LIMBO: Review

 

LIMBO is one of the most special games I have ever played.

I wanted to write up a quick review for this game despite it being about a year out of date; but recently the title became available on Steam and so I’ve finally had a chance to play this game after waiting for ages.

In short, LIMBO is a platforming and puzzle solving game with a stunning art style. You play as a nameless boy who has just awoken in Limbo (otherwise known as the edge of Hell) and to say anything else of the plot would ruin it for you. Though, that said the game is minimal in every regard, including the enigmatic plot.

LIMBO is a great example of visceral storytelling and the mute protagonist reflects perfectly, the world of barren despair and death which you traverse. This game world is a punishing one; you will die often – the developers coined LIMBO ‘- a trial and death game’. But that’s fine, the puzzles escalate to an almost punishing level by the end but once you come to the solution you might kick yourself that you did not realise it sooner. LIMBO’s gameplay is roughly 70 percent reliant on these puzzles and so it is testament to the level designers at Playdead studios that their puzzles can be only slightly frustrating but always solvable without guides. I had to only quit the game once when I was stuck on a puzzle, but after stepping away and coming back to it I worked out the solution.

I finished LIMBO in  3 sittings, and for a game that took me about 4/5 hours to complete that should reflect the addictive nature of LIMBO’s gameplay and immersive gameworld. But whatever you do, don’t be put off by the short campaign length. There’s no multiplayer but I am already excited to replay LIMBO, it is the perfect length for a game as avant guard as it is.

I must not finish without talking about the game’s stunning art direction. I have played many beautiful, cinematic games with Shadow of the Colossus being my other most notable choice for amazing art in a game. However LIMBO is completely unique and instead of being grand and epic, it is suitable poignant and minimal through it’s clever use of black and white, the dusty vignette and the constantly flickering light sources, a reminder of lights preciousness and frailty.

Overall I could not recommend this game more. It’s beautiful, addictive and totally unique.

I don’t review games enough to give it a numeric score but this is my final word on LIMBO.

Buy. This. Game. 

LIMBO is available of XBL, PSN and Steam. 

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Don’t Be Creative, Be Passionate

Now, don’t take the title too literally but consider this. Don’t come up with ideas because they are different, nurture them because they matter.

Hey Guys,

I hope everyone is having a good Monday, I wanted to write a post today for people who work in creative fields. Followers of this blog will know I’m a student, and so perhaps speak with a certain sense of optimism, but I feel my point here today is applicable to anyone looking to develop any kind of creative work.

This idea came to me yesterday, when after spending the weekend working on a couple of separate projects, I ditched them. I realised that I didn’t really care about these ideas, and I was developing them as a priority above my other work because I thought they were pretty avant guarde. Except they weren’t, they were crap. One I will admit, just needs a lot more development if I’m ever even to consider picking it up again in the future, but the other one is my primary example for this post.

Flying horses. Nay. Flying Toy Horses. My idea was this: I picked up these plastic model horses about 6 months ago because I thought I could use them for a mini-project. What I eventually tried to do, was animate still images of them with the distortion pin tool on AAE; creating a super slo-mo sequence of them jumping off of stuff. I ran a couple of renders, still not 100% but prepared to keep an open mind. Yesterday I finished two test renders, they had immaculate masks and lighting effects so they look relatively believable. My animation was good too, the motion of the legs, head and neck being key to the movement of a horse. But then I watched them back, and yeah, technically they were ok, but I was hit with two thoughts. What does this mean? And Why am I doing this? 

I was doing it because no-one else had; I’d side-tracked projects that mean a lot to me because I was in a rush to stand out. That’s not how you create art, that’s how you create shite. I took a step back, saw what i was doing and abandoned the project. I’m now refocusing my efforts of two of my large projects. In particular, my dissertation project for my final year at university. It’s sometimes hard to work on because it reflects some personal memories and intimate relationships, but so far it’s coming out well and I have no doubt that when I finish it, it will be a triumph. The project is called ‘3 Hours’ and I will add a link here when I have finished rebuilding the promo page.

This post isn’t for self-promotion though, it’s a thought on how sometimes it is so tempting to try and stand out, we breach our own values of quality. Gimmicks aren’t respected and never deemed as classics. So take your time and create the fantastic, powerful work you’re capable of. Impress yourself.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

The Most Beautiful Time-Lapse Videos EVER

So I have always loved time-lapse videos, I think they’re stunning and truly reflect that if you have a patience, you can create memorable pieces of art. I actually think I might have done this post before but who cares, the game has been changed by a release this year that blew everyone else out of the water. I’m going to keep this post very short as I am very busy today; but just watch the videos, it’s half and hour well spent.

The Mountain 

The best video online right now; stunning, haunting and moving. The best of the best in my opinion.

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull

The first video I saw in like this, I love that there is motion in it too; it must have been so hard to calculate!

The Unseen Sea

A fantastic video that focuses on how clouds look during time-lapses; stunning.

Sorry this has been such a short post guys, but I’ve got stuff to do!

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Setting Up Your WordPress Blog :: The Essentials in Less Than an Hour.

Starting a WordPress blog? Read this and have your website up to par in less than an hour.

Also, this tutorial assume you already know how to make posts, pages and categories. If you don’t know how to do these things, look them up first. Here are two good places to start:

http://codex.wordpress.org/Pages

http://codex.wordpress.org/Manage_Categories_SubPanel

Hey Guys,

So recently I helped my friend out by recommending way she could tighten up her blog a bit. I thought that actually these points could help anyone starting a WordPress blog; these tips are for anyone starting to blog and who wants to start out with a base level of quality. These are very easy steps and I have images to guide you through, if you found this post helpful PLEASE show it your friends.

Hyperlink EVERYTHING

Hyper-Linking is really important because not only are you helping your readers out by saving them work, but your also sourcing content and potentially gaining referrals (when a website sees you have linked to them, and therefor link back to you).

In the image below, I have selected the only tools I use from the visual editor on the New Post screen of WordPress (the visual editor is by far easier to use for people starting out, don’t worry about the HTML one).

Click Image For Full Size

These are the only button I use, and all I think the basic blogger really needs; I won’t explain them all in detail because most of you will be familiar to most office-type document programs (For many of you this means Microsoft Word). However the WordPress interface makes it easier to hyper-link than you may be used to.

See below step-by-step instructions on hyper-linking (Image will probably have to be viewed full size as it’s very long, sorry!).

Click Image For Full Size

1) Click the icon that looks like a chain.

2) The hyper-link box appears, leave it for now.

3) Go to your desired website, select the address and click ‘copy’.

4) Right-click in the address bar and select paste (Make sure there is only one ‘http’)

5) After link is pasted just click ‘Add Link’ it’s that easy!

6) You will know your word has been linked to something if it turns purple and is under-lined (The text will also become a different colour on your blog, this depends on your blog theme).

So that’s all there is to hyper-linking; it’s quick, easy and very useful! Use it for ANYTHING that links to another web-page. It doesn’t even have to be the address itself, it can also be a single word. It is often popular to link to web-pages in these two styles:

Visit Matt Knight’s web-site.

Check out Matt Knight by clicking here.

Have A Contact Form

The internet moves fast, we don’t want to be wasting time copying email addresses and then pasting them and then… Jeez, I’m bored already!

Contact forms make it easier for your readers to contact you directly, plus it means that you don’t have to give out your email address to any potential deviants (NOTE: WordPress does not promote deviancy!).

WordPress actually offers a very comprehensive tutorial on adding contact forms, I promise that all it essentially takes is two clicks.

I just wanted to include this as a note, because it’s very tempting to just post your email address and leave it, but I promise this is a lot better way to promote contact with your readers, plus, it just plain looks better.

Read the tutorial here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact-form/

Have An About Page

You’ve heard of friendly faces right? Well you’ve probably never heard of friendly names, that’s because putting a face to a name creates another dimension to your blog, it grants it humanity.

An About page does not have to be labored over, going over each detail until it’s perfect. It needs to be short and to the point; people aren’t going to try and trip you up, usually they just want to know a little about the person who’s website they are visiting.

Below I’ve mocked up my ideal About page, there of course are a lot of variations on what you can do, but I feel these are the detail that MUST be included-add any personal flair after you’ve administered these steps.

Click Image For Full Size

The picture says it all really, but here’s a few more details.

i) The school/ organisation area is a place to ground yourself in reality, there’s no need for any real detail here.

ii) In the picture of yourself, make sure it’s you and only you. People don’t want to be trying to work out who you are from a group photo and make sure you are smiling! (If you don’t have picture of yourself anywhere else on the blog, this is a really important addition).

iii) When you add some personality to the page, keep it concise and relevant; if you blog about films say what you love about them and perhaps mention your favorites but don’t talk about directors or effects you like-this about you, not about your subject. This applies to any subject: art, culture, gaming… anything. Talk about why you’re invested in your subject area and leave it at that.

iv) ONLY list skills that employers will recognize; there is no need for school grades here. Mention things that will make people respect your opinion. The majority of you probably won’t have these (I know I don’t!) in which case just try and win over your audience with this space; just be nice.

v) You may think you’re the most original person in the world, but you’re probably not. Have a look at other blogs before adding something you think is funny and original. This isn’t a set rule, but it’s often nice to stand out if possible. For my blog I added a list of things you shouldn’t know about me, it’s a dig at myself and I hope it reflects good humour! I’m sure though you can think of much better ways to promote yourself, so experiment and be creative!

Have A Homepage Tab

By default WordPress gives you this; so don’t be stupid like I was and delete it, because you can’t get it back! However if you do, you can apply my very (un-elegant) solution. It’s straight out of the idiots guide to blogging, but it does the trick. Simply create a Category called ‘Home’, add it to your menu and and then tag EVERY post in this category. If you have a lot of posts already, just give up on them (apart from your 5 most recent) they are just lost to cyber-space, move on. As long as you remember to click this category before you publish no-one will ever know!

So, that’s it. I hope this post helped you and if the clock ran over one hour I’m sorry, but there are no refunds. If you have any questions just leave a comment on this post or of course you can message me via my contact form.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

The Balloon :: UPDATE

Hey Guys,

So I just wanted to let you know that I decided to change my approach to my current project ‘The Balloon’. You may have seen my previous post saying that I was developing ‘The Balloon’ in mind of making it a kids book; but then I though about it more. I realised if I made it into a web-comic like Diary of a Boy at Sea then things become a lot more simple.

I see it like this:

If I try and make it a kids book, am I going to go and try and get it published? No.

As a kids book, will there be a bigger work-load? Yes.

Will I have more fun drawing my own project? Yes.

Will more people be able to enjoy it as a web-comic? Yes.

Easy really huh? So that’s what’s happening now, you can see below the first page, but I won’t be posting anymore until it’s finished!

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

 

New Website Plans

Hey Guys,

Hope you’re all good; just thought I’d update you guys on some of my plans to update my website. As someone passionate about design and effective functionality, I’ve had a re-think about my portfolio site. I’ve been inspired by endlessly pouring over other designers sites, and though I am not a designer through and through, I am highly creative and I feel my website could be a little better looking.

So I drew up some very early concept images and am in talks with my amazing friend Harry Finn (Seriously, he’s a web-design guru, you might want to follow him on twitter too); he’s told me it’s possible and is hopefully going to help me through these changes.

See what I have planned below, I think it has a good balance between a clean, functional design without being to distracting. The designs (rough as they are) are mine so please don’t copy them, if you do however take inspiration from them I’d love to see how they come out!

Let me know what you think please,

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

 

Gallery Page

Single Image Page

Video Page

The Balloon

Hey Guys,

So I’m going to reveal another project I’m working on, as you might guess, it’s called ‘The Balloon’. 

So, the reason I didn’t include this project in my blog the other day is because, well, in truth I didn’t have it figured out yet. Now, I feel I do. The Balloon was initially a web-comic idea to follow up my mildly successful first outing into the field: Pancakes and Apples – Diary of a Boy at Sea (Please check it out!). However after a few drafts and working with the idea I just couldn’t get it to work; I felt the project could only work well if the visuals were up to what I imagined, and sadly my drawing is not up to what I see in my head. So I scrapped the project, but it stayed in my mind. Sadly, I don’t feel I can disclose fully what the story actually is, in case this project takes off in the way I hope it does; but I will say this: The Balloon is a story about optimism, and primarily, about looking up.

After a phone call with my (eternally wise) mother, we agreed that the story could work in a children’s book format; I know an illustrator through my part-time job and should I finish drafting the book, I will approach her and ask her to do the illustrations. Right now, I am two pages in and do not know entirely know many pages there will be in total; but it’s something I will continue with and aim to finish by the end of summer. I will keep you guys updated via this blog as I am always excited to start something new!

I’ve attached below two of my first (very rough) first drafts, I am not sure if I will submit them to the artist as they are very crude,  but equally they give away so little that I feel I can post them here without ruining the story!

Man, I’m making this sound like something out of Mission: Impossible!

 But anyway, that’s what I am up to at the moment, for more updates subscribe to this blog, or follow me on twitter.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Draft Page 1

Draft Page 2

Good-bye Objectivity, Hello Me.

So, I started this blog to link people to awesome pieces of creative work online, be it videos, photography or whatever. But, I find that within a busy university schedule to tweet these things is much quicker than writing a summary of it. If anyone is reading this and still looking for that kind of content, perhaps you might want to follow me on twitter. If so, please check out my twitter profile.

But as I have just alluded to, I will be moving away from these kind of posts on this blog and instead aim to keeping anyone that is interested updated on my work; so here we go!

MY PROJECTS:

For anyone that visits my portfolio site you may be aware of some of my projects that I do and am interested in; but for those of you who haven’t seen yet, I will just quickly link you to a few things that are finished.

Pancakes and Apples (Diary of a Boy at Sea) 

So this is a short web-comic that has been doing the rounds online, I have been getting really positive feedback from my followers on twitter and would love to hear more from other people; there are no comments on the actual pages at the moment though and I’d love to get some hard-copy feedback!

Sense – Datum // Her Egg

So, I am a keen writer and I love trying to write short stories in between working on my larger projects (more below); here are two stories that I have finished that I have submitted to a short story contest and I would love to get some feedback if you guys have the time (Sense-Datum was a university assignment that I got a first for by the way! :D )

CURRENT PROJECTS:

So I am working on a couple of big things at the moment, but most significantly is my primary project: 3 Hours.

Whilst at the moment I am trying to keep this project a little secretive, I want to raise a bit of awareness and develop an enigma around this project. However I will be updating the preview page soon as I feel at the moment it is a little too elusive. For now I will say this; 3 Hours is a digital narrative experience, it’s going to change the way you can read a story by blending multiple writing styles seamlessly. Stay posted, it’s going to be good. For now, please check out the preview page.

For anyone that has stuck through this post, thanks a lot, it’s really nice to get support when I receive some. But don’t worry, my posts will not continue to be this self-indulgent and promoting! Instead I will just aim to keep you guys up to date with stuff I am doing and stuff I think you should check out too; hopefully this should lead to more consistent blog posts.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Writing and it’s Relationship with Music

As a writer, should your primary source of influence always be from other examples of writing?

As an artist you should be able to admit, that music is amazing. It is a lot more self-contained than creative writing (poetry aside) and obviously film. The best thing about music is that it is a representation of emotion, even those dance songs you play on Saturday night. Personally, as someone trying to expand as a writer, I find myself skipping these Top 40 favorites and engaging significantly with classical music performances, movie soundtracks and acoustic soul-sapping encores. It is this music which I find inspires me, more so, in some cases than my favorite pieces of writing; this is an interesting thought, for if you want to write, you have to read right? Well what happens if you’re a writer who listens?

Needless to say, I’m listening to a medley of fantastic songs when writing this, bopping along at times or just pausing, mulling things over in my mind. My connection to music is probably as far from an ‘objective’ relationship as you can get. I care little for the persuit of new talent, I am literally of the disposition that if I hear something I connect with, I will buy it and listen to it endlessly. I mean, I have my fair share of rubbish on my iTunes, but when a song comes up that really makes you stop, that’s when I feel at my most imbalanced, stimulated and ready to write.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that it is incredibly subjective, not only in form but of course in content. Lyrics, melody and the countless other spectrum’s of musical refinement create such a variety of musical output that everyone is going to react a bit differently and in a lot of cases not at all. For instance, a lot of people I know will write with music playing in the background, I mean, I’m doing that right now, but it’s quiet and more or less lyric-less, this helps create an ambiance, a comfortable writing environment and yet this is still my limit. In truth I find music a distraction to objective writing, but the mood it envokes cloaks me thoroughly for a period of writing. It is this resonance that I feel when listening to music that I feel strengthens me as a writer.

I mean, is this a writing technique we should attempt to coin? Cinematic writing perhaps? Of course not, because if you want to convey something specific in tandem with music (and a stark visual image?) you might as well be a screen-write, right? Wrong. Personally whilst a huge fan of cinema, my connection to it is very similar to music, I don’t go to the cinema all the time but when I see something I enjoy, I will exhaust it until I feel I fully understand it and to some extent, can replicate it. Clearly then, I am someone who is forever buried in books right? Wrong again, because this article isn’t about defining myself as a writer, but defining writing as a process that is subjective to the individual. If I told you I loved watching films more than reading books and I wanted to be a writer, you’d scoff; at least I’d hope you would because I mean come on, that’s just stupid. However, if you can balance these mediums of storytelling (yes, music is a form of storytelling) maybe then you can create something original, maybe not.

Your primary influence in your language of writing will be your literary background, that I feel is somewhat unavoidable; however your writing style and written image can be highly influenced by the content you experience; which is where I draw my most significant distinction in this article. Because cinema and music are ‘experienced’, they help create mood, writing helps more to focus the skill of writing and paint this mood for others to understand. Maybe I’m wrong and I just haven’t read the right stuff, but I think if you want to create a detailed creative fiction, don’t just read books, do it all.

At the moment I am experimenting with non-linear narratives, stories that don’t always go in sequence (Like: 1, 2, 3) because I’m experimenting with form and I feel that by creating imbalance in the narrative timeline, you can create better enigmas and you, as the reader have to work harder to deconstruct the narrative. I read somewhere that the harder you work to understand something, the more you respect it, if I find out where that’s from I will credit it at the bottom of the article.

As for now, I feel I didn’t do too badly channeling my thoughts for a bit. Maybe I’m just one of these new-wave pretentious wannabe-different writers; I hope to god I’m not… but I’ve been wrong before. As for now I’m going to break away from my own introspective narrative and relax, because to drown in self-awareness would be a sorry way to go :)

If you liked this article please leave a comment below, thank you.

404 Page Inspired Design

Hey Guys,

So I just finished off making my 404 page and though it’s nothing too fancy I did experiment with some more creative images to substitute the typical ‘404-Not Found’ error message. Find below a collection of 404 image banners that you are free to download, edit and use on your own sites; if you do this all I ask for is a comment on this post saying which one you downloaded and where your site is availiable so we can all see it in action!

For those who are unsure, just click any of the images then click ‘View Image’ then click  ‘save image’ from there to get the full size.

– Mirrored 4’s with center 0 –

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– Vertically mirrored 4’s with connecting 0 –

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– Mirrored 4’s with overlayed 0 –

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– Reminds me of Egypt for some reason; parallel 4’s with 0 on top –

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– Flipped and mirrored 4’s with overlayed embedded 0 –

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– Made to look like a vinyl record; 4’s drawn in lines with 0 as disk centre –

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– Probably my favorite design; mirrored 4’s with stylised 0 –

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I Hope you like these designs guys!

Peace,

Matt  :)