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Archive for April, 2009

John K’s “Art of Spumco” book to be published in 2010

ren and stimpy

John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy and the Spumco animation studio, is currently putting together a book explaining how Spumco (and the “Spumco style”) came to be. The book will feature stories about the artists and animators that contributed along the way — “the definitive book of John’s work – from childhood through Ren and Stimpy to today” — hopefully it’ll contain plenty of artwork too!

The book is being published by PictureBox and edited by Amid Amidi (he’s the guy who produces Animation Blast magazine and who created the book on 50s animation style, Cartoon Modern) and John K has just posted a rough excerpt about his early interactions with Ralph Bakshi over at his blog.

Bioshock 2 Gameplay Video

I still haven’t finished the original but I’m excited to see what they’re doing with the sequel. Set ten years after the original story you play as the last surviving (and first-built) Big Daddy, saving and protecting (or, optionally as before, harvesting) Little Sisters whilst being taunted by Big Sister, a child-snatching former Little Sister from the first game who now rules the abandoned underwater city of Rapture.

While the new game appears to function in much the same way as the plasmid-injecting first, Bioshock 2 will feature multi-player for the first time, something I’m rather sceptical of. The original was a really strong single player experience and strength lied in its simple, linear storytelling. How that can be translated to a multi-player game remains to be seen.

A video without captions is also available and here’s the teaser trailer from last year. Bioshock 2 is due for release in November 2009.

Also, Bioshock is being made into a Gore Verbinski-directed movie — I’m trying not to even think about that!

Feedly: Making Google Reader Fun Again

Feedly screenshot

I struggle to keep up with all of the feeds in my Google Reader account. All the sites I subscribe to are there because I enjoy them but when there’s 1000+ unread items it starts to feel a chore. So much so that I find myself firing up Reader less and less. So, what can you do?

The guys at Feedly think they have an answer. Feedly is a free Firefox browser plug-in that reformats the feeds from your Google Reader account into a nice, friendly, magazine-style format — and not in an “I’m a print magazine on screen” way either. It presents your unread items in a wonderfully digestible fashion, prioritising feeds you mark as favourite and laying the whole thing out into nice clean columns, topping it all off with images grabbed from the articles that it links to.

It also acts like a personal StumbleUpon. A little tab appears at the bottom of the screen urging you to click “next” taking you to pages that friends have recommended to you. If that isn’t enough it allows you to share and favourite stuff as you can through the Google interface, pulls in Twitter and checks FriendFeed to see if anyone else is talking about the article that you’re currently reading.

You can even use Ubiquity keyboard commands if you’re into that kind of thing.

Animated Protest to Foie Gras at Disneyland Paris

Dutch animators Jurjen Bosklopper and Mustafa Kandaz created this wonderfully executed short in just a couple of weeks to protest the sale of Foie Gras at Disneyland Paris. Loving the backgrounds too which have a bit of an Eyvind Earle feel about them. (via Cartoon Brew)

Exploration of the Digital Comic Book

About Digital Comics

Inspired by comic artist and theorist Scott McCloud, French artist Yves Bigerel visually demonstrates how he believes online comics have the scope to be something much more than just reproductions of their paper-based counterparts. Freed from the limitations of print digital comics offer a greater control over the pacing of sequential storytelling; control Yves believes hasn’t yet been fully explored.

He follows this up with a second exploration, imaginatively entitled “About About Digital Comics“. (via Steve)

Zork Returns as Casual Web-based MMO

Legends of Zork screenshot

Zork, the renowned text adventure released in 1979, returns in a new, free, web-based guise for the Facebook Generation as Legends of Zork, developed by Jolt for Activision.

Legends of Zork sees the Zork franchise re-invigorated for the first time since the release of the graphical point and click adventure Return to Zork in 1998. No longer a text or point-and-click adventure, Legends builds on the more casual social web games such as The Nethernet (formerly PMOG) and those that riddle Facebook.

Players create their character then venture further out into the world through simple battles (there doesn’t seem to be any way to use different attacks but as I’ve only been able to play to level 3 these may be learnt later in the game) and levelling. As the character’s level increases more areas become available to “adventure” in. Skill points are awarded as you level to spend on new skills. Money can be found on enemies and acquired by selling recovered items when returning to your home, The White House.

Beyond battling with friends (and enemies) PvP-style in arenas there doesn’t seem to be much more social stuff available but, again, this is early days and more could easily be added in the future.

Die-hard Zork fans might unwelcome the lack of any real adventuring in this new game — there appear to be no quests to speak of, other than going out and bashing stuff of increasingly higher level for cash — but it still appears to be a competitively fun social past-time for when your arms hurt from trying to beat your mother’s high score in Bejeweled Blitz over on Facebook.

You’ll find me on Legends of Zork as Travelling Salesman Muttonchops, named after the very first character I created on World of Warcraft all those years ago. Feel free to say hello!

Finally, for the incredibly nostalgic, you can still play the original Zork adventure online for free.