Weekly Update

Writing – Despite traveling this weekend, I managed to finish revising chapter 3 of my novel as I planned. Huzzah! Chapter 4 I hope to finish in a week or so. It’s shorter and doesn’t have as many problems. After that, I’ll be in the messy center. >_< I also worked a little on the Speech Therapy script for Foodfight! vs Elysium and finished editing a novel for someone through Critters, ending about a six-week-long project.

RPS Wars – I have RPS Wars’ basic playing field, characters, and game mechanics setup in Unity. Rock, paper, and scissor army members are randomly placed on the playing field at the start of the game, the soldiers move randomly, and on collision, they disappear/die based on the rules of Rock Paper Scissors. The user can also select soldiers and order them to attack other soldiers. I still need to come up with camera controls, a HUD, and Pause and Start menus before I delve into its more advanced artificial intelligence aspects, but it’s coming along fast for spending less than eight hours on it.

Programming Project – I got hired by the co-founder of the company I used to work for to develop a small PDF splitting application for the company he works for. I’ll be focusing on that for a couple weeks, which means Speech Therapy and RPS Wars at least will be placed on hold temporarily. Work on The Twelfth Hour will continue as planned. I’m finishing it no matter what!

Unsolicited Comment: Why Are Animated Films Cartoony Nowadays?

In this video, AniMat explains how he believes family movies also suffer from experimentation in the young art form of full-CGI, feature-length films. The latest trend in family movies has been to create what he calls “cartoony movies” instead of “animated films.” He claims that cartoony movies try to mimic seven-minute-long skit cartoons from the 1930s and 40s. Cartoony movies focus on animation, visuals, humor, and pop culture references over the script while animated films focus on the script.

I’m not sure about his cartoony movie category. For one, what could be placed in this category is as open to interpretation as what makes a movie bad. AniMat classifies Angry Birds as cartoony, but considering that Stefan Molyneux defended Angry Birds as a metaphor for today’s political climate, it could just as easily be an animated film. While it has pop culture references, its script apparently has a meaningful message. AniMat classifies Sausage Party as an animated film, but his own viewers place it in the cartoony category. And while AniMat praises Zootopia as an animated film, it’s also a formulaic Disney film in part powered by Frozen references and clichés.

Second, most of the films AniMat cites as cartoony are sequels, based on pre-existing franchises, or rip-offs. Even the films not easily classified as one of these are in an oversaturated market where everything looks like everything else. I’d say these films are bad, not because they’re experimenting, but because they rely too heavily on their audience’s knowledge of the world and characters, rely too heavily on current trends and pop culture, or don’t understand what made the base material they’re copying popular. The sequel trend isn’t unique to CGI movies. It’s a trend in many movies, franchises, and video games these days because of the economic climate. It’s easier to get an audience from a pre-existing fan base than to attract a new audience to an original concept. If these films really wanted to take risks and experiment, then they would get out of the family movie market.

Overall, I’m just not sure why these animated films need different labels for movies with “good” scripts and movies with “bad” scripts.

Unsolicited Comment: The Definition of “Style Over Substance”

I rediscovered Red Letter Media recently. In one of their recent episodes, Jay defines “style over substance,” something that I assumed I knew what people meant when they said it and never thought to formally define. “Style over substance,” according to Jay, means the way the story is told makes a simple story interesting, or more simply, “style over substance” is filmmaking.

I’ve always thought of “style over substance” meaning purposeless action scenes that mean nothing to the characters, films with artistic styles that detract from or don’t compliment the story, or films that look cool but don’t have a thoughtful take-away message. It’s a phrase I’ve fought against a lot recently in my defense of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which is accused of being all these things. Jay’s definition just gave me a different way to look at the phrase.

Essentially, when people use “style over substance” with Jay’s definition, they’re saying a story is so simple that the way it’s told is the only reason it’s interesting. Probably any story out there, however, could be condensed into a single sentence and claimed to be simple. “A boy becomes a man,” “a man rediscovers his identity,” “a girl embraces her destiny”: these are all stories that could be horribly boring or enthralling, depending on the world and characters it’s told with and the skill of the author(s). The way any story is told is exactly what makes it interesting in any storytelling medium. “Style over substance” is storytelling.

What I’m saying is, if you’ve ever used this phrase in this context with Advent Children… you’re an idiot. 😛

Weekly Update

Programming – I finished fixing the code that controls the camera and control scheme in Team KAIZEN’s 3D fighter game Shattered Soul! Perhaps Josh will post a new video soon to show off the latest version, but until then, rest assured the camera no longer snaps and spins around, and the control inversion matches the side of the screen the player is on. While I’m waiting for more work to do, I decided to resurrect my artificial intelligence simulation/RTS game RPS Wars to get more practice with the Unity game engine. Soon you won’t have to have a Linux Red Hat Server to play it!

Writing – I made it 2/3 of the way through Chapter 3 of The Twelfth Hour this week. I have a fairly large section to rewrite though, so no guarantee I’ll get to the end of the chapter by the end of next week yet. I’ve also begun writing scripts for new episodes of Speech Therapy where I’ll compare one of my favorite terrible CGI movies Elysium to Foodfight!. Which film is worse? You’ll soon find out.

Other – I reorganized the website’s menu slightly. The link to the page with all my CGI movie analyses, one of the main things I do these days, seemed buried in one too many menus. So now it has its own tab for all to see!