There are some games that stay with us not just for the graphics, or the gameplay or the bonus levels, but because of the memories they generate. For me one of those games is Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast.
For me this game is iconic. It will always hold a special place in my heart. And not just because of the game itself. It was a good game, don’t get me wrong. It oozed Star Wars, and had the best lightsaber battling to date.
But it was with JK2 that I first got into the video game modding scene. This game and working on various aspects of mod teams, the community that I became a part of, the friends that I made, that’s what makes this game special to me.
I think it’s safe to say I fell in love with JK2 right away. Well, no, scratch that. It wasn’t until Kyle gets his lightsaber back. But after that, all love, all the time. I’m a fan of Star Wars, as most people are, and Jedi Knight offered the chance to swing a lightsaber like never before. It would score walls (which was a big deal in graphics 4 years ago), occasionally cut through limbs, it was great.
After I finished the single player mode, I was looking to continue extend the experience beyond what was offered in the retail box. So I went looking for mods, extra levels, whatever. That lead me to the LucasArts forums. I started posting there, learning the techniques needed to extract the texture files from the .pk3’s the game uses.
My first official “skin” was an attempt at Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness). I was working within the limitations of a pre-existing model, but it turned out rather well (for a first attempt). It got a lot of positive feedback, and I was hooked.
I created a few dozen reskins of the game’s various characters, each one getting better than the last. I learned to use textures and art to bypass limitations of the models, to achieve things the polygons wouldn’t allow.
It was soon after that I happened upon a fellow forum member, Antonio Perestrelo, a.k.a. Bloodriot. he was a modeler interested in creating a Jango Fett character, and he needed a skinner. Over the next few weeks we worked back and forth, and turned what had originally been planned as a Jango Fett model into a collection of Mandalorians. Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and we created 4 completely original characters with different colors as well.
It was the first Jango/Boba Fett model available for JK2, and it was huge. This was my big creative outlet before starting this webcomic. I was known for being a skinner before I was known for being a webcomic artist.
It was such an awesome feeling to jump into a multiplayer match and see people using the characters we had brought to life.
So where do you go after you’ve tackled the most notorious bounty hunters in the Star Wars galaxy? Well, Darth Vader was already being worked on by another talented modeling/skinning team. Antonio and I decided we wanted to start making our own custom characters, and then use them to create a whole new single-player campaign.
We would tell the story of a Jedi and his fall to the dark side during the old republic. And thus “Project Tyrion” was born. The name was a tribute to George R. R. Martin, whose books I had just recently discovered, and whom even today remains my favorite author.
I skinned a Jedi and a Dark Jedi version of Tyrion, and it was the last model we would complete. Our lives got busy and we had less time to devote to working on our project, until it finally faded away.
Some time later I would go looking for another creative endeavor to pursue, and end up drawing Ethan and Lucas, and the rest is history.
But I can’t think about the most influential games in my life, the games that have brought me the most entertainment hands down, without thinking about Jedi Knight 2, and the community I was a part of for the summer of 2003.