Monday, April 26, 2010

Roger Ebert's rant

Let me start by saying that I don't agree with what Roger Ebert said about video games not being art. First of all, the debate over what makes art "art" is a long, endless assault of opinions and the lack of unity on that point makes the entire argument moot. Having said that, I personally define art as the act of creation with intent. Within that, there is obviously good art and bad art. I think good art is measured by how successful the artist was in communicating what the intent WAS, and then achieving it.

Now let's talk about what Ebert MEANS to say, which I think can be summarized by one of his own quotes;

" 'No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.' To which I could have added painters, composers, and so on, but my point is clear."

Now on this point, I ALMOST agree, but not quite and my disagreement is three-fold

1) There's this wonderful romanticized notion that older=better, and it's just not true. Well at least it's not automatically true. This notion exists EVERYWHERE though, and it's an idea that has woven itself in the minds of appreciators of movies, video games, t.v. shows, books, comics, animation etc. Now I think a lot of the time, people say this because older material sets the precedence for techniques and ideas that will influence the later generations. They do this because they're the first, and they have the opportunity to set the standard for how the medium will be used from then on. Progression is usually slow and gradual after the initial birth of a new medium. Limitation also usually forces creativity and it also usually forces things (like movies) to center their techniques and methods on the basic essential principles of their craft. Video games are no exception to this.

2) Not all video games are meant to be storytelling, a lot are meant to be more about the interactivity and experience of actually PLAYING the game (tetris? katamari?). This is a principle of video game creation and it's something Roger Ebert doesn't seem to understand. It looks to me like he's comparing video games to movies as though games are a slight alternative, and like I said, this isn't always the case. I personally enjoy the cinematic, story-oriented games more, but I know that's not what all games are about.

3) There ARE some games that compare, even on the narrative side. Half Life is a big, fat juicy example of amazing storytelling, amazing immersion, amazing character development, amazing EVERYTHING. There are very few other examples but I don't even need to go beyond this one.

I think Roger Ebert may be right when he says "no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form." but it's only probably because nobody will want to give the medium the respect it deserves until it's old enough to automatically deserve it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Game of Thrones Cast!

I'm excited. My only issue so far is that too many of the characters are "pretty." In the books, there are specific characters who are attractive and it's used as a story element. If everyone's good looking, that story element gets lost.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


His legs were really irritating me so I had to fix them. The shape didn't work well for the design and the centerline/construction was all way off.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Last night I was in a rendering mood, so I painted this. As usual, this started from a random character doodle and slowly morphed into this, so there wasn't any planning involved and I did my best to improvise. I finished it today with polish and touchups, but I think this is the fastest I've ever painted something. Kinda looks like Danny DeVito's character from twins.

Also, I'm thinking of ideas for a new sequence to storyboard, I'm not thrilled with how my last set turned out.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Captain Simian, and the Spaaaaaaaaace Monkeys

My post isn't really related to Captain Simian, or any kind of space primate. It's just that I've had the intro song stuck in my head for the last 3 hours and I have NO idea why, I haven't seen that show since I was like 12. But I DID go to the zoo today and I did some gesture drawings of a monkey, that's probably what planted the seed.

Anyway, I went to see How to Train Your Dragon today and thought it was a very good movie. Unfortunately, my friends and I were taken out of the illusion by a messed up audio track and a loud, ignorant dude shouting on the phone and yelling to his kids as he came in and out of the movie. Needless to say, we all want to watch the movie again, properly.

Still though, I admired all the visuals and I enjoyed the story a lot, though it didn't tread too far from what you'd expect of it. There were a few lines that jumped out at me as corny and/or ill-delivered, but I was more than willing to overlook that. The designs were gorgeous and some of the compositions really inspired me to do some art. All of the flying sequences were amazing and overall, it was just a beautiful movie to watch. I definitely want that "Art of" book. I still need to get the Art of Up, and the Art of Kung Fu Panda too.

Also, on a completely seperate note, I'm reading the 4th book from the "A Song of Fire and Ice" series by George R.R. Martin (two Rs?!), and I don't understand what's wrong with this man. Though I'm enjoying the books, I'm really irritated by the fact that he seems to arbitrarily kill off characters that I've spent 3 books getting to know, and their deaths do VERY little to move the story forward. He keeps tacking on new characters and getting rid of old ones, and the whole time I'm left wondering why he had me invest in them for so long if he was just going to toss them out for no apparent reason (shock value?). I'm very excited about the HBO series being developed based on the books.