Saturday, December 31, 2005
Friday, December 30, 2005
In most cases, the risks of attempting to do something new simply outweigh the benefits, according to Pachter. With next-generation development costs skyrocketing, publishers want proven sellers, safe choices that they can be assured will provide a reliable return on their investment.
"The best business for a publisher is to give people what you know they want," Pachter says. "And what you know they want is a sequel to what they wanted last time. So we don't see a whole lot of innovation."
The green-lighting process is a cold, mechanical process by Pole's description, and one every major publisher uses to determine which games get made and which ones don't.
"You have to look at a product from every angle," Pole explains. "What is the product's genre? What are the platforms? How much money are you going to spend? Who are the people that are building it? Is it a licensed product? Is it an original product? You then present the idea to the green lighting committee, which is, like the senior management in sales, senior management in marketing, and product development. And then, basically, you run the numbers. And it's a numbers game after that. If the unit volume comes back and it supports the development [costs] and what you'll need to spend at marketing, then the product is given the green light."[...]
As with so many other aspects of this discussion, it all comes down to numbers. Young says EA cross-referenced Metacritic review scores for the top 30 games of the last three years to spot trends, and they found that the best-rated games all had "1-3 meaningful innovative features that strike at the heart of gameplay." It's a modest goal, and one the company hopes will keep its annualized franchises fresh enough to continue selling.
If he goes for a walk, a miniature camera that dangles from his neck snaps pictures every minute or so, immediately committing the scene to a memory built not of neurons but ones and noughts. [...] Conversations are recorded and steps logged thanks to a GPS receiver carried with him. [...]At first, he merely scanned books and work documents, but the project ballooned, embracing the mundane and the moving: details of plumbers, of others he's met, sit digitally alongside letters from his children, his advice when they hit difficult times. Conversations with his grandchildren, his wife, are there too. Occasional musings on the world that would otherwise be confined to a diary now go straight into the database, accompanied by a thousand pages of medical records.
An early insight into a weakness of the system revealed how reliant Dr Bell had become on his "surrogate memory". The hard drive of his computer crashed, losing four months of data.
In a report on the project, he describes it as "a severe emotional blow, perhaps like having one's memories taken away."
The iTunes link is here (the content is free).
Empire magazine, the bastion of journalistic excellence, has released its annual film poll. This quote sums the story up:
Empire assistant editor Ian Freer said: "Voting Tom Cruise the world's most irritating film star may be a knee-jerk reaction to his year in the spotlight but he has also been voted the greatest movie star in the world, something this year's Mission: Impossible 3 will no doubt confirm."
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I've been fascinated, though, by Larry's producer Artie [pictured] and his actor Rip Torn. It's his name.
I'm trying to establish the "Rip Torn Verb-Past Participle Child Naming Template". I figured there might be a McSweeney's 'Lists' post in it.
I guess we need verbs which have synonyms (to rip/to tear): the likes of "Cut Cut" won't do outside of an Asian culture.
Help me, mewers.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
It has recently come to my attention that on Jan. 5th of this year, Mr. C. O'Brien hosted the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2005 keynote presentation in Las Vegas, featuring the world's richest man in the world, Bill Gates.
Even on paper, this had all the ingredients of a wreck:
- an hour-long interview with a hand-rubbing, charmless, disconnected billionaire
- a geeky geeky (as opposed to hip geeky) business-conference audience
- a cavernous venue
- the fact that the whole thing is basically a Microsoft infomercial
- creepy, painfully cheap replication of Late Night, in both format and presentation, and
- the almost inevitable failed product demonstration in which his own products make Bill Gates look foolish (see video snippet here) - to his credit, Conan does take full advantage of the awkwardness
So, if you would like to experience it in its full car-crashingest glory, click here for the 100k or 300k video - Conan comes in at around the 6:20 mark (for those time- or broadband-challenged, you can read the transcript but that does reduce the impact somewhat).
I find the dedication of this project highly impressive: these guys took a discontinued franchise (King's Quest), assembled a mostly-foreign team of 40 volunteers, and over several years, cranked out what looks to be (upon cursory inspection anyway) a professional-level product. Just to put the amount of work into perspective:
The script is 1,500 pages long, single-spaced, and the game features over 400 characters and nine different lands with over 300 different backgrounds.That's commitment to a cause, right there. The sheer volume also goes a long way towards explaining why dialogue & storyline in games tends to be poo (reminds me of the Krusty "it's the tightest three hours and ten minutes on TV" quote).
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Top Single: Babyshambles - 'Killamangiro'
Top Album: Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman
Top Movie: Napoleon Dynamite
Top Game: Half Life 2 (played with GTA:San
Top Comedy: Look Around You
Top Single: Smog - 'The Well' (Downloadable along with some
other good 'shit', here - (sorry man, it looks like the links on that site are broke :( - Ed)
Top Album: I'm forced to rely on memory here, but I cannot recall having bought a single 2005 album.
Top Movie: Me and You and Everyone We Know
Top Game: Same as for the albums, I'm afraid, though the
Half-life 2 demo was good.
Top Comedy: Robot Chicken
Jake - [Somewhat more maudlin picks from me...]
Top Single: Radiohead - 'I Want None Of This'
Top Album: Beck - Guero
Top Movie: Broken Flowers
Top Game: Half Life 2 (original soundtrack)
Top Comedy: Arrested Development
- Thom and co are going to be active next year, with gigs, downloadable tracks and hopefully even an album. Also it looks like Nigel Godrich has been fired - perhaps it has something to do with this here:
- Thom: That song's pretty throwaway, really. It's got guitars in it...we did it in a hurry, because it was a test. Nigel (Godrich, producer) wouldn't let us eat anything until we'd done it. It was four in the afternoon, and we were all starving. I didn't have any of the words, so I had to write them all down quickly.
- The Lips have an album out in April, although I can't say I was overly impressed by their last single/internet track
- A highly decent video by the White Stripes, featuring our favourite late night host
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
MOST OVER-RATED SHOW:and
Curb Your Enthusiasm
MOST BLATANT PLAGIARISM:Check out the 'winners' here.
Broken News stealing from The Day Today
Extras stealing from Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld
Nathan Barley stealing from The Office
Monday, December 19, 2005
2. Arctic Monkeys - 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'
3. Arcade Fire - 'Rebellion (Lies)'
4. Maximo Park - 'Apply Some Pressure'
5. Kaiser Chiefs - 'Oh My God'
6. Franz Ferdinand - 'Do You Want To'
7. The Rakes - '22 Grand Job'
8. Gorillaz - 'Dare'
9. Bloc Party - 'Two More Years'
10. We Are Scientists - 'The Great Escape'
11. Editors - 'Munich'
12. The Futureheads - 'Area'
13. The Strokes - 'Juicebox'
14. LCD Soundsystem - 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House'
15. The White Stripes - 'My Doorbell'
16. The Bravery - 'An Honest Mistake'
17. Queens Of The Stone Age - 'In My Head'
18. Arctic Monkeys - 'Fake Tales Of San Francisco'
19. Babyshambles - 'Fuck Forever'
20. Hard-Fi - 'Hard To Beat'
I'd want to see respect given also to:
- Hard Fi - 'Tied Up Too Tight'
- The Tears - 'Refugees'
- Hal - 'Play the Hits'
- Jake Benilov - 'Russia's Cold'
- Gorillaz - 'Feel Good Inc.'
- Ben Folds - 'Landed'
- The Futureheads - 'Hounds of Love'
- Tony Rudd - 'Machadaynu'
- The Mules - 'Redeemer'
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Now gamble with clear conscience knowing that the winnings will go to maintain the USA's enormous strength. What better cause could you think of?
Thursday, December 15, 2005
... from The Times and The Independent (with "book reading bad, Q&A good" being the consensus). Seems like we were in famous company: "Salman Rushdie, Alan Rickman, David Baddiel, Morwenna Banks, Angus Deayton and Marcus Brigstocke" (and obviously Merchant, but perhaps he was only there to see Gervais).
On the other hand, Zach Galifianakis is quickly becoming the sleeper treasure of the Comedians of Comedy show.
I'm not sure who in the UK shows this kind of dedication to their comedy craft: the 'play even if you're not getting paid' type of comic. Bumments?
- Little Britain dominates, and so-called Executive Producer "Michael Hurll" says
'This year's comedy output on television is probably the strongest ever in the 16 years of the British Comedy Awards.'I'd suggest 1996 and the Partridge/Day Today dominance, but that's why I'm not "Executive Producer".
- Our old friend. Shades of defensiveness starting to creep in?
Earlier, Gervais told the audience: ''i'm not confident about this award show. I nearly didn't come tonight...I've got quite a bit of this plastic at home.'
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
"It's a screwed-up 'Wonder Years' from the perspective of (a fortysomething) going back to the magical summer when he turned 32 and became a man."
Thursday, December 08, 2005
This is pretty surreal, but why not, I suppose. It's not like he's got a country to run..
- herald you triumphantly as "Yakov: Famous Russian Comedian"
- earn you the endorsement of three consecutive Republican Presidents
- give you opportunities to back away politely as elderly male midwesterners reach for your genitals (below).
Watching Space Cadets this evening, I was struck by the obvious parallels, and the audacity of the programme makers in rising to the challenge of providing a synthetic world. There were fascinating and all too short sequences detailing a trip to Russia for authentic uniforms, food and toiletries; the sourcing of authentic hardware; the decoration of an entire army base; and the transport to the base. From what I could tell, they've done a very good job indeed.
So it's a shame they've chosen to lower the bar for themselves by choosing what looks like a roundly stupid set of participants. In the war story, the plucky hero uncovers Fritz's ruse and signals home for a rescue party. I dearly hope that we get similar drama in this series from close shaves with reality and some real efforts by the participants to work out what's happening to them, but I hold out very little hope. And consequently, it looks like all the laughs are going to be cheaply won at the cadets' expense, which will hardly make for satisfying viewing.
This talk of my entertainment demands leaves aside the much-discussed ethical issues. We've all seen the Truman Show and sympathised with Jim Carrey as the pawn. No one wants synthesised experiences over real ones, and the sense of let-down at the end is going to be cataclysmic for some. Clearly wise to the possibility of losing their audience's sympathy in this way, the producers cleverly allowed the participants to nominate a deeply trusted person to decide whether or not they should participate. There goes my qualms with the show: lost with my respect for these poor saps' choice of friends.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
WWE has put out a casting call yesterday through casting websites looking for a character to play, as they put it, "SHELTON BENJAMIN'S MAMA / Co-Star / Female / African Am / 50-60 Shelton Benjamin's Mama - 50's, Black, heavy set, good personality, willing to travel." They say that the character will be used three to six months, with pay "to be determined". They noted that "This woman will travel all over the country/world to perform for the "Raw" shows".
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Decent! It looks like Apple are really getting their stuff together and are adding more TV to the iTunes video store. The pick of the new shows - selected Conan (including the 10th anniversary special) and The US Office Season 2. Question is: is $2 a hit ($10 for the Conan 10th anniv. special) a reasonable price? Initially I thought yes (a Starbucks coffee lasts less and is more expensive), but over a 22 episode season, you're forking out $44 and then same again for the DVD boxset, since the downloads only look presentable on the 'pod (unlike music iTunes, where you can burn it to CD and it'd still sound OK).