Sunday, 14 June 2015

Billy and the Cloneasaurus

When I was a child, I was captivated by a unique theme-park. What made this park unique, you ask? The attractions. It wasn't your traditional theme-park with rollercoasters, waltzers, and bumper carts, no; this park had dinosaurs! I know you know which park I'm talking about!

Alton Towers.
I cannot tell you just how many times I watched Jurassic Park growing up, I think it was my most watched movie ever until I discovered The Godfather movies. It was this movie alone that embedded a life-long fascination with dinosaurs within me.
Over the years, the film received two sequels. One I found hugely enjoyable, and one that... well, let's just not.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park, I've never had an issue with, I very much enjoyed it growing up. I thought it was a good sequel with many enthralling sequences (the hunters chasing the herbivores for example; outstanding!), though there were parts which could, and probably should have been omitted.
The third movie, I know I'm not alone in my dislike for. If it's on TV, I'm fine with sitting down and watching it if there's nothing else on, but they messed up so badly. It seems that a common complaint is the communication between raptors, but I never really had an issue with that. I love the raptors. Hell, I wasn't even that upset about the Spinosaurus killing off the Tyrannosaur, though I would've liked for the Rex to live. My main issues with the movie were the humans, and the plot. It didn't even really have a proper ending. It just sort of ended. The Spinosaur ran off, the raptors ran off, the surviving people ran to the beach. "YAY RESCUE!", roll credits. Alan Grant is a fine character, Sam Neill a fine actor. I feel like they were both wasted assets in JPIII.

"Wait, remind me, why did I agree to do this?"
Anyway, enough of that, I'm sure you're aware that recently a fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise was released to the world. Yesterday morning, I was first in line, and first to find my seat in the cinema. Words cannot express how hyped up I had become. I often try to avoid any hype because surely you're setting yourself up for disappointment, but with this movie, I couldn't help it. The trailers, the recently released soundtrack on Spotify, I had to see this movie.

I was in awe throughout the entire 124 minutes. I'm sure I had a smile on my face the entire time. It was just something to see John Hammond's dream fully realised, and completely operational, until, of course, it wasn't. The instantly recognisable themetune of Jurassic Park playing as we pan over the crowded Jurassic World gave me goosebumps. I was overwhelmed by the music, the visuals, the nostalgia. This entire movie experience is something that I'll remember whenever I rewatch it.

Jurassic World has a healthy dose of references to the previous movies, including what appears to be a cheeky 'fuck you' to a certain Jurassic Park III moment, and it was so brilliant to see the queen of Isla Nublar once again. Naturally, the film contained a number of references to the first park, as it takes place on the exact same island some 22 years later. I don't doubt that fans will probably notice even more 'easter-eggs' during rewatches; something that I'm looking forward to.

Jurassic World should definitely be seen as a direct sequel to Jurassic Park rather than JPIII, which is why I'm glad they named it as they have, rather than Jurassic Park IV.
I recently read a post by a Redditor who described Jurassic World as the second quest of a main storyline, whereas The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park III are the side-quests. I love that, I think it sums it up perfectly.

Speaking of games, we definitely need an Operation Genesis sequel. ...Please?
Like all movies, there were a few inconsistencies and low points, but I feel like they are easily forgivable. Though there was a particular moment towards the end that I think should have gone differently, it just kind of stuck out to me. You'll probably know which part I'm referring to when you see it.
The older brother initially bothered me as well. He seemed like a stereotypical teenage character. Disinterested in the world around him, a bit moody, always on his phone. I don't care how many times you've seen a dinosaur, who the Hell spends their entire time on their phone when you're surrounded by these creatures?! It's fine though, that doesn't last too long. Once he and his brother see the Mosasaur, he starts to enjoy the park.

Whenever a Jurassic Park movie is revealed, there are always people on the internet moaning about the way the featured dinosaurs look; how they should have feathers, and all that kind of crap. C'mon, people, it's a film, it doesn't have to be 100% realistic.
In Jurassic World, Henry Wu (the chief geneticist for InGen) finally defends the animals' appearance in this series. He explicitly states that these creatures are genetically modified species, they can be made to look however the geneticists want, and if they actually went ahead and created them realistically, they wouldn't look anything like what they do presently. I am so pleased this moment was included.

You are aware this is a work of fiction, right, guys?
Jurassic World doesn't directly set up a sequel, though it does plant the seeds for one. I think it appears to be fairly obvious which direction they want to take the franchise if they do go ahead with another film, and to be honest, I'm a little worried about it, but hey, that worry is for another time. As it stands, Jurassic World was a tremendous success in my eyes. The 'professional' critics can say what they want. They can bitch about the plot, focus on the few minor inconsistencies, but who gives a shit? I think the fans of the Jurassic Park universe will love this worthy sequel.

I would have loved to see a mid-credits scene of Ian Malcolm or Alan Grant watching a news report about the incident at Jurassic World and just face-palming, or shaking their head like they expected this kind of thing to happen.

To wrap this up, I cannot recommend this film highly enough to the fans of the original movie. I hope to go see JW a second time within the week. Let's see if I love it as much as I do after a second viewing.

Hard Boiled Fury - The GDB TTG Success Story

Last Thursday morning to Friday afternoon, I took part in Hull University's Windows 10 Three Thing Game. In TTG events, each team is allocated three words, then given 24 hours to produce a playable game in accordance with those words. They are always enjoyable, and I encourage everybody to take part if they have the chance to.

My team and I (The Game Dev Bastards Brothers) were given the words 'Food', 'Much', and 'Many', so naturally, we based our game around food, a lot of food. We began by throwing out a few ideas as to what our game could involve. Ultimately, we decided to go with a Worms based game.

The time had come; Windows 10 was installed on the computers, Unity 5 ready to go, and a hoard of junk food purchased, so much junk food! So much so that our given words could be applied to our supply.

We decided that the game world, as well as weapons, and characters should all be based around food. Machine guns we called 'Peppersprays' (guess what they fired), pineapple grenades, banana-bombs. Currently, the only playable food character is an egg (Frank Reynolds would be so pleased), though if the production continues, more will be added. During the 24 hours, we only managed to include a single level; a candy world, lollipops, candy canes, a custard river. The platform itself was made up of cake blocks with pink frosting.

Over the course of production, we found ourselves repeatedly playing the game just because of how fun it was already. Bare-bones in terms of gameplay, but it was still very enjoyable.

Once the 24 hours were up, it was time for everybody to go around and try out the other teams' games. Frig me, there were some hugely impressive games, amazing work. The judging panel also went around testing out games for themselves. Thankfully, they seemed to enjoy our game.

Time and voting past, we all made our way to a lecture theatre for the results. Amazing, our team was in the top six! I've never placed in the top teams in a game-jam / TTG before. So happy. Finally, after the top six finalists were announced, it was time to reveal who made it to the top three. Oh, shit me! I can't believe it, we actually made it to second place! For the first time ever, I've been in a team that placed in both the top six finalists, and the top three! What an outcome. I'm so happy.
The team that won first place (and a pair of XBox Onesies) were very deserving winners; they had a game that looked hugely impressive that I hope they publish.
In my opinion, the top three (and six) places could've included any of the games produced this year, it must've been extremely difficult to judge.

I'm looking forward to working with the people in my team again soon. Cambridge is coming up next, let's hope we achieve success there as well.

I'll leave you with a video demonstration of our game (which will explain the gameplay mechanics so much more than I have in this post), narrated by the brilliant Sam Spain(.com):