GR:SO post-mortem

Hey, Paul Spooner here, doing an animation post-mortem of the Good Robot: Space Opera AMV I made.

How it Began

The ground was laid for the project in mid-september 2013. Shamus Young had just started working on a 2d shmup game called Good Robot, and I was inspired to make a 3d model of the eponymous virtuous automaton. The model turned out pretty well, but besides a few renders I didn’t have anything to use it for.

A couple years later, it’s February 2016, and Good Robot is finally scheduled for release. I have the impulse to contribute to the marketing push by making some fanimation. I asked for help from the community, but none was forthcoming. So I started looking for inspiration. Shamus had mentioned the kind of music he wanted for the game, and a few of the commentors posted songs they had composed for the purpose. I dug through the blog archives and found four songs that fans had made, and decided they would serve well as a basis for the animations. One in particular stood out to me, Synth Opera by John “LazerBlade” Serafino (Note that this is the un-cut original. I edited the song for the animation). It was deep and moving and complex, and honestly rather daunting.

So, I set it aside and animated to the tune of Foster Powell’s goodrobot2_demo2 which elicited a definite narrative in my mind. This was the first hint. I was pretty happy with how the video turned out.

Spurred by an initial success, I animated to the other two songs. Drum And Face-1 by John “LazerBlade” Serafino turned out pretty well as animation. Bad Robot (I’ve misplaced the composer’s info! Sorry internet person!) made for a bad animation, again because it didn’t inspire me. I finished it out of a sense of completion, which was my second hint.

Then I started on Synth Opera.

Concept sketches for Good Robot Synth Opera

The first part of the song was coming together, but the second half wasn’t clicking with me. I had vague visions of a setting, or some characters, but nothing that worked together. This issue was made even worse when I started on the modeling for the first part of the animation without a detailed plan for the second half. After a couple weeks of work, I had this.

Those parts remain the best of the animation.

I was then faced with a conundrum. I could animate the rest with basically no reference and it would probably look terrible, or I could leave it unfinished. I chose the latter for almost a year. The game Good Robot itself was a financial failure, breaking the tiny indie studio that produced it. Finally, in February of 2017, I realized that there was a third option. An option I had employed in the Bad Robot animation to discouraging effect.

So I simply padded out the rest of the song with game footage.

Good Robot Synth Opera final edit

The purple in the edit sheet above is animations I made. The blue is game footage. Notice the contrast around the cut 24 seconds in.

I finally had a finished AMV for the song that I admired so much. The first half was a showcase of the best modeling and animation I had ever done. The second half was mostly uninspired. And you can feel it, right? The first half grooves, and the second half just… is.

If there’s a lesson here, it’s one that I have known for a long time, and simply failed to apply. If you don’t know where you’re going, figure that out before you start on the journey.

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3 Responses to GR:SO post-mortem

  1. Leah and Charlette says:

    We like playing Good Robot. We got to the boss level one time, but we died. We went to the boss level without knowing it was the boss level, so we weren’t ready.

  2. Bernard says:

    More spam comments? Do you even check these?

  3. Ziggy says:

    Yeah, the first one is from my daughters. I assigned a bunch of my old blog posts as reading assignments. Leaving a relevant comment was part of their home-school curriculum.

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