You remember Line Rider, right? That Flash game with the wee man on a sled who slides down whatever track you've sketched? Great little time-killer, that. Only, it seems one artist has wiled away more than a few hours on the slip 'n' slider. Having spent hundreds of hours over the past decade putting it all together, David Lu is finally ready to show us Omniverse 2 - an exhaustive showcase of high-velocity puppetry that turns the web toy into a mind-bending work of art in its own right.
Now, it's been a good few years since Line Rider's inception in 2007. Thankfully, folks are still soundtracking vids with The Matrix: Reloaded score. Some things never change.
It's wild, right? I come across loose bits from Line Rider every year or so, and have always been impressed with the precision pacing of the more musically-oriented tracks, but Lu's turned the tiny web-tool into something else entirely. It becomes impossible to tell what bits of track are actually affecting the rider. By the time it closes out into seamless animation, shimmering with depth and momentum, I've stopped even trying.
Accompanying the video is a lengthy read over on Lu's blog, detailing the exact hows and whys and whats of the track's creation. The original Omniverse was pretty low-key in comparison, a simple demonstration of all the known physics tricks in Line Rider. Its sequel was conceived of as an extension of that idea, and the plan was to have it wrapped up for a community competition all the way back in 2008.
"Of course, I was too ambitious and settled with releasing an unfinished version of the track," writes Lu. "While it was widely praised, my vision wasn’t complete, and I continued working on it sporadically. Eleven years later, after I reversed engineered and recreated Line Rider, after I developed as an artist and explored all types of creative mediums, I finally completed the project and even went beyond my original vision, reclaiming the project to tell a new story."
The post is also a fascinating read for folks interested in the wider Line Rider community, mind. Lu tracks the scenes movement in tastes and trends - noting a shift from scenic tracks to those that flaunted more impressive puppetry - as well as the movement's resurgence as a music video community, following an honest-to-god post-rock Line Rider feature film.
Of course, Lu isn't using exactly the same software I was messing with back in 2007. Rather, he currently maintains a modernised web version, one that runs a bit better and should avoid the imminent death of Adobe Flash. But while he plans to continue experimenting with the thing's "expressive possibilities", don't expect another project of this scale anytime soon.
"I will never spend so much time on a Line Rider track ever again."