Archive for February, 2012

Double-Fine’s Kickstarter Project: I Can Haz Money?

Wait – people are willing to just THROW money at you?

Okay, so I already sort of knew this thanks to such local celebrities as that guy who plays recorder on the sidewalk and the guy who stands outside the Safeway with a paper cup. But that’s chump change compared to what a well-earned reputation can get you.

Take Tim Schafer for example. I’ve blogged at length about the guy many times in my ongoing effort to get people to play “Psychonauts” and “Brutal Legend” and he’s at it once again. Only this time, he and Ron Gilbert are going back to their roots and making an old-fashioned adventure game. But the catch? No publisher will give Double-Fine Productions money because people don’t buy adventure games. So they came up with an alternate solution to raise money: go on kickstarter.com and ask their fans to help them raise $400K in one month.

So far, the internet his given them $2 million.

UPDATE: The final tally was $3,336,371, with 87,142 people backing the project. That should be enough for about 7-8 games, I’d imagine.

To his credit, I think very few people could bring in that kind of fan-funding. If Joss Whedon asked for donations on “Dr. Horrible 2″, he’d probably bring in enough to fund a full-length movie. In Tim’s case, he hasn’t even pitched an idea yet, so his fans are basically just giving him money to exist.

A few people have already sent me e-mails telling me to jump on this bandwagon, but I’m still iffy about the legal ramifications of getting donations to make more fan-games or especially “Ducktalez 7″. I still wouldn’t mind seeing how much money people throw at it, though. The average Kickstarter project normally brings in around $10K, and before now, has gone as high as $1.4M, so I can’t say I wouldn’t be interested.

Hmmm… I do have a novel in the works. Anybody interested in throwing money at that? I promise I won’t stop you.

For now, check out Double-Fine’s adventure pitch video. It’s pretty awesome.

February 21 2012 | Awesomeness, Video Games | 7 Comments »

26 Inspirations behind Incinerations

I’m a big fan of Edgar Wright movies (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim), and after seeing these lists of films that inspired his movies, I’ve been wanting to honor my own source material for “Incinerations”. Obviously it’s not a complete list of in-game references (or it would go on forever) – and I won’t be including musical inspirations – but rather these are the biggest influences that inspired the style and story of the game.

On a side note, I’ve just made the point list and trophy guide for the game available today. There’s also a hilarious “Let’s Play” of the game being made by PawDugan and PushingUpRoses of ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com with them doing all the voices. They’re still early in the game, but you can follow along whenever the stream goes live by subscribing to Paw’s Twitter account and joining in the chat. I’ll post the complete LP when it’s finished.

February 11 2012 | Stuff I Made, Video Games | 2 Comments »

Five Favorite Films of 2011

Here we are again! I didn’t have a lot of high hopes for movies this year as it opened with one underwhelming teaser trailer after another. It almost felt like 2011 would be the year of the bargain bin movie. But then summer rolled around and a lot of movies turned out surprisingly good. “Tintin” was amazing, “Goonies 2″ was sheer nostalgia, the fourth “Pirates” movie was watchable, “Captain America” was epic, “Fast Five” actually had a plot, “X-Men” was a quality reboot, “Holmes” easily had one of the best climatic scenes, “Potter” had a better ending than the book, “Transformers 3″ over-shot its own mark, and “Green Lantern” was… well… I liked “The Green Hornet”.

But now it comes time to narrow down the list. My top five picks of the year:

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I’m putting this one here partly because I had the lowest expectations for this, but mainly because of Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar. Most movies I can sit and listen to, but much like Wall-E, this film has a performance that needs to be seen to appreciate. The eyes have it, the face has it – even the ape’s acrobatics deliver more feeling than a hundred Old Yellers getting shot. The bonus features on the Blu-Ray are especially awesome since they let you see Andy Serkis perform without the CGI monkey make-up on – and it’s no less impressive.

I’d also like to throw out a nod to this film for that “Damn Dirty Ape” scene. One second, the whole audience is laughing at the reference to the original film, the next second, everyone’s gone silent and there’s confused whispers going on everywhere. Two opposite audience reactions in five seconds – I don’t think that’s been done this effectively since “Jaws”.

4. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol

I expected something awesome from Brad Bird, and he did deliver – but I think this is one of those movies that’s surprisingly more… “feel-good” for me than I would expect from a “Mission: Impossible” movie. I mentioned before how it’s no longer “The Tom Cruise Show” and how the story really is about the team. I like seeing a spy flick where everybody just does their job. There’s no secret agendas among them, no love triangles to screw things up – it’s really just them figuring out how to complete a mission where their gadgets keep breaking and their intel is wrong.

The story even has me invested in what’s an otherwise run-of-the-mill “someone’s going to set off a nuke” plot. In any other movie *cough*X-Men*cough* I would be begging for the bomb to go off – but this movie does a very good job getting me to root for the heroes. The film is very well-balanced and finds new ways of going around all the stuff that normally annoys me about spy movies – as does this following film…

3. Cars 2

I’ll continue to defend my “Cars 2″ bunker on the grounds that after multiple viewings, it still doesn’t cease to amaze me. The sets, the timing, the details, the dialogue, the cinematography, the story, the animation, the action, the voice performances – compared to all the other animated films this year, this one looks, feels, and sounds more polished than the others. And after having seen Larry the Cable Guy perform live last year, I have all the more respect for his performance as Mater who covers more range as a tow truck than anything he’s done on stage.

So why all the bad buzz? Far be it for me to say. This movie was getting negative reviews before anyone even saw it, and criticism is infectious. Even by Pixar standards, this isn’t their “worst” film. In fact, I still enjoy it far more than “Toy Story 3″. This movie is exactly what I look for in a sequel – to be able to stand on its own legs and still take things to the next level. Maybe that was just too much awesome for people to handle? Seeing the Cars universe go from a small-town romp into a globe-trotting adventure is the kind of surreal ambition I like watching in films. In fact, I want to see them top this level of craziness. If there’s a “Cars 3″, I want to see these characters travel through time and space with a Delorean voiced by Christopher Lloyd. Otherwise, I consider this no-less of “Pixar at its finest” than any of their other films.

2. Thor

After seeing “Captain America”, I right then and there decided that was going to be my top pick for the year. And then I watched it again later and it was still good. And it was still good after that. And that might be where it lost me – it just didn’t get better in the viewings to follow. “Thor” on the other hand… has actually been getting better on second viewings. Whatever I considered to be bad the first time I watched it eventually settled into a nice mediocre groove that I could chill to. Even the love story was just Thor and Natalie Portman going “Nudge Nudge Wink Wink” at each other.

Film director Howard Hawks once defined a good movie as something with “three great scenes, no bad ones” and Thor’s pretty much the best example of that for me. No scene in this movie pisses me off, and I always remember three great scenes from the movie whenever someone brings it up. There’s the battle against the ice giants, that funny moment with the coffee cup, and personally, I LOVE watching the closing credits where we’re flying through space and seeing the universe take on the shape of the Nordic tree of life. Seeing that part in 3D felt like a Turbo-Ride from the 90′s. Overall, this is a splendidly mediocre movie.

1. The Muppets

For me, almost every scene in this movie is golden. For a film where the main characters aren’t even the original Muppets, this is already the best Muppet movie since “The Great Muppet Caper.” Walter’s a fantastic character, and Jason Segel really manages to bring back the old Muppet charm without making it seem dated. And this is one of those “theatrical experience” movies where you need to be surrounded by people to really feel the love. When the Muppets put on their show, the movie creates a connection that you’re sitting in the Muppet Theater laughing with the same audience who’s laughing on-screen.

And then there’s the soundtrack: the movie’s music is fantastic. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of attempted musicals over the years and it’s really hard to nail an original AND memorable song. The movie’s opener “Life’s a Happy Song” is probably the best opening number since the one from “Beauty and Beast”, and “Man or Muppet” just gets better with each listen. There’s a certain quality about the songs which reminds me of Joss Whedon musicals, where comedy and clever metaphors go hand-in-hand. And even the non-original songs are excellent – a Barbershop version of “Smells like Teen Spirit”? Chickens singing Cee-Lo Green? And more “Rainbow Connection” fan-service for dessert? It’s a Swedish smorgasbord for the ears.

All in all, I can’t imagine why Jim Henson wouldn’t be proud. One of the most commonly explored themes in his universe has been making the most out of hard times, and this film continues that tradition. The Muppets sing and dance, but they don’t live the carefree Mickey Mouse lifestyle. They deal with depression, failure, stress – and yet they keep finding the strength to bounce back and fire Gonzo out of a cannon. “The Muppets” is a romp through my childhood, yet it’s cleverly built for the next generation. 20 years from now, today’s kids will fondly remember this movie and be taking their own kids to see “Muppets 2032: Unemployed Again” where the circle will begin anew.

February 01 2012 | Movies | 2 Comments »