Saturday, June 27, 2009

Creative Screenwriting Podcast

The 3 Blokes office is located by the sea at sunny Wynnum in Brisbane, Australia. It's just a short walk down to the waterside for some delicious fish and chips.

So, what has this to do with the Creative Screenwriting podcast? Well, the fish and chips may be close to work, but it takes me around an hour to drive in to the office - which gives me the perfect opportunity to listen to a lot of interesting podcasts.

While driving I catch up on what's happening in the core gaming world with Listen Up (formerly 1 Up Yours), and what's going on in the casual console world with What They Play - but the one podcast that I really enjoy listening to is the Creative Screenwriting podcast.

The format is simple, Jeff Goldsmith, editor of Creative Screenwriting magazine airs a movie and has a Q&A session with the screenwriters afterwards. He asks the writers about their breaking in stories, gets them to discuss how the project came about, asks them about their creative process and gets them to talk about how they handle writer's block and discuss which scenes they had the most trouble with.

It's really fascinating to listen to and you learn so much about the Hollywood process as well as the writing process. I have a newfound respect for screenwriters since listening to the podcasts and am amazed at how much some of them really shape the movies they are involved with.

What's really interesting is that after I devoured the podcasts covering the typical films that I love (ie, dumb action and sc-fi) I began listening to one's about films I have previously had no interest in watching - and still found the interviews enthralling. In fact, it's inspired me to rent out these movies and watch them.

Listening to these podcasts makes me want for a similar podcast covering video game developers. I originally thought the appeal of Creative Screenwriting podcast was the "Hollywood" side of them - hearing about writers dealing with Spielberg, or hanging out with Tom Cruise. But I found the podcasts covering movies in which I had no idea who the writer, director or actors were, were just as entertaining. So I guess there's no reason this format couldn't work with game developers.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite Creative Screenwriting podcasts. Go download them now and give them a listen to!

  • Star Trek Q&A - Senior Editor Jeff Goldsmith interviews co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
  • Comic-Con with Stan Lee - Jeff interviews legendary comic creator-writer-editor Stan Lee, Iron Man co-writer Mark Fergus and The Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn at 2008's Comic-Con.
  • Slumdog Millionaire Q&A - Jeff interviews screenwriter Simon Beaufoy about Slumdog Millionaire.
  • Valkyrie Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer Christopher McQuarrie about Valkyrie.
  • Watchmen Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writers David Hayter and Alex Tse about Watchmen.
  • Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Q&A - Jeff interviews writer-director Zach Helm about Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
  • The Dark Knight Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer Jonathan Nolan about The Dark Knight.
  • Charlie Wilson's War Q&A - Jeff interviews screenwriter Aaron Sorkin about Charlie Wilson's War.
  • Superbad Q&A - Jeff interviews co-writer/actor Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg about Superbad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Brainiversity 2 Wrapping Up

I'm busy wrapping up development of the new Brainiversity game which is cleverly titled "Brainiversity 2".

The first Brainiversity game was released almost 2 years ago and is still selling well. I developed the game in my spare time for over a year while working at a console game development company. My day job was always top priority and sometimes I never touched a line of Brainiversity code for weeks on end. But whenever I got a spare moment I would do some coding, be it half an hour at night or a whole weekend afternoon.

A lot has changed since then... I'm now working full time in the casual/social games space and loving it! Making the sequel has been fun, and I've enjoyed working with a team of really smart people.

One of the potentially challenging aspects of making the sequel was the decision to develop the Facebook app at the same time as the retail version. To do this we made the call to switch to a complete Flash development environment. The previous version was developed using the PopCap Framework. One upside of using Flash was that I could finally unshackle myself from Windows and work on a Mac.

Doing FB simultaneously also meant learning lots of skills that have potential beyond just making a brain training game. As a team we've had to grasp PHP, SQL, JavaScript, the whole complicated Facebook environment and of course Flash and ActionScript 3.0.

We've also gained a deep understanding of the dynamics of social game development as well as how to use microtransactions. And we're still learning new stuff everyday!

And now, as the retail version gets closer to launch, we'll begin honing our skills on marketing our new game.

Now, if you enjoy reading my blog, check out this list of other great game development blogs: Top 50 Best Game Design Blogs. I was chuffed to find mine at number 4 :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Agent Duski is go!

It's always great to see people you know and respect do something cool.

Today, Matt Clark and his team at Voxel Agents released their first iPhone game, Agent Duski: Dolphin Hero.

Matt and his team emerged from SIF90, the guys who won the 48 Hour Game Making Competition two years in a row with their awesome Sticky Geckoes and Melonauts game.

I was also lucky to have worked with Matt at Pandemic Studios in Brisbane on an awesome Wii game. The team behind that ill-fated game was the best game dev team I had ever had the honor of working with* - everyone was producing amazing stuff.

Unfortunately EA decided to close the Brisbane office... well, actually, for Matt that was probably a fortunate thing as he is now making cool iPhone games and is in charge of his own destiny.

Well, enough of me tripping down memory lane... go download the game now and support an indie developer.

* Until now of course :-)