Tag Archives: art

He Would Not Work in Oils

Seth Godin on The Moment with Brian Koppelman:

If you think that you were born to paint in oils, or you were born to speak the truth about income inequality, or you were born— it’s just not true. If Vincent Van Gogh were born today, he would not work in oils. If Steve Jobs had been born 500 years ago, he would have done something else.

So what is the authentic version of Vincent Van Gogh? There isn’t one. What there is is someone who sought out a series of emotions that he could create for himself and gifts he could give other people through his work. And what I’m getting at is yes, we need to be consistent in honoring the truth of what we came to say.

But I also know that if I’d been born one block away from where I was born to different parents, or if I had been born in Yugoslavia, the fact that I’m here talking to you about these things would not have occurred. This is not the authentic expression of my DNA.

Excellent reminder.

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David Benioff on Writing Fiction v. Screenplays

Game of Thrones co-creator David Benioff on Aisha Tyler’s Girl On Guy podcast:

Writing dialogue. I love it. That’s the fun part for me. The hard part for me is writing the descriptions. There’s just something great about writing ‘INT. RESTAURANT. DAY/NIGHT’. A production designer’s going to figure that shit out. I don’t have to worry about it. I’m just going to write what the characters are saying.

I still love writing novels. Writing fiction to me… I still think of it as the highest form of writing, but it’s so fucking hard and it’s torture for me. I don’t have fun doing it. I have fun writing screenplays.

An extremely honest and reassuring quote. What aspiring writer doesn’t want to hear a quote like this from one of the co-creators of the most ambitious show on television?

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Monument Valley is Magic

Myke Hurley of Relay FM interviewing Neil McFarland, Director of Games at ustwo:

MH: Visually, Monument Valley’s levels, they focus a lot on optical illusions and trickery. How much more difficult is that to develop for than just creating a straight “go from here to here” type level?

NM: It offers a lot of different challenges. We’re trying to delight people. There is that moment of delight when you turn the Penrose triangle around, you see it for the first time. Something goes from 2D to 3D and you suddenly see a connection that’s not there. It’s magic. For us, it was a drive to see how many of those we could uncover and re-engineering things and playing and trying and failing and getting it right and getting it wrong. It’s not easy but we were following our noses and following intuition and just seeing how many of those moments we could find within the concept.

The software engineering behind video games is still beyond me. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder just how ustwo were able to engineer Monument Valley’s impossible yet traversable objects on the fly. Magic is right.

Relinking my review of Monument Valley 1.0 here.

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The Making of Lumino City

Brave. Daring. Ambitious. Inspired. Inspiring. Beautiful.

Not twenty minutes before watching this video was I listening to Howard Shore’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack, ruminating on what it must have felt like to be involved in such a massive, all-consuming project as The Lord of the Rings film franchise. I often fantasize about working as a builder or set designer on those projects, bringing Tolkien’s Middle-earth to life. Imagining the construction of Lumino City brings about the same thoughts and is far more compelling than the game itself, and boy what an amazing game it looks to be.

State of Play’s Lumino City will be available tomorrow, December 3rd, via Steam for Mac and PC. Official trailer below.

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What is a game? And why it matters!

Yours truly, June 23, 2014:

There have been many arguments about the term “video game” and what it actually means in today’s world. Many “games” no longer incorporate elements of games (e.g. Journey), causing critics to coin terms like “interactive experiences.” I think Siracusa’s talk shines light on a better word for modern games (especially first-person design) that has been right under our noses: Simulations.

There are games (e.g. Super Mario Bros., Uncharted), there are simulations (e.g. Journey, Dear Esther, Gran Turismo), and there are those that incorporate both (e.g. Halo, Mario Kart). The problem is that no one wants to hear the term “simulation.” For most, simulations have been boring since Flight Simulator 2000. On the other hand, games have been fun for centuries.

As we move closer to an Oculus future, we move further away from “video games.” If anything, I’d argue that the term “video game” does more harm than good for the industry’s larger appeal, carrying the baggage of a childish activity regardless of what studies show. “Simulation” may not be perfect the perfect term but it’s a word that should be incorporated more often.

In any case, a very enjoyable argument from Jamin Warren and PBS.

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Ed Catmull on Icons and Story in Games

I had the fortunate opportunity of seeing Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, in a moderated conversation today.

During the Q&A, an audience member asked Catmull if there exists a current icon who fills the roll of Walt Disney, a man known as a figure who focused on the impact of technology on human experience and story and delivered his message to the public via TV broadcast. While my head went straight to Neil deGrasse Tyson as a viable figure, Cutmull’s answer was quite interesting.

A bit of Catmull’s reply, paraphrased by yours truly:

You can’t make another Walt or another Steve or another John. I think this is a problem the games industry faces. They make great experiences but have a hard time telling great stories. I think we have yet to see who will make that happen.

He deliberately went out of his way to focus on the games industry. He had also made reference to the games industry earlier in the discussion; however, the context is now escaping me.

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Building Blocks

Martin Scorsese, as quoted by FirstShowing.net:

We have many names for what we do – cinema, movies, motion pictures. And…film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye – really, that could be easily done. Too easily.

It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital informaton will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.

Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.

Earlier today, I vocalized a theory to a colleague that within the next two years we will experience a technological “rubber band effect.” It’s not to say that we will fall out of love with the magic that tech provides or that we are desensitized to the magic, more so a realization that there are places where magic is not needed. Music production is over bloated and uncomfortably tight, there is an eeriness that all eBooks are the same weight and thickness, and the reliance of post-weathering filters and blurs on digital photos are non-starters. All different approaches to “improve” on digital mediums or mock analog as novelty, now overly used splinters in the senses.

I also predict an increased interest in non-fiction books in lieu of race-to-the-bottom listicles and online publications full of obnoxiously placed online ads. I’m not sure if it fits into the same argument but it feels like there is some overlap here.

Digital is becoming tiring. Surely a great outlook for a blogger.

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8bit Football

Relive the biggest plays from the 2014 World Cup with Matheus Toscano’s 8bit Football blog.

Toscano, as quoted by The Verge:

People want to see how their favorite players and teams would look like in 8-bit style. Whenever they can recognize someone, even if it is only represented by only a few pixels, that usually makes them laugh.

Most people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s could experience playing football video games with such graphics. Whenever we see something similar, it brings back memories from childhood.

Worth relinking to my previous post on pixel art.

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Pixel Art

Sam Byford, The Verge:

Instead, pixel art is best thought of as video gaming’s most characteristic visual style, one that was forged throughout the history of the medium and is inextricably linked to it.

A great post at The Verge today. Pixel art is and forever will be the most emblematic representation of the video game medium.

Adam Saltsman, creator of Canabalt:

Pixel art doesn’t always spell everything out. It can be pretty minimalist and evocative that way. Often when you are looking at pixel art you are seeing more than is actually there.

After Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D in 2011 (a remastering of 1998’s original LoZ: OoT), many were quick to point out that it had been rebuilt as the game you remember, not the game it actually was. Our imaginations have the wondrous ability to fill in blanks and fill out details that may not actually be there. This seems to be the reason I have no quandary with the evolution of Mario. I have never questioned this:


from this:


Red cap, mustache, overalls? Sure, that’s Mario.

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“what do you think about us copying the game?”

Howard Tsao of Muse Games on publishing Guns of Icarus Online, blogging on Gamasutra:

Part of our embodiment of steampunk was to infuse it with influences from cultures of the world. In their attempt to exploit this, the publisher then asked for “stereotypes” of different cultures. Reason? They claimed that stereotypes are more easily distinguishable. We thought this was flirting with racism, but once again, the publisher claimed to know better. The art style that we settled on was more in the spirit of Miyasaki or early Final Fantasy games. That is not inherently a bad thing; it’s just not what we wanted or agreed to. We decided to make a compromise to keep the relationship going.

With the project hanging in the balance, teetering on collapse, I made the trip to Taiwan. After a day of sitting in a claustrophobic meeting room, it came down to either accept an extended prototype with the lower pay or be terminated. We decided to terminate and get out of the contract and the relationship. Then, I got a phone call from the publisher’s CTO. On the phone, he posed this question: ‘If you wanted to go through with termination, what do you think about us copying the game?’

Hooked after part 1. Looking forward to parts 2 thru 5.

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