Short of the Week

Let’s Play Nomad X

During a ‘Let’s Play’ review of his favorite ’90’s computer game, a man tells the story of losing the love of his life and why, yesterday, he got punched in the throat.

Sometimes the best films combine a new technique with a classic story. Nomad X steals a cue from the millions of gameplay videos out there—essentially narrating events overtop a video game—and uses it to weave in a comedic personal story about love lost. Director, Kristian Andrews, weaves the two stories together in a way that makes each more interesting—an ambush appears in the game just as Patrick recounts the moment where his ex-girlfriend’s husband jumps out and punches him in the throat. The dry telling of the real life story is spiced up by the dramatic moments in the video game. It’s a short but fun ride.

What inspired the story of Nomad X?

I had the idea for the film when my girlfriend came home late one night and walked in on me, in my pants scanning the surface of an unnamed planet for mineral deposits. That’s when I realised I should stop wasting my life playing and make a film.

As with all my films, I rely heavily on real experiences. Unfortunately I’m too unoriginal not to. The narrative is an asteroid belt of different inspirations though—there are chunks of long-lost high school infatuations, lumps of my current relationship and even some space dust from my grandparents’ divorce in there.

What inspired the design of the game itself?

The look of the film owes a huge debt to David Braben’s seminal game of the 90’s Frontier Elite. Strangely he got a remake of the game crowdfunded whilst I was making Let’s Play Nomad X and it was fascinating to see the development of his new game alongside my own production. Whilst the art direction of his new game takes advantage of all the limitless possibilities of modern graphics, Nomad X’s visuals are born of restrictions.

When I was 8 or 9 my Uncle Chris gave me a cast off Amiga 500 along with crate loads of bootlegged games each containing a different world of pixelated and polygonal delights. Although most of the floppy disks didn’t work you just never knew what you were loading up next… Thankfully Flashback, Syndicate, D-generation, Monkey Island, Desert Strike, Legend and 4D Sports Boxing were all games that worked and in some way fed into this film.

What are you working on next?

I’d love to make Nomad X into a trilogy, like all the great space sagas before it. There is lots more of Patrick the Let’s Player’s story and a whole game universe to explore. There’ll be ship-jacking, asteroid mining, tractor beams and infidelity.

I am also currently working on a new short called Bang which I started in a monastery in France last year. It’s about self-help seduction literature.

What are your long-term filmmaking aspirations?

Although I love short film and want to carry on pumping out short films until I die. I want to carry on working with great collaborators. On this film I got to work with Rasmus Hardiker an extraordinarily talented actor. The sound design and music were all produced by the prolific David Kamp and I also got the help of an old friend video games artist Iain Guilespie.

I am also both perpetually fascinated and appalled by video games. They are a trap for a creative and inquisitive mind. As a player you feel complicit in the creation of this rich and complete world. The frustration for me, is that as a creative act, all your gaming achievements pail even next to a child colouring within the lines.

I am definitely a frustrated games designer and making this film has made me realise how much I would love to make a game.

~
Andrew makes no attempt to hide his love for the magic art of animation. He appreciates compelling visuals but never forgets that in this modern age, a strong story always reigns supreme. You can see his work at andrewsallen.com or his latest film The Thomas Beale Cipher.
  • c.f.

    8bit movie must be that one.Credits section liked so much.

  • David Loomis

    Brilliant!