Because the only thing more terrifying than velociraptors are velociraptors that can fly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Video Game Novelizations

I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Video Games are art." Like all forms of art, not every single game (or book or movie) is a great example of it, but as a medium, video games deserve respect as an art form.

In no other way can someone experience a story the way one can in a game. They are interactive experiences, and nothing else can hold a candle to how involved in a story a well-made game can make you feel, or force you to ask yourself questions because you're the one making the decision.

That being said, sometimes works are transferred from one medium to another with varying degrees of success. The Lord of the Rings were books that got made into movies. There are only six Star Wars movies (right now, anyway) but the Expanded Universe fleshes out that world with hundreds of books.

Obviously, a story owes much of its power to the medium in which it's told. Movies utilize lighting, music, and images to make the audience feel like they're there in the action. Books allow the audience access to the innermost lives and feelings of main characters. Video games give the player the ability to control how the story is told. So what happens when a video game story is adapted into a book?

Really, I can only think of one example I've read personally, and that's Halo:Combat Evolved. Essentially a strict novelization of the events of the video game, reading it was like watching someone play the game in my head. That's neither a criticism nor a selling point, just a fact. 

This whole blog post comes from the fact that I am a novelist that plays video games. When I got to the end of Bioshock 2, I was disappointed the story was over. "How neat would it be," I wondered, "to wander the halls of Rapture, to see it through the eyes of one of its inhabitants, to make an attempt to see it as a real place, rather than just a set piece which my character moved through?"

The same goes with Portal 2. How thrilled would I be to get a call from Valve asking me to create a novelization of their game? The answer: Super thrilled. I love these games because I love the worlds they allow me to inhabit for a little while. Writing a novel about them would grant me the chance to live in that world for much longer.

And true, I could write fanfiction. But I get antsy about writing things I know I cannot sell. Writing is writing, sure, but I want to be a professional writer, I want to make a living off the words I put to paper (or more realistically--to screen).

So I wait, and hope, and dream. Maybe one day I'll be a big enough name that somebody will want me to create the novel tie-in for their property. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for that email, Valve. Any day now...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Mayans and the Apocalypse

Just to get this out of the way: THE MAYANS DID NOT PREDICT THE WORLD WOULD END ON DEC. 21, 2012.

Sorry for the all caps, but I've been seeing this misinformation a lot lately and felt like I really had to say something about it. The 13th baktun (a unit of the Mayan calendar) does end on December 21st, 2012, but then the 14th baktun starts. How the notion that the Mayans predicted that day would be the end of the world, I don't know.

They did have a predictive calender, one that talks about events that are "supposed" to happen a hundred thousand years from now. So even if we say that Mayan predictions are (for some reason) accurate, we still have a few millenia at least.

Let's say, though, that the Mayans did predict the world was going to end in ten days. Who cares? Why is this something people are worried about? Because people are worried about it. NASA had an hour-long thing the other day to answer any questions people might have about end of the world scenarios, and recently members of Russian parliament wrote to their country's three biggest television networks asking them to stop airing things about the 2012 apocalypse because people were getting so nervous.


People have been predicting the end of the world almost as long as we've been people. Comets have come and gone. Y2K, not a thing. The Rapture didn't happen. The world's still spinning people. A part of me just doesn't get why people are saying, "OK, I know that every other time the end of the world has been predicted, it didn't happen, but I have a good/bad feeling about this one."

Then again, I feel like some people get this end of the world mindset because articles, TV shows, etc. keep talking about it, especially when their titles are something like, "What did the Mayans know about the End of the World?" The answer is, of course, nothing, but someone who only sees the title of the article or watches the first few minutes of the show doesn't get that. All they take away is that people are concerned about this, and so they should be too.

It's one of those weird things about human psychology. Sometimes, if a bunch of people are concerned about something, you should be too. If you were parked in traffic on the highway, and then suddenly a wave of people came towards you from the cars ahead, running as fast as they could, you'd probably get out of your car and start running too. You'd go along with what everybody else is doing because they probably know something you don't.

In this case, though, don't worry. There are no planets or asteroids getting ready to hit the Earth (if there were, they'd be the brightest objects in the sky behind the sun and moon). Solar storms are actually predicted to be relatively calm for a while. The Earth's magnetic pole, while due for a shift, isn't going to flip overnight. 

In short, I'll see you all on December 22nd.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Colin O'Boyle: Creative Director

Hello, hello, oh friends o'mine! And how are you all upon this fine day? I'm quite excited because my pal, Chris "Grizzly" Dorn," and I are going to be working on creating a video game over the course of the next seven months (and probably longer).

Essentially, it will be a digital version of my card game "Gloves and Goggles." Players will play as mad scientists and do their best to smash all opponents into little pieces by way of digital cards. The cards represent armor, weapons, robots, mutated squirrels, and other mad sciencey creations. The game is pretty fun so far, but I feel like converting it into digital format will be helpful for a number of reasons.

1). Chris and I don't exactly have a lot of money. Therefore, it's not like we can print, package, and ship physical cards.

2). The game is (slightly) complicated and by having a computer do some of the heavy lifting for the player, things will go more smoothly. It's like if you were hazy on the rules of chess and so played a digital version. If you try to make a wrong move with a piece, the computer corrects you.

So...yeah. Pretty excited. They'll be some challenges (Chris is going to have to figure out how to program an AI so that players can go up against a computer opponent), but I'm confident about our abilities. In the meantime, I've got my hands full in creating all sorts of cool cards to input into the game.