Trailer Editing

Editing a trailer is an exercise in pure creativity that I enjoy immensely.

The whole idea behind a trailer is to promote the work you’re presenting and to do it in a concise and engaging way. Subtle touches will move the audience emotionally and viscerally if you get them right – a quick flash frame with an accompanying ‘boom’ on the soundtrack can create excitement, anticipation and fear.

Having the opportunity to edit the trailers for Grinding Gear Games’ forthcoming Action RPG Path of Exile has been a lot of fun. The latest trailer we’ve completed presents the Duelist class and three bosses from the second Act of the game.

 

The making of You Got Me – Part 1

In February of this year we embarked on an ambitious video project for Illegal Musik – the making of two music videos for the J Williams song “You Got Me” featuring NZ’s prominent rap icon, Scribe. The first video would be traditional 2D – the second would be a first in NZ: the first all live 3D music video.

This was a first for all involved on many levels (Pixelati, 3D Live and Illegal Musik) – and we put it together in only eight days. We also edited and graded the 2D video within three days of the shoot so the time pressures on this project led to extra stress and drama that nevertheless contributed to a very interesting and unforgettable experience : ).

The Location – K Road Ballroom & Pull Bar

Once we’d decided to go ahead with the combined 2D and 3D project – only eight days out from the day we needed to shoot the video – the pressure was on to find a location that gave us a number of options settings-wise. Teresa, the manager of the K Road Ballrooms, was extremely accommodating and smoothed the way for us at this difficult time by giving us full access and allowing us to make minor ‘tweaks’ and adjustments for the shoot.

If you haven’t been to the K Road Ballroom before, make sure to head along to 214 K Road and check out the spacious location! Besides the main pool room (the primary set for the video) there is also the snazzy Pull Bar out the back – a setting we used for shots that can be seen in the 3D video.

There was also a great concrete alleyway downstairs which served as a perfect spot for an urban backing for Scribe’s verse.

To top it all off, K Road Ballroom has its own pizza-maker extraordinaire who provided us with an excellent meal at the end of the day – if nothing else, make sure to head along there and try their pizzas – I’ve been back a few times already ; ).

Find out more about K Road Ballroom here.

To be continued…

3D Music Video

We essentially shot two music videos in one day yesterday – one was traditional 2D, the other was 3D.

It was an awesome experience and I’ll go over it in more detail sometime, but for now you can catch the highlights in this item from local news channel TV3.

Music Video

We made a video for DJCXL of Illegal Musik. Matt Meikle was the DP for the shoot and worked under crazy conditions and produced amazing results. He’s DPing our current project with Illegal Musik.

Thanks to everyone who helped out under the most potentially stressful conditions – Frith, our amazing Camera Assist; Spencer, NZ lighting legend; Teri, Luke and everyone else on the cast and crew!

Special thanks go out to Grace from Red Bull (who kindly hung in there for us while the shoot went on without power… : ), the immortal Andrew Brown, colourist extraordinaire ; ) and Trinette and the other immensely accommodating team at Toybox <— click that link – they have an amazing showreel!

Our next video is going to be lots of fun – we’re shooting today… (more soon!)

Welcome to Pixelati 2.0

Welcome to the new Pixelati website!

Please bear with us as we work through this teething period – we’ll have new content and structure and a fresh outlook for 2010!

Virtual Items are the toys of the futurenow

In his “Game Plan” column in the latest edition of Game Developer Magazine (December ’09) Editor Brandon Sheffield asks the question: “…of what worth are virtual items?”

squeem_toy

Some of what I imagine are the common arguments against virtual items are mentioned in the article, like Raigan Burn (of Metanet)’s assertion that “…most virtual goods are purely useless” – so he says – in comparison to tangible physical goods like a book, a pen or a shovel which can be read, written, or dug with. But there are other items – both physical and non – that have uses not covered by those three examples: specifically, toys.

Toys have a use – they provide fun. Or at least the good ones do. And we’re willing to pay for them, even though they provide very little practical use. Getting a sword in WoW isn’t largely dissimilar from buying that extra accessory pack for your Bionicles; the virtual sword is desirable because it has something a physical toy doesn’t – motion, animation, visual effects, etc. – but it probably costs a fair amount less than the plastic Bionicles sword. Neither sword – physical or non – provides any practical use. They’re just fun.

Which brings me to another point mentioned in the article:

“…the rules are designed to extract more money out of people rather than to provide people with an enjoyable experience.”

No doubt in many cases that is true. But – going on the premise that virtual items have the same value as traditional toys – if we want more money we have to provide an enjoyable – i.e. fun – experience.

There’s a possibility that Virtual Items could reach a saturation point where the paying public will develop an innate sense of their worth – in the same way that we approximate a chocolate bar to be between one and two dollars (or whatever your local approximation is : ) we’ll have a feel for “useless” cosmetic virtual items (like the Animal Crossing ‘cool yellow-shirt’ type goods mentioned in the column) being between 50 and 75c and (for example) key larger story quest type items to be around $2 and $4. These items could be “more than cosmetic” in that they essentially unlock extra episodic content to make the large pricetag worthwhile to the customer. I’d pay 75c to unlock the stormtrooper costume and I’d pay $4 to get Obi-wan’s lightsaber (and, perhaps, a new questline looking into Obi’s history).

As long as the transactional process was invisible and effortless like the iTunes store I’d be happy to pay between 50c and $5 for something that gave me, a casualcore player, a few extra days of enjoyment.

So, of what worth are virtual items? Eventually, they may be worth whatever value the Players decide to give for each specific one. And it’s up to the game designer to convince the Player of the item’s value (in the form of fun) in order to encourage the Player to give value back (in the form of dollero). I don’t know whether virtual items will ultimately turn out to provide a sustainable revenue model but I know I’d give them the benefit of the doubt at this stage. What do you think?

Next version of Danger Balls in the pipeline

Sweet! We made it onto DIYgamer’s “Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2010” – thanks DIYgamer for putting us up alongside class like Shank and Super Meat Boy!

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Our momentum on Danger Balls slowed down after we completed the IGF competition version of the game; everyone needed a break so we’ve been working on other projects – like PlayMaker – and prepping for our next version, due mid-December.

The next version of Danger Balls will contain a few more of the features we were hoping to get into the first – luckily the IGF rules allow for updates to your entry. Although the organisers don’t guarantee that the judges will see any updates you make, it can’t hurt to have the option available. It benefits us to have a version that more adequately highlights the features of the game, too.

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P.S. the IGF is going to be killer with the number of quality entries this year – the worst part is knowing that you might have to wait quite a while before you’ll ever get to play some of them.

Danger Balls deadlines loom…

Phew… it’s been a busy month… The IGF deadline for submissions approaches and we’re tweaking madly to make the Nov 1st date. We’re pretty happy with how the game’s shaping up but we’re trying to milk every last little bit of stickiness from the settings to get the best possible play experience… There’s plenty to say on that, as far as the art and skill of gameplay balancing but we’ll post on that when we have enough time to do so!

DBalls Screencap

Thanks to our friends at Thinkt the soundfx for the game are great and have put a whole new spin on it for those of us who’ve been immersed in the silent version for so long! Thanks also to the inimitable Mr. Ryan Cooper of Mukpuddy for lending his chameleonic voice to the game’s primary antagonist, the Overseer TV – I think I spent more time laughing at his outrageous ball gag adlibs during the recording session than actually working xD.

We’ve also just finished putting together an early version trailer of Danger Balls for the AnimFX showcase coming up in November in Wellington – we’ll include that in a post after the event.

In all, Danger Balls has been a truly indie endeavour as we’ve only worked on it in our spare time, for the most part as a team of three (writer/producer, artist, programmer), and I’m glad to see us approaching a milestone in development with confidence : ). We’ve got a way to go, yes, but it’s good to be where we are, too!

We’ll update with more info over the next few months…

What makes a good Game Design Doc?

The extent of our last Game Design Doc

The extent of our last Game Design Doc

I tend to think that Game Design Docs – in the indie field at least – are going through the same renaissance that it appears business plans are, in some quarters.

Realists understand that the business world moves too quickly to be able to pin down every facet and feature of your planned enterprise in advance. It’s foolish arrogance to think you can anticipate every whim of today’s market so a modern business plan needs to show that you’ve thought things through, have a plan to mitigate the impact of risk, and are yet flexible enough to change tack and strategy when the market or industry pulls a surprise on you or doesn’t quite do what you thought it would. (I’m not saying business planning is a mystical art either; just that it’s an inexact science that precludes our knowing every detail of all the relevant variables.)

In a similar way, a Game Design Document needs to show you have a feeling for your project and a general plan, yet an understanding of the complexities of game design: namely that “fun” is an elusive quantity made up of many variables that ultimately find their best light in one of any uncountable number of possible permutations.

I’d suggest that the ultimate Design Document template is a general list of common sections and requirements with a final version very specific to the particular game in question. The document – if you want it to last beyond the first or second iteration – needs to be flexible enough to develop with the idea. What I’m talking about is, of course, more suited to an Agile approach – I’d be interested to see how many people are using and not using Agile or some variation thereof! Also, what the general feeling is, as far as game design docs – do people prefer more descriptive and detailed docs or open-ended docs that allow the concept to evolve?

What have we been up to?

Wow… it’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten how to do this xD  j/ks!

Don’t take the prolonged silence as evidence of a lack of activity – much has been going on behind the scenes!

PlayMaker avatarFor starters, we’ve been very involved in launching PlayMaker NZ, a NZ indie game development community created to support and engage NZ’s growing indie and hobbyist gamedev industry. The goal with the PlayMaker brand is to foster collaborative endeavour and to nurture support mechanisms for developers like ourselves looking for information and mentorship from the wider community.

We’ve also been plummeting headlong along the path of completion for our Xbox / XNA title, Danger Balls. We’re going to present our progress at October’s Auckland Game Works Meetup so if you’re in the area, come down and check it out!

We’ve split off our video production into a separate entity called Visualati. Go and check out some of our videos here. Nope, not anymore lol.

Last but not least: we’ve implemented a more solid blogging / tweeting regime and established the same for our Facebook fan page so you can expect more regular updates and content from us!

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P I X E L A T I

We are a transmedia entertainment company working in video, music, web and games.

We've made game trailers with Grinding Gear Games, created music videos with Illegal Musik, built communities with PlayMaker, and we're working on a casual game for Xbox and iOS called Danger Balls.

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