LostWinds2: Winter of the Melodias on IOS

Originally released on Nintendo Wiiware, Lostwinds 2: Winter of the Melodias is now out on IOS! Out of all the games I’ve been involved with this is the one I’m most proud of.

Click here to buy it on itunes “So good, like yummy cake” according to one customer review. Can’t argue with that.

LostWinds 2 is a great example of how good a game can be when the development team are given a lot of freedom to make a game the way they want it. Something I might come back to for a future blog post. For an animator it was a challenge as all the scenes are viewed from the side, the characters are always fairly small on screen (except giant rock creature Magmok), they all have quite a low polygon-count, a fairly low bone-count, and had to be rigged by the small animation team (4 of us at its peak towards the end of production). All of these are things that an animator would probably find frustrating in a different context but sometimes these kinds of limitations can actually free up the development process and make a game more fun to work on (and to play). I think it shows that the people involved in this game really cared about making something good and thrived within the constraints set by the platform and the time and resources available. Well done to those currently at Frontier Developments for the port to IOS. It looks more beautiful than ever as far as I can tell!

You can also catch up with designer and good egg Steven Burgess, the father of LostWinds, and his new adventures as an independent developer here: http://www.trialbyfun.com/blog/

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Inspiring auteur animators of now

Three animations by three animators who are making great work in the world exactly right now.

1) Kirsten Lepore – Bottle

Bottle is ambitious, funny and moving. Kirsten Lepore knows when to be slow which is a costly, time-consuming kind of knowledge when animating in this way, at this scale and outdoors. She uses the medium of stop motion animation in perhaps the strongest way possible. The materials photographed are intrinsic the stories. Without the sand and the snow in Bottle, or the cakes and the veg in her earlier film Sweet Dreams the stories wouldn’t and couldn’t exist. I’m happy they do exist.

2) David O’Reilly – The External World

David O’Reilly shows how stylistically blinkered and bland most of the computer animation in the world is. He’s often puerile, sometimes offensive and frequently hilarious. There is a subtlety and a clarity of vision here too and that’s where his work passes from rendered schoolboy doodle into genius. He happily draws attention to the fact that this is computer animation while the rest of us are desperately trying to stop things from looking ‘computery’. Computer animators can sometimes be drawn into thinking that authenticity is a matter of successfully faking other mediums. Not O’Reilly. At times he’s like Chuck Jones showing the pencil of the animator in Duck Amuck or Brecht flooding the theatre stage and the audience with light.

3) Mikey Please -The Eagleman Stag

Mikey Please likes things to be white. Not black and white, just white. The Eagleman Stag has great humour seeping through the lead character’s despair. The choices that have been made with the materials and colours (or lack of) cement his world together and highlight his attitude to that world. Look out for the tactile drawing – a beautiful visual idea sprung from the self-imposed restrictions set by the film maker.

Excellent facial rigs

An excellent facial setup is a great thing for an animator. Here are some I’ve seen recently that look amazingly versatile. Remarkably both were done by students:

This one was made by Rémy Terreaux http://www.crayfish-pie.com

…and this character, who is all face, was made by Ozgur Aydogdu http://www.ozguraydogdu.com

Hats off to both of them!