Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Points From The Road

So I'm sitting in the Chicago airport heading home from the Hollywood & Games summit (flight delayed, of course) and I thought I'd throw up a bunch of points floating around in my head over the last couple of days. In no particular order:

Clive Barker's keynote was extremely interesting. Almost surprisingly so, given that I had no clue what to expect. Some of his most important points have already been written up by Next-Gen, Gamasutra and Joystiq but there were three quotes he gave during his talk that I loved and wanted to note here:

"Let's take our imaginations back from the guys who want to sell it to us with a happy meal" -- in discussing how everyone needs a creative outlet and should allow themselves the freedom of creative exploration, even if its messy.

"Make your own laws or be a slave to another man's" -- A central theme to his talk was this idea that we (game developers) don't need to do things the 'old' way.

"We need to be able to dream with our eyes open" -- Explaining one of the reasons he likes and believes in videogames.

Also on the Clive note there was some talk of a series of books he's done that I'd never heard of called Abarat. I couldn't find a copy in my short time in L.A but the few people I talked to who had read books from the series raved about it so I'm adding it to my 'Must Read' list.

Segueing on the Book line I want to thank Kim for turning me on to 'Soon I will be Invincible". If you are any kind of Geek at all, you'll love it. I'm only a few chapters in but the characters are rich, the writing is sharp and the author clearly spent ages researching every single super-hero cliche out there, across all mediums, and finding ways to stitch them all together in a cohesive way that is smart, funny and genuinely cool! If, like me, you're halfway through a bunch of print books already and can't bear the thought of starting another I recommend the audiobook version (I subscribe to Audible).

As a final point I'd like to offer up a little posthumorous credit to Patrick Redding for giving me the excellent point I brought up at the conference re: videogame - vs - film production heirarchies. Thanks again Patrick.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This is my 100th Blog post. I wanted to save it for something special -- a sneak peak at the game I'm working on or some deep insightful analysis of the Hollywood and Games summit...

but I just saw this article on BoingBoing and found myself remembering a wonderful line from the movie Sideways (which, by the way, only sort of means something to me because I don't know very much about wine):
"You know, the day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc … that's the special occasion."
So with that I decided to make my 100th blog post this. Just because its cool.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Was it something I said?

For a few weeks now I've been hovering comfortably around the '28' mark in terms of Feedburner subscribers -- people who subscribe to have this blog pushed to them via an RSS reader. 28 isn't a huge number but considering the relatively niche subject matter of the blog and the fact that I don't promote it at all, I was pretty happy with it.

Today, unexpectedly I dropped by 50% -- to 14. I had thought I had almost that many people subscribed at Ubisoft alone.

So either there is a problem with Feedburner or I've really lost people's interest and need to make some radical changes around here to keep reader's attention.

Have I jumped the shark?

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hollywood and Games summit

Next week I am likely going to participate in the Hollywood and Games summit on a panel entitled:
"How Talent Can Successfully Cross the Digital Divide"
  • Kim Libreri, Vice President Advanced Strategy, Digital Domain
  • Yuri Lowenthal, Actor, Afro Samurai, Gilmore Girls, Prince of Persia
  • Susan O’Connor, Game Writer, Gears of War
  • Moderated by Jordan Mechner, Creator, Prince of Persia

If film, television, animation, and games are converging on a production, marketing, and retail level, where does that leave the individual creative talent that make these industries work? A film and game director moderates this discussion between a TV voice actor, a film visual effects artist, and a game writer.
I figured some of you reading this might have a thought or two on on this subject and I'd be interested to hear your comments as I prepare myself.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


"From the least anticipated to the most wanted"
Wyclef Jean
I'm really looking forward to Bioshock. At least year's E3 I managed to con my way into a closed-door viewing and was floored. It immediately became my personal 'best of show' and sky-rocketed to the top of my most-anticipated list. When I heard it was coming out for the 360 and PC simultaneously I rejoiced because it meant I wasn't going to have to upgrade my PC just for the game (something I haven't done since, I think, Dark Age Of Camelot launched).
Bioshock is everywhere right now. The buzz is reaching a fevered pitch. There were three excellent sources of Bioshock news this week that deserve some attention.
First, an excellent 'preview' piece over at Gamers With Jobs (such a great name). Two choice quotes:
“…Levine's trying to do the same thing with BioShock, while still delivering a game 16-year-old cheese eating high school students will want to play. "We have these philosophical notions, but you've got to deliver. You gotta bring home the monsters. You gotta bring home the superpowers." In short, he's become a commercial realist.”

"You don't elevate the discussion by saying 'listen to me!'" says Levine. "You get it by saying 'look this is awesome, oh and by the way we're also talking about being a human being. We're also talking about power.'"
I like to call this 'The Simpsons' model. To me one of the brilliant accomplishments of The Simpsons is that it manages to appeal to those looking for base humor (Homer drinks beer and burps) but has another layer of humor that will appeal to those looking for something a tiny bit more cerebral. They 'lure' you in with the easily accesible but every so often manage to squeeze in an issue or two when you're not looking.
For more Bioshock goodness check out the latest episode of the 1up show. One of these days I want to write more about the 1up show. If you aren't subscribed to their podcast, you should be. Games journalism meets soap opera is not a hybrid I thought would work -- but it does.

Finally hit up Joystiq for a slew of videos, some of which may or may not come from the 1up show itself (I didn't watch them all).


Monday, June 04, 2007

Brash Convergence

So the industry has been buzzing since yesterday over the news that Brash Entertainment has secured 400 million in funding. That can buy a lot of convergence. ;)

Just a couple quick points on this subject:
  • In March when I first learned of the existence of Brash and their business model, I was admittedly skeptical.
  • Brash must be doing something right, though, as they seem to be attracting some impressive talent, including a designer aquaintance of mine whose skills I respect. I'm willing to suspend a little my judgement of their business model and 'convergence' ambitions until I see their first titles.
  • If they fail -- if they fall into the trap of making shoddy movie-licensed knockoffs -- I'm worried about the impact that will have in the rest of the industry, in particular others looking to attract VC.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Picnik - A WebApp that deserves your attention

So this morning I woke up early to try and get some browsing time in. I had been feeling relatively uninspired in the blogging front all week and was hoping I'd find a topic that motivated me to write. As is my usual habit I started bouncing from link to link in my blogroll and after a couple of hours had 8 tabs open in FireFox and still no 'eureka' subject. Discouraging to say the least.

Not wanting to consider the entire experience a failure I started looking into Google Notebook as an app to help make future blogging easier when I'm still in the information collecting phase. That lead to a LifeHack article on 10 Firefox extensions that make life easier where I found my eureka -- the app called Picnik which in the 10 minutes I've been using it has already made me a convert. I will sing Picnik's high praises here with the aim of turning you on to it as well -- it deserves all the attention and users that come its way.

In a nutshell, Picnik is a fast, free, online photo editing tool. Photo Rotate, Crop, Resize, as well as the ability to modify Exposure, Colors, Sharpen and eliminate red-eye are all a single click away. A long list of 'creative tools' from Sepia to 'Gooify' are also included and, while the product is in beta, are all available for free (some of the more advanced tools will likely fall within the premium service only when the beta is over).

If you participate in any sort of online community, chances are you deal with images and photos frequently. Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, message forums, running your own blog, etc. If you are anything like me then you probably have accounts and photos hosted across several services. One of the first things that struck me about Picnik is how easily it integrates into all the above listed services. Within 30 seconds Picnik had connected to, been authorized on and was displaying my photo albums from around the web.

Now any image I upload to Flickr, Facebook or Picaso can be edited using Picnik and then automatically uploaded back to the host site for sharing. As an added bonus I can send the modified image to all three services should I desire.

If you haven't heard if Picnik before I highly recommend it. Give it a try.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Prince Of Persia Movie

I just saw today on Joystiq that has gotten their hands on a preliminary draft of the Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time script.

They seem really pleased with what they've read, calling it 'almost perfect, giving it an A- grade and saying
Disney has got a monster hit and another potential blockbuster franchise on their hands. Prince of Persia can be as fun as Pirates of the Caribbean.
Their review of the script is long so as way of an executive summary, here are some choice quotes:
One of the producers said in the trades that Prince of Persia is a 9th century Indiana Jones and it reads and feels like one.
One noticeable change from the SOT trilogy I worked on is that The Prince is named (Dastan) and the Farah character (ie: The Prince's love interest) has been replaced with someone named Tamina.

This line clearly points out that they'll bring back the 'rewind' power from SOT:
THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE WRAPS! Time slows to a stop and REWINDS!
Finally, to whet all of our appetites:
Prince of Persia is one hell of an action adventure script which will be sure to thrill general audiences and fans of the game. I can’t wait.
A final point of note is the image that LatinoReview uses here in the form of a movie poster. My memory is a little hazy but it seems to draw a huge amount from The Two Thrones and various promotional images used for that game around the world (note the 'Daggertail' chain -- the weapon of the Dark Prince -- wrapping around the image). For those of you hoping this was a first peek into what the SOT movie was going to look like I'd suggest you don't get your hopes up.

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