Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 24

(SONY WEBSITE’S) CRYPTIC IMAGE ANALYSIS

By Bruno de Figueiredo (dieubussy@hotmail.com)

‘ I enjoyed catching and keeping living things, such as fish or birds.’ – Fumito Ueda

It is undeniable that both Fumito Ueda’s games, ICO and SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS, are two fascinating objects of study. One might be amazed with the level of depth that these two games have, bearing in mind that most videogames only offer immediate pleasure during the game play experience. By the other hand, his personality is also captivating, as he is one of the most uncommon game designers nowadays. His reverence for western culture, art and technology is visible in his works and recognizable in his words.

While SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS was one of the most anticipated games in the last years, it also happened to expand the interest of most gamers to that other videogame relic called ICO. All the expectation around a new game, possibly for the PS3, is even greater this time. Not very much is known about the project but some believe that some little fragments, from interviews, reactions and other sources, already begin to present a blurry image of things to come.

One of the few leads that have been (supposedly) presented was an image which served as a background on an advertisement page in Sony’s website. The page was announcing that the team was recruiting new elements specialized in physical simulations among other categories. This image, untitled and enigmatic, may have some purpose, especially if one has in mind that its size is much larger than that which current computer resolutions can support. For this reason, a large part of the elements within the picture were left out of the screen, almost as if it begged to be saved and analysed.

What I am setting out to do is to perform an analysis of this image which may or may not be associated, in any way, to the new project being developed by Fumito Ueda and the so-called Team Ico. Also, I took the liberty to associate a number of the meanings I was able to infer from it with other developments which have been reported lately, mainly the rumour of a project called THE LAST CANYON.

INITIAL THOUGHTS

As it is now commonly known, Fumito Ueda has paid his homage to the Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico when he chose this artist’s style and mannerisms in order to create a cover for his first game. Ueda, having studied art, seems to be familiarized with styles from several currents and epochs.

Looking at this cryptic image which many believe to be connected with Ueda’s new project, I couldn’t help remembering the schematics and drawings of one of mankind’s greatest artists. Because I knew the person in question has an enduring appreciation for Italian art, the whole idea didn’t seem (too) absurd. But that is as far as I go for now.

Also I think that though the mechanics for the new game seem to be very different from those which were rehearsed in the previous titles, an artist’s unique characteristics can be recognized in each and every one of his creations – meaning that even if there is a sudden change of stylistic resources for this new work, there will still be elements to connect it with the previous works, I am certain. What is being discussed now is the level of approach between this new venture and the previous. Some point out a preservation of themes and aesthetic solutions. Other leads reveal a potential sea change in these same parameters. In short, all these early presumptions and considerations define the very concept of expectation surrounding a Team Ico videogame.

So, then, the question is why should this image be analysed?

First of all when a team of major importance within SCE is recruiting new workers they’re sending a message to the public. They are perfectly aware of the amount of players and news people that are constantly looking to know more about Ueda’s new game. Understanding what message they are sending is essential. There are indications that they were, in fact, looking for people with certain traits, but are there any reasons not to believe that they weren’t, in truth, embarking on a new campaign of viral marketing as they did with SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS? They presented what sort of expertises they wished new recruiters to meet. Reading between the lines, we may be, in fact, reading some dissimulate version of the new game’s features: online functions, new engine with improved physics, character modelling, etc. The same question keeps echoing in my mind: ‘why would a company with the scale of Sony, owner of probably more than a pile of resumes from competent people applying for a job, search for

experts in common areas such as networking and physical simulations through an advertisement in Famitsu Magazine?’

If that is an agreeable argument, then we reach to a point where we may look differently to this image which needs to be scrutinized. And visual references tend to be the most powerful, probably even more clarifying than textual messages. Hence my profound interest in this blueprint which serves as a background to all of this apparently nonsensical campaign. Or is it?

I admit that my mathematical knowledge is minimal, if not inexistent. Various formulas are displayed and I can’t say I make any sense of it. By writing this piece, which hopefully someone will be able to read, I’m also trying to provoke thoughts on the reader’s mind. This may be the starting point for the elaboration of suggestions which may provide a better understanding of the document. In any case, let us move to the analysis and try discerning any intelligent message behind these numbers, lines and shapes.

and try discerning any intelligent message behind these numbers, lines and shapes. A full-size view of

A full-size view of the picture.

SCATTERED SCRAPS

SCATTERED SCRAPS Each number represents a portion of the full document which I’ve identified with a

Each number represents a portion of the full document which I’ve identified with a number so as to make the analysis easier to understand.

Before analysing each of the image’s peculiarities, I wish to remind the reader that this is but a recollection of my thoughts and interpretations on the various aspects of this image. There is a high degree of plausibility that the image may not be associated with any new project being created by Sony Computer Entertainment.

Overall, the picture shows what seems to be a sheet of paper used for early sketches and formulae. The elements of which it is composed are scattered in what I believe to be an unorganized manner. Maybe that was a sheet of paper used several times, believably by the same person judging from the homogeneous calligraphy and drawing style. Also, it is possible that all these designs belong to separated sketches, later merged together over a sheet of sepia-coloured paper in order to create a certain effect. The image isn’t detailed enough for a definite conclusion on that issue. At any rate, I intend to perform an analysis on every part or detail.

PART 1

PART 1 The top left corner of the image is probably the most common of the

The top left corner of the image is probably the most common of the figures within the whole composition. We see a figure of a man walking or running towards the edge of a geometric volume. He is standing on his right foot, preparing to meet the edge of the volume. If we consider each horizontal space to be a stage, we find three of them: one, in which there is no anthropomorphic figure, but a line pointing out toward a new representation of the same rectangular prism, describing an ascendant move, then a soft descending one; the middle one, where the figure is heading towards the edge of the volume; and the upper one where the figure is more deliberately heading towards the edge of the volume, with an arrow coming out of his head, as if he is preparing to jump.

Hypothesis: this may indicate a basic jumping sequence from spot to spot. Notice that there are a number of similar polygons just to the right of each one. Also, further sketches indicate this three step jump movement. If not a common, A to B jump, this may also be illustrative of a jump followed by flight or gliding.

PART 2

PART 2 In the next section, just a little to the right of the previous, we

In the next section, just a little to the right of the previous, we find a series of mathematical formulas which I, to be honest, can only begin to understand. Common sense says that these geometrical figures resemble ramps and the diagonal line represents an ascending movement. In fact, the first equation defines the spatial location of a superficial sphere. Notice the square root symbol before it, as it will be important to keep in mind as we enter the next page.

For this section, horizontal lines were drawn in order to write, and a distinguishable blue ink pen was used to do both the drawing and the formulas. An arrow pointing directly to one of the drawings seems to me making a connection a certain part of the mathematical expression – one which seems more elaborate, altogether - , increasing the chances of a connection between both.

Hypothesis: In short, I have reasons to believe that these formulas are of some importance. Nevertheless, the writing is too unclear and even for a math expert; it would be hard to make sense of it. I leave an open window for further interpretations.

The equation for the coordinates of the sphere doesn’t provide any other valid clues, either. I rule out the supposition that this document is, in any way, related to scenario construction or polygon interaction, as most polygon designs of today are mostly based on triangles (or pyramids) and not circles (or spheres).

PART 3

PART 3 Proceeding to the right, we discover a segment which may indeed be connected with

Proceeding to the right, we discover a segment which may indeed be connected with the previous but which I preferred to separate in order to introduce a new visual aspect: the blue ink blots behind. Also, coming out of the cube there are two circles. The lines connecting to them may represent a trajectory or motion. The three-dimensional shape of a cube seems to be crossed by a number of lines and arrows, pointing towards all the cardinal points. At first sight, this seems like some sort of an axis system. In the middle, curiously, a curve line among rectilinear lines. On the left, there seems to be some writing: ‘Aust’, ‘Rust’ or, most likely, ‘Root’, probably referring to the previous square root.

The drawings on the top are harder to identify. Zooming in that portion doesn’t shed more light to the subject. On the contrary, it creates more doubts. The big figure on the right is bound to be an arrow. Yet, all the other arrows in this portion are preceded by a line, which doesn’t happen in this case. The vertical line and this arrow mismatch. On the left, however, stands what seems to be the silhouette of a human figure (two legs, two arms and a head).

of a human figure (two legs, two arms and a head). Hypothesis: More questions do rise

Hypothesis: More questions do rise as we deepen the analysis. Certainly this geometrical model is associated with the previous formula, about the interactions of circles and squares or motion guides. If the design on the top is actually that of a human figure – as seen in part 1- then it seems reasonable to assume that there must be human presence or interaction behind this process. But it is the process itself which is hard to define.

PART 4

PART 4 At this point, there isn’t still much information to make any of the following

At this point, there isn’t still much information to make any of the following parts of the document easier to understand. At the top right a number of small circles or dots are connected through curvilinear segments. These ‘S’ curbs may describe a trajectory, marked with a series of points stressing specific points. The angle in which the straight lines are arranged seems to indicate a half-notion of perspective, almost as if it was representing a three-dimensional object, only no similar curve line is at the other end to achieve the full effect.

Even more intriguing is the scheme on the right. An ascending movement is represented through the main line, headed by an arrow. This line represents a dramatic increase, then steadiness. At certain points of the line, arrows are drawn downwards and obliquely, as if to simulate the trajectory of a dramatic fall at different levels of ascension. Between the most visible lines there are a number of thinner and more transparent ones, probably previous attempts to draw lines that have failed as it happens in most quick hand drawings.

Interestingly enough, some hiragana characters can also be read above some of the divided portions. I can only distinguish ‘yu’ and then ‘ro’. Apparently they have no meaning and their choice could have been arbitrary.

For the first time, if we consider the order this reading is being done so far, we see arcs connecting points. If this is a representation of flight patterns, as suggested by THE LAST CANYON rumours, the arcs may represent flight height recovery after sudden loss.

Ink blots on the right are also important as a part of a group which will be concluded later on.

Hypothesis: If flight patterns are going to be a part of the new project’s gameplay mechanics, then this is a solid representation of how they may have started in the mind of the creator. In spite of this, the figure is ambiguous enough to be interpreted in various other ways given different contexts. Which, once more, reminds me of how inaccurate this exercise may become in the future.

PART 5

PART 5 Although it is easy to identify a leg with a boot, the obviousness of

Although it is easy to identify a leg with a boot, the obviousness of this section is even more inexplicable than the previous ones. This leg was drawn in a very sluggish way, indicating that this might be a small draft, not containing too much detail of information. There are several points in the leg which are marked with crosses, acting as connections between lozenges, crossed in between. This may represent tension points on the leg, though with little attention to anatomy. Below the leg it reads ‘Rot”.

To the right we see some switching mechanism, connected to the legs, apparently, through a series of arrows although it is very hard to spot their origin. The word ‘switch’ is written below, although I found that, by zooming in on it in order to get a clearer view, the supposed ‘s” that begins the word is cut on the left, almost as if it was pasted there.

Hypothesis: The word to the right of the interconnected rectangles reads ‘Exp. Rot.’, possibly describing some rotational movement or switching, aided by the indication of the slightly bent arrow from the lower to the upper rectangular shape. Considering the idea of flight patterns, this may be associated with some awkward system allowing the mitigation of pressure on the legs. The theory presented recently of a game system where the character had to descend from the sky in order to pick up a series of undefined objects or beings would attest to this argument. Apart from that, the only other meaning behind a leg and boot I remember is the popular iconic representation of the Italian country – whose arts and crafts Ueda-san seems to admire.

PART 6

PART 6 This segment displays the image of an object, a plate or some sort of

This segment displays the image of an object, a plate or some sort of recipient which was most likely drawn along with the other shapes to be seen in the next part. The reason why I chose to detach this tiny space was, in effect, the existence of a bird, perhaps a swallow or a barn swallow. As it is visible, the bird was drawn in a different colour from the rest of the elements, in some sort of dark orange which, however, is lighter than the predominant dark-brown used to design most of the objects in this picture.

It seems reasonable to assume that the swallow was drawn after bowl-shaped object. If not, the ellipse describing the objects limit wouldn’t be crossing the bird’s body as it is. Also, the bird placed in spatial concordance with the other item, almost as if was resting upon its borders. The juxtaposition of both elements may be related, at a first-glance, to the concept of feeding, as bowls are generally used to serve food.

Hypothesis: The Bird, as an element, is of strong significance among Ueda’s games. In Shadow of the Colossus, for instance, a bird is the first element to appear on screen, during the introduction sequence. In the ending sequence, a bird is seen flying from the top of the shrine, travelling high in the clouds. This is the very last image of the game before it ends. If a bird or flight sequences are to be used in this new game, they would provide the key to the continuity between the last and the next project. Such has happened, I believe, between Ico and Shadow of the Colossus as well: the first living element which the player sees in the shrine is a group of shadowy figures rising from the ground, much like the enemies Ico had to fight.

When a colossus was defeated, white bird appeared before Mono’s resting place. Swallows are deeply associated with migratory movements. Couldn’t this also represent a migration of the soul? In the last years of his career, Spanish artist Salvador Dali used the swallows as a symbol for reincarnation. If Wander, or at least a part of him died in the end, the bird travelling across the land could be the carrier of a fragment of his soul.

PART 7

More geometrical figures as we uncover a new section. On the upper-left corner, a sphere is drawn, showing two different layers: the top one, seemingly transparent, and the lower one, coloured or opaque. To its right, some sort of bubble slightly drawn over the paper with a cross in its middle.

Near the centre, an irregular cube, crossed with what seem to be intermittent lines, also inducing the notion of transparency. The last object, near the bottom, is a ring- shaped one. The drawing consists of three simple steps: an outer ellipse, and a middle one, smaller. The curbed lines between them also present the illusion of volume. Despite it’s similarities with a common icon in today’s food industry, this shape could also be identified as a buoy or a wheel.

this shape could also be identified as a buoy or a wheel. Some light-red blots can

Some light-red blots can also be identified in the background.

Hypothesis: These may be separate parts of a larger object whose representation isn’t present in this image. But they can also be mere doodles, typical of sheets of paper that remain for long periods in working environments. What they may, in fact, be may never be explained. I suppose these, as many other forms and shapes found here, may only reveal some meaning through its association with similar shapes used in different contexts.

PART 8

PART 8 In order to get a clearer view at the elements contained in this part

In order to get a clearer view at the elements contained in this part I had to rotate the image 90º counter-clockwise. First of all, this section shows the continued green blots from part 4 as it is place right beneath it. But notice the slightly yellow stain right below the upside-down diagram. This means that the sheet of paper we see here might have been used in a plain desk, easily accessible from any angle, probably inserted in a large studio. I exclude the possibility of this being a common-user sheet because the calligraphy seems to be one and the same, a solid indication that only one person used it.

the same, a solid indication that only one person used it. This scheme (shown in the

This scheme (shown in the detail) is hard to understand but at least some words seem to be visible and, most importantly, readable. The top box in the hierarchy seems to have the word ‘Bore’ or ‘Bone’. Below, it reads ‘IKEF’ and the next boxes, to the right, are

indistinct – a great deal of words could fit the profile. Below the diagram, the word ‘children [ ]’ is written. To its right, ‘Bi = Z’.

With the yellow stripe, we now count four colours on the whole image: Blue, Green and Red (in the shape of blots) and now yellow.

Blue, Green and Red (in the shape of blots) and now yellow. This specific portion is

This specific portion is one of the most singular shapes, possibly either an object or the upper/lower view of some imaginary space or mechanism. The dark-red blots, much like the other ones along the document, could be here in order to draw attention. Having such sort of logic in mind, we may indeed be lead to believe that the ink stains may indicate higher levels of importance within the images. This is to say that, if a specific part has some ink behind it, has got to be important. That or they could be absolutely random. The mechanism is ambiguous enough to be associated with anything. In my opinion, it looks like some sort of padlock or locking mechanism. Notice that there is another piece connected to it, just like a chain. Rotate it 180º degrees counter clockwise and it might even make more sense.

degrees counter clockwise and it might even make more sense. This part needs to be rotated

This part needs to be rotated as well in order to read the words present in there. This system is made of three parts, represented in bubbles. On the right there seems to be an ‘S’ or the number ‘8’. This circle is then connected, through some sort of channel, to another circle surrounding the word ‘Skin’ – the most clear of all the words that can be read here. Below it, a word that could be ‘Sloe’, ‘Ske’ or ‘Shoe’. Both words, whatever their meaning is, are interconnected by means of an arrow pointing at both – seen in the middle.

Hypothesis: Everything is too vague. A diagram of this sort could, basically, mean anything. If the words were distinct enough, one could get a better view and understanding. The word ‘children’ does ring a (strange) bell. Maybe it is too quick and simplistic observation, but the childhood theme was already explored in ICO. This is one of the few words in the whole picture which is easy to read. Comparing the calligraphy

on this word with the few Fumito Ueda autographs, one can notice that the ‘e’ letter is very similar to the ‘e’ in ‘children’, and so presenting a good hypothesis that this was drawn by him.

The shape which has intrigued me the most in this image stands on the lower-right corner of part 8. I’ve tried to rotate it, zoom it, invert its colours but with no solid results. For now, the padlock mechanism seems to be the best explanation I can come up with – although I think I’ve seen that shape before somewhere. Notice that the circle within the ‘chain’ has some strange form within it, a doodle, maybe.

PART 9

PART 9 The first impression one gets from this fraction is the detail given to the

The first impression one gets from this fraction is the detail given to the rocky edge. Unlike the rest of the doodles portrayed here, this representation actually shows what it is without any need for further interpretation, rotating and zooming. But it’s the other geometric shapes, scattered around this segment which seem to constitute the real puzzle.

That which, at a first glance, looks like a cloud may actually be one of 2 stages of some morphing sketches of an unknown object. Notice that there’s, once again, a vertical arrow pointing simultaneously up and down – possibly meaning interchange. Right above it, there is a series or arcs, or some simplistic representation of semi-circles all entangled together. The leftmost seems to be divided by something which is impossible to specify. Above them are two squares, representing two different plans in space: one of them closer and the other one behind it. Shadow was also applied. The arrows point towards different places but, as usual, I can’t understand why or what for. I’ve tried to follow them as bending instructions but they lead nowhere. I’ve though of weight, positioning, and nothing fits in there.

Arcs or semicircles fill the rest of this part, some of them divided in half.

Hypothesis: None. There is a great deal of contradiction in a very small space. The portion of land seems to be very well drawn as the person who designed it even took the time to represent the plants growing out of it. Why represent just the edge of, say, a cliff? What image does it actually inspire? It could be a place with a distinct view. Or a starting point for a fall or flight. My bet is on the second one.

The semicircles are also intriguing. Sometimes they seem to be volumetric, displaying a crack or an opening. In one of them, there is even an arrow pointing at the crack. I ask for what reason?

PART 10

PART 10 Once more, and in order to produce mathematical calculations and geometrical representations, horizontal lines

Once more, and in order to produce mathematical calculations and geometrical representations, horizontal lines were drawn on the paper. This section was rotated in 180º degrees, another indication that the sheet of paper was used from different standpoints. A green pen was also used, which provides an interesting contrast to the usual colour. Dark-red stains can also be seen.

The sketch between the lines is dividing spaces and marking angles for no apparent reason. Also the mathematical data on the right seems to be linked with it, although it doesn’t allow understanding anything more. Behind these green-ink numbers and letters there is a weird-shaped object with a circle in each end. In a way, it reminds of the shapes placed inside the boot, some sort of stretched lozenge.

Hypothesis: A dead end. We reach to the inevitable conclusion that this image has nothing more to offer than a great deal of frustration due to its vagueness. Most of the part which I used as sections don’t provide with any real information, mostly just calculations and sketches of things which nobody is supposed to understand.

CONCLUSION

After taking a close look at each and every part of this image which is filled with numbers, sketches, doodles, blots or stains, I come to the disappointing conclusion that my early expectations – that in fact there was something hidden in this image as part of an advertising campaign – were defeated by the harsh truth that this was probably a random-picked image. At this point I’m considering going back to the introduction, erase whatever it was that I wrote but I won’t. I won’t because I wish that all of you reading these words share with me the moments when I though that there could be something hidden here when it only amounts to a couple of interesting things.

In essence, the Bird is one of the richest elements this visual document has to offer and it has certain connections to the team’s games. Also the first part offers some planning of what may be an in-game action like jumping or double-jumping. The supposed Axis System and the data to its left may be of significant importance – interactions between volumetric shapes – although it seems to be too early a draft to infer something substantial from it.

Elements such as the leg (Part 5) and the cliff (Part 9) offer some detail and, for a change, happen to be quite unmistakable. But despite their straightforwardness, they haven’t got enough data behind them to provide a solid notion of what their meaning is. For this reason, I started to hesitate during my analysis and that can be noticeable. I watched each and every detail for minutes before writing and, being accustomed to watch images – art – for long periods of time, I thought I could discern some veiled message encrypted within numbers and shapes. I was not able to do so. I was able to reveal a great deal of patience and madness for having lost my time pursuing such an object. I wanted to find something about this new game and communicate it to the world. I failed. Others might see something here. If they do, my contact stands right on the beginning of this text.

Two main questions do remain in my mind.

Number one; this is a digitalization of an actual sheet of paper, drawn with pens, pencils or other traditional writing/drawing methods. I can’t understand why it was digitalized of it was just a series of uninteresting figures. The recruit ad could have been much more

effective if it had some ICO or Shadow of the Colossus montage behind it. It would be an unambiguous visual aid, much stronger visually than these drafts.

Number two; it is a great coincidence that the blots and stains match the exact colours of the SNES logotype, also used to attribute the colours to the four buttons of which the control pad was composed. These colours, Red, Green, Blue and Yellow, have also been featured in various other controls outside Nintendo like in the Dreamcast, XBOX and, more recently, in the XBOX 360.

Moreover, none of the elements drawn in this picture – and that much I can say, for I know the artwork behind both games very well – belongs to ICO or Shadow of the Colossus. Therefore it has to belong to some other game or, in the worst case, to some ideas that were never incorporated in these games. That does make one wonder, doesn’t it?

SIMILARITIES

‘To write thus clearly of the kite would seem to be my destiny, because in the earliest recollections of my infancy it seemed to me when I was in the cradle that a kite came and opened my mouth with its tail and struck me within upon the lips with its tail many times’ – Leonardo Da Vinci

What if this was all nothing but a message? A visual message with a number of decoys:

formulas, words or numbers. I strongly believe in the power of pure visual representations, shapes, volumes, colours. I present you a comparison between this draft and some other drafts and drawings performed by one of history’s greatest artists:

Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own conclusions this time.

greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
greatest artists: Leonardo Da Vinci. Most of these belong to his Leicester Codex. Draw your own
Leonardo’s most fantastic – and forward looking – endeavour was his attempt to construct a

Leonardo’s most fantastic – and forward looking – endeavour was his attempt to construct a flying machine. He began, in the late 1480’s, with a study of birds, analyzing anatomy and closely observing flight. He first considered the simple emulation of bird wings, driven by the aviator’s arms and legs. Realizing that man could not generate sufficient muscle power to raise himself and the heavy machine into the air, in about 1505 he renewed his studies of the principles of flight in nature, focusing on the lift birds obtain from air currents. He deduced that in the absence of a “prime mover” – an engine – the best prospect of human flight lay in the direction of gliding. – From Corbis’ Leonardo Da Vinci CD-ROM

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Special thanks to Alex Rowe for advertising this small work of mine as well as to all those who provided me with support, including my man João, the asian pearl Chisaikame, Pedro and many others.