Hop Onboard the NFB’s Wayfinder!

16 Jun

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Premiering June 16 on NFB.ca, acclaimed Canadian artist and creative coder Matt DesLauriers’ Wayfinder is a relaxing and contemplative web-based generative art game. Blurring the line between video game, animated short and interactive poem, Wayfinder captures nature’s fading memories before they’re gone forever—each experience as unique and ephemeral as the natural world itself.

Symbolizing the give-and-take relationship humans have with nature, players move a mystical character through forest, grasslands and tundra in search of poetic tokens dotting the landscape. When activated, they reveal words hidden in the wind, breathing new life into the nearby flora and fauna. Leaves stir and flowers spring up in the character’s footsteps. Birds and butterflies emerge. As the player continues on their journey, these uncovered words combine into verse, expressing our eternal need to capture nature’s fleeting moments in poetry.

Behind the scenes

The latest in generative storytelling, Wayfinder brings high-quality, game-like rendering and interactivity.

The assets are assembled in real time, making use of generative algorithms, artificial intelligence and machine learning. The poems and visuals an individual player sees today won’t appear in the exact same way again. Their particular journey only exists once they load the webpage.

Hand-illustrated by Tiffany Beucher and animated by Guillaume Le Roux, the art assets are placed into the experience programmatically through code. A combination of illustration, 2D animation and 3D modelling delivers a seamless interactive WebGL2 landscape, magically assembled by way of procedural generation. The verse fragments are derived from a mix of GPT-2 AI and data-mining software, and then recombined during gameplay according to the player’s unique exploration.

This 5–15-minute art game is produced by Nicholas Klassen and executive produced by Rob McLaughlin for NFB English Program’s Digital Studio in Vancouver.

About the creators

Matt DesLauriers is a Canadian-born artist and creative coder now living in London, UK. His interactive installations have been displayed in special events at the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. His work was part of Reykjavik’s 2019 Winter Lights Festival in Iceland and Ontario Place Park’s 2018 Winter Light Exhibition in Toronto. Matt is active in the open source community and has given numerous talks, classes and workshops on creative coding, including at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture in London, FITC in Toronto and Amsterdam, Frontend Masters in Minneapolis, and GROW in Paris.

Nicholas Klassen is a producer with the NFB’s Digital Studio, working with artists and media makers to produce interactive storytelling works that push the boundaries of story, form and platform. His projects have been recognized by the Webbys, FWA, Communication Arts, World Press Photo, and Columbia University’s Digital Dozen Breakthroughs in Storytelling. Klassen’s recent productions include Evie Ruddy and Tracey Lebedovich’s Un/Tied Shoes, Nettie Wild’s Roundup and Joella Cabalu’s First Photo Here. Prior to his work at the NFB, Nicholas co-founded the online strategy and design agency Biro Creative and served as Senior Editor at Adbusters magazine.

“No Hope” for a Franchise. Transformers: Heavy Metal AR

16 Jun

Pokémon Go creator Niantic announces Transformers: Heavy Metal AR game -  PolygonBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The battle for which faction will occupy Earth is not likely at the core of the upcoming mobile AR game, Transformers: Heavy Metal. The media’s abuzz about bringing this Hasbro property to the videogame world again, and honestly, I’m not excited. I’m more curious in when the reboot will be brought back to the screen again (recent Netflix program notwithstanding).

Niantic Inc is involved in the development cycle, and early images suggest this product may well be another Pokemon GO clone. Seattle-based software house, Very Very Spaceship (known for Truck Stars) is leading the development. This four-year-old business doesn’t have a lot of recognition to get some fans excited.

This company is a self-described, “motley crew of space faring designers, engineers, artists and storytellers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. For the past three years, under the leadership of BAFTA winning founder Sean Vesce (Never Alone, Tomb Raider Series, Mechwarrior Series), we have been solving the problems of the unknown for incredible partners like Google, Microsoft and others. We are a tight-knit group of makers thriving in our undiscovered future, making shared game experiences in AR, VR, Geolocation, Live Streaming and more. In addition to our client work, we develop and release original indie experiments like the recent Knife 2 Meat U, available at our itch.io page.”

Considering how huge Transformers fandom is, Hasbro’s quality control division ought to squash any bumblebees.

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Fantasy Shooter Mushihimesama Explodes Onto the Nintendo Switch!

16 Jun

Revealed during Nintendo Direct E3’s Japanese Stream 2021. the arcade fantasy bullet rail shooter, Mushihimesama (虫姫さま, “Bug Princess”), is now available on the Nintendo Switch! This video game set in an imaginative forest world has seen many ports over the years since its debut in arcades. A remixed and reimagined version of Mushihimesama in v1.5 offered alternate soundtracks, mechanics, and bullet patterns.

From bringing the original to the PS2 to spinoffs on iOS, this Japanese styled backdrop from genre masters CAVE Interactive Co., Ltd and publisher Live Wire is now available on Nintendo Switch through the eShop.

Usually these types of games are difficult to master. In what makes these latest arcade style ports easier to deal with includes a toggle to adjust the difficulty level. The goal is to keep on shooting and dodge the rain of lasers, bullets and bombs being tossed at you.

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Who’s the Star with Netflix’s Wish Dragon?

14 Jun

Wish Dragon.pngBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Now playing on Netflix

Sadly, Wish Dragon is a very paint by numbers Disney-style product. It has elements of Aladdin, Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon all mixed in, and I’m fairly sure writer/director Chris Appelhans even drew upon the song When I Wish Upon a Star for inspiration. This blending delivers on the meaning behind the lyrics, “The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing…” but fails when considering other details. This work can’t decide if it wants to be a social commentary/comedy ala Crazy Rich Asians or a tween romance. The balancing act isn’t well done.

The introduction establishes Din (Jimmy Wong) and Li (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) as kids promising to be best friends forever, a la Lilo & Stitch. Both are troublemakers and it’s cute to see them together. Unlike this franchise, they eventually get separated. The girl becomes a model and has forgotten about her past. Her dad’s motives are good, but it turns out he has an “evil” agenda. He’s searching for that magic lamp to grant him a better life for his family. 

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Yoshikitty Wins #1 Spot Again in Sanrio’s Character Ranking

12 Jun

The results of the prestigious “2021 Sanrio Character Ranking Contest” were announced mid last week, and Yoshikitty has again captured the hearts of anime fans globally, claiming the number one spot in four countries: Italy, Germany, France, and Thailand. Inspired by the leader of the biggest rock band in Japanese history, X Japan, Yoshikitty not only has loyal anime fans, but also the passionate fan base of international icon Yoshiki backing them to the top.

The contest brings together the most popular Sanrio characters, with Yoshikitty having earned a top 10 ranking in the contest every year since 2015. This year, Yoshikitty placed 11th overall in a stiff competition against the likes of beloved anime characters Pom Pom Purin and Cinnamoroll. During the official event, which was broadcast online this year due to the ongoing pandemic, Yoshiki made a special guest appearance to express his gratitude to the fans who supported Yoshikitty.

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