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Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex

I am a big fan of Masamune Shirow's comics - Orion, Appleseed, and especially Ghost In The Shell. I am also a big fan of Mamoru Oshii, director of movies such as Angel's Egg, Patlabor 1 and 2. He is also the director of the Ghost In The Shell animated movie - one of the few works I can think of which survived the transition from one medium to another. Shirow's casual cruelty was replaced by Oshii's melancholy. Both works move me, although in different ways. It's one of my favorite movies.

Mr. Shirow has been working on a sequel to his comic, just now coming out in an English translation (it's already out in German, but I prefer reading it in English). Production I.G., the company that made the original movie, is working on a sequel (have a look at the 13.3 MB trailer if you haven't already). It is again directed by Mamoru Oshii and written by Masamune Shirow.

And Production I.G. has also made a TV series called Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Which, as I just read on Slashdot Games, is being turned into a game (you knew I'd get there in the end). A futuristic anti-terrorist shooter, from the looks of it. Yippee.

Shirow fans may want to know that there is a new all-CG animated movie being made (check out the 5.52 MB teaser). It looks a bit more exciting than the earlier effort to turn this great comic into a movie (and check out that Studio Proteus link earlier for news on Appleseed 5...)

(Yes, I know, I probably mixed up all the Japanese first and last names.)

Merry Christmas

My cold, which started last week, got dramatically worse last night. Today, I had to cancel a nice dinner with a friend that I was looking forward to.

This has nothing to do with games, but may help to explain my reduced posting frequency.

Fun with Mary Sue

Theresa Nielsen Hayden has written an enormous blog post about the Mary Sue story. To quote the exact definition:

MARY SUE (n.): 1. A variety of story, first identified in the fan fiction community, but quickly recognized as occurring elsewhere, in which normal story values are grossly subordinated to inadequately transformed personal wish-fulfillment fantasies, often involving heroic or romantic interactions with the cast of characters of some popular entertainment. 2. A distinctive type of character appearing in these stories who represents an idealized version of the author. 3. A cluster of tendencies and characteristics commonly found in Mary Sue-type stories. 4. A body of literary theory, originally generated by the fanfic community, which has since spread to other fields (f.i., professional SF publishing) because it’s so darn useful. The act of committing Mary Sue-ism is sometimes referred to as “self-insertion.”

I thought this might be more related to games than it turned out to be. Oh well. Go read this comic. It's funny.

An interview with Will Wright

Gamespot has published an interview with Will Wright. It is chock-full of good insights, as is to be expected from someone who summed up 70 years of science in one hour at this year's GDC. Among the many gems:

GS: What do read into the people choosing to be bad? How do the two--good and bad-- relate?

WW: I think by exploring the bad side you’re really just mapping the envelope of the system…you're getting a sense of how far off you can go. The good side is more of your creative palette. For example: Now I’m going to sit down and I’m going to do my favorite family, or I’m going to tell a story, or I’m going to re-create my favorite sitcom or whatever. I think that side feels like it’s a bit broader creatively. Everybody has a different definition of the good side. So that’s probably a more expansive landscape that people will explore. And that’s where people get more imaginative, in a sense, and it also reflects more on their personality. The bad side just a kind of exploration.


GS: Is game design a naturally subversive activity--or is it just you? Or is that a bit too psychoanalytic…

WW: Well, when you say subversive, it’s just another form of a player taking control. I think for most people, their kind of general aesthetic with games is that the more I control this experience, the better the game is. And I don’t mean control in terms of I can always win by pressing a button, but control in terms of I can choose to go off into an interesting path, and the game will support that path.

This animal we’re calling subversion is really just empowering the players to not hit walls as often. A lot of these bugs we could prevent just by reining in the scope of the game design You know, it’s the fact that that territory, that that landscape is so large that we cannot possibly test it that gives rise to these things. At a fundamental level it’s kind of convergent with what I would call “good game aesthetics.”


I am, in fact, not dead. Although I do have a cold. Some random stuff to prove I am at least physically present:

(From all over the place.)

The experiment ends

Yes, I am still here.

After about three weeks of allowing anonymous comments, I am disabling this feature again. I don't think there was a significant increase of comments, but there have been two cases of trolling and two bits of spam.

Remember: comment email addresses are scrambled. Humans can read it, spiders have a bit more trouble. And it's not that hard to fake an email address.

Update: I've deleted the two spam comments, but I've left in the anonymous all-caps abuse.

Policy change

At the request of Thaddaeus Frogley, whose real email address is... no, just kidding... I've looked into the whole email address thing.

Basically, if you give a URL and an email address, your email address is not present in the HTML. If you just give an email address, it is in the HTML, but its scrambled, which means humans can read it, but bots have trouble.

I've allowed anonymous comments on this blog now. If it causes trouble, eg comment spam, I will have to deactivate it again.

Extreme cable salad solution

Is juggling all those game machines becoming too complicated? Why not put an Atari 2600, a Nintendo Entertainment System, a Microsoft Xbox, a Nintendo GameCube, a Sony PlayStation 2 and a custom PC into one box? If you're contrarian, do the inverse by turning your Nintendo Entertainment System into a PC case.

Peer pressure

Mark Barrett has written a new essay called Peer Pressure (you may have to scroll down if he has written something new by now), in which he writes very nice things about Lee Sheldon and about me. This filled me with great joy (I am easy to please), which is why I wanted to mention it here.

Jurie has worked in Germany, France and now Austria, in a variety of capacities that almost always underestimated his capabilities and talents. 
This has led me thinking about effectiveness. Capabilities and talents are nice, but what's the use if you cannot apply them? Recently, I had a really interesting discussion about this with a friend. I hope to write a blog entry about it.
If there's anybody I've spent a lot of time talking design theory and practice with, it's Jurie. 

And I can say the same about Mark. We have literally written megabytes of emails and documents, digging into various issues of game design, often spending over a week just on one concept or word ("role" is a particular favorite).

Mark subtly alludes to my complete blackout for a couple of months, and then gives the best description of this blog I can think of:

While his posts are eclectic, he's not a dilettante.  Jurie knows a lot of the heavyweights in the business on both sides of the pond, he knows the core design issues we're wrestling with, and many of his musings are concerned with the basic problems that our business is facing.  Tag along for a few days and you'll see what I mean.

I cannot fully shake the feeling that "eclectic" is a bit like "good personality", but on the other hand I can't deny it and don't really mind.

But remember that I cannot really know which posts are the most interesting to my anonymous readers if I don't get any feedback. Use that comment feature, people!