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Meet Khris Brown
Our guest speaker this week was Khris Brown, a veteran game dev and bundle of positive energy who has worked on such illustrious games as the Monkey Island series, and now leads the whole Narrative Talent Group at Ubisoft Montreal!
Khris is passionate about storytelling in games and her eyes shine when she talks about bringing players together, giving them a real and meaningful experience. Her one-word mantra for everyone to take home was: PERSEVERE. Some people will make games for the money or the lulz, but the only people who are still making games after 20 years are the ones who love the medium as an art form, and who persevere past being a noob. Giving up won’t make you more skilled, but NOT giving up just might!
She also read aloud excerpts from a children’s book illustrator’s award acceptance speech, which went roughly like this:
Before I was lucky enough to get into doing picture books full time, I worked in animation studios, which is another lucky job to have. My job there mostly was to help design sets and props that they would build in 3-D for the movie. One time we were having a meeting to go over ideas for a set we had to do of an old dusty bar, and we were talking about other old dusty bars we’d seen that we could reference.
One of the guys said, “You know which movie had a great old bar kind of like the one we want? There Will Be Blood. There’s a scene where he brings his brother to a brothel and it’s this big, dingy place made of gray old wood and it’s dimly lit and not too ornate” And we all are nodding, going, “Yeah, that WAS a great bar — old mason jars and no rugs on the floors or anything, just like what we’re going for.”
So we all agree this warrants a screening of that part of the film, and we meet up later and put it in the DVD player, notepads on our laps and everything, and we get to the scene, and it’s one shot. It’s a close-up of the main character leaning against a barely visible wall, the sounds of a bar and glasses and crass laughing in the background, and it lasts for about twenty seconds, and it’s done. That’s the whole bar scene.
We couldn’t believe it. Collectively, we had built in our minds a five-minute-long scene and an entire bar set around twenty seconds of close-up footage. I bet if we had been asked to draw the bar we had in our heads before we re-watched the movie and saw that there was actually no bar, we would’ve come up with almost the same place.
In the stories we seem to remember most, we’re given a certain set of ingredients to start us off, and then we’re let loose to build on them and let them affect us and use what we know and what we’ve felt, and we tie the whole experience together into one thing, without a separation between what the story gave us and what we ourselves brought to it.
Where this gets the most interesting is when the things being suggested aren’t landscapes or dusty bar sets but emotional experiences.
Neither the author nor the illustrator is ever actually working on exactly what is going to be taken away by the reader. The negative space between them, the shape of that, is the story, and it exists only when it’s being put together by the reader as they go through it. This idea that readers put these things together themselves seems like a bit of a lonely one.
The less explicit a story is, the more it counts on us to bring our unique experiences to it in order to fill it in. This seems to mean that everybody’s impression of a story must be different, and nobody’s really seeing the same thing. But I keep running into examples where it’s much less lonely than that.
This medium works best when it’s most suggestive, when it gives us the freedom to walk around and fill in these things on our own. But what’s amazing about this is, given all that freedom to be on our own and make these stories personal to us alone, we end up meeting each other anyway. We can’t help it, and there’s something hugely hopeful about that.
All warm and fuzzy now? Excellent! Time to work ON YOUR GAME!
A Scary Deadline Approaches!
Take note, Pixelles and Follow Alongs! You only have until FEBRUARY 25th!!! You must send us your executable game file(s) on that day to be considered for the showcase! Which reminds me…
Announcing the Showcase
We’re going to be showing off all of the Pixelles games to the public at Execution Labs, in celebration of this burst of creativity and confidence! Come play the games, meet the Pixelles, eat some snacks, and schmooze with other game makers!
- When: Saturday March 9th, 7pm to 9:30pm
- Where: 3863 Boul Saint-Laurent, Suite 206
- Who: Bring everyone! Because EVERYONE should make a game!
Watch out for a proper blog post, with a Facebook event you can spam your friends with, etc etc.
Your homework this week is to continue working on your game! There’s only 1 more session left and it’s up to you to take the reigns and develop your game further. Be realistic. Think about what can you do in the remaining time. Is this thing I’m stuck on really all that important? Can I simplify this game goal and expand on it later when I have more time? Don’t be afraid to scrap your idea and start over. Or even switch tools. It happens and you just may be happier with your second try.
Don’t hesitate to send us any questions, ask for feedback, or bounce ideas. We love your e-mails and tweets! We are: firstname.lastname@example.org or @pixellesmtl