Sunday, August 21, 2005

Cease & Deceased

Unfortunately, I'll be offline indefinitely.

The blog may return under my real name in the near future. Or it may rise from its ashes as something else entirely. Or it may slip into the Dead Blog Limbo.

Thanks to all who visited, and continue to visit. I wish you the best in all your endeavors.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Have they ever played the game...?

I often wonder if the suits ever play video games. Let me explain.

I had a general meeting recently at a pretty large production company over on Olympic with its own money. During the standard five to ten minutes of Get-To-Know-You chatter, I mentioned that I'm currently in the early stages of developing a video-game comic-book series [more on that, at a later date, if anything comes of it]. I wish it weren't true, but what follows is more or less what was said, spiced up a bit to make me look good.

"Video Games? Great! I love video games!" the exec. exclaimed, startling me, and produced a pile of lime Xbox cases. "Have you played this?"

"Yep. Awesome action, great storyline too. Really one of the better games to come out last few years. Scared the Hell out me."

The Exec. then proceeded to tell me that they've got a great relationship with the publisher, and are interested in putting something together on it. My enthusiasm spiked tremendously.

"I think it'd make a kick ass movie, I mean, it's all there. Great characters, awesome villain, really mythology and a great cross between something like H.P. Lovecraft and Clive Barker. It's high concept, but a really original take on it. What were you thinking?"

"Well...we wanted to make it contemporary, you know, bring the characters into the twenty first century, bigger, that kind of thi--We're thinking maybe it could sta--"

"But...don't you think part of its charm is that it takes place in the post World War One years. I mean, don't you think that's what makes it pretty freaky? All the old antiques, massive houses, the atmosphere...?"

The Exec. paused, then winced as if stung.

"Oh yeah, sure...We're thinking that maybe we could make it about the grandson of the character. Like, say he's gotten his grandfathers powers, but this whole time he's thought his grandfather was just crazy. We have a cold opening showing the ending of the game, and then villain comes back into modern day. Sort of like a sequel to the game--"

At some point his voice became about as pleasant as the screams a hippo makes with a chainsaw through its head. I grew irritated. Not just at him, but at the six meetings I've had prior with others like him where we explored to various degrees the adaptation of a game that I enjoyed. Counting back now, four out of the six meetings followed the same trajectory.

  1. Exec tells me they have / are in process of, acquiring rights to a video game that absorbed numerous hours.
  2. I get excited.
  3. Exec tells me they want to do something different and throw out the storyline of the game.
  4. I get unexcited.
Now I'm not one to stifle innovation. If you can make the product better by twisting the subplot, adding new characters, or rearranging the story, then by all means, go for it! It's an adaptation, not a translation. But when the source material works, and not just on me, but on millions of other gamers, why try to reinvent the wheel?

I was fed up. He wasn't the source of the problem, but he was the one closest to the bomb with the matches in hand when the fuse was lit, so he caught the brunt of my wrath. The final straw was when he started spouting off a few movie references that felt nothing like the game what-so-ever.

"The monsters could be real cool, kind of like the wraiths in Lord of the Rings"

Wraiths? Lord of the Rings? This game was a gothic thriller with undertones of reincarnation, demon summoning, and a sleeping God the size of a planet. It owes as much to Tolkein or Peter Jackson as fish do to the internet.

"Have you actually played this game?"

"Oh yeah, they made us a demo tape, so I saw most of it. Really cool stuff."

I lost it.

"Most of it? That must've been a long tape because the game took me at least ten hours to beat. It's got a great storyline, great characters, and its steeped in a kind of Sherlock Holmes mood that works perfectly for post war, post Victorian England. Plus, one of the key points of the game is that one of the characters you play is a female, so the whole notion of a woman being a mans equal, which is taken for granted these days, is a primary source of conflict in this game. Frankly, I think it would ruin the whole tone of the movie, piss off the fans, and just be another piece of unforgettable garbage that has no relationship to the game but the title. Does Alone in the Dark ring a bell?"

Obviously it didn't, but my bitter tone did, because he shook his head, put the games back, and awkwardly shrugged off the idea. "We'll figure it out...

The meeting ended a few minutes later. I didn't particularly care to hear what else he had to pitch me, and frankly, I didn't really give a shit what he thought of the script that got me the meeting to begin with. I left my card, he gave me his, I forgot to get my parking ticket stamped but preferred to pay the $2.00 per 15 minutes than take the elevator back up. I was in an arrogant and pissy mood, partly because of the heat, partly because my agent hyped me up for meeting this guy, but mostly because it's the same thing I hear so often. Spend huge sums of money on acquiring the rights to something, only to make it into something it doesn't even resemble.
  • Resident Evil? Please...
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Okay, you got the boobs right. But a decent storyline might've helped.
  • Street Fighter 2? They did their best.
  • Mortal Kombat? Actually not bad, considering the source.
  • Wing Commander? Next time skimp on the F/X and invest in a better story.
  • Super Mario Bros? I hope fucking heads rolled for that.
  • Alone in the Dark? Stick to producing, Dr. Boll. I know down syndrome film students with a more evolved grasp of cinema than you.
I'm not naive enough to think that your standard executive is going to have enough time to play twenty hours of Half Life 2 or spend the necessary time to Level Up his character just to be able to hang in World of Warcraft. Heck, I don't even have that time half the time [huh?!]. But please...for the love of God...Stop Buying Games Because They're Best Sellers, Only to Destroy one of the things that make them best sellers: The Originality of them!

I hate having bad meetings. You walk away from them with a place you may never be able to go back until you're pulling in seven figures per script and have a Trademark after your name, or until 18 months later when the Exec is fired.

But I'm tired of playing the sycophant writer, nodding my head, saying: Yessuh master sir, issa grand idea indeeeeed! I felt like a dick, and my agent sure thought I was a dick, and I probably was a dick, but if Team America taught me one thing about dicks it's...

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Game Over...

Been a bit slow lately, which always gets me a bit freaked out. I think part of me is always expecting work to dry up completely and never return. The few professional writers I know seem to harbor a similiar feeling from time to time. As if their cosmic good karma streak could suddenly come to an end at any minute.

Thankfully, the International Comic Convention, aka ComicCon will offer me four days of mind numbing geek overload. I may blog from San Diego about the experience if I get a free moment. I plan to buy lots of stuff I'll never read.
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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Has it Really Been 10 Years?

Flew back to my high school reunion this week as an excuse to get out of Los Angeles until after the 4th of July.

It's so strange how everyone pretty much stopped growing vertically and started filling out horizontally. For the most part, hairstyles didn't change but hairlines did. Nice to reconnect with old friends, swap business cards, and attempt to explain how I earn a living writing movies that no one has seen.

"It's complicated. No, I don't know anyone famous. Really? That sounds like an 'interesting' idea for a movie."

In the future I think I'll say I'm a manager at Starbucks.
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Things not to say in a meeting.

"You think this next draft needs a bit more sex in it? No prob! It'll have more ass in it than a night at Neverland Ranch! Oh really? So you know him pretty well then...Yeah? I've heard he's nice too. Helluva dancer. Great musician, I mean...*wow*"

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Scientists create Zombie Dogs

Looks like Vanilla Sky may not be too far off.

And speaking of Zombies...

What the hell happened George?
Land of the Dead blew!
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