Wednesday, October 29, 2008

4 Flash Games to Help Educate Your Kids

via Geekdad

"There are possibly millions of flash-based games out there. And, this short list is a way of sharing a few, but also putting the call out to GeekDad readers. What flash games do you play with your children? What do they learn from them? What games have had to be banned – for their sheer addictiveness?"

Here are the 4 games they're offering up (I've included their descriptions as well). The games all think outside the box...not sure if they'll make your kids smarter. A handful include open-ended play, which is plus.

This art-based game is beautiful. It allows you to explore shape, and more beautiful in its open-ended style that allows you to play and create amazing images forever. A series of bubbles follow the mouse in very subtle ways, in the beginning it is a little slow, so may be difficult to hold children’s attention. But, there are ample buttons to click and options to try. And, you can save the final results as a jpg file.

Thinking Machine 4
Ok, it is chess. But, this isn’t just another chess game. When the computer has its turn it begins graphically representing all the possibilities before it. What results is an amazing pictorial representation of the thousands of options a computer considers before making a move. It looks pretty, in fact, it may be a ruse to distract you from concentrating on your next move.

Falling Sand
This is possibly one of the ultimate flash games. It has appeared in a couple of different forms, but what is nice is that it challenges the concept that people need an end goal, or a points tally to make the game enjoyable and addictive. Using a suite of simple tools you can stop the falling materials, change thgeir direction, gather them up, plant algae in the water and watch it spread, set the oil on fire and watch it burn. The possibilities are endless. It is great for primary aged children to explore a whole range of concepts in simple ways from volume to through to gravity.

Physics Invaders
Suggested by a GeekDad contributor (thanks Matt), here we have space invaders turned even more geek by the fact true principles of physics apply. Rather than exploding, aliens bump and plummet into each other and it takes some effort to push them out of the way. This version of the classic game is also set up to be a bit easier, so even pre-school aged children will enjoy the aliens flying and bumping all over the place – just as Newton theorised.

No Color

My pal, Cecile, from Paris shared this site with me this morning. I am a big fan of using color only when needed - or just black, gray and white. Check out this No Color site.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gorillaz Animatics

I just found these animatics over at Flooby Nooby. I've mimicked a similar layout here:

Dirty Harry

watch the final video


watch the final video

A couple things struck me when I watched these animatics, already familiar with the videos. First of all, wow! Very detailed, especially when you realize that the final versions don't quite match up shot for shot. It's almost as if they were created to inspire the final versions. Even in pencil, they're pretty amazing to watch. I can only imagine having the luxury to work so purposefully on something that's at a very early stage in the process.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Chestnut Tree

Here is a charming animated film by Hyun-min Lee. I couldn't find out much about it besides the information located at the Picnic Pictures website. The simplicity is moving and reminds me of what we often aspire to create with our Peter Reynold's inspired films. It's not all that dissimilar from Someday, really. After a previous post focusing on good sound design, this shows you just how much well-crafted animation can play a dominant roll. The music reinforces the mood and pacing, but you could follow and appreciate it without any sound at all. The narrative is entirely visual. But the music enhances it, and definitely influenced the storyboarding decisions. Because the movement is choreographed like a dance.

via Flooby Nooby

UPDATE: I noticed the original embed was taken down. I found it again at another YouTube url.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good sound design and cheesy pants

Via Cold Hard Flash:
For Fremantle’s (American Idol) web and mobile channel Atomic Wedgie, Camp Chaos’ Bob Cesca has embarked on a new animated series. It’s titled Unga Bunga Banana, and it stars “a weird antagonistic critter with big goggles who loves to wreck havoc wherever he goes.” Cesca created the series along with John Christian Plummer, and then he invited two of my favorite artists to join him in the production. Bob directed the series with Anton Bogaty who also animated the series. Both Bogaty and Joel Trussell helped Cesca with character design. The first episode, which you can see below, is titled Cheese Pants.

Via me:
I truly believe this is a great example of strong sound design. Watch how fast the animation goes by and notice how the sounds make it believable. Oh and, of course, the visuals are really fun to look at too. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I ♥ Richard McGuire's New Yorker Cover

This gem of political illustration was in my mailbox today. You try to mash together 4 characters at once! They fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And it's funny! His work has graced the cover of the New Yorker several times (view them here).

Richard McGuire is easily one of my favorite artists. His work is always identifiable, but it's his thought process that comes through, more than a "style." He has a way of working with forms and space that is for lack of a better word, clever. Those of you who aren't familiar with his editorial work might recognize this fella from PBS Kids. He has a bunch of great children's books as well, including What's Wrong with This Book? He's also a great comic artist.

If you don't know his work by now, I highly encourage you to get to know him. There are all sorts of pearls of wisdom and ingenuity in his imagery.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Content-Aware Scaling is here

Adobe Photoshop CS4 was released today, and everyone is chattering about what's called content-aware scaling. It's probably the most "everyone gather around the computer and check this out" feature they've added in awhile, allowing you resize an image without distorting key content. The Linda video above demonstrates how easy it is to transform a landscape image into a vertical image, without anyone knowing the wiser. Both scary and cool. It also shows where the technology doesn't work. Here's another video by Russel Brown of Adobe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

World of Goo

For all the hype behind a behemoth of a game like Spore (2+ years of hype and delay!), this little game may come out of nowhere and steal some of the thunder for best game of the year. Enter World of Goo, a new puzzle game due out in a week (October 13) for WiiWare and PC that brings something entirely fun and new to the genre of puzzle games. From what I can gather so far, you basically form bonds to build structures out of blobs of Goo.

Here's an early review delivering a ton of praise.

Here's a link to a handful of video clips from IGN.

And here's the link the official website (check out the blog for info and updates).

There's much to look forward to here! Best of all, it shows how innovative indie-gaming studios have the potential to break through.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Google 2001

Google just made available a searchable archive of the internet from 2001 for it's birthday. Click here for all the fun! If you find a site you want to visit, just click on link to view it in the Internet Archive. I tried searching for a lot of people in the company, and your websites are mysteriously missing. FableVision and Cosmic Blender were still in existence, however. So I traveled back in time and grabbed these snapshots. You can't escape your past! The internet has a memory :)

FableVision 2001

Cosmic Blender 2001