My talk on team productivity at GDC starts now! Wish me luck.
Here is a comic that made me smile.
Here is an interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky from 1999. It's fascinating - it helps if you like his work I guess. The Incal, written by Jodorowsky and illustrated by Jean 'Moebius' Giraud is one of my favorite comics. I am sad that I will be in Paris but not at the right time to catch one of Jodorowsky's lectures / psychoanalysis sessions.
(Please ignore the SHOUTING INTERVIEWER.)
He even has some things to say about games. Nothing mind-blowing, but interesting nevertheless:
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN DESIGNING VIDEO GAMES YOURSELF? Yes. Last year I did in L.A. They're doing that now. I went there and proposed, I say, Listen, I want to make this type of story, are you interested? They said, Yes, sure. I made two games of, and I am making a game of the Meta-Baron, then they are doing. I think, "There is a new artform." Very interesting.
I don't think that game ever came out. Pity.
Here is an interesting article about Wall-E, Pixar's next animated movie:
Once Stanton began to visualise his low-tech robot — Pixar's logo of the bouncing anglepoise lamp, Luxo, was another major inspiration — he decided Wall.E wouldn't work with conventional dialogue. He wanted his film to hark back to the sense of wonder, the epic vistas and post-apocalyptic melancholy of classic sci-fi. The result is that Wall.E, in a first for Pixar and indeed most modern-day blockbusters, has very little dialogue. The love story between the robots is mostly told visually and with their 'language' of whirrs and electronic beeps.
I love the fact that Pixar has enough self-confidence and courage to do something fairly unconventional like this. The pressure of their previous successes, not to mention from their parent Disney, has to be enormous.
Wall.E is first and foremost a love letter to science fiction, though. Its epic, post-apocalypic vision of an uninhabited Earth set hundreds of years into the future, thick with dust and towering stacks of rubbish, looks wonderfully real. "We wanted it to have the feeling that it had actually been filmed," says Morris. Using subtle details such as barrel distortion and lens flare, gave Wall.E the feel of the 70mm sci-fi films of the Seventies. For the first time Pixar also brought Academy Award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins and special-effects don Dennis Muren onboard. "We wanted to get the nuance of a live action film, and actually put mistakes in with zooms and framing to give it a more immediate feel."
Nice, lens flares on steroids.
The article also describes how the 'voices' of the robots were made. It's a good read.
Suda was working as an undertaker, enjoying the booming Japanese arcade scene, when he noticed an advertisement for an opening at Human Entertainment, best known for designing the Clock Tower and Fire Pro Wrestling series's. [Suda] received a call from Human, and was immediately hired. He began work as a scenario writer on Super Fire Pro Wrestling 3 Final Bout. The next game he would work on, Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special, remains one of his most infamous to date due its shocking ending, in which the hero commits suicide.
... No comment.
This is a story that has needled me for a while, but never to the point of writing about it. Until today, when I read a blog entry by Tom Forsyth about how Intel's Larrabee will actually be able to do rasterization and not just real-time raytracing:
I've been trying to keep quiet, but I need to get one thing very clear. Larrabee is going to render DirectX and OpenGL games through rasterisation, not through ray-tracing.
I'm not sure how the message got so muddled.
Yeah, gee, I wonder why. Maybe because Intel has been pushing real-time ray-tracing so hard? Take a look at this fair and balanced article called "Rendering Games with Raytracing Will Revolutionize Graphics". It wasn't written by anyone from Intel, but it describes Intel's efforts in that area - note the picture of an Intel poster saying 'Ray-tracing: The future for games!'.
Ray-tracing for games doesn't make any sense to me. The visual advantages of ray-tracing over rasterization are tiny and not worth switching to a completely new rendering approach for. Ray-tracing always evokes mirrored balls on infinite chessboards to me, and hey look! Intel's latest screenshots contain mirrored balls! You need to grab people by the neck and point them at the stuff ray-tracing is better at than rasterization. And I am not the only one who is skeptical: so are John Carmack and Crytek. They should know (more than me, I haven't done graphics programming in ages), and their opinion counts.
What Intel is trying to do with Larrabee seems awfully transparent. NVidia is moving into general purpose processing with CUDA, so Intel is moving into graphics processing with x86 cores. Let's not pretend this is automatically good for developers or for gamers. I listened to Intel's hype about MMX in 1995, and MMX turned out to be completely useless for games. They're not fooling me twice. I'd be even more skeptical except Kim Pallister is working on Larrabee, and I have a lot of respect for him. Still... Larrabee makes me sneer. I couldn't care less about it.
Am I wrong? Is Larrabee or real-time ray-tracing the wave of the future? Tell me in the comments. Don't tell me Tom Forsyth is not responsible for Intel's PR, I know that. He's a good guy.
The New York Times has a fascinating story about a house with a mysterious riddle. Specifically, a house on Fifth Avenue where the architect threw in an alternate reality game for free. Without telling his clients...
They are living in a typical habitat for the sort of New Yorkers they appear to be: an enormous '20s-era co-op with Central Park views (once part of a triplex built for the philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post), gutted to its steel beams and refitted with luxurious flourishes like 16th-century Belgian mantelpieces and custom furniture made from exotic woods with unpronounceable names.
But some of that furniture and some of those walls conceal secrets — messages, games and treasures — that make up a Rube Goldberg maze of systems and contraptions conceived by a young architectural designer named Eric Clough, whose ideas about space and domestic living derive more from Buckminster Fuller than Peter Marino.
The apartment even comes with its own book, part of which is a fictional narrative that recalls "The Da Vinci Code" (without the funky religion or buckets of blood) and "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," the children's classic by E. L. Konigsburg about a brother and a sister who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover — and solve — a mystery surrounding a Renaissance sculpture.
What a fun idea. Be sure to look at the slideshow.
There's a great interview with Harlan Ellison at The Onion's A.V. Club. I won't try to explain why but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I strive to be a bloviating asshole like Mr. Ellison.
"Moving Mario" is a cute installation by Keith Lam, aka the Demos. It is easier to show than to describe:
You can read the slightly too elaborate description here. I guess you have to write that kind of stuff when you're an artist - I'd have thought you just get it after seeing it for 2 seconds.
It strongly reminded me of the "Be Kind Rewind" exhibition at the Deitch gallery in New York. A friend of mine went there, and it sounded hilarious. Lots of crummy yet crazily inventive mechanical sets and backdrops that anyone can use to make their own movie.
I can't find a decent description of it, but here is a video showing some of the backdrops:
I've been very interested in doing lo-fi stuff like this lately. It just seems like such a cool and natural approach for an indie game, or other online / interactive project of some kind. See also my earlier post about MUTO.
(Garkov link via Monochrom.)
Update: Jason Kottke has collected a boatload of Garfield variations. Most of them are worth a few seconds of your time, and may evoke the fleeting thought of a chuckle. In other words: it beats regular Garfield.