Whatever Happened To… Rustboy?

Whatever Happened To… Rustboy? after the break…

Whatever Happened To… Rustboy?

I used to follow what felt like a bajillion interesting websites and promising projects back when the Internet was young and not as commercialized as it is nowadays. Even back then, I was a realist – I was already a veteran of the “Hey, guys! We’re making a Quake total conversion! It’s going to be awesome! We already have a few screenshots, and we have a story, and we even have some music from a guy who knows how to use a chiptune maker and…”

And then nothing. Ever again. Literally, the team’s website would not be updated for a few years and then, ever so quietly, the website would disappear forever and ever.

In fact, I learned pretty quickly on that, whenever an ambitious project succeeded, that the completion was fairly special (read: Dark Mod, The). However, completing a project and starting one are two completely different events. Simply tying your shoelaces takes effort, never mind a computer game that boasts thirty new enemies, eighteen new weapons, more levels then there are commercials in a typical Super Bowl broadcast with sound, lighting, pathfinding…

My list of bookmarks is literally a link graveyard of past projects that I used to follow on a daily or near-daily basis. Every now and then, I hack through it to get rid of those links that don’t even connect to a webpage anymore. However, sometimes, I get curious as to whatever happened to a project that dropped off the proverbial radar. Was it ever completed? Is the author or creator still alive? Why did the project fail? Will the project ever be completed?

One project that I followed for a time was called “Rustboy.” Rustboy was supposed to be an independently made CGI movie about a rust-covered robot back in the day when independently made CGI movies were as rare as honest politicians and compassionate loan sharks. CGI movies, back in the day that Rustboy was making the press rounds, were not cheap to make and certainly weren’t easy as well. CGI movies still aren’t cheap to make and unless you want ultra-cheapo production values, don’t expect to make one overnight or in a month or even in a few months.

Just like in the old Quake 1 TC days, there were screenshots of Rustboy and promises and promotion and then… Silence. Deafening silence.

I stumbled across my bookmark for the project and wondered what happened to it. Well, as it turned out, it appears to be vaporware. Brian Taylor, the creator of Rustboy, has moved on to something called “Candykiller.” I care not one whit about “Candykiller” so I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad or indifferent but, from the few moments that I spent on the topic, it looks like he’s been more productive with “Candykiller” then he was with “Rustboy.” I read somewhere that Rustboy was going great and then a financier pulled out… Or maybe he sold it to a larger production company and the film went silent after that…

At the end of the day, there is no “Rustboy” feature-length film. There is no “Rustboy” short film. Odds are, it is likely that we will never see a “Rustboy” film and that is too bad, as it appears that the project inspired a lot of 3D artists and animators back when the project was still the toast of the CGI community.

I’d love to be wrong, of course. Blissfully, painfully wrong. That a movie of “Rustboy” has been quietly grinding away for the 8+ years that the website has been dormant but I think otherwise. 8+ years is an awfully long time to be working on anything.

Anyway, it’s just another reminder that the ugliest project that makes it to market is prettier then the prettiest project that doesn’t. Complete your work and the world toasts you for it; Let it slink away into the shadows of vaporware and you eventually become just another forgotten footnote consumed by the Internet. Lesson learned.


15 Responses to “Whatever Happened To… Rustboy?”

  1. April Says:

    I know this is a super late comment, but here goes anyways..
    I used to follow that “Rustboy” project in the early 2000s. I loved everything about it and waited, and waited, and so on..nothing! I was glad when they made that now very old “snippet” video/animation intro..and then again another long wait that I wasted time on. That animation had the potential to be something great and it was ahead of it’s time. I remember being so inspired that I went out and bought Maya 3D wanting to create my own CGI comic! I remember the site also having a store with “Rustboy” products..how could he make all that stuff disappear into “Cyber heaven”?! I still had the link on my old windows 2000 computer and always wondered what happened..thus bringing me to your page..thanks..thought I was the only one who was obsessed with seeing the outcome.
    Another project that never went to full completion was “Amazonsoul”
    made in the early 2000s by some prestigious CGI artists of the time.
    They have a site at http://www.amazonsoul.com but it never seemed to get past the “previews”..I also still have that bookmarked lol!
    You had to be a “member” to see the so called complete comic but it wasn’t that much different than the previews..guess they lost interest.
    I say if you can’t complete a project for some reason then sell it to someone who can. Production costs and promotion are easier than they were back in the day through youtube etc. Maybe one day we will here about a “resurrection” concerning “Rustboy” πŸ™‚

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi April and thank you for reading my blog.

      I have so many bookmarks to now inactive or deceased projects that to clear them all out would be a task of herculean proportions. It is interesting to go through the earlier bookmarks to see whatever became of the projects although most of them do not materialize. It is always a marvel when one of them does (like the computer game “The Dark Mod” or “Black Mesa”).

      I must confess that I have been inspired to create but my grasp of applications such as Blender has always eluded me. I can always fumble my way through the very basics (“Look, Ma! Something resembling a crate!”) but watching the sheer skill of others simply intimidates me from going much farther (along with the added complexity). Graphic modeling is a skill that I will likely never possess regardless of how easy a program might be.

      I have never heard of “Amazonsoul” and that is what is so wonderful about the Internet; No matter how far that you travel it, there is always something unseen elsewhere.

      As I’ve mentioned earlier, I am beginning to believe that the worst project realized will always be better than the best project that was never realized. That attitude has colored my strategy and I do make more of an effort to see projects through. The projects may not always succeed but, at the very least, there is something tangible to show for it.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  2. Stephen Says:

    Around the time that Brian started working on Rustboy, I was a diehard Specular Infini-D animator, and was completely amazed at what he was able to do with such a relatively simple, but also quite powerful 3D application – one of the first that was accessible to the average user.

    I occasionally would visit his site to follow the updates, and as was trendy with most independent projects, noticed he had started to produce some collateral, in order to raise money to complete the film.

    I’m sure he would find it amusing (and you may too), that I still have one of his 8″ Rustboy “collectable vinyl toy figures”, MIB, sitting amongst my other various “nerd treasures”, above my computer desk.

    So, every so often, just for kicks, I run a Google search to see, as you put it “Whatever Happened To Rustboy?”.

    Not sure why it has stuck around so much, and I’m sure if I hadn’t held on to the figure, I would have probably forgetting. But, this hit at a particularly transitional point in time in my career, where for a moment, I was inspired to venture off and do my own thing.

    Well, it ended up taking a decade or so to do that, and while there are no feature animated films on the horizon – it reminds me to try to take a step back from time to time and work on my own projects, even if they just end up sitting on my shelf.

  3. Simon Says:

    I too followed this website, and did find it inspiring to a point. In the end all it really was was nice 3D ‘artwork’. It has to be said that as an animator the ‘animation’ that was shown was pretty dire. But I too believed that an animation was on its way so I was intrigued to see what would become of it. The merchandise and the exclusive ‘making of’ book which amounted to most of the stuff from the website and so called early ‘concept’ sketches (which are clearly the 3D model in a pose thats been painted over) were basically cashing in on a character and website which had done very well. I feel pretty cynical about it I have to say. I think we all waited with bated breath, but really all Rustboy turned out to be was a website showcasing a guys experiments in 3D. As for investors and big production studios being interested, no doubt. But I’m sure its not been developed because there wasn’t really anything commercial or artistic to be developed. Or possibly its a case of ‘sh*t what have I created here’ and believing the hype about you until it caves in.

  4. Jimm Says:

    I still look it up to this day hoping to see something new.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Jimm and thank you for reading my blog.

      With the Internet, I’ve learned “never say ‘never’ again” (no relation to the Sean Connery faux-Bond movie). However, few projects survive past the “I’m way in over my head in some way or another” phase. People move on, technologies change, interests change. It’s OK for people to creatively fail; How else are we to know our limits without testing them? Unfortunately, with the Internet, people are capable of failing very publicly and, by default, very spectacularly. Projects such as The Dark Mod, Black Mesa (before they went pay product), OpenMW, Enderal… These and so many other projects that have significant ambitions and succeed are real gems but also rather uncommon. It would be wonderful to see a lot of the early projects that I used to follow magically succeed.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  5. Phil Says:

    …. I printed up a T shirt of Rustboy for my son on his 3rd birthday.,,,, Rustboy looking to the sky after releasing some balloons…it was really sweet…. sad thing, it only lasted one wash….

    I too….continue to hope….

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Phil and thank you for reading my blog.

      The events of “Rustboy” almost seems as though they transpired a lifetime ago. I’ve been on the Internet since before graphical browsers and, from the perspective of independent projects, not much has changed; A lot of projects have an initial burst of activity, followed by hardship and then, usually, a collapse of varying magnitude. Such is the way of the Internet; Not just for today and tomorrow but of 20 years past and beyond.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  6. t8 Says:

    some say that rustboy has been sold to a company,
    some say the company is pixar,
    some say It has become walle…

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi t8 and thank you for reading my blog.

      I say… it’s unfortunate that the project never came to fruition. As with so much else in life, we will likely never know the full truth. However, the apparent failure of most ambitious projects simply means that one appreciates those that do succeed all the more.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  7. Kevin Black Says:

    This was just a rumor, but I’ve heard that he sold the idea and that it became Wall-E. While different in look and theme, the storylines look very similar. They even had a cricket in Wall-E.

    I’m sorry Rustboy never saw the light of day though. I don’t think a single CGI hobby movie has ever turned out to be a cinematic full-length version from just off-the-shelf hardware/software like he was attempting to do. I’ve seen plenty of shorts on YouTube, but nothing as ambitious as what Rustboy was attempting to be.

    It’s a shame.

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Kevin Black and thank you for reading my blog.

      I must admit that I had no idea, when I first wrote the blog post about Rustboy, that it would generate so much interest. All that I can write is that the Early Internet was absolutely starved for ambitious plans and Rustboy was certainly one of those at that time. It just goes to show how far a little charisma, some talent & a little bit of showmanship can get you in life… And just imagine how much farther one could go if you could actually succeed on those ambitions.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

  8. phil sargeant Says:

    It’s a real shame… I printed up a “T” shirt for my sons 3rd or 4th Birthday, around 6 years ago, with Rustboy releasing balloons…it looked great… Sadly, it got lost….but the character still lives on in my head…..

  9. phil sargeant Says:

    Ha…. I didn’t remember I had more or less said the same thing in May last year…. Early onset Alzheimer’s…puhhh… In the context of missing, a beautiful idea and what might have been…it’s a bit like one of my girlfriends when I was 15….. I’m feeling sad…..

  10. Steven Jurick Says:

    Found this post after seeing footage from Rustboy on a Ted Talk by J.J. Abrams and The Mystery Box. He mentioned that it was being made with Infinity software so I started going down the road of Rustboy and ended up here. I’m probably one of a few on the planet with a hardback book I bought while also following the progress of this project, entitled RUSTBOY – (re)ANIMATING & LIFELONG DREAM. Man, the imagery in that book as well as those online were just astonishing to realize this was all done with one guy on a shoe-string budget. I really wish we could have seen the movie come to a reality!

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