Showing posts from July, 2008

Casual Games: On the Road Edition

I am sitting in the airport on my way from from the Casual Connect conference in Seattle. The conference was great, and I learned an awful lot. The first thing is these things they call casual games are the same things we called console when I got into the business. The second happened when I was on my way to dinner. I was walking and a woman yelled from behind and started pointing frantically at my heel.

"SIR, SIR, SIR" I slowed down and looked at my heel. This gave her enough time to catch up."Give me 5 dollars. I am homeless and live in a garage and its hard and I want to buy a number 4 value meal at Jack in the Box. Do you know how hard it is to be homeless?"
"I don't."
"It is really hard. I have 10 blankets and sleep in a garage and its cold." We kept walking and she was speaking very clearly and very loud. "Now, give me five dollars because I am going to buy a number 4 value meal at Jack in the Box and I will use the money…

Bourne is Back: Treadstone Edition

Ludlum Entertainment Reacquires Rights to Develop, Publish and Distribute Multi-Platform Games Based on Robert Ludlum Novels
07.30.08, 9:30 AM ET

NEW YORK, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Ludlum Entertainment today announced that it has reacquired exclusive rights to develop, publish and distribute multi-platform games based on the literary works of late-author Robert Ludlum, the world-renown novelist whose works including the Bourne and Covert One series have sold more than 290 million copies worldwide and spawned the theatrical box office hits The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy.

The rights to develop, publish and distribute games based on Ludlum's works were previously held by Vivendi Games, now Activision Blizzard following the December 2007 combination of Vivendi Games, Vivendi's Blizzard Entertainment and Activision. In June 2008, Sierra Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, launched the critically-acclaimed Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy for the Playst…

Raising Games: Charles Dickens Edition

Games are like children. If you nurture their growth and support them once they leave the nest, they will be happy and support you and bring you joy the rest of your life. If you treat them poorly and stunt their growth, they will enter the world angry, not contribute to society, and like the Menendez boys, quite possibly kill you. In a Dickensian way, Fagin - like publishers are sending games out into the world deformed, immature, socially retarded, and ill equipped to face a cruel world. These emotionally undeveloped game are expected to perform in the real world and send money back to Fagin. When the handicapped games displease the publishers with a "please sir, may have some more," because the subsistence level support did not allow them to grow, publishers withhold support and expect them to fend for themselves. No marketing for you. Fend for yourself, or die. These publishers don't realize, a piece of them dies with each wasting and withering game. It see…

Where is my Batman Game?: Huh? Edition

I, like the rest of the world, went and saw the new Batman movie last weekend. I really liked it, but I am not much of a gauge. I liked all of them. Even Batman and Robin (Akiva Goldsman explained it was not his fault, the director butchered his great script). Batman is my favorite super hero, because he is just a guy. Anyone can be Batman. All you have to do is work at it . . . . and be psychotic.

I started with the Neal Adams/ Dennis O'Neil comics when I was a kid, survived through the early 80's malaise to see Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Frank Miller's Dark Knight breathe life into the character once again. I made it through the Knighfall period and even forgave the Azrael continuity interruption and break in film making until Jim Lee and Christopher Nolan reintroduced him in comics and film. My only reward on the gaming side is pain. Bad game, after bad game, after bad game. Some, thank you very much Acclaim 1.0, were not even finished when they s…

Check it Out: Cool Animations Edition

This animations has been floating around the web for a while, but it really blew me away.

This one was kind of neat too.

The innovations reminded me of The Neverhood, the first property acquired by DreamWorks. Doug Tennapel pitched the idea in Steven Spielberg's home before the studio was even announced, and it was supposed to be DreamWorks first transmedia property. They were going to do toys, films and lots of stuff, until someone thought "Prince of Egypt" was a better idea.

The game was created with over 3 tons of clay, a lot of wood, and a digital still camera, one frame at a time. I feel pretty comfortable saying no game will ever use this much clay again. Not many people got to see the game. Let's just say Mr. Katzenberg had an interesting marketing approach. Here are some scenes:

Here is some making of:

What's the Point: E3 Wrap Up Edition

I just got back from the hollow shell of what used to be E3. On the one hand I think it is wonderful to see the day Into the Pixel's display of amazing concept art has grown larger than the E3 show floor. On the other hand, I think it kind of sucks that E3's show floor is actually smaller than the Into the Pixel concept art display. A number of people described the show as “post appocolyptic.” I like to think of it as a rendering of how the old E3 would look if it was staged by the propaganda department of smaller cold war era eastern block country.

I knew this show was different the moment I exited the freeway. I didn't have to see the convention center standing naked without the perennial Atari sign on the South Hall. I could tell by the traffic, rather, the lack of traffic. The traffic jam was replaced by tumbleweed blowing through the barren streets with the whisper of an Ennio Morricone score in the background. In the past, the on site parking lots were full …

Check It Out, Too Much Time on Their Hands: Anti Gravity Edition

This is what happens when you play with non-newtonian liquids. In this case, corn starch and water. I didn't know what they were either, Wikipedia has this to say:
A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid which cannot be described by a single constant viscosity. Most commonly, the viscosity changes with the applied shear stress. Many polymer solutions and molten polymers are non-Newtonian fluids.

I just thought the video is cool.

I Told You So: Activision's ESA Withdrawal Edition

Today Ben Fritz ran a "revealing" interview about why Activision withdrew from The ESA. In his post, he quotes Bobby Kotick as saying:
I said don't view [pulling out of ESA] as anything but time off... With the combined companies [from the merger with Vivendi], the [ESA membership] dues went up enough that I said for it to make sense [to spend that money], we have to make a strategic plan. We don't have that because nobody owns it for us right now.
We have our own issues that are not the industry's issues. Our challenges are sufficiently different from other publishers' issues that we need our own point person. We'll have someone soon.
I appreciate Ben's efforts, but isn't this exactly everything I wrote on May 6 in my earlier post on the subject (bad grammar and all - I really have to proof read better)
If you think about the company as an organization, the answer is more than clear. Activision is one of the most bottom line oriented companies in t…

Check it Out: Otoy Edition

Jules Urbach is one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. He is also a genius and a champion snow skier. When he was 18, he deferred an acceptance into Harvard's Computer Science program to write the code for Hell Cab. He was not properly compensated. After Hell Cab, he thought about a better way to render 3d and created 3D Groove, and the Groove Alliance. The browser based system was not only utilized by developers all around the world, but it resulted in the first 3d game on Shockwave, Real Pool, which was also one of the most successful. Again, he was kind of screwed by some nefarious folks involved in the company. After a number of years, Jules single handled created create a new way to render 3d in real time and present it through anything from an IM Client to a browser. He started the company because he wanted to play in a world where Star Trek assets interacted with Battleship Yamato assets in scale and real time. Now he can do that and more. The resul…

Ken Levine Needs a Plumber: Information Leaks Edition

Ken Levine is a talented guy. He is a key visionary behind Bioshock, one of the recent games to rock the industry. For some untold reason, I like to think he is not behind it, news keeps leaking about his contract negotiations. Negotiations, which are taking place months after the production of Bioshock 2 was moved several thousand miles away from him. These leaks are beyond rare in the game business and I don't entirely understand who benefits from the leaks. I never hear about Miyamoto renegotiating. Jason Rubin just went on with his business and addressed it by successfully selling Flektor. Mark Cerny, well, you never hear anything about him, other than a name in the credits of most games I like to play. Will Wright, nah, Neil Young, announcement after the fact. Okomoto, announced the new venture after it happened. Terry Donovan, co-founder of Rockstar, just announced his departure after the fact. Yu Suzuki, never heard a thing. Sam Houser, Dan Houser, Leslie Benzies, …

EA Gets It: It's About the Customer Edition

While most publishers' direct customer knowledge is limited to the names of the few customers who register the games on line, or log into a website for previews, EA is truly getting to know their customer – and everyone else’s. They have been tracking on-line play of their own games better than any other publisher for a while. Now with the acquisition of Rupture, they are on course to capture, understand and exploit the game habits of other publishers' consumers. EA's history points to how nicely Rupture fits into the strategy.

The company was the last hold out from Xbox Live. While the other publishers were jumping on, EA was objecting to Mirosoft's central control business model. Then CFO, Warren Jenson, went on record saying it just didn't make sense. Sony had the opportunity to leverage the discord into a relationship which would define the on line nature of the next gen platforms, but held true to its laisse a faire position. Eighteen months after the …

Check it Out: Commentator Edition

I may be late to the party, but I thought this is funny and the kid makes sense.

More here:

Independence Day: America Edition

A few weeks ago I found myself standing in front of the White House with a couple of friends. It was closing in on midnight, and other than the uniformed, heavily armed secret service agents on Pennsylvania Avenue, the streets appeared quiet. Looking through the iron bars, I saw nothing but empty darkness on the front lawn of Mr. Bush's home. About 50 yards from the fence I could see a large fountain.
"I bet you can't make it to the fountain." I said to my friend. The fence was about 8 feet high, it would be easy enough to vault, and it looked empty on the lawn.
"I bet you can't make it to the fountain."
"You've got to be kidding."
"I'll give you 20 bucks if you make it."Now I have to admit, I was a bit "meat" drunk at the time. We just finished dinner at a Brazilian steak house where "meatadors" walk through the restaurant with sizzling slabs of meet on sword like skewers and carve it at …