So, I’ve been playing around in multiple media in 2011, and not just transmedia. There’s just one problem. Something’s missing: you. Let’s collaborate in 2012 to make an even bigger map for all of us. If we all made maps and combined them at the center, just imagine what crazy fractal media art we’d make!
Ready to build your own map? I used https://bubbl.us/. Let’s connect ours and see what beautiful maps we can make!
Unlike most years in review, you can partake in these adventures, even if you’re not a game writer yourself. While some adventures took me far from home, some I enjoyed from the comfort of my home, and so can you!
- Started playing FARMVILLE
When I went up to San Francisco for GDC, I had to restrain the urge to click on the cows and trees as we drove by.
- Organized IGDA WIG SIG social at GDC
Cuz girls are cool and stuff. Wherever I go, swag is sure to follow…
- Spoke about Hot Warrior Women at the LOGIN Conference
While the video for our presentation, “Hot Warrior Women, and six other tips for MMO Content Development,” is not here, you can point and laugh at the game writing interview I did at the conference.
- Was caught by surprise when I found out AQUA, which I wrote the dialog for, launched for XBLA
The writer is always the last to know.
- Stopped playing FARMVILLE
And the cows of California were safe.
- Randomly worked on HOUSE for two weeks as office wench
Did you know dengue fever is actually pronounced den-gee? I did not, and I hope that information never comes in handy again.
- Attended my first PAX expo
Real game writers wear black
If you haven’t gone yet, you should go next year! Check out the pics from our panel on game writing!
- Started playing LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE – Free 2 Play
Because how premium games transition to the micro-transaction model is an important lesson to learn. And you get to talk to Strider.
- Enjoyed the launch of ROCK OF THE DEAD for 360/PS3
Because the gaming universe needs more serious, hard-hitting dramas
- Attended my first Paris Games Week
It’s like a small E3, except you can’t understand anyone. Which is not so different from E3, now that I think of it, with all the noise.
- Played a bunch of co-op shooters on 360
Warmed up by accidentally stabbing my partner to death. In retaliation, he stabbed me in the back, and we died together. How Shakespearian. Good times.
And as a bonus, I also entertained a new puppy, which I will now force you to enjoy:
Which adventure are you going to take on in 2011?
Television is a constantly evolving medium, and with increased competition from the internets, television needs to evolve even faster or go the way of the dodo. Fortunately, I attended a panel discussion last year with a number of TV illuminati who addressed just this issue. Here are just a few points of view on TV drama and what’s working in today’s market:
- HBO believes in trying something out rather than sitting in a room and convincing yourself why it won’t work.
- Kevin Williamson (VAMPIRE DIARIES) was only half joking when he said that the 6-act structure has ruined one-hour drama.
- Jeff Wachtel, head of USA, believes now, more than ever, an original voice is what makes good television.
What’s your take?
If you’re looking for an insightful look at writing for TV and games… well, you might have to look elsewhere, but you may enjoy this podcast anyway. In this interview, I talk about the differences between writing for television and games, what I like most about writing for games, the dilemma of in-game cut scenes, and then talk smack about everyone else. One of those is not true Check out the Kombo Breaker interview now.
Scrawled in the corner of my notes from Comic-con, I came across a few tips from a WGA comedy animation panel. Again, with my mysterious notes, it’s usually a better idea to write them down soon after I hear them. Alas, I missed that window again this time, so hopefully you can help me make sense of my notes.
Sock barrel – 2 jokes on the same subject soon after each other. For example, you joke about a woman’s breasts, then a few lines later you make another joke, but not a callback, on the same subject. As I recall, you want to avoid the sock barrel, especially if they’re about women’s breasts
Eric Kaplan, I believe his name was, said to avoid piling jokes on jokes. A “little joke makes big jokes harder to get.” Maybe he meant the bigger jokes just seem less funny if you’ve been laughing at little ones. My thinking is, if you have a big joke coming up, don’t pull your punch by having lots of little jokes in the way. That said, I don’t know how that meshes with the whole concept of 3-jokes per page, a statistic I’ve heard about writing comedy specs.
I also have an even more mysterious note: “42 vs. 37.25.” Unless I was writing about something completely unrelated, I believe this note means “specificity is funny.” I just hope they weren’t saying 42 is way more funny than 37.25, because then I got it wrong!
Anyone else want to take a stab at interpreting my notes?
Anyone else have a different take on my notes?
Yesterday I had quite an unusual experience. I was invited to take part in a punch-up session for a pilot. Why so unusual? Well, since I’m generally not a comedy writer, it was definitely a new experience!
I joined an interesting group — writers, a co-EP, and an EP/creator — and proceeded to participate in a table read. Our acting was awesome, naturally. After that, we went page by page. I don’t know whether this is normal or not, but here’s what we covered:
- Where to add more tension/conflict
- Where to add more funny
- Where to trim down
The pilot was in first draft, so I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t have heard ”trim down” comments in other punch-up sessions. Or maybe we would? I was gratified that one of my first joke suggestions got a “Good joke” comment from another writer. I also brought up suggestions on how to get a little more tension in there (still a drama writer, can’t lie), which seemed to be well-received. We would pretty much skip over sections that served to move the story forward, which I found interesting. Overall, it was a lot of fun and a great experience.
If you happen to have been in a punch-up session, was it normal to talk about tension and story beats? I’m wondering how different this session was from the typical.
Filed under Comedy, TV, Writing
I was speaking with Naren Shenkar (please, let me have spelled it right), the current Head Writer of the original CSI. He told me that when breaking an episode, they always start with the real crime first, then work from there. I’ve read elsewhere that LAW & ORDER may pull plot points and concepts from headlines — sometimes literally — and then build their story.
So is starting with the crime writing forwards, or writing backwards? To me, it feels like writing backwards, because the crime doesn’t appear till the end, and you usually see different permutations of it before you see the real thing. Especially in WITHOUT A TRACE, you can argue that the “crime” is ongoing… the real crime is happening in every act.
Eh, philosophical ramblings. Whatever works, works.
I was watching an actual new episode of Ghost Whisperer. I’m assuming it was written by WGA writers, so here goes. I was actually not expecting a certain plot twist. Here it is in a nutshell. Ghost wants to protect his sister. It appears Ghost was dating popular girl. However, in reality, sister was trying to date the popular girl.
Why did we not guess that the girl was gay? Well, aside from heterosexual privilege , I think it’s because the son of one of the main characters seemed kind of interested in her. You were rooting for him to get with her, so you become really surprised when she’s not interested in him or guys. However, you feel a bit taken aback when the son doesn’t seem to care that the girl is gay.
I’d say this is a good tactic: create rooting interest in one character that actually counters a secret fact. Ideally, however, the guy should have reacted and perhaps been disappointed that she wasn’t into guys.
It’s late; I’m tired. This post may make no sense, but let’s see if I can come up with another example. Main character is hoping to get a job from Girl. He’s working hard and doing everything he can to get the job. Then it turns out girl is not even working. It’s even more helpful if all of this appears to be a subplot of some sort, so you don’t even question the validity of it. If it’s the main plot, the audience will be trying to anticipate the twist.
Writers, Canadians, and an occasional star. It’s not about the art of writing, but it sure is about the business. Here’s my strike report, by gate!
FOX Galaxy gate
I am especially fond of the Galaxy gate, because it’s literally the closest gate to my house. Too bad it’s so far south — I have to walk down from Santa Monica to get there. It’s even worse when I have to walk back after picketing for hours. But I’m strong like bull!
FOX Pico gate
Earlier this week, the Galaxy gate lacked water, so I had to head down to the Pico gate. It’s a much bigger crowd and much more organized, which isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. However, once I was crossing at the crosswalk, I was back in familiar territory. And, as often happens, you find yourself talking to the strangest people. Before I knew it, I was talking to Larry David, and a OLTL writer I was with ended up rubbing sun block on him. Truly odd.
Paramount Main Gate
I decided to see how the other half lives so I went to Paramount today. I didn’t like it as well as FOX, but it could be because I now know more people there. I managed to corner a certain Mr. Z. Estrin, writer of various shows I’ve watched perhaps too much, into a long conversation. If he’d had the rest of his show with him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to speak with him.
The biggest burst of energy came when a couple of vacationing Canadians joined in the picket for a couple spins round the crosswalk. They were having such a good time, and, really, what’s cooler than going to Hollywood and being part of entertainment history? I’m just sayin’.
Was picketing in front of Fox yesterday and took this fine action photo:
Not bad composition for a cell phone, eh?
The guy in the middle talked about how his first year in LA he gained like 40 pounds because he would eat a loaf of fresh French bread every morning. He called it his “delicious year.” Everyone expects to lose quite a few pounds from all the walking.
Oddly enough, the walking wasn’t as tiring as the talking. While I feel physically tired afterwards, I get over it. It’s the talking to people for 4 hours straight that is particularly draining. Says the introvert