Thursday, 8 July 2010

Steps up and then down

So after researching all the games that I consider to be both "retro" and awesome, I decided to go with the Space Invaders theme due to its wide pop culture base, also due to its lack of any form of corporate branding.

I then had the issue of figuring out how I was going to include the E4 logo into my chosen Space invaders frame. the process went a little somthing like the following.

I decided instead of copying the entire space invaders theme, including the famous aliens i would replace the aliens with E4 logos. this gave me a way to include the E4 logo seemlessly into my work with it just being an addition to the work.

here we have the original formation of the Space Invaders game, now that I know I want to replace all of the Aliens with E4 logos another problem sprang into my mind, well not so much a problem, more of an observation, in that there is clearly more than 1 kind of Alien in the game, 4 different kinds 5 rows with a special flying saucer that goes across the top of the screen.

to avoid the scene looking too repetetive I thought of a way to get round this small issue. I remembered that E4 has a neighbouring station like many of the popular television stations E4 has a +1 channel incase you missed something on the original station. So when doing further research into the channel E4 i found that there were more stations, and each station has a logo that was a alteration of the first. E4 also has a music channel call 4Music I didnt use this logo just incase I confused the veiwer. so there i had 3 Logos for three "Aliens", better than just 1. Also when doing reseach i have found that the logos are also commonly seen inverted as well, and by this I mean the places where they are commonly white are made purple, and visa-versa.

So I was liking my idea of the E4 Invaders more and more, but using the logo as it is was not an option, it didnt look at all retro and infact looks more modern than most other logos.

Realising this I made a "retro" version of the E4 Logo in Flash, I used flash because Vector programs utilise block colours much more efficiently than Raster ones do and the only colours I needed were Purple (#6D378F) and white (#FFFFFF)

E4 Retro Logo

Of course using this image I figured out a way to get the other 2 logos to be the same way, I really like how these turned out, I was a little frustrated at first because I didnt know how I was going to make the logo appear to be "retro".

E4+1 Retro Logo

E4 HD Retro Logo

Story Boarding
so with lay out and design of the most important facets of the sting done the rest was just trial and error, this is the first Storyboard I did.

After speaking with Alan about this storyboard we agreed that because the time span of this animation is very very small that I should "give it to them" (as Alan put it) sooner, meaning let them know whats going on sooner in the animation.

In the Storyboard i tried to match up to the audio while also attempting to hide a easter egg within the scene also. the layout however seemed to be snapping around too fast and the wouldnt allow anytime to appreciate what is happening on screen
(the Easter Egg is that the "High Score" number is actually the date of E4's release) due to the fact it would be far stretched to believe that sombody would make that connection I removed the addition of the scores in the reworked version to make it flow better.

Re-worked storyboard

I removed the unneeded cells and replaced them with a close up of the E4 logo's in their 3D form being destroyed by an (as of yet) unknown force which then makes the camera more suitable to zoom out and display the agressor, revieling the scene and the meanings behind the quirky logo's.

Since I already had the Logo made I decided to do the ending splash screen first, not having the font i wanted meant looking for it, which didnt take very long and I found an acceptable type face on 1001 free fonts dot com.

using a purple Radial gradient, the Logo and the new font i was able to make the end screen for my animation.


within Maya since the scene was all laid out in 1 place I quickly assembled the basics, the odd house-like shelters and the player controled cannon before moving on to the Logo construction itself.

the odd thing about the construction of the scene was that I actually found it harder trying to make everything look retro than i perhaps would have just making things normally, once i got the hand of it however it was fine,

afterwards I started on the actual 3D logo, making it as close to the Concept as I could so I could kill 2 birds with one stone using the concept also as a texture.

I rendered the 3D logo in front view and overlaid the resulting image with the concept version in Flash, making sure they layered up perfectly all that was left was placing the texture onto the model and making sure the UV was set to "Planar map" the result was very pleasing.

I did this for all the varients of the E4 Logo and then set up the "invaders" formation each were set 3 grid squares away from one another left to right, and 2 grid squares top and bottom. (from the front orthographic perspective)

I added a backdrop, since most of the Estings I had seen focused only on purple and white I decided to do the same, making the forground elements white on a purple back ground.

The Background remained hiden whilest working on the scene since i repeatedly selected it during my navigation around Maya and it was driving me crazy. A

All that remained was the animation for the scene and the movement of the camera, I did encounter issues between conflicting frame rates between Maya and After Effects.

I modelled and tested the "explosions" effects for my scene, I tried to make each arm of the explosion a little different so it didnt look so mirrored but yet still leave it looking pixelated.

In the Maya preferences I had set the frame rate to be 25 frames per second, and also done this in the After effects scene that was now open, unfortunatly regardless of what I did Maya would only batch render my scene at 29 frames per second, which led me to despair a fair amount and meant that I couldnt correctly mastermind the operation to 100% precision, regardless things seemed to work out if I let the animation run a little over the desired time and left the rest to post production editing in AE.

after setting the animation markers to make the movements of the in scene elements i retreated into the graph editor to remove and slow downs and rev ups in speed due to unwanted curves between the keyframed animation, all the lines had to be perfectly straight going directly to the next keyframe directly.

After Effects the only problem I encounted in Post was an error I recieved when Exporting the scene due to a faulty MP3 codec plugin, since I use After Effects 7 this could be the reason, due to this it would not let me render. fortunatley i had encountered this issue multiple times during other pet projects. how to get round this was simply to convert the MP3 to a WAVE audio file, and then the render finished perfectly with no further errors.

Final video

Monday, 7 June 2010

Mmmm games :P

I have made a list of the games that I think confidently display what true retro gaming was like, before Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog came along.

I will research each of these to find the most suitable one for the sound bed I have chosen

click logo to play Pacman

Pac-man is probably the most famous game, ever. Created by Toru Iwatani for Namco and released in 1980 it instantly became a Genderless and addictive hit. Pacman has been remade over and over over its time and is now just past its 30th birthday!

it was famous enough for the creators of Google to style their Logo around the game's platform and even make it playable!

It is a common addition to many Flash gaming websites and as such is still played widley even today.

the original game was played on coin operated arcade platforms, of which a record number had been sold around the world.

the game itself could be played indefinatley provided the player still had at least 1 life remaining, it had 5 Characters

1. Pacman - the protagonist and famous hungry yellow circle of doom!

2. Inky - Red Monster/Ghost
3. Blinky - Blue Monster/Ghost
4. Pinky - Pink Monster/Ghost
5. Clyde - Orange Monster/Ghost

I found a very funny video that is to do with pacman that was created and released on the 21st May 2010, so its pretty recent, definatley worth a watch and just proves my point that still people remember watch and play this game.

The embedded player was disabled so click here to see the video!!

Because pacman has such a wide and dedicated following that so many people can relate to even outside of pop/gaming culture, I think this could be my best and most ideal platform to base a retrogame E-sting from.


click logo to play Snake

Snake is another very old and popular game, made in 1978 by "P.Trefonas" -wikipedia, couldnt find another source- this is a game that again has had nearly countless remakes from both fans and companys and has a large scale of sequels. In actual fact when the game was released it was called "Wurm" not "Snake".

Like Pacman Snake was also released in 3D when the technology and the remaking of old games combined and was available.

the game itself was far simpler than Pacman, you have to guide an abstract snake-like creature around a small room and eat/consume (presumably) the objects that appear within that room, you are not allowed to try and eat either yourself or the boundrys around the room. what makes the game difficult is that your creature grows in size as you eat more making it harder and harder to maneuver around your own body to stay alive.

Snake was brought back to the foreground of attention after the Nokia mobile phone company added this game to all of its mobile phones stored memory where it could keep track of high scores and such.

Snake Gameplay

this game is older than pacman but not nearly as famous, since there were no actual "characters" it is more just a set of rules within an area, I most likely dont thing I will look at Wurm/Snake or any of its derivitives for my E-sting.


click logo to play Missile Command
Missile Command
Missile Command is one of my favourite games from the classic selection of video games, -sadly because it said "missile command" in the title so i just had to play it, yes i'm a war nut-.

The objective of the game is to defend 6 cities -represented by 6 small clusters of houses- from a waves of incoming missiles raining down from the top of the screen, you have to use your missiles to intercept the enemy missiles before they harm your cities.

Released in 1980 and programmed by Dave Theurer it is unlike Snake and Pacman in the ways of that you have controls but you do not see the thing you are in control over, all you are given is a small cursor that indicates the location your missile will impact. Interestingly John Connor plays Missile Command in Terminator 2 Judgement Day while he is in the arcade, the game seems to represent America's fear of missile attacks and the supposed nuclear holocaust.

All things said, and despite this game being one of my favourites, I can not see this being integrated very well into the sound bed I have chosen.

A gameplay reveiw of Missile Command by Classic Game Room HD


click logo to play Defender
Defender! one of the ones I remember most from my selection of classic games, although it is much older than when got hold of it as a re-release on the Sega Megadrive (Genesis), I have had many frustrating moments with this game shouting, throwing game pads, the works.

this game was created by Williams Electronic in 1980 although it didnt recieve the welcome deserved at its initial show it was very popular when it was ported to arcade machines and eventually became Williams best selling arcade game.

you play as s space ship saving humans from a planet under alien invasion, certain aliens will try to abduct the humans whereas other exist soley to destroy the player.

Lander - these are slow moving inacurate enemies that try to abduct the human inhabitants, if they succeed they become "Mutants"

Mutant - these are the result of an alien fusing with a human after abduction, they are very fast and very agressive and will try to land on your ship and destroy you.

Baiter - these teleport into the mission to kill you asap if you are taking too long, they are very fast inescapable enemies that fire fast moving prjoectiles into your path to shoot you down.

Bomber - these leave a small trail of small glowing orbs or "bombs" behind them which if you touch with your ship will cause you to die, they arent normally a threat.

Pod - think of these like a perfectly quite hornets nest, its not the nest thats the problem its whats inside.

Swarmer - within the "Pods" are normally a dozen Swarmer enemies, they all fire acurate fast moving projectiles making near impossible to dodge them all without some manner of godlike skill, they are also extremely small, making them just about the hardest thing to kill in the game, and if you kill 3 or 4 "Pods" then... good luck, because you will so need it.

here is a good review of Defender that can show you the game being played, as well as explaining how the game works, this is the Colecovision version of Defender since it has been re-released on just about every consol that has been released, normally packaged with other Williams titles like Robotron, Sinistar, Joust etc.

since my aspiration heads more towards vehicular design and this game is based amost solely on the ships both player and alien this could be a good base for my E-sting, however its hard to imagine at this point this game fitting with the sound bed.


Gradius is a game I never realy got a chance to play all that much, I do know however that it is a loved classic of many of my friends, the game is a manic sidescrolling game where waves of enemies attack you from the right side of the screen, you have a veriety of weapons at your disposal to dispose of the many many enemies that come to attack you.

released in 1985 by Konami the Gradius series is a very long one, much like the other classic games they have been re-envisioned a number of times, Gradius has a long line of sequels, the latest of which being Gradius V released on the Play Station 2 in 2004, i dont count Gradius Rebirth which came out in 2008 because it was a mixture of several levels from previous Gradius titles.

here is another good "Classic Game Room HD" review of the original Gradius

all the Gradius titles were released as sidescrolling shootem ups, however Gradius V was both a 3D game and a Sidescrolling shootem up. Similar to how super smash brothers works, it has fully 3D characters and backgrounds while only allowing you to move up down left and right, in classic side scrolling fashion.

I believe the Gradius could translate to a really good retro game E-sting, I have some questions that are begining to re-occur which I shall place at the end of this post.


click logo to play Space Invaders
Space invaders

Ahh space invaders, this is arguably my most loved game ever between Robotron and Missile Command. Next to Pacman this is probably one of the most recognised games of all time, and not just the game itslef, the pixel spaceships that try to invade have themselves become classics in popular gaming culture. being seen on clothing and accessory items, as well as individual artist creations. It is probably just as well known as Pacman only its influence is of a much more personal nature, unlike Pacmans heavy modern corporate image.

A sample of things contained in the link below, a space invader created out of rubik cubes.

Rubik Cubism

this link shows a veriety of Cubist Artworks using rubic cubes, a heavy Space Invaders influence is clear.

other examples below

a really cool painting with a space invaders theme, you can also see that Defender drew alot of its influences from Space Invaders.

Food inspired from the game Space Invaders.

there are many more things clearly inspired by Space Invaders, Car Decals, wall Decals, Paintings etc. typing "space invaders Tile art" into Google brings up a whole range of things.

these little spaceships are litterally everywhere, it pretty much is an invasion!


Tetris is a game I have had a lot of experiance with both playing and watching my mum play it for years and years, it is another very simple game that is just adored, it has much less of a following than games like Defender, Space invaders and Pacman, but thats mainly to do with the impersonal platform of simply different shaped bricks.

The game came out first in 1984 and was created in the soviet union by Alexey Pazhitnov, the game for those that might not be familliar with it, is a puzzle based game where a random series of Tetrominoes fall down one at a time in a random order and the player has to assort them into a neat pile at the bottom of the well. If a complete line is made then it vanishes moving the stack down and allowing more Tetrominoes to fall.

What is a "Tetrominoe"?

A Tetrominoe is the name of a shape made of 4 other small square parts. Like Dominoes are made of 2 square parts.

here are some funny videos influenced clearly by Tetris

regardless of its personal following among fans and the community, I do believe that Tetris would be suited well to the quirkyness of the sound bed and could be good to do within the perameters of the brief.


Robotron 2084... this is a game and a half, if you havent played it, you must, if you have, your probably banging your face against a wall because of the intense sound effects.
Thinking about it, this could probably be my all time favourite game, ever.

It was created in 1982 by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar and has been a game that did quite well commercially however not probably as well as it deserved, the arcade cabinate sold around 50 thousand units.

the game itself is very fast paced and has controls that were specifically designed for the game, there were 2 control sticks instead of 1 control stick and a series of buttons like all the other games of that time used.
One control stick moved the character around the screen, and the other control stick determined the direction to fire in, the aim? to simply kill everything on the screen whilst saving the last human family from the robotrons (evil robot enemies).

Within Robotron there are a veriety of enemy combatants

Grunts - standard hostile combatant that simply runs at the player to destroy him

Electrodes - basically colourful land mines that kill the player (or anything else that touches them) on contact.

Hulks - Indestructable enemies that can not be killed, they are in the level to destroy the last human family, they do this by walking over and flattening them.

Enforcer - these are harder enemies to kill, and they will fire back and chase the player until he is killed, they spawn from within Spheroid's.

Speroid - these will attempt to ram the player and will move away from the players line of fire, if not destroyed within a small time frame they will spawn Enforces.

Brains - these are enemies with enlarged and visible brains coming out of their heads, their goal is to locate and hypnotise the human inhabitants and turn them into evil killers that chase the player. Brains also fire bolts of energy that chase the player around the screen.

Tanks - these are tracked enemies that fire rapid moving projectiles to intercept the players movements, they ricochete off walls and will often come back in the direction of the player, these are the hardest enemies to kill.

Review for Robotron, Classic Game Room

Robotron Gameplay

dispite how must I honestly love this game, it just would not fit into the brief, specifically the sound bed, so I will be looking to some of the other games for further consideration.


Conclusion: because retro games are known by most people between to the age of 20 to 30, where as other people not connected to computers or games may be alienate a little by an E-sting of this type, not that that is a particularly bad thing but that isnt what I want in particular, to help elieviate this as much as possible I have decided to choose Space invaders over Pac-man and all the rest of the games i had selected.

I have chose Space Invaders rather than pac-man because Pac-man is a corporate symbol, he is also one of the most well known game characters ever created, which is both good and bad.
Space Invaders is still extremely famous, but its more down to earth, having being recreated by fans in a veriety of forms; food, clothing, accessories, Car Decals, paintings and sculptures, the little aliens had been totally integrated into game and pop culture since it began, the game is memorable and still inocent enough to propperly portray an E-Sting in a cute retro game style.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010



What is this?

An E-sting is a short TV channel ident animation for the Television channel E4, it is used as a filler just before or after another advert or program and is basically advertising that reminds you that “you are watching E4”


The E-sting -or an E-sting- must always clearly contain the E4 logo in some fashion during the course of its duration.

Normally very short, E-stings only normally last around 5 to 15 seconds total,

They can be simple or complicated in construction; so long as -written above- the E4 Logo is clearly displayed and not obscured or questionable


Bus Stop

This is an example E-sting, as stated it is a very short animation, in this instance a digital 2D animation, 11 seconds in length, clearly demonstrating the E4 logo throughout.

The animation its self can be quirky or unclear of motive so long as the E4 logo again is fully displayed relatively anything can be done amidst this, besides the obvious violent or sexual themes, although cartoon violence is acceptable.

The main colours within E-Stings are of course purple and white, these are the 2 colours that make up the E4 logo itself, and so normally the worlds remain in these 2 colours.


this example shows a 3D digital E-sting of a dog made of matchs and a match box, again obscured you are left right until the end thinking “hmm? What is this” and then it suddenly becomes clear when the E4 logo is reviled after the “dog” sets itself alight, its ashes making the logo on the floor.

Only 15 seconds in length total and very simplistic, plain white background with just the “dog” creation on screen, the dogs match box body has a purple exterior, again capitalising on the White/purple mixture.

What I have to do...

The task at hand is to create my own E-sting, this is narrowed down greatly by a set of audio bites prepared to give us a theme or direction to follow in our work.

There are 10 sound files in all.

File 1 - This sound bed sounds very futuristic, with lots of sci-fi whizzing noises, it has a medium – fast pace to its overall rhythm

File 2 - File 2 has a more urban feel to it, it is slower and feels much darker than number 1, it represents what music could possibly be heard in some clubs nowadays

File 3 - File three sounds to me like something from maybe a 70’s black gangster movie, or something that could be heard in sombodys car driving down a road next to the beach in the sun.

File 4 - File 4 is very up beat, and sounds like somthing much more tribal, it also sounds like there are ambient jungle birds singing in the background, this song could also reflect the type of music heard at Mardi Gra

File 5 - Five is a very dark and ominous sounding bed, it seems to imagine things lurking in the darkness, I personally imagine a lone TV set in a black room, with a flickering/noisy scrambled display occasionally showing the E4 logo.

File 6 - number six is a more slow, melancholic sound bed, when I listen to it it makes me think of a sandybeach shore line where the waves roll up the sand and carry random discarded objects washing them up on the beach.

File 7 - this bed is an upbeat number, sounding like something at a holiday resort or a spanish carnival of some description.

File 8 - number 8 sounds has a very catchy tune to it and sounds like somthing heard inside a disco type of night club, floor panels lighting up, discoballs on the cieling, large speakers pumping out the music with visual movement of the speaker surface.

File 9 - this one sounds like a retro game, something like Lander, Space invaders, Tetris, or even Defender, but the latter might be a bit of stretch.

File 10 - the final one is much more grand than the others, with its sweeping harmony, it feels like it lifts into the sky, or across a large landscape.


listening to the sound beds and writing down possibilities for some of the beds I have decided to take number 9 forward for further use, discarding the rest of them.

Number 9 appeals to me from more ways than the others do, in the sence that the sound bed itself sounds like a retro-game and I know quite a few retro games from past gaming experiances.

there are many games that come to mind when thinking back on retrogaming.

Click on any of the below to be taken to a place where you can experiance the game in some form, apart from Robotron 2084 unfortunatley.

Missile Command
Space invaders

and last but not least...


Monday, 18 January 2010

Robocops Photoshop'd facebook page

So for the final scene we are going to have robocop use facebook briefly before being shown a video Terminator thinks is hilarious of Murphy being brutally murdered by the criminals (first scene, warehouse) I believe that to get robocops attention MSN should make that really irritating jingle sound it makes when a new message is recieved, instead of the faint "pop" sound facebook messenger makes.

The making of robocops facebook page was going to be done in 2 different ways.

First possibility
The first way our group thought of making the facebook page in a theoretically simple way was to actually create a facebook account for Robocop and Terminator, but for that we would need to make fake email accounts on Hotmail, and I thought it was a bit much for not alot of gain since we would never use these accounts once we had finished the project.

Second possibility
The second way was instead of making fake accounts on face book and Hotmail, was to actually recreate the pages in photoshop so that we could get whatever we wanted on them without having to jump through hoops, this approach takes more time and has its own problems.

We decided to go with the second option of making the page from scratch, not completely from scratch, I will use a screen shot of my Facebook page as a template for the constructed one. Problems with constructing the fake page manually are as follows
· Much greater time needed
· The font is “Klavika” which isn’t free and costs a lot of money

The font issue will just have to be resolved by using another font as a replacement, im going to use Ariel as the used font, since it’s one of the most common and standard fonts used and recognised apart from Times New Roman.

Good points about making it myself is that I can put easter egg type goodies on the page, such as Robocops friend list is made of all robots from all era's, Skynet, Kitt, Terminator, Wall-E, Maria. etc. This is just to add a little bit of flare and imagination to the page, thinking “who would Robocop be friends with on Facebook” they are essentialy just cameo apperances to make the page seem much more realistic.
This meant I needed to gather source images of their appearances to have in Robocop’s friend list and on the main located on the left and center of the screen. I wanted to make the Page as rich as possible and not just try to skip out of making it worth looking at because im copying somthing else.

things Like the Facebook game "Mafia Wars" I have changed to "Machine Wars" and given the icon a great picture of a Matrix sentinel I found.

Since facebook is supposed to be a friendly place i have made the atmospere of the page and its containing text very light hearted, use of internet speak such as "lol/LOL" to make the place seem more natural. Skynet is very bitter towards humans on this page, however I used puncuation emoticons to soften the harsh words that Skynet had typed. ">.> / >.<"
Keeping the tone very friendly was a question i did ask myself often during its construction, however I do believe that it was the best choice to make, pointed out by ED-209's famous quote "you now have 15 seconds to comply" only I followed this with a smiling punctuation emoticon to lift the dark and evil sence that it gave us in the films and maintain the friendly online atmosphere.

Johnny 5 was going to make an apperance on the page but during my search for images to use as his profile picture I came across Wall-E, prefering Wall-E to Johnny 5 I switched them round. Also agent Smith was going to make an apperance but no image I could find of him was light hearted enough to not ruin the page.