be written all representations are considered adaptations as such, limited by my ability to represent them. Retribution is closer than Salvation in that it eliminates the inconsistencies Salvation had, and this is where the differences are rendered (especially the conclusion of the Salvation Emperor arc).
Is Annashim the Wayward Daughter?
Can you give any insight into why you did this or that at x:xx
Generally my answer to such a question would be "because I didn't actually know what to do", because virtually this entire thing was on autopilot without any actual thinking. But, I guess that's not a really good answer.
My methods are generally too difficult to put into words to describe, especially regarding audio. Much of what I did when I did it or whatnot is due to it simply "feeling" right. I replay things dozens to hundreds of times, even during doing other tasks, seeking periods where it drifts out of "sync" in my thought. Such instances can be as simple as certain fades being mis-aligned by a few MS, words not occurring exactly when my mind expects them to, etc. An extremely large amount of individual words are manually paced out, manually balanced for volume, and otherwise cherry picked. You know, the kind of crap no one gets paid for. Given the difficulty in voice acting and how my environment and hardware changed a lot, achieving satisfactory results was extremely hard, and I'll never really be happy with it. That's why I sent it to Schwa-chan-san-sama-kun so she could hit me with a newspaper for fucking it all up. Then it came to recasting... and finding out I can't redo old voices...
As it turns out, the best parts, at least in my opinion, were those I came up with entirely on the fly and had absolutely no pre-meditation at all. That seems to be consistent with my work.
What is a Canadian?
A breed of demihuman lice that occupies American soil and despoils it with conservative nonsense. Our barbaric, technology-hating ways are renowned in the West for being laughable, albeit highly destructive. I'm actually a Native Canadian and a soulless ginger, so I'm basically the antichrist, just hairier. Stereotypes say that my breed are also alcoholics, but I'm too poor and remote to acquire alcohol, so I'll just have to settle for coffee. We are mortal enemies of the French Canadians, apparently. It probably has to do with Ricky putting reapers in bunkers. That scoundrel.
How long did this take to create?
For the audio-only aspect, only a few days worth of manhours were put into the editing and mixing, sans the OCD with timings. Easy shit. Music finding, that takes months to years. Voice acting... well, it varies. 4 pages of script (about 5-10ish minutes of the production once edited and paced out) takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 1:30 hours to make takes for nonstop. I made close to a dozen dry runs of the entire script throughout 2013 and 2014, and more than that for Production takes of each section individually. Production takes are "super serious" takes, while dry runs don't look for quality. While the narrator was insanely tough, I winged 99% of the Fear in one go, and many of the battlechatter lines required very few iterations. Of course, listening to the dialogue and timing it out was probably the most absolutely time consuming portion, but I don't traditionally count that as "making" something. It's generally just "waste". A good voice actor/editor wouldn't need to listen to something more than once to know exactly what to do with it, and wouldn't need any more than two takes for a line.
For the visual aspect I spent more time on it in terms of manhours than I can begin to recount. Most of my production-worthy energy from 2010 Q1 to 2014 Q1, sans a big gap in 2012, was wasted on this project, which often made other projects, including LP's, suffer. It was a gamble I knew was unlikely to pay off. Makes me wonder why I ever agreed to doing Retribution in the first place. I guess I'm just a gullible idiot. It wouldn't be overestimating to say the amount of time I wasted on Retribution's visuals could have easily produced an entire game from scratch to finish, had I actual skills, especially when you consider so much time was wasted on constantly iterating on sloppy work, and fucking with the disgustingly bad XSI tool and Stardock's braindead converter. That company really needs to find a furnace and fall in it.
Why did you do all of the voices yourself, except for a few side roles? (Sorry AA )
I had no choice. Of all the people I once knew who did voice acting, none voice act anymore. Of the people I currently know who I can outsource to, none of them are experienced, especially enough to pull off the inflection I desired. I also hate waiting for people. Doing it yourself is the way all projects are. I'm just lucky enough to know a lady who's willing to try and learn, else this would be entirely impossible, as all the female VA's I attempted to contact (including the one who did the Fallen Hero in AO) either didn't respond or didn't voice act anymore. A new guy showed up in our group who had great potential in his super deep British voice but, again, he was inexperienced, and the Emperor was very tough for him. I think it worked out reasonably well given the character's specifics, though. I definitely want to see what he could do given more flexibility and time, which may be a possibility in Apex if the project is possible. I will also probably train a few more people when their project progresses to the stage of requiring vocals.
There's no way I'd find a suitable voice for Haktish/Adashim without paying many thousands of dollars at this point, though. It was either do it myself or don't do it at all.
Why can't you pronounce certain words properly?
Canadian, untrained, brain damaged, and never used my voice for anything besides VA or casting. I go outside maybe once a year. Everything I know about speaking and acting is self-taught. I'll never be "good".
Do you do anything to prepare for voice acting?
I usually stare into Goa Tse's Gap for a whole day in total stillness and silence so that he may expand my horizons. The Sage of the Lower opens to the Higher, and finds enlightenment within the void. The wider the gap, the closer to paradise. Only there can I achieve the zen I need to speak clearly. Speaking clearly sucks for me. My motor skills are horrendously bad. Incidentally, Narratives are something I don't normally do in writing OR voicing, so doing both was ultra tough for this project, and I found voicing a narrative to be nearly impossible. There are some lines in this (and previous editions of the script) that I would voice literally 50 fucking times and still consistently screw up at the same parts. At that point I opted to rewrite them entirely. No, there's nothing I can do that actually prepares me. I just wing it. I fuck up, and wing it again. I just keep winging until I land somewhere usable.
Will any further Black Sun/TOA works be created, as Audiobooks or otherwise?
No, there will never be another Black Sun or TOA-related project, video or otherwise, ever attempted in the future, no matter if I get into the UDK or not, for the simple fact I will never be able to make the models myself. Should a viable solution be conjured, then this stance may change. Currently, however, I have exhausted all avenues, and will be focusing my attention on LP's. I will continue to pursue rippable games in case some of them have assets that may be useful for such a project, but that's all I will devote, as I'd still need to learn C++ to render such a project viable.
Do you intend to publish this work in whole or part?
Do you intend to post what was completed of TOA/its related works?
Can I see the video-related work that was created for this project?
I even made a huge dev series. That has been available for a long time if you spent a minute to look for it.
Can I post this on X site/forum/community?
Will you do VA/SFX/3d work for me?
Why don't you join a company?
Why don't I gnaw off my own testicles?
Why don't you make a kickstarter?
Why don't I twist myself across another man's broadside?
Why don't you join this or that indie/mod team?
The amount of people who ask me this retarded question leads me to believe that Obama really is brainwashing them with fluoride.
Who is your inspiration?
When I need inspiration I think about lemons and party hard.
Obviously, some parts of this production audio design-wise take nod from Yukikaze, as they fit well with the elements (and I had the SFX, so why not?) As Yukikaze is a fairly decent production, I don't mind doing this.
My work from hereon will exclusively be devoted to LP's and other such minor video projects. As much as I would like to try to make a private DMC-style game in Unreal, I'll never know programming. I don't have the skills to make what I want, so trying to make any of it is entirely pointless. In order for me to start a project I must absolutely 100% know all of the skills required. I cannot repeat Retribution's mistakes.
Things like the Starcraft 2 project or Divinity campaign all hinge on solving critical fundamental problems with the games or tools they are associated with. With Starcraft 2, I need an AI capable of handling melee gameplay, which the default cannot. For Divinity, I need a manner to import custom models into it.
How do you deal with X/Y/Z personal problem?
I get harder.
What tools were used to create this?
I used Sony Vegas 12 for 90% of the audio work, and the rest was done in Audition 1.5. I tried to use Pro Tools, but it kept claiming I had no ASIO device despite that being a key feature of my super high quality well-tested and astoundingly well-programmed Asus sound card (fuck asus). I also tried to use the newer versions of Audition but frankly they are clumsy. Of course, I had a ton of plugins for both of the programs I did use, including Autotune, which I have no idea how to use for anything besides making a mess, and a variety of DirectX crap.
For the visuals, 3ds max, sins of a solar empire, and the UDK. The other programs I used, like XSI for converting, were only made necessary by the Stardock goons that decided to use them in their weekend project.
While I had at one point planned to use After Effects to master the video aspect, I later concluded that other than color correction, After Effects offered very little that would benefit the project. It would, on the other hand, massively increase the workload and tremendously elevate the aggravation associated with that workload, since After Effects is all but fast or intuitive to use. Therefore, I was planning to stick with Vegas to the bitter end. I'm not a big fan of post-processing anyways, and for a movie, it's unnecessary. Anything I wanted to do could be done in the UDK, were I serious about such a project in the end, including color correction.
Thus, were I to tackle a visual project, I would be using almost exclusively Unreal 4 and 3ds max.
I'm not an artist, so the most I do with photoshop is color shift some things or mangle shit. So, I don't count that as a tool in my arsenal. The same could be said with 3ds max, but I at least know how to port some stuff in 3ds max.
What mic do you use?
Blue Yeti. Yes, there's plenty of people who use the Yeti and it sounds dreadful. That's because their environment is dreadful, it's incorrectly set up in windows, or both. On the other hand, two people I know who bought the Snowball both have hardware trouble, so I'd stay away from that one if you're in the market for a mic.
Isolation shields and room material are a big deal. A really big deal. I owe a lot of audio quality to my ceiling being fairly absorbent and my isolation shield.
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the artifact was the key to the beginning of all things
http://www.gameproc.com/meskstuff/LP/HM ... Legacy.mkv