The recent announcement of further SDK materials being prepared for Team Fortress 2 strongly reminded me of something when Valve’s Mike Booth explained, in the post, that Valve’s primary motivation for the SDK update was to “…make it much easier for … machinima makers to have more control over how characters animate in their movies.”
What was it, exactly, that the announcement reminded me so strongly of? Lit Fuse Films’ Ignis Solus, one of the earliest (if not the very first) Team Fortress 2 –based machinimas. Ignis Solus succesfully demonstrated back in 2007 the extent of what a capable group can convey and put cinematographically on display in the absence of actual tools. The short film sports an evocative original soundtrack, and primarily engages the viewer through the clever use of the Team Fortress 2 emotes. Some small credit for the overall success of the project must thus be awarded, primarily to Valve’s clever design for the pyro class, and secondarily to its imaginative voice acting.
All in all, Lit Fuse manage to establish a vivid canvas of emotion with no access to low-level source materials, perhaps at once revealing how and why machinima works, technical aspects aside, by taking a well-known context, and then engaging viewers with the unexpected and the unfamiliar.
While there is, one would surmise, relatively little incentive for Valve to keep on releasing more SDK materials to the public, especially now that a major portion of the TF2 source has already been available for quite some time, it’s still nothing short of spectacular that the team continues to serve general interests beyond those of players, no matter how trivial the contribution may be in the grander scale of things.