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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Scriptwriters Life - print it big!

A lot of feedback around the Scriptwriter's Life diagram is about printing it out. People like the idea of having it around, but perhaps their printer doesn't do it justice. Of course there is always the low-ink version I created. But why settle for that?

So I've uploaded the very highest, full on, quality version to Zazzle. There you can print it out as a poster if you like. Right up to supersized poster that's as big as me!

The mouse mat and T-shirt were just for a bit of fun while I was there. But they make a good treat to yourself or your writer chum.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I didn't get it...

My time working on APB (updated website, check it out) is coming to an end as it gets ready for release.

One of the things that I take away is the power of understanding the user experience (sometimes called UX). The main man, Stanley, sits a few seats away and is an advocate of the whole idea, sending around links and so on. UX is where the player's experience of the game is explored.

What didn't they get? What confused them? What did they find exciting?

This feedback can be gathered in a variety of forms that falls into 3 main categories.
  • Letting people play the game and then asking afterwards, via discussion and perhaps a questionnaire.
  • Live conversation, where players talk through their experience as they play - great, but slightly unnatural.
  • High tech solutions that record where the player's eyes are on the screen along side their actions and link this to the gameplay.
As you probably know many film distributors use something similar to the first category when they are releasing a film. This usually takes the form of 'did you enjoy the film?' and 'would you recommend it'. In short, it is more about the marketing of the film than the artistic qualities.

As film makers however we don't apply this same rigour. But we could. It could help us make our film better and ensure that the cool ideas and nuanced emotions we want the audience to take away are really being picked up.

If we do show our film - it is usually in an unfocused manner. 'Did you like it?' Instead, we could really apply a more targeted approach. We could ask people about what parts they didn't get. Phrasing is the most important element to get right. No audience member should 'like' it when the hero dies. But did they find it 'moving'?

Beyond that - why not even use the second category - stopping and starting the film to dip in and out of audience views.

And remember, all this could apply to scriptwriters too.

Why do we think that just sending someone a script and waiting for feedback is enough. Read it with them. Ask them questions. Or have sample audience members at a script read through and use them constructively.

As a bonus, here is my favourite interview about APB. Well worth a watch. It is conducted by HipHopGamer and is culture-clash-tastic. However, both HHG and APB's Exec Producer Joshua have a kind of side-culture of gaming that ensures they have common ground.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New version of Scriptwriter's Life

The Scriptwriter's Life diagram has been updated. It may take a little while to ripple through various caches etc.

Many writers felt that the three separate circles of the old version didn't actually represent the holistic nature of their working life. So this version seeks to address that.

As you can see, Gravity, has become the heart of the diagram. Everything works towards it and that kind of makes sense. Without a good reputation nothing else matters - and the reverse is true, everything influences your reputation.

Check it out in more detail at

If you have the old version embedded in your blog then the new version will magically appear there instead. If you want to add it to your blog then add this code...

<div align="center"> <a href=""> <img src="" width="150" height="212" border="1"> </a> </div>

Nerdy stuff:
The diagram was created in Photoshop. 3 coloured circles were overlapped to create the secondary colours using the blending options. The hard part was positioning the circle centres to ensure an exactly equal overlap off all three. This had to be done with trigonometry in the end. Each element was then slightly grad shaded and soft bevelled downwards. The metal outlining has a slight glow on the highlights. Font is Century Gothic.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Just out of reach

Do you know the feeling; the feeling that something is just out of your intellectual reach?

You know something in your work is not correct, that it is not as good as it could be, that it is tired and dull. This - you know. But what can you do about it, what is the answer? Well - heck - you kind of know that too. But it is out of reach. You know it is there, but you can't see it - kind of like the door in Doctor Who the other day. Or perhaps like the character in my own Hope.

You say to yourself - if only I was 10% more clever I could join these damn things up. But, somehow, you aren't. You just can't see far enough.

1 - Do you know that feeling?
2 - What is it called?

It feels like a dead neural connection. It was once there linking up two parts of the brain but has since perished.*

* old age is not the answer before any of you cheeky people jump in with that!

Picture: Detour by Darcy Ripley.