Sometimes, when you create something and don’t get all dicky when other people want to build on your work, nice things happen. Consider Beyond Black Mesa, an 11-minute fan short set in the world of Valve’s Half-Life 2, using characters from it. You see a lot of this stuff from fans, like the Purchase Brothers’ Escape From City-17, and the still-hopefully-in-development Black Mesa Source. The common thread among all of this is that Valve has either encouraged the creativity or stayed out of it. In some cases the studio goes on to hire those creators and modders whose work it finds especially excellent.
Beyond Black Mesa lies beyond the jump.
It’s an impressive piece of work for what I can assume was a small crew and smaller budget. Good use of After Effects. Nice lighting. Terrific incorporation of sound effects and chatter from Half-Life 2. Pudgy Asian dude. All in all, an enjoyable eleven minutes of my life.
It might not have killed these guys to thank Valve a little more explicitly – or at all – in the closing credits (the writer/director/editor/star/producer chooses instead to thank his costar, who I assume is also his girlfriend), but hey. I bet someone at Valve is watching this right now, and some complimentary emails are being sent. That’s just how those guys roll.
Learn more about the movie at Beyondblackmesa.com.
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That wasn’t bad. You think they are trying to get Valve’s attention considering Valve’s mentioning their interest in making films?
I know Gabe Newell and others at Valve have had terrifying experiences with movie studios (“and then Gordon Freeman falls in love…”), but the company has moved well beyond success simply from games. Steam puts it in a new category.
At the same time, I think Valve is cognizant of the Hironobu Sakaguchi Effect – a video game company making one of the most expensive cinema disasters in history in the form of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
In general I tend to believe these guys are fans who didn’t do it for a Valve opportunity but out of love.
Love of Adobe After Effects.
I can see how much work went into this having used After Effects myself — it all looks and sounds very slick — but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It started off well enough, but the badly judged and corny fight sequence really turned me off. It went from sorta gritty realism to Ong Bak, complete with Combine soldier tilting his head and tightening his fist before the fight. A Bourne-style heavy and sloppy fight would have fitted in perfectly. Having said all this, I liked the ‘twist’, I honestly didn’t expect that.
With Half-Life 2 it wasn’t so much the action that won me over (though that certainly helped), it was the sense of oppression and helplessness that came with City 17. The human trafficking and ghettos, the silent drama in every room. That stuff never comes across to me in these amateur films, it’s always action, action, action.
Nevertheless, worth my 11 minutes Steerpike!
Was a great short! just a couple of things that i didnt like.. first the Zombies.. where is the crabman ? i can asume that for problems on FX that couldnt be made. The Conbine was amazing !!! great look for them !! If a story is well driven it will be a great thing !
A resurrection of a post from juuust before I picked up my activity around here, I have to ask – Steerpike, what are your personal feelings on Spirits Within?
Crime against cinema. Why?
*whimpers* Oh, no reason.
(I happen to love it, as an apocalypse-nut with a passion for design, and the supernatural. It just mixes up so much of what I love into a rather emotionally moving chunk of exciting cliche, with a vague ecological/respect for life moral – without any grand pretense to being more than entertainment with a message. In that respect, very similar to Avatar.)
Back to the present day! *flicks over to today’s article tabs*
I didn’t mind Spirits Within and still believe it’s the best film that’s tied to video games in some way. Which isn’t saying much really. Doom was a good laugh. But yeah, Avatar is a good film to compare it to.
You tempt me back to January just to note that while I adore Spirits Within, I don’t connect it to gaming but in the loosest sense – any more than I’d connect a film produced by Valve ten years from now simply because it was by a company who have developed games.
.. and that the best game-film made so far is Silent Hill, a fantastic work of adaption by Christophe Gans, a man who truly understood the source material and clearly loved it. Unfortunately, so loyal it is to the core ‘feeling’ of Silent Hill, you have to know Silent Hill well to have a chance of understanding the film’s themes and subtleties >.<
Definitely Silent Hill. A fine, fine, scary, well-done, underappreciated film. I bought the DVD ages ago and never watched it again. I should do so.
“Crime against cinema” may be harsh. I just felt that it was too… video-gamey for a movie. Too Final Fantasy, anime, nonsense-storyline-ey. But that’s just my opinion! Lots of people have terrible opinions. Gregg likes Ridley Scott.
“I just felt that it was too… video-gamey for a movie. Too Final Fantasy, anime, nonsense-storyline-ey.”
I agree and that’s partly the reason why most videogame films are pants. Though I would say that, aside from it’s prefixing title, Spirits Within shared next to no similarities with the Final Fantasy franchise. Sure, there’s the lifeforce-of-the-planet-Gaia bullshit but where had all the colour, grandeur and fantasy gone synonymous with the series? Which leads me on to:
“Unfortunately, so loyal it is to the core ‘feeling’ of Silent Hill, you have to know Silent Hill well to have a chance of understanding the film’s themes and subtleties”
And that’s why I’ve never seen Silent Hill — because I haven’t played the games. I’ve heard many say that the Silent Hill film is the best of the bunch though, I just wish Sony would release the original games on the PSN. Apparently they did release the first game some time ago but it was withdrawn for quality/technical reasons.
It took me fucking forever– I kid you not I kept the same 10 dollar bill in my wallet for half a year just because you never know when you’ll need one– but about three months ago I FINALLY acquired a copy of Silent Hill 2 via craigslist, a game I have wanted to play since I got my PS2.
Haven’t played the first game but I don’t care; I’ve had a fascination with SH2 ever since knowing that Yahtzee (Escapist) holds it in high regard along with like, Portal and Half-Life 2– pretty much the only other games he has never torn to pieces– and I love that guy’s bitterness, I’m totally down with almost everything that passes his barking mad lips, so yeah.
Never seen the movie though.
It’s funny how you mature and realize in hindsight just how terrible some ideas truly are. When I was 16 my friends and I would argue about who we prayed would be cast in the role of Gordon Freeman (they all liked Charlie Sheen, I preferred Colin Farrell… don’t judge), not even bothering to think about just how bloody awful a Half-Life movie would actually be.
In 1999 I went to the theater to see my first video game-based movie, Wing Commander (Wing Commander IV was my favourite game for ages … imagine my disillusionment afterwards) which to this day might hold a spot on my podium of worst pieces of cinema rubbish EVER. The only thing that might take the cake is Operation Dumbo Drop.
Justifiably, I don’t see films based on games anymore, or if I do I proceed each time with an unprecedented level of distrust.
Yahtzee seemed to hold both Minecraft and Saints Row 2 both in high regards too. I don’t understand his reasoning for the second one as much.
He’s a curious fellow for sure. I had no idea he reviewed Minecraft…I MUST watch/read that.
Oh yeah, it was only recently that I stumbled upon his stuff, but I’ve fallen in love with it. Even when he tears apart games I love, it’s still highly entertaining.
I’ll just dip in to say that Silent Hill 2 is a fantastic work of OH FUCK ARGHARGHR NO PLEASE GOD Oh it’s around the corner isn’t it?
.. And that Saints Row 2 is well-deserving of a good review. The game has upheld what made the original GTA games special and greatly built upon the formula. Between being exceedingly (if crudely) funny and packed with more content than any other action-sandbox I’ve played… Plus fantastic co-op..
I.. I don’t know.
.. Look. There’s a minigame in which you use the thumbsticks to hurl and ragdoll yourself to try to cause the most crippling injuries possible in order to scam your health insurance. In co-op, smashing your face into a moving car’s windscreen while performing a slow motion triple-backflip as your friend flies over your head giggling, bouncing off an icecream truck… Is possibly the most -funny- thing I have ever experienced in a computer game. We almost died laughing. This is an exaggeration, but not a hyperbole.