DID YOU READ

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” Getting Fancy Shmancy Art Gallery Show

“Deus Ex: Human Revolution” Getting Fancy Shmancy Art Gallery Show  (photo)

Posted by on

Due out in two months, “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” takes place in a future where biomechanical enhancements divide people into pro- and anti-bionic factions. The game’s lead character–private security agent Adam Jensen–becomes a cyborg against his will when anti-enhancement activists attack Sarif Industries, the cybernetic research company he works for. Jensen ventures into the world of 2047 armed with new abilities to help him unravel the conspiracy that’s turning ordinary and enhanced humans against each other. Players will navigate moral gray areas and engage in all-out combat, spending a lot of time in both the halls of power and on the gritty streets of cities like Shanghai and Detroit.

Previews have shown off the art style of “DX:HR” and you’ll notice a lot of cravats, scarves and puffy sleeves on the characters in the world, as well as an old-world architectural sensibility folded into the overbuilt, future sprawl of the environments. That’s because the Eidos Montreal team that’s making the game claims that the Italian Renaissance influence their work on “Human Revolution,” since it too was a pivotal time of creative ferment that left a mark on human history.

It’s fitting then that publisher Square Enix will be sponsoring an art exhibition in July that brings together luminaries from the world of street art, photography and visual design. Here’s the rundown of the participants from the press release:

  • • 3rassiere – comprised of Justin Metros and Alex Tarrant who is the editor of New Media/Technology at JUXTAPOZ magazine, as well as a designer at Upper Playground and 900bats. They live and work in San Francisco.
  • • Estevan Oriol – is a veteran Los Angeles-based photographer whose work focuses on LA culture and lifestyles. His work his currently on display at the “Art in the Streets” exhibition at the MOCA.
  • • Eyeone – is a Los Angeles-based artist with a body of work ranging from street art to graphic design. His work is currently on display at Pasadena Museum of California Art.
  • • Jeremy Fish – hails from San Francisco, and acts as both a fine artist–exhibiting his work in domestic and international galleries– and a commercial illustrator and designer, creating murals, vinyl toys, apparel, and more.
  • • Jorge Alderete – is a Mexico-based artist known for his explosive international collection of contemporary and custom art.
  • • N8 Van Dyke – is an artist and illustrator whose work spans a wide variety of mediums, from pencil and ink to acrylic and oil pants. His uniquely detailed work has been featured in galleries around the world.
  • • Rico Deniro – exhibited his first solo show earlier this year at the FIFTY24SF Gallery in San Francisco. His art direction resulted in a collection of pop culture icons, hand-carved into mask form, by rural Mexican villagers who had no idea who these icons were.
  • • Robert Abeyta, Jr. – having served as art director for brands like Stussy and Nike, Rob Abeyta, Jr. is renowned for his many skills in the fields of graphic design, painting, street art, and founder of the creative applications group, DualForces.
  • • Sam Flores- is a graphic designer, street artist, and fine artist in San Francisco, California. His work has been displayed in many galleries and art publications.

Each artist will create one poster style image, inspired by either the pro-augmentation or anti-augmentation factions as seen in DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION. Patrick Martinez, art director for SA Studios, will lend his talents to transforming the overall gallery space to create an experience that aptly depicts what’s in the game. Many of the artists participating in the show are expected to attend the exhibition’s opening.

All the artists will be contributing original work that comments on the future “Deus Ex: Human Evolution.” In the game, humanity either sees itself as augmented or compromised by its increasing dependence on technology and it’s a great well of ideas for creators like these to draw from. The exhibit will show at New York City’s Wooster Street Social Club, with opening night set for July 28th. Proceeds from the artwork sales will be going to charities that support arts education. For all the kinds of promotion video games come up with, this one in particular looks to be unique and possibly even eye-opening. Kudos to Square Enix for augmenting their hype machine with some humanity on this one.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

“Infamous 2″ transforms user-generated content into the new fan-fiction

“Infamous 2″ transforms user-generated content into the new fan-fiction (photo)

Posted by on

Cole McGrath doesn’t wear a cape or tights but, make no mistake, he’s a superhero. He had an origin story unfold in 2008’s “Infamous,” getting electrical powers after an explosion that also ruined his hometown of Empire City. The most compelling thing about “Infamous” was the symbiotic relationship had with Empire City. You got more powerful as you brought chunks of the electrical grid back online and could choose to use those powers to either help or subjugate the people who survived the disaster. There was a plot about an evil cadre led by a mysterious supervillain, but it was really the things you could do outside the scripted narrative that enchanted me.

Infamous 2” came out two weeks ago and the sequel’s opening leaves Empire City totally destroyed at the hands of the Beast, an entity of mass destruction foretold at the end of the first game. Cole heads south to New Marais, in search of ways of boosting his power to defeat the malevolent super-being. From there, the game fleshes out its conspiracy backstory, adds two female partners for Cole to choose from and offers new powers and new enemies. But, as with its predecessor, the most intriguing feature of “Infamous 2″ isn’t what developer Sucker Punch designed to happen.

That’s because the Seattle-based dev studio’s built in a toolset that lets players make their own missions. I’ve been playing user-generated content (UGC) missions ever since finishing the main story arc and they remind me of nothing so much as the wildly divergent fan-fiction that crops up around superhero and other genre franchises. These amateur re-imaginings have been around almost as long as comics themselves, and fanfic exists to do things with characters that the their gatekeepers can’t or won’t. So, it’s been a place where Superman and Wonder Woman hook up, Batman finally kills the Joker or Spider-Man wins a Nobel Peace Prize. The internet’s been fertile ground for fanfic, with message boards and website where writers and artists share their work. If you’ve ever had a passing “what if” scenario involving “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” or “G.I. Joe” float through your head, rest assured a 20-part epic on the very same topic probably exists somewhere.

Games, of course are different than writing. The know-how to make a video game level is rarefied knowledge but, in the console space, Sony’s been a leader in terms of giving players the means to create content and pass it along. That ethos is the raison d’etre for the “LittleBigPlanet” games and kart racer “ModNation Racers” followed in its footsteps, letting players crafts tracks and cars. In ModNation,” the drivers were avatars inspired by vinyl collectibles like the Munny. The UGC in “Infamous 2″ marks a departure in that the game’s a hardcore action title, free of any of the cuteness that characterizes “LBP” or “MNR.” Plus, “Infamous 2″ is story-driven and character-driven, so players don’t just get to mess around with the play mechanics; they also get to tweak the way characters get understood.

Thus, many of the thematic pillars of fanfic can found in the UGC missions. For example, several UGC missions recast Elvis-inflected sidekick Zeke and Cole as enemies. It’s a classic fed-up-with-tagalong scenario, a favorite of Robin-hating Batman fans who want their tortured hero to ditch the Boy Wonder. So, in “Duel,” Cole and Zeke stand at ten paces “High Noon”-style and you only get one shot to take out your former friend. Another UGC adventure tasks you with annihilating an army of Zekes, only to declare it was just “Cole’s Satisfying Dream.” No reason needs to be given; it’s understood that he’s just so much dramatic cannon fodder.

You can even find an alternate origin, too. In “How Cole REALLY Got His Powers,” you need to send a depowered McGrath to the cathedral in New Marais, prompted to “Ascend to Heaven and receive God’s blessing.” After a quick bit of parkour, you’re climbing a massive ramp and plucking a glowing globe that grants Cole the powers you know and love. He goes plummeting back to Earth with a new objective to destroy demons. The demons in this case are the swamp monster characters that already exist in the game, recontextualized to quasi-religious purpose. This mission plays so straight that I couldn’t be sure if it wasn’t a earnest attempt by some God-fearing gamer somehere to leave the mark of his beliefs inside “Infamous 2.” That ambiguity made me love “How Cole REALLY Got His Powers” even more.

Homages to other franchises are a given when you let players build stuff in a gameworld, and creations like a “Grand Theft Auto” pastiche or a Space Invaders tribute are par for the course. Hell, one UGC mission is simply titled, “Old-School Platforming” and has you jumping from floating block to floating block with enemies shooting at you all the way. It’s almost like a modern-day “Mega Man” game. These levels speak to a weird mix of nostalgia and fascination with technological iteration that’s endemic to video games. Long-running franchises like “The Legend of Zelda” and “Resident Evil” always get re-invented with new hardware. The impulse to think “I wonder what Mario would look like inside Minecraft” comes as second nature, then. One UGC standout in this area was a “Metal Gear Solid” tribute called “Electric Gear Solid.” Because water means painful short-circuiting and eventual death for Cole, it’s left to Zeke defuse a bomb threat in the sewer. Cole has to cover Zeke from the thugs who want to take him out, but must be careful not to zap Zeke. If Zeke dies, Cole scream out “ZEEEKE!” in homage to Metal Gear’s classic “Snaaaake?!”

Some of the UGC missions in “Infamous 2″ are just larks, clever experiments with the game’s physics that are free of the brooding of the main game. “Car Bowling” sets up enemies as tenpins and has you using Cole’s electromagnetic levitation ability to hurl cars at them. And it should surprise no one up on current video game trends that there’s a UGC mission called “Zombie Apocalypse.” It’s clever, though, with a tiered structure and a tricky, self-sacrifice denouement that makes you think you’ve lost.

All the UGC in “Infamous 2″ harbors a remix sensibility, where familiar elements of a character’s mythos get scrambled to create something new and unfamiliar, even as it lives in a space full of recognizable trappings. So, while the action takes place in New Marais, each UGC creates its own little alternate reality. It’s telling that you can earn points for upgrades in these missions but what you do in them doesn’t affect the karma alignment that makes you a hero or an antihero. Been playing as a saint, but really want to rack up civilian collateral damage? Go crazy in a UGC mission. It’s almost a given that Sucker Punch will be creating additional downloadable content for “Infamous 2.” But, as long as other users keep making playable, off-model fanfic for Cole McGrath, I don’t know that I’ll ever need to go back to the ‘real’ New Marais ever again.

If you’ve played any UGC missions in “Infamous 2,” what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

“Indie Game the Movie” debuts trailer and soundtrack from “Sworcery” music man Jim Guthrie

“Indie Game the Movie” debuts trailer and soundtrack from “Sworcery” music man Jim Guthrie  (photo)

Posted by on

One of the biggest barriers to greater cultural understanding of the video game medium is the simple fact that most people don’t know how games get made and who makes them. People understand that actors memorize lines, musicians string together chords and writers make stuff up to create their works. Along with the skill sets each endeavor requires, the creators also draw on an emotional spectrum to craft a performance.

Indie Game: The Movie Official Trailer from IndieGame: The Movie on Vimeo.

The technical aspect of game-making obscures the creativity and the personal investment that go into making a playable experience. That’s why the trailer for “Indie Game the Movie” is so exciting. The clip spotlights Jonathan Blow, Phil Fish, Edmund McMillan and Tommy Refenes as they talk about the reasons why they make games, as well as the stakes involved in being an indie developer. They’re all at interesting crossroads in their scenes, too. Blow’s work on “Braid” had already brought a strong spotlight not only to his individual efforts, but to the whole sphere of indie game development as well. He’s able to look back at his process while McMillen and Refenes are still knee-deep in making “Super Meat Boy,” which came out last year to near-universal acclaim. And “Fez“–Fish’s long-brewing mind-bending platformer–is only now rounding the bend towards completion, as evidenced by a recent trailer.

I’ve interviewed Lisanne Pajot and James Swirksy about their long-in-the-works film before but this trailer makes plain the dedication and access they brought to bear on the project. And they’ve announced that Jim Guthrie–who did the excellent soundwork and music on hit iOS game “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery LP“–will be creating the soundtrack for “IGTM.” But, just like in indie game development, the Blinkworks team producing the movie wants to throw an extra bit of polish before they set the film out the door. To that end, they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the audio, color and mastering finishes for “IGTM.” Go to their Kickstarter campaign to throw some money their way and, depending on what you donate, you’ll get a digital copy of the film and other goodies. Honestly, it’s worth it to get the special edition of the movie, as there’s ton of great interviews and moments with loads of indie devs like Derek Yu that might not make it into the movie.

Pajot and Swirsky’s film represents a unique and apropos intersection of indie cultural production. Though they may appear to come out of nowhere, indie games aren’t products of spontaneous generation. Hopefully, “Indie Game the Movie” will enlighten gamers and non-gamers alike as to the passion, persistence and vision of the people who’ve made interactive entertainment their lives.

Which developer’s story are you most interested in hearing about in “Indie Game the Movie”? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Powered by ZergNet