EPCOT Project Restarted

Entrance to EPCOT Center on new map

After many years of being dormant, The EPCOT Center Project is back alive. I’ve been working on it the last couple of weeks but didn’t want to post anything until I had something substantial to show.

Entrance to EPCOT Center on new map

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had to gather up a bunch of my research and rebuild my master plan map from scratch. It ended up being wildly out of whack in some areas but not too back in others. This map is built from hopefully a lot more solid reference material. So far things seem to be lining up a lot better.

About the Project

The EPCOT Center project is about recreating the early days of EPCOT Center. The model will be chronologically place around 1983 when Horizons and Journey into Imagination were freshly open. I have several plans on how I’m going to use the model, and I’ll reveal those as I complete my initial feasibility tests. FYI, I’m not going to be modeling the interiors of the attractions. Well, maybe just enough of the interiors that can be seen from outside the pavilions.

I won’t be building any virtual rides. It’s simply not feasible to recreate all the rides. I wish it was, but even the exterior work I’m doing is a LOT of work. Adding on internal recreations complete with modeling, texturing, animation, audio, camera setups and more for each attraction is just not remotely possible – even with a small team.

If you want to see how much work a high quality reconstruction takes check out Horizons Resurrected. Chris is doing an awesome job, but it takes a lot of work as you can see from his site.

Progress Report

So what have I done? Well, the biggest thing outside of rebuilding my master plan map is switching to a new version of my 3D software. Back in 2005 or so I picked up a copy of XSI 4 Foundation edition while they were offering it for a reasonable price. The model was last in that version. The problem is XSI 4 doesn’t work so well in a 64-bit Windows 7 environment. My primary modeling tool was very unstable and would lock-up and crash no matter what steps I took. And I don’t have the $2000+ to buy a new version of XSI (or Max or Maya) for that matter. So I spent a couple of weeks looking for alternatives. I had to balance my various intended uses for this model vs my budget vs each package’s capabilities. Many packages fell short…way short.

Lightwave came real close but is still out of my budget. I’d love the newest version of XSI/Softimage but it just ain’t going to happen unless Autodesk gifts me a license. And we all know how likely that is to happen…

Looking Out at the EPCOT Center Parking Lot
Looking Out at the EPCOT Center Parking Lot

But one day I remembered that Softimage (The folks that used to make XSI) used to offer a free version for non-profit game developers (Alias used to do the same for Maya). I checked out Autodesk’s site and deep in the XSI section was the XSI Mod Tool – a modified version of XSI 7 – available for free. So I grabbed that and did some initial tests and the model came over perfectly.

EPCOT Center Parking Lot towards park
EPCOT Center Parking Lot towards park

So with a proper tool set in place I opened up my old file and imported in my new Master Map. Next I aligned my existing models over their place on the map and was able to see exactly how far off I was on some items.

Next I went through all of my images I’ve collected and tagged them with keywords so I could quickly locate images of specific areas of EPCOT Center.

With my new map in place and properly tagged images I began work on the parking lot and the overflow canal that cuts through the parking lot. You may notice that the parking lot doesn’t extend as far North as it does today.

Yeah the parking lot may not be as glamorous as an attraction, but it’s gotta be done…hence why I got it out of the way now. 🙂 Next I’ll be moving toward the entrance and monorail station. I’ve already been making some updates to the proportions of the monorail station. So more to come.

If you have any photos of EPCOT Center pre-1990 I’d appreciate it if you could send ’em a long as I could always use more reference material! 🙂

On a side note some of you may have noticed some T-Shirt designs in the right column. Those are t-shirts left over from a failed business venture that I need help liquidating. If you’re reading this and dig the project, please tweet & share the listings with your friends. The extra cash will allow me to spend more time on the project and less time freelancing. 🙂

Thanks & see ya next update,
Jason

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