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No Gravatar…Thanks to Amazon Local!

I signed up for Amazon Local a few years back (and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s kind of like Groupon), and boy – it really did not disappoint!

I woke up one morning to an email saying “Access to Online Game Design Training for One Year” offered by the School of Interactive Design. As an editor looking to acquire as many skills in the gaming field as I can, I hopped on the deal right away. The good news for those of you who will need a little bit to recover from Christmas shopping is that this deal will be available for about another month (26 days from this date, actually).

mayaHere’s what you need to know about everything this will include:

  • One year’s worth of access to easy to understand tutorials on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, Maya, Unity, and Game Salad.
  • On the voucher when you pay for the deal, it will say that you will not need to make any further purchases and that all software will be included an free. No, this does not include Photoshop and Illustrator. It includes Game Salad, Maya, and Unity. The videos will show you how and where to download these softwares from.
  • The voucher also says that buying this deal doesn’t register you for classes, and that you need to do this by April 18th, 2014. I called and inquired, and SoID (School of Interactive Design) said that Amazon won’t remove this verbiage and to disregard it.
  • This is not an online college where you have class times and homework. This is a laidback, go-at-your-own-pace type of thing. Makes it really convenient for most of us whose lives are hectic like mine.

My advice to anyone is to treat this like school. Practice, practice, practice. And take notes, because in a few years from now, you may forget how to use these programs.

How much will this run you, exactly? It will only cost you $99. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

Click here to head over to the website to get you on your way! Godspeed, and may the Force be with you!

 

Lineup of 6 MCs

No GravatarBronies hate them or love them do have quite a lot of talented individuals among them. Their latest creation? A visual novel based off of fan art.

 original inspiration

Before you completely dismiss the idea as ridiculous I should tell you of another visual novel called Katawa Shoujo. It was a visual novel sparked by a picture based off posts on 4chan. The link I will post tells the story better than I can. But back to the My Little Pony based game.

The resulting game is Starswirl Academy, where the protagonist is able to attend the prestigious institution his senior year because of his friend Twilight Sparkle. Also the protagonist is a rock named Tom in the original TV show. Before I delve into the plot and what I believe the game’s goal will be based on all the information the demo gives so far I’ll look at the work that went into the visual novel.

Lineup of 6 MCs

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Visually, the game’s backgrounds are as beautiful as that of any visual novel that comes out of top notch companies and the background music is nice and simple. The main problem with the game for some might be in the character designs. I like how they don’t make Pinkie’s hair as big and ridiculous as it is in the show, while some might dislike it tremendously. For me it’s Rarity’s hair that looks ridiculous, and I feel if they had drawn it some other way it might have looked much better.

What makes this game truly special is the touches they put here and there. For example the images of the characters always go through appropriate changes in facial expression, the cutie mark icons at the end of finished dialogue for each characters, and the way they zoom in on Pinkie when she’s too close to you.

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The demo of the game also tells a lot not only about the quality of the work but pretty much told me what the entire game will probably be about. One of their questions on their FAQ page is about why they chose Tom to be the main character, this is their response: “Because he’s a named show character that doesn’t have much fan work associated with him. He provides a good blank slate in terms of personality, but comes off as a very solid character when you get to know him. It also makes us laugh every time we get to make a geology pun.” This “blank slate” is a very important part of the game. The beginning of the demo talks about Tom’s dilemma of not really knowing who he is and letting people make choices for him. He’s not really sure why he wants to attend Starswirl Academy but is hoping to find the answer to that there. The game adds in something extra to make sure the game is not only about Tom’s growth as a person but his interaction with the other characters. The school has a long held tradition of having students give each other pins they call “flair” that represent either their personality or hobby. The flair is usually given by the upperclassman who’s gotten to know a person best, and they are usually very personal. I get a feeling the game will be extremely based on having Tom develop a very close relationship (more than likely romantic) with one of the girls who will give him his flair (although he doesn’t know it) and aid him reach self actualization.

In the midst of unavoidable moe.

In the midst of unavoidable moe.

This has a lot of storytelling potential and can make for a very touching story to some. This game was made in hopes to create something special to both fans and non-fans of the series and I think it can deliver on that promise. I will see if my predictions are correct once the full game comes out. In the meantime you too can play the demo.

You’ve made it this far, so have some Derpy.

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Shoot Derpy we’re treading on copyrights here.

This game will be released for free by Zap Apple Project. The game is made possible by the volunteer artists, musicians, and many other talented individuals lending their time and effort towards making a game everyone can enjoy.

By Charles On 22 Aug, 2013 At 08:34 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Reviews, Toys and Merchandise | With 0 Comments

No GravatarNo childhood is complete without Lego. Seriously- show me a child who has never been gifted an assortment of oddly colored geometric blocks, toon-like men with interchangeable heads, and settings as diverse as pretty much any geek-related world or interest, and I will show you a child deprived of one of the great joys of growing up. For many children of the 80s onward, Lego wasn’t just a part of being young, it was probably the best part of being young.

Now, while you’re recalling fondly those memories of days spent building houses (or if you were me, castles) and monsters, expressing your creativity with snapping plastic pieces, take a look at this:

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Yes, that is a Moai head. And yes, that is made entirely of Lego blocks.

This feat of plastic engineering mastery is one part of the utterly fascinating exhibit “Art of the Brick,” currently on location at Discovery Times Square. While not the kind of art one would typically expect from a gallery show, this exhibition is easily one of the most ambitious, and satisfying, displays of artistic merit currently in New York. (and easily overshadowing its neighbors, Bodies and Shipwreck.)

SAMSUNGThe brainchild of lawyer-turned-artist Nathan Sawaya, Art of the Brick is both a labor of love and creativity. Artist Sawaya, discontent with his career as a corporate attorney, began assembling these masterpieces in 2002, and has since transformed his passion into a full-time career. Just how much he devotes to the pursuit of plastic potency is evident from the moment one walks into the gallery space, greeted by a lifelike “hand” holding an ever-so-small red brick.

This sets the tone for the rest of the exhibit, as viewers are led through a portrait gallery, sculpture garden, and down a set of stairs (underneath a Lego Earth) towards the more “experimental” sections. It’s clear the Sawaya “gets” both his medium, and his inspirations, as those early galleries showcase both the original work, and his “take” in bricks on the piece. Formerly flat images “jump out”, given serious 3-D treatment at times, highlighting how well Sawaya understands the scope and execution of his imagination. Simply taking  single look at his version of Hokusai’s classic “Great Wave off Kanagawa” or his eye-popping rendition of the sigil of St John confirms this, as both are incredibly accurate, but successfully utilize the texture of the Lego bricks to stand out.

SAMSUNGIn the next room, his tribute to classic sculpture contains the aforementioned Moai head, and also a Buddha, Jomon period clay doll, and an androgynous replication of Michelangelo’s David, done is perfect scale to the originals. While this might not sound all that impressive, think for a moment about the time and energy that must go into creating such textured figures, using nothing but pre-cut blocks and an eye for layout. Making even one would be a challenge for any of us. Sawaya created all of them, and then some.

Now admittedly, I’m no serious art critic. I like sculpture, and can appreciate the labor that goes into crafting a solid model. But some of the pieces that line the exhibit have their own emotion attached- be it through lighting or sound (both of which play a role in the later galleries), or simply the construction of the specific piece, each one looks less like a “cluster of bricks,” and more like an independent entity. Knowing that these pieces were crafted from the same Lego bricks that many children the world over play with only enhances the impressiveness of the galleries.

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Yes, that is a T-rex skeleton made entirely of Lego.

If there was one flaw to the entire experience, it’s that it’s too short. I found myself thoroughly entranced throughout my tour, and even went so far as to go through it three times, backwards and forwards, trying to catch each subtle variation and captured movement. The images I’ve elected to include here hopefully show that, because this is not a type of art that is easily captured- it needs to be seen with one’s own eyes, if only to verify that yes, these are Lego bricks.

The final room in the exhibition is devoted to other artists- both children and adult alike- who have been inspired by Sawaya’s work towards creating their own Lego masterpieces. From the minimalist to the ambitious, each one holds the spirit of the exhibit true-to-heart, and shows that anyone- not just a single artist with a dream- can craft and create what they see in their own heads.

Art of the Brick is currently appearing at Discovery Times Square. It also has the good fortune of being located near the Toys R Us, in case the inspiration drives you to create your own sculptures.

By SarahTheRebel On 9 May, 2012 At 04:25 PM | Categorized As Animation, Featured, Otaku Events, Toys and Merchandise | With 1 Comment

No GravatarThis Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the opening night of the My Little Pony Project 2012 LA charitable art exhibit at the Toy Art Gallery. The exhibit is inspired, of course, by Hasbro’s My Little Pony.

The My Little Pony Project 2012 is a year long GLOBAL celebration in honor of the theme “Friendship is Magic”. Artists from LA, NYC and Tokyo all had a hand in creating one-of-a-kind ponies to raise money for charity.

The opening night included the project charity ponies, 18″ MY LITTLE PONY figures designed by international fine artists, and a pop-up shop by WeLoveFine.

Toy Art Gallery also joined forces with JapanLA, Joyrich and Munky King, and to host a pony treasure hunt, which, I sadly, did not get to in time to participate in.

It may shock anyone unfamiliar with the new My Little Pony culture that has sprung up, but the line to get in started hours before the gallery opened and, by the time I left Toy Art Gallery to head for JapanLA, was stretched around the end of the block. So many men and women came together to celebrate, from guys in punk rock gear and all black ensembles to delicate ladies costumed as unicorns to bemused mothers toting around sons and daughters.

the line started half a block earlier and wrapped around the block!

Even Perez Hilton got in on the magic… in his… special way.

In all the event was a very eye-opening experience for me. So many different people could relate with the super-simple pony themes: friendship, magic and art. Who is a brony? Who is a pegasister? Who is the real pony otaku? The answer is much less stereotypical than you might think!

(ps there is a SarahTheRebel spotting around 2:27 and again around 4:14)

The event was done very well and kudos to the team who coordinated it. There were free cakeballs (as many as you could eat!) a free bar (with sodas for the kids) and an awesome DJ. Overall I was just very impressed. Not many events have the amount of positive energy this one had. But I guess that’s just all that magical friendship floating around!

I’m excited to see how much money this actually raises for charity.

Check out the full artist list and the photo gallery below!

Featured artists:

6%DOKIDOKI
64 Colors
Ana Bagayan
Angry Woebots
Blamo (Mikie Graham)
Blythe (Junie Moon)
Chikuwaemil
COPE2
DABS & MYLA
Eimi
HIME+YOU
Indie *on view at Munky King.
Jillian Kate
J*RYU
Julie West
Kano
Lisa Alisa
Luke Chueh
Madoka Kinoshita
Martin Hsu
Mark Mothersbaugh
Miso
Miss Kika
Onch Movement
Perez Hilton
Shojono Tomo
Sket One
Spank! *on view at JapanLA.
TOUMA

 

By Garrett Green On 13 Apr, 2012 At 06:35 AM | Categorized As Featured, PlayStation, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWhile many of the general public would argue against video games as an art form, many of us gamers would say that many games today are just as artistic as any movie, novel, or even a painting with how beautiful some environments are becoming.  There is no better an argument of artistic games than thatgamecompany’s Journey.  This painting in motion is not only beautiful, but emotional as you discover the world and it’s one inhabitant.

Journey begins with a red-cloaked nameless character waking up in the middle of the desert with no discernible landmarks other than a mountain in the distance with a light source emanating from its peak, and that’s it. There are no other hints, no dialogue, no HUD, nothing. And that is the beauty of this game.  It so drastically different from what is expected from a game, that it stands out and shines. Along the way you will find hidden mosaics that gives you little clues about who you are and what is happening. At the end of each level, more descriptions through mosaics are shown to you, but nothing is ever definitively said. It is up to the player to read between the lines to figure out what is going on.

To say this game is beautiful is an understatement.  This game is drop dead gorgeous, and it’s amazing to see how Thatgamecompany can take a very small detail in the environment and make it amazing. In their previous title, Flower, they made grass look incredible. I know it’s a little silly to be in awe of grass, but to animate each individual blade of grass and with the scope of each levels was incredible.  In Journey sand draws the same kind of inspiration.  At times it looks like each individual grain of sand is animated.  The lighting is great and really shines its true colors in the “Slope Level” The way the sunset is bouncing off the sand as you slide around caverns is amazing. And it’s not just the visuals, the score is also great.  Art, in many of its forms, is what this game is all about.

There is a power up system, in which you find what appears to be glowing scriptures that make your scarf longer. The longer your scarf is, the higher and longer you can jump.  Also there are cloth creatures that you find and free along the way recharge your jumping ability.  The only other ability you have is releasing a type of shock wave that can help you solve puzzles.  The simplicity of the game makes the emotional connection take center stage and stand out more. There is also multiplayer, so to speak.  If you are connected to the internet while you are playing, there is a chance you may run into another player.  There is no voice chat, no names being displayed, and no way to communicate other than your shock wave. And what you do from there is completely up to you, whether that’s working together to finish the game or just passing each other by.

This game is what you show to anyone who scoffs at the notion of a game being art. However, this game may not be for everyone. It is slow paced to really build up the emotional context, and some people may not like that. But at $14.99 I encourage everyone with a PlayStation to get this game. This is one of the best downloadable titles to date.  Journey is available now on the PlayStation Network.