Watch me ollie!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Pointless Ephemera

Here's what's on my mind at the moment:

1. Donnie Darko. I watched this movie again the other day. I have mixed feelings about it. It's nicely paced, well put together, and quite beautiful, in and of itself. It's also sort of perplexing and ambiguous. But then you've got all this 'extra material' (both on the DVD and online) that systematically spells out what's going on in the film and answers all of your questions. So - on the one hand, it's kinda neat to see that it all fits together within this set of rules that the author has invented, but it's also a bit like the magician showing you the secret compartment in his hat where the rabbit lives. I guess I'm pleased that beneath it all, the events of the film make sense, and I'm pleased that the author has thought all this through, but I'd almost be happier if he were content and confident enough to let us sense that, through what he's shown us, rather than have to separately lay it all out. Would a David Lynch film have the same impact or allure if he spelled out his devices in this way? I'm not sure.

2. Beyond Good and Evil. I stayed up far too late playing this game last night. Aside from some clever puzzles and Zelda-inspired gameplay (which is well implemented, for the most part, and good fun), there's just something really satisfying about the characters and setting of this game. The fact that you play a confident, competent female character who's not simply all about boobs and midriff is a big part of this. Sure, she wears green lipstick, but she's otherwise a solid, non-cringeworthy female character who's centre stage for the whole game. I'm struggling to think of another example of this. Also, it's no Ico, but I have been feeling like I want the characters to succeed for their own reasons, rather than mine. It's rare that a game generates that level of empathy, and I think it's got a lot to do with the reality (though not the realism - there's a bit difference in games) with which the characters are portrayed. It's surprising and worrying, perhaps, that more games don't achieve this, since that's what many of them are going for. It's also a bit of a worry that this game was so unpopular, and likely won't get a sequel - it's an absolute pearler thus far.

3. Dune. Still reading, still enjoying. I wonder if I'll make it through the sequels this time?

4. Work. Well, I've got a lot of work to do on a project that I think could turn into a fun game, and should have a reasonably high profile, but it's not really what I want to be doing with myself. I've been thinking more and more about turning back to writing, which I've sort of drifted away from these last few years in the games industry. The amazing thing about writing is that you can do it all yourself, and there's no budgeting or scheduling constraints as to what you can put in there - if you can describe it, it's yours. I never used to appreciate how powerful that is until I had to work on massively collaborative and massively compromised creative endeavours. Sometimes I feel more like a hostage negotiator than a designer, and sometimes it feels like the only real creativity in what I do gets doodled in the margins, so to speak. Most of my work is problem solving and diplomacy. Those are creative arts in themselves, but it's more like keeping goal than being a striker - you're measured by your mistakes and fumbles, and not given the chance to take a risk, probe ahead, and stick one in the back of the net.

[This form of communication seems to bring out absolutely shithouse metaphors, for some reason. Sorry.]

5. Self Improvement. Well, I always seem to feel like I have to turn over a new leaf. It's a sort of restlessness, I suppose. Having improved my diet and gotten off the fags, I think the next step is to exercise a little bit, and get some writing done. Wish me luck. Perhaps the exercise of talking to nobody in this space will help me get back in the habit. Or maybe it's another way to avoid it. Who knows?

6. Money. I've been obsessed with it since I've owed it to people. It's a horrible feeling. Thankfully, this situation should only last another year. I never used to think about money at all when I had it - I guess that was part of the problem. I'm telling myself that this 'rough patch' (that's lasted more than two years already) is some sort of learning experience, that'll stand me in good stead. True enough, I've learned a lot about managing money, and I've already started planning what to do with investments and all that, once I've turned the corner. What I'm looking forward to most of all, however, is simply not having to think about the filthy stuff all the time.


Post a Comment

<< Home