Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Check This Out: I went to Bradford Animation Festival

This year I and the rest of my class were treated to tickets to all of the shows going on at the first two days of the Bradford Animation Festival. The first two days (10-11th of nov.) focused on the topic of Video Games and thier development, the line up had a fair few confrences and showcases lined up aswell as some interesting entertainment in the evening including a performance from Pixelh8 and Big screen gaming.

My expectations of the festival were generally non-exsitant as I had no preconceptions of what it was going to be like. I had previously been to the Eurogamer Expo, but I knew that this was going to be very different off the bat. When we arrived at the National Media Museum (formerly the National Film, Photography & Television Museum) we were informed that several events including Pixelh8's performance had been cancelled or that they had either been replaced by something less interesting. This did put a serious dent into my expectations of the festival as I immediately thought that it was poorly organised because of this.

The line up for the two days seemed very interesting but the cancelations made an impact on this. The first confereance of the day was presented by animation studio "Amanita Design" who were talking about both themselves and the production of their new game "Machinarium". The game was in the style of point and click adventure where in the player controls a small robot on his mission to stop the black cap gang from over throughing the mayor of robot town and save his girlfriend. For the first time in a long while I was astounded by what this design studio had done, the main feature of Machinarium was that the whole thing is made up of traditional drawn elements. The background and characters all stem from pieces of artwork drawn by hand and then scanned into the computer, from there it's all animated and put together with coding. Another interesting part of the whole presentation was how the composer created the music for the game.

The next interesting conference was presented by UK games developer Team 17, most famously known for creating the much loved Worms series of video games, they were presenting their new game which is a remake of an older IP (Interlectual Property) "Alien Breed: Evolution". It was interesting to see how they had used the Unreal Engine (which is usually used to render first and third person genre games) to render a top down arcade style shooter. It was also insightful to see how a slightly more professional studio works as opposed to the indy developers Amanita Design work.

A really interesting talk came at the end of the day when Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Gamesworkshop and Product Acquisition Director of the videogame developers Edios Interactive. Livingstone talk through a little of his own history and largely about the videogame series Tomb Raider (Eidos' most notable IP). The overall conferance was very charming and we were even treated to a clip of the Tomb Raider Album which was written during it's big popularity boom in the late 90s. Overall the first day was fun and full of interesting conferances with many opertunities to ask questions straight to the presenters.

In the evening I attended the Bigscreen gaming which was alot of fun. Essentially it was playing videogames on a cinema screen and I have to admit that The Beatles: Rockband has never been the same for me since playing it there. The festival was also holding a competition where the highest scorer would win a prize, through being the only person brave enough to play vocals and get 100% on hard on the song "Hello, Goodbye" I ended up winning a very cool prize, the Sony Eyepet. I also some how managed to attract some Rockband Groupies, unfortunately after three songs the crowd opted to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 instead and I suddenly became very uninterested by a generic first person shooter. Winning a prize did make up for Pixelh8's cancellation though.

(My prize...unfortunately I don't Own a Playstation 3.)

On the second day I found that many of the conferances were not geared towards my interests and not as insightful as the previous day's as it was also full of cancellations with replacesments which did not seem as good. Two did stand out the first being Fluid Pixel, a games design company who specialised with creating Mobile phone videogames were trying to set out to create a brand with one of their products ranging over a selection of medias, it was nice to see and small based company try establish a brand but I felt their brand was a little lost but nonetheless could appeal to younger audiences. The second that stood out was a presentation by the creator of the Broken Sword series of point and click adventure video games, Charles Cecil. The presentation talked about the re-release of the original game "Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars" and how it was created using low poly count 3-d models with cel shading to re-create the drawn look of the original. Over all it was quite engaging to see how companies re-invent previous installments.

The overall festival was enjoyable with the most memorable events happeneing on the first day as opposed to the lackluster second day, with many cancelations happening across the event in general it did bring the excitement down aswell as regards to the levels of management. The bonus of winning a prize was quite good aswell. Overall an enjoyable experience, hopefully next years will be a little more organised.

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