Unreality


Hasn’t quite sunk in. Lunching a new venture is such an involved process, with so much attention to details, it is easy to get lost in the minutia. We kinda knew we were onto something special with Execution Labs, especially given how open/vocal I was about my plans over the past while, and always nice to see the extra validation via the spectacular press coverage.

Now the hard work starts.

Once I get past the launch frenzy, I’ll post some deeper thoughts on what it took to get to this point…

The scale and scope of the Global Game Jam is astounding. In its third year, over 6500 participants across 169 jam sites in 44 countries produced nearly 1500 games - all in 48 hours!

For the first time, there was Jam action in Montreal with two sites: one at Ecole de Technologie Superieure and the other at EA Mobile’s offices. I was lucky enough to serve as a judge at the ETS site, where we checked out the 10 games that were produced.

Montreal Tech Watch has a nice recap article, and I snapped a few photos:


Jam teams waiting to be judged.

 


Getting a demo of Sumi-E, the judges’ “choice”game. Impressive!

 


Fellow judge, Elie Charest (MiraLupa), checking out Fade, a puzzle game that envelopes you in darkness.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Ubisoft’s party for the premiere of its full series of its Assassin’s Creed 2 promotional short films.

As a fan of the first game (yes, I scored all 1000 achievement points), I’m very much looking forward to AC2. And, the short films serve as both a teaser to get folks excited for the game’s launch on November 17th, but also to serve as the back story, helping to set up the mise-en-scene for the game.

The various congratulatory speeches included many remarks on the convergence of film and games. Of note, the bulk of effort on the films came from Hybride, the VFX shop Ubisoft purchased last year. And yes, they discussed many interesting areas of convergence and sharing (e.g., level/environment models from the game were imported into the films, shared actors, etc).

However, from an end result and experience point of view, I have to disagree. Films are becoming ever more “filmic” in their mastery of telling a story. And, games are becoming ever more “game-y” in engaging the player via agency.

Anyway. Some quick shots from the evening:


Hmm, strong urge to climb atop the tower outside party venue Usine C to get an eagle-eye view.

 


AC2 creative director Patrice Desilets and Frederick Brassard (3pod).

 


The pretty people.

 


Ubisoft Montreal/Toronto CEO, Yannis Mallat with introductory remarks.

 


AC2 Lineage in action.

 


Hybride VFX honcho, Pierre Raymond.

 


Lineage’s director, Canadian film and TV director Yves Simoneau.

Dang, spending ten days in Japan takes twenty to recover… That is, I meant to post this BioShock postmortem video a while ago…

 

Inspired by prolific video taking action in the San Diego and New York IGDA chapters, the Montreal chapter got its act together and recorded Chris Kline’s insightful recounting of BioShock’s gestation back at the September 11th chapter meeting. In short, I was utterly amazed at how clueless/directionless the game was from the start and how long it took for all the various aspects to materialize, and then come to together as a cohesive whole.

If you don’t want to watch the full 60-minute lecture + 20-minute Q&A, the Montreal chapter also whipped up a summary report (along with Chris’ PPT file).

Related, Clint Hocking has written up an in depth critique of BioShock, looking at how the game ultimately fails to fully marry ludic and narrative elements.

Moral dilemma #1 is, Do I skip work to play more BioShock ;)

I picked up a copy of the extremely well-received BioShock on Tuesday. Sadly, I’ve not had much time to play and have only cleared the second section/level (ie, Medical Pavilion). (Quick aside: Wow, did that sneaky “dentist” splicer make me jump off the sofa!) Many are touting it as the top contender for game of the year and discussing how it elevates the art form of games.

BioShock Little Sister

Part of that praise comes from the serious social commentary weaved within the story, and also how the Little Sisters present a moral choice to the player. That’s all fine and good, but most gamers (?) probably look to any such choice as purely a game system to be optimized: harvest option = 160 Adams, which means I can upgrade more plasmids, etc; rescue option = 80 Adams, but I get a gift of 200 Adams from Tannenbaum for every three sisters I save, plus extra tonics (oh, and there’s a 100 gamerscore Achievement if I rescue them all) - and so on.

So, while I can certainly appreciate (and enjoy) the dilemma from a story point of view (and my understanding is that there are different ends depending on which path you choose), very quickly it moves to a games-systems-optimization equation, if even subconsciously.

Anyway, was just a random thought. Hmm, I’m sure some smarter folks have written on this topic. Maybe Raph covered it in Theory of Fun? Also, seems like Ken Levine is saying lots of interesting stuff over at Shacknews, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet…

I have a guilty pleasure to admit to: I’m a Soul Calibur nut! Playing countless hours of the original Dreamcast version with friends late into the night made for some of my best game playing experiences ever… Anyway, I can only hope that the next rev of the game has more to offer than advanced boob physics

ivy.jpg

Coincidentally, around the same time I was reading up on Ivy’s makeover, Next Generation published their “Europe’s 50 Big Bosses” list. Is it any surprise that only two women are listed: Jane Cavanagh, the CEO of Eidos, and Fiona Sperry, the GM of EA UK.

Connecting more dots, Wagner James Au’s recent polemic touches on this in regards to the mainstream game industry being run by “lost boy” gamer dudes, creating games for other gamer dudes and being written about by more gamer dudes. Rinse repeat. Would be interesting to know to what extent a more diverse/inclusive workforce is involved in all the other sectors, margins, examples that Au mentions…

As an aside, I cannot emphasize enough how excellent/relevant Clayton Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, is to all of this. It provides an excellent framework and understanding of disruptive technology. A must read.

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