Merry Xmas!

And a happy New Year to everyone!

It´s good to be in Spain for a couple of weeks, see the family, friends, and of course have plenty of tapas and fun.

Yesterday I went to watch Michael Clayton, an excellent directorial debut by writer Tony Gilroy. He was clearly influenced by producer Steven Soderbergh’s style: slow pace, complex storytelling and heavy emphasis on character development. One of the best movies this year.

Another film I watched today was 1955’s The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, a dramatized documentary about one of the visionaries in the early days of US Air Forces, who in the 1920’s predicted things like Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, aircraft carriers or airplanes breaking the sound barrier. Funny bit from the credits: actor Will Wright plays the role of Admiral Sims.

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Sound effects

A few days ago Dr Petter released a little tool to generate simple sound effects for hobby game developers. "An MS Paint for sound effects…" as he puts it himself. It’s certainly no SoundForge, but lots of fun to play with, and more than capable for many quick projects.

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Ok, this is really cool. Passage is a sort of artsy-fartsy game that’s supposed to make you think and all that, rather than entertain.

Jokes aside, it is a really interesting experiment. It’s not pretty, it’s not even fun, but it certainly touches some of the ways in which a game can speak about us, both the author and the players. You should play it without reading any instructions, just… well, like creator Jason Roher says, fire it up and play it. And then, if you are like me, be completely unable to get it, read the Creator’s Statement, and think about it.

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I guess I welcome our new Activision Blizzard overlords

It’s been a snowy weekend here in Vancouver, with little expectations in the way of fun or surprises. However, Vivendi Games (who owns my current employer Radical Entertainment) and Activision decided to stir things up a bit by announcing a merger of both companies and naming / branding the result "Activision Blizzard." I’ll spare you the "better name suggestion" comment and jokes.

Maybe they cooked it all up in 2 days just to piss off John Riccitello? Nah, he actually said "I think there will be more consolidation to come" so he still ok. Although he will surely make downplay the "we’re bigger than EA" message that surrounds the merger press release.

I guess tomorrow will be an interesting Monday at work, with lots of chatter and a few corporate emails about this. Kelly Zmak has so far been very communicative and open (within reason) about the business aspects of Radical. Other than a certain sense of being downplayed (along with other wholly-owned development studios) in the press releases in favor of the 80000-lb gorilla that is Blizzard, I don’t expect the new situation to affect our day-to-day life for quite a long time. A bigger muscle behind Prototype, but more games to compete with for marketing attention.

Meanwhile, Activision have put up a specific website to describe the merger; that’s pretty neat, even though it’s full of predictably corporate language. Both that site and Vivendi’s should be hosting a webcast tomorrow morning.

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