Thursday, 17 February 2011

Dead Island: The best Video Game trailer ever made?

I've worked in the videogame business for nigh on 17 years,seen a huge amount of change,seen a lot of product and hardware come and go, experienced its ups and downs, played amazing product, worked on really bad product and I've promoted a lot of product. I've also been witness to the traditional hype normally associated with the "next big thing in videogames" (sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't). There are of course the Milestone products that come out, the big hitters like Halo which has thrown considerable weight behind the way it reaches out to its audience with its trailers,taking you from the living room and into the firefight like a Hollywood movie  even employing directors like Neil Blomkemp,South African director of District 9 to create its Halo short films.
Gears of War from Epic and its Mad World trailer was sublime, it created mood, it was emotional, it was devoid of all sound effects and instead used the music from Gary Jules to create an incredible contrast that made people talk about the trailer even more.
The only other time I've seen this dynamic brought up in conversation was when Judy Garlands "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was used in a shoot out scene for the movie Face Off with Nic Cage, except it didn't quite work as well as it should or could have.
Which brings me to the announcement trailer for Dead Island which is probably the best videogame trailer I've ever seen,why?
For a new videogame I.P to enter the zombie genre is extremely brave, especially after benchmark titles like Resident Evil, Left for Dead  have established themselves as very popular brands with such a large legion of fans, Dead Island had to find a way to stand out, it needed to create a viral to get people talking about it but also to create something that no one would expect, and they did it brilliantly. Its a heartbreaking trailer, its not pretty to watch but it really brings the emotion of the scene and does so with a with an amazingly haunting soundtrack. Best of all it tells its story in reverse making it truly unique in that it breaks all the common traditions of videogame trailers. I played this trailer for a female colleague at work who  was almost in tears afterwards.The trailer is generating a ton of buzz on the forums as being one of the best ever created.

Dead Island is a first person survival horror game that will be entirely focused on melee combat set within a tropical island setting you can freely roam.

When I watched the trailer Wednesday it had 5,890 views, in two days it has acquired 1,362,679 views as of posting this update. Metro, FHM, Empire and actor Simon Pegg are just some of the channels that picked up on the global phenomenon of the trailers impact within 24 hrs posting updates and tweets about the trailer.

Watch the trailer below...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Defeating the Tabilan with a t-shirt

War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing, well that's not strictly true is it, declare your hate for the Taliban with a fashion statement.If we can't defeat the terrorist with high explosives then lets break the son of a bitch down emotionally. Zazzle is a great way for people to create their own merchandise, it lists billions of items for sale (yes that's billions) so if you've got something current to shout about why not enter the fray.

Buy the T-shirt in British SA80 Style here: SA80 Taliban Repellent t-shirt
Buy the T-shirt in USA M4 Assault rifle version here: M4 Taliban Repellent t shirt

My next purchase

In a bid to ensure I'm following the right road I've decided to invest in a book to better understand the complexities of creative writing, I figured that so far I've invested two years of my life into the book I'm writing so I may as well get the thing right. I asked myself if it was too late to start reading up on creative writing when I was already 50,000 words into the project but then I figured that after the editor has put his red pen through great swathes of it I don't think it really matters since I'll probably need to rewrite large sections and tighten down dialogue anyway. I was looking for a book about creative writing from an author with a degree of credibility and all fingers point to Mr Jurgen Wolff's book  Your Writing Coach: From Concept to Character, from Pitch to Publication, Jurgen's own credentials seem extremely solid. Jurgen's written scripts for several popular television shows I've seen at one point or another including : Benson, Family Ties, and Relic Hunter. I also like the fact it appears to be a very coach friendly tone to the way in which the book helps you understand writing formula. Review wise it look like it stacks up pretty well against other similar books with a lot of good reviews, particularly on Amazon.

What does the book contain

  • A discussion of the most current Web-based technologies available to you to promote your work online.

  • Guides you towards the endless flow of inspiration and ideas available to you and the technique of creating strong charaters,subplot and exposition.

  • Develops ways to enhance your writing based on your knowledge, hobbies and interests to get the most from your story or subject matter.

By far the most important factor for me was the quote I saw on a review site about the book from the author himself...
"Once you've read the book, if you still have questions you are welcome to e-mail me ... and I'll do my best to answer them because I'm serious about being your writing coach."

The book is available from in print and kindle format

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A leap of faith...and a good story

A few years back I started writing a novel, I started writing it based on several unsuccessful movie pitches to Hollywood producer Bob Kosbergs website  moviepitch . I jotted down a number of ideas and picked the one I thought had the strongest story outline to be a fictional novel and started writing it, a story about female assassins, I did a ton of research and ploughed into it.
I haven't written stories since school, I have no writing accolades to note and I haven't attended creative writing courses or entered any journalism initiatives but I do know a good story when I read one.Then I shelved it, I stopped writing it altogether having been dismayed at the amount of hassle I'd have to go through just to get the novel looked at, a literary agent, editors and so forth, the dream of getting something out into the big bad world seemed a lot further away than when I started it. The biggest mistake I made was to stop writing, I stopped because I wanted to know what the process was for getting the book in front of readers and then the molehill became a mountain and I lost the motivation to write.

Two years ago I decided that I wanted to start something fresh, I'd write a novel and just publish it myself, I'd dabbled with with a photography book called Airsoft Infidels which was okay, it went bestseller on within a couple of weeks but I probably spent more than I made giving out complimentary copies to all the photographers that participated in the project, and while  the pricing model for Blurb books prevents you from making any real headway on profit for books over 40 pages I thought I'd put my energies into a novel instead, buy my own ISBN and see where I could get with it.

That was two years ago and over two years I've chipped away at it here and then with no focus on actually trying to finish it, then Kindle appeared and the barriers to writing and publishing a novel, and making money via an ebook were now very much back in the frame, I don't need a publisher, I don't need a literary agent, I don't need a bookshop, its my book and the reader. So now the challenge is to finish and launch the book I started two years ago  and to do that I set myself a 1000 word a day goal to write the story. So far over the last 15 days I've conquered nearly ten thousand words so something is clearly working!

Last week I opened up the word doc female assassin story from the novel I started several years ago, and to my surprise I discovered I had written 6000 words, even better than that was the story was actually pretty good, so on the basis of that as soon as my current military thriller is finished I'll be finishing that and hopefully someone out there will be reading it!

Ebook formatting

Formatting your ebook is the the single biggest aspect to get right once your manuscript is ready, after the time and effort you've put into your book you want it to be as sharp as it possibly could be, formatting seems to vary, or hould I say the way in which the specific platforms format your book to the reader can vary from platform to platform slightly but overall its worth getting the core basics correct so that its not a totalnightmare to read. Check out
where writer and game designer Guido Henkel goes through the step by step process,very handy indeed.

Always judge a book by its cover

I work in the videogame industry,typically my work means that I come into contact with creative in its core digital videogame form but I also work with the traditional means by which to promote the game as well, specifically the image that sits on the cover to tempt the consumer in parting with their hard earned cash. The majority of all the titles I used to work on originated in the US,marketing these titles for Europe and the UK usually required tailoring the box cover with different artwork.This was done for a number of reasons, but overall it was usually because the cover that our US counterparts had created wasn't strong enough to stand out in a highly competitive market. Because the U.S is a single market compared to the 14 different territories of the European market I represented. Investment into having a cover that packs real punch was and continues to be important.
My first major PC title for a US Games publisher was Rise & Fall: Civilizations at War, I felt that the US cover (the one with all the heads) wasn't making the most of the games core dynamic which was centred around playing a hero in battle.

As the saying goes there's no second chance for a first impression, as the epublishing market gives novice authors and first time writers the power to release their published works alongside best selling authors and prolific book publishers who have the resources to invest in marketing and creative your cover is an important aspect of your eBook to get right. The process of 'refreshing' novel covers is nothing new of course, in fact, if you take Thunderball, Ian Flemmings ninth James Bond book, its undergone a cover refresh several times to help the novel appeal to as wide a market as it possibly can, for many, James Bond evokes images of scantily clad women, guns, gadgets and the dinner jacket wearing hero looking suave and deadly but that's not necessarily what's required to sell it in a modern market. In fact none of the elements I mentioned even made it onto the cover of the first edition because at the time the series and the character was relatively new. And because the girl's, gadgets and dinner jackets has become a James Bond characteristic for decades its not necessary anymore because as a brand Bond is as recognised as Coca Cola.

Out of the two covers above the chances are you prefer the one on the left, the first edition cover illustrated by Richard Chopping, Chopping's cover is a far more exciting prospect and creates more impact in order to draw the reader in than its modern day counterpart does, however, because the novel has already met its financial obligations since it was published in 1961 the publisher has no real need to invest time and money into creating an elaborately designed cover.

 The Harry Potter books have of course a very broad appeal but that hasn't stopped its publisher Bloomsbury from making sure that what was primarily a book that children fell in love with can still draw in a more mature audience with a cover that has a more mature design.
Your ebook needs all the help it can possibly get, it has mere seconds to appeal to a customer / reader who isn't familiar with your work, if you're writing represents a specific genre then be sure to take note of the covers that lead that genre, be wary of the use of fonts, unless your name is Neville Brody clear of 'fun' fonts which could make your novel look very amateur and be sure to make use of the image area with something that relates to  your content, a moment in the story, a character etc.
At every stage of the process you need to ask yourself if your cover is the best it can be, if you invested in an editor to bring you this far in the books life cycle then you should also consider the level of investment you put into your cover. Not all of us have access to high profile designers and agencies or can afford the license fees to buy the better stock photo images but its worth remembering that your book cover is the window to your product.