Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Hunger Games

Family just sat down to The Hunger Games (bluray) and lots of fun was had by all in this interesting tale that has some depth that floats along behind the action of the main story. The books no doubt flesh this out more, but we are shown a complex world with divisions and history that pervade this world.

The production values are high, which includes James Newton Howard's sweeping score. We get plenty of visual effects work from Rising Sun - I did like her flaming dress and all those high-tech computer interfaces. There were digital cities creatures and crowds that all went to flesh out this twisted little place that was close enough to our own world to really hit home.

I liked the realisation of the extravagances of the capital in contrast to districts and their poverty. Combine that with the struggle for these kids to stay true to themselves in the context of a life and death struggle and we have a quite adult film that appeals to quite broad spectrum of ages. We are left wanting more even which is a good sign of the quality on display here.

Tim Flattery's concept art for the film included environments like the one below and Reid Southen added his skills to the control room as well as seen here

[The Hunger Games concept art via and filmsketchr]

Friday, 17 August 2012

3D Campus

A quick peek at the work of students here at UNSW who used AAM's K2Vi software to create a 3D visualisation of the main uni campus.I am looking forward to students being able to pull off this and better as this sort of toolset and data is made available more easily for them.

Here are some promo vids of this and other software from AAM.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chrysalis Architecture

This concept for a chrysalis tree house restaurant was made back in 2008 by Pacific Environments Architects out of NZ for US Yellow Pages. Would have been nice if it could have been realised somehow, but the concept is pretty nice.

[Tree house restaurant via Inhabitat]

As I think more about a project to create the CG environments of the Butterflies and Moths in my imagined world, seeing a related concept like this for humans is nice. While the concepts I am working with are more dramatic, for a serious design this is pretty special, though I would like to see the idea far higher up in the trees myself.

While we are here, I have been thinking texture more than slats like the restaurant, well how about this for reference - a cocoon pavilion with a groovy bio shell.

[cocoon pavilion via Evolo]

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Left4Dead2 Zombie Fun

Thinking about games as we do often reveals interesting trends. We were discussing what makes a game the other day and often the definition involved having a goal/aim and often some form of end state. The gaming theory leans this way as well, so it can be fun to look at games that downplay this part of 'gaming' for activity a little closer to 'play' perhaps - definite grey between these two.

What does this have to do with Valve's beautifully crafted little Left 4 Dead 2 zombie survival game - well, apart from having a goal to complete the 'campaign' playing is much more centred around having a great time with friends with only very short term goals in play. We are might be trying to survive the current map as wave after wave of putrid zombies shuffle, scurry and leap from every dark passageway. But getting to the next safe room is more like a respite than a completion of a game or goal and there is no progression of our characters, equipment etc. Like going out to play 'catch' here you could say we are just playing, but I think we definitely are in a game as well... This is quite a contrast to my zombie slaying in The Secret World which is much more centred on the journey, evolving and improving my 'status/level/power' in the game.

The game is very Valvish, which means it plays beautifully, lets us in easily and is dramatic, moody and full of just enough complexity to keep us enthralled and wanting more. We play on-rails enough to keep us on the move and embedded in the story and action as it progresses, but there is flexibility in the weapons, positioning, order etc that makes decisions important. Valve do a great job of making us all feel like we have done a good job if we manage to get to that next safe room, no matter how actually good at playing we might be. The level design (incl graphics, physics, music, clues, interactions, etc) remind me of Half Life 2 and their other games - fun memories there as well and it still looks superb for a 2009 game!

[Left 4 Dead 2 Concept Art via the official site]

Take a look at these concept art pieces to see some of the zombie variety, this really makes the game, encounters are unpredictable because of them and force us to change plans and adapt. At its heart this is a super game for hanging out with a few friends - it is tailor made for this with coop being such a laugh-fest.
Lastly here is some more concept art of the environments.

[Left 4 Dead 2 Concept Art via the Kotaku]