I’m ba-ack…

13 Jul

Has it really been four months since my last post? Man… I don’t know how some of you guys keep up a regular pace. I mean, with work and family and friends and traveling and all, finding time to blog is pretty much a not-happening thing for me.

Needless to say, I don’t even remember what I was going to say about GDC back in March, when I promised to post additional thoughts! Since then, my game (about which we will say nothing) has made amazing progress. My team and I have been working hard on our own and (get ready for the cool factor to go way up) in collaboration with folks from Disney Feature Animation and Pixar. If I say anymore, I’ll get in trouble, so let’s just leave it at that.

In addition to “work-work,” I’ve been doing some “semi-work” — speaking at the Game Education Summit at SMU’s Guildhall, with my boss, Mark Meyers (Disney Interactive’s VP of North American development) and, solo, at MIT’s Gambit lab. I’m pretty blown away at the quality of student projects at both places. Folks are really pushing the boundaries out there in ways that I hope feed back into the commercial space someday (soon!).

Been doing some gaming, too, though not as much as I’d like. Lots of research play (and I won’t be saying much about that, either, since to do so would be to reveal far too much about the game… and then we’re back to cone of silence, not ready to announce anything territory…). In addition to research play, I’ve managed to put in a fair number of hours on Professor Layton and the Curious Village, but the game that has my shorts in a knot right now is Guitar Hero: On Tour. Other than some wicked hand cramping, I’m loving it. I’ve beaten it on Easy and Medium, and am well into Hard. I can see myself falling to pieces when I get to Expert, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’ve got a bunch of stuff on my to-play list, but I think I’m going to dive into Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (again!) next. I’m getting that itch and it must be scratched.

The final (and probably worst) distraction from blogging — wait, when did blogging become the thing I’m distracted FROM, rather than the thing that distracts me from other activities?!… anyway, the big distraction right now is Facebook. I’ve resisted the siren call of social networking sites and, as I’ve made clear over the years, I’m basically immune to MMO-addiction. So imagine my surprise when a desire to play Scrabulous with my sister (and mother, if I can ever convince her to sign up for something she perceives as being for kids) led me to a place where I have hundreds of friends and play a dozen games (and often a dozen instances of those dozen games, simultaneously). It’s totally weird. I don’t quite grok the whole Facebook thing — I mean, it isn’t exactly a “place” but it isn’t exactly a “site” and it’s oddly difficult to navigate around and find stuff… But I do find myself spending an inordinate amount of time “there.” And the asynchronous communication paradigm really appeals to the control freak in me — I get to determine the level of interaction I have with people. Nice…

Anyway, put that all together and it adds up to no blogging. But recently, a bunch of stuff has come up that has my keyboard fingers itching, so it’s likely I’ll be back here again soon. (It’s not like I have all sorts of free time all of a sudden, but I should be able to post some stuff sooner than four months! And I tend to do this in spurts, so there could be a little tidal wave of posts from me. Who knows?…)

For those of you wondering why you’ve slogged through all this confessional stuff, the things I’d like to talk about are a bit less, well, confessional. Let’s leave it at that for now — every time I say I’m going to write about something specific, or make anything resembling a promise here, I get myself in trouble. See you again soon (I hope).

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30 Responses to “I’m ba-ack…”

  1. Samuel Dane July 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m dying to hear more about what Junction Point is up to, please don’t make me wait too much longer. On a side note, I found an interesting which I think you might enjoy as much as I did, “Birdmen and the Casual Fallacy”: http://malstrom.50webs.com/birdman.html

  2. charstring July 13, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    Disney, Pixar collaboration, eh? Definitely excited to hear more about that. Have you thought about making a Facebook game yourself or building social networking into future gaming projects?

  3. mattcoxonline July 14, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    It’s interesting to hear that you’re working on a Disney / Pixar title. I’m quite disappointed that all previous Disney / Pixar titles have been quite typically average ‘license’ games and that none have ever taken the chance to shine through as a good game.

    Personally, I think that accounts for many missed opportunities and really wish that someone would take a license and really turn the game into something special.

  4. scottdpurdie July 14, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    Very interesting read cant wait until your able to talk more about your game. Which i hope is sooner rather than later.

  5. coxy July 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Up, Toy Story 3, Newt or The Bear and the Bow?

  6. GKokoris July 14, 2008 at 3:58 pm #

    You know, when I saw the credits sequence of Wall-E, I remember thinking that the…

    SPOILER WARNING!

    …repopulation of Earth would make a wonderfully unconventional MMO. Maybe I’ll pitch the idea to you someday. Thanks for the update, Warren, and I can’t wait to see what you and your team have been up to!

    -G

  7. devakm July 14, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    It’s going to be fascinating to see what comes out of this, Warren. I’ve been a huge fan of Toon ever since I did a playtest session for it with you at SJG years ago (man, that was a long time ago!). It could be amazing to see something along those lines with Disney/Pixar materials, especially if they give you the freedom to do it well.

    So, best of luck on this. We’ll be watching!

  8. flatfingers July 15, 2008 at 4:59 am #

    So what might a Junction Point/Pixar project look like? How about….

    Tin Toy: The Apocalypse

    In TTTA, you play a plastic and metal toy clad in stylish black leather who is framed for kidnapping a baron’s daughter and is sent to a space station that has been overrun by robots and mutants under the control of a megalomaniacal AI program.

    To escape, you must use stealth skills to avoid guards, the undead, and dinosaurs. This will enable you to steal a magical eyeball that allows you to navigate a shadowy world of conspiracists seeking global domination over all small musical toys.

    Estimated playing time: 100 hours.

    (Note: I could be wrong about the “stylish black leather” part.)

    Seriously, this is a combination of talents I find incredibly appealing. My career took me in a different direction, but ever since the SIGGRAPH where “Tin Toy” was shown I’ve followed John Lassiter and Pixar. (I still have my copy of the original Renderman docs.) I’ve often said that if I could work anywhere, I’d want to work at Pixar — I can’t think of any other bunch of people who so effectively meld both the artistic and technical aspects of human creativity, and who seem to have such a blast doing it.

    At the same time, of all the computer games I’ve ever played (and I played “Computer Space,” Slug Russell’s SpaceWar in a metallic fiberglass cabinet), none have grabbed me like the Warren Spector games. I GET them. They’re some of the games I’d make if I could indulge my inner game designer.

    So this Junction Point/Pixar deal is beyond any dream team I could ever have hoped for. It’s two of the creative talents I most respect coming together on a project.

    This is gonna be good. :-)

  9. vimeslg July 16, 2008 at 5:19 pm #

    Great! It’s been since the days of Aladdin that I’ve been waiting for Disney to kick itself in the rear and once again involve the right-minded people from the game development world. I’m not really counting on it, but more than using existing IPs, I hope Junction Point Studios will create original IP jointly with the Pixar staff : they have the talent to create amazing characters and art as well as compelling stories and worlds… that’s why I’d rather not have adaptations of movies that clearly works for this medium and might not for another.

    As for Facebook, well, it’s like all these networking things outside of instant messanging : [u]I[/u] don’t understand it and, it’s like one of these weird fashions one can’t really get himself into while the rest of the world seems to rave about it. Maybe I should try harder. Meh, maybe not.

  10. gshonk July 25, 2008 at 12:21 am #

    Man this blog reminds me of mine. “I will blog soon” blogs rock. Let us hope neither of us is lying.
    -Grant

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