Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Walking Dead

It’s rare that any form of entertainment makes me cry. Sure, the obvious things do, like uplifting/heart breaking moments in Disney cartoons, but of course, that could apply to any one of us. Finding something that truly resonates with me, something that makes me feel and fear for the characters involved… well, it’s a tough stunt to pull off. Movies and TV shows often take a good punt at it, but their attempts too often come across as deliberate manipulation rather that any kind of earned emotional reaction. But at least they try. The same can so rarely be said about videogames, that it’s hardly worth mentioning the few that have tried. Even the successful examples would look foolish when put beside a show like Mad Men, Breaking Bad and their ilk. The few that saw the potential of gaming as a story telling device knew we’d have to wait for a long time and face many failures before games even approached that level. Then, out of nowhere, ‘The Walking Dead’ arrived.

‘The Walking Dead’ videogame continues the spread of Robert Kirkman’s cultural juggernaut as it (mostly) successfully invades every form of entertainment we know. After the TV show, comic, boardgame and pregnancy tests the next logical step was a videogame. It had no reason to be good, at all. A cash-in would have sold very well, I’m sure. What it is instead, is definitely the most important game of last year and may be the most important game in a decade. The impact it has made and will continue to make will echo through the industry for years. I know! I’m saying it’s good, by the way. Just in case I wasn’t clear.

The game introduces us to a group of characters new to the ‘Walking Dead’ universe, with the player controlling a man called Lee who was just innocently on his way to jail (for MURDER no less) when everything goes to hell. Stumbling from the wreck of a police car, you’re thrust into this grim new world in predictably violent fashion, setting you up for the nightmare ahead. But it’s only a few minutes later, when you meet a young girl called Clementine, that the story really begins. And it’s this story, and this relationship, that truly makes the game something special.

In fact, relationships really are the core of the game. A relationship-em-up, if you will. The characters and world that you soon realise you’ve walked into are stunningly well fleshed out, creating an environment where it feels like anything could happen.  Ironically, and in order to do this right, they’ve had to control and direct the game in quite a tight fashion. Indeed, any criticism comes from the fact that it’s a fairly linear story and that the start and the finish of this story is set in stone. Though what makes it work, is the journey you take to get to that ending and seeing how your decisions influence other characters and events in the story. Lives are put in your hands. Lives that you have only seconds to make decisions about. It’s harrowing, but in the very best sense of the word.

It’s a difficult game to talk about without spoiling it, but if you’re familiar with other ‘Walking Dead’ properties, you’ll probably know what’s in store. Except this time, you’ll be involved and often in some terrible, terrible way. And it’s this- the need to get your hands dirty and make tough decisions that makes the ‘Walking Dead’ rise above not just other games, but so many other books and films that have tried to get an emotional reaction out of you. It constantly makes you second guess your decisions and you’ll realise that, sometimes, you’ve made a dreadful mistake and your only choice is to move on and live with it. And finally, at the end of this traumatic ordeal, you’ll come to a point were all of these decisions brings your journey to it’s natural conclusion and you’ll cry (unless you’re some kind of inhuman monster) and you’ll realise that this is most certainly one of the best games you’ve ever played.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Movie Pitches

So this week, for fun, I've decided to share a few of the movie pitches I'm trying to get funded with you. Feedback is always welcome! This is exactly how I presented them, so you're not only getting an insight into my idea factory but also my pitching style. Enjoy!

‘Biscuits’ a romantic comedy starring Gerard Butler (we hope). Steve ‘Striker’ Stevenson is the manager of a bathroom supplies warehouse with an eye for the ladies WHEN a genie or something appears and turns him into a long haired terrier called ‘Biscuits’ because he kicked a dog once, or something.. Hilarity ensues as Biscuits not only tries to turn himself back into a man, but also pursues a coffee shop waitress with a heart of gold. It’s going to a have a lot of leg humping and scenes of Biscuits looking up ladies dresses so there’ll be plenty of action for the guys too. That way we can target as large a demographic as possible. We also plan to have ribald commentary from Butler throughout, like a ‘Look Who’s Talking Now’ for whatever it is they’re calling this decade. It will also feature Jack Nicklaus (we looked at Nicholson, but he’s priced himself out of the market) as Steve’s crotchety old neighbour. His catchphrase will be ‘Bis-CUITS!’ as he shakes his fist at the camera.

‘High Steaks’ is period gambling drama set in the old west (of the United States of America). George Steaks is a roguish card player, who moves from town to town getting by as he can when and old rival from his past turns up and threatens everything George stands for (gambling).The twist? The entire cast will be made up of ACTUAL cows. Then we’ll just CGI their mouths to make it look like they’re moving. And they say there are no original ideas. I’ve already been talking to a guy who makes cow outfits and he’s knocked out a few gingham dresses, waistcoats and little hats for us already as a trail thing if you need some sort of proof of concept. Though you can take my word for it- it’s looking amazing. The only problem is some of the key scenes in my script require some pretty technical poker skills and I’m not sure even how we’re going to get the cows to hold the cards (glue?). We’ll figure it out though.

And in case you’re not fully sold on it as yet, all the characters are going to have meat based second names a la The Flintstones i.e. Peter Brisket and Barry Rumpsteak. Now you’re in! I can tell! By the way, I’m looking at this as my prestige picture, so don’t be expecting a big cash return. Your kudos return should be through the roof, though. If we don’t get an Oscar nod I’ll be furious. 

If anyone out there wants to get on the money train and fund one of these (and why wouldn't you?), you know where to find me. As you can see from the above picture, I'm also available for any modelling jobs that might come up too. I'm extremely versatile.