Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Greatest Show on Earth

My friend Cliff made an interesting post about large-scale creative projects versus small-scale lone wolf authors.

You're wrong Cliff.

Shakespeare did not work alone, neither did Austen or Tolstoy. All three (and this is true of most writers) had friends, editors, people who would read and comment. Shakespeare even had a theatre company to bounce his ideas off. JK Rowling has the editors at Bloomsbury.

You are also right to say that all movies, plays and so forth are imperfect, but what you're missing there is that they are also emergent, and that can be very powerful. Nobody really knows going into shooting a show like Galactica exactly how it's going to pan out, but that means that they can discover new ideas along the way and incorporate them.

What makes them work is strong direction, someone in the middle who makes consistent decisions from a creative standpoint. What make it difficult is when there is no strong direction, and games have no real tradition of doing that. Games have come from a collaborative sort of culture to where they are today, like a bunch of indie bands, and when looking to scale up, developers looked to software companies and their management techniques rather than entertainment companies, and that cultural choice is what makes modern games weak for the most part.

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