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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Friday, a determined crew of eight SoMoFoNauts descended into Prometheus. Not everyone came back. At least not from the medical scene. But before I get to that, I should state at the outset that this is not a review of the film. If it were, I would give it a 7 out of 10. After all the build up on this blog, you might think this is a low score. Relative to expectations, it really is a low score. There was certainly a lot to like, such as the overall look of the film, the lush moodiness, it really is a Ridley Scott science fiction film. That previously mentioned medical scene did indeed meet the bar established by Alien for one total freakout moment. But it failed the Alien bar too. First off, there is no breakout stunning alien design, that matches the genius of H.R. Giger. Instead we get some large pale worms, and a pale amorphous tentacled beast. Which are very boring and generic. But more damning was the overload of cliché twists and unanswered questions, for which I blame the film’s co-writer and Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof.
Most wrap-ups of E3 look at the show in terms of whether it was successful as intended or not. And on that score, it seems both the press and the folks I hung out with at the show felt it was adequate as expected. The ESA was distracted by its own battle with LA, whose sports construction will cut the LA Convention Center in half, as reported by John Gaudiosi in Forbes. Personally, I think the show was a success as intended, for the simple fact that I’m set on buying at least two games, The Last of Us from Naughty Dog, which is a post-post-apocalyptic mature action adventure in the style of Uncharted, and Star Wars 1313 from LucasArts, which is a long time ago in a galaxy far far away mature action adventure in the style of Uncharted. But at SoMoFos, we’re concerned with a slightly different question. Is E3 finally social? We provided some guidelines on the show, and then spent the week at E3, and our conclusion is: sort of. I realize that’s kind of a cop-out of an answer, but alas the situation on the ground isn’t cut and dried. Let’s break this down like a proper postmortem, as would appear is such fine publications as Game Developer magazine, and call out three things that went right and three things that went wrong.
I had threatened to liveblog E3, but luckily I remembered how crazy that is to actually do. Kudos to actual journalists who do this, but then again, that’s their day job. Shawn and I are in an entirely different boat as BD guys, trying to earn a margin in the big bad world. But, that’s enough with the excuses, here instead is a summary of what I’ve seen and experienced so far.
I’m writing from the GREE booth, on my MacBook Air, connected to my iPad 3′s Verizon LTE hotspot. Everybody else here in the staff room is struggling trying to log onto the A for effort WiFi at the booth, but of course, no dice. I am magnanimously sharing my hotspot with Sho, just to keep the GREE marketing machine alive. See, $210M well-spent.
While the question of whether E3 is really social yet is undecided, for those of us going, there’s a lot to make sure we have locked down before we head over. The event has a lot in common with GDC, in that it’s great for developer business meetings, so many of the GDC guidelines remain the same. There’s really no need to rewrite what’s there, so I’m not going to. However, there are subtle differences with the shows, that affect how you handle this one.
While I don’t watch television, I do love catching up on great shows I don’t see in their broadcast run. I was recently pointed at BBC’s Sherlock, a modern retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. While only three episodes appear per season, and only the first of two seasons is on Netflix, they are 90 minutes an episode. The long episodes and the short season has the effect of completely throwing you off from the conventional story arcs of television and film, and makes the experience of the show refreshingly novel-like. The show is brilliant, thoroughly engrossing. But this article isn’t about Sherlock, it’s about Joss Whedon’s all too brief science fiction show, Firefly.