Check out this flash animation from spriter Proxicide, using game assets from both the Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat series. Perhaps one day the actual in-game animation will flow with such smooth choreography.
Archives For 2005
The alsoran is currently playing through the XBOX/PS2/PC interactive movie Fahrenheit, (curiously renamed Indigo Prophecy for the non-imperial US), and feels moved to point out this game as notable not for its content, but what it means for the videogame as a medium for storytelling.
Visually, this is a contradictory mixed bag. The game features forward-thinking character animation, including walk start/stop actions as well as 180 turns, though unforgiveably requires cycles to finish before triggering and therefore creates awkward and unresponsive controls.
Similarly, there are many moments of greatness in motion-capture use, for example a lengthy loop of children playing in the park, or the multi-character interactions in the various interactive cutscenes, while the facial animation system, a cornerstone of a game of this type, is incredibly outdated – often jarring the player out of the more emotive dialogue sequences.
What concerns the alsoran most of all, and therefore is the purpose of this update, is the reaction from the associated press regarding the supposedly “progressive” nature of this self-proclaimed Interactive Cinema as a positive move towards the already-established medium of film, while in fact what we have here is essentially Dragon’s Lair all over again.
Videogames should be striving towards carving out their own rules, rather than pandering to the confines and limitations of celluloid. Developer Quantic Dream should be commended for attempting a less linear method of storytelling, though the alsoran suggests that this game could be better executed as a scene-jumping DVD movie.
The alsoran has added his own personal mandate for this and other projects. Check it out in the about section to see if it fits in with your own…
As pointed out by one of his colleagues, the first instance of a prediction by the alsoran has come to pass. The gamespot videoreview of EA’s NBA Live 06 for the XBOX360 makes a point of stating that “…a lot of the animations by themselves look great…the problem comes in how all these animations blend together, and that’s to say, they don’t really blend together very well at all”.
As videogames are ever approaching realism, (though true photo-realism is estimated to be 40 years away, a view shared by the alsoran), graphics have been improved by the mass adoption of texture materials such as normal mapping, as well as advanced lighting. However, all of this falls apart if the game moves with all the grace of a 64-bit elephant.
As all other areas of development increase in quality, so must the implementation of in-game animation in order to maintain the suspension of disbelief, for now this level of graphical fidelity can so easily come apart with as little as a single popping animation.
So the alsoran just checked out the official backwards-compatibility list of XBOX games available for the XBOX360 and, at the time of writing, is disappointed to see his one XBOX-only Hall Of Fame entry absent, due to the selection process favouring sales over quality. Though the selection criteria is sadly understandable, Breakdown will be forever consigned to the history books come the next-gen cycle.
On a positive note though, the XBOX emulation team at microsoft have taken the time to retain a variety of classics covering little girls with “Barbie Horse Adventures”, big fat girls with “Yourself! Fitness” and the entire redneck-pleasing series of “Cabela’s Deer Hunt: Seasons 2004, 2005 and 2006″.
Just who is this prominent videogame developer sporting the (presumably golden) loafers that would make Ronald McDonald green with envy?
The mysterious boatman keeps his own blog, featuring this post exclaiming ” I lost my shoes in last night’s dream. I exited a plane and realized: “I am barefoot! My shoes aren’t here?GI must have forgotten them! “. Not bloody likely, mate. The alsoran guesses the myth is true after all – big feet mean a solid snake.
Recently, the alsoran finished playing what will arguably be one of the most important videogames ever released with regards to moving towards a more cinematic experience whilst remaining fully interactive. This is due in most part to the player’s ability to always control the camera, even during cutscenes.
Importantly, the player is always able to maintain the most dramatic camera angle framing the PC and colossi via a held shoulder button, as well as being able to zoom in for added effect.
This kind of camera manipulation is valid and accessible even during the dramatic fight sequences due to the non-reliance on actually seeing where you are going, with large arenas, non-lethal falls, and an intelligent AI for Agro the horse that leaves players confident he will neither leap to his death nor run into walls should he reach the arena limits.
The alsoran recommends picking this game up for Agro’s fantastic motion alone, but in addition the idea of controling a human in turn controlling his horse is sublime and works to great effect, accomplishing an in-direct control system that feels neither frustrating nor sluggish.
So the alsoran has spent a couple of days this week posing out characters for an upcoming magazine cover.
Once a first-pass render was created the images were sent to the magazine in question for critique, and changes were wholly expected due to text placement requirements etc.
What was not anticipated, however, was an outright rejection due to an unwritten rule that a cover must feature only one character, as more than one is too much for the feeble reader to take in at quick glance, therefore leading to confusion and the possible accidental purchase of another magazine entirely.
The alsoran cautiously picked this up due to the series-damaging sequel, produced by the (apparently inexperienced) Ubisoft Shanghai studio. However, this latest offering comes from an internal team at the original Montreal studio, and despite the controversial defection of some of the key original Splinter Cell creators to EA, this third franchise installment captures all the near-future espionage thrill of the original minus the glaring flaws of the first two.
Building on the stealth-based reliance on gadgetry and darkness of previous installments, Chaos Theory offers a more open-ended approach to each situation, populating the less-linear levels with more forgiving (or fallible) AI, losing their super-human eyesight, allowing the player many more creative ways to dispatch of each enemy (or not) as they see fit.
Gameplay aside, Chaos Theory features the most advanced realtime IK system the alsoran has witnessed in a videogame so far, making player character Sam Fisher convincingly connect with the environment and pushing the medium ever closer to true procedural movement that is entirely under the command of the player.
Have we all seen this advert for “Generic Urban Gang Shooter No. 25″? Just a few years ago, we would have taken it for granted that the player assumes the role of the cops depicted in the image, but owing to the foreground prominence of the gangmember, the viewer rightly gets the impression they will be controlling him instead.
Apparently, this game allows a choice between cops or gangs, but that fact is not the issue. What is of interest here is that the author of the illustration is catering towards a demographic, (as that is the sole, soul-less, purpose of marketing artwork), that is now percieved to favour the role of bad-guy over good. Something that would have been unheard of until relatively recently.
Does this represent a shift in the conscience of the gamesplaying public, tired of eternally reprising the role of hero, or simply marketing catering towards the lowest common denominator?
The alsoran recommends all people who see this game on store shelves to steal a copy, and we’ll see how promoting this type of moronic anti-hero affects the publisher’s sales.