Sunday, September 26, 2010

Blazing the Trail

With Johnny Outlaw so relatively close to the first general stage of completion, there is one question on everyone’s mind:

What’s next?

Certainly the Outlaw Chronicles could not end with Johnny Outlaw and the Curse of Tombstone Jack. As every true capitalist knows, a franchise can not be content with creating a single, genre-defining masterpiece. It is the solemn duty of every franchise to run its intellectual property into the ground.

We have determined that the rise and fall of the Johnny Outlaw franchise should be predetermined. If we plan to fail now, then we won’t fail to plan later. We’ve been kicking a few ideas around the Outlaw headquarters, but here is a rough timetable for events.

-Johnny Outlaw and the Curse of Tombstone Jack:
The flagship of the series, a veritable tour de force. Its release heralds a video game renaissance and a greater cultural shift towards integrating the video game experience into every aspect of life. While critics still hesitate to call video games “art”, Johnny Outlaw receives a permanent exhibition in the Louvre.

-The Outlaw Chronicles are launched in rapid succession, capitalizing on the immense wave of popularity. These cherished classics are forever remembered as the hallmark of a golden age of gaming.

-Johnny Outlaw and the Riddle of the Serpent’s Kiss:
In the spirit of progress, Outlaw Studios attempts to cross genres. A murder mystery thriller set in a dystopian Wild West, the game combined fast paced shooter action with classic detective fiction. At every step of the way the player had to choose whether to use deduction or bullets to uncover the killer’s true identity. The recipe was insane. The results were phenomenal.

-The original creative minds behind Johnny Outlaw suffer a falling out. A disagreement breaks out over whether or not Johnny Outlaw, the best game franchise of all time, could be better. Important questions are finally asked. Could Johnny Outlaw be better than Johnny Outlaw? Being better would not make Johnny Outlaw “better than the best”, since the best is always the best. The resulting confusion nearly destroys the company.

-The character of Tombstone Jack experiences a setback. Fans grow tired of every plot revolving around Jack repeatedly returning from the dead to steal gold. After several games where a villain is discarded at the halfway point and the true enemy is revealed to once again be Tombstone Jack, the fans start to give up hope.

-Johnny Outlaw and the Wrath of the Six Gun Shogun:
In response to fan pressure, Tombstone Jack is relegated to the position of reluctant antihero/ comic relief ally to make room for the far more menacing Six Gun Shogun. In the longstanding tradition of “East meets Wild West”, begun by the Owen Wilson classic Shanghai Noon, a Japanese feudal lord has come to replace the Code of the West with the sinister way of Bushido. A triumphant return to the traditions of the Golden Age games.

-Johnny Outlaw: Mummies Never Die
In this misguided endeavor, Johnny Outlaw Studios attempts to jump on the bandwagon of the current mummy craze. In this installment, Johnny is capable of turning into a mummy and unleashes mummy specific attacks. The abrupt game play change from revolver shooting to commanding legions of the undead appeals to no one, and fans are put off by the perceived corruption of the John Outlaw character. This dazzling miscalculation of market forces and fan desires is complemented by the critically panned game play and a villain reminiscent of Brendan Fraser. The game proves once and for all that although you can’t kill mummies, you certainly can kill a franchise

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Code Talkers

As a self proclaimed high profile video game developer, people often confront me with their brilliant ideas for “the next big thing in gaming”. Bless their little souls; they truly believe that they can make it in the industry with nothing but their fantastic ideas which are, of course, entirely fresh and unique. Now, most other developers might tell you that these people are delusional: their ideas have absolutely no intrinsic value, their “games” are often untenable, unmarketable, and sometimes the ideas are simply stupid. But I would never say such things. Indeed, I would not be where I am today if I had listened to those developers.

Here is the truth, for all you big dreamers out there with your hopes of video game greatness. Those developers do want your ideas. They want to steal them! They want to horde all the ideas for themselves and control the flow of great games. As long as they can control who makes the games, they can make sure we have only bad, boring, no-fun games. They are afraid! Afraid that one day the market will be saturated with too many fun games created by great ideas. And the first step in their plan is to put you down and keep you down.

And how do they keep us dreamers down? I bet you think video games are hard to make, right? I bet you think it takes a dedicated team of programmers, designers, artists, composers, and years of experience. What if I were to tell you that this was all an elaborate lie constructed by the video game moguls? Would it blow your mind? Well then, consider your mind blown.

When I started making Johnny Outlaw, I was prepared to spend long hours, learning the basics step by step, and gradually creating something playable. I came in with no knowledge of computer programming and I had no idea how a game even worked. I took courses, read guides, tutorials. Hours became days, days became weeks. All to create something as simple as a game of pong. I had bought into their lie, just as you do now.

This was all poised to change. My studies took me deep within the sacred video game archives. I pored over the manuscripts, learned the different computer languages. I dreamed of one day being a true programmer, or “code talker”. Soon I could speak fluent computer and attempted to befriend the machines. I learned that they are much like us. They have wants, needs. They have dreams. They feel emotions, loneliness and longing. In time, I gained their trust. I was one of them. I talked to their chieftain and told him of the game I had seen in my dreams. He asked me what kind of game it was. I told him it was a top down shooter. I told him of the cowboys, of the buffalo. I told him of brother eagle soaring above and I told him of the almighty mountains kissing the horizon.

And then I told him of all the work I had done so far, and how it had been so fruitless. All I had to show was some basic graphics and limited game play. The computer tribe began to laugh. Had I made a fool of myself? Was I a poor programmer, unworthy to stand in their presence? No. The chief told me that I had been going about things all wrong. Video games were not hard to create! Not for a computer! You simply tell them what type of game you want, what sort of graphics, how much lag is acceptable, and then the computer would handle the rest. I was perplexed, but then the chief bestowed upon me a gift. He heard my pleas, heard about the cowboy game I wanted, and he had made it for me. That day I was given the gift of the Johnny Outlaw Level Editor.

If I wanted an enemy, I simply clicked where I wanted him and he appeared. If I wanted him to patrol, I simply clicked where he should walk to. If I wanted items, traps, anything – anything at all, all I had to do was select the proper menu, click, and save. It was so simple, even a child could do it! A child could make a game as great as Johnny Outlaw!

Here, for the first time ever, I can show you a behind the scenes look at what really goes into making a game!

Is there any one among you who thinks this is “too hard”? Of course not. Video games are simple.

So next time you come up with a great idea that will change the face of gaming, don’t tell it to me! And don’t you go begging a programmer or artist to make it happen. Your ideas are precious and special and worth more than any simple service they could offer. Make it yourself, it’s not so hard. Speak with the computers, they will show you the way.