I’m having a blast with creating GIFs for the ds106 GIFfest, but I’m also enjoying Stella, the excellent Atari 2600 emulator that Jim Groom turned me onto before Christmas. I spent a few good solid hours playing some of my old favorites, including Miner 2049′er (just as difficult as I remember), Moon Patrol, and Missile Command (still as good as I remember). I wanted to create a bunch of separate GIFs from these games to try and capture the twitchy nature of 8-bit gaming, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with the results.
It was difficult for me to capture a moment in Miner 2049′er that conveyed the strongest memories I have of the game, which would be a still shot of my miner in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the level after falling from a high ledge. I created a GIF of the miner falling to his doom, but I wanted something that worked better as an seamless loop, not just a “restart” and fall. The same goes for the Moon Patrol GIF. I wanted to create a seamless action shot to convey the frenetic “run and gun” that you felt while playing the game. Miner 2049′er and other platformers at least gave you a safe spot to rest or wait until pushing ahead. Moon Patrol was not so nice, as your vehicle pushed forward whether you wanted it to or not, in an endless treadmill of UFOs, pits, and other obstacles.
During the creation process I kept thinking about the episode of Futurama in which Fry, a present day schmo transported to the future after being cryogenically frozen, dreams of visiting the moon. His future friends take him to the Moon Park, which turns out to be a huge disappointment for Fry as the moon has been completely “Disneyfied” and turned into a cheesy theme park. The lunar rover ride is on a rail, cotton candy comes in “moon rock” grey, and the most awful form of revisionist history takes place in a riff on the “It’s a Small World” ride; the “Whalers on the Moon” ride presents Moon tourists with what is believed to be what man’s first trip to the moon looked like, a bunch of drunken sailors with harpoons who have set out to hunt whales on the Sea of Tranquility.
The only way to clear my brain out was to create a new ds106 assignment that I’m calling “Animate 2600 Mashup” and take both my Moon Patrol and Miner 2049′er GIFs and cram them together, thus creating “Miners on the Moon”. Sure, it’s not quite the same thing as the Futurama joke, but it was a fun remix of the idea.
And because you’ve been a good sport about reading this entire non-education related blog post, I thought I’d at least create a “how to” video on creating an animated GIF using Photoshop and just about any video clip you can get your hands on.