Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Video game textmode art part 15: Pac-Man in Blender 2000!

This was going to be another post on a different subject (current stats -- published posts on Pixel Pompeii: 5; draft posts: 25) but current events forced my hand. The web ANSI art host sixteencolors.net is wrapping up round one of a tournament-style computer art competition, explicitly striking in the same vein as the renowned Blender competitions of the late '90s. (In a nutshell: artists gathered in #blender on the EFNet IRC Sunday afternoons, offered suggestions for characters, locations and actions, then had a couple of hours to create new original computer art -- visual, musical, literary, programmatic -- engaging the three curated subjects for that week. Then they were ranked on ability and use of the topics.) I ran the Blender for a spell -- as it lurched toward a long decline and dormancy of a decade and a half -- and for the occasion have just unleashed on the world the long-speculated contents of the "lost", unreleased Blender competitions I ran.

While piecing its fragmented history together to tie up all the loose ends, I found... wait for it... ANSI art depicting video game characters. That's right -- in round 2 of the "Blender 2000" revival (of 1999 -- funny how that anticipatory zeitgeist ran!), the three words were "Pac-Man", "sacrifice", and "Mount Olympus". (I was not the only one who thought that this would make for a neat segue into the Sweet Sixteen Colors comp, so those of you following the ANSI of the Day posts will already have seen and enjoyed Big Yellow Man's artful crowning work that I here redact.) So while these blocky illustrations are indeed of Namco's perennial mascot, it's undeniably the case that the additional constraints, somewhat beyond their canon for the hungry character, result in some novel situations for the pill-popper. (Somewhere in draft hell -- or indeed in the just-released back-Blender pack) I have two further artworks from an earlier Blender which you'll get a chance to experience sometime, depicting "Mario" "lusting" after "snowmen". I... I can't explain it. There is no good explanation.)

The first piece, by aeternam, is a Star Wars / Pac-Man ASCII art mashup which, admittedly, doesn't do much with the "sacrifice" part of the equation. Pro tip: drawing Pac-Man is easier if you can devise to illustrate him from behind (cf. the old physics race-prediction joke ending in "let us assume that the horses are perfect spheres...")
Klumzee and Argon here depict Pac-Man conducting a sacrifice (of Inky! Well, I guess they are all blue when scared of him - and never so rightfully so!) at the very palace of the ghods up at Mt. Olympus.
Another day, another ghost-sacrifice by a decidedly bored-looking Pac-Man magician. In, you may note, an "Olympus"-brand cauldron! By Enzo, then-affiliated with the group Glue.
Leo of Black Maiden here turns the tables on Pac-Man: now he is the sacrifice! With Mount Olympus appearing hazily in the far distance. Leo appears hazily in the rankings: this piece won 3rd prize.
Funk-e and Luminator take a grim premise and make it even grimmer; this Pac-Man takes a decidedly Leatherface bent and sacrifices his human victim using a monogrammed chainsaw!
Sunshine takes the minimalist approach: Pac-Man, Mt. Olympus... imply some danger, and we're done!
And here zedfact0r tries something new. (In a number of these pics, the artists had to explore some new territory -- assigning Pac-Man limbs and a body!) Even though all the sacrificial action takes place out of frame, it's a bold debut, to be sure.
But the Blender, bless its defunct little heart, wasn't just for ANSI art, but computer art in all its forms! This brings us to the obligatory '90s Photoshop collage. Three elements? No problem -- three layers! Good work, Ogre -- from your brain to a cocktail napkin to photo-realism!
Archie says: Who needs Photoshop? Sometimes the cocktail napkin suffices -- either the idea floats or it doesn't! Rarely is a character's hands and feet the most realised part of their anatomy!
Originally a piece of vector art in the RIPscrip format, this piece by Pike manages to somehow reconcile its trivia with canon: here they are, Pac and ghost, in right-angled blue corridors strewn with spheres. Frame it as sacrifice, include an obligatory nod to Olympus, and get out unscathed.
Another RIP work, this one (by Nightstalker) utilized the format's animation capacity -- like Graphics Magician on the Apple 2 (or if you prefer, the genius on the other side of the membrane in Le Mystere Picasso), if slowed down sufficiently, you could observe the work being drawn stroke by stroke.

Blender senior staffer Warpus contributed a strange little Windows app with bizarre and unsettling options offered. You can't run it in your browser, so here's a .GIF animation I made of its highlights reel:

And also, there was a song! Converted from the RealMedia format (was that ever a thing, even back in 1999?) for your convenience. That's the beauty of the Blender -- while the artscene it emerged from was very eyeball-centric, it was a weird little oasis where digital creativity in other mediums could surface and be appreciated as equally valid ways of expressing complicated topics. This was written by Bedlam of ACiD, though I can tell you for sure it wasn't on account of his musical ability that he was invited to join their hallowed ranks. (Placed second in the contest!)

...and because I'm wary of falling afowl of any future terms of service changes Google may re-impose upon Blogger users regarding the presence of adult content, I'm not going to show you these ones -- you will have to follow the links yourself. If you didn't balk at a program with a "fondle Pac-Man" button, these should be right up your alley:

  • a high-resolution picture I can't show you (for reasons of blow-up doll anatomy) by my old scene nemesis Blue Devil of ScrollZ and CiA, the man who somehow revived the validity of the "lit" form of computer art (that would be: poetry and prose to you or I) by celebrating its most heinous depths...
  • a crude .GIF animation...
  • a busty bondage babe, by zippy, "good girl art" not uncommon to the artscene...
  • and one final piece, another picture I can't show you by the late, great, Big Yellow Man of PLF, un-showable due to a rare artscene depiction of male genitalia (hm, perhaps a subject for a future post? Something for the ladies!) Works such as the previous one were ubiquitous in the scene, while ones such as this were once in a blue moon. This work won the competition, incidentally, and rightfully so.

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