Friday, 17 December 2010

Blue Flames

There are some wonderful images on from photographer Olivier Grunewald who has captured the blue fire of burning sulphur at a volcano/mine in Indonesia. The full article presents some 30 images of the remarkable scene at Kawah Ijen.

[Olivier Grunwald photographs of the Kawah Ijen sulfur flames via Boston.Com]


I always like images like these, they make us question what things should look like or should be like and look at what they are actually like. This is a common issue in creating digital environments of characters and having to put what people expect rather than what would really be there...

Crysis2 Screens

Incrysis have some more gorgeous screenshots from Crysis2 up. Now that we have CryEngine3 running here in FBE we are keen so see how far we can push things, just look at the depth and quality on display here (follow the link to get the full HD versions)

[Crysis2 imagery via Incrysis]

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Into the Sandbox

Just a quick post to show I am back into Sandbox2 (CryEngine2) - here is where a few minutes of intro tute gets to. Now to dive in for real.

In the last few days I have also fired up Mudbox and had a play in there as well as 3ds Max 2011.


While I had intentions of posting here quite often as I worked my way through Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design - well here are my thoughts now I am at the end.

I really enjoyed the book, Jesse's approach to breaking down a large and complex field is well crafted and gave plenty of scope to introduce his lenses as we went along. One criticism would be that the last few chapters felt more like catch-alls giving us the miscellaneous bits not already covered rather than a grand finale that could represent the enormity of all that has come before. Perhaps some targeted application of the lenses to some existing game designs, bringing everything together.

The lens concept feels effective, distilling down the great depth in the book to a series of specific thoughts and questions we can all use to improve our design work. While many of the lenses can stretch to any form of game, there are quite a few of them that make much more sense in the context of a computer game. Right from the beginning Jesse delivered on the examples, this was one of the strengths of the story, fleshing out ideas with succinct examples from famous games and other media.

Apart from some super general principles, we are also treated to some real specifics. In chapter 19 he covers Third-Person Distortion, where rooms that work in first-person look crowded and cramped in third person and some ways people use to counteract the effect. We also take a brief dive into the uncanny valley, avatar theory, character collusion and the Hero's Journey.

All up a great read and beautifully practical as well - now to put it all into practice as I look at Moths vs Butterflies. One thing I need to decide quickly is if I can pursue both a narrative approach and a game approach to the idea and the setting.

Arkham City Trailer

Brand new trailer from Rocksteady for Arkham City - super:

Plus dont forget the teaser goodness:


I had been looking forward to this, Inception on BluRay looks and sounds incredible. Christopher Nolan brings all the intensity and cerebral thrill from The Dark Knight to bear on this story and world that blends ideas from the Matrix, Total Recall and Jason Bourne into a potent film. We are treated to an experience that has us thinking and wondering during and well after.

The super soundtrack by Hans Zimmer lends some real weight to things and stands on its own so well. Time is the quintessential track from the score which lends itself so well to the intense bass rumbling used in the soundscape of the film - shaking us about (imaging that in an IMAX theatre).

Plotwise, Inception delivers a compelling story that like the journey of the characters leads us in deeper and deeper. We are drawn in by the main plotline for sure, but it is the disturbing tale of the main character (Cobb) and his wife that really grabs us. There are a suite of little hooks that dont really play out or get the attention they might have deserved, taking a back seat to the main threads - I wondered if they might release a longer cut actually. Things like: is Cobb's world actually real in the first place, is the whole movie taking place in a dream, how can we tell; Ariadne's power to change the world isnt explored later on etc.

Check out (after watching of course) the FAQ on IMDB for heaps of theories around what is really going on. I thought the cast is great, the characters are a good blend of heroic typecasting and believability. Ariadne, our master of the maze is great and we all liked Arthur.

These Wallpapers show off the concept and characters of the film with real flair.

[Inception promo images via the official site]

The CG and effects work was first class, flawlessly integrated such that we really cant tell while watching where the boundaries are. Double Negative (DNeg) delivered all 500 FX shots for the film and CGSociety have a great feature article detailing the work: Imaculate Inception: Giving Birth to a Dream.

You should visit Paul Christopher's blog - one of the concept artists on the film, but he has much more than that to show and concept art is very cool stuff.


and just for fun, here is the guys at from taking on Inception:

WoW Cataclysm

The next big thing in the World of Warcraft is Cataclysm. Though much of the content has been released in the leadup to the go-live date we are now finally completely cataclysmic.

We can now create characters using the new races (Goblin for the Horde and the Worgen for the Alliance). They both look great and should prove very tempting for players.

The world itself has seen dramatic changes which should reinvigorate peoples interest, and it needs to. One of the things about MMOs is that they are highly addictive, yet the players can be fickle and like to try new games - at some point another will come along that will lure players away for more than a fleeting look at the competition. For now Blizzard are delivering in this genre of MMOs with significant resources being poured into the mighty beast that is WoW.

Here are a few of the concept art pieces on the WoW site for Cataclysm - lovely emotive work that must inspire the digital artists:

[Concept art for World of Warcraft Cataclysm via the official site]