It’s May 25th the Anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s incredible knock out of Sonny Liston with a punch that left the world puzzled. This is completely unrelated to my topic today, but I would feel kind of bad if I didn’t at least mention one of my favourite moments in sporting history. It’s also the anniversary of the first Star Wars movies’ release. May has been a hectic month, we lost the great Mathmetician John Nash and his wife, whose lives where the subject of the masterpiece A Beautiful Mind in a tragic car accident. There have been a lot of things I have wanted to talk about this month but haven’t been able to find the time to thanks to my stacked schedule producing for GeekReply.
Segways are difficult.
Andy L. Kubai is a writer at GeekReply who recently posted this article. In the piece he detailed his opinions on which film franchises are being played out beyond their lifespan. It is a good list and it’s worth reading so please do check it out. As film is a big passion of mine I asked if I could write a response and here it is:
Personally, I can’t get excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens no matter how hard I try. It seems that while there are a lot of people who are very excited for the release of the film and hyping it as the second coming of Christ, I just haven’t been able to get the same feeling.
It’s not that I’m not a Star Wars fan, quite the opposite in fact.
I love Star Wars. I love Star Wars so much that I never want another film to be made.
There was a time, before The Phantom Menace, when the mere concept of a Star Wars film being bad was unfathomable. Star Wars was the only trilogy with three amazing instalments, there was no way a Star Wars film could suck. Then we got three awful Star Wars films consecutively, and each one was worse than the last.
While I’m supposed to be excited because of the lack of George Lucas directing the films the presence of J.J. Abrams makes me nauseous. The man ruined everything that made Star Trek, Star Trek by removing all of the philosophy and ideas and turning it into a dumb action movie with very little substance or character, and I certainly don’t want that for Star Wars.
I do take issue with one particular comment from Mr. Kubai however:
“But if Disney (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) can actually pull this off, we could be looking at an exciting new chapter in the Star Wars universe.”
I think you’re looking at this the wrong way. Disney is most certainly not what you should be worried about. There is a ridiculous misconception that Disney only produces children’s films and henceforth Star Wars is ruined with them. To which I have a few rebuttals:
The first is that Star Wars is a family film. It’s a film franchise that has always had a massive following of children who grew up loving the film into their adulthood. Star Wars should be kid friendly, mature certainly, but the idea that Disney would turn Star Wars into a family film, is like being afraid that there is peanut butter in your peanut butter, it was already a family film series.
There also seems to be this hugely wrong idea that Disney can’t produce darker content, which is very wrong. What a lot of people forget is that Disney is the largest film company in the world and owns other production companies. The most obvious is Pixar which releases good family films with mature content but the other one is TouchStone Pictures who have produced such films as: War Horse, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Lincoln and freaking Pirates of the Caribbean. The notion that Disney only associated with family friendly content is absurd. Disney can do dark, and it can do mature, in fact it does do it all the time.
Even the Disney animated classics are mature, they’re intended for families but at no point are they dumbed down babyish trite. Let’s not forget that LucasArts are still behind this film as well.
Disney is not the problem, and it never has been. My personal concerns for the movie are everything to do with Abrams and nothing to do with The Walt Disney Company or Lawrence Kasdan (who amazingly has signed on to write the film).
My response to the played out Franchises
While I do agree that Star Wars may be played out in that we consistently have at least some form of Star Wars content, there hasn’t actually been a live action Star Wars film in ten years.
Where I do have genuine disagreement with Mr. Kubai though is not on the topic of Star Wars, but actually his stance on a few of the film franchises he chose to include on his list. While I agree that franchises such as The Fast and the Furious should probably go (especially seeing as they are more character driven), when reading about horror franchises such as Hellraiser and Friday the 13th I found myself thinking the same thing:
These franchises haven’t been used in years.
While I understand that there was a time in which Hellraiser and Friday the 13th where played out beyond all believe. Hellraiser hasn’t had a film since 2011 (which no one saw) and has largely been out of the public eye since the 90s and Jason Vorhees hasn’t been on screen for six years, and before the failed attempt at a reboot he’d been missing for a previous six years. The last Friday the 13th was in 2009 and despite it being a financial success there was more critical acclaim for Julianna Guill’s chest and Jared Padelecki’s eight foot wide shoulders than the film itself and the franchise subsequently died.
To put it in perspective, if you’re not including the cross-over film Freddy vs. Jason there has been one Friday the 13th film in fourteen years. I don’t think the Friday the 13th series is even close to being played out. The franchise is practically dead and I don’t personally see the harm in the planned 2016 Friday the 13th film if it’s able to stand on its own and be a decent slasher film. We all know that it would never be able to capture the horror of the original Jason-less movie but I don’t necessarily think it has to. It’ll probably disappear for another six years after this one anyway.
As for Hellraiser, I would also say that whether you’re for or against it, it’s not really being played out anymore. In fact I’d argue that my native horror franchise hasn’t actually been relevant even in the UK for a very long time.
I do think that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is already being played out belong belief with subpar quality. However I think that when it comes to rebooting franchises or continuing them, I’m not always against it if they can do something different.
I would welcome a reboot of The Never Ending Story as the film never made full use of the book and left out the entire second half of the story, but I cringe at the mere mention of a Back to the Future reboot. I think personal preference will always be the main factor though. Some people may love rebooted franchise or long running franchise others may not.
I don’t necessarily think that Mr. Kubai is wrong as he does raise some arguments for why some franchises should stay, however I think a lot of the franchises that we often think of as being played out are more present in our memory, than they are in reality.
Gaming models are created by Auctoria using generative AI
Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Polish VR game developer Carbon Studio, noticed a major problem in modern game design several years ago. He manually created rocks, hills, paths, and other video game environment elements, which was time-consuming and laborious.
Caban created tech to automate the process.
In collaboration with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając, Karolina Koszuta, and Błażej Szaflik, he founded Auctoria, an AI-powered platform for creating 3D game assets. Auctoria, from Gliwice, Poland, is in Startup Battlefield 200 at Disrupt 2023.
Auctoria was founded on a passion for limitless creativity, according to Zając in an email interview. It was designed to help game developers, but anyone can use it. Few advanced tools exist for professionals; most are for hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”
Using generative AI, Auctoria creates various video game models. One feature generates basic 3D game levels with pathways, while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D versions.
Like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Auctoria can generate assets from text prompts. Or they can submit a sketch, which the platform will try to turn into a digital model.
All AI algorithms and training data for Auctoria were developed in-house, according to Zając.
She said “Auctoria is based 100% on our content, so we’re not dependent on any other provider.” It’s independent—Auctoria doesn’t use open source or external engines.
In the emerging market for AI game asset generation tools, Auctoria isn’t alone. The 3DFY, Scenario, Kaedim, Mirage, and Hypothetic startups create 3D models. Even Nvidia and Autodesk are entering the space with apps like Get3D, which converts images to 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.
Meta also tried tech to create 3D assets from prompts. In December, OpenAI released Point-E, an AI that synthesizes 3D models for 3D printing, game design, and animation.
Given the size of the opportunity, the race to market new solutions isn’t surprising. According to Proficient Market Insights, 3D models could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.
According to Zając, Auctoria’s two-year R&D cycle has led to a more robust and comprehensive toolset than rivals.
“Currently, AI-based software is lacking for creating complete 3D world models,” Zając stated. “3D editors and plugins offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, giving us a ready-to-use product.”
Auctoria, like all generative AI startups, must deal with AI-generated media legal issues. Not yet clear how AI-generated works can be copyrighted in the U.S.
However, the Auctoria team of seven employees and five co-founders is delaying answering those questions. Instead, they’re piloting the tooling with game development studios like Caban’s Carbon Studio.
Before releasing Auctoria in the coming months, the company hopes to raise $5 million to “speed up the process” of creating back-end cloud services to scale the platform.
Zając stated that the funding would reduce the computing time required for creating worlds or 3D models with Auctoria. Achieving a software-as-a-service model requires both infrastructure and user experience enhancements, such as a simple UI, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. We’ll keep our core team small, but we’ll hire more by year’s end.”
Syphon Filter on PlayStation Plus Premium: Dark Mirror and Ape Academy 2 Have Awards
Even though trophy support for older games on PS Plus Premium isn’t always great, you can always count on Sony’s first-party games to have it.If you like collecting these digital trinkets, you’re in luck, because today’s big PlayStation Plus update includes two classic games that can now be used to earn Trophies.
Each trophy list for Ape Academy 2 and Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror includes the platinum cherry on top. You can look at their respective listings here and here if you’re interested.
The list for Dark Mirror appears to be quite simple—you can basically earn them all by finishing the game. The trophies in Ape Academy 2 appear to be a little more complicated, requiring you to complete particular objectives in card battles and advance to specified rankings. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem too difficult, so we’re looking at a couple of quite simple platinums.
Ridge Racer: Type 4 is this month’s other premium classic game; sadly, it does not offer trophies. But it makes up for it by being a complete banger.
However, will you be obtaining some of these trophies with a nostalgic flavor?
Beautiful New Book Teaches About the Art of Horizon Forbidden West
This year, Sony produced some truly outstanding work, releasing four high-profile games on the PS5 and PS4 (not to mention the numerous PC ports). The earliest of these, Horizon Forbidden West, arrived in February of 2022 and got the year off to a strong start. One of Aloy’s sophomore journey’s greatest strengths, among the many other things we like about it, is its excellent art direction. The Art of Horizon Forbidden West allows you to now delve deeply into the game’s visuals.
This coffee table book, which was published by Dark Horse Books, contains 200 pages of concept art and developer commentary. It provides an inside look at the process used to develop engaging characters and settings, and Forbidden West is certainly not lacking in either.
There will be two editions of the book: standard and deluxe. Both are hardback books, with the deluxe edition having pages with metallic edges and a unique slipcase. These are now up for pre-order and will go on sale on April 25, 2023.
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