Games Writing

How Sumner Redstone Nearly Put The Suffering on the Big Screen

Media magnate Sumner Redstone has passed away at age 97, reports the New York Times. During the course of his life, Redstone built an entertainment empire that included ownership of the National Amusements theater chain, ViacomCBS (and its many networks), and CBS Television Distribution. Here’s how his entrepreneurial maneuvering nearly resulted in a cinematic take on survival horror game, The Suffering.

Games Humor Writing

Our Trip to the Last Aladdin’s Castle Arcade

Because my photo post exploded on Twitter with nearly 10,000 impressions and engagement from about 2,500 people at the time of writing, here’s the story of our trip to the last remaining Aladdin’s Castle in Quincy, Illinois.

Business Game Development Podcast Writing

RetroMania Wrestling Writer, Salvatore Pane

Salvatore Pane calls in to talk about his work for the upcoming release of RetroMania Wrestling. We discuss his work as a Boss Fight Books author (Mega Man 3), his focus as a university professor, and the trouble with bite-sized physical video games.

Game Development Podcast Writing

Secrets of Story Structure

Learn the tools of the storytelling trade from one of western culture’s greatest story analysts. We’ll examine the findings of the late screenwriting expert, Syd Field, and look at how collected writing wisdom from outside games translates to our area of expertise.

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Game Development Game Industry Humor Podcast Writing

NBA Jam Book Author Reyan Ali Returns

Reyan Ali returns after the launch of NBA Jam from Boss Fight Books to weigh in on Cowboy vs. McGregor, Smash Bros. headlines, the Aaron Hernandez documentary, how to cover up an R. Kelly tattoo, and making loved ones eat just a small, supermarket-sized sampling of crow.

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Game Designer Richard Rouse III

Richard Rouse III calls in to talk about his new indie title, The Church in the Darkness, and treats us to some stories from his fantastic career including the design of The Suffering, writing Game Design: Theory & Practice, and some interesting creative projects we never got to see.

Richard is a really insightful guy. He has too much writing and too many talks to fully list here, but I encourage you to check out his wisdom around the web. I could have filled much more than a one-hour show while picking his brain–and I’d love to have him back for more–but I sure appreciate the time he took with us this time.

I wanted to be sure to include the IGN article that was written after Richard and Midway lured game journalists into a defunct prison and locked them in overnight. Richard even seemed to get a kick out of revisiting the topic. It’s a little piece of unique game PR history, don’t miss it.

Richard’s links

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Developer and Author Mat Bradley-Tschirgi

Indie developer and author (and podcaster!) Mat Bradley-Tschirgi discusses his beginnings in journalism and indie development, his upcoming book, The Films of Uwe Boll Vol. 1: The Video Game Movies, and makes a surprising revelation about an upcoming video game to which both he and Boll are attached.

You read that right: a game project from the mind of notorious (former?) filmmaker Uwe Boll is forthcoming, and this is a chat with the man making it happen. Let the intrigue and concern wash over you.

Meet and/or greet Mat during his Ready Player One panel feature at Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2019.

Mat’s links

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Blake J. Harris, Author of Console Wars and The History of the Future

To help us close out Season 2, Blake J. Harris makes a surprise appearance to reflect on his early life and career, the success of Console Wars and the upcoming television adaptation from Legendary Entertainment with producers Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. We also discuss his new book, The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook and the Revolution that swept Virtual Reality published by HarperCollins in February. By necessity, this leads to a discussion of Palmer Luckey and the political whirlwind surrounding his departure from Oculus in early 2017. Finally, Blake teases what’s coming up next in his incredible writing career.

I’m so glad we finally caught up with Blake. Without question, he is gaming’s leading modern historian and to spend an hour in a discussion with him is like an opportunity to help capture gaming’s story in some small way and I was grateful for this chance to do so. As you’ll hear later in the conversation, Blake’s efforts to simply do the right thing in the circumstances in which he found himself have led to his being misunderstood by people from all walks of life in spite of his hugely popular writing, and not enough outlets have stepped up to help him set the record straight. By the end of the show I trust you’ll understand when I say we need a lot more of Blake’s way of thinking in journalism and writing in general. Listen, learn, and let’s discuss.

Thank you once more to everyone who made Season 2 so incredible. The site will stay busy and so will our community at Patreon. Interview shows will return in September! Please don’t hesitate to reach out over the summer. Thanks all!

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This Is How Fast Bad Journalism Creates Problems in the Game Industry

If you recently heard something like “Borderlands 3 Will Feature 25 Times as Many Guns as Borderlands 2,” you’re a victim of bad game journalism, and you deserve to know what’s actually going on.

Those of you who follow the site, the GameDev Breakdown podcast, or our community over at Patreon know that we recently had the pleasure of an in-depth discussion with Joshua Davidson, a Gearbox senior sound designer working on Borderlands 3. I first reached out to Joshua after reading his excellent writing about his experiences training for and eventually working in the game industry, and the resulting podcast interview became one of the show’s most popular episodes in just over a week. I was thrilled that listeners connected with Joshua’s story and that fans of his work enjoyed pulling back the creative curtain for a rare glimpse into the development of a series they love, and I was just as pleasantly surprised when his story started to reach other outlets. Unfortunately, not everyone covered the story with the same professionalism, nor attention to detail, and I feel a certain responsibility to help set a few things straight.

To illustrate what went wrong here, I’m going to simply provide a chain of events, adding commentary where I think it’s warranted.

The timeline

  • April 21 – I released a one-hour podcast with Joshua Davidson of Gearbox software. The topics included his early life and education, the beginning of his professional career (including his time at Volition), and finally, his time at Gearbox Software and his work on the Borderlands series. Near the end of the interview, he dropped the following teaser regarding the game’s audio engineering:

“We haven’t really talked about this yet, but I’m gonna kind of give a little hint…on Borderlands 2, we shipped with 300 gun assets. Like, over 300 individual .WAV files of gunshots to cover all the manufacturers, all the different gun manufacturers and their variations, basically. So, whenever you picked up a bandit shotgun, or you picked up a Hyperion submachine gun in the game, in all the previous Borderlands games they all sounded like, y’know, the same gun essentially, no matter what rarity they were and things like that. So the Hyperion SMG would always sound like the Hyperion SMG, Jakobs shotgun sounds like a Jakobs shotgun…but that was like 300 something assets. Right now…we’re like sitting at 7,500 individual gun sounds for this new one, and what changed is, well yeah, we have more memory, but what changed is the design of the audio for this. And I have to give big props to Brian Fieser and our code team, our audio code team for developing a system where we could basically play audio Legos with all the gun parts. So whenever you get a certain gun part, every time you get a new gun, it takes y’know, 6 or 7 different parts and then slaps them together, and each one of those parts has a gun sound on it. So it just clamps together to form one new sound. It’s a totally modular experience.”

We felt great about this podcast and received awesome feedback.

  • April 25 – SupMatto on YouTube releases a video titled “Borderlands 3 – Master Vault Hunter Mode & The MASSIVE WEAPON System & Sounds (25 Times Larger!)” The video prominently features the clip of Joshua’s explanation above. Matto does seem to grasp the quote’s meaning and links back to me, Joshua, and even Code Write Play’s Patreon community in the video description. He’s been established in the Borderlands community as a leaker, and the video neared 100,000 views on the day it was released. It’s good that positivity about Joshua’s work was getting out there, but I’m sure he was also a little concerned about this association in the eyes of his employer (I’ve since been assured that everything is fine).
  • April 25 (later that day) – Undoubtedly desiring to participate in the telling of his own story (rightly so), Joshua takes to Twitter to summarize the technical information he explained on the podcast, very graciously interacting with folks interested in his work and excited about the upcoming game.
  • April 27 – PC Gamer picks up the story, publishing a 200-word article about–not the podcast–just the tweet. Is that inexcusable journalism? I’m not into the “one tweet equals one article” model myself and definitely never tried to get away with it as a freelance journalist, but no, this is not the biggest issue, and I’m still glad Joshua’s tale is being told again for the first time in several years. Still, several outlets managed to provide readers and listeners with the full context of our podcast interview, and not doing so stands out to me like covering a tweet about a presidential debate instead of covering the debate. I attempted to diplomatically approach both the author and PC Gamer and received only the following response that day:

Whether he looked into it, I can’t say for sure, but the article remains unchanged with no further responses. This is the point at which my former editors would have expected me to explain and/or address the situation immediately, and they definitely had me include the occasional link to an outlet much smaller than mine. This is professional gatekeeping at its absolute finest, but a more significant issue remains: without the full context, this is very easy to misinterpret, which happened immediately.

  • Also April 27 – Around the same time I was speaking up to PC Gamer about benefiting freely from my work, went ahead and wrote an article about an article about a tweet, and as any game of telephone goes, came up with something that may or may not end up true, but certainly wasn’t supported by the original message. By this time Joshua had expressed frustration to me that his name was associated with outright fabricated information. Although I was not credited or associated with the incorrect information any more than I was the correct news, I did reach out to the responsible senior writer of the post at VGR to explain the context of the statements, PC Gamer’s decision not to include it, and my interest in not seeing my guest attributed falsely, now that my work had been buried by countless sites in search engines with no source links. To the author’s credit, he reached out with a sincere apology and committed to fixing the error later in the day, creating a correct posting, and linking to the original source of the news. As of the time of writing several days later, he hasn’t.

So here we sit: Gearbox’s story is being told far and wide, incorrectly in a few places, and crediting our work in even fewer. My desire to highlight these issues is partially selfish, however selfish it is to desire to be recognized for your work, if anyone other than the guest is going to be recognized, but first and foremost I want to look out for the people I write about and record with. If I could say with any certainty that an article or a recording was going to put a guest in a negative light with their employer to any degree, I simply wouldn’t do it. A few downloads or a little more site traffic does not gain me enough to adversely impact someone’s life.

In a recent podcast I spoke briefly about someone’s lament that “game journalism is dead,” which I denied, but agreed that it was at a significant disadvantage because of the ethics and standards in place with some industry employers. People on the journalism side of the fence attribute any criticism to several fringe movements online that do exist, but do not nullify many real issues at play in games coverage that negatively impact people’s real lives. I’ve been there to see it. Simply put: if the gaming community–I’m including players, developers, journalists, bloggers, and every kind of enthusiast–can’t start to take seriously how their actions impact the people around them, these subgroups are going to remain fragmented and distrusting of one another forever.

Business Game Development Game Industry Humor Podcast Writing

Jordan Mychal Lemos of Ubisoft

Jordan Lemos is a WGA award-nominated scriptwriter working at Ubisoft in
Québec, with writing credit on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the words of Socrates himself. He’s been a Twitter pal for a while now, and for some reason, we have the conversational energy of the cousins you have to separate at Thanksgiving dinner.

Jordan’s path into the industry was far from easy. Pay close attention as he describes the roles and responsibilities piled on him while working with previous employers and the type of thanks he got when typical industry issues came along. It’s no coincidence that he has such specific ideas on how the industry could improve life for the writers that help make games so compelling, and its relationships with them as career professionals.

This show was a ton of fun to record, and I appreciate Jordan’s time. Call us, Beat Saber team!

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