Mar 31, 2014

Construct - The Dark Side Of Robots

What happens when certain robots defy their most basic directives? That is what Construct hopes to answer when it releases soon. In the meanwhile we can enjoy this absolutely awesome looking teaser, which offers some rather interesting hints as to the narrative. A green robot stumbles onto something absolutely unexpected, and ultimately finds himself the odd man out alongside his robotic colleagues. Things are bound to get interesting.

This teaser was presented as part of a tech demo at Nvidia's GTC conference which was held on March 25, 2014. Construct is a work in progress intended to illustrate recent advancements in graphics hardware and software capabilities and will be available in it's entirety soon. We'll be sure to post it the day it's out.

Google Maps - Pokémon Challenge

Call it an April Fools joke, but this is actually a pretty damn awesome collaboration between Google and Nintendo. Google's map software is actually now overrun with Pokémon in an amazing augmented reality stunt that will last till the 2nd of April. Following their Lego intiative, it seems like the Google map team has been having quite a bit of fun with their service.

Using a mixture of GPS and augmented reality goodness, users will be able to track down all 150 Pokémon in their own neighborhoods, with the promise that the best trainers will be invited to Google to take on the best trainers and be hired as a Pokémon Master. While the latter part of that claim is dubious at best, people have actually been out and about capturing them. Kind of like partaking in Geocaching (Except with infinitely more broad appeal), you can update you Google maps app on your Android or iOS phone to partake. I'm honestly hoping that Google actually rewards the people that will probably spend a day or two outdoors capturing every single last one of them.

Ai Weiwei - The Fake Case Trailer

After 81 days of solitary detention world famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is put under house arrest. He suffers from sleeping disorder and memory loss, 18 cameras are monitoring his studio and home, police agents follow his every move, and heavy restrictions from the Kafkaesque Chinese authorities weigh him down.

Journalists, the art world and his family all want a piece of him and on top of that he is hit with a gigantic lawsuit from the Chinese government, which he soon names The Fake Case. Ai Weiwei is shaken, but during the year on probation he steadily finds new ways to provoke and challenge the mighty powers of the Chinese authorities in his fight for human rights. Ai Weiwei strongly believes that China is ready for change. And he will do everything to make it happen.

Mar 30, 2014

The Art Of Wavesheep

Wavesheep's work reminds me a lot of the curious hybrid style that Russian artist Phobs, incorporating Eurasian and Mongol influences to create some truly exotic, gorgeous illustrations. Hailing from China, the 20 year old illustrator seems to have drawn influence from her level of stylization and incorporated it with her own cultural influences resulting in a very cool hybrid style. Elongated figures, flowy lines and traditional Chinese folk art come together in her work in her vertical compositions.

At such a young age Wavesheep shows off an incredible amount of skill as an illustrator, and it's nearly hard to imagine where she'll be at with a few more years of practice. She's currently pursuing a career in the local film and animation industry, and touts that her favorite movie of all time is Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Check out more of her work after the break!

Vendredi - "Chiara"

Witness the primal struggle of a tribal and spiritual society first hand in this newest music video from French electro outfit Vendredi. We witness a female protagonist that really reminded us of a live action reincarnation of Princess Mononoke as she goes about exploring the strange and supernatural world around her.

The Ghibli reference comes from the clues dropped around this music video: The hints of supernatural entities surrounding her, the fear and hatred of other humans that we witness, the appearance of massive spirit wolves that always seem to be close by. Understated from a musical perspective, but quite violent during a few choice scenes. Directed by Matthias Jenny & Koya Kamura.

Human Revolution - A Stunning, Fanmade Deus Ex Short Film

Directed by Moe Charif of Dcode films, Human Revolution is a high end, fanmade short film that's been in the works for over 2 years. And honestly, it looks like it was worth the lengthy wait. For anyone familiar with the narrative of the critically acclaimed 2011 followup to Deus Ex, the game follows the story of Adam Jensen, a security consultant who finds himself augmented following an accident that nearly takes his life. This short in particular is more centered around his kidnapped girlfriend Megan Reed, who is asked by her captors to activate a mysterious device against her will.

Upon Adam pinpointing her location, what follows is probably the closest thing we'll ever see to a Deus Ex themed cinematic experience, including some absolutely stunning cyborg action sequences. We're also given a glimpse into Adam's daily struggles with the fate that was handed to him against his will. I never asked for this.

Knock Knock

Knock Knock by Paul Rayment is about a solitary salesman wandering the barren countryside before reaching a rather strange purple house. Despite it's outside appearance, things really aren't as they seem at this strange location. Simple story aside, really loved the dreamy neon tinged art style that Rayment adopted, mixed with the brooding, bass-y soundtrack with slight electro notes.

Mar 29, 2014

Titanfall - Japanese Fanart Edition

Respawn's Titanfall was one of those titles that really had me intrigued in regards to what reaction it would receive overseas, and it didn't disappoint. And by reaction, we mean what sort of nerve it hit with the fanart community abroad, especially the mecha-centric Japanese community. I can't account for how well the game sold in a market that's typically had a strong aversion to FPS titles, but the community seems to have taken a rather strong liking to the aesthetic and the mechs especially. An earlier interview on Kotaku quoted Respawn's community manager mentioning that the Titanfall mechs were partially inspired by Shirow Masamune's (Ghost in the Shell) designs.

Trawling through the quagmire of foreign Deviantart equivalents, we've uncovered a trove of awesome tributes to the title by various Japanese artists. Our biggest hats off goes to Tajima, an artist with a very avid love of Western shooters like Call Of Duty, who provided the bulk of the fanart pieces. Check out a plethora of other Titanfall fanart pieces after the break!

Tape - "Ecosystem"

The beauty of vector: Infinite scalability, impeccably clean lines and music videos like this ambient electro piece by Tape. The Lithuanian based creative collective created Ecosystem to showcase their abilities with motion graphics, and I think it does that wonderfully.

We're initially presented with a simple shape that ultimately metamorphoses into intricate machinery and a plethora of different synchronized designs and patterns. Pretty hypnotizing. You can check out their full reel after the break.

Super Life (Turbo)

Witness the birth, life and death of a fine fellow in just 46 seconds! This awesomely vertical short offers one heck of a retro trip in the visual stylings of a retro NES game (Reminds me of Paper Boy a little). According to created Eben McCue, a tweaked version will be displayed at PAX East this year on an 80 foot tall screen outside the Boston Convention Center from April 11th-13th. Consider this a sneak peek.

Your life sucks, try Super Life! From your very first steps to your very last, see all the thrills of adolescence, the decisions of adulthood and the joys of retirement! Coming soon to arcades and home entertainment systems everywhere.

J-Sport By Masanobu Hiraoka

Animated by Masanobu Hiraoka, who directed that one awesome music video by Yoshiharu Abe, this little spot for Japanese sports channel J-Spot delivers a nice dose of his distinct fluid animation style that we've come to love over time. It's all about those silky smooth transitions, and the Vampire Weekend track used (Cousins) provides a perfect accompaniment to the quick tempo of the animation. Short and sweet.

Mar 28, 2014

The Fake - An Animated Thriller From South Korea

The recent Toronto International Film Festival made us aware of Korean director Yong Sang-Ho's sophomore feature effort called The Fake, which has been garnering attention at various festivals. Ho developed quite a reputation with his first animate feature called King Of Pigs, which focused on bullying and class inequality, whereas this new feature centers around the hypocrisy of organized religion.

The interesting thing about The Fake is the protagonist called Min-Chul, a man living on the fringes of society who definitely walks a moral gray line. Upon realizing that a religious elder is attempting to take advantage of his flock, he chooses to take matters into his own hands to expose the wrongdoing when he realizes he's in no position to point the finger.

Aside from really loving Yeon Sangho's  grounded style, which reminded me of Naoki's Urasawa's Monster-The movie ventures into narrative territories that are fresh for the Korean animated feature scene, which have historically focused more on younger audiences. Really hoping that we'll get a limited release sometime soon in the US considering how great the reviews have been.

Pedro Conti's Pirate Sculpting Timelapse

We really need to feature more 3D work on AwesomeRobo. Between the explosion of the 3D printing scene and the massive strides with sculpting and rendering packages, it's as accessible as it'll ever be in this day and age. Pedro Conti, a Brazilian based 3D generalist who brought us the amazingly colorful One More Beer short last year returns with a multi-hour timelapse of a pirate sculpt in Pixologic's Zbrush.

The final result was an incredibly high quality render done in what I'm guessing looks like Marmoset, which allows artists to create cinematic renders of their work for just over $100. Just a few years ago software like this would have cost a casual user a few thousand dollars for a license. That's the best kind of progress.

The Expert- The Madness Of Corporate Interaction

Following 5 years in the game industry at some notable companies, I chose to go indie this year. Partially thanks to the fact that over the years AwesomeRobo and getting the chance to talk to small devs allowed me to realize just how uninhibited they are creatively, able to act on their own ideas (What a novel concept) without the need for committee input, pointless meetings and the opinions of people who honestly had no clue what they were talking about.

That's the thing about this rather young game industry, it's still in an awkward phase in which business folk are trying to incorporate corporate thinking into a highly creative field, and the results are more miss than hit (Companies like Valve avoided this altogether with a flat structure). While as gamers, we'd all like to think that companies are simply trying to put out an awesome looking, fun game you have to realize that there is a subset of dark figures lurking at these companies. People who scoff at playing videogames, insist on playing it safe at every turn to save money and suck up to their corporate overlords while contributing nothing of value. Completely out of touch.

My eyes smile, but my soul screams.
The Expert perfectly sums up some of the experiences I had as a concept artist at a few of the larger companies, although this scenario probably applies to any corporate environment (Insert your field here). When you're asked to do the impossible and offer an opinion, there always seems to be someone who questions your ability to do your job if you don't blindly comply. And if anything this is the type of system that has been allowing the indie scene to flourish, while most AAA devs have been stumbling to muster up the courage to tackle new IP's over infinite sequels.

In retrospect, choosing to leave the world of red lines is one of the best things I've ever done. However, I do not regret having these mind numbing experiences to put me on the current path we're on.

Mar 27, 2014

One Bullet - Action Versus Hunger

On August 4th 2006 in Sri Lanka, seventeen ACF International humanitarian aid workers were assassinated, in the midst of the violent outbreaks in the city of Muttur. Following this attack, ACF International had to bring an end to its work in Sri Lanka. Now, seven years later, this crime still remains unpunished. This animated short by Mathias Lachal shows the price of these bullets on innocent civilians, and in under one minute really sells us on the long term consequences of not protecting aid workers.

One Bullet will be screened when the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Geneva to examine and deliver a resolution on the Sri Lanka conflict. Attacks and threats to humanitarians, like that of the Muttur assassination, deprives the most vulnerable from getting vital aid. Basically, killing an aid worker ultimately benefits nobody.

The Saga Of Goat Simulator Continues - Dead Island Style

In the last few years we've seen the simulation genre gain an entirely new wave of appreciation thanks to the ironic efforts of many Youtube let's players, who always found a way to give these cheaply made, overly complex titles a humorous spin. Then came Goat Simulator, which started off as a complete joke to help the developers at Coffee Stain Studios practice some programming. The problem is, the internet found out about it after a silly alpha trailer was posted online, and as Bossa Studios learned with last year's Surgeon Simulator, comedy sims have a powerful grip on the current gaming scene.

Coffee Stain took the hint and are currently set to launch the title on...April 1st. Yep! I think the devs themselves are in disbelief at the response and millions of viewers the video garnered, so they've embraced it and are having fun with it at this point (Including the Dead Island parody trailer they probably cranked out in a few hours). The website even comes with a disclaimer in case gamers have any expectations as to what they might be getting themselves into when they drop $10 on it. Either way, moments like this really make me feel like we're in some sort of indie gaming golden age. The fact that the folks at a little startup can get this much attention for a joke game and laugh their way to the bank is a magical thing to witness. Take note, AAA developers.

Tom & Jerry Remade With CGI Anime Vocaloids

What happens when a Japanese animator with a thing for Tom & Jerry and some freeware MikuMikuDance animation gets some strange notions in his head? You get this rather convincing, and impeccably odd shot by shot remake of 1956's Down Beat Bear, which involved the ever at war cat and mouse dealing with a rather unwelcome visitor, a bear (Recreated using a feisty redhead) with a rythm all his own.

And you know what? It's a pretty damn well done tribute despite the strange vocaloid stand ins (The software was originally created for fans of Hatsune Miku to make their own music videos). The slapstick humor translates strangely well, and it's strangely hypnotizing to watch them side by side. Too strange of an experiment not to share.

Mar 26, 2014

Rust In A Nutshell

Of all the videogame parody videos I've seen in latest years, few have left a lasting impression or warranted multiple viewings (Mega64's Hotline Miami was one of those notable exceptions). Andrew M Films' take on the indie hit Rust (A funner version of DayZ with crafting) however absolutely blew it out of the water, perfectly capturing the silly nuances of the Facepunch developed online survival title.

Naked men galore, crafting pants out of pork, chopping down trees with rocks..While in game we suspend our disbelief a plenty, putting these scenarios in real life ups the banality ten fold. If you haven't had a chance to play it yet, it was probably one of the funnest experiences I've had online in recent memory, especially compared to DayZ/Jogging Simulator 2014. The game's available on Steam if you're interested in taking it for a spin.

The Art Of Evan Monteiro

Evan Monteiro is currently in the later stages of acquiring a degree in illustration at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. Not something I assumed immediately, as on a first glance I initially got the impression that Evan would have a healthy client list under his belt due to the quality of his portfolio offerings. Aside from wearing a lot of different stylistic hats with apparent ease, his recent work has been incredibly strong, like his absolutely amazing League of Legends fanart for an Olaf skin above.

There's a really nice mix of work in his folio, ranging from book cover illustrations to environment art, really nicely done fanart to more stylized fare in the comic book realm. With a slated graduation date of 2015, I doubt Evan will have a hard time getting work upon graduation if he keeps going at his current rate. Check out more of his work after the break!

The Animations Of Mitsuyuki Ishibashi - A Look At Japan's Elusive Indie Animation Scene

Animation wise, Japan has one of the most prolific global scenes out there, with anime and feature length animation being a steady staple (And export) of the local diet. However, from an indie animation standpoint it's always been a rather introverted affair compared to other scenes like Paris (With their glut of amazing student animation work) and the US.

Over time I've come to the realization that this might have to do with the fact that most outside countries utilize their own regional equivalents of Youtube and Vimeo, such as China's Youku or Japan's NicoNico Douga. Every once in a while though we get some gems posted on local websites, and we're always quite pleased to run into it (Check out our features on Tannojoko). Mitsuyuki Ishibashi is just one of these indie animators, and I absolutely love his stylish sequences, created for the likes of online shows, animated series pitches and beyond. Check out more of his slick work after the break.

Ensemble ACJW's 43 Cartoon Theme Song Mashup Is An A+ Nostalgia Kick

We all need that weekly jolt to remind us how old we're getting, and what better day to do that than on a Wednesday? Ensemble ACJW has put together this incredible rendition of 43 theme songs ranging from the 80's up to the early 2000's. The medley performed in Carnegie Hall is fantastically composed and does an awesome job at massing up multiple themes while still keeping each of their identities intact.

I am warning you though, by the end of this you'll have at least three theme songs stuck in your head. I still haven't gotten ride of the Gummy Bear theme song quite yet.

Zodiac - "Evolution"

Directed and composed by Murat Sayginer, who also brought us Ratio last year, Evolution is an abstract short centered around black and white and the concept of duality. It also can be interpreted as a compilation of really awesome abstract visual experiments created using CG. As what we've come to expect from Murat, it's all left open for interpretation. 

The Gap - Overcoming Creative Obstacles

This piece directed by German director Frohlocke carries an excellent message, especially for any of our readers getting started in the creative industry. Getting started in this field is a major uphill battle, and getting your skills to where you want them to be takes a lot of time and blood, sweat and tears. Once you accept the fact that it'll never be easy, you'll be at peace and continue your growth..The key is to never give up. Just keep making stuff and try and improve with every piece, it tends to pay off.

Presented using a fun series of vignettes to illustrate the key words narrated by David Shiyang Lius, it's a healthy reminder that persistence ultimately pays off. From a personal standpoint, after 6 years of working in the game industry I think this message rings absolutely true.

Mar 25, 2014

Mercenary Kings Is Now Out On Steam!

Enjoy yourselves a fantastic new trailer for Tribute's Mercenary Kings, an awesome mega collab between the studio and pixel-god-amongst-men Paul Robertson. The Kickstarted title is finally out on Steam, and offers a visual style similar to Metal Slug, sidescrolling gameplay with hints of Borderlands and over 100 missions to tackle solo or with a friend. The Borderlands comparison came from their deep crafting system, with countless parts and over 300 items to mix and match to create the best weapon possible.

We had a chance to play the beta extensively and had a blast, especially getting the chance to see Paul Robertson finally put his excellent sprite animation skills towards a videogame. If you've ever played retro Neo-Geo shmups, this title will be right up your alley. Mercenary Kings is currently on Steam for $15, get on it!

You are part of the Mercenary Kings, the most skilled team of warriors-for-hire on Earth, but when your comrades have fallen and the fearsome forces of CLAW have seized an island-wide top secret Laboratory Base, you must do what it takes to stop them.

But you're not going in unprepared! Your back-up is made of a crew of rogue geniuses and experts of their field! Able to craft & customize guns'n'blades or upgrading body armor, you've never been this ready to join the fight.

The Awesome Concepts Of CooCoo

CooCoo is a female concept artist from Hangzhou, China - Where she currently works as a freelancer providing illustrations and concepts for companies including Cyberagent and Applibot (Legend of the Cryptids). While her stylistic inclinations seem to lean more towards the anime camp, she mixes it up with a very clean, interesting rendering style that has lots of painterly notes to it.

Certain pieces also show off her stylistic versatility, including a really badass female warrior (Right after the break) that shows her grasp of less stylized subject matter. Check out more of her awesome works after the break!

Mister Modo & Ugly Mac Beer - "Invasion"

Doom electro mixed with throwback surf garage sound  is the flavor of today with Invasion by producers Mister Modo & Ugly Mac Beer. The music video accompaniment by Moustache is a pastiche of rotoscoped surreal vignettes, visualizing an inverted beach party coming to a swift and violent end after an alien entity makes contact with one of the party goers. That moment of contact brought back memories of the surreal ending on the crimson beaches of the End of Evangelion.

All hell breaks loose, and the visuals perfectly follow the increasingly warped aural aspects of the track. If you're a fan of retro horror (Especially the John Carpenter kind), this is an awesome little treat.

Moxie 2107 - Evolving Concept Art Presentation

23 year old student and concept artist Benjamin Bach sent us this really awesome 'study' of a concept series he created for a story regarding a futuristic city called Moxie. Plagued by it's struggle to keep afloat in a world changed by pollution, we are offered a glimpse of the everyday life, and unique architecture of this strange city. What really struck me about Benjamin's take on this concept series was the addition of some subtle Aftereffects crafted movement and music, which really elevated the presentation and enhanced the atmosphere he was trying to showcase. If I was an employer, this extra work would absolutely sell me on the fact that he's a candidate willing to go the extra mile. This was created at Denmark's Animation Workshop, who recently brought us animated shorts including Out of Bounds and Unimagined Friends.

A fictional story set in the future, year 2107, where climate changes, flood and polution have changed the world - mostly 3rd world countries like Malaysia, Philippines and Bangladesh. We're the observer of this changed world through the city of Moxie – a sinking city, that keeps rebuilding itself upwards to survive. It's the story of a perserverant and adaptive society that despite the challenges, have an incredible determination to survive.

"Pullet's Chair" - An Animation By Former Ghibli Employees

Pullet's Chair (Pullet No Isu) is a short created to commemorate 10 years of Noitamina (Animation spelled backwards), a Fuji TV programming block devoted to anime created to expand the demographic of animation beyond young males. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida and animated with the supervision of former Ghibli alum Yojiro Arai, it's a heartfelt short about the friendship between a young girl and her magical chair.

Everything from the visual style to the premise give off that warm, fuzzy feeling we've come to expect from Ghibli. With a great message of never lose sight of that youthful side that lies within you, it's a guaranteed cheer up!

Mar 24, 2014

The Raid 2 - Berandal Hitting Theaters Soon

One of my fondest cinematic experiences came about during an initial viewing of The Raid : Redemption in an indie theater called the Violet Crown. The Indonesian action flick had garnered a reputation online as one of the more brutal martial arts flicks, partially meant to shed light on Silat, an indigenous martial art central to the region. The plot was very similar to Bruce Lee's Game of Death, centered around a special forces cop called Rama fighting his way up a criminal infested building with the big boss at the top. The movie was just so uncharacteristic from what I'd come to expect from typical indie theater fare that it was surprising, more resembling the type of R-rated action movie you'd expect to see in the big screens back in the 80's.

While we've all seen our fair share of action and martial arts films (Just a guess), we were completely surprised by the brutality of the takedowns in the movies, and the body count that this cop racked up (I'd say over 100 easy) in the slick and amazingly orchestrated action sequences. Hearing the gasps of horror from the unsuspecting audience when Rama unleashed his pure insanity on whomever stood in his way was kind of hilarious (We'll never unsee that broken door scene). Needless to say the movie was a surprise hit internationally, especially after the word of mouth spread like wildfire following a very limited initial release.

This brings us to The Raid 2 - Berandal, which follows the same cop realizing that his entire first raid was a corrupt orchestration from the powers above him, and that the crosshairs are now on him and his family. The movie was already a hit at Sundance and other film festivals, and has been lauded for improving on the original, especially in regards to dialogue and plot that took a backseat to the action in the first film. The flick is releasing on March 28, so check your local indie theaters-This one's a must see.

The Art of Halil Ural

As soon as I saw Halil Ural's portfolio, I knew I had to post him on Awesome Robo. Gorgeous color compositions, a brilliant pulp sci-fi aesthetic, and epic alien worlds both bizarre and beautiful. It's genuinely hard to look through his work and have to choose which pieces to spotlight, this guy is sick.

Halil is a professional illustrator based out of Turkey. Besides just being all around awesome, he also created the impressive cover and promotional art for the action platform-shooter Gunlord. Check after the break for more of his artwork!

The Art of Thief: Joel Dos Reis Viegas

The story of Thief is a long and troubled one. The current-gen remake of the critically-acclaimed stealth series of the late 90's originally titled Thief 4, the game suffered from a protracted development and was eventually released early this year to a lukewarm critical reception. Despite this, the game's concept art by Joel Dos Reis Viegas ('Feerik') still shines as a welcome reminder to the host of talented people behind the scenes whose work goes into making these gorgeous Triple-A titles.

There's more of his work on the game after the break, and if you wanna see more artwork for the game from the likes of Nicolas Ferrand, Mathieu Latour-Duhaime, and Steven Shmuely, I strongly recommend you check out the Thief Artbook from Titan Books.

Mar 23, 2014

The Art Of Zeronis

Zeronis is the community alias for Paul Hyun Woo Kwon, a talented concept artist with an awesome style currently employed at Riot games. Starting off as a freelance artist for the company on League Of Legends back in 2011, he transitioned over to a more full time role in 2012 as a champion designer. Kwon also works as a freelancer for Blizzard on multiple projects to keep him well rounded.

Considering that Riot's in house style drew a lot of inspiration from Blizzard's repertoire of titles, Kwon's dual role makes a lot of sense. With a love of females as his subject matter overall, expect a lot of awesome pieces from titles including Diablo 3, League of Legends and more after the break!

Mar 21, 2014

The Art Of Kr0nPr1nz

Kr0nPr1nz is the alias for Ilya Kuvshinov, a Russian concept artist and illustrator with a knack for doing his takes on various femmes from pop culture, ranging from Ryuko Matoi from Studio Trigger's Kill La Kill to Samus (Zero Suit version of course) from Metroid. 

Kuvshinov definitely likes to experiment with a variety of different styles, dabbling in more painterly renditions to more graphic takes, while always sticking to the same subjects as a whole. He seems like he could be part of Russia's Honkfu collective, but that affiliation might be stylistic at best. Check out more of his awesome work after the break!

Impressive Movie Posters by Yura Shwedoff

Yura Shwedoff is a traditional painter and concept artist from Moscow who's created an absolutely stunning series of alternate posters for television, movies, animation and video-games.

Shwedoff's paintings emphasize some of the most iconic imagery of his subjects, from Peter Weller's jutting chin in Robocop to Sylvester Stallone breaking down into tears in Rambo First Blood. Out of all his posters, I'd have to say his renditions of Hotline Miami and True Detective are my favorites. See more of his collection after the break!

Juanjo Guarnido In The Freak Kitchen

Now this looks pretty cool! Juanjo Guarnido is a critically acclaimed comic artist and former Disney animator who's teamed up with experimental Swedish metal band Freak Kitchen to produce a music video based off their latest album Cooking with Pagans. The video is set to premiere at Comic Con this year.

With an all-star team of former Disney and Dreamworks animators, they've already raised well over their initial goal of $90,000. As a huge fan of animated bands like Dethklok and Gorillaz and having seen some of the concept art, I can't wait to see this come to fruition.

Mar 20, 2014

Frog Fractions 2 Is A Thing You Can Fund And You Won't Know What It Is

Never played Frog Fractions? Get on it, right here and right now. For those unfamiliar with Frog Fractions, it's a simple mathematics game intended to teach kids fractions, for those familiar you'll know I'm full of sh*t. I'm really not going to go out of my way to spoil the experience, just know the more you play the better it gets. Trust me.

After nearly 2 years, the crew behind Frog Fractions are back with intents of making the sequel we never knew we needed. The catch is, after the game is funded no one will know what it is until the "jig" is up. Yes that means the title Frog Fractions 2 probably isn't the game's title, instead it's up to gamers to solve the "jig" in order for the development team to reveal the game's true identity. What does that mean for backers? Sounds strange, but they won't receive the game until it's released and revealed.

It sounds absolutely crazy, but so crazy that it needs to happen. The above Kickstarter video doesn't really give any information as to what the game could possibly be, although it does drop a few important keys to solving the "jig" once the game is released. The only issue is, we don't even know when the game will be released, in fact it could already be out (I totally doubt it).

If you'd like to fund this insane social-experiment/game go right ahead over here, I know I'm planning to. 

Laika's "The Box Trolls" Finally Gets A Full Trailer

Following months (More like years) of teasers here and there, it seems like the first trailer for LAIKA's third feature, The Box Trolls is finally out. Offering us a look into the hazy city of Cheesebridge, we're given tastes of the plot, without spoiling or giving away any aspect of the story (Something we've come to appreciate in recent years).

Coraline never quite did it for me, feeling like an ode to Tim Burton's rather played out style as well as feeling like LAIKA struggling to find a footing in the already crowded animated feature market. However, Paranorman was a much more confident feature, knocking it out of the park by offering an interesting narrative that both children and adults could enjoy equally, as well as dealing with issues that most features would shy away from (Like having the first openly gay character in an animated feature).

The Box Trolls seems like it'll be in tune with the typical flavors we've seen from the studio, with hints of the protagonist siding with the trolls that society (And some antagonist) have shunned. The feature is slated to release on September 26, 2014.

Dark Noir

My name is Vincent Black and I can see things other people can’t. Animator Rafael Grampá used the Absolut Facebook community to craft the tale of a man who kind of resembles a more stylized John Constantine from Hellblazer.

Using a mixture of 3D and 2D, we're offered the tale of a man who can see creatures that lurk between our reality and an alternate dimension. Thankfully Absolut's presence in the short was incredibly subtle, bordering on the unnoticeable (Check the out of focus) bar in the backgroun. Check out the making of the short after the break!

Vance Joy - "Riptide"

The latest music video for Aussie alt-rock singer/songwriter Vance Joy is a fun exercise in literal   interpretation. Directed by Dimitri Basil, the entire music video has a slightly Wed Anderson-esque look and playfulness to it, especially with the retro tinge and whimsical cinematography. Literal interpretations of lyrics to this degree typically fall flat on their faces, but Dimitri figured out how to make it absolutely awesome.

Velda's Vision

Presentation is everything when you're a student, especially when it comes to presenting portfolio work. Thomas Hernandez's Velda's Vision took an environment modeling demo created as his final project at the Vancouver film school and added a cinematic aspect to it, much to our surprise. It's rare to see students put this much love into simple presentation, but going the extra mile tends to do the trick when your work is on the employers desk. Very nice work.

Velda's Vision is a modeling demo reel that brings to the spectator, the fantastic world of witchcraft. It is settled in the core of an ancient dark forest, in a old and hidden hut, where all the magic is crafted for the protection of this dimension against the darkness.

Mar 19, 2014

The Rise of Videogame Economies

Game economies have been around since the advent of MMO's like Ultima Online, which offered players a chance to buy, trade and sell real estate, items and equipment, yet over the years have evolved into a micro industry themselves. Titles like EVE actually employ their own currencies and exchanges, and the value is created by a system of scarcity and player demand. Prestigious items entail status or offer gameplay advantages (A tricky balancing act), and PBS Offbook's mini documentary goes into the pros and cons of such systems. Of all the ones I've seen, Valve definitely seems to be at the forefront of tinkering with player economies with successful examples including Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2, including their player generated content initiatives which are quite novel in the game industry.

While players of multi-player games are aware of their in-game economies, their growth and complexity would surprise many outside the world of gaming. With hundreds of millions of players around the world, MMOGs' in-game economies generate massive amounts of real dollars (i.e. MILLIONS), and real world economic theories can even be applied to these worlds. Many are now so big that game developers have hired real world economists to help them manage these complex systems. But with secondary economies, gold farming and other issues surfacing, are these systems in need of more attention, or even regulation?

Starbomb And Egoraptor Present - The Ken Vs Ryu Rap Battle

Created by Spazinkid for his collab project with Egoraptor and Ninja Sex Party called Starbomb, this animated rap battle between Ryu and Ken is as one sided as it gets. Kind of glad Egoraptor is at least dabbling with animation in between doing some truly bizarre stuff as of late, including his stint on that strange Youtube Dancing show. Starbomb also created that recent Luigi's Ballad, which offered some truly pressing questions regarding Princess Peaches questionable taste in plumbers.

The Art of JH Stone

JH Stone is a freelance comic artist from South Korea with a knack for photo-realistic backgrounds juxtaposed with sci-fi absurdity and slice-of-life surrealism. A strong theatrical sense of humor persists across all his work, embedded in every dynamic action pose, giant mecha fight, and superhero homage. Paramilitary assassins, fauxhawk-wielding rock stars, revolutionary guitarists and paintings within paintings. See more of his talented work after the break!

Mar 18, 2014

The Art Of Gabriel Verdon

Gabriel Verdon is an Ottawa based artist and illustrator that we stumbled into during the entire shield design contest for Dark Souls II, which drew a ton of amazing entries despite being a rather peculiar challenge (You'd think they would have opted for something a little cooler). Verdon actually ended up getting two winning entries, and after tracing him back to his portfolio we came to realize why.

The Guardian Shield, one of Verdon's winning designs now available in Dark Souls II.
Thematically Verdon's tastes seem to gravitate around highly atmospheric dark fantasy, which brings to mind the aesthetics of Woodkid and Team Ico titles like Shadow of the Colossus, among others. Mysterious creatures remain shrouded in fog in the background of his pieces, enchantresses hold up the shrouded sun in a post apocalyptic setting, giant colossi lumber towards unprepared warriors. Above all it's the story being told that Verdon seems to enjoy conveying the most in his pieces. Check out more of his awesome work after the break!

Metal Gear Solid V - Ground Zeroes Launch Trailer

Ground Zeroes, the prologue to Metal Gear Solid V comes out today and I personally couldn't be more excited to delve into our first taste of the next game. Even though dectractors continue to remain fixated on the fact that the game is apparently 10 minutes long (It keeps getting shorter with every flamebait article that pops online regarding it's length), I think people miss the point of what this game is truly supposed to be, a taste of what's to come in Phantom Pain.

From what we saw Zeroes offers one story mission and a very large playable sandbox area, with an intent on being replayed multiple times. The story ties into the events of Peace Walker, following Big Boss and Miller in an attempt to extract Chico and Paz from a highly guarded facility. Other than that it seems like the game doesn't seem to be about the story, but more about showcasing the subtle gameplay changes that take a note from other modern stealth games. Cardboard boxes and rations are no more, replaced with a regenerating health bar and a more action oriented focus, including the ability to commandeer multiple vehicles, while still offering the option of CQC and stealth.

I will speculate that picking up Ground Zeroes will offer some sort of perk if there's some existing save data once Phantom Pain comes out, but will note that this title will definitely be more appealing if you're a fan of the series rather than a newcomer looking to get a first taste.

Wes Anderson - Centered

Created by Kogonada, a South Korean filmmaker and regular contributor to Sight & Sound, Centered is just another of his projects centered around dissecting the signature cinematographical nuances of iconic directors. Back in 2012 he brought us a similarly themed analysis of Stanley Kubrick's usage of one point perspective, but this year he takes a look at Wes Anderson's usage of meticulous center framing (Done in collaboration with Robert Yeoman). There's a real love of symmetry present here, and I've always had the feeling that Anderson goes through some real painstaking effort to stage the characters in each shot as if they were pawns on a chess board.

The Tiny Worlds Trilogy

Rushes is an award winning international VFX Company based in the heart of Soho, London. As part of a fun mini project to show off their chops in compositing, 3D and 2D animation, Rush used public sidewalks as their stage to bring their tiny worlds to life. We witness a tiny submarine emerging from a dirty puddle to take care of some business, a miniature logging truck and a bulldozer doing their part to clean up a little corner. It's a cute little project that will ultimately serve the purpose of attracting clients to Rush.

The CG team at Rushes has brought to life the everyday urban world around our feet. The Tiny Worlds trilogy of short films shows a humorous take on what might happen to the litter and rubbish on London's streets when we're not looking.

As a way to flex the Rushes CG team's creative muscles we decided to embark on an idea for a project suggested by the team themselves. We started with an initial concept, designed the vehicles, shot the plates, and went through the CG production process, before finishing it off by collaborating with Mcasso for sound design.

Mar 17, 2014

The Awesome Art Of Inshoo

Inshoo is the alias for In-su Park, a 26 year old concept artist currently employed at Maiet entertainment, who just recently released the fun online free to play action game called Gunz 2 - The Second Duel on Steam. As well as concept art and illustration, Inshoo also enjoys dance and singing to pass the time in between working hard to improve his skills.

His style is very much in tune with what we've come to expect from the Korean art scene, resembling an interesting mix of eastern and western influences. Minor hints of anime mixed with some very western themed rendering techniques result in an appealing hybrid style that I've really come to love over the years. Check out more of Inshoo's fun concept work after the break!

My Love/Hate Relationship With Titanfall

Titanfall just fell into our laps over a week ago, and I’ve been having a blast wall running and gunning my way to victory. But I can’t help but feel that for every step forward the game takes, it then proceeds to take two backward. It’s been very difficult for me to say that this game was worth the hype because of these steps backwards. Let me begin with what I think Titanfall does right, and by what it does right, it does better than most.

The multi-tiered staging of the combat between pilot and titan feels very much like a battle between David and Goliath, but neither feel dramatically more powerful than the other. Titans feel powerful, but not overpowered, and nothing stops an experienced player from taking one down. This tends to breed gameplay that is high octane, jumping from titan to titan, planting satchel charges, grabbing a zipline and gunning up enemies as you make your escape present moments that are truly unique, and in all, gives you one hell of an adrenaline rush.

Mar 16, 2014

Worth Checking Out - Chroma Squad! The Giant Mecha Management Simulator

Chroma Squad got funded last year thanks to a successful Kickstarter, and we couldn't be happier to see it near release. Dubbed as a part Sentai management sim and part turn based brawler, the title seems set to give players the chance to take their own Power Rangers-esque group to the top. The title draws heavily from Japan's Super Sentai (Japanese for 'Squadron') genre and tropes, and the trailer was even presented in Japanese with subtitles as a tongue in cheek nod to where their inspiration came from.

The title seems to also go a little meta in terms of your role as the producer of a Super Sentai TV show, which makes it all the more fun. Avoid bankrupting your studio while saving the world? Sounds like it'll be a fun game to take for a spin, especially being a large fan of Kairosoft's similarly themed sim titles like Game Dev Story. The title will be available to play at PAX and GDC, with a Steam release planned for sometime later this year.

South Park: The Stick of Truth Is Fantastic

Obsidian Entertainment’s South Park: The Stick of Truth is one of those rare titles that not only captures the essences of the franchise it represents perfectly, but also presents gameplay mechanics that are fun and engaging. Obsidian has successfully created the interactive world of South Park, and in more ways than not, a world that feels more alive, more immersive, than most titles released today.

If you’re a fan of the series, prepare to be serviced like no other. Just about every house, every building, can be entered and explored, and these houses are accurately depicted down the smallest details. When you combine these incredible environmental elements with the perfectly depicted characters you get these moments where you sit back and honestly can’t pick out if you’re playing a game or watching the show. It is in these moments where the game excels the most, almost serving as an example of how to branch a franchise across multiple mediums.

Being twenty hours into the game, I honestly feel that I’ve only cracked the surface. If you’ve ever considered yourself a fan of the series, Stick of Truth is a must have that does not disappoint. Even if you aren’t, but enjoy turn based role playing games, there is enough depth in the combat and exploration to satisfy. Obsidian Entertainment South Park: The Stick of Truth is a fantastic piece of entertainment and one that is very much worth the wait. It is available now on Steam and PS3/360 for $59.99

Concorde - "Sons" (NSFW)

Well, that was one of the darkest music videos I've seen in a while. The Alexis Beaumont & Rémi Godin (They also animated Stuck In The Sounds memorable Let's Go) directed video for Concorde's latest synthpop track isn't memorable for it's action scenes and over the top animation, but for the fact that it deals with themes of insecurity. In 4 minutes we are presented with 2 portraits, a young girl with a less than ideal self image, and that same girl years later with a complex, attempting to connect with the same person. While the lack of confidence ruined things the first time, her dramatic change ultimately delivers some unexpected results. The sense of frustration is palpable.

A sample of Negron's work from his Tumblr.
The unique style of Sons was inspired by the art of up and coming Puerto Rican comic artist Jonny Negron, who's pulpy style mixes elements of Japanese anime and western comic books. The music video is interesting for the fact that it ultimately mixes social commentary with an unendorsed tribute to an artists unique style, something we haven't really seen before here on AwesomeRobo.

Trifling Habits

Created by Sarina Nihei as her first year film at the Royal College of Art in London, Trifling Habits is a rather retro feeling short about a world with a very distinct rythm of it's own. We follow a rather sullen looking man and with a green dress as he goes about his strange, repetitous routines until an unexpected change comes about. I think the most retro vibe comes about from her choice of medium for creating Trifling Habits, ink outlines with rough watercolor washes reminiscent of experimental 70's animated films. It's a highly surreal, but ultimately very engrossing short.

Mar 15, 2014

DJ Snake & Lil Jon - "Turn Down for What" (Mind Blowing)

Possessed by an ungodly demonic entity in his hips, the protagonist for DJ Snake & Lil Jon's latest trap track is so goddamn ridiculous it made me laugh out loud. Starting off on a roof, he proceeds to spread his affliction across multiple floors, turning the residents of an apartment block into a completely out of control series of raving lunatics with their own unique uh, 'traits.'

Pelvic blasts blow women's clothing off their bodies, big bootied ladies body slam men's faces into absolute submission, cops faces melt off a la Raiders of the Lost Ark and breasts take on a mind of their own. Directed by the Daniels, who've created some of Tenacious D's similarly absurd music videos, it's an unexpectedly epic video treatment to one of this year's biggest club hits.

Worth Checking Out - Towerfall: Ascension

Towerfall has built up a sort of cult following since it's release on the rather underwhelming Ouya last year. It's fast, frantic, and incredibly fun gameplay was only dragged down by it's limited availability - being exclusive to the Ouya at that time. Some people (Including us) dubbed it as probably one of the best titles on the platform at the time, as well as it being a favorite indie pick from last year's E3. Thankfully this exclusivity did not last forever and the game is now available for purchase on both PC and PS4.

In addition to the addictive Super Smash Brothers styled gameplay of the original title, they've added a wealth of new features and content such as 50 new versus arenas, a new single player/co-op quest mode, unlockable archers, and a bunch of new power ups to modify gameplay and keep things interesting. The game is already a popular pick for multiplayer brawlers and now with more options and variety (not to mention being on additional platforms) it's going to be a fan favorite for a long, long time.

Towerfall: Ascension is now available on Steam or the Playstation Store on your PS4.

Graphika Manila Opening Titles

An eye pleasing piece of motion-design for lovers of the medium, courtesy of Philippine studio The Acid House. This was created to introduce a conference on design and multimedia called Graphika Manila which took place in early February at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay. Loved the incorporation of traditional imagery specific to the local culture with the mesmerizing visuals.

Mar 14, 2014

Some Thoughts On Studio Ghibli's "The Wind Rises"

From time to time we all tend to ponder about death, where our life is going, our wishes, dreams, our goals. These thoughts linger in our daily existence, it's simply how we choose to interpret and deal with them. While some people choose to live a life of taking no risks and playing it safe in order to protect themselves and guarantee a comfortable existence, other people throw themselves at the unknown in pursuit of their passion, regardless of the consequences.

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises delves into the story of Jiro, possessed with an insatiable desire to quench a thirst for aviation despite his poor vision. The movie follows him over the course of a few decades, starting from the birth of his dream until it's fruition, following inspiration that comes to him in a dream from a famous Italian designer called Caproni.

I'll be honest, Studio Ghibli's last few features definitely had a very understated feel, including Arrietty and Up On Poppy Hill. In terms of their narrative and emotional aspects, they both offered offered much milder experiences compared to what we'd come to expect from the studio. I went into The Wind Rises with similar expectations, and was absolutely blown away.

Taiyo Matsumoto's 'Ping Pong' Is Stylish As Hell

Those familiar with both Taiyo Matsumoto (TekkonKinkreet) and and Masaaki Yuasa's (Kick-Heart) work know exactly what to expect for the upcoming adaptation for Ping Pong. Taiyo Matsumoto's character design is some of the most original in the manga/anime industry currently and it's awesome to see more of his work getting recognized.

In 2002 Ping Pong was given a live-action movie release, but this is the first time we're getting an animated adaptation to fully portray the craziness of Matsumoto's work.

Along with the above trailer, individual trailers have been released for the series' characters, getting my fully hyped for this Spring release. I'm really digging the fluidity of the animation along with super-stylized backgrounds, a staple of Masaaki Yuasa's work.

While the initial air date has yet to be announced you can spend your time longing for the series after the break with the currently released character trailers.