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Lethal Enforcer
By Frank Dodd 4/2002
article - dark star developments

VRPL to java - Frank reveals all ?

Frank Dodd kindly allowed us to "interview" him on the 11th December 2002. This is the full transcript from the conversation:

B: Frank, tell us a little about yourself:

F: I was Born in 1967 in a quiet town in North Wales and have stayed there ever since, my fascination with computers and programming landed me a job creating software that helps to manage the supply of electricity in many parts of the world (so when your power goes out its probably my fault :)

B: How long have you been using Real ?

F: One of my first Real 3D projects a golden egg from 1996 suggests I've been using it for about 6 years. I only wish I had been using it longer, as I was instantly impressed by the power and features of the early Real3D software.

B: What is Visual RPL ?

F: Basically it was an experiment for Real3D, It was meant to allow people with no programming skills to plug programs together like Lego.

B: Has it been successful from a users point of view or is it hard to keep track of how many people have downloaded it ?

F: I knew it was going to either be incredibly useful or a massive flop. There was very little feedback on it and to be honest I always considered it to be a flop and never developed it much further. I have never had the facilities to track its usage.

B: Your now working on its successor, Building Blocks. Care to tell us a bit about it ?

F: It's been developed from a prototype of VRPL2 and has basically the same functionality however its clearer more compact and works with Realsoft3D.
The new features should also give it all the power of a complete programming system.

B: Any ideas on a release date as yet ?

F: Well the software is fully working, but it needs data files to make it go, its like a Car with no petrol at moment. Some of the delay is due to the difficultly in working out how JavaScript works within Realsoft 3D although mainly the delay is a matter of energy and workload.

B: With the jump to Java - what sort of new functionality can we expect ?

F: To be honest - nothing. Java is easier for the developer to work with but for the user there will be no noticeable difference. However JavaScript in Realsoft 3D has been given more functionality than RPL so it is inherently more powerful.

B: Give us a few examples of what Building Blocks would allow us to do:

F: A simple example would be to automatically create hundreds of bubbles in a pot of water raise them to the surface and make them pop. A more complex example would be to control hundreds of spacecraft in battle, track their turrets and fire weapons. It should be useful and fun!

B: Do you use any other 3D applications ?

F: Not really, although sometimes I potter about it POVRay though, I've always been impressed by this freeware program.

B: What's the story with Interception ?

F: Interception was created for Miles Finley's Image contest its a Real3D animation where a small armed gunboat takes on a Frigate armed with weapons primed to wipe out a whole planet. It was a very big project for me with 40 camera shots, 180 project files, character animation and programmed effects for smoke and explosions. Unfortunately it looks very dated now and will needs a new replacement to show off the power of Realsoft 3D.

B: And where did you get the name "The Rookie" from ? Surely your no longer a Rookie anymore ?

F: If anyone remembers the old flight simulator 'Falcon' on the Atari ST the default pilot Call sign was 'Rookie' its a nice humble alias I took a shine to, its also an alias I've used for 15 years so I'm not giving it up now :)

B: Do you have any other little plugins / ideas for the future ?

F: Building Blocks will be my last software for Realsoft 3D. My next project is going to be a new animation. I have several stories in mind that will run for about 20 minutes, I think Realsoft desperately needs a popular animation like "Killer Bean 2" to increase its profile, its a bit ambitious but it should be fun, I'll release the details in the future exclusively on the Render Daemon site :)

B: Version 4.5 - how has it impacted on your development ?

F: There is so much in the new 4.5 I am still being impacted, but probably the improved skeleton system has given me more enthusiasm and confidence in character animation.

B: So what does the future hold for you ? Do you have any long term plans in where you would like to see RS head ?

F: I think RS has gone well beyond any suggestions I could make to improve it, Hair and Fur is my only serious remaining wish. I think Realsoft's success is more in the hands of its users now though and its their responsibility to impress their peers and grow their community, hopefully I can be a part of that.

B: And finally, is there anything you wish to say to the RS community ?

F: Just keep doing what your doing, the Realsoft community is one of the most friendly and helpful I have seen in such a small size. I have a great deal of respect for those that take an active part, be it on the list answering questions, creating websites, models and pictures for their peers or developing software and plugins to make our lives more fun.

Frank, many thanks for taking the time out to complete these questions ! We all wish you the best of luck with the plugin and look forward eagerly for its release.


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