Zeus’ Affairs

This one was making the rounds last week in various places, so you might have seen it already, but if not, it’s definitely worth a look. It’s a visualization of Zeus’ Affairs (it’s actually a genealogy sort of thing) with the added value of tracking which source mentions what and when this or that story appears to have been popular … the instructions are a bit complicated, but it’s incredibly interesting:

Apotheon: Black Figure Gaming?

The incipit from a piece at Gamasutra:

Apotheon looks nothing like the last game independent developer Alientrap put out, Capsized — that title inhabited a verdant alien world, lush with detailed hand-drawn illustrations of the planet’s exotic flora.

This newest project more resembles the rash of silhouetted sidescrollers that have popped up in recent years, like Limbo, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, and Outland. But Apotheon stands out from that style by adopting an aesthetic that’s hardly been explored in games, the “Black Figure” paintings that adorn ancient Greek pottery.

It’s a striking look the Canadian studio might have never settled on if the team stayed with the project’s initial concept: a cyberpunk, sci-fi-themed open-world game with some mythological trappings.

Apotheon started as “space Greek mythology” before the studio dropped the “space” part and realized classical mythology alone is a great source for stories that translates well to video games, which the God of War series can attest to.

“The Black Figure pottery art style seemed like a no-brainer after that,” Alientrap artist and co-designer Jesse McGibney tells Gamasutra. “It’s simple to animate, bold and easy to read, transitions great into a 2D platformer perspective, and perfectly meshes with the narrative and theme. We were honestly surprised that hardly any games have used this style before.” […]

… there’s more at the original article, including the first ‘gameplay video’. It kind of reminds me of the opening of Disney’s Hercules flick years ago but is actually really neat. There is some unfortunate terminology (e.g. Greeks wearing “togas”) and one of the characters kind of looks like a Roman standard bearer, but those seem to be minor quibbles for this sort of thing …

What Greek Myth Can Tell Us

Hypish sort of thing (I think) from Paul OMahoney in the Independent … here’s the end bit:

[…] But the Greek myths don’t just shed light on modern day Greece – they illuminate the whole world. The global financial crisis was created by a brand new banking breed of Midases, all of them hungry for gold. Midas was a king who did one good deed and was rewarded by the god Apollo who told him he would grant him one wish. What would Midas choose: world peace? An end to hunger? An Olympics that was delivered on budget? No. He wished that everything he touched would turn into gold. EVERYTHING. This included his daughter, as well as all the food he tried to eat. Not a smart move. The gods had to step in and revoke his wish, but not before the damage was already done…

There are further warnings from the past. We constantly worry nowadays about conservation – preserving the planet and its natural wonders for future generations. It is unbearably sad to think that our grandchildren may never see a panda bear (although I do think pandas are a bit overrated – how can one animal sleep for so long? They do nothing! And if they don’t want to have sex, well, you just can’t force it can you?), and it is awful to think of young people growing up in this century who may never witness the many beautiful animals this world has to offer. Well, that didn’t bother those ancient Greek heroes much did it? When’s the last time you caught David Attenborough narrating glorious high-definition footage of a Chimaera battling to the death with a Hydra? That’s right, never: because Bellerophon and Heracles got there first. In fact, Heracles must be responsible for the extinction of more species than any man before or since. If Disney’s Hercules had been in Disney’s Lion King then it would have been a very different film (and highly unlikely to get a ‘U’ certificate).

But the Greeks had the right idea. Their heroes had faults – plenty of them – but they didn’t have it all their own way. Yes Heracles was an eco-warrior’s worst nightmare, but he also died in excruciating pain wearing a poisoned cloak given to him by his wife. Odysseus must have sailed further than Dame Ellen MacArthur in his quest to make it home, and Midas ended up hungry and alone, with his ears replaced with those of an ass. If only we could mete out similar punishment to those who were foolish enough to think that everything they touched would turn to gold this time round.

The terrible problems that afflict Western culture today were woven into the myths of the people who gave us that culture in the first place. They really knew what was what those ancient Greeks – so maybe the solutions are in there too.

… personally, I always thought it important to recognize that his labours were a major ‘make work’ project and all those monsters Hercules battled probably would have died anyway … they were the only members of their species and don’t seem to have had any breeding partners …