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Can't say I didn't try

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johnhattan

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Yesterday I tried to pull a Cormanesque trick, but I really doubt it's gonna come to anything.

Roger Corman had a habit during his heyday of the 60's of taking advantage of every bit of time, set, and staff given to him. If he finished a movie a few days early, he'd start filming another movie on the same set with the same actors and would get as much done as possible until he lost his lease for the set and the actors went on to other projects.

The best example of this was his two-in-one film(s) The Raven and The Terror. Corman was charged with making a horror-comedy out of Edgar Allen Poe's classic poem, The Raven on a shoestring budget. If you watch the movie, you'll see that it's actually got a very lavish interior castle-set for such a low budget movie. This is because he was able to rent the set from the big budget period movie "Becket" which had just completed production.

Even better, though, was that he completed filming The Raven four days early, so he decided to try to film as much of a second movie as he could in four days with the same actors and set. Since his writers couldn't make a completed script on such short notice, he had 'em just write the parts of the script that took place in the castle with the idea that they could take care of the non-castle scenes (and the non-castle script) later on. Apparently they filmed in such a hurry that they didn't even bother to block the scenes. If they needed three scenes of actors walking down a hall, for example, he just had the actors walk down one after the other without shutting down the camera. The film was eventually finished with exterior scenes filmed and directed by the film's star and second-unit director, two obscure guys named Jack Nicholson and Francis Ford Coppola.

The technique, unfortunately, wasn't a complete success. While The Terror should be commended for even existing given that the bulk of the film was not only shot in four days, but was also produced and written during the same period, it's not all that good of a film. It feels a bit disjointed and slapped together and really isn't very scary. Interestingly, though, it does have an energy to it that, IMHO, propels it above the "A-film" The Raven, which was just too corny and silly for my tastes.

In any case, since I'm pretty-much done with The Project That Cannot Be Named but still have about two weeks of schedule left, I put together a quick cocktail-napkin design of a second game, an arcade game that's a prequel of sorts to the puzzle game I just finished. I planned for it to be written in two weeks and structured it so it could reuse about 75% of the art from the original game. I figure with 50% of the programming budget and 25% of the art budget, they could pitch it to the client at a substantial "how can I refuse" discount and still make a tidy profit.

Well I ain't holding out hope. I got a rather skeptical "I'll see if they're interested" and nothing more. I don't think anyone was in much of a hurry to see if the client was interested, which pretty-much goes against my wishes for the projectlet. While we don't have a set-lease that comes due at the end of the month, we do have a group of art people and technical leads and such. Even more valuable, we have momentum. If the projectlet waits until mid-October to start, not only do we inevitably lose some of the contractors, but we lose the momentum that we've currently got. Suddenly a quickie "two weeks to ship" project slows down to a "two weeks to beta" project just because everybody's gotta ramp up again.

Lately I find myself thinking and working differently from many other game development groups. While most like to spend time with game design and internal object design and descriptions of art assets and other bits that you'll find in design manuals, I'd much prefer just to dive into the project and get something working ASAP so we can work out minor design decisions on a working piece of software rather than a sheet of paper. Of course, I've got the advantage of experience in this realm that I know I can put together something with minimal design that'll be at least as good as something that's gone through a couple of rounds of design approvals.

Oh well. At least I tried. Would've been rather fun to try it, as this current project ain't exactly taxing my skills to the hilt. I'll be done soon and will likely be able to get back to writing games the way I like to write 'em --fast :)
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