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Be careful. This page has a lot of graphics so download might take a bit - depending on your line speed. Ronen Tzur wrote the game X ARCHON (still under development) that is a clone of the original Archon Game by Anne Westfall, Jon Freeman and Paul Reiche III dated back in the early 1980s published by electronic arts. For detailed information and download You should visit his X ARCHON HOME PAGE (http://xarchon.seul.org/).

Since some years Ive been looking for a newer version of archon for the PC (my old C64 is probably in the computer heaven right now; I sold it many years ago). and I found a wonderful ARCHON FAQ (seems to be dead right now) and some hints on an existing PC version called ARCHON ULTRA but was never able to obtain one.

At last I used a C64 emulator to play the original ARCHON for C64.

In september 1999 I discovered the information about X ARCHON for linux on the linux game tome www.happypenguin.org and I thought WOW!

I downloaded and compiled the game on my linux machine, played a game and I got the ARCHON groove again.

Then I discovered that Ronen Tzur introduced themes so that I started thinking about creating an own theme for it.

Unfortunately there is always lack of time, but there are several things in our universe that have to be done including caring about my wife (in order not to get her angry) and creating archon themes.

I started with an easy character, the dark banshee to see wether it could work. The first picture shows a 3D stereo image of the banshee (it has to be darkened, o.k.). Just try to look parallel with your eyes so that the both images overlap and create a threedimensional picture. It works for me.

I built this model with the fabulous AC3D CAD software by andy colebourne.

Below: Picture of the 3D model of a quick&dirty basilisk without claws

I created the banshee and the basilisk out of 3D models for a debian distribution where X ARCHON should be burnt on some time ago. They were not yet animated - but X ARCHON has the easy possibility to animate characters.

Lately I discovered a new way in creating and animating characters using POV-Ray. You will read more about that later.
Here is a screenshot with my two old models (the blue ones) and a new light knight.

What comes next is to completely define some/all characters (which seems to be bloody much work).
It is possible to define animated characters (that walk and fly around like in the original game). So we need a 3D model for every animation step of a character to create snapshots from it from all sides. It probably will be eight positions for each character.

Because this is too much work to be done by hand I planned to introduce a 3D animation engine. This was planned to be written by myself. But I recently found a much easier and better way.

I used POV-Ray to create a basic body with enough parts for the X ARCHON animation. POV-Ray is a great rendering software for many platforms. Probably you should be able to use it for free - Read their license terms!

I linked every part to be animated to another major part of the body. E.g. I linked the lower arm to the upper arm and the upper arm to the body. So I could say: The lower arm rotates 30 degrees. The upper arm then rotates 20 degrees and the lower arm will automatically be taken with the upper arm. So I have control over all important parts of the body. (see picture).

The next task was to generate the movement. POV-Ray is of great help with that. There is a clock variable (usually going from 0 to 1) that you can use to define e.g. that a rotation is clock*360 to get a rotation of 180 degrees at the half of the time. I used sine and cosine functions to make movements softer. When an arm swings back it doesn't promptly stop and swing forward - there is a slow down and a gaining of speed for the forward direction. Those trigonometrical functions do a good job here. And all without motion capturing. Well it is not perfect and I could have used much more movable body parts. But for the size I will scale onto it is more than enough to create a realistic looking movement.

Here are some more examples of the knight

light knight with mirror big animation of light knight original size animation of light knight two scenes of a fight with light knight,
shapeshifter and basilisk cut together.

I discovered some problems with the sparks not vanishing sometimes when I "fire" in combat mode and some fancy behaviour of the shapeshifter moving the animation steps sometimes when standing still on one place and not erasing the old stuff - until moving to another place.

I am not sure how fast I can go on to finish the complete theme for light and dark - Maybe it will take another year. But right now I am pretty confident that it will work because I have most of the technical problems solved and can work on the artistical elements.

If you are interested in joining me to build a 3D ARCHON character theme you are very welcome.
In that case please drop me an email to joerg@osarek.de.

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