Archive for July, 2007


Which Do You Like Better?

July 30, 2007

This makes almost no sense, because I can’t tell you what this is for, but I’m curious which of the following two designs you like better. Unfortunately, this is for a side project which I can’t yet announce, so I can’t share too many of the design goals here. These are competing for a position at the top of a website. Only one of them will actually be used, though it’s not too late for me to start a new design based on feedback. So tell me what each one makes you think, or feel, or want to cut with knives.

The final would have a bit of text set on top of it.


Thinking Ahead to Mage: The Awakening

July 29, 2007

How much game-related talk is right for this venue? On the one hand, I want very much to write in greater depth about the games I’m working on and playing. On the other hand, I don’t precisely want to alienate people who tune out when we get to talking about dice pools, player agency, and ludology versus dramaturgy. Where’s the balance?

Right now, in the minutes between other projects, I’m writing down little notes that will soon become the Mage: The Awakening chronicle I’ll run at the office. A lot goes into preparing one of these chronicles, for me, from the general narrative terrain the game will cover (themes, atmosphere, the sorts of action that’ll happen “on stage” and the sort that won’t) to all of the choices that will inform or drive gameplay (like the sorts of character types that’ll be welcome and what sort of important decision points will be open to the players). I’ll generate pages and pages of ugly, geeky notes on this stuff, and often it ends up amounting to maybe just a handful of play sessions before real-world scheduling problems drive a chronicle into the ground.

Tonight, for example, I keep coming back to this question: “How much should my Mage chronicle resemble Ghostbusters?”


Again With the Bourne Ultimatum

July 26, 2007

My excitement for The Bourne Ultimatum continues to grow. I’m looking forward not just to the movie — which is almost here — but for composer John Powell‘s score for the film. (You can hear some of it at Amazon.) Both of the previous Bourne soundtracks are staples in my “Get Work Done” playlist, and are great background noise for writing and editing.

The updated Bourne Ultimatum website is excellent — this is what movie websites should be like. Instead of cluttered, jerky MySpace pages (gross), they should offer this kind of enticing setup and additional footage. Go there, enter the site, and you’ll get a nice long stretch of footage introducing you to key characters and context for the story. It’s like an extended remix of a trailer, with little tags showing you what’s what. If you want, you can get all the production notes and cast bios and all that usual stuff, too, but this is kind of footage is what you really want. Simple. Good.

Plus, we get another clever little tie in to the end of a previous Bourne movie — this time the first one. At the end of The Bourne Identity, after Abbot (Brian Cox) has had Conklin (Chris Cooper) killed and shut down Treadstone, he lies to a Congressional committee about the nature of Treadstone, and reports its closure so he can get out from any unwanted scrutiny that could lead to him getting pinched. That done, he moves on to another project, which just gets brought up to show how casually Treadstone gets shut down at the political level, and to provide us some dialogue to go over the visual transition to the Greek coast, where the movie ends.

In this dialogue, Abbot mentions a project called Blackbriar. I remember thinking, “Blackbriar’s a terrific name. Better than Treadstone.” Now we see that Blackbriar is a big part of the new movie. It’s, apparently, a “Treadstone upgrade.”

I’m sure that wasn’t an idea built into the Blackbriar reference in the first movie — deleted scenes from the first movie make it pretty clear that Doug Liman had other ideas in mind for Brian Cox’s character — but Tony Gilroy (and Co.) continue to make great use of little details in the previous movies to create a sense of tight continuity out of what was, before, just the illusion of depth. I love Tony Gilroy’s work on these films.

Next week, I’m going to see the hell out of this movie.


Testing the iTunes Paranoia

July 26, 2007

On Monday, the Logan’s Run TV series came up at work. On Tuesday, I discovered it’s available on iTunes now.

Today, at the comic shop, I mentioned to Craig that I really do intend to buy the Johnny Quest DVD set at some point. Tonight, I discovered it’s available on iTunes now, too.

So, to test the limits of my TV-show-summoning powers, I now type this: If Max Headroom were to become available on DVD, I’d buy it.

And now… we wait.


So, About WoW…

July 25, 2007

Yeah, instead of quitting, I just got my dwarf to level 61. Maybe when he hits level 70 I’ll stop playing. Or something.

But what happens to Boar if I quit?


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

July 23, 2007

I don’t read the Harry Potter books, but I’ve enjoyed the past few movies quite a bit. That Prisoner of Azkaban movie is terrific. Out of the three good Harry Potter movies, though, Order of the Phoenix is the weakest. It’s still pretty, to be sure, but it’s oddly paced from scene to scene (some scenes are redundant, others jarringly clipped short) and, simply, not a whole hell of a lot actually happens in this movie. In general, I like it when things happen.

The wizard’s duel at the end is pretty fucking rad, what with all of its little details and all. Just letting some of Britain’s finest actors pantomime for the SFX artists turns out a pretty handsome bit of action. Sirius Black’s exit couldn’t be much more vague, though, and sure doesn’t have any of the impact that the scenes after it seem to think it had. And how, on earth, you can waste David Thewliss like that, I don’t know. Here’s hoping we see more of Lupin in the next movie or two. But the Death-Eaters look great, the wand battles look great, and while I was let down here, I am still looking forward to Steve Kloves’ return (as screenwriter) in the next one, Harry Potter and a Whole Damn Lot of Alan Rickman, From What I Hear.

Next, I’ll tell you why it’s clear that the Weasleys (or at least the Weasley dad, Arthur) are working for Voldemort, as written by somebody who hasn’t read the books and has no idea what Harry Potter and the Ghastly Title (The Deathly Hallows, is it?) has in store. If you read the books, you can judge the theory and let me know if I’m crazy. In the meantime, let me be crazy.


Do I Quit WoW?

July 16, 2007

So. Should I quit World of Warcraft? I haven’t played in a couple of months now, and when I log on to kill an hour with my weird alien shaman, Airiksandir, I just look at my quest list and think to myself, “I really don’t want to do all these damned Strangethorn quests again.” It’s the same stuff again. But I’ve got 25 gold to spend, and I still haven’t seen most of the Outlands (is that what it’s called?).

The lvl 60+ zones don’t seem real well built to me. Shattrath City is an ugly bore, and the wilderness is overcrowded with monsters that really punish exploration, it feels like. But the Draenei starting area was magnificently well put together. The first 20 levels with my new character were great fun, all over again. But do I want to pay $15 a month to drag that dude to a higher level for no reason? Shouldn’t I be playing with my 360, instead? I’ve hardly touched that thing.

(And of course, right after I log in with my riffing-on-Russian-named character, I see a Draenei named Vassili Zaytsev and slap myself in the forehead. Why didn’t I think of that?)

Music: Nine Black Alps, “Cosmopolitan”