Saturday, 8 August 2015

A breaking textmode video game art update part 19.5: Enzo at Evoke 2015

Hi, everyone! Sorry things have ground to a halt here -- lots to say, but when there's time to write, there's no brain left... and when there's a shred of brain, no time. Parenthood, go figure!

In as close as I get to breaking news, I had to do some quick and dirty coverage of an award-winning (2nd place) piece of ANSI art that was just released at the Evoke demoparty in Germany (whose 1999 instalment I competed in with an in-person visit!) Why did I have to cover it? Because it contained video game imagery, of course!

The artist: Brazilian Luciano "Enzo" Ayres of Blocktronics et al. The work? Well, it also contains much that does not pertain to video games, so I give you the lobotomized gamer highlights reel, but you can go appreciate everything in full context at its source. Beginning with some Invaders is an easy-pitch opening gambit. What naturally follows?
Sure, why not some Pac-Man. This looks like a race: who will make it to the centre first? My recent Ms. Pac-Man experience suggests that the ghost will also take second place, but it does raise an interesting question of how the machine prioritizes things if Pac touches a power pill and a ghost simultaneously. But I digress.
This is where things get interesting. You can show someone who doesn't play video games Pac-Man or a Space Invader and they'll have some idea what you're talking about. But what we have here is a video game that is basically installed on all modern computers as an easter egg that virtually nobody knows about. The only reason I was able to place it is because "easter egg games" is kind of a beat I cover over on Mobygames, where I documented this one. It basically works as shown here: in recent versions of the (typically self-updating) Google Chrome web browser (whose deformed logo is depicted in this piece), if your internet connection conks out mid-browse and you try to access a page that's no longer available, you'll be shown an error message with the dinosaur and a cactus, apparently a cute icon to mellow the harsh cut of the malfunction. But what Chrome users may not realise is that the error message's picture is interactive: it turns out that the dino can be made to head out across the desert in a bland kind of endless runner game.

And this is that dinosaur, and I know about it, Enzo clearly knows about -- and now you, the reader, do as well.

Will continue with this series when time permits -- there's no lack of further material to share, just time to process and frame it usefully. Don't give up hope! In the meantime, you can occupy yourself making a dinosaur jump over some cacti. Cheers!

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