Maker: Alex Weber/Trans_Am/BearFootTeam/BFT
Animated Textures: No
Allow Reflections: Yes
Allow Truck Reflections: Yes
Download: <a href="http://mtm2.com/~trucks/dl.cgi?dl=878" target="_self">432</a>k
Fairly basic but altogether a good little (small tire) vehicle. It apparently started as a conversion from 3dcafe that barely survived the conversion process, and ended up being almost completely rebuilt into a generic sort of army vehicle. It's a slab-sided thing with simple geometry, although the face structure - a legacy of the original - consists of triangles stretching all over the shop (not that this matters much when you're driving).
Alex has filled in missing faces, remodelled the front end and built an interior for it (among other things), and created his own textures and mapped everything. This gives a unique look, if not somewhat unexciting. The scratch-built windshield wipers are a nice addition, but we feel the driver should be sitting up a little higher - he seems to have a lot of headroom in there.
Leaving the tailgate open was a questionable move - it sort of sticks out in the default chase-cam driving position and obstructs the view of the wheels and ground underneath, as well as extends the truck's entire length to exceed the standard as set out by the <a href="http://mtm2.com/~bigdogge/small_tires.htm" target="_blank">International Consortium's Official Protocol For Monster Truck Madness Small Tire Specification</a> of nineteen feet. We're just kidding on the last point, of course, but there are two things we want to bring up.
First is that because he's used solid color textures, the overall effect is a loss of depth perception which causes a flattening out of surfaces in the game. In the shaded pictures below, on the left, we see considerable detail on the front end, around the doors, and toolboxes on each side of the box. In the textured pictures on the right, we see amorphous swatches of color only, without shape and contour.
<center><img src="http://cownap.com/~mtmg/contests/expo2003/pics/reviews/jeep.gif" width="516" height="470"></center>
Some suggestions might be to map the various surfaces with different shades of the same colors, or to paint shading and contour lines on the textures he's used. He could also paint vents and lines on the fenders and hood, and perhaps manufacturer logos on any of the fender panels, as well as the corrugated markings on the floor of the box. A few painted dirt markings might not be a bad idea either.
The second concern we want to bring up is that Trans_Am has overlooked <a href="http://cownap.com/~mtmg/binedit/maptip01.html" target="_blank">Texture Mapping Tip 1</a> dealing with edges. Specifically, in this case, many of the adjacent face edges do not meet one another properly so that you can see gaps between them - from all sides of the truck. This is especially noticable in the box as well as the driver's door. The majority of these <i>seams</i> are caused from corner verticies not sharing the same geometry locations. We estimate that eighty percent of these could have been fixed simply by merging close vertices within a range of twenty-five editor units (any higher risks collapsing faces and corrupting the model as a whole) - noting of course that the wiper blades would have to be removed before the merge then reinstalled afterward. An incidental benefit of merging close vertices is that the total for the truck could have been dropped from 715 down to 500 and possibly lower. Sure, perhaps that's not much by today's standards, especially since we're already dealing with a moderately low vert truck, but we should always look for savings where we can find them. And since this is not a fiberglass vehicle, there would be no texture dulling side effects. After a merge, effort would need to be made to hunt down and fix the remaining gaps. And yes, this might be a pile of work on a vehicle that's already demanded considerable time and patience but the reward would be well worth the effort.
A word on handling. For the most part "small tire" vehicles are all difficult to maintain control through turns, very sensitive and are very prone to digging into a slide with the normal settings one would use for typical stock trucks (med tires, soft suspension). As such, using medium suspension (hard on flat tracks) helps keep better control through the turns but doing so adds more bounce over the bumps. So it's a bit of a trade off - gaining control in corners but losing momentum down the straights from the tires not making enough contact with the road. This has been a turn off for many, while others write off small tires for serious racing entirely, and still others view it as just a fun novelty. Anyway, the point here is that BFT's jeep seems not to suffer from these set backs and handles remarkably well, perhaps handling is it's strongest suit (42's on c98 are possible), and is proof that there is hope for these things. Other makers of ST trucks should study his trk file and set it as a good example for future ST projects.
Lastly, the lights, including side marker and running lights, have been set up perfectly both in fit and function. But the wav files are a bit much - they're amusing and suit it just fine, but as commentary? Following the jump in c98, for example, you won't hear the "doing it in the air" line until you're going through checkpoint six.
All up, this represents a solid product from an experienced and dependable truck maker. And although this was a conversion, he's done enough work on it that it's fair to say it's as close to scratch built without actually being built from scratch as we're likely to see. A good effort for Alex's first open-cab model and first ST truck, and kudos for keeping the vertex count so low that it won't error out with Truck Reflections on, making it truly game-friendly.