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Posts tagged ‘gaming’

PATTERNS = Memos from the Muse

September 15, 2015



Apologies for the sparse posting this summer, my friends. Work, travel, and Life got in the way (as they so often do), but I intend to hop back on the blog-horse for regular features and updates over the next 6 months at least. As always, your patience with my scheduling weirdness is infinitely appreciated. And speaking of weird…

In my creative and my personal life, I see patterns. 

Something as seemingly random as a rush hour commute with all-green-light intersections takes on prophetic business meaning. Pairs of butterflies circling the deck every morning for a week becomes a relationship omen. Monthly jolts awake after the same bonkers dream, only to see the same goddamn numbers glaring back at me:

(And the less a superstitious double-Gemini says about the thrice-annual shit-show of Mercury Retrograde, the better — back up those files and don’t sign contracts for a month, kiddos…the pattern of ‘Karmic fun’ starts tomorrow!)

Sure. It could just be my monkey brain’s way of making some desperate sense out of absurd, everyday, garden-variety chaos. But what fun is that? Especially when some of the greatest creative and scientific minds in history were/are ardent believers that recognizing patterns and potential connections between objects and events was the key to attaining higher knowledge and artistic excellence???

And that brings us to today’s topic: MEMOS from the MUSE.

Over the past six months or so, a common theme has reared its strange and fantastical head in the stuff I’ve been working on, as well as projects I’ve been brought in to help shape: the WHIMSICAL. The damn term keeps popping up in personal writings, in random conversations, highlighted in reference material, or even blurted out during conference calls. And it always came, it would seem, with the same qualifier: DARK.

How can you NOT smell a pattern like that? If the Muse keeps tickling your brain-balls, then it only makes sense to hear Her out over rib-eyes and a nice cab-merlot, amirite?

So I do what I like to call ‘tracing it back‘.

Follow the breadcrumbs of influence. Find the Alpha of the thought that’s recurring, which might help you predict the Omega of the path that you’re on — IE: the end result of the pattern — what it’s been trying to tell you from the start.

I recalled the shows and movies and books I loved as a kid.

I pondered the stuff I’m drawn to, and the tales I’m now driven to tell.

I revisited the last studio gig I agreed to, and the direction I gave to the team:

The music on that Hellboy 2 short is by my genius composer cousin, Tobias Tinker. We’d been making musical magic together for 7 years…and then that was that. I went off on walkabouts. He made more cool shit.

Last month, I flew my weary ass to his home in Berlin to see if our mutually-creative fires could be rekindled. It only occurs to me now that another 7 years had passed since our last big jam. And there we were, discussing the score on a massive (and massively daunting) audiobook project

‘What’s the vibe you’re after?’ he asked.

Dark, of course,’ I said, ‘but there’s something else…’

I sat up, and I think I felt the ghost of a gear click into place as I spoke the word. And then, in one afternoon, we built the following piece around our masterful narrator‘s silky boom:

A pained music box. Flourishes of harp. Mysterious choir. Moody strings.


A month later, I couldn’t help but smirk when discussing part of a (secret = SHHH!) reality TV project’s score with its producers. There was a scene near the end that needed a special sonic touch —  ‘heavier’ than the rest of the program, but still retaining a hint of playfulness and ‘hope’.  I referred the editor to a section from Howard Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring.  

You can probably guess what two words were exchanged. ;)

That brings us to just last week. A designer on a seriously epic (and another SECRET!!!) game thingie asked me for input on the soundtrack.

Let me say this — if you were privy to the IP in question and what these cats have planned for it? Then you’d barf up the same goddamn tags I’ve been chucking since springtime. But that might mean very little to someone not lost in the vortex of signs and symbols…you know…like yours truly.

Thankfully, since I’d been bashing my head on this whimsy trip for months (nay, a lifetime!), there was an easier way to communicate. To share the PATTERN, whispered long ago through the Chaos by the Muse…

To be useful in this moment.

Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away = bombs of whimsy, yo!

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen = fanciful theatricality and fairytale decadence to legendary excess!!

The Dark Crystal = ground zero for ‘dark whimsy’ from my childhood!!!


What are some of YOUR dark and whimsical favourites?

And what patterns have played a role in YOUR creative and personal lives?

Sound off in the Comments…right below the kitten in a top hat…

Because WHIMSY!




TIMELINE:  Fall 2014/Ongoing

PLATFORMMobile (Android, iOS)


Contracted for text/dialogue creation, cinematic scripts, and ongoing narrative design consulation for this Vancouver studio’s diverse mobile game slate. Titles include action/sci-fi (WARHAMMER: Carnage), niche/casual (Trophy Bingo),  and a celebrated global music/entertainment IP. (TBA 2016)


January 7, 2014


The Edit

I’m about to edit a book. Seems like a straightforward mission statement, right? But for me, the prose editing process generates a special, singular kind of fear. I’ll get to that in a second.

When you’re launching an initial assault on the blank page, there’s a leap-into-the-void, roll-the-goddamn-dice, what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen? kinda quality to the whole thing. That’s why I actually enjoyed the NaNoWriMo exercise – you show up, put your head down, and commit to your daily word count. That’s it. So, if your outline was strong enough, and your characters were clearly defined, and you respected your narrative roadmap (no matter how many shortcuts or off-road excursions you indulged in along the way), you’re gonna end up with something. And, unless you’re a complete tool, said thing will resemble an actual ‘story’, with words and paragraphs and dialogue and chapters and a beginning, middle, and end. Groovy.

But then comes the hard part. You see, in keeping with my oft-stated transmedia philosophy, Storytelling (on singular or multiple platforms) is akin to the mining, cutting, and polishing of a precious gem. Writing in prose has only reaffirmed that for me. The story outline is where one surveys the land and takes soil samples. The first draft is digging and sifting until you find the raw stone. Which makes the hardest part – the detailed cutting and polishing phases, which give the stone its unique beauty and shine — the edit.

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‘RISEN’ : A Transmedia Strategy Overview

November 21, 2012



Apologies for the stretch of incommunicado, folks – I blame it on a frenzied mix of travel, research, and project launches – but I wanted to keep you posted on what’s baking in the transmedia oven.

You might’ve noticed a feature I have in development in the PROJECTS section called Risen.  Well, it’s still very much alive;  there’s a third draft of the screenplay nearing completion, a graphic novel ‘package’ with artist attached, and cross-platform strategizing fully in progress.   And now, you can peer behind the proverbial curtain and see some of the lever and pulley action that goes into prepping an original IP for the transmedia stage.


At a remote mountain sanctuary, a disabled orphan receives a revolutionary implant to restore his health.  But when the young man finds himself able to manipulate the digital world with his mind?  Then it’s a race for answers – and for civilization itself – against rogue military, an obsessed scientist, and the terrifying Consciousness awakening within him.

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‘Untitled’ Game High Concept

June 29, 2012


(Here’s a narrative overview I recently created for a game dev client – can’t announce the developer or project specifics yet, but I’m definitely happy with the relationship and the results!)


You and a host of powerful beings were charged with creating Life on a pristine world.  But something went wrong.  Through negligence and arrogance, your creations quickly evolved into a terrifying demon horde, threatening to scour the fragile Eden.   Outraged, your Master decides to wipe the slate clean, and imprison you (his Architects) and the abominations deep underground.  Now, you must harness your divine energy and scattered technologies to destroy your tainted creations, awaken your fallen Brethren, and escape the prison…or remain trapped in darkness forever!

You were the First. 

A being of pure Will, infused with unfathomable power, and charged with a sacred Mission.  But you were the first of many.  A legion of beings would soon join you in this new realm.  Together, you would craft incredible technologies, and harness near-limitless energies to engineer the primordial sparks of Life.  And as lightning and otherworldly fire filled the skies, and the first creatures twitched and stirred beneath swirling dark waters, you could feel the growing pride of the One that had set these events in motion.  And it was Good.

But it would not endure.

As time passed, and the web of Life on this young world grew infinitely more complex, a division began to form within the ranks of your Brethren.  The sheer scope of the plan and the energies at your disposal tainted the weaker amongst you. Some went mad with the weight of responsibility.  Some even whispered of rebellion.  But the greatest flaw was harbored in the hearts of those who fell prey to the lure of Ambition.  Fueled by newfound arrogance, these Architects used their powers to veer the course Life far from the intended design – one of harmony and symbiotic balance – and down a path both twisted and profane.  That was when the monsters rose from the mire.  When onyx-horned and cloven-hoofed things clawed their way from molten cracks in the world’s womb.  When creatures of unspeakable horror howled at the sky with blood-soaked teeth and mindless hate.  And that was when you understood what must happen next, for the grand design had been defiled.

You had failed in your sacred Mission.  The punishment was swift.

With thunder and fury, the One shook the foundations of the world.  The oceans drained into bottomless rifts, and towering mountains crumbled to dust. Through a veil of fire, the earth yawned open, and swallowed beast and Brethren alike in jaws of stone.   And there you would remain…for eons.  Trapped in a forgotten chasm beneath the earth, and shackled by otherworldly machines of your own making.  Abandoned in the dark, with nothing but the shrieking demonic hordes, and the cries of your fallen brothers.  Everything had been taken from you…save for your Essence.

And that is the key to your salvation.

Though disembodied, you are still an Architect.  Through sheer force of will, your prison matrix shall become your liberation, as the technologies transform into the armor and weaponry you’ll use to break free and destroy the abominations.  And as you battle through countless chambers beneath the earth, you are sure to find your fallen Brethren – imprisoned, as you were.  Free them, and you’ll become infused with their essence, as well as the unique tools and gifts that they possess.  Call upon them in a moment of despair, and divine Might shall rain down upon your foes!

You will taste defeat – it is inevitable – but each time you fall, you will retain the knowledge of your prison, your foes, and the arcane powers you have acquired.  Thus armed, you embark again on a desperate quest for freedom and redemption.  You were the First.  Now you are the Last.  This is your only Mission…

And you will not fail again.

What’s YOUR Story?

June 6, 2012



Special thanks to Hulo Films for the shoot/edit, and Tobias Tinker for the tunes!


April 9, 2012



As promised, it’s time for our first Transmedia Case Study (TCS).  In this bi-weekly series, I’ll be digging into a recognizable Big Media property – a major film, broadcast TV show, published book series, AAA videogame, popular comic book, indy/cult hit, or even a beloved consumer brand – and evaluating the effectiveness of its transmedia campaign.  To get things rolling, let’s start with an example of transmedia done right.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…GAME OF THRONES.

It’s a property close to my heart.  I read the first book in the early 90’s, and George R.R Martin’s fascinating tale of political intrigue, medieval warfare, and ‘mature fantasy’ captured me in its singular gravity.  Sadly, ‘life’ got in the way (as it so often does), and with no widespread Internets to keep abreast of series developments, A Song of Ice and Fire fell off the narrative radar.  But my time in Westeros would not be forgotten…

Flash-forward nearly 20 years.

I caught wind of the show going into development at HBO in 2007.  My biggest concern – you know, aside from the obvious ‘How the Hell are they going to pull off the sheer scope on TV???’ – was with audience awareness.  Sure, the books were best-sellers – and ‘fantasy’ had gotten a much-needed boost thanks to Tolkien going mainstream – but what about the masses? How were they going to reach the kind of audience numbers that would keep a show like this on the air, justify the hefty per-episode budgets, and make it must-see appointment television?

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April 8, 2012



The following strip was floated on a pal’s Facebook this morning:

The glorious absurdity of it immediately struck me, so I made a playful (yet completely throwaway) comment, as I often do when cat wackiness is involved.

Within a few hours, some of my friends were commenting on the picture – one which I hadn’t officially ‘shared’ yet.  Another friend one-upped the absurdity quotient by saying, “This needs to be a religion…”.  I joked back that it would make the perfect stained glass window in our future church.

A few hours later, an old associate from my game industry days posted this:

Mind = Blown.

And immediately, I smell a meme.

We’ll see where this goes…

The Future of Love..?

March 21, 2012



Gamers Get Girls
Created by: Online University


July 28, 2011


Here’s my latest iPhone short-film montage from San Diego Comic Con:  IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN SAN DIEGO…

Featuring the trancey goodness of Broken Saints composer Tobias Tinker!


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