Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Craft Time: Make A Thanksgiving Day Chocobo Hat

It’s 4pm on Thanksgiving Day. You’re probably stuffed with turkey right now, or in the process of stuffing yourself with turkey, or still waiting to stuff yourself with turkey. (If you ate ham, get the hell out of here.) You know what that means? It’s time to make hats! Making turkey hats is an old Thanksgiving tradition. It’s not hard to see why; turkey hats combine two of our favorite things: food and fashion. Hats also make your head look bigger, which will convince people that your brain is huge. People who wear hats are often the life of the party. Need proof? Check out this picture of Spock. Boy what a boring guy. Now, what if we throw a hat on him? Instant party animal! You too can be this guy. But instead of making the traditional Turkey hat for Thanksgiving, why not make a hat using gaming’s first bird: the Chocobo. Read on to find out how. Making Chocobo hats is a fun family affair. It’s also practical. If that annual post-meal brawl breaks out, you’ll already be armed with scissors. Here’s what you’ll need to get started: Construction paper (all colors) Scissors Glue (edible) The unspoken disgust of your older cousins Kenny Loggin’s Top Gun Soundtrack Begin by cutting a piece of yellow paper into a large circle (don’t worry it can’t feel anything.) This is what a circle looks like: Next, cut out a beak and some eyes. Here is what you’re aiming for: If your uncle begins screaming about how his ex-wife wrecked his boat or your nephews start a backyard wrestling match in the living room, crank up Kenny Loggin’s "Danger Zone" and shut out the sound of smashing dishes. Next: putting it all together. Families can be hard. Is your mom screaming at you to take out the garbage? Is your Dad yelling at you, because he doesn’t want you to cut off all the cat’s hair? Is some old man complaining that you broke into his house and stole his war bonds? Ignore them. They don’t understand you. You’re an artist. You need those war bonds to make your Chocobo hat. It’s time to put the whole thing together. Glue your beak and eye to your circle and then affix the whole Chocobo head to another piece of paper (or war bond) and wrap it around your head. Feel free to add a few little extra details to your hat. Really make it your own. Add some extra tuffs off hair or a ruffled brow. If your Chocobo is filled with friendship and magic, add some glitter. If you’ve followed our instructions carefully, you should end up with something like this: *Results may vary There you have it. You are now free to experience the true joys of Thanksgiving. Throw away the unused scraps of paper (ignore their cries for mercy; they weren’t good enough to make the cut.) Now, go have some pie and hug your grandma – not only will she be freaked out by your new hat, she’ll won’t know what to make of this random affection. And remember, if you get bored later, you can always make Chocobo hats for your pets.

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    Creating the anthropomorphic world of Backbone, coming to PS4 and PS5

    Back in 2017, the game that would eventually become Backbone was entirely different: a stealth game in a science fiction setting. During a conference call brainstorming session, the team was interrupted by a crash that came from outside co-founder Nikita Danshin’s home in Vancouver. Raccoons had attacked his composting bin, so to scare them off, Nikita (also the game’s composer) picked up the loudest thing at hand — his trumpet. We were unable to stop laughing about how fun it would be to play as a raccoon strategically stealing people’s garbage, and after a few iterations, Backbone’s world of anthropomorphic animals was born.

    Left: Character art for the sword-wilding Samson / Right: Final in-game appearance

    Character designer and senior artist Kristina Dashevskaya worked up concepts for swearing, trench coat-wearing raccoon Howard Lotor. We instantly fell in love with this character, and the rest of the world building stemmed from there.

    In this world, apes are on top — they are the architects and rulers of society, and they eventually make decisions on where everyone else sits. Lions and bears are slightly below, cats and dogs lower (but still in the upper class), raccoons and foxes are smack dab in the middle, and rodents like mice and rabbits are the working class. Just like in real life, these rules are often broken, but any deviation is looked down upon, while conformity is celebrated. Different neighborhoods are inhabited by clusters of species, so while exploring the world of Backbone, players might notice that subtle segregation.

    Left: A sketch of the Granville location in Backbone / Right: The final in-game destination

    Unlike boring humans, with anthropomorphic animals there are so many ways to tell a cohesive story through costume, facial features, tails, and coloring. Species each have a heavy connotation in Backbone’s lore, so every rat and lion comes with a set of inherent stereotypes that characters in the game believe. But apes and hamsters can be the same height and size, and their species is mostly an example of the social construct rather than a set list of biological features. Just like people, we all have different faces and bodies — but it’s the artificial order and economy and propaganda that decides where we’re placed on the social ladder.

    While Backbone seems like a story about animals, it really is about the human condition and the beauty and pain of our common struggle. We don’t rely on biological determinism in our design and writing — even though the in-world characters do judge others based on their species. The animal factor helps distance ourselves enough to examine and deconstruct these real world biases about real people, but there is a very fragile balancing act of trying to never hit too close home, to not appropriate and to not diminish the real human experience. 

    Left: A sketch of the West End setting in Backbone / Right: Final-in game location

    Howard Lotor was always supposed to be a raccoon, but throughout the development, we also realized that it’s a perfect choice for a player character. Raccoons are stuck in the middle — not upper class, not lower, they’re being looked down upon by everyone and struggle with their identity. Howard’s story is focused on his identity crisis and transformation, and his relatability is what made it work for us.

    We’re happy to bring Howard and the world of Backbone to a wider player base by releasing the game on PS4 and PS5, as well as offering a total of nine languages across all platforms beginning October 28. Languages include English, Japanese, French, German, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Spanish, and we look forward to seeing how new players experience this deeply personal story across the globe.

    By PlayStation Official blog (blog.playstation.com)

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