Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Xbox One outrage is bullshit

Apparently Microsoft does give a shit.

If you feel offended or are outraged at the Xbox One announcement and proudly puff your chest out and cancel your pre-order and switch it to PS4. Congratulations to you.

Microsoft doesn't give a shit.

If you proudly hold on to your Xbox 360 games and want to play them for eternity and won't switch to a new console because you can't play your precious old games on it. Congratulations to you.

Microsoft doesn't give a shit.

If you lurk on the second market purchasing used games, or trading in your new games for used games or swap games with more than one friend consistently and you're outraged to learn that sharing with your friends is actually piracy and you won't switch to a system that doesn't allow it. Congratulations to you.

Microsoft doesn't give a shit.

Don't want a system that requires once every 24 hours to be connected to the internet to ensure publishers that people aren't ripping off their intellectual property? Can't stomach the notion that your precious privacy is somehow tied to a device that has to have some sort of connectivity to function yet proudly hold up your Android and shun The Man? Congratulation to you.

Microsoft doesn't give a shit.

For years I've been hoping for this to happen. As a Microsoft fan through and through, I've longed for the days where they adopted the Apple mantra of if you don't like it, don't fucking buy it.

You want the latest iOS for your $900 iPad you purchased three years ago? No. Fuck you.
You want to install iTunes on your four year old MacBook which didn't have an intel chip? Nope. Fuck you. Buy our new ones or don't use our systems.

You can't innovate or move forward if you're constantly supporting old systems. You can't create new and innovative systems if you need to keep supporting the past. Apple learned this a long time ago. Microsoft started to learn it recently. At some point you need to cut off support for Windows XP and force people to upgrade. At some point you can't allocate resources meant to push the envelope and instead are used to make sure a ten year old game works on a brand spanking new system.


People look at this as a money hungry corporation that won't let you play your precious old games on their new system when in reality the program is architecture. You wouldn't buy a PC game and expect it to run on a Mac would you? Sure your old PC games will work on any PC as long as you meet the requirements right? True. But Xbox 360 and Xbox One share only a name. The underlying core system is completely different.

How does PS4 handle this?

Either they're using a very similar chip, or they  built an emulator.
Why doesn't Microsoft use an emulator? Because, say it with me now:

Microsoft doesn't give a shit!

And I love it.

If you carry around a Smartphone that is always connected to a network, then you have no legs to stand on here. Seriously, you're a hypocrite if you have an iPhone or an Android and are complaining about a system which must "phone home" once a day.

You probably have had your Xbox 360 plugged into Ethernet or on your Wi-Fi network every single day you've owned the system. So, are you mad about the lack of choice? I mean, for what? I don't get it. I've yet to hear a single logical explanation to why this is a bad thing.

The only time this would be inconvenient is if your internet goes out from something other than a power outage. Then, yes you might not be able to play your games. But how often does your internet go out? If it goes out a lot, go with a different provider. If you can't, then, as Microsoft put it. Buy an Xbox 360. Some have seen that as a dick move. I see it as Microsoft embracing their inner Apple. "If you don't like it, fuck off."


I'm not a used game purchaser, so I can't really speak to this market. But I will say this.
This isn't a Microsoft decision. This is a game publisher decision and Microsoft embraced it probably to have more exclusives on their system. If you're a publisher and you can guarantee that your intellectual property isn't going to be rampantly ripped off, who are you going to go with?

Also, the one problem I see with the used game market is this.

When you buy a game, you are purchasing a license to play the game. You own the box, the disc, etc.. but you don't own the "game". You can sell your individual copy once.
The problem comes in when you sell that copy to someone else who is trying to make money off it. The original copyright holder doesn't get any royalties for that and that's not cool.


Here's the only place where I'm in somewhat agreement with everyone. The Kinect needs to be on for the system to work. The Kinect is a high resolution 1080p camera pointed right at you and your living room [or wherever you hook up your system]. That's scary to me. Considering what we've learned about the NSA's Prism program. 

While the Kinect is an amazing piece of technology which will possibly revolutionize gameplay and television watching, it's the scariest part of the Xbox One, and the thing most likely to be abused.


I pre-ordered the Xbox One.  They sold me at their first announcement showcasing all the things it could do with your television and cable system. They basically released a system which was everything I hoped the rumored Apple TV set would be. Granted, I'm assuming Apple has something up their sleeve, but with the gross looking iOS 7 reveal, I'm losing faith in Apple's ability to design sleek and visually appealing things. I used iOS 7 briefly and while the control center is wonderful, the thing looks like something an intern designed with MS Paint.

But that's neither here nor there.

If I were  a hardcore gamer who didn't give two shits about cable television or seeing my fantasy team updated while watching the Bears game, I'd go with a PS4. Seriously, if you game a lot you should buy a PS4. But if you're not part of that 5% of people, and you like watching cable TV and you like the idea of no longer requiring a remote control or memorizing channels, or if you realize that the Xbox One is now a platform and there is now a layer between that system and your television viewing experience and you realize what a group of clever developers could do in that "layer" then you, like me, will probably be intrigued enough to check out the Xbox One.

This talk about Sony winning the console wars is not only foolish but it's meaningless. Years ago MS knew that the desktop would be dead at some point and they needed to get into your living room. They needed to take over the entertainment hub of the average consumers household. They realized the quickest way would be through a gaming console.

Xbox was the start.

Xbox 360 won the console wars of the past due to better games, a cheaper price, an easier to develop on platform, and the ability to serve as a media streaming server.

Xbox One is probably the culmination of decades of planning on Microsoft's part. It's an entertainment system that happens to play games. 

Admittedly they had probably the worst PR week since the old days of bugs and PC-only viruses.
So, to those claiming the PS4 has already won this console war.

Congratulations to you.

Microsoft doesn't give a shit.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Writing a screenplay in one week: Day Four - Seven

Total Page count: 95

So much for writing this every day. This was actually a procrastination attempt that whenever I got stuck somewhere in the script I would just come here and write these blog entries.

But then I wasn't really getting stuck anymore and then other things happened.

What other things?

Well around page 60 we got word that maybe our entire premise wasn't going to work even though we had written a one page synopsis that outlined the entire premise and we got the go ahead to write the feature.

So that held up any writing for about a day or so. I wasn't going to keep writing if the entire thing needed to be scrapped. Well that turned out to be somewhat of a miscommunication/misunderstanding. So I asked that they come back with exactly what they were looking for out of this screenplay.

They came back with almost exactly what we had written. Almost. There were a few things here or there that were different, and I thought what we had written was a bit better or at least more current/topical. So I sent a very long breakdown of what we had written so far (the 60 pages) and they said they liked it and to keep going.

So around 5pm yesterday, June 7th, exactly seven days after starting, I came in around 95 pages.

I was shooting for 100-110, but 95 is still feature length and it still gives us room to add more if need be. Also, for something that will probably have a relatively low budget ( less than 1 million ) the less pages the better as it would cut down on the shooting days.

Writing a feature length script in one week isn't remarkable. There are some people who can write one in an even shorter amount of time, however even at one week it needs work. I'm sure there are sub plots we could add or explore, scenes which probably run long and many, many other things. But one week is still a pretty quick turn around.

So what did I do to just get through it?

Well, getting through it is the important part. As I've noted before, until it's actually on paper and an actual thing, you don't have shit. It's an idea and no one gives a fuck about your idea. I mean, they do, but they can't buy your idea.

I don't do a lot of prep work. Most of the prep work I do in my head. Louise CK has mentioned this as well that he'll "write" in his head for 3 months, then just puke it out on the page in a 3 or 4 day writing binge.  That's basically my style as well.

So I suppose the point I'm trying to make is you need to just keep writing. If you get "stuck" at any part just write through it. If you know what the next scene is going to be, just go write that. I know John August does this method. He'll actually write out of order. If he knows the scene that takes place that sends us into Act 3, even though he's just written the setup, then he'll go write that. I sorta did that as I knew exactly what I wanted the final images to be as it contrasted with the opening shot. So I wrote that way ahead of time.  That's another big thing.


If you don't know how the movie ends, don't start writing. I've got about 10 scripts on my hard drive that range from a few pages to 30 to 40 pages that just sit there going nowhere. Why? Probably because I had no idea what the ending was going to be when I started writing. The ending is so important becuase it lets you know how to start.

Another rule I try to follow on first drafts is to not go back and revise. At least don't do it yourself. You'll never finish if you do that. On this project, I co-wrote it with my brother so I had him review pages as I wrote them and then asked him to think about future scenes we needed and to write them. He writes everything in novel form and I'll take what he has and translate it to screenplay format. But while I was cranking out 10 to 20 pages per day I would send him the latest pages and he'd go through it and write notes or suggestions. I often didn't read these right away as I'd just get stuck in the previous pages and not move forward.

Again the key is, MOVE FORWARD!

I think it was day five or six where I finally went through about six pages of his notes and cleaned up the first 80 pages or so.

Today, we are going to read the script out loud which can help you find things that just don't make any sense and do a final polish before sending it to the producer for their review.

Good times.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing a screenplay in one week: Day Three

Pages 20-30.

Still keeping pace. 10 pages per day.

I already realize I'm about 5-10 pages too long right now.  But it's a bad idea to start going back when writing the first draft because if you keep editing what you're writing you'll never finish.

Draft One is a sprint. Get it down on paper as fast as possible with at least some coherence. I realized I was getting better at this when my first drafts sucked less and less.

I've run out of episodes of Generation Kill to procrastinate with.

I was hoping to come in at around 90 pages just to give the minimum length screenplay given the time frame. Right now I think I'll come in long. 110-120. At least the first draft. Ideally I like to hit 105-110 or less.

Anything less than 100 and some people think you're not trying. Anything over 110 and it seems a bit long. As someone who despises reading screenplays, if I see a script is 90 pages I'm thrilled. I think most producers are like me. They don't like to read them either. It's a chore. Granted sometimes you get a real gem but about 98.2% of the time it's awful. I know. I've written plenty of awful scripts.

Anyway, draft one is 1/3 of the way done.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Writing a screenplay in one week: Day Two

The goal is ten pages per day. I could go over obviously, but a minimum of 10 pages per day which will let me deliver a 90 page screenplay in about a week.

Granted I'd like to have more than 90 pages, but 90 pages is feature length and that's what they've asked for.

Pages 10-20 were a bit harder than I had anticipated. Actually they weren't "hard", I just couldn't find a groove to write them. I knew what I wanted the scenes to consist of and I knew what the characters needed to do, I just couldn't write more than a few words before browsing YouTube or watching more episodes of Generation Kill.

But I got there. Around 11pm I got to page 21.

One of my favorite aspects about writing is what you discover as you're writing. Quentin Tarantino once commented about the Hans Landa character in Inglorious Basterds being a linguist savant. That never occurred to him while outlining or thinking about the character - it only came to him when he was writing the scenes.

I assume this happens to every writer, but it's one of the things I love about writing and one of the things I'm never able to capture during the treatment, or outline or synopsis part of development.

Anyway, learned a lot about these characters in the 10 pages I wrote. Hopefully it resonates and hopefully it sticks.

I'm not a big fan of the script yet, but I think it's getting there.