Monday, April 01, 2013

The Insanity That Is Dwarf Fortress

It has been awhile.

I am utterly fascinated by the game Dwarf Fortress. It is simply the most complex game I have ever seen and  one of the most engrossing. Even months into play I am still learning new things.

EO is also a fascinating choice as both DF and EO have spurred countless stories generated from within the game (the length tales of treacher in the Great War stories from EO are brilliant).

The fact that DF, a game that is as far from eye candy as can be, has inspired such fascinating works of the imagination is the testament to the creators, Tarn and Zach Adams.

Some of the more interesting DF stories:

1) Bronzemurdered - obviously inspired by #2, but a nice quick graphical display of all of the FUN! that can occur in DF, and so very very quickly.

Bronzemurdered - a graphical DF tale.

2) Boatmurdered - a succession game (multiple players play for one year of game time each - then pass to the next player). This received a great deal of attention and is a hilarious read (at least up to the Elephant rampage - StarkRavingMad section) and has inspired many other works. 

 Boatmurdered Wallpaper - the Elephants are Prominent

It also has a nice introduction to the game for the uninitiated.

3) Oilfurnace - a new fortress by the same artist (Tim Denee) who drew Bronzemurdered.

4) Bravemule - a mixed media tale, part screen capture, or even animation using a third party tool (stonesense + DF Hack) - some inspirational drawings, and a few videos at important interludes.

Stonesense view of Bravemule Tower

Stonesense view of Bravemule tunnels


This tale is a fascinating next generation graphical novel. The text mixes the game's computer logic + invented dwarf logic for a bizarre and possibly impenetrable commentary. For anyone who has played DF, the in-jokes more than make up for it. 

27th Obsidian 1050
    The arm of Matul Remrit is severed and we dregs are left scattered. The broker is too dead to count for me. I cut off his fingers and he is not faking. I will do what best I can to describe the situation: a sunrise happened since the wooden sword pierced my side. I am with enough dregs to fill a squad. No dwarf reports the strength to move the mule corpse off this cursed wagon but I cannot find my whip to verify these claims. When we split from the brothers, some were run through and dead in the bellies of animals at last correspondence. I do not know if the brothers live. They are not coming for us, and I hear the wolves howl.

The poem "Ode to Mittens" - by Exi the Poemhaver is worth the price of admission.

16th Slate 1051
    Oh Mittens how your fur shined
    Oh Mittens how your head purred
    Oh Mittens how your feet landed (when hurled)
    Oh Mittens where have you left
    Oh Mittens do you miss me too
    - "Ode to Mittens" by Exi the Poemhaver

If games are not art, they are at least a paintbrush and a canvas.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Silverdocs 2012

Due to travel, I only managed to catch the last half of Silverdocs. This meant that I only got to see three docs.

The Queen of Versailles - follows a billionaire family as they announce plans to build the biggest house in America (>90K sq. feet) and then the recession hits and things take a turn for the worse. A fairly light look at a former beauty queen who is now the wife of a timeshare condo mogul, her family of hers and adopted children, the hired help that are desperately trying to save money to aid family members back home, and the empire itself as it begins to crumble.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists - I should have liked this more. This story of the rise of 4Chan, and Anonymous, and distributed hacking, and political movements. But this is not quite If A Tree Falls, it's far too one-sided, and not objective enough and it focuses too much on the superficial. Worse, there were actual revolutions going on, some aided in part by social networking that did manage to make change. Going after Scientology? Is that Anonymous's big claim to fame?

Detropia - this was the best doc I saw at Silverdocs this year. Not a Michael Moore expose. Not an objective analysis of what Detroit is, and where it came from. This doc is atmospheric, what Detroit looks and feels like right now. Some good, some bad. There are some hard questions that get asked and no real answers are offered. Excellent cinematography.

Monday, April 16, 2012

48 Hour Machinima

The Project 48 Machinima (is it the 48 Hour Project - Machinima - actually what is the relationship between the various entities I am still not sure) took place a few weekends ago, and the awards ceremony was Saturday night. Unfortunately, due to the need to include Europe and Australia, it took place at 11 PM PST, which means 2 AM EST.

Like the Oscars, it went long, so at 5:30 AM I turned the computer off.

Chantal and Phalyen hosted and the full set of awards were given out at the end.

The big winner of the night was Oblivious Films – Crueler Heads Prevail, which won the big $3000 aussie cash prize and the oppurtunity to screen in Las Vegas. The Australian winners were  Zardoz Carwash – Imperative.

Great set of films, with Second Life being the most predominant platform.

My film Used, is here, shot in Muvizu - a platform I downloaded the week before, so I spent most of the week doing tutorials, and a good part of the actual 48 hours struggling with the software, so I am impressed I got anything made.

Public Version

Private Version
A fun night even if it went far too late. Here's some screens of the awards ceremony.

Phaley and Chantal - hosts

This movie involves a notorious criminal

Mockumentary on Giant Impact Television

These two are about to be transformed.

The old west makes an appearance.

As does the far future.

The dog was fantastic.

Somehow Hathead wrote an award-winning song that was both funny and told a great story, and was  well sung and played!

The other Used Car storyline involves one creepy dude.

I am a sucker for silhouettes

Blockland makes an appearance

Opening shot from award winner Crueler Heads Prevail

Tony Dyson - R2D2 creator and judge could not be there in person but sent his love (or motivational speech about never giving up)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bill Plympton

The multi-oscar-nominated independent animator, cartoonist, and illustrator showed some of his projects last night.

Summer Bummer - the imagined horrors of a summer predator are too funny to seem real - or are they?

The Flying House - this is actually the work of an early pioneer of animation, Wilson McCay, and it was his last animated feature in 1921. Plympton took it upon himself to restore this film, add color and music and voices and released it using Kickstarter to fund the entire project. Impressive animation from the man who also did Gertie the Dinosaur and The Sinking of the Lusitania but it sounds like William Randolph Hearst was not impressed with McCay's animation attempts and put pressure on him to stop making them to the point that McCay did just that. If this story is true, then is that the second filmmaker's career that Hearst has intervened in and seriously impacted?

TMZ - a music video for Weird Al Yankovic. A funny look at the paparazzi.

Waiting for her Sailor. Do not blink. Ever.

The Cow Who Wanted To Be a Hamburger. Short-listed for the oscars in 2011. I've seen this one a few times but the story of how Plympton came up with the idea for this short while driving through Oregon, honking his car horn at the grazing cattle, and realizing they could care less about his horn, or his car, just the grass at their feet.

A special world premiere of a pilot episode - Tiffany The Whale - a super model, who is a whale? Voiced by two improv actresses, this follows the typical quirky humor of most of Plympton's work, and has a great ending. But a TV series? Might be a tough sell.

Also received a special hand drawn version of the cow afterwards.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cinema in 2011

This is about the movies I watched or made in 2011. Not just movies released in 2011.

Partially influenced by the designer Nicholas Feltron's annual report series, but I will limit this cinema only.

I watched a total of 96 movies in 2011. That may seem a lot to some people, but I watch little television. If every movie was 2 hours long, that would be 192 total hours of media or 8 days of total movies in the last year.

According to Neilesen, the average person watches more than 34 hours of television per week, or more than 73 days of TV per year.

The movie release by year ranged from the early 1940's up to 2011, with the most watched release year 2010, followed by 2011 (obviously catching up on those releases from 2010 last year). There was also a spike of movies in the late 80's and early 90's.

There were three forms of media consumption, DVDs (including Blu-Ray), the cinema (movie theater), and one airplane ride (which is a special level of hell for cinema lovers).

Looking at genres, apparently I have passed into old age with drama and documentary contributing to more than half of the genres watched. Thriller, comedy, animated, sci-fi, horror, action, etc., contribute the rest.

Movies made:
Shorts: 3
48 Hour Projects: 2
Doc Challenge: 1
Directed: 2

I contributed to 3 shorts, all timed contests, 2 for the 48 hour, 1 for the Doc challenge. None are available online yet. All were frustrating due to all of the issues that crop up during timed contests.

Longer forms: 2
Doc in progress: 1
Shot and edited clip of haunted house walkthrough: 1

The doc is taking a long time due to unforeseen circumstances. The walkthrough was a collaborative projects intended for fans.

Machinima made: 0
Machinima festivals attended: 1

Not happy about the first, but the Machinima Expo was excellent as always.

That's the raw numbers.

I obviously cannot talk about the 'best' of 2011 as any sort of comprehensive review, as I only watched 19 movies released in 2011, however, I can talk about my favorites.

Best undiscovered country:

Certified Copy - Abbas Kiarostami - I talked about this in March.


Ivan The Terrible Part 1 Sergei Eisenstein
Ivan The Terrible Part 2 Sergei Eisenstein
Terri Azazel Jacbos

A Screaming Man Mahamat-Saleh Haroun

Best reach for the stars award that nails it:

Tree of Life - Terrence Malick - I talked about this in August.


Uncle Boonme who Can Recall His Past Lives Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Best reach for the stars award that misses:

Melancholia - Lars von Trier - discussed with a number of movies in November.

Best I want my money back award (with caveats):

A Man Called Sarge Stuart Gillard

Troll John Carl Buechler
Troll 2 Claudio Fragasso

The last two are required for Best Worst Movie below.

Best animated:

Rango - Gore Verbinski - discussed in March.


The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet - Feb.

Best video I watched that is not listed:

The External World - David O'Reilly - Feb.

A short animated film, truly bizarre.

Best Documentary:

Reurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles - Jon Foy - July.

I missed almost all of the nominees and big names in documentary this year, but this mystery was a fascinating journey.


Crumb: Doc Terry Zwigoff
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child Tamra Davis
TheCave of Forgotten Dreams Werner Herzog
Beats, rhymes & life: the travels of a tribe called quest Michael Rapaport
Confessions of a Superhero Matthew Ogens
Deep Water Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell
American Movie Chris Smith
Gasland Josh Fox

Anvil: The Story of Anvil Sacha Gervasi

Best Worst Movie Michael Stephenson

The last requires viewing Troll and Troll2 which are above.

Doc I walked out of:

Nostalgia for the Light - Patricio Guzman

Just became irritated and left.

Happy, happy, joy, joy:

4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days Cristian Mungui
Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple Stanley Nelson
Incendies Denis Villeneuve

Movie I watched, that was disturbing, and that I cannot get out of my mind and hope I never see again

A Film Unfinished Yael Hersonski


Dogtooth Giorgos Lanthimos
The Skin I Live In Pedro Almodovar - Nov

Movies that disgusted me:

I Saw The Devil Jee-woon Kim


Potiche Francois Ozon


Meek's Cutoff Kelly Reichardt - May
Moon Duncan Jones
The King's Speech Tom Hooper
Le Havre Aki Kaurismaski
The Apartment Billy Wilder
Midnight in Paris Woody Allen
My Winnipeg Guy Maddin
Paths of Glory Stanley Kubric
Brideflight Ben Sombogaart
A Scanner Darkly Richard Linklater
Prince of Darkness John Carpenter

Taxi Driver Martin Scorsese
Hunt for Red October John McTiernan

Goldfinger Guy Hamilton
Kill Bill Vol 1 Quentin Tarantino

Kill Bill Vol 2 Quentin Tarantino
Moon Duncan Jones
Apollo 13 Ron Howard
Predator John McTiernan
Saboteur Alfred Hitchcock
Like Crazy Drake Doremus

The special Nicholas Winding Refn award:

Bronson Nicolas Winding Refn - Sept.
Valhalla Rising Nicolas Winding Refn - Sept.
I'm the Angel of Death: Pusher III Nicolas Winding Refn

But NOT for Drive

Horror (comedy?):

Dead Snow Tommy Wirkola - Nov
Shaun of the Dead Edgar Wright

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Eli Craig - Nov
Bruce Campbell vs. The Army of Darkness Sam Raimi - Nov

Several best of 2011 and/or nominee lists here:

The POV Blog has better design skills than me
Click to view larger graphic

The Best Documentaries of 2011 from POV.

All Movies Watched in 2011:

Eyes Wide Shut
Paths of Glory
Killers Kiss
Crumb: Doc
The Way Back
4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days
My Winnipeg
Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
The Illusionist
A Man Called Sarge
Shaun of the Dead
Close Encounters
Lessons of Darkness
The Red Shoes
Who killed the electric car
Ivan The Terrible Part 1
Ivan The Terrible Part 2
The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons
A Scanner Darkly
I Saw The Devil
Uncle Boonme who Can Recall His Past Lives
Fata Morgana
Nostalgia for the Light
Certified Copy
The Creators
The Robber
Scientology: The Truth About a Lie
Paranoid Park
A Screaming Man
Meek's Cutoff
Major Rockstar
TheCave of Forgotten Dreams
Point Blank
Prince of Darkness
Taxi Driver
Beats, rhymes & life: the travels of a tribe called quest
Reurrect Dead: The mystery of the Toynbee tiles
Dragon Slayer
Life in  Day
Hunt for Red October
The Tree of Life
A town called Panic
Spike and Mike's Twisted Animation
Kill Bill Vol 1
Kill Bill Vol 2
Apollo 13
The King's Speech
The Hangover
500 Days of Summer
Valhalla Rising
Old Joy
I'm the Angel of Death: Pusher III
Midnight in Paris
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
The Ides of March
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Dead Snow
Air Guitar Nation
Like Crazy
Confessions of a Superhero
Somos Buzos
Bruce Campbell vs. The Army of Darkness
Deep Water
A Film Unfinished
The Skin I Live In
Le Havre
American Movie
The Producers
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Margin Call
The Apartment
Troll 2
Best Worst Movie
Anvil: The Story of Anvil

I covered best of 2010 here.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Goatman Hollow Video

I am in the process of shooting a behind-the-scenes documentary of a local haunted house and all of the effort that goes into putting the show together. It is a large effort and in 2009 there were over 100 cast and crew: all of whom were volunteers. Part of the proceeds each year are donated to the local fire department.

Unfortunately, the house did not open this year.

Fortunately, a walk-through of the house was captured with three cameras on a closed set.

I helped shoot the walk-through and edited the 32 minute video below.