Behind The Bullet

Behind The Bullet was originally a Killzone 2 commercial that evolved into a 4-dimensional information-loaded video clip. It’s as cool as it sounds. It’s available for download on the Playstation Store as a game, and reasonably so.

The premise is that of following the flight of a bullet fired from the gun of a soldier as it flies across a battlefield and hits the enemy commander. This is very cool to watch in it’s own right, even the music is once again superb, just like the choice of the Flower Duet song for the reviews trailer.

This gets even better with the addition of changing the speed at which the clip is played, the angle, the stage of production you are looking at and even the commentary you are listening to. There are even hidden details like someone getting shot or an explosion that you would normally miss if you could not pause it and look around.

An aforementioned feature is the production stages mode, in which you can flip through all the different levels at which the movie was made and rendered. There’s a shadow/lighting layer, a distance layer and more. It also includes letting you change how much of the screen is stripped away, letting you compare things.

Commentary was also mentioned earlier, with the voices of the director, lead tech and others all providing background on the clip and pointing out particular features. They are attached to the time on the commercial, not from when they are activated, so you won’t have to restart BTB on order to hear it all.

This was a joy to watch and showcased some new graphics and rendering techniques not used in the game. The original advert is below.

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London Garden

This is a really interesting concept that I trawled out of the Internet one day: a portion of London with no cars.

There are buses and public bikes but that’s it. The buses are really cool, being predominantly see-through and futuristic, but the really good stuff has to do with the bike. It consists of two hub-less wheels connected to a generator/pedals/handles bit in the center. More on the generator in a bit.

The wheels fold in across the bike on either side, turning it into an easily stored disc. The folded bikes can be put in a public bike repository that’s shaped like a tree (bikes in branches) to prevent vandalism.

The generator serves a very cool purpose – it replaces a bus fee. If you charge up the generator sufficiently by using the bike normally, you can fold the bike, hop on a bus, dock the bike in a special hole in the floor and the bus uses the electricity as your fare.

The bus stops are designed to take renewable energy from as many different sources as possible. The aforementioned ‘bike tree’ forms a part of the stop and harvests energy from the moving of the ‘branches’ in the wind. A roof over the bus stop has solar panels embedded in it, and it is funneled inwards to harvest energy from water.

I’m not too sure how the last function works, but I think it’s similar to the little water-powered clocks you can buy as kits, only on a larger scale. All of this is put into London’s power grid and used by other things.

This concept recently won the Seymour Powell award as part of their ‘Future City Mobility’ competition. This is really well designed and these people deserved their prize. Pictures below.

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince

Yesterday I watched Snape Kills Dumbledore: The Movie, the newest movie rendition of J.K.’s much-loved and -abused series. It’s unfortunately shallow and not fun to watch, as much of the original plot is bulldozed to make way for the WB executives’ idea of the books.

Many things that did not happen in the book were shoehorned in (The Burrow catching fire, romantic relationships developing early, Harry like trains) and things that did, didn’t. Watching the movie of a book also spoils the images that you have of the characters.

Granted, there’s not much difference between what you imagined Harry to look like and Daniel Radcliffe, but Dumbledore was younger for me and Hagrid was bald. The movie’s carefully market-balanced character appearances ruin the fun of creating them in your head.

I had no desire to see this movie, and would not have if the tickets weren’t purchased before I let the purchaser know that I didn’t want to go. It’s killed part of my childhood by another one-seventh and I will refuse to let go of the last bit unless someone threatens me with the Elder Wand.

Argh! It Burns!

Argh! It Burns!

Off Hiatus

Sorry for the approx. month-long hiatus – school has started and I have also recently been ill with flu (not swine flu, just a flu) and a gastrointestinal bug. A lot of stuff has gone by, including the sixth Harry Potter movie, the Ghostbusters game, the London Garden project and more. To start with, I am co-authoring a new blog, called Sheldon Is Our Homeboy and It’s all about a character from a TV show. Head over there for more. It’s not really my idea and I’m taking care of housekeeping more than anything else, but it’s mildly fun.

Infamous

InFamous in fact deserves a lot more praise than my original scathing review. Having mastered the steep learning curve (my only major beef) the game becomes fun and enjoyable to play.

It’s like Assasin’s Creed with Mirror’s Edge’s ‘flowing parkour’ style, plus superpowers. Combat is repetitive after a while with no cool tricks to do in the beginning, but this is quickly remedied as sticky electro-grenades, static gliding and other powers are unlocked.

The story takes 2 branches depending on whether you make ‘good’ or ‘bad’ karma decisions. These come in the form of choosing to steal supplies or earn them, stop a riot or inflame it and many more. Often the ‘good’ decisions come with an associated cost, such as a harder time winning a battle, or your objective is better guarded.

The karma system also affects what powers you develop. ‘Good’ karma develops powers that restrain and incapacitate the enemy quickly, while ‘bad’ karma comes with highly destructive and indiscriminate powers.

Moving around the city is fun and easy, especially if you have prior experience with Mirror’s Edge. The predisposition to find faster ways of getting around helps a lot.

The main character is a bicycle courier called Cole who is asked to deliver a package that blows up en-route. when he comes round, he is in the middle of a blast crater with new-found superpowers. Soon after, a plague hits the city and a quarantine goes up.

He then makes contact with a federal agent on the other side of the quarantine who tasks him with finding her husband, another agent who was investigating a terrorist ring who were making a biological weapon that is likely to be what you were delivering.

This game is very good once you learn the in-and-outs, and I cannot stop playing. It’s very addictive.

Ice Age 3

Stared at a screen for 1-2 hours today while Ice Age 3 played on it. The entire thing comes off as stale, marketing-centered and underdeveloped.
The main idea is that our intrepid heroes (A brainless sloth, an aging saber-tooth tiger, a pregnant mammoth and her over-protective mate plus two perpetually-high rodent things) discover a tropical world underneath the perma-frost populated by DINOSAURS.
Yes, dinosaurs. In a period when every one of them died out when a great big rock hit the earth millions of years ago, there are dinosaurs underneath the earth.
After searching for their lost friend, they come across an insane one-eyed weasel, who is a better character than many of the others. He helps them rescue their friend, then is enlightened about the value of friendship, love and family. He deliberates about whether to join the others on the surface above, but declines and goes back to the jungle to fight an albino T-rex.
Does anyone think about what they are creating? Why did this plot come to the screen? Someone needs to think harder before approving scripts.

Happy Birthday To Meeee…

It’s my birthday today, a big thank-you to my family for all the crap from me they have put up with for years. I have had a wonderful day, and will be reviewing the games Orange Box, InFamous (properly) and the Disney-approved kiddy slush movie Ice Age 3.