Let’s talk about: Annoying Robots!

So, you don’t need to have read many of the posts we publish here on AddAltMode to get the impression that in this little corner of the internet robots are generally regarded a pretty favourably. But although robots are frequently awesome, it is a truth universally acknowledged that when robots aren’t awesome they’re often incredibly, infuriatingly, even offensively annoying!

So what makes for an annoying robot? Well, there are tons of listicles already out there along the lines of “The Top Ten most annoying robots in popular culture” so I’m not going to churn out another of those. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the various lists on this topic, it’s that there’s surprisingly little overlap between them. Annoyingness, it seems, can be quite a subjective quality. So today I’m going to look at a few robots who are often accused of being annoying. I’ll be asking what they’ve done to deserve that label and whether they really deserve it.

Bring forward the accused! These bots are on trial accused of being too annoying. Let the jury consider the evidence and decide their verdict.

Stock photo by  creationc from http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1409592

Health warning! If you’re easily wound up you may wish to stop reading now. While there are a few bots out there I may defend from over-harsh judgments, this post contains at least two characters for whom the label “annoying” doesn’t begin to cover it – although I could do with a label of some sort to stick over their robot mouths!

Continue reading

AddAltMode Presents: A Robot-Themed Playlist on Spotify

Ever since I worked on my post Mech Music: 5 Albums for Robot Lovers I’ve been collecting more robot themed and robot inspired tracks. So I thought, why not put them all together on a playlist?

AddAltMode Presents: Robots! is just under two hours of mech music, taking in a wide variety of robots from the huggable to the homicidal across a number of genres including: rock, metal, electronica, steampunk, chiptune, ambient and orchestral.  I love how the idea of robots can be interpreted and expressed in so many different musical directions.

If you’re interested why not click here to give it a listen on Spotify?

You don’t have to look at this .gif of Soundwave and Bumblebee for the entire duration of the playlist but it’s always an option.

Soundwave and Bumblee. Taken from the end credits to the Fall of Cybertron game

Taken from the end credits to the Fall of Cybertron game by High Moon Studios

I plan to add to the playlist over time so do follow it if you have a Spotify account and you’re interested. I’d love your feedback, which tracks do you like? Which ones did you skip? Plus if you’ve got any suggestions for more robot music then I’d love to hear them!

Game Review: Machinarium

Type of game: Puzzle / Point and Click Adventure
Published by: Amanita Design
Year: 2009
Played on: Steam

This isn’t a new game: it was one of those impetuous sale purchases that had been languishing unplayed in my Steam Library for too long. I’m glad I finally got round to entering its strange, beautiful and often frustrating world. “It’s a work of art” is one of those phrases that tends to get overused in positive reviews, but in the case of Machinarium – an indie puzzle game from Czech Studio Amanita – it really is the correct description.

Game title header

Game title header

The most impressive thing about this point and click adventure game is its aesthetic. The incredibly detailed hand-drawn backgrounds depict a world of metal, oil and rust, a towering city of gears and pipes inhabited by strange robotic creatures. The sense of charm, intrigue and sadness evoked by this cityscape is perfectly complemented by the game’s eerie ambient-industrial soundtrack. Even from the gently animated title screen it is apparent that Machinarium presents a rich and fascinating, mechanical world, one that I couldn’t wait to start exploring.

Continue reading

Play With This Walrus Too!

I just got a news update from the Play With This Too! Kickstarter that I wrote about before. Two new characters have been added to their line-up;

Two Walrus-furries in space armour. That's not a phrase I ever expected to find pleasing. Image © Play With This Too

Two Walrus-furries in space armour. That’s not a phrase I ever expected to find pleasing. Image © Play With This Too

Obviously, my request for a Not-Longtooth hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. Apparently, a third walrus-humanoid is on his way. Here’s hoping his armour is blue, and he has a peg-leg.

So, what to say about Count Tuskula and Lord Tangent Von Tuskuleser? They’ve got a nice, solid body shape, presumably they’ll have the same impressive articulation that existing PWTT prototypes have. The square black patches on their armoured collars remind me of Battle Beasts, the little rubber animal-men with stabby weapons and sadly easy-to-break shoulders, not the female-fronted metal band.

These two things aren't quote the same.

These two things aren’t quite the same. You’d be forgiven for mistaking one for the other though.

In particular, Lord Tangent’s colouration calls to mind series 2 Battle Beast Wolfgang Walrus. As with Catastropheles and Calamitous Haagenti, PWTT have managed to mash-up several 80s toy references into an aesthetically-unified whole. This Kickstarter is kicking a hole in my wallet.

TFA Slipstream Cosplay work in progress 3: Chest and Boots

So it’s been a month since I last did one of these work in progress updates, and if you saw my recent post of tips for surviving what I call The Cosplay Doldrums then you’ll know that during that time I encountered a few difficulties with this build and that my motivation took something of a nosedive. Still, the focus of that post was overcoming cosplay fatigue, not succumbing to it, and by the time I published it I’m pleased to report I’d started making progress on the Slipstream costume once again and most importantly, I’d started having fun making it again.  I’m really pleased now with how it’s all beginning to come together although there’s still a way to go yet.

Chest piece and shoulders

Top down view: Slipstream chest piece by AddAltModeR

This post is going to focus on the progress I’ve made designing and building her boots  / leg-plates and her iconic Seeker chest piece.

Continue reading

Mismatch: A figure custom inspired by Transformers Universe: Part 2

I should really get around to reading MTMTE...

This is the image result I got from Googling “Transformers Robot Education”.
…I should really get around to reading MTMTE…

So, I posted a while back that I’d be working on a modded toy to represent Mismatch from Transformers Universe. Having 3d-printed the parts, built the rollcage from plastic rods, and removed some no-longer-necessary Bumblebee parts, I’m beginning to see some results. All that really needs to be done is to paint it all and put it together. The process has been educational.

I’ve learned quite a lot about the craft of toy customisation, (mostly about paint, to be honest) which I’m going to share alongside sharing the photos of the work in progress.

Continue reading

Film Review: Chappie

Year: 2015
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel

Chappie is the third film by South African director Neill Blomkamp after the superb District 9 and the uninspiring Elysium. It also happens to be my third robot movie cinema trip of 2015 (after January’s Ex Machina and February’s Big Hero 6) and by the far the one I was looking forward to the most. I’d been really excited about Chappie since I first heard it was being produced, and – especially – since I saw initial designs for its expressively bunny-eared mechanical protagonist. But it was with some trepidation that I settled myself in front of the big screen as the picture seems to be garnering an awful lot of negative reviews and few things make me madder or sadder than squandered opportunities to make a decent robot flick.

So, how much does Chappie resemble the sticker on its eponymous hero’s head?

Still from Chappie official trailer: https://youtu.be/l6bmTNadhJE

Still from Chappie official trailer: https://youtu.be/l6bmTNadhJE

One of the movie’s refrains is the desire of his creator for Chappie to be himself, necessarily shaped and influenced by his world (a grimly dystopian one) and by the people around him, but ultimately free to be unique. Basically a robotic child, Chappie soaks up stimuli without always knowing what he wants or how to respond. And in this respect the film as a whole does mirrors its protagonist. Blomkamp’s influences are never hidden: with Short Circuit and Robocop being the most obvious cinematic touchstones. The film evokes these, as well as a lot of intriguing ideas about human prejudice, artificial intelligence and the nature of consciousness but it doesn’t always seem to have a clear agenda or sense of what to do with these multiple threads, and I can see how this would frustrate many critics.

Yet even if it can feel muddled, Chappie, like its protagonist, should not be rejected but embraced as very much its own thing. And that thing just happens to be a violent, bubblegum sci-fi robot fairytale. Now that’s not a genre I even realised I needed in my life but now we’ve got it, I’m so glad it’s here. This film is not without its flaws but it still triumphantly pulled at my heart strings and sent my pulse racing.

Continue reading

The Cosplay Doldrums: 5 Tips for Getting Through

“Doldrums” is a term with maritime origins. The Doldrums are  “a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms, squalls, and light shifting winds” (definition from Merriam-Webster). Back in the days of sailing ships, voyagers could be stuck in this frustrating part of the ocean for days on end. Of course, in modern parlance “doldrums” has come to signify more generally any period of depressing inactivity or lack of progress. But when it comes to describing the cosplay process I’m rather drawn to the nautical meaning. Building a costume is a journey, right? Sailing from inception to convention(s). But it’s rarely plain sailing  and the doldrums are one hazard that may need to be overcome along the way. I love cosplay but I’d be lying if I said the build process was all sunshine and rainbows. Maybe it is for people who are more talented/experienced than I am but, personally, if I had to plot my emotional state during the cosplay journey, the graph would look rather like this:

A rigorously scientific graph of AddAltModeR's cosplay journey

A rigorously scientific graph of the typical emotional life-cycle of one of my cosplay projects

I think – I hope – with my current costume build (Transformers Animated Slipstream) I am currently moving upwards somewhere in the “Back on Track” vicinity, but it’s been a bit of a struggle recently. I remember experiencing very much the same period of doubt and disappointment when I was working on my Arcee costume. I’m sure I’m not alone in this kind of experience, am I, fellow cosplayers? But knowing that the doldrums are a fairly natural part of any creative process doesn’t  make them any easier to get through. It would be all too easy to give up at this stage; carrying on takes a concerted effort but WILL be worth it in the end. So, for anyone stuck in a similar period of cosplay-related frustration, here are my top 5 tips for getting through the cosplay doldrums. Perhaps they will be helpful…. Continue reading

Robots in Disguise 2015: First Impressions Discussion

It’s here! Hasbro’s hotly anticipated new Transformers show, the somewhat unoriginally titled Robots in Disguise, is now on air in the UK. Here at AddAltMode we’ve watched the first three episodes so far: the somewhat unoriginally titled  “Pilot (parts 1 and 2)” and “Trust Exercises.” In this – our first jointly written post on this blog – we share our initial thoughts and reactions. rid logo CONTAINS SPOILERS! Continue reading