As Fox gears up to reissue their classic 90’s series, “The X-Files,” in miniseries form, the curiosity is building. The new series’ success will likely depend upon the quality of Chris Carter’s new vision and the ability of his writing and directorial staff to adapt the show and its beloved characters to the passage of time and contemporary culture. In the long run, revisiting a series that endeared an entire generation to “truth” seeking could be dangerous to the mythos of the show. If they follow in their own footsteps, without making the show seem like a rehash, this renewed “X-Files” might just keep our spines tingling and our chair-backs untouched once again.
Any return to the FBI’s oft-maligned paranormal investigation team will face stiff competition—not only from other shows, but from itself. Before lapsing into relative mediocrity during the last couple of seasons, “The X-Files” was undoubtedly the premier horror-sci-fi show on television. Since their files were closed, at least temporarily, shows like “Fringe,” “Lost,” and “Supernatural” have tried to up the weirdo quotient, but few have come anywhere near the successful level of the show. Rather, each modern paranormal drama has found greater success in specialization. “Fringe” worked best as a sci-fi thriller. “Supernatural,” which at times has arguably exceeded its vaunted predecessor, is undeniably excellent at being witty-meets-scary. But few shows could switch from funny to freaky to “monster of the week” and still maintain an engrossing story arc like Chris Carter’s little thriller that could.
An archetypal (and successful) episode of the “X-Files” was one that managed to combine creepy settings, vaguely believable yet outrageous paranormal events, and wrap up the show in a vague fashion that left the good guys (at least the main characters) alive but befuddled along with the viewers. Shows like “Pusher,” about an assassin who’s gained telepathic abilities due to a tumor and uses his ability to cause his victims to commit suicide, or “Home,” an inbred hillbilly thriller that could show the “Wrong Turn” franchise a thing or two, created a veil of plausibility that sucked us into the short-term story line without distracting us from the agents’ overarching quest.
Similar to their “motw” formula, the show also used humor sparingly to keep the fans off-guard and create fine standalone episodes. When poorly handled, especially in later seasons, some comedic-leaning episodes face-planted. But when the formula worked, the resulting shows could induce laughter and shock. During the earlier seasons there were several offerings that combined smart, scary, and amusing seamlessly. Episodes like “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” where our astute agents investigate a series of mysterious teenage deaths in a small town—with a quirky high school named Crowley High (wink wink) and a clutch of satanic teachers—or “Bad Blood” with its trailer park antics and Mulder’s disputed take on reality. Both episodes were great television that kept fans smiling and scratching their heads.
The new six episode series, which airs on January 24th 2016, will be written and directed by Chris Carter. The updated miniseries will also bring back some of the classic writers and directors from the show, including brothers Darin and Glen Morgan and James Wong (of “Saw” fame). The update will also feature, according to Carter, a broad story arc, humorous and serious “monster of the week” stories, and may (or may not) offer a satisfying conclusion to the long-winded series–depending on whether additional find are in the picture.
While the show itself won’t be a wormhole into the past, it will be curious to see what our favorite characters—including Mulder, Scully, The Smoking Man, Agent Skinner, and the Lone Gunmen—are up to in the present day. The real question is, will this “X-Files” update be lively enough to recapture both the glory of the original series and harvest a new crop of viewers who already wear the square-framed glasses of pop culture skeptics? Capturing the imaginations of a generation born of nostalgia and cynicism might be the most intangible Truth this miniseries faces.
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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