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An 8-bit Epic

ae3'Samson's Quest' revels in a 1993 that could have been

I hate graphics," Christopher Rosenberg says, explaining that his disdain for the ultra-real renderings found in many of today's most popular videogames is likely directly linked to the many hours of his youth that he spent playing 8- and 16-bit Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles.

"Some of my earliest memories are of playing Zelda II on an NES console," the 24-year-old Los Altos resident says. It is a time of great nostalgia for Rosenberg, though he doesn't always accurately recollect his childhood.

"You know how when you're so young, everything has sort of a dream-like quality?" he asks. It often occurs that when Rosenberg attempts to remember the early '90s—the era in which his forthcoming film, Samson's Quest, is based—he pictures many objects not as hazy and ephemeral. Instead, he sees them as a mosaic of tiny pixels.

"The landscapes in particular," he says, "I sort of remember them in an 8-bit pattern, even though it was reality."

Rosenberg aims to create this feeling with Samson's Quest, a tale of love and videogames, set in "an alternate 1993,” which will be shot in Santa Cruz. That is, if all of the 8-bit enthusiasts chip in.

Rosenberg, like many web-savvy artists these days, has turned to Kickstarter—a social networking site for fundraising—to cobble together the $19,000 he says he needs to make his film.

It's slow going. The day GT caught up with him, Rosenberg’s Kickstarter campaign had 27 days left to raise the money, which, if you ask him, is "almost nothing" when it comes to making a feature-length motion picture. If the entire $19,000 isn't there by July 16, the money which has been pledged will be returned to the donors, and Rosenberg will have to start again. And he plans to.

"We probably won't make it this time," he shrugs. But not to worry—unlike the hero in his story, Rosenberg has more than a single night to complete his quest.

The film centers around Samson, a twentysomething romantic, struggling to win over his crush: the unapproachable tomboy and videogame professional, Olga. In an attempt to woo her, Samson has strived to become a worthy gamer. One fateful afternoon, after borrowing a console and game from his muse, Samson and his friends accidentally delete Olga's saved game.

The rest of the story follows Samson as he frantically struggles to beat the game in one sleepless night, with the help of various friends.

In designing the sets and selecting the wardrobe, Rosenberg aims to stick as closely as he can to a very specific 56-color palate: the very same collection of shades and hues used by early developers to construct the worlds found within Nintendo games.

Rich Vreeland, better known as Berkeley, Calif.-based chiptune artist Disasterpeace, has agreed to score the film "for incredibly cheap" if they end up raising the money.

Getting Disasterpeace to sign on to the project was a coup, Rosenberg says. Vreeland's notoriety within the world of chiptune—a genre consisting of a wide variety of styles of music all performed using the buzzing, lo-fi, 8-bit tones familiar to anyone who has played early videogames—has helped Rosenberg reach out to circles he would otherwise not have access to.

The cross-collaboration doesn't end there. Samson's Quest will also utilize indie developers of lo-fi games. The way Rosenberg describes it, the characters in the movie are meant to be playing one epic game. But, in reality, they will actually be playing a series of games. "Whenever we show footage of the game that they're playing, we want to show footage of these indie developers."

Those developers, in turn, are helping spread the word about the Samson's Quest Kickstarter campaign within their own social networks.

Throw in the Grecian pixel artist, Helm, who has contributed art for promotional Samson's Quest T-shirts, and Rosenberg's film is an international project.

It may seem like a lot of work for a film that hasn't even shot one frame of footage, but if all of the people involved in the project are anything like Rosenberg, it will be worth it.

"I feel like it's something a lot of people in my generation grew up doing," he says of videogames. "It's this piece of cultural heritage that isn't really reflected in narrative fiction, and I wanted to find a way to do that." And besides, he quips, "I'm a hardcore nerd." 

For more information about ‘Samson’s Quest’ and to donate to the project, visit http://kck.st/L3EOiq.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

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