Quick Thoughts on GDC

March 22, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

Went through a week of GDC (Game Developers Conference), learning how to network. I have plenty to say about that, about how expensive it is, especially for a ground-level guy like me.

Have plans to format the Apocalypse World scenarios I ran at various game conventions and upload them up on this site, with notes on what worked and what didn't.

I have a piece/rant about how "Plot Ate the Story", a critique of Season 2 of Downton Abbey and Season 2 of Sons of Anarchy, two very different series that let plot take over what was originally a very organic story.

And I need to slap a link to Twitter on this thing.

More soon!


Spoiler about the movie, Hugo, below.

December 27, 2011

My girlfriend got me Designers & Dragons for Christmas. It is an awesome history of roleplaying games and comes at a particularly important period of gaming history.

Film has over 100 years of history, and filmmakers often pay homage to their influences in their own work. It is not only an expression of love but a great way to introduce audiences to old work. Without Hugo, for example, would general audiences know of the work and importance of Georges Méliès?

Roleplaying games are barely 40-years-old, but the important founders are passing away, leaving a new generation unaware of modern-day influences. Do they realize that their world-renowned World of Warcraft owes an intellectual debt to Gary Gygax? So these histories and homages not only examine the process of game design, not only teach us of how we got here, but they teach us how to proceed into the future of games.

Playing Catch Up

November 23, 2011

I've been busy finishing some contract work! Woo hoo!

On the other hand, that means I need to get back on the networking bandwagon, a skill that I admittedly need to work on. I have already met a couple of interesting people, done the lunch thing, talk about making video games, and the like, but I need to keep stepping out there, meeting more people, pressing palms, kissing babies… wait, that's for politicians...

I also have some thoughts about the concluding episodes for Doctor Who (mostly critical, some praiseworthy). I also have some thoughts on other television shows, such as "The Misfits", a British show about a bunch of juvenile delinquents with superpowers, "Community", which I finally caught up on (I didn't know it was produced and created by Dan Harmon!), and some video games I snuck in on breaks.

More later!

This half-season of Doctor Who goes out with a half-bang

July 25, 2011

Spoilers for this season of Doctor Who!

Season 6: Episode 5: Rebel Flesh

Pretty standard story with a metaphor of racism and slavery in the relationship between the humans and the gangers. There was some interesting character potential with Rory becoming adamantly concerned over the ganger woman, Jennifer, and I felt there was plenty of opportunity to address the fact that these gangers should have the same thoughts, feelings, and beliefs as their human counterparts.

But when the gangers (especially Jennifer) immediately turn into uncomplicated evil villains, the episode loses a lot of subtlety and nuance. (Wouldn't different people react differently to a complete change of identity?) And this first part of a two-parter felt like it was dragging its feet to get to a climax; a sign that they writing team had too much plot for one episode, but not enough theme or character development to make two.

But what an awesome title for the episode!

Season 6: Episode 6: The Almost People

Starting off from an interesting (if predictable) twist from the end of the last episode, this episode at least has directed action. However, it starts to give characterization to a couple of the gangers and humans that was missing from the previous episode, so that the episode feels frenetic and rushed; it attempts to cram nuance with the other characters while turning Jennifer-ganger into a stereotypical villain to push the plot. And the sacrifice of the gangers at the end didn't make any sense; the humans could have activated the anti-ganger device without being harmed.

It does lead into a great twist at the end, bringing this half-season into an interesting climax.

Again, a great title for an episode!

Season 6: Episode 7: A Good Man Goes to War

A puzzling episode that tries to do too much. It gives us a whole cast of secondary (tertiary?) characters that we are supposed to care about, but we have never met. In addition, we are supposed to feel sympathetic to the anti-Doctor army, but they don't give us a strong reason why they would hate our protagonist. To make matters worse, the "villain" of the episode, the Eyepatch Lady, delivers her lines in pure "I am evil" mode. Finally, the twist and revelation at the end brings up more questions than answers; what prevented River Song from exposing her identity, and how does it really change her relationship with the Doctor?

A Summary So Far

Last season, I was a little concerned that Steven Moffat was writing so many episodes (6 out of 13). Just because you can write an awesome episode (or several), doesn't mean you can do so while also being Executive Producer of a series.

What I was hoping was that Moffat would take his strong writing and structural talent and guide a team of excellent writers to make excellent episodes that would fit into an excellent season. Instead I feel like that he's dividing his attention too much.

Both J. Michael Straczynski and Rod Serling wrote a majority of the episodes on their respective shows and suffered either breakdowns or massive stress. I hope Moffat learns from these guys and puts his talents and trust to this next "generation" of Doctor Who writers.