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Game on: English prof delves into art of indie video game creation – News@UofT

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When you play a video game, do you ever stop to think about the work, time and energy that went into creating it? In some cases, a game takes years of imagining, creating, developing and fine-tuning.

Adam Hammond, an associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science’s department of English sees the beauty of artistic creation in video games and believes it’s one of the most demanding and challenging art forms today.

Exploring that passion, he’s written a new book where he shadows the creator of an independent video game called JETT: The Far Shorefollowing the path from its inception to launch.

In addition to recounting the at-times tortuous 10-year development of the game, The Far Shore: Indie Games, Superbrothers, and the Making of JETT also delves into the history of independent video games and how they relate to other forms of independent art, such as music and literature.

“It’s not a ‘how to design a video game’ book,” says Hammond. “It’s more about the people and what they go through, and how the act of creating a video game is similar to the act of making any other form of art.”

Created by designer Craig Adams (a.k.a. Superbrothers) and programmer Patrick McAllister (a.k.a. Pine Scented), JETT was released in October. In the game, you’re tasked with scouting a new home for a humanoid people after they’ve destroyed their native planet. However, once on that new world, players must plan their survival while contending with the consequences of environmental destruction.

The inspiration for the book comes in two parts. The first is Hammond’s love of all things indie.

The Far Shore: Indie Games, Superbrothers, and the Making of Jett by Adam Hammond

“I’m a lifelong fan of independent music,” he says. “When I was a teenager, I was in a punk band. We believed that you have to do things yourself for them to be as ideologically pure as possible, and that any other form of creation is compromised. I never fully abandoned that thinking.”

The second source was an indie game called Sword & Sorcery, released in 2011 by Superbrothers. This music-inspired cosmic adventure game was at the forefront of a new era of indie games, and Adams was called a visionary.

“I had heard about indie games, but I hadn’t played one that I liked,” says Hammond. “But I got obsessed with Sword & Sorcery. I don’t think I’ve ever liked a video game as much. There’s something magical about it.”

That adoration led Hammond to invite Adams to speak at one of his classes, which sparked the idea for the book.

“It was a mind-boggling experience to meet someone who I consider to be a major artist of a new form,” says Hammond. “He was telling me everything about his next project — which at the time was mostly ideas — but it was extremely interesting. I got totally sucked in.”

That was in 2013. And then for years, the game’s progress slowed to a crawl. In fact, it took another eight years of development before the game was released. Over that time, Hammond only spoke with Adams and McAllister occasionally, sometimes just once a year. There were plenty of highs and lows.

“Increasingly, the narrative was not one of, ‘Here are my amazing ideas’ but one of, ‘We don’t know how we’re ever going to finish this game,’” says Hammond.

During this long stretch, Hammond learned about the complex intricacies of video game design.

“You have to have music, visual art, moving pictures, you have to have text and you need a story,” he says.

He recalls one discussion about some of the game’s sounds, in particular sounds for “ground control” – the headquarters for people on their new planet.

“They had a spreadsheet of all the sounds they needed for ground control,” says Hammond. “For just the sound of a footstep, you have to create the sound of one person’s footstep versus another person’s because they should be different. And then you have to do the programming to make sure the right sound is triggered at the exact right time. It’s just crazy how hard it is to make a game.”

Visually, it was just as demanding.

“Imagine a space outpost where a character is walking down the hall,” says Hammond. “If the person turns around, what does it look like from that perspective? If it’s at night, how much light is coming in? What if they turn on the light? These are the things that took them years to figure out.”

Eventually, Adams and McAllister realized they needed help. They conceded they needed more people and money, so they worked with Sony and Epic Games to bring the game to fruition. At one point, Hammond guessed there were as many as 30 people working on JETT.

“That’s what it took to finish the game,” says Hammond, noting both Adams and McAllister were a little disappointed that the game took a “big business” turn and strayed somewhat from its independent roots.

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JETT has had mixed reviews since its launch, which Hammond believes speaks to its independent origins – because, like any piece of independent art, it’s not for everyone. 

“But I think it’s amazing,” says Hammond. “A lot of people are still not sure about the game, and I get that. I mean, it takes on about the heaviest themes imaginable – it’s about colonialism and environmental destruction. It’s not straightforward entertainment. But for me it couldn’t be more satisfying or timely. And I think it will find its audience eventually.”

In the meantime, Hammond feels we’re embarking on an exciting time in independent video game creation, “where new artistic possibilities are opening.”

“Now, small groups of talented people can make games just because they have something they want to express,” says Hammond.

“And I think in the next five or 10 years, we’re going to start seeing people use the form of the video game for new purposes and that’s going to be amazing.”

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Artists Invited To Enter Artwork In Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show – Osprey Observer

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Artists young and old, professional and amateur, are encouraged to enter original artwork into the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show. Your artwork is eligible to win a ribbon and cash prize.

A call to artists has been issued by the East Hillsborough Art Guild (EHAG) for the 2022 Florida Strawberry Festival Fine Art Show, which runs from Thursday, March 3 through Sunday, March 13 at the Festival Grounds in Plant City. The show will be held in the Milton E. Hull Building.

Adults are divided into professional groups (entry fee is $15) and amateur groups (entry fee is $12). Adults can enter oils, acrylics, watercolors, graphic/mixed media and sculptures. The entry fee for miniature art (2D media) and sculptures (3D art) is $12.

The youth divisions are by ages. Youth can enter oils, acrylics, watercolors, graphic/mixed media and sculptures. The entry fee is $5.

Adults can enter up to four entries, but no more than two in the same division. Youth can enter up to two entries.

Entries are eligible for substantial monetary awards. This includes $100 for the Strawberry Theme Award (an entry must include strawberries or reflect the current festival theme of ‘#1 for FUN!’). There is also $300 for Best of Show.

There are prizes for first ($150) and second ($100) place in all adult and youth divisions. Adult amateurs, miniature and sculpture entries receive $100 for first place and $75 for second. Adults who receive third and fourth place receive rosette ribbons.

For youth, first place receives $25 and second place receives $15. Entries who win third and fourth place receive a rosette ribbon. All youth participants receive participation ribbons.

Artists who do not win one of the above prizes are eligible for a Business Leaders Choice Award. Area residents can also become sponsors for the In Honor Award and select a winning artist who will receive a ribbon and $50.

Space is limited and entries are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Early entries are accepted until Friday, February 11. Artists can mail their entry form and fee to East Hillsborough Art Guild, P.O. Box 3055, Plant City, FL 33564. Artwork must be brought to the Festival Grounds on Saturday, February 19 from 12 Noon-6 p.m.

Chairperson Karen Crumley said, “Our entry day was moved to Saturday to allow easier access to more working people or parents with school age children.”

Entry forms and rules can be found at www.flstrawberryfestival.com. If you have questions, please email Crumley at kscrumley@yahoo.com or call 924-3829.

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Citi's Precious Art Collection Should Stay in Mexico, AMLO Says – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wants the extensive art collection held by Citigroup Inc.’s local unit to remain in the country as the bank exits part of its business.

The U.S. bank is preparing to sell its Mexican retail operation, known as Citibanamex, and the fate of the art and heritage pieces owned by its Fomento Cultural Banamex foundation have become the focus of debate. The institution, headquartered in an 18th century baroque palace in Mexico City’s downtown, is one of Mexico’s biggest patrons of arts and culture in the country and manages historical buildings.

“We’re talking about buildings and art collections of the best painters of Mexico and of the world,” AMLO, as the president is known, said at a press briefing on Monday, his first day back in public after recovering from Covid-19. “It’s cultural patrimony, and we’re looking for it to stay in our country.”

The sale of one of Mexico’s oldest banks is testing AMLO’s nationalist impulses since its announcement a week ago, with the president calling for the bank to be acquired by a Mexican investor. On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard proposed on Twitter that the foundation’s collection be turned over to the state, to make up for a 1990s bank bailout that saddled the federal government with debt.

Nevertheless, the president, who has directed his administration to go after tax evaders to boost budget revenue, said that his government would not try to a put a wrench in a sale that could generate a significant sum for state coffers.

“We’re going to look at the legal aspects but we do not want to create problems for the sale or create obstacles, because we want to show that in Mexico there is true rule of law and there are guarantees for investors,” he said.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Art thieves make off with sculptures from Kelowna gallery – CBC.ca

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Kelowna RCMP are investigating a brazen early morning art heist at Gallery 421 in the city’s South Pandosy district.

Gallery co-owner Ken Moen said two masked men took a crowbar to the front doors just before 2 a.m. Saturday and made off with almost $70,000 of Canadian fine art.

“It was a total of three minutes. They were in, they were out,” he said.

“All things considered, we feel fairly lucky because they did zero vandalism. We have paintings on the walls they didn’t touch. It was very targeted.”

Moen said the criminals immediately ran for the most expensive, heaviest works on display at the back of the gallery: two bronze sculptures by noted Calgary area cowboy artist Vilem Zach, each weighing about 40 kilograms.

The thieves quickly loaded up a vehicle, re-entered and snatched three smaller bronze sculptures cast by Summerland’s Michael Hermesh, three glass bowls blown by Jeff Holmwood, and two soapstone bear carvings from Vance Theoret.

“They knew what they were getting,” Moen told CBC News.  

“I think someone has a shopping list and they sent them here … somebody probably said go grab the most expensive sculptures and get in and get out.”

Moen says the bronze has little value smelted down or sold as scrap. Selling the works of art will be difficult at any Canadian galleries or auction houses.

The break and enter was caught on the gallery’s security cameras.

The RCMP are seeking information on two male suspects.

“One suspect is described as wearing a red bandana over his face, a grey tuque, grey sweater, black track pants with white pin stripes and white shoes. The second male suspect is described as wearing a mask over his face, a black hoodie, grey sweatpants and with black Adidas shoes,” said RCMP Cst. Solana Paré.
 

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