Friday, 30 January 2009


Part 2

S-s-stupid elephants, it's not like your video made me cry or anything.

OH GOD ;_;
Anyone have a joke or something?

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Stupid laws

More badly thought-out laws that will probably never get passed. Could this be any more vague?

“The Government defines an "extreme image" as any "grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise ... obscene" moving or still depiction of someone any "reasonable person" would think real being sexually injured or engaging in sexual activity with an animal or corpse.”

Why the hell are people worried about comic books? No “reasonable person” would think they’re real, unless they’re part of the Australian legal system*. I don’t remember Batman going around raping animals either.

“"A kick in the balls or a--- would constitute this, and a kick in the balls is a well trodden part of humour."”

Did they miss the part where it stated images “solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal” would only be affected? This is such a load of rubbish. You can say the only people worried about this are the guilty ones, but these fascist laws just encourage censorship and stupid fucking paedophile fanaticism. Catching actual criminals is the most important thing, and it’s never even been proven that looking at drawings is linked with real crime, so it would probably be wasted efforts anyway.

Disregarding the content of that kind of material, the difference between fiction and reality is the thing here that seems to be getting confused more and more. 'Extreme, disgusting images' is so subjective it makes me uncomfortable to think that what would fall into that category would be totally dependant on the personal tastes of one person. God, just stop the circulation of images of REAL children and real exploitation before worrying about what Kaworu Watashiya writes next. This kind of thing really pisses me off because it just seems like obvious scapegoating.

*This Neil Gaiman blog entry explains some things. I’m fond of this line:

“And, I should warn members of the Australian judiciary, fictional characters don't just have sex. Sometimes they murder each other, and take fictional drugs, and are cruel to fictional animals, and throw fictional babies off roofs. Crimes, crime everywhere.”


Week 15 - The Industry

The fact that our course exists is indication that roles in Industry require specialisation, now that it has begun to mature over the years. Companies need a wide range of skills to function, and must have people that are very good at a certain thing; e.g. a games artist, rather than someone who can design a game, make the artwork and write the code averagely. That may have happened back when console games first began to compete, and even into the early nineties where production teams remained relatively small, with may of the staff were multitasking; but the games industry is now fully comparable in scale with other commercial entertainment identities.

Although our course is specialised for this Industry, many of the skills we’re training are transferable. With the current climate the future of getting jobs is foggier than usual, but I’m trying my best to counter that by developing my traditional art skills. Courses such as illustration and fine art had appealed to me before I discovered this one, but I’m very happy to be here because it seems that I share the tutors’ sentiments about the importance of drawing and uses of Photoshop, etc. In other words, I’m keeping my options open but still dedicating myself to what we do here. After spending some actual time on Max during the last project, I don’t feel quite as intimidated by it, but I have a lot of catching up to do – although everyone seems quite relaxed about it, so I don’t feel pressure in a negative way; perhaps because I’ve always had my traditional art to fall back on. That’s kind of arrogant, isn’t it?

I’ve been quite worried recently about the negative atmosphere surrounding the employment issue. I can understand why people are worried, and I’ve been trying to take an interest in it rather than my usual ‘it doesn’t affect me right now, everything’s peachy’ attitude. I think, generally, worrying too much about anything is bad for one’s mental health, so recently I’ve become a more ‘take it easy’ kind of person. But, when a real issue that has a possible chance of upsetting things gets too close for comfort, all the worry I didn’t have comes all at once and motivates me to get things done in a whirlwind of neuroticism; but usually all that applies to is deadlines for things I haven’t done. I’ve had bad working habits in the past and it shows. Anyway, last week’s session with Mike did put my mind at ease about it, that we already are specialised and don’t need to concentrate that much on one really specific thing, that companies are always seeking out graduates, and so forth. It was comforting to me, although that probably wasn’t the primary purpose of that talk..!

So, despite everything I’m still fairly confident that I’ll be able to find a job, although that positive attitude may come partly from the fact that I utterly despise and fear the idea of failing at anything [though I’m not the aggressive, overtly competitive type, perhaps you can tell]. The situation the industry is in is likely to fluctuate even more in the next few years, and as a result, I’d say its logical to presume that to preserve stability and prosperity, they will continue to pick out the very best and refine this even further, and that’s why abilities of being able to meet deadlines and be highly productive are so necessary.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

In which I talk a lot of shit about men and women

Warning for male nudity, NSFW. Serious discussion of rude bits will follow.

Oh god, Mikel Marton is awesome. This article [not work-safe!] made me happy. I'm so glad his work is getting more gallery exposure, especially after all of his cameras and computers were stolen a year or so ago. It’s funny, after about 4 years of browsing the site DeviantArt, there were only a handful of people whose work made me think something else other than ‘that’s cool’ [but maybe I’m just a bit shit at appreciating art sometimes], especially in the photography section; which is mostly just macro pictures of flowers and underage tits. In Sixth Form, me and a friend of mine became pretty obsessed with Sarah Lucas’ work, in that period when I was only beginning to understand what fine art was, to realise that the things she makes are all about bawdy sex and vulgarity, and those things are cool. Or rather, challenging the idea of a woman [‘Eating a Banana’, 1990] and gender roles really got me into reading about feminism and a lot of the ideas struck a chord with me and made me really passionate [I won’t go into detail, some guys are following this blog and I wouldn’t want to bore them to tears].

While keeping this contemporary art journal for foundation course, I realised I actually liked photography quite a bit. I’ll have to dig out the journals to remember the names I was into [the sheer amount you had to talk about was intimidating, so you become forgetful], but I do remember feeling vaguely uncomfortable about the overwhelming number of female subjects in nude portraits/erotica. At first I put it down to immature, prudish heterosexualness, but I don’t think I’m all that prudish. It’s mainly the fact that pretty much all of this genre is pictures of tied-up women, and I don't see the irony to these kind of photos. Women are physically vulnerable compared to men, and have been/are oppressed, and I don't see any reason to celebrate those terrible things. This kind of imagery is never morally questioned and I was quite frustrated about that as I could never think of anything to say that didn’t sound like I had double standards, as you can easily reply with ‘you’re no better just because you’d rather look at cocks’.

But I so completely agree with what Mikel is saying. Male art is taboo because we are still scared of showing the strong white man as a sexual object, because that is something completely associated with femininity or homosexuality, and of course, neither of those are any good for what we demand a man to be.
I’ll be very happy to see change, really, so I was extremely happy to find Mikel's work as the photographs are beautiful and the ideas behind it I think are important things.

In before 'lol, that guy has a huge penis'

On the topic of naked people, life drawing yesterday was great fun! It was my first time doing it properly, as I’d only drawn clothed models before...Not entirely happy with what I produced, I was trying to get the drawings as accurate to the three dimensional person as possible, and I didn’t really put any boldness into it. I think it’s a matter of confidence. I now know I can draw the human body reasonably accurately, so that gives me more room to experiment technically. Sometimes I think my stuff has zero visual impact, so I’ll try harder.
Also on the subject of female bodies, I’ll link to one of my favourite painters, Jenny Saville. I love her work.
So that the next entry isn’t entirely worthless, I’ll post the drawings we did with Chris for the laugh.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


1. • Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. (page 396)
• Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative: 1. need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation 2. need to communicate ideas and values 3. need to solve problems (page 396)
- Human Motivation, 3rd ed, Robert E. Franken.

I like the ideas presented in this article, particularly that creativity is not limited to the arts; instead it is a requirement for everything we do that needs independent thinking. Problem solving of any kind requires creativity, I see it as the formulation of ideas which is necessary for an intelligent individual. And since all of us humans are intelligent, as well as some animals, we are all creative. I think it’s sensible to gauge a person’s creativity by how much of that energy is put into use. Using arts as an example, a productive person who fills a sketchbook a month will be said to be more creative than someone who keeps their ideas in their head, but doesn’t act on them. Objectively, I think its fair, because we can’t see inside the heads of others. Their own ideas have to be expressed, creative ideas in the form of drawing/fine art, music, poetry/prose if the individual is interested in those things. Equally, science and mathematics both require creativity to progress. It’s a part of the brain we’re born with in order for us to live, e.g. attaching sharp rocks to sticks to make tools is a creative process. So in answer to the questions in the task description, everyone on a team must be creative individuals, moreso than the average person because their own creative skills are essential to their job and success.

When creativity manifests itself visually, it is usually linked with ideas that seem original in comparison to the rest. Something that is plagiarised has a less creative process to it than an idea that has been fully developed and researched, despite the technical skill. Although it’s fair to argue that nothing is original any more, I don’t think there is a limit to ideas which are different from anything that has been done before. It’s just harder to get to that level. In my opinion, an idea which consists of both research and imagination is extremely creative even if it’s been done before, as it’s very unlikely the two will be that similar, as long as the idea has been refined by the creators own unique imagination, to avoid cliché.

Creativity in games, is something you feel when you get excited about playing, or you notice many things in the game which stand out to you as being interesting, as well as the overall ambiance of the game. From there you can try and guess the creative process of the artist, as however loosely, ideas are based on something real, that is, your own experiences. Some companies I think are particularly visually creative are
Monolith, Atlus, and Oddworld Inhabitants. I’ve always been fond of Devil May Cry’s Bosch-inspired architecture and environments, fused with modern day cityscapes.

If it’s been done before and if I’m just being ignorant please tell me, but I’d really like to see a game with graphics in a more painterly style [I know of Ookami, though I’ve never got to play it]. Kind of like what Toei did with the Mononoke tv series, which is basically a moving Ukiyo-e, or A Country Doctor by Koji Yamamura, based on Franz Kafka’s short story. Imperfect, hand-drawn images work so well with animation I don’t see why it’s not the same with games. Perhaps the games industry thinks it looks pretentious? I hope not. I think many of their artists will start to come from a background more rooted in fine art with an understanding of periods and leading artists in history, who are more critically aware in general, like on our course where we’re shown films and learn about genre and movements. I love it.

As an artist, you show your creativity by the process that leads up to your results. Explaining that process is helpful sometimes, but usually visual development does not need much annotation, in my experience. When having your work acknowledged, having the technical skill to back up your ideas seems to be important. As long as the progress of your ideas is interesting and easy to follow I’d hope that it would be acknowledged. Some kind of instant appeal that makes an impression like stylised images or bold colour can make work more memorable. But I’m being really vague here.

This essay is quite an interesting break down of the components behind creativity; the un/importance of talent or ‘gift’ has always interested me particularly.

Friday, 16 January 2009

First impressions, fanart, etc

So I'm playing Tomb Raider Underworld as slowly as possible, so I can make a short game last. From looking at the promotional renders I was kind of apprehensive of what they'd done with the character, but I've liked everything Crystal Dynamics has done with Lara so far and it turns out I wasn't disappointed. The ps3 model is more natural-looking facially than ps2 versions, they've definitely gone for realism in that respect. It was hard to get used to. She no longer has an impossible body shape, and actually looks powerful in form and movements. In the first part of the game you get to wear an amazing wetsuit, its a conventional suit from the waist up but has no legs to it, like a swimsuit. She looks so cool swimming around wearing it with the equipment belt over the top, I was so impressed considering all the previous dodgy fashion mistakes of the earlier games, where the only considerations were to show either as much skin as possible or cling to it as much as possible, and it made for some pretty terrible designs that looked more like a tacky cosplay of Lara rather than what a Countess would wear [even though the official bio was different at the time].

In TR: Legend one of the most fun parts of the game were the unlockables. Concept Art and alternate outfits were the most interesting for me along with the Director's Commentary in Anniversary. Legend had a bunch of colour variations and novel things like an Amanda skin and gothic Lara. Highly entertaining, and the choice was probably more appealing to females because they were mostly quite demure, with the exception of *that* dress which was great fun to run around in. One thing I'm kind of disappointed about in Underworld is that a lot of these are gone, there's less than half as many unlockables and no alternative outfits, woe. The in-game ones are slightly plain in a bad way. I love simple design but its hard to pull off, and I was looking forward to seeing some optional extravagant things. It just strikes me as a wasted opportunity to design interesting clothing! Even though its Underworld and the tone is different from Legend, I think a lot of people miss it. However, lucky 360 owners get to download and prance around in a Marie Saint Pierre jacket! Why doesn't Playstation store get this kind of thing? So much woe.

Here's something I drew today. This kind of body shape...Is really hard! So excuse my anatomy. Must practise.

There is a swimsuit already in the game, but its basically a recoloured wetsuit with the sleeves cut off. I thought it'd be kind of cool to have a 1930's style bathing suit, I've always liked the simple elegance of that period and it keeps coming back. In the level, Lara wears no shoes which is pretty amusing considering you have to climb sharp, pointy rocks and kick vases for treasure. But I thought it looked cool in the game. The belt is still there because I think its more challenging to integrate it with other clothing, and also the game's physics/animations wouldn't allow it to be removed, as far as I can imagine...I've always wanted to get into modding TR, but have so far only dabbled with 2d. Well, I want to do some more of these, it was great fun.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Various things I watched over the holidays in the early hours...

I’ve made this habit while being at home of falling asleep on the couch around 11 and waking up as a film on tv is starting at 1 or 2am. It started out with rather bad Nicholas Cage movies, Face Off and the one where he jumps out of a plane dressed as Elvis. Ok, I did like that one. Last night I watched Carry On Camel. Or something. I don’t know either, but I felt pretty bad for smirking at every joke, similar to what happened while watching Hairspray [2007], except I didn’t think it was bad. I thought it was pretty good in a way that it rehashed John Waters’ film for today’s audience. My friend who loves Divine and all things camp would slaughter me for saying this, but it was still delightfully camp, just in a 00 way instead of an 80s way. But I’m probably biased because I love musicals [Oklahoma on Christmas day? Oh yes], even though it is not at all cool to love musicals.

Yes, I was highly disappointed when no one would go and see High School Musical: senior year with me [so much woe], and I never understood why those films get so much hate from my generation. They’re for kids and should be watched as kid’s films. Maybe its confusing because the characters are meant to be older, and when I watched for the first time I thought it was being somewhat satirical, because I didn’t realise the actual target audience until I visited EuroDisney that year and saw how young those kids where. As a kid’s film I think it’s a good film, I don’t really understand what people are expecting for a low-budget Disney live action aimed at 5-10 year old girls. For the record if I had children, I’d rather them watch a week-long HSM marathon than read Twilight. That’s not aimed at me, but I can still hate it because the message is quite backward. But that’s my opinion. Does loving kids’ films make any more sense than hating them? Probably not, but maybe for those idiots still infatuated with Disney [read: me].

One of the interesting things that happened to me with the falling asleep on the couch thing was waking up at the start of a film called Journey through the Night. I think it was a film festival piece, 10 minutes long. A man on a sleeper train finds himself in the same cabin as a cannibal, who proceeds to describe in some detail how he would go about eating him. The man could easily change cabins any time, or alert someone, but instead forces himself to stay awake and continue the conversation of how to go about eating the human body. Suddenly everything changes to animation, A Scanner Darkly sort of thing but more painterly. I did not see the point of this, it doesn’t really do anything more than add a bit of visual intrigue and perhaps emphasize the disorientation resulting from lack of sleep. The conversation led into questioning some of the morality and philosophy behind cannibalism. The whole situation implied the man was somewhat fascinated with the idea of it, just staying there long enough is playing with death until he comes to his senses at the end and you see the cannibal being thrown out of the train.

I really liked this film. Its interesting, while being confronted with a situation where you could leave any time, something so horrific can begin to make sense even if you’ve never thought about that thing in no more depth than ‘this is wrong’, before your reasonable part wakes up and you realise there are some things you shouldn’t question, or possibly shouldn’t think about too much. I’m quite a squeamish person, but I’m fascinated by horrible crimes and terrible, strange things. I think it’s the same for a lot of people and it’s not particularly weird. Usually after indulging in crime/horror novels I find I can’t sleep much afterwards, but morbid curiosity/masochism continues to make you seek out more shocking things. I like the idea of seeing inside the criminal’s head before saying, ‘that’s evil’. Of course, everyone knows murder is wrong so perhaps it’s pointless to think about these things at all? I don’t think so. Understanding crime is important even if the physical outcome is the same.

Oh, I’ve written a lot already. There were other things I wanted to say, but I’ll leave you with some highly amusing anime.
Possibly don’t watch if you’re at all offended by claymation gore.

Also, I was so disappointed I didn’t get to see The Mist today! I love horror films so I’ll seek it out on my own. I’ve had a bit of a nasty illness.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Week 11 - Gameplay

I really liked what this article was saying about games having both local and global modes, and the tactical and the strategic styles of gameplay. This seems like a good method to analyse the type of gameplay present, and immediately RPGs came into my mind as having these two levels. There’s the whole overworld exploration where the story events are usually triggered, where the game focuses more on exploration and item collecting, as well as managing many other tasks which are controlled in this level, earning the description of a strategic element to the game. The tactical, local part would come from the battle screen, which traditionally has a very different interface and functions which the user must learn in addition to the global play.

More recent RPGs such as FFXII have tried to integrate these two modes of gameplay, and from the looks of the PS3 offerings it will end up visually seamless. This kind of decision was probably made in favour of ‘realism’, and thing like the gambit system made it possible to have real time battles, something that I found hard to imagine in a FF game, probably due to being so used to the old system.

However well the modes integrate visually, as long as they are still there underlying the player’s experience the game is quite likely to be more interesting and enjoyable, as long as the learning curve is effective. As nice as real time battles are, for a tactical traditional RPG battle I prefer things like Dragon Quest where its all time-based selecting commands for each character, and you’re always very much in control of everything, as well as the game making the transition to battle very distinctive in a way that seems so old-fashioned now.

Will add to this one later.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Week 10 - characters and story

If games are here to stay as an stable medium, developers need to do things to grab a hold of their potential audience who are thinking along the lines of ‘why play a game for the characters or plot when I can watch a film or read a novel’? Games don’t yet have enough historic or critical weight to be compared with these other mediums to any great extent. Writers are only a small name in the credits of a game, whereas for films and books, it’s considered reasonable to consume them based on the writer or director’s name. I don’t think this is feasible for games right now, as there hasn’t been enough time for game writers to gain credentials which would be noticeable to mainstream consumers.

The principle of character is has underestimated power. People often claim to be following something for the plot, but the plot should come second to good characters, because without them the story wouldn’t have any appeal no matter how complex or ‘deep’. Every type of drama is based around the characters and conflict, the foundation for the story. We’re still unfamiliar with the concept of ‘buying’ characters or seeing them as consumables, when the selling points of games over the years have always been the characters – they are symbolic of their franchise.

Unlike film, games provide us with the opportunity to be the character and not just observe them. There is an element of projecting yourself onto the character you control which is probably why we can feel close to them after spending however many hours playing a game. It’s a different type of feeling compared to an emotional connection, which is how empathy with characters from non-interactive media works. The connection via gameplay can make even cliché, shallow characters endearing if its fun to play as them. A few years ago I found it surprising when I recognised that the characters I used to really love weren’t actually that deep or developed or even likable [certain characters in the FF series], but I hadn’t recognised that at the time because I was so absorbed in the game. Or I was naïve and easily infatuated by long haired men with big swords. Now my preferences have changed, and as I grew up I now find myself more inclined towards short-haired men with big swords. Or guns, or eyepatches, or beards, or mullets. What I’m trying to say in a really shallow way is that stereotypical character design is really effective at pulling people in, but some companies just exploit that way too much to the point where it doesn’t work anymore. Or it really shouldn’t work anymore. Why is FF7 still making money??

Something I don’t really understand is how people can say things like ‘but...they’re not even real’ in response to your fondness for a character. Just...What? I really like Heathcliff and Mr Rochester and no one has even found that particularly strange. I don’t see why it should be different for any kind of fictional person. It’s pretty funny how loving a character from a game/animation is strange, whereas obsessing over real life actors is practically encouraged. If the things that make up a character is at the least a description, or an image, or a voice, or some combination, the two dimensions really aren’t that different to me. Stay with me before this starts to sound insane. On the surface, there’s not much difference between a Photoshopped photograph of a celebrity and a painting. Both are unattainable, because what you see from actors is invariably different from their real selves. If anything, a 2d representation of a person is a purer way to satisfy our needs to admire or idolise others. Its easy to say ‘I know the difference between real and imaginary people, so there’s no need to think about it anymore’, but I like to think about it quite a lot.

The kind of archetypes I like are most definitely the slightly broken, emotionally vulnerable males who still have this air of strength about them. Bonus points if they’re either slightly arrogant or selfish as well, though I also like the gentle type who’s secret tragedy is revealed later on [Suzaku from Code Geass, if you know the show]. When the theme suits it, I also like hotblooded manchildren just for entertainment factor. Generally I love tragedy and melodrama when it’s done well, and still like it but pretend not to when it’s done badly. One of my favourite clichés is timeskips, when you get to see the hero, or the heroine’s lover come back as a different person, and it’s gradually revealed to you how he came to have changed. Ah, I love it when we get to see blind Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre, such a tear jerking moment which made him a very endearing character to me, it set my protective instincts to full power!

[Also, I apologise if this post seemed to be all opinion, no fact. Finding the balance is hard, and I'd hate to sound forceful.]