Yesterday, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4.05 billion. This is astonishing. Disney’s acquisition of Pixar was gaspworthy, but logical, even predictable. Disney’s acquisition of Marvel was a surprise, but clever and additive to the Mouse’s demographic reach. But this is on an entirely different level. Not only because Star Wars is the greatest film ever made, but also because it represents one of the most compelling examples of The American Dream. George Lucas started by telling a story, but ended up creating and personally owning one of the dominant pillars of the world’s entertainment industry. But this article isn’t about the deal itself. Setting aside the global childhood antitrust question, it doesn’t really affect me as to who owns what. Besides, you already read those “may the mouse be with you” articles yesterday. Instead, this article is about the footnote at the end of the story. The tantalizing tidbit that represents a supernova in the world of science fiction. This article is about Episode 7.
When the new iPhone 5 came out, I decided to try Verizon. I had been with AT&T from before the release of the iPhone, back when I was a Blackberry devotee. The fact that it was the only GSM network in the US meant I could take my phone anywhere and just switch out the SIM card. Or roam if I were on some lavish corporate account. However, the quality of AT&T’s network was always its weakest point. When I actually did switch out the SIM in England, the call quality jumped to near landline proportions. Which was surreal to say the least. But back home in San Francisco, I had dead spots in my loft. Including my entire bedroom. In order to get a signal there, I bought, for $150, an AT&T microcell to piggyback the cellular connection over my own broadband connection. This parasitic solution gave me a signal 50% of the time, with a fatal transition between cells.
I want to talk about public broadcasting for a moment. My desire to address this topic arises from the hullabaloo stemming from a comment during the recent presidential debate. In short, candidate Romney made plain his intention to eliminate the PBS subsidy as part of a broader plan to cut wasteful expenditure. His comment was cavalier and the reasoning was questionable. Given the state of political discourse, I wouldn’t expect much more, but this was a bit much even for me.
Let’s start with a basic proposition: public education is not an extravagance.
It’s been a big year. I’ve got a minion on the way and I made the transition from a pure business type into a blended creative role. After a number of long conversations and a pep talk from my CEO, I moved in to the lead role for PlayMesh’s frontline game, Valor. The role is varied and challenging – it sits at the cross-section of game design, producing, community, marketing, and creatives.
I normally shied away from creative pursuits professionally. Not sure why. Probably a mix of insecurity and a desire to buy a house one day. But here I am, working on a major evolution to Valor. An enormous component of that effort has been game design related, a task that has occupied night and day for the better part of the last few months. One thing I’ve noticed during the journey: game design is all about consequences.
My friend Joe Salama is writing a book titled The Paleo Miracle, editing together stories of people who have lost weight by following a more natural diet and lifestyle. I am contributing one of those stories and sharing it here by permission, although I am not strictly speaking following the orthodox version of the Paleolithic diet. In fact, I usually roll my eyes at the mention of something that sounds like a fad diet. However, it seemed that I blindly stumbled into much of the Paleo concept when implementing my own custom plan. Sure, successful health programs have obvious common factors, of eating less and exercising regularly, but the way to get there seems to be what separates what works from what doesn’t. By rolling my own, I managed to lose 45 pounds in 4 months. I sometimes discuss this in conversation, but since it’s appearing in print soon anyway, it’s about time I share with you, dear reader, the story of what I cheekily call The Moledina Regimen.
Oh SoMoFos, how I’ve missed thee. I think Jamil did a pretty accurate job of summing up the shenanigans that have gone down in the interim. I’ll layer a bit more on top of it. Things are a-changin’ on my side and the industry is getting more interesting by the minute. Let’s do a quick update.
Okay. You may have noticed that we’ve missed a couple of posts lately. Well, the main excuse is that in addition to the inherent challenge of writing halfway decent material at a regular clip, both Shawn and I have had a lot of other stuff going on. And while we’re both efficient writers, still it seems a bit odd for busy-ish people to magically have the time to write a fresh article every day. At the same time, we started this blog because we have something to say. And of course we like hearing ourselves write too. So we’ve hit on a happy medium. We’re going for a weekly cadence instead of daily. Furthermore, we are also going to be comfortable with fact that what we write may not be, strictly speaking, relevant to games. Sure there’s a lot of stuff going on in the game industry right now such as the OnLive situation. But really, as well-placed business folks in the game industry, us writing about that wouldn’t be your typical pseudo-journalistic pap, we’d either be obviously holding back or stepping all over existing confidences. So we’ll steer clear of that sort of thing, occasionally pontificate on games, and talk about the other things that cross our minds. For example, an errant thought has been bouncing around in my head for years, and just fully formed together. I finally have true clarity on why the rebooted Mummy series sucks geometrically with each iteration. It has to do with a complete disregard for Mummetization.
Man oh man. This question has been coming up with incredible frequency over the last year. I’ve probably had the debate 8-9 times since GDC, and I still haven’t fully formed my opinion on the subject. There’s certainly some indications that gamers love mobile, and some pretty depressing indications that people aren’t buying as many traditional games as they used to, but does correlation equal causation?
Is mobile another platform or THE platform for hardcore gaming?
Two days ago, a Redditor going by the name Lycerius posted the result of his playing the same game of Civilization II for almost ten years. In his words, “There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.” His description is powerful, ominous, and hilarious, which seems a perfect microcosm of Reddit itself. The first thing that popped into my head was the post artfully spliced together the key themes of my two favorite novels, 1984 and Foundation. 1984 for the three super nations locked in an eternal struggle, told from the point of view of a communist totalitarian state, and Foundation for the process of running a model of human behavior into the future. The next thing that hit me was that the social graph may very well be the key to bringing order to the galaxy.
Devotees of this blog (thanks mom!) will know of my suspicions regarding the inevitability of the zombie apocalypse. Naturally, I’m drawn to games that might provide me with the competitive edge when it comes to the dark times ahead. But I’ve been disappointed in the offerings on tap – they’re just too forgiving. I mean, it’s great that Fallout is comfortable with the idea that people are chilling and trading bottlecaps to each other after the nuclear war, but I’m thinking it’s more likely that people will just spend most of their time slaughtering everything that moves. I need to be prepared. But where to look?
DayZ. That’s where.