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Outerlands Slacker Backer Now Available!

For all our international friends, potential backers that missed out during the Kickstarter campaign period, and those who wanted or needed some alternate ways to support the project, we're very happy to be working with The Humble Bundle to offer up two Slacker Backer options! A regular edition digital download and a special edition digital download. As with our Kickstarter backers, your downloads will not be available until July 2015. You could, of course, wait until then, but every dollar that comes in now is another dollar we can spend making Outerlands better.

If you've to an audience and would like to link to our little widgets directly, here's some handy cut-n-paste web-coding for maximum enjoyment-use™!

<a href="https://www.humblebundle.com/store/product/outerlands_seasonone/XLKdjwoi4j" target="_blank">Outerlands: Season One Slacker Backer!</a>
or
<a href="http://area5.tv/outerlands/" target="_blank">Outerlands: Season One Slacker Backer!</a>

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GROUNDED: Making The Last of Us on Amazon Instant—FREE!

We are extremely pleased to announce that our feature documentary on one of the best games of 2013 is now available on Amazon Instant streaming and as a download for FREE! AREA 5 does not see any revenue from this, but could you do us a solid, download the film, watch it, and then review it on Amazon? It would mean an awful lot to us and will help us when pitching projects like this in the future to be able to point to that reviews page. Grab it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IHV0W3Y

Unfortunately it is only available in the United States right now.

This is also a great indicator of the kind of quality we'll be bringing to Outerlands. Our Kickstarter which was just successfully funded!

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Outerlands Short: Rich Vreeland is Disasterpeace

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Outerlands Short: Rich Vreeland is Disasterpeace

Perhaps most famous in video game circles for the lovely soundtrack to FEZ, Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) is a prolific musician who is unafraid to explore the boundaries of his art. Alternately electronic and acoustic, analog and digital, this always-musician and sometimes-game-developer can't be oversold as an inspired individual. While this Outerlands short clearly puts his talent on display, our hope is that it'll showcase, as well, the deep consideration that goes into everything Disasterpeace does. Our secondary hope is that this will make it easy to understand why we want to make Outerlands. If you haven't yet, there's still a few days left to back the project on Kickstarter.

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Outerlands Short: Frank's Magazine Collection & The First Super Mario Bros. Review

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Outerlands Short: Frank's Magazine Collection & The First Super Mario Bros. Review

Frank's passion is finding lost games. Prototypes, cancelled titles, failed launches. In fact, his site, Lost Levels is devoted solely to this endeavor. To that end, he's put together perhaps the largest personal collection of videogame magazines anywhere. Yes, he's currently in possession of perhaps the only existing copy of the first English-language review of Super Mario Bros., but these piles of (often terrible) industry mags are treasure troves of information. Ads for games that never came out, mail order forms with overly-optimistic listings of games that were still in the "faking a screenshot" phase, and interviews and commentary that seemed innocent at the time, but are windows into a surprising number of incomplete or abandoned experiments. Frank wants to find them all!

This story is likely to appear in Outerlands in some form and we want to share it with all of you as a representative sample of what you can expect the storytelling to be like if our Kickstarter is successfully funded. Which reminds us: the majority of our backers are coming to us from Twitter, which means that every time you tweet about Outerlands and get others to tweet about us, you're helping in the best way possible to make it happen!

Finally, we can't thank Jim Guthrie and Disasterpeace enough for being so generous in providing the music for us. Go buy their stuff!

Extra special thanks to Tony the Cat!

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Outerlands LIVE with COMPLIMENTARY PIZZA AND BEVERAGES!

COMPLIMENTARY PIZZA AND BEVERAGES!

(Oh, and come meet the AREA 5/Outerlands team)

There will be a laptop on hand with a page open to our Kickstarter project, so bring friends who haven't backed the project yet and peer pressure them into signing up!

We WILL run out of the beverages and pizza, but you're welcome to stick around and get your fine craft brews and awesome grub the usual way (by forking over some cash). The bar is OURS from 2pm until 3:14pm (see what they did there?) when they open to the general public. But come by any time! You MUST have a ticket with you in order to get the complimentary beverages and pizza, though. Download the image below and print it or save it to your phone.

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And here's a maps link just in case the one on the ticket doesn't help ya get there!

 

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Outerlands Live Stream - Friday 1/17 at 4PM PST

You may have already heard about our new documentary series we're calling Outerlands. Tomorrow we're going to do a live stream the Outerlands Twitch channel. We'll answer all of your questions about the project and our friend Disasterpeace (FEZ Soundtrack) is going to do a live improv piano performance! (Well, live via Skype, but that's still live!). Disasterpeace is one of the musicians who's graciously come on board for the Outerlands soundtrack!

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SCHEDULE (4PM 'til WHENEVER)

  • 4PM - Stream Begins -- Q&A with AREA 5 Team. LIVE from their Hole-In-The-Wall office in San Francisco!
  • 4:30PM - Disasterpeace joins us! He'll be performing improv piano and, time permitting, answer a few questions!

If you haven't had a chance to check out the project yet, watch the video below and then read about the awesome backer rewards, and super cool partners we've got on board to help us make this project the best it can be!

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The Last of Us - The Beauty of Abandonment

Most people have never had the privilege of visiting a development studio or movie studio and seeing the incredible amount of pre-production artwork that goes into a project of the scope of something like The Last of Us.

During the filing of the rest of our development series for Naughty Dog, I walked past their concept art wall countless times. And, a few times, I had time to just stop and get lost in it all. It's this feeling that we wanted to capture. The second source of inspiration came from Gustavo Santaolalla's unbelievable soundtrack for the game—something we'd become intimately familiar with while editing Grounded.

 I'm not sure Naughty Dog understood exactly what our proposal was, at first, but they still decided to give us a shot at what, really, is kind of a surreal experiment. Ideally, you have the means to hook this up to a large screen in a dark room, but either way, we hope you enjoy it.

 

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The Last of Us, Episode 5 - Joel and Ellie

Faced with the brutal realities of their world, their relationship is a complex one. Writing, direction, and the talents of two very special voice actors (Ashley Johnson as Ellie and Troy Baker as Joel) each contributed something critical to the process that turned mere characters into living, breathing people.

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I Am Street Fighter, or, Long-form Content Online

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I Am Street Fighter, or, Long-form Content Online

It has become a kind of Internet law that online videos over five minutes are wastes. Wastes of time and wastes of treasure.

No one will sit through anything longer. People have shorter attention spans than ever. ADD. Media polysaturation. Get in, get out. Especially on YouTube.

We've always thought that length shouldn't be your goal. If the content is right for five minutes (or six seconds), then produce it accordingly. But if you've got, say, a twenty-five year old entertainment franchise with global cultural impact, five minutes probably won't do you justice.

Capcom, of course, understood this implicitly, and they approached us from the get-go to make something feature-length. What happened next was crazy.

The problem with a documentary about  Street Fighter  is that it's fucking Street Fighter. Really, research should be done for 3-6 months, the researcher should be an ongoing crew member until wrap, and the shoot schedule should evolve over time; preferably over a period of 6 months to a year. We had 4 months.

Fortunately, we had an ace up our sleeve: Seth Killian. A man of incredible talents, Seth was our entry point into all things Street Fighter. Community, legacy, moments in time. He had it all. We began reaching out almost immediately to names-on-the-list, as it were, as well as anyone else that our experience told us could lend the right story or tone. After all, this wasn't supposed to be just a by-the-numbers history lesson, it needed to show the uninitiated just how deep the rabbit hole goes. We remember arcades and corner stores and laundromats and 7-11's and pizza places (and, and, and . . . ) with their line of hungry quarter-poppers ready for the next challenger. But for many it goes far beyond enjoyment of the game and straight into life-altering experiences. Street Fighter is a cultural force that's shaped a significant portion of a generation as they grew into adulthood—is still shaping them. It also shaped an emerging entertainment industry for decades to come—is still shaping it. For that, Capcom set us up with some of the biggest visionaries of the Japanese game developer community, alternately inspired and bedeviled by Street Fighter throughout their careers.

Now it was time to come up with a production plan that would have us shooting in multiple locations in three countries, on two continents, edit, color correct, produce a soundtrack for and mixdown the final film and still somehow reach a hard deadline for when the film had to go in for mastering and inclusion in the 25th Anniversary collector's set. We are not strangers to long hours, lost weekend and all-nighters, but this project nearly killed us. We had to get it right and there simply wasn't time.

When it was done, the celebration was mild. All we saw were the mistakes, the missed opportunities. Now, a year later, it's easier to see it for what it is and judging by the feedback it seems we somehow managed to hit our mark. For that, we have to give special thanks to a few without whom there would have been no hope:

Seth, of course.

SPL Pictures whose expertise on-set were never in doubt. Worth every penny. 

Tsuyoshi Kanda who was on loan to us from Capcom as line producer in Japan. The two weeks the crew spent there was infinitely better because of him.

8-4, Ltd. who not only location scouted for us but provided constant translator and localization services. There's no way the film would have been on time without their organization, feedback, and quality control.

And, of course, to EVO and the FGC for never once backing out, always being available, and lending their hype, their archives of footage, and their expertise.

Unfortunately we didn't have the time to consider doing much "behind the scenes," but here's a few photos during our shoots with DJ QBert and famed collector Clarence Lim. 

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The Last of Us, Episode 4 - Them Or Us

For many games, combat is a critical part of the game's design, and much like the previous episode, we find that Naughty Dog has let no storytelling opportunity slip by. The awful struggles forced upon humanity in the game's world are constant and brutal. They've shaped the remnants of human society in terrible ways and The Last of Us tries to bring the point home through every player action.

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GROUNDED: Making The Last of Us Trailer

This trailer contains no spoilers—either of the film or the game. However, if you plan to play The Last of Us it is highly recommended that you beat the game before watching the full film.

Area 5 is very proud to present our trailer for this feature length documentary on the creation of The Last of Us.

Making a new IP is hard. Really hard. Even when you're a venerated and much-beloved game development studio like Naughty Dog (Uncharted, Jak & Daxter), you're leaping headlong into a sea of unanswered questions when embarking on a journey like this; questions that can only be resolved through failure, after failure, after failure.

But that's the Naughty Dog way. Their unique corporate culture cultivates a flurry of creative energy like few places on Earth. The Last of Us is a game shaped by visionaries, but given form through the dedication of hundreds of individuals—each with the power to shape the vision at the highest level. Everyone that worked on the game made their mark, and the heroes of our film represent but a tiny fraction of the incredible amount of effort which finally brought it all together. Actors, directors, artists, sound designers, and engineers; at Naughty Dog everyone is a storyteller.

We hope that whether or not you play the game, you'll still enjoy their stories.

Right now you can only get the film by buying a season pass of content to The Last of Us. If you choose to do so, we hope you'll come back and tell us what you think.

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The Last of Us, Episode 3 - Death and Choices

It's remarkable to us here at A5 just how much brainpower Naughty Dog puts into every aspect of The Last of Us. The easy way out would be to make a scavenging and crafting system that simply upgrades your damage-dealing abilities and throw correspondingly tougher enemies at you as the game progresses. But what if such systems were considered every bit the storytelling opportunities that we normally associate strictly with cut-scenes or scripted dialog? What if you could feel  a world, its characters, and its choices this way?

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The Last of Us, Episode 1 - Hush

We feel extraordinarily privileged to be wor  king with Naughty Dog on a series of mini documentaries about The Last of Us. This is the first. The series will be released first as short cuts (spoiler free!) and then extended cuts which will be on the game disc. The extended cuts will, in total, compare in run time to a feature length documentary. 

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