Dollar Babies – for games

I have been thinking about this for a while, so thought I should probably put it out there for the record. And the Games Britannia games design competition reminded me of it.

Anyway, Stephen King runs this thing called Dollar Babies. The idea being that a student film maker can option one of his short stories for $1. There’s is obviously much more to it than that, and a full explanation can be found on Wiki.

The thing I was thinking about was, what if games publishers trawled through their back catalogues and IP and made a select few of them available to a central body. Students and Indie developers could then buy an exclusive option, for a time limited window, to develop a title based on that IP.

There would be rules in place to protect everyone of course. For example, maybe the game can’t be a straight remake of the original, or it can’t be used for an FPS, or it must have a particular age rating…

The option period may mean that the developer must supply a demo or design by the end of the window that the publisher can then sign off. At this break point the agreement can be terminated, and the IP returned to the pool, or the developer is granted rights to continue with the product. The final game cannot be released without sign off, and any commercial ventures must tip up a royalty to the publisher or the central body.

I know there are lots of details that would need to be ironed out. It’s never quite as simple as it appears in one’s head. But as a concept I think it could be a great way for students and Indie developers to have a chance to mine a wealth of old Intellectual Property that is currently doing nothing at all. Imagine then, if other creatives put some of their IP in. For example, an author could add one of their old novels or short stories to the pool. Or even a film studio could add a film or film character.

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The Shawshank Redemption

While I was in London last week for the Apple Tech Talk, I decided to go watch The Shawshank Redemption at the Wyndham Theatre.

Most of you will be aware of the Film by Frank Darabont. Some of you may even be aware that it is based on the short story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King.

I love the short story and I love the film. So when I noticed the other day that there was a play on in London, and that it was only running until the end of November, then I figured I should go watch it while I had the opportunity of being up there.

Firstly, I enjoyed watching it. It wasn’t great, it was ok.
I wonder if I am just not attuned to theatre. I don’t mind musical theatre, I get that, but the difference between plays and films seems to be vast. In this case, everything seems to be said in a shout.

The play is apparently based on the book and not the film – plenty of copyright issues here I guess. The problem is that Frank Darabont did a magnificent job of adapting the book, that it was always going to be hard to stray away from that. So the first think the writers did to differentiate the play from the film was to go back to the original source and have Red as a red-haired white man of Irish ethnicity – right? Wrong! Red is a Morgan Freeman wannabe… and it doesn’t work. His voice is gravelly, and fast, and loud. Morgan Freeman is controlled, slow, and soothing. I can’t read the book anymore without hearing Morgan Freeman narrating for me.

The version of Red’s voice-over, that makes the hairs stand up when delivered in the film…

There’s a con like me in every prison
in America, I guess. I’m the guy who
can get it for you. Cigarettes, a
bag of reefer if you’re partial, a
bottle of brandy to celebrate your
kid’s high school graduation. Damn
near anything, within reason.

In the play, this is the opening lines… rushed, shouted, gravelly, and disappointing…

All in all my concerns with the play were that even though the writers were apparently trying to steer clear of the film, they kept coming back to it. Many of the characters seemed liked they were poor versions of the film characters. In fact Tommy was almost identical that I wondered if they had just lifted the original actor.

In the film many of the characters we amalgamation of multiple characters – Brooks and The Warden in particular. In the play – yep you guessed it – amalgamations. Warden Norton – looked the same, if a little more portly!

I hated Andy Dufresne in the play ( Kevin Anderson). He’s cocky, too forward, almost having a controlled route through his time at the shank. But he still has this kind of Tim Robbins look-a-like thing going on.

So in the end, the play can’t make it’s mind up – be the film, be the book, or be neither. There are some very odd changes and additions that had no earthly right being there.
To be honest, I think the play is really cashing in on the film and not a decent theatrical version of the book. The writers have tried to avoid the obvious copyright issues without dropping things that their audience of film fans might take issues with. I mean, the whole thing starts with the name right? Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption

I think my favourite part was when the cast sing as Tommy is hanging in his cell… that was a wonderful moment, and almost worth the entrance fee alone.

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Dirty Harry Potter / Harry Callahan and the Deathly Hallows.

Lord VoldemortFor those who have not read The Deathly Hallows and are still intending to do so, then you might want to look away now as this may contain spoilers.

I’ve just finished re-reading Harry Potter. In fact I’ve been reading the series to Rebekah over the last year. Anyway, there is a part toward the end of The Deathly Hallows, where Harry is squaring up to Voldemort, and Harry starts to question Voldemort’s assumptions on the true ownership of the Elder Wand, that in my head sounded very different to the words that were actually on the page.

This is what I heard…

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he take rightful possession of the wand?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. So it all comes down to this, doesn’t it. Does the wand in your hand know that its last master was disarmed? Because if it does… I am the true master of the wand. And being as that is an Elder Wand: the most dangerous wand in the world, and is able to perform feats of magic that would normally be considered impossible, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Harry Callahan

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The Golden Compass

I watched yesterday. What a train wreck of a film! There were a number of changes from the book, and I can accept them. One or two I might have disagreed with or wondered the point of the change, but on the whole that wasn’t the problem. The real problem is that they tried to make it a 1 hour 40 minutes film! It therefore becomes an absolutley fast forward through events that doesn’t allow you to pick up anything from the characters. The plot just zips buy that it becomes incomprehensible. You feel nothing for Lyra and as to why she does things, or indeed why anyone does things. In order to keep this plot going dialogue is thrown in that means too much exposition. I wonder if anyone who has not read the books would get anything out of it?

Wikipedia The Golden Compass

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I watched the film Serenity over the weekend which was great. I’m going to go into any detail about it other than to say it’s sci-fi/western by

Anyway, my favourite line in a film for a long time, delivered perfectly, with a slight western drawl;

— goin’ on a year
now I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my
nethers weren’t run on batteries!

Wikipedia Joss Whedon, Serenity Technorati

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