Minisodes

The big difference: TJ Hooker - Payday Pirates:

"That's what separates the rest of us from scum like you."

In a rather big coincidence I happen to watch The Terminator (the first) which reminded me of what happened when we were making a Terminator game at Virgin. There had been a Terminator game for the Genesis made by Neil Young, David Perry, and Nick Bruty, which was one of the shortest games we ever published. The second Terminator game for Sega CD was one of the largest console games we ever made. Each level in the Sega CD RAM could be nearly as big as an entire cartridge for the Genesis. The second version was programmed by Silas Warner who is famous for having made the very first version of Castle Wolfenstein. Nick Bruty did about half of the art - Nick was a master of specular highlights back in the days when computers didn't calculate it for you. Most of the shiny levels (heh, that's a pun [and an inside joke]!) were by him. Tommy Tallarico went to town on the sound and music.

Silas programmed up a video player and so we took the Terminator movie and edited the shit out of it. Basically, our assumption was that people playing the game knew the story, but would love to see a quick action clip between levels that moved the story along a little bit. I have to say it came out great.

Unfortunately, James Cameron didn't agree - he thought we were recutting and, well, butchering his film. Which was true, but our purpose was different from his when he created the film. Ultimately we were allowed to use one or two small clips from the movie. It was a serious bummer because a big part of our job when adapting licenses was to reinterpret the material in an interactive setting, and Mr. Cameron just didn't "get it." Oh well. (I'm still a huge fan. I'm sure if I could have sat down with him I could have convinced him of the rightness of what we were doing.)

Later on, when we made Demolition Man for 3DO, we edited the shit out of that movie, and it integrated beautifully with the game. Woot.

Which brings me to the minisodes. Someone has taken classic TV shows and cut them down to their bare essence. Which I think is pretty cool. I remember when The Phantom Edit version of The Phantom Menace came out. I never saw it but the idea of cutting all the painful parts out of Star Wars Episode I was brilliant - although George Lucas didn't see it that way and things were clamped down on that.

I guess recutting a person's movie isn't something to be done lightly. But with their permission and even better - their involvement - adding movie footage to a game can improve the game.

More recently (well, a few years ago), Griptonite Games was making the Lord of the Rings game for the Nintendo GBA and believe it or not, they had extra cartridge space. My idea was to play a short video clip at the start of the game and EA/New Line managed to approve that and I think it really helped send the message that "this game is special" (which it was) and gave the game a little extra shot of buzz. Woot.

Anyway, minisodes seem cool to me. I don't want to watch 22 minutes of TJ Hooker but I found this five minute clip entertaining. I would love five minute versions of every Star Trek episode. That would rock.

Somebody get on that.