Thursday, March 29, 2012

Podcast Rollcall: Nerdist Writers Panel

Genre: Interview/Panel Discussion

What It's About: Writers talking writing, as the theme song says.  In each edition, a group of two or more writers (mostly TV writers) sits with moderator Ben Blacker to talk about the process of writing from both a creative and a business perspective.

Why You Should Care: For people interested in the process of writing for TV, this series offers a great overview.  But for people who simply enjoy watching TV, these are informative and funny discussions about how some of your favorite shows came to be - what inspired the original concept, how it changed during development, and how the showrunners navigate the daily process of keeping a show going... and going well.  Most editions of this podcast are recorded in front of an audience, which keeps things lively and entertaining.

Frequency: Weekly

Average Length: An hour and a half

As always, if you become a regular listener to a podcast that solicits donations, try to find a way to make the occasional contribution.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Frankenhole" spec

The Cartoon Network/Adult Swim stop-motion animated series "Mary Shelley's Frankenhole" aired its second season finale yesterday.  Here is an ORIGINAL SPEC SCRIPT I wrote based on the show.  NOTE: This is NOT a produced episode.  While I did work on seasons one and two of the show, it was not as a writer.  This script is provided here for entertainment purposes and as a writing sample.  Please enjoy.

Click here to read.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Art In Video Games

I'm apparently an 80-year-old man.

When I was looking through pictures of the video games the Smithsonian American Art Museum is honoring in an exhibit, the first few pictures made me smile.

The bright colors and charmingly archaic visuals...

Wonderful childhood memories of hours upon hours spent with a controller in hand...

But mostly, I was just amazed at how good they looked. The graphics were basic, but all these years later they still look sharp and crystal clear. They make me want to dust off my old Nintendo and see if I can get it working again.

Then I saw this mess...

...and it happened. Get...


For those of you who don't recognize it, that's the original "Tomb Raider."  And when that game came out, it was huge.   It helped make the original PlayStation the biggest videogame consol on the market.  And the buzzword on everybody's lips was, "graphics."  32-bit graphics!  Which made gameplay more dynamic and the visuals more realistic than ever before.

But look at those visuals now.  They're just an ugly smattering of greyscale cubes, blocky and unappealing.

Now go back up and look at "Super Mario Bros. 3" again.  And "Pitfall" - that's an Atari game, and it looks great!  It's when videogames started going for realism that they started to look bad.  Back in my day, we didn't need video games to look realistic.  If they were fun to play, that was all that mattered.

I know.  I'm an old man.  I already said that.

Look, I'm no luddite.  My entertainment center is up-to-date with the PS3.  Videogame technology keeps advancing, and I'm enjoying keeping up pace with it.

The point is that fads go away, and they look silly in retrospect.  Chasing realism in videogames is faddish.  They have yet to make a game that looks photorealistic during gameplay.  And the games that have tried to look photorealistic end up aging faster.  Meanwhile, the cartoony stuff from the old days still looks appropriately cartoony.  And fun.

So, to all the videogame makers out there: we're not there yet with realism in videogames.  If you want your game to have a longer shelf life, program to the consol's strengths, not what you wish it could do.  Because right now, looking at the visuals on "Doom 64" versus "Marble Madness," I'd rather play me some "Marble Madness."

Now where's my Sega Master System?...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ninjas at the Beach

Last Friday through Sunday, G4 set up their annual taping of "American Ninja Warrior" in my neck of the woods, Venice Beach. Helby and I have been watching "Ninja Warrior" for a few years now, and thought we'd head over this year to check it out in person.

If you're not familiar with "Ninja Warrior," it's a competition gameshow where contestants have to complete an almost military-level obstacle/training course.

While it's not really difficult to get into any TV show taping around town, this one is particularly easy, being out in the open along the highly foot-trafficked Ocean Front Walk.

The show plays out in person almost exactly as it does on TV, minus the commentators.  I was especially impressed with how quickly they kept the contestants moving, one right after the other.  I always assumed there'd be a lot of down time between contestants in order to reset the course and take care of any technical issues.  But no, they keep things moving.

Unlike just about any other show taping, crowd control is not a concern.  For any talk show or sitcom, the audience has to stay locked in their seats while the show is going on.  At "Ninja Warrior," people were allowed to move around freely.

The episodes they shot are due to air sometime in May.  So if you find yourself watching the next batch of new episodes of "American Ninja Warrior," keep an eye on the crowd; you might see me there.