e3 Sketchbook

Survived another Electronic Entertainment Expo, and I even got a few minutes to sketch between meetings.

The LA Convention Center felt much quieter compared to previous years. Restaurants had plenty of tables, and on the show floor you could actually hear yourself talk.

Posted on Jun 10, 2011 in Blog, Games, Sketchbook | 2 comments

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Speaking at Nordic Games

I’ll be speaking at the Nordic Game 2011 conference next week in Malmö, Sweden. The theme of this year’s conference is “Creativity and Entrepreneurship” and they’ve asked me to give a keynote on the subject of “Transmedia.” (No, I don’t know what it means, either — I’m putting my presentation together today, so if you have any ideas, shoot them over quick!)

Hope to see some of you there. And Mom, if you’re reading this, Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted on May 8, 2011 in Blog, Film, Games | 3 comments

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Digital madness: Contagious?

Really interesting front-page Variety article today about how an increasing reliance on CGI is straining studio tentpole movie production schedules:

The kind of sturm and drang that’s swirled around “Green Lantern” is actually par for the course on most visual effects-heavy tentpoles these days — and the problem’s growing. Such pics now routinely fit the description of a “troubled” project, with “troubled” the new normal.

Traditionally, big studio movies never miss their release dates. This is different from the videogame industry, where high-profile AAA titles, under pressure to raise the bar technologically as well as artistically, can be granted extra months or even years if the publisher feels it’s worth it.

Game makers have long admired Big Filmmaking’s ability to meet schedules no matter what. But with the shift to digital, film post-production is acquiring the atmosphere of a “normal” game studio at crunch time:

[Studio] management practices are still catching up to the reality of tentpole production, where effects have to be built before the picture is tested, then vfx have to be added and/or changed as the picture comes together and in response to audience testing, all while marketing demands shots for the campaign.

All of Hollywood seems to be still figuring this out, and as a result, the tentpole pattern is now well established:

  • A movie demands you’ve-never-seen-this-before visual effects both for marketing and story;
  • Ambitious plans and a short schedule leave little margin for error;
  • Inevitable schedule problems trigger urgent meetings among studio execs, vendors and filmmakers to get the project back on track;
  • “911” emergency calls go out to almost any vfx shop in the world that can take on some last-minute work;
  • Everyone runs a harrowing race to deadline despite all the extra help.

Collapse, rest, repeat.

As a videogame maker, I always assumed we were just crazy to begin with. But is the madness in the craftsman, or his tools?

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 in Blog, Film, Games, Making Games | 2 comments

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On a plane

This was today, JFK to Burbank.

Posted on Apr 22, 2011 in Blog, Sketchbook | 0 comments

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Moving Pixels Rewinds Time

Moving Pixels at PopMatters have posted a great hourlong podcast all about playing (and replaying) The Last Express: “Playing on trains and playing with time.”

You can download it from their blog, or hear it here:

Posted on Apr 11, 2011 in Blog, Games, Last Express | 0 comments