And Now For Something Completely Machinima

Completely Machinima January 2022 Machinima News

January 06, 2022 Ricky Grove, Tracy Harwood, Damien Valentine, and Phil Rice Season 2 Episode 1
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Music:  Back To The Future - Ofshane

Completely Machinima: January 2022 Machinima News

In this episode, Ricky leads the discussion with Damien, Phil and Tracy on latest news items, covering Nvidia’s Canvas text to image AI, Blender 3.0 release, the best space games of 2022, open world games for machinima including Star Wars Eclipse (Quantic Games), the Video Game Awards 2021 and the Matrix Experience in Unreal Engine 5.

A YouTube version of this episode is available on our podcast website, along with all the links we mention.


game, machinima, iclone, omniverse, year, damien, ai, character, blender, create, film, world, thought, released, quantic, called, people, draw, nvidia, interesting


Damien Valentine, Tracy Harwood, Ricky Grove, Phil Rice


Ricky Grove  00:14

And Happy New Year to you all. This is our first podcast of 2022. And we're really looking forward to it. We have a few changes. Here at the Completely Machinima podcast, we're going to be trying to include a few more practical specials. We did one Phil and I did one last year on putting together a computer. This year, we might do something on sound, I hope to do one with writing with a professional writer as a guest.  We'll be adding video to our podcast this year. Of course, we'll be doing a regular audio podcast. But we're, we started a YouTube channel, which will include the video for each of ours. So as you can see, we've all really gone out of our way to look as as nicely as possible. Tracy, you, you've certainly done it. Well.


Tracy Harwood  01:11

Thank you very much.


Ricky Grove  01:14

I know. Really happy with that.


Tracy Harwood  01:18

It's not a filter.


Ricky Grove  01:19

Yeah. And then, Damien, you've got that Jim Morrison look from The Doors down really well.


Damien Valentine  01:27

Thank you. Yeah. Okay.


Ricky Grove  01:30

So we're gonna try it as an experiment and see what happens. We're also doing a couple other things. We're going to be combining news with our discussion. Meaning that if a news story triggers some interesting ideas about machinima we'll launch into that. It's an experiment so we'll see how it goes. So without out of the way and with a Happy New Year to you all I hope you have a great new year. I'd like to introduce our our regulars, Phil Rice was one of the most interesting machinima filmmakers ever. I'm really happy you're back with us this year.


Phil Rice  02:10

Thank you. Good to be here.


Ricky Grove  02:11

Sure thing and Damien Valentine. Another great machinima filmmaker and promoter of machinima. He's been around forever. Hi, Damien. Hi, and thank you so much. And Tracy Harwood, our resident cerebus the green of the organization with legs. So we're really happy to Tracy has written some really interesting books including one on machinima recently. Actually last year machinima history. Welcome, and we're glad you're back. Not very much.


Phil Rice  02:45

Not to be confused with yeah, not to be confused with Cerberus service. Dog that guards the gates of hell. How many know? Yeah,


Ricky Grove  02:53

yeah, yeah. Don't don't get those confused thing. Another reason why Phil's on the show to rein in my brain in my


Phil Rice  03:00

guess already anachronisms in such


Damien Valentine  03:03

speed on this.


Ricky Grove  03:07

Let's hit it on the news. Now. Damien, you got some interesting stuff about Nvidia's next AI can turn words into photorealistic images. What?


Damien Valentine  03:18

Yeah, um, it's a new piece of software. It's only in beta at the moment. And I was trying it earlier. And I couldn't quite figure out how to do the words parts of it. Because it's kind of very vague on how to use it, but it's called. I can't remember what its was called.


Ricky Grove  03:41

It's like introducing your wife and my wife.


Damien Valentine  03:46

Canvas. I suppose. I just got one canvas. There you go. No, yeah. We'll


Ricky Grove  03:55

work what do you what do you what do you do?


Damien Valentine  03:57

Right. So I tried it out earlier. And you kind of have this two squares, one's got the resulting image, and then the other square, which is where you draw and you have different layers in. So you couldn't think the words part of it. But this is way where you can choose the type of obviously object, the type of thing you want to paint on the picture. So you could put mountain or rock or river or cloud and there's a whole load of things like that. And you just draw on the on the left square, or you can just go to a blob up here. And then on the right side, it will create an image of what that should actually look like. So I did I just did the mountain for the first time you kind of get the shadowy mountain in the background, I thought, well, that looks reminds me of the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit. So I chose the tree forest option, so little trees around it and then suddenly this forest appeared all around the mountain and now just used the fog once it makes it look really Misty. It looked like a picture that would you could spend hours painting and it did it in seconds.


Ricky Grove  05:12

Well, detailed you have to be or can you just do a crude mountain and it'll interpret that,


Damien Valentine  05:18

if you just basically draw a very crude triangle, you'll get a perfect mountain. And I don't know how this is going to affect machinima just yet, because it's still, they're still just testing and playing around with it. And at the moment, you can only have a 512 by 512 image. So it's not very high resolution. I imagine as they develop it, they'll increase that. But I didn't think well, this would be really good for generating textures, or for background images. In using iClone or Unity or Unreal, you don't necessarily want to create a vast landscape that goes off into the distance you just want, like a matte painting would in a live action film, you have something like that in the background, and you could create your image in a couple of minutes to do that. And it would look like do something that you had an artist to spend a long time on.


Ricky Grove  06:12

It would be useful for you if you they had a space database where you could draw your own space scene, which I think wouldn't be that difficult you just because I think they use deep learning algorithms in which you have hundreds, if not 1000s of pictures, you know, that the AI draws from in order to create the image. If you had stars and planets and things like that, you could draw a space scene if you wanted.


Damien Valentine  06:40

And well, wasn't it before. Just before I finished close, close it down, I saw as an option to import your own pictures for reference. Oh, so I need to try that out. Because I think if you could do that, like you said, have a picture of space or planets, I may be able to incorporate that into what it is you're drawing,


Ricky Grove  06:58

right? Because the more data you have in the database, the more accurate the prediction is of the AI. Yeah. And now Now, you also said that it can do it with words. But you weren't able to get that to work, right?


Damien Valentine  07:14

Yeah, I couldn't figure out where the words option was to actually write things in. So I, I need to go back and check that out. But when I just found out about the software that was being advertised as something that could generate an image from words, and I saw another one, which again, I forgot the name of the other day where it's an app you can get for your phone, which does use words, and you can pick a different theme. So I put the word sith lord in and then put the Christmas theme. So you kind of get this snowy winter village with this dark figure on it looks like Scott Santa hat on. It's all kind of very, it's not like a very clear image. It's kind of distorted, but mighty kind of get the theme of it. Yeah, very sort of artistic rendition of what that might look like.


Tracy Harwood  08:04

There's a whole raft of these now isn't there were seemed to be a trend AI is being used in some really interesting ways. I mean, that that example that you gave about the drawing thing kind of implies that you actually now don't need to be able to draw, which, you know, that's yay.


Ricky Grove  08:25

You don't want to see my drawing. So that's a good thing.


Damien Valentine  08:30

Pretty fantastic.


Tracy Harwood  08:33

And the other, you know, the other sort of text, to text to image or text to voice type stuff. Yeah. I mean, that's a fascinating sort of application of AI where you know, where you're giving text can be used to generate emote emotional inflection, invoices, and what have you. And that's been in in the meta human creator. Unreal, is meta human creator, as I understand it. So it's quite interesting to see how these kind of things are evolving, I think,


Ricky Grove  09:07

I think so. Some of it's driven by the market. Businesses need a good text to speech, because increasingly they have customer service that has done the first layer of customer services dealing with the AI so they can steer you in a direction or, or depending on the company that can get rid of you put you in an endless loop. But I think that's probably the more practical aspect of AI development for machinima filmmakers, is the text to speech part because it's always been a problem from the very beginning to get a get people together to do a session, a recording session for audio, but also get quality audio recordings from each individual. God I remember doing a couple sessions where even though people assured me they had good mics, and I had done testing with them, their resulting audio was still awful. And I had to spend a long time cleaning it up. So using text to speech can be a solution, especially with a really excellent AI aided text to speech. Now, I mean, there have been some times where I couldn't even tell the difference. However, I think there'll be a limit to that. Because if you have a script that is going to involve more nuanced relations, between characters, you're not going to be able to do that, but text to speech. Now, whatever the advertisement is about how they owe us, they can adjust their tempo and you can actual emotion. Now, you're not going to be able to do that. But I think for simpler things, I think that would be very helpful for machinima filmmakers.


Damien Valentine  10:56

especially if something like you got a character such as one line of dialogue, like, tickets, please, or something like that. Yeah, you don't necessarily want to find someone just to record that you can get an AI to do it with a character like the one that you play in my Star Wars series just segue off because he's very emotionally and mentally unstable. That's not something I'd want an AI to do. I'd much rather have someone like you, Ricky, who's actually really talented and


Ricky Grove  11:23

actually mentally unstable. To do it. Yeah, I wasn't gonna go


Damien Valentine  11:27

in that direction. But


Ricky Grove  11:29

I do know, I wouldn't put it past Nvidia to come up with a button that says mentally unstable. Push it, and it's got some blue kind of thing. Yeah, there. It's incredible. You know, every year I go to the the Graphics Technology Conference at Nvidia, and I'm always just astounded at what new benefits they've come up with for deep learning algorithms. just remarkable. I saw one presentation in which small towns were trying to apply to the federal government for funding for high speed internet. But they couldn't meet the criterias were so you know, how it is government. The criterias were so onerous. So Nvidia developed this deep learning thing that allowed them to make a copy of their town, and then run through the town checking, connection possibilities, and they could submit that to the federal government, which would make it easier for small towns to get high speed internet was some fairly interesting, interesting project. Anyway, thank you for that. Damian.


Phil Rice  12:41

I wanted to also I'm wondering if the Nvidia's Canvas technology, if that's going to end up like most major things on the internet, they end up getting really propelled and move forward by the adult industry. Hmm. And so, you know, artists who currently only are able to write on like, school and truckstop bathroom walls, these very rudimentary drawings, they could use Nvidia's Canvas and turn it into something that looks really realistic.


Damien Valentine  13:18

Wow, that's the man.


Tracy Harwood  13:20

Can't wait


Phil Rice  13:21

to you know what I'm talking about.


Ricky Grove  13:22

Yeah, but that's just not an angle that I like, immediately came to. It's kind of curious how you come right to that? Yeah. scribblers graffiti scribblers, right.


Phil Rice  13:38

Everyone's everyone's a


Ricky Grove  13:40

Banksy. Now. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You'll be able to draw your own big whatever's. Thanks for that. Phil. Thanks. Moving quickly on after an embarrassing moment here. I'd like to say Blender 3.0, came out on December 7, with a formal announcement and it is fantastic. Now why is blender three o important to machinima filmmakers? Well, I'll tell you why. One. It's an open source community, which is it's free. It has a massive community all over the world. They support filmmaking and they also heavily connected to Omniverse Unity and Unreal in addition to tons and tons of free plugins. Plus, it's ridiculously simple to model and create things in Blender. Previously up to five years ago, it was really hard because not because the program itself was difficult but because of the interface. The interface was this obscure, difficult. Everything was backwards from other 3d And while they they fixed all of that they've updated their interface. It is an excellent in a very clear, very easy and Blender 3 0 has several new additions. One of which is the Asset Library and the Pose Library, meaning that you could create your own collection of assets and drag and drop. And that includes models, effects materials, and you could just add them drop, drag, drop and drag right on. Then they have a Pose Library. So you can do a series of animations pose to pose animation, set your first animation, go to your last animation, and it automatically interpolates it, and you've got a fast animation right there. Blender is also connected to a Reallusion. So what I'm saying is that Blender 3 0 is the best new version of this great software, and it's connected to all the possible sources for making machinima. Game engines. Even game engines will often do that you can do mods. When mods ask for, hey, we want to have these new, crazy houses you can set up build your own crazy house, and then import it into a game. So it is really the place to go to in order to create your own unique content. And I highly recommend anybody if you're afraid of 3d modeling. Blender 3 0 is the place to go. There's a brand new Blender Guru who is one of the best tutorial creators for blender, he re does his how to make a donut, donut with frosting with each new version of Blender, and he's got a brand new one out for three years. So if you want to try it, we'll put the link down in there. It's about four episodes of about 15. He's a great teacher. And it would be a good way to learn how to model and perhaps use that in your next machinima film. Have either any of you guys used blender at all?


Damien Valentine  16:58

I've tinkered around with it. But I haven't really created anything.


Phil Rice  17:03

I've used it some of the older version not Yeah, I haven't. I haven't. haven't taken a look at three yet. But I'm downloading it right now actually,


Ricky Grove  17:10

right. It's great. It's really great. Also, along those lines, Character Creator 4 and iClone  eight are coming, I think in the first quarter of 2022. And I think, personally, and Damien will talk about this as well, because he uses it and his machinima creation. But I think the Omniverse Machinima tool is in sort of low key development. And it's still really clunky and hard to use. Whereas Realllusion is connected directly. It has its own both create Character Creator and Realllusion, have their own direct connections to Omniverse. I think the real machinima element of Omniverse is Realllusion products. And I think they're going to go next gen, especially with iClone eight, because they develop an entirely new animation system that is almost dropping, drag your animations and then they automatically connect them. It's looks really great. Damien. Now you did a little crowdfunding to get to be able to buy iClone eight for your next project. Can you tell us a little bit about that?


Damien Valentine  18:27

Yeah, I was thinking about the upgrade. And I thought we discussed this previously, the cost of upgrading to iClone eight and Character Creator four is a lot higher than it used to be. And it was a little bit more than I was able to afford. So I thought well, since seven came out, kind of established quite a significant fan base with the Heir to the Empire series. So I thought, I'm going to ask them to see if anyone would be willing to help. Sort of crowdfund the upgrade, and I thought, even if they only get me halfway, I could probably fill in the rest of myself. I was expecting what really happened, which was three fully funded within three hours.


Ricky Grove  19:11

Oh, you, thank you. Good for you.


Damien Valentine  19:15

I put sort of three levels of funding. One was the the minimum cost of buying the software, because that's on the website. And then it has that special offer where if you spend 799 content, you get all that right, the software for free. And then I worked at the highest one, which is if I were to be able to export into Omniverse or anything else, how much content would I need to upgrade to the export licenses? So that was not the highest one and I reached out in three hours. So I just kind of read the video and then I went to eat and watch Star Trek and I thought I'll post this on Facebook later. By the time I came back. I was so like eight 80% funded. Oh, wow. That's awesome. Yeah, so I'm very pleased with all my generous fans. And as a special thank you to them. I'm putting together a movie edit you heard it of Heir to the Empire of chapter one to 16, which I'm going to release before Christmas, which, by the time anyone this is this is this will be out? So there'll be a link in the show notes for it. Oh, that's


Ricky Grove  20:11

so great. That's so great.


Phil Rice  20:14

What is that just adding out of interest for somebody who maybe doesn't want to go the purchase? Content to get those for free route? What is that? Has the pricing been announced for? If someone wants to buy iClone eight and character creator for without going that route, what what the price is going to be?


Damien Valentine  20:34

Yes, something the website, which I don't remember the prices offhand, or then there's a if you don't, if you're buying it new, there's a one price, but if you've already got iClone seven, there's an upgrade price, which is I think it's $100 cheaper than if you're buying it new. So existing users do get a little bit of a benefit there. Sure.


Ricky Grove  20:58

We'll be sure to put a link in to that so people can check it out. Yeah,


Damien Valentine  21:02

so I'm trying out the Omniverse plugin as well, because they released the Omniverse export option in iClone seven, so people can try it out. Now, rather


Ricky Grove  21:12

than waiting for I clean a house I've been working for you,


Damien Valentine  21:15

as far as the actual export process is, is basically a matter of press the Export button, and you wait a few minutes for it to do all the processing and then your file, you can then load up into Omniverse straight away. So that is very painless. Hold


Phil Rice  21:31

on. Let me let me just so I want to make sure that


Tracy Harwood  21:36

you get it together.


Phil Rice  21:39

What button X? I'll finish that later. Video Tutorial on that. Yeah.


Damien Valentine  21:47

You can go really in depth with this. The yeah, there's there are some limitations with it at the moment, which my understanding is religion are working on the parts that they can. So the, if you've got any particle effects in iClone, those will not transfer over to Omniverse. So that explosions or fog and mist effects or anything like that those won't transfer over. But Omniverse has its own particle system. So you could in theory, create your project, ignore the particle elements in iClone and then add them in Omniverse Omniverse is still developing the particle system in a way that would be really helpful. Either that Well, I haven't figured out how to use it properly yet. But as far as I can tell, there's no way to turn effects on at certain points in the timeline that on from the beginning. If you want an explosion to happen, the explosions going to happen at the right at the beginning.


Ricky Grove  22:42

Yeah, sure. They're working on that. Yeah, I'm absolutely positive. They're working on that. And because their connection, and videos connection to Realllusion is had been long term, you know, I'm sure that they're


Damien Valentine  22:53

there. Yes, is the current issue, which I'm sure will be fixed soon. And the particle effects in Omniverse looks fantastic. I know tried some of the fire and the smoke and some test explosions where it kind of goes or all orange then goes dark heat dies down. That's already impressive. And I can't wait to be able to use those kinds


Ricky Grove  23:12

of the advantage of going to Omniverse is that the rendering technology is absolutely contemporary. It's all ray traced. Yeah, me, meaning that you can go from a reasonably good render from Realllusion to absolutely fantastic render for an Omniverse. Of course, now, the threshold, the requirements for being able to do Omniverse are pretty high, you have to have an Nvidia card, that's of a certain stature. And even though the card market is getting a little looser, it's still kind of tough to get a cheap card. So there are some problems there. I wanted to ask you, Damien, what what make you excited about iClone eight and Character Creator 4 the new additions are doing


Damien Valentine  24:03

with category four I was looking at, there's a video of that showing how the faces are going to be more animated because of all these different ways you can more expressive than ever before, which is, that's always really good to have, because otherwise, they're just very static, right? And I'm looking forward to being able to take advice and things like that with iClone. I like the idea of the new animation system. Yeah. Using a game controller to make the character move around, and you can map the buttons to different types of animation. So you just press the button, it'll switch over to that one.


Ricky Grove  24:39

So I'm sorry. Right, exactly. And I also recall that there's a path thing, path tracing that you can or not tracing, but you can set up a path animation. So if you want the character to go to a certain place, and then holding props, that's been improved massively.


Damien Valentine  24:54

That's gonna be really good because well, because it's so much if you want to get your hands, a character's hands go together. Well You often do is get sort of that. Or if you want to hold 200 objects, you get one, you attach it to one hand, and then the other hand has to match it perfectly. And such a pain to manually do it, do it very well, or putting your hands on on the wall or on the floor for another character. That's going to be great, because so far, you don't have two characters touch each other is such a nightmare, just to avoid it as much as possible. So things are exciting for me,


Ricky Grove  25:31

this should work really well. For the


Phil Rice  25:34

adult industry again, I was just gonna say what you were thinking, Ricky with the props and touching each other. Yeah, we'll cover that on another show. Yeah, we're


Ricky Grove  25:42

gonna have a special episode on that. A men only episode. Gonna be a lot of fun with oh, boy, we're starting off really well. I want to talk about the last couple things. I saw a great video on YouTube, called the best space games of 2022. Now I knew about several of them. But I didn't know the whole history of space games. And this fellow who did the it's actually a sort of a Let's Play thing, because he does playing in the middle of it. But he talks about new games that are coming out brand new games, because apparently it's a trend due to success of EVE Online. And what's that Space Citizen I think, Star Citizen, ours citizen, yeah, they've become very successful. And so there are a whole bunch of people that want to jump on that bandwagon and make some of that money. But there are also some older ones that have been around that I have never heard of that have gotten some recent updates. I was really impressed with a variety and different ways that the creators had interacting in space situations. One of them is they call it Minecraft in Space, because it's basically building, you're building stuff all the time look absolutely fascinating. So I'm really going to follow this through all through the year, space games, I'm going to be looking at those and talking about them and sharing them. And perhaps if I get my courage up, I'll actually make something in a space game we'll see. But I'm specifically interested in Star Citizen, although I have to say quickly. A lot of people I had read, machinima filmmakers have often commented how they, they they can't they don't want to use a certain kinds of applications because the learning curve is too hard. While I watch the short video on how to Introduction to Star Citizen, I was completely lost after the first two or three minutes. I mean, it was talking about complex, the introduction to that and getting getting ready and getting everything set was just like, basically you just have to quit your job. Sit down, get another monitor, and start taking notes because it was really hard. So if you're a gamer, and you're willing to put that kind of time into the game, then you should be able to put the time into learning how to model and write better, you know. Anyway, we'll put a link to that. I also wanted to posit the quick question about open world games and machinima. We've loved Star Citizen stuff last year. Why do these open world games of interest machinima filmmakers? And has it When did open world games start in terms of machinima history? So I was wondering whether you guys were thinking about any of those questions.


Tracy Harwood  28:51

We had a chat about this some time ago, didn't we it out and open world and I think really one of the key things. I think one of the key things is to do with the fact that they are just massive environments, where the focus is on immersion, and roleplay and mirror worlds and all of that kind of stuff. And I guess one of the key things with them is they they keep the player engaged because of this massive environment that they've created where, you know, it's clear that the game and the environment continues or persists well beyond what what you do as a player in a particular point in time. So it's kind of you know, you keep going back in because we're a little bit like you were sort of saying with Star Citizen, then the learning curves kind of high. But what you can do in it is just endless, because it's so, so vast, and then the number of permutations of experience that you can have in there is just so huge. I mean, we know for example, well, hundreds of people that are still in Second Life, even though that launched, what 2003 2003? Or goes back even earlier than that for some. So, yeah, I guess it's the vastness of it. That's one of the attractive things, right?


Phil Rice  30:16

The ability to be modified the world to be modified by the users is also huge, and I think is a big part of what was attractive about Second Life when it was at its peak. And for the people that are there now, the fact that you can make the world probably not a big element of a game like Star Citizen to modify it to those kinds of degrees. So it just goes to show that just just giving an expansive world to play in is enough to interest people. But if you didn't, if you if you really take it to the next level with, you know, the true sandbox style game. I mean, look at Minecraft, it's been 15 years, and it's still one of the most played games in the world. Well, they're constantly adding more ability for the player to create and build and use new materials for it and stuff. And so yeah, games like that are appealing because they the replay value is unlimited. For an environment like that, you know, so plus,


Ricky Grove  31:18

plus you have the, the razors and blades business model, which is you continually offer new content, some of which you have to buy. You know what I mean? Something right, so they have a one product, like a razor, and then you have to keep buying blades in order to enjoy a


Phil Rice  31:37

franchise. They've been very successful with that. I mean, if you were to get the Sims four, and all the content packs at retail price, I mean, you're spending probably $1,000 on that game. Amazingly. Yeah, you know, so it makes the pricing of something like iClone seven or eight. All of a sudden it's like, well, that's not unreasonable after all, is it? Yeah, yeah. And And considering that I can tell you the learning curve for making machinima in The Sims is no friendlier. No easier than making iClone or anything like that. In any of the games, you know? I mean, look at Red Dead Redemption isn't. It's hardly modifiable at all. Yeah, really. And and it's so hard to use. So yeah, I think that was a great point, Ricky, that. I know, that was my hesitancy. Back when I was just using games to take on a platform like, you know, Moviestorm, or iClone or whatever the choices were back then. It was intimidating, even for me, who had developed quite a bit of skill set to some particular games. And I feared that they wouldn't translate over, but they do. They kind of do. Yes, the skills do translate. So


Tracy Harwood  32:57

what about WoW, does that translate as well?


Phil Rice  32:59

I think WoW, is one of the first really popular games that had an open world aspect for sure. Well, having ever played it. I can't speak to specifics. I never played the game. But I had lots of friends who did and they would talk about it. And it's it had immense replay value, because to at least some degree, you could chart your own path and do spend your time in that game doing what you wanted to do. So you know, I, if I'm not mistaken, and he'll correct me if I'm wrong. I think Ben Grussi at one point when he was playing WoW, he just went in there to do farming, which when he told me that I was like, What the hell are you talking about? This before I started playing Minecraft, where you know, much of what you do is building contraptions to farm resources. So yeah, I get it now. But then there were others who went in there specifically to raid others, you know, in combat. Right, right, and others who wanted to just explore the world. And yeah, they created an environment where they didn't tell you how you had to play the game. They just told you what the possibilities were and then let you run with it. It was a brilliant move on their part


Ricky Grove  34:08

right? Now my theory is that the modern video game is the contemporary equivalent of novel reading, in that you become so involved in the characters and in the world, that the characters start tricking your imagination. And that's another advantage of working in an open world because you find yourself drawn or imaginatively or emotionally moved or touched by a certain scenario or a certain even a certain location. And that triggers the idea of stories. So then you feed it, you feed it back by going well, what if, like, for example, in the Half Life saga, there's a young woman when you first get off the train, and you come in and she's right next to the the railing there And she's saying, Did you? Did you? Was there another person on that train? Was there another? I always wondered about her story. What's her backstory? Who is she waiting for? And so those sorts of events and experiences trigger the idea of making movies out of them. So you get a little feedback. And I was curious with you, Phil, you've made what was my favourite film last year Obit. Your great western film in Red Dead Redemption 2, an open world. Did some of that trigger your feelings so that you ended up coming up with this idea for the story of a person coming back to a funeral?


Phil Rice  35:43

This is a weird thing to confess. But


Ricky Grove  35:47

I mean, I know I know that film industry


Phil Rice  35:49

stuff, please. Oh, no, not not this time. But I watched other people's Let's Plays of Red Dead Redemption two, for a year before I bought the game. Because I just didn't feel like I had the time to take on a game that I knew had that big of a story world. And then when I bought the game, I probably played the first hour of the single player campaign. And then you and I had our high jinks trying to do multiplayer. But my my exposure to the story world of that game was largely through other people's videos. As weird as that sounds, I didn't play the game, because I didn't have time. So it's really strange. I learned vicariously about some of the things that were possible in that game. I don't know what the spark moment was to decide. Yeah, that's the, this is the environment I want to tell this particular story in. I don't remember how that happened, honestly. But I think it was before I bought the game. And then when I got it and actually started, you know, hands on controlling it a little bit. I thought, okay, I could probably do this, you know, so, yeah, it's weird.


Ricky Grove  37:02

How about that location where the funeral scene takes place? Was that something that you looked for and found, or had you already seen it then decided to use it from now that I, I


Phil Rice  37:13

stumbled upon it, my exploration began, I was just looking, I basically found a list online where someone had documented all of the cemeteries through throughout Red Dead Redemption two. And so I just went and just started roaming the world exploring looking at those, and none of them were right for what I wanted to do. And I realized that I wanted it to be more of a the old fashioned type of burial that someone would just be buried right on their own land, you know, back before the laws dictated everybody be buried in one place, right. In the West that's not always the way it went. You just couldn't do that. So a person would be buried on their land. And so I thought, let's, let's find a homestead that has some land near it. And yeah, I just kind of I look, then I started looking at different houses that were a little bit off the beaten path, not in the middle of town. And then yeah, I just, I had it narrowed down to a couple different ones. And ultimately, just that one just felt right. I liked that. Trees, the shade that it provided in the ambience there. So yeah, it's very, it was very accidental. Wow, I was thinking about what you were saying about what we've been talking about this freedom that lets that brings the imagination alive in these open world games. You know, 30, or I guess 40 years ago, the only place you could do that was pen and paper role playing games. And now 40 years later, the video game industry is almost caught up to that in terms of that was the ultimate freedom is you know, one person the Dungeon Master would craft this storyline of sorts, and talk the characters through it and it was all you know, oral sharing of information and dice rolls and things like that and a lot of improvisation could happen there. You know, where it really was at at whoever was controlling story it was at their whim to just oh, they did this well, that's interesting that I'm going to have this happen. And video games could just never could rival that and they still can't really but it leads me to one of the things that I found interesting about this game awards was a game that's been announced called Star Wars Eclipse ah by I think it's Quantic Dream Am I saying that right, Tracy? Yeah, and Quantic Dream there's no gameplay shown yet. It's all just pre rendered cinematics and stuff of very beautiful looking, mysterious looking Star Wars II stuff, which is cool. But what caught my eye about it was their description that they're going for an intricately branching storyline. Now, people were using terms similar to that 10 years ago, you know, in video games, but then, you know, it was within the limits of what could be done. I'm really intrigued by someone embarking on that today with all we've been observing with AI. Yeah. And all these things, I think that we're on the cusp of there being a video game that can literally adapt the story to the player. I agree. in unpredictable ways. Yeah. That is the way that Minecraft works. Its worlds are procedurally generated. Absolutely 100% random every time you fire up a new world. And it infinite in any direction. You can walk guy did a video a couple weeks ago and streamed it live, walking 1 million blocks, which 1 million, basically a million meters in Minecraft in one direction. And he live streamed it had to have somebody else take over while he used the restroom and ate and things like that, you know, but and the game just they've got an algorithm that generates caves going way down, and mountains and trees and all this stuff. All just procedurally generated all random. There's no two that are alike. Well, that's just with terrain, and objects and things like that. But the fact that they're able to do that, I think that the next real innovation for story based games will be a story that can effectively do that, I think, which is crazy.


Ricky Grove  41:55

Yeah, yeah, it's crazy. Because imagine if you make a friend at the beginning, and that friendship grows and moves in different directions, as opposed to a single, single line, where, where the person is always a friend to you, or at some point stops being your friend and is your enemy. Instead, you'll have a whole range of things where they'll be angry at you because you did some action, and they don't want to see you, you know what I mean? And all of that will be AI generated based on data that that game is actually taken from you while you're playing it.


Phil Rice  42:35

Yeah, it's almost scary to think about because that is that is amazing. If we think about there's been movies made about this sci fi movies made about this where every choice you make, it's in the Marvel Universe Marvel Cinematic Universe plays with this with their Metaverse idea. Yeah, choices that then branch off. And they refer to that as that's a new universe. Well, really, it's just, there's different choices. Every choice, you know, can have the potential effect to take things in totally different direction. It's it, it was very hard, just a few years ago, even to conceive of a video game, a computer program, being able to keep up with that, you know, with with how life actually works. You may feel like I'm getting close man to where it's at least a Matrix-like believable scenario. Yeah, yeah, no. Yeah. In a way that seems real. That's crazy, man. Good point.


Damien Valentine  43:28

I'm looking forward to it. You guys need to check out some of our Quantic Dream's all the games, like the most recent one they released was called Detroit Become Human. And it's not AI driven the way you're describing there, but it does have a branching story. But basically, there's three different characters and you play the one chapter and then you make different choices and so on. And then you switch over to another character, and then do the same thing with them. And then this third character, and it alternates between that there's so many different ways that the story can change based on what you're doing each time. And I've only played to it once. And it was I imagined, trying to play to it again and seeing what can I do differently? Because it's way beyond something like Mass Effect where you make decisions. Yeah. And you get different branches. This is more of a web? I would say yes. Because so be interesting to see how they take that from villages down Detroit, to the Star Wars game and enhance that. And it


Phil Rice  44:28

couldn't be that all they're going to do is apply that same method to the Star Wars universe. And if so, it's still going to be a really interesting and fun game to play, I think. But what I ended the game interested in is is a developer like Quantic Dream's eventually coming to the point where they can basically set the parameters and the AI takes over the storytelling.


Tracy Harwood  44:54

You know, it's, it's really interesting. It's a really interesting development and not least, because Quantic were another one of those developers, that was like Unreal and Unity that emerged in the early two, while in fact, the mid 90s, I think they emerged by the early 2000s. They were, in fact, what we ran, really known as the forefront of developments in interactive experiences. And they were, they were called Interactive dramas. And they were compared to adventure games, but they weren't. They weren't really either film or game. And they kind of lost their way a little bit. But it was there. It was, it was their real time 3d engine that was used for motion capture, for the first time actually in a 2004 film called immortal. And it was one of the earliest times that a game engine was used to provide digital assets as a cinematic backdrop for a film. Hmm. So you know, we often think that things like The Matrix bullet time and what have you was one of the earliest applications of this sort of real time filmmaking stuff, but it wasn't at all it was Quantic that was at the back of that. And they've evolved in a very, sort of different way to Unreal and Unity, which are basically, I think, their competitors. And I think what's quite interesting is that they've now reemerged and are sort of, you know, lining up probably, alongside the likes of Unreal and Unity to reclaim that, that space, but they've done it in Mega style with with Star Wars, I think. I mean, we actually talked Ben and I talked about Quantic alongside an organization called brilliant Digital Entertainment, who nobody in the Machinima community has ever really heard of, but they were the guys that made what was known as the first branching narrative experience, which was called Cyberswine. And that was launched in the mid 90s. But these guys had, you know, BDE had had sort of like world domination in their sights. They tried to, you know, work on on Marvel Universe type stuff, way back then as a way to sort of create interactive experiences out of those out of those stories, if you like. So we in the book, Ben and I wrote about an alternative beginning for machinima which came out of these of these engines. Firstly, what's quite interesting, though, I think, and I don't really fully understand why because maybe maybe Damien's got a bit of insight into this. Most of the comments about Quantic's involvement in Star Wars Eclipse actually negative I don't know why.


Damien Valentine  48:03

Guess I haven't been following the, the response to it from Star Wars fans. But my guess is because so that they have released tie-in books, and so on with the Star Wars franchise, and they'll get reset when Disney took over because there wasn't a clean slate to create new content. And so they started releasing a new series of books to go alongside the new films and so on that being released, but they ran into the problem with, they had to rely on the films. Viewers watching the films who hadn't read the books, so they couldn't have any major events happened in the books that fans would feel lost because they hadn't read them. So nothing was happening in the books, it was actually made them worth reading. So what they did is they created this new era about 300 years before the films where they've got kind of a blank slate to play around with. And it's called the High Republic era. And


Phil Rice  49:01

which is like this game is to be set in. Okay,


Damien Valentine  49:05

and there's been a mixed response to that era of books. Some people love it, and some people don't. Personally, I feel like they've released so much content already that it's impossible to keep up. I started listening to the audiobook of the first one. And it's kind of it's very interesting. I was enjoying the setting but I look to see what's coming next. And then weeks there was gonna be five more books. And this launched in January last year 2001 2021 And I look after the Eclipse trailer, there's 25 books have been released already. And there's comic books to go alongside it as well. I thought there's no way anyone could keep up with that is a really dedicated fan. There's more delegates and I am cuz I haven't I gave up on it. I don't it's not gonna


Phil Rice  49:54

complicated when it spans millennia. Yeah, like how in the world could anyone


Damien Valentine  50:01

That's my personal take on this era. So I'm hoping they design the game so you can enjoy the game without having to read all those other books that go alongside it, because I don't want to do that just to play one game.


Ricky Grove  50:12

So let's, uh, let's make sure we follow up on that Damien, and, and keep an eye open for it. Can you close this out with the rest of the Game Awards for 2021?


Damien Valentine  50:24

Yeah, so this the Star Wars games Miss was announced that the Video Game Awards, and I stayed up watching the whole thing. Like the virtual company with a friend of mine who lives locally who she decided she also wants to stay up because she was very excited to see the Matrix side of things that she will come to at the end. So it was kind of a mix of awards for games doing released. And they had various deputies coming up to the present the awards. And then of course, most of the show was actually new game announcements, just trailers for new things or games already been announced. But those showing off gameplay for the first time. And so there's just so many of those. I don't know which of these games are gonna be any good for machinima or not. But there's a lot of really impressive and exciting things are announced. Personally, I'm really excited for Homeworld three, which is going to be released at the end of the year, unless it gets delayed, of course, because I've been a big fan of the Homeworld games for a long time. That could be useful for machinima, because it's a big space strategy game, we have these epic battles. So you could have your virtual camera in there. And you can recall these spaceships flying around so you can use it the older game. So space battles for machinima so I'm excited to see what this new one can do. Of course, got the Star Wars game announcement. There's, I'm not sure if it's gonna be any good for machinima. There's a new Dune strategy game, I'll see a piece of the film that was just released. Dune's kind of getting a lot of attention. Yeah. And rightly so. So I'm excited about this new game, I'm probably just going to play it not going to worry about making any films with it.


Ricky Grove  52:08

Well, we'll put a link in there. So other so you can look through it and see what you find interesting. There's also a lot of end of the year end indie games that aren't mentioned in the big game awards that are done by smaller companies, including one, one or two games that are done by single individuals. And we'll put a link to all of that. So, Tracy, can you close our news and discussion segment with your Matrix Experience?


Tracy Harwood  52:36

Well, I didn't actually stay up like


Damien Valentine  52:40

it was 4.00 o'clock in the morning by the time we got to this. Well,


Tracy Harwood  52:44

so I watched instead the the film The 10 minute film that they put out afterwards, and or at least at the same sort of time, and wow, is was my take on it really. Yeah. So. So what they what this was, obviously, by the time that, you know, our show goes out, everybody in the world will probably have seen it. But let me just reflect on it a minute. So what we've got here is mo cap of the key actors demonstrating, you know, the sort sort of the capture of the characters from the original trilogy, as well as how the characters look now, and quite frankly, even though as I understand it, they were all virtual characters. You can't really tell what's real and what's virtual in there. It was brilliant.


Ricky Grove  53:38

Yeah, yeah.


Tracy Harwood  53:40

It's pretty impressive, isn't it? I think, I think there's only one bit where I thought maybe that was Keanu Reeves for real, which is a bit in the mirror, but I wasn't 100% sure in the end. Anyway, what I think was quite interesting about this was the fact that actually, it's, it's been released, so that so you know, you've got this little bit of an introduction, then you've got some demonstration of the experience itself. It's not a game, it's an experience, you can download this content, and you can do what the hell you like with it. It's being badged as a proof of concept, designed to showcase Unreal Engine 5's, cutting edge real time systems. And it's all been made as an open world example. So you can literally do anything you want with it. It's totally free with Unreal Engine 5. So I think it's brilliant. I think the fact that it's some, you know, being made available for anybody to do anything with is is absolutely awesome. I can't wait to see some machinima being creepy


Ricky Grove  54:49

to me too. And I was thinking, What I What a fascinating combination of advertisement and entertainment. Absolutely. I don't think I've seen one. They're as good as that in a long time where they're selling you something but they're doing in such an entertaining way that you don't care. No,


Tracy Harwood  55:08

I think it's fast. I think that that alone is fascinating but and so I know obviously Marc Petit because I interviewed him for the book that Ben and I did as well and, and so I'm linked to him on LinkedIn. He posted something which was really the the size of this open world that they've created. So the city is 4000 kilometres wide by nearly 5000 kilometers long, slightly larger than the size of Downtown LA. The city surfaces, nearly eight kilometers squared. The city perimeter is 14 and a half kilometers long. There are 260 kilometers of roads in the city. There are 512 kilometres of sidewalk in the city. There's 1250 almost intersections in the city. There's 45,000 parked cars, of which 38,000 a drivable and destructable. That's 17,000 simulated traffic vehicles on the roads that are destructible as well. 7000 buildings, nearly 28,000 lampposts and streets on street sides 2012 and a half 1000 sewer holes, almost 10 million unique and duplicated assets created to make the city Wow. Isn't that incredible? And on top of that, hang on. 35,000 simulated meta human pedestrians. Can you believe it? I just, I mean what happen in environments?


Ricky Grove  56:49

So now if somebody wanted to download that, how would they go about doing it? Um,


Tracy Harwood  56:55

well, okay, so you need Damien, you can help me on this one. Which, which version of


Damien Valentine  57:02

you need the latest Xbox or PlayStation consoles. At the time, either of which I have, by the way? No, I don't either. But at the time, we were called this, they're not going to release on PC, but I hope enough people say please release it on PC that actually changed their mind and release it so we can all give it a try.


Tracy Harwood  57:20

Yeah, maybe maybe they won't do that. Maybe they weren't maybe what it's about is getting you to buy the


Ricky Grove  57:28

hardware. Well, we'll see. You know, when there's still a lot of machinima filmmakers that use the Xbox. So we'll see how that turns out. Thank you very much for that. Lots of really interesting news for January 2022. So that's our news, and discussion podcast, we'll be having a video of this up on our YouTube new YouTube channel. Also, the podcast itself will come out. We'll have links to everything we've talked about here, and possibly some drawings from Phil in Canvas as a special treat for everybody. So you can please contact us? We do want to do practical, oh, no, he's doing it. Don't show it to us, Phil. So we want to do practical, special practical podcast. Please send us your ideas for things you'd like us to cover. I want to do sound and writing. But there may be some other things specific game. also contact us. Let us know. Give us a feedback. Send us one of your films. If it's awful, we won't show it if it's good. We will talk about it. So that's it for this episode. Thank you very much. Check out next week when we'll be talking about films for January 2022. Thank you guys.

Nvidia Canvas text to image AI
Blender 3.0 release
Blender Guru tutorial (donut)
Reallusion's iClone 8 and Character Creator 4 - new and upgrade info
Best space games of 2022
Open world games and machinima
Star Wars Eclipse branching narrative open world environment by Quantic Games
Video Game Awards 2021
Matrix Experience in Unreal Engine 5