The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'video games'
A few art-related items today: firstly, Boing Boing's Offworld video-game blog has a gallery of video-game-inspired artwork by Melbourne street artist/illustrator Ghostpatrol. It's mostly influenced by old Nintendo games, and is drawn in Ghostpatrol's characteristically organic twee watercolour style, avoiding the clichés of isometric/8-bit/pixel-art styles. Quite lovely stuff; I recommend listening to some Qua whilst looking through it.Josh Keyes is an artist who produces tableaux juxtaposing (or, indeed, mashing up) various forms of nature and urbanism, with varying degrees of ontological violence. The results (totem poles sprouting Halliburton-branded surveillance cameras, grizzly bears standing atop wrecked cars submerged in water, deer on sign-covered treadmills in space) are meticulously drawn, with the sort of absolutely deadpan realism of encyclopaedia illustrations: Dan Hillier, whose oeuvre leans more towards surrealistic Victorian engravings:
One can find his prints for sale at the Old Truman Brewery market in Shoreditch on Sundays (where Your Humble Correspondent bought prints of the two above images).
Meanwhile, there is Banksy's ongoing exhibition at the Bristol City Museum, which is going until the end of the month. Entry is free, though prepare to wait up to four hours in the queue, and get there early. It's well worth it, though; Banksy's animatronics, for example, are superb, and his oil paintings and other non-stencil pieces are excellent (the large oil painting of Parliament occupied by chimpanzees, for example, is splendid). I had occasion to see it recently; my photos are here, though they don't quite capture the works in all their glory.
(According to The Times, Banksy charged the Bristol City Museum just £1 for putting on the exhibition, on the condition that all CCTV footage that could identify him was destroyed. Also, only four staff were informed of what was being planned (the rest were told that filming was taking place). Given the level of technical skill in his pieces, I suspect that the reason Banksy is so keen to keep his identity secret has to do not so much with fear of getting caught for illegal graffiti as fear of being outed as working for The Man; I wouldn't be surprised if his day job was in advertising, film production or similar.)
Finally, French street artist Invader (i.e., the chap who sticks tile mosaics of old-school video-game characters to high surfaces) is exhibiting in London until 17 September.
Video has emerged of a demo of Nobi Nobi Boy, Keita ("Katamari Damacy") Takahashi's new game for the PlayStation 3. From looking at it, it seems to involve several elongated characters (consisting of two weighted ends and an elastic middle) running around and wrapping themselves around a flock of various inquisitive barnyard animals (well, those and one koala) in the middle of a featureless grey plane, and occasionally swallowing an animal or two. The commentary doesn't shed much more light on the objectives of the game.
I'm guessing that the somewhat minimalistic surroundings, as well as the lack of any indicators of score or victory conditions, mean that this is a very early prototype, just enough to demonstrate the basic concept, rather than a deliberately-chosen ultra-minimalist aesthetic.
Keita Takahashi, the sculptor turned video game designer responsible for Katamari Damacy, is working on a new game. Details are scant, other than it being named "Nobi Nobi Boy" (which translates as either "Stretchy Stretchy Boy" or "Unrestricted Boy"). There are three images (which may be from the game or merely mockups) on this page (which is in Japanese), from which it appears that this game will retain the superflat aesthetic of Katamari Damacy.
Meanwhile, Namco Bandai are busy preparing a new Katamari game for the XBox 360 (and, some say, the Nintendo Wii), to be titled "Beautiful Katamari". There is A video of the game's gameplay here; judging by it, it appears to be the same concept, only enhanced for a more powerful machine (the graphics may be smoother, and the worlds scale up to larger ones, going all the way to rolling up continents on an Earth). Takahashi has no involvement with this project (and it's not clear how much of the original Katamari team is involved), so it's probably a good thing that they've been fairly conservative with the formula rather than, say, going wild and putting in photorealistic graphics. There's probably something to be said about throwing more processing power, memory and storage space at the Katamari formula as is (as evidenced by the result of going the other way and scaling it down to fit on a PSP; once you get up to the eternal modes, you notice the limitations). Having said that, given that the XBox 360 is considerably more powerful than the Wii, if they do both versions, I wonder whether the Wii version will be noticeably inferior to the 360 version.
WIRED has a photo gallery of Soviet video games; these were arcade machines, sometimes inspired by American or Japanese ones, manufactured in the Soviet Union (often at military manufacturing facilities; presumably because civilian electronics manufacturers in the USSR weren't up to scratch). They often were more primitive than western counterparts (some feature mechanical score counters and lack controls that western equivalents had), cost 15 kopecks per game (not enough for most Soviet youth to be able to play more than a game a week), and thematically avoided the zapping-space-aliens themes of the capitalist world, instead combining a sort of earnest socialist benignness (there were Russian folk games adapted for the arcade, games simulating socially worthy occupations such as firefighting), with the odd bit of ideologically-sound militarism (sinking Nazi submarines during the Great Patriotic War, and shooting down enemy fighters (presumably of a capitalist persuasion, though the article didn't say)). Interestingly enough, a common feature of all the games was the lack of a high score table; the idea of such an individualistic, competitive feature was, for obvious reasons, frowned upon.
Compared to western games, they looked a bit shabby and lacklustre. So as soon as Communism collapsed and Nintendos and PCs started flooding in, they pretty much disappeared. Most were destroyed, though a few survived; and now, four collectors in Moscow are finding and restoring these machines, for display in a Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, which they have set up in a bomb shelter under a university dormitory.
(via Boing Boing)
Nolan Bushnell, the founder of pioneering video game company Atari (of little relation to anything named "Atari" after about 1982 or so), talks about the state of videogaming, his new casual video-game bistro concept and why Sony's PS3 is (in his view) doomed to failure:
I saw a very large and untapped market, which is the entrepreneur's dream. There was no real venue for social games. Games got violent in the mid 1980s... that lost women. Then they got long-form and complex. That lost the casual gamer.
I think Sony shot themselves in the foot... there is a high probability [they] will fail. The price point is probably unsustainable. For years and years Sony has been a very difficult company to deal with from a developer standpoint. They could get away with their arrogance and capriciousness because they had an installed base. They have also historically had horrible software tools. You compare that to the Xbox 360 with really great authoring tools [and] additional revenue streams from Xbox live... a first party developer would be an idiot to develop for Sony first and not the 360. People don't buy hardware, they buy software.