Thoughts on E3 and writing – Skipping Brimstone

So I missed my post on Friday June 3 because I was entertaining guests over the weekend. Danielle’s brothers Brandon and Cody came into town to hang out and have good times, and thus good times were had. We watched the Pirates smoke the Phillies for the second night in a row (that didn’t last. Sunday was like a tiny murder), a result no one expected, and got a cool skyblast show out of it. We also hit up some Hofbrauhaus and some stuff on Southside, as well as showing the boys their way around Primant Bros. and catching The Hangover 2, which was passable. Not brilliantly funny as the first one was, and the gimmick of feeling a bit like a mystery movie with comedic elements had run stale. Also, the story arc wasn’t super believable (not that the first one was) and Zach Galifinakiss’ character descneded into dickitude rather violently. In the first he was just odd and misguided, but not outright evil. In this one, well… he kind of is.

Anyway, all that conspired so that I missed my scheduled Friday post, which I’m sort of ok with because I don’t actually feel the need to discuss that stuff. Brimstone is sort of my baby and rather than risk running dry on the idea, I’m just kind of going to try to write it. Short assignments – something I learned from Bird by Bird, which has been a brilliant addition to my thought pool. Syd Field’s Screenwriting is interesting, but requires me to think in a slightly different mindset. Basically, Syd teaches that the way I write is wrong. That statement is quasi-joke, quasi-truth. Syd doesn’t necessarily like big, huge descriptions or florid text and complicated backstories. He insists that simplicity is best, but then again, his job was to read scripts for investors and determine if they were profitable. So I’m not sure that Syd has a lot of the “art” thing in mind. He sort of insists that he does, and the name drops would suggest that he’s studied and disciplined himself under artists, but the examples he uses for demonstration are particularly not full of artistry. Well, let me redact that. In reality, he does bring up American Beauty, which I know a lot of people say is beautiful and artistic and stuff, but I just mostly don’t get it. I sometimes wonder if I’m stuck in a nebulous zone between pulpy and artsy. I like indie movies, quite a bit and quite often, but I also want them to be…well, entertaining. I think I’m kind of a Fox Searchlight type of guy. For example, Juno is a fantastic movie, one I’m currently reading the script of, but when you get a whole lot indier than that, it tends to veer out toward this kind of stoic realism where the whole point of the movie is that nothing really happens. I feel that way when I watch trailers of Meek’s Cutoff, I get bored by the look of it.

So, that justifies June 3rd and the following week worth of posts was consumed by E3. Very frustrating experience. I don’t know why, but I always expect such amazing things to come out of that conference, and it just doesn’t happen anymore. I thought I had more thoughts on E3, but that’s sort of just it: I don’t. I saw some really cool looking games and got to try out the demo for El-Shaddai (which was super interesting but not necessarily good), but those things exist as a sort of counterpoint to a reality I’m a little terrified of: games are getting worse.

And by that I don’t mean I believe in some fatalistic thought that the game industry is dying. I do think we’ve got only one or two more console cycles before those are gone (I’d be willing to believe that by 2016 or so, there will be little to no point), and PC games have got to get on the free-to-play, pay-for-premium bandwagon sooner rather than later. Supplementing free-to-play games with online advertisement isn’t a bad plan either, and publishers and digital store fronts offering a premium service like Amazon Prime will probably work out too – for your simple subscription, you avoid the ads and get first shot at timed-exclusive content or some such thing. Sort of like what Activision is going to attempt with their Modern Warfare subscription service. Which, what? So it’s that I have to pay for with fewer features? I am not understand. The point I’m really trying to make here is that I saw absolutely nothing new that really excited me and got me going. Yet another Halo game. A Halo 1 HD remake. A God of War HD collection. An Uncharted sequel. A bunch of lame, bad-looking kinect stuff. Resistance 3 (which will be as boring and dumb as Resistance 1 and 2. At least for me, at any rate). Another Xbox 360 Dashboard update with “Bing” integration for voice commands to search my media library. More efficient Kinect integration. All that stuff is fine, but it’s not… well, I don’t care. Thtat’s the part that seemed worse.

Now, to be fair, Uncharted still looks awesome and it’s making me sad that I don’t own a PS3. There isn’t a better example of adventure storytelling and narrative focus in AAA video games right now than Uncharted. Also, is the villain Dame Helen Mirren? No, it’s Rosalind Ayres, but holy shit that’s a good Helen Mirren lookalike.

The Wii U is dumb. End of story. Unless they can reliably pump up the jams with first-party stuff that really matters (I don’t count Zelda or Mario), all the games that come out for the Wii U are ones I’ll be able to play on the 360. Many other gamers will feel the same way, and that word of mouth will spread to mainline consumers. It might get some legs for family-men types like my cousin, who could allow his daughter or wife to watch the big TV he paid for and he can stream the game to his handheld controller/screen peripheral thing. But it’s got to be pricey. The controllers themselves seem likely to get a little, erm, expensive. That’s a full-color HD touchscreen, full color/IR camera, speakers,  and a whole controller bundled together. That’s got to be a $50 price point, if not higher.

The Playstation Vita. What? Oh, right handhelds. Can’t care.

The end. Writing up a second post because I feel the need to write less but more frequently.