No Man’s Sky is potentially one of the most interesting games to be under development at the moment. Quite unlike any other, this incredible project by Hello Games presents a near infinite universe that allows you to traverse and discover new worlds, creatures, fauna and landforms, all procedurally generated.
Procedural generation means that what you see before you is not created by any artist hand, rather, all the elements that make up the worlds in No Man’s Sky are dictated and born from a set of algorithms. This system of creation is most famously used in Minecraft, but here Hello Games have stepped it up a notch. In No Man’s Sky the player is challenged with exploration of a universe that is constantly under development and incredibly vast. So vast that Sean Murray from Hello Games has stated that “if you were to visit one virtual planet every second, our own sun will have died before you’d have seen them all”. The shear scale of this project is hard to get your head around. Each planet has their own set of laws that dictate how the plants and inhabitants of that world grow, evolve, breed and survive. Erosion plays apart just as in the real world meaning that planets change and develop as time goes on. This is virtual world building on acid! The breadth of this game is so huge that to make sure things are running smoothly (as traditional game testing is impossible) virtual drone testers are sent out into the game taking screen shots of what they discover so that the creators can be sure that worlds are creating and evolving as they should. Holy heck…. it’s insane.
Not only is the generation of this amazing, the manner in which it allows players to fly down to a planet, explore the real evolving ecology and then simply take off to explore another is ground breaking. No two planets are alike meaning that your experience at each can be vastly different. So that loneliness doesn’t come into play (there were concerns that due to the scale players would never see each other) each new start begins in the same galaxy with a common goal of reaching the centre. From there, the universe is your oyster!
There is no set release date for No Man’s Sky, but be sure that when it does come, this will be one of the biggest ground breaking games to date.
Marilyn Myller is the newest short to come out of the genius that is Mikey Please. Yes, that’s his name. Mr. Please is an animator/ director/ writer out of the UK and is one very talented cookie. His painstaking technique of miniatures, stop motion and traditional animation techniques have help him to create, along with his sculpted white styrofoam, a strong signature look, one that is dark and light at the same time. A perfect aesthetic companion to the stories he tells.
We’ve featured his work before and I highly suggest you check out his award winning The Eagleman Staghere which he produced a few years back. It’s dark, it’s beautiful and it’s also astounding from a production point of view. Marilyn Myller has all the same traits. What I liked best about it was the transitions between worlds and states that the story takes you through. One minute you’re creating the world, the next your an angst teenager, the next a wanky artist. It’s random and perfect, and really, quite funny. The oddness of the African chants that enter towards the end in my view are pure genius. So witty, so unexpected and so brilliant at making what would otherwise be a heavy wee story into one that has a humourous slant. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was semi-autobiographical? I guess we may ever know…. although there is one clue. Mikey Please doesn’t take himself too seriously as his bio shows, that attitude, which enters the films narrative, makes me wonder if there’s a little bit of Marilyn Myller in Mr. Please himself. I reckon so.
High definition CGI is not a common presence in the fine art world, and I was surprised to see images of a digitally rendered human figure so prominently displayed at one of the the most important contemporary art galleries in Britain. The troublesome looking young man is an avatar modeled on Ed Atkins, the artist himself. Ed Atkins had somehow slipped my radar, but the more I’ve learned about him the more intrigued I’ve become with his work. His multi-channel installation Ribbons (2014) occupies several spaces and screens in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery until 25 August. The video follows the protagonist as he drinks, smokes, swears, mutters, gets naked, tries his luck with a glory hole. It is accompanied by large boards bearing blocks of texts with scribbled-in margins, and disturbingly realistic human skins, or UV maps of the avatar, on display like scientific specimens or conquests.
Atkins is skilled in coding, and creating 3D animation, though he did solicit the help of an expert to produce elements like the astoundingly hyper-real render of a whiskey glass that appears in the video. He pushes CGI far enough to remind the viewer that its’ most prized achievement, hyper-realism, undoes itself as, no matter how close the image gets to looking real, it will forever fall short of life. The avatar is so meticulously rendered, and yet so vapid, vacant—he is but a shell of code, stretched over an artificial structure.We see ourselves reflected in him, and but that which becomes apparent is our comparative physicality, flesh and mortality.
Ed Atkins is heavily influenced by literature and poetry and the written word play an important part in his creative process. Here is a beautiful performance of a piece called Depression from last year. If you happen to be in London definitely check out the exhibition, and I’d recommend reading some interviews with him, he is a fascinating artist. Here is a good audio interview recorded at Chisenhale Gallery in 2012.
Here’s a wee bit of fun for your day. JohnnyExpress is the latest out of Korean animation and production studio Alfred ImageWorks (great name!). The short film tells the story of Johnny, an intergalactic deliveryman who’s rated top of his field, although that credit is questionable after watching. Upon waking at his latest delivery destination, Johnny quickly finds himself up against a major hurdle, and the lives of those inhabiting the planet up against an even bigger one!
This is one great little piece of work. Aesthetically, the clean use of colour and matte texturing of the 3D models works perfectly for me. That paired with great character design, and a seriously good dose of well timed humour makes for a winning short film. Alfred Imageworks obviously know their 3D, their game trailers are epic and incredibly well put together. Click here to have a look.
In the meantime, give JohnnyExpress five minutes of your day. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!
I’m very excited to share this film with you! Directed and produced by Tell No One, a talented duo consisting of Luke White and Remi Weekes, Mine is yet another short that cements the pair even higher in my ‘I want to be like you’ list.
Tell No One produce abstract films that go beyond what we’re used to seeing. Using visual effects and a good dose of trickery, they create work that surprises, is often dark, and is sometimes very, very fun to watch. Mine fits into the latter. Created for Nowness, the motion touch enabled video allows you directly click and shop the items shown in the film. In an interesting twist on the concept of online shopping and the grab mentality of fashion, Tell No One enlisted Italian choreographer Paolo Manigiola to translate the ‘frenzied desire of online gratification’ into a compelling and vibrant routine. The combination of this beautiful choreographed dance piece, with wonderful direction, perfect styling and surprising visual illusions, makes for an incredible work. I’m so intrigued by the method of this film, of how it’s all done. For me it’s just like a great magic trick, but a beautifully art directed one
An aspect that I really appreciate about Tell No One is the approach to experimentation in their work. Their short films, majority of which are labelled as experiments from one through to ten, allow them to investigate a technique thoroughly, which in turn, creates stunning visuals. I’ve been following these guys for a while now and you can really see the production values step up as their experiments go on. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Since you’ve probably gathered I’m a fan by now, you may expect that I’ve written on Tell No One before. Well, you’d be right. Check out my previous articles on this talented duo here, here and here.