Role-Play This! Paul Robertson Animations

What Is It?
Paul Robertson is an Australian artist and animator who favors pixel-based art in a distinctive manga- and video game-inspired style. In addition to a host of random pictures and animated gifs, he’s completed a number of animated short films, most recently the 15-minute epic “Kings of Power Four Billion %.” These show of his amazing talents and awesomely twisted sensibilities.

Above is the trailer for KOP4B%. Below are links to all of the full videos I could find. He’s apparently working on a compilation DVD, which I want entirely too much.

(And incidentally, PersonaSama also does some great stuff, God Slayer being my favorite so far).

Mechafetus Visublog

Why’s It Awesome?
When me and my friends first saw Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, we quickly concluded that any video game company that didn’t want to hire the creator as an art director must be goddamn stupid. Robertson works wholly with video game style sprites, but he very deliberately subverts the medium. Pirate Baby has two heroes climbing the levels of a building fighting zombies to rescue a kidnapped girl, and along the way they face things like a giant octopus clutching four nude zombie women that vomit horrible insects as a means of attack. The heroes retaliate with super attacks featuring the ghosts of dead mosquitoes, the soldiers from Predator, and Christopher Walken. Kings of Power takes this to the next level, where the final attack requires the rebirth of the New Ultimate Jesus, and then the little girl from space… I don’t want to spoil it, actually. But there’s definitely nothing quite like it.

Gaming It
The other day Filip started this thread on Story Games, asking how to role-play Devil Eyes, right in between when I had decided to do the next column about Robertson’s stuff and when I got started writing. Anyway, the way I see it, there are three ways to structure one’s fundamental approach to this:

1. Traditional RPG
Run it as a traditional RPG. The GM has to be a very strange person, capable of hurling an endless stream of strangeness at the players.

2. Collaborative RPG
The idea here is that the game serves as a structure for the entire group to throw out the most insane things they can think of. The most obvious model for this is Jared Sorenson’s octaNe, which wholly hands over narration to the players at times. (Though I’d be tempted to add “Guro” as a Style…)

On a similar note, in the aforementioned thread Johnstone suggested what to me sounds like an RPG version of 1000 Blank White Cards, where each player draws weird things on cards, which become the basis of the game. There are two artists in my gaming group, and one of them likes to draw something basic, and then pass it around the room for people to add whatever details they want. To make that approach really work I’d want to corner all of the artists I know (four in all) and coerce them into playing.

3. Meme-Rich RPG
One RPG I’ve got on the back burner is Moonsick. It’s consciously based on Superflat aesthetics, with little girls going down to a radioactive Earth and becoming horribly mutated (and sometimes mutilated) while “onii-sama” (big brother) watches. The game uses cards to establish scenes and introduce mutations, and thus introducing pre-defined memes into the fiction is at the heart of what the game’s rules do. This is the approach that’s perhaps most in sync with how a video game works, and with something like cards you can have the visual elements readily accessible to the participants (which is a big part of why I went that route with Moonsick).

In any of the above methods, there needs to be a rule for doing a final super attack where you take a bunch of the cards/pictures/elements you used before and combine them into one spectacular, climactic orgy of violence.

2 thoughts on “Role-Play This! Paul Robertson Animations

  1. One thing I noticed in the films are the tons of cameos and just out of left field items- Honda civics of doom? Weird Al on the Cross?

    Which brings me to my suggestion if I was to do a Paul Robertson “Pixel Bash” game- turn it into a Apples to Apples RPG variant. I know they sell blanks of the cards, so you can put in your own stuff with all the topics and items that party game already brings.

    Players can slam down cards to give added effects to their checks, attacks and supers. GMs can use the cards to quickly bring out of nowhere concepts into play.

  2. Truth be told, the meme-rich way sounds like the only potentially reliable way to do it to me. You can roll the dice and play with stats all day, but it won’t necessarily fuel your imagination and push it in the right direction.

    Johnstone had some very good thoughts in that SG thread, especially about the collage thingie. I think the key is to have the right memetic juice.

    Now, that’s as far as the atmosphere goes. At the table, you just need something to fill the niche of the images. However, there’s still the problem of the narrative itself, and the way the whole visual assault so strongly invites the viewer to build his or her own layer of story.

    Also, the odd thing is, nobody actually suggested creating an IAWA Oracle yet ;)

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