Your thoughts on the feature film documentary, "W00t!: The Videogame Revolution"

Bill Loguidice's picture

As you may know, Matt and I are writing and producing a feature film documentary for Lux (pronounced "Loox") Digital Pictures with the working title of "W00t!: The Videogame Revolution". It will essentially be a roughly 90 minute+ film on videogame (and computer) history with a fair amount of emphasis on some of the greatest and most influential games of all time, a la our book, "Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time". As you may also know, we will be conducting interviews with industry pros for the documentary at the Game Developers Conference 2009 (GDC 09) in San Francisco, where we'll be March 22 - 28. I'm happy to say we already have a nice mix of talent to interview, including some true legends that many of us know and love. What I'd like to hear from our amazingly intelligent and attractive readership is what exactly you'd like to see in an "ultimate videogame documentary". In other words, what would be your ideal content for such a picture? You were all a big help making the "Vintage Games" book so special, so I'd really love to hear your thoughts on what would make a great film. Now is the time to voice your opinion, as Matt and I will be getting down to serious content generation very, very soon. Thanks, everyone!

Comments

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Update on "Wii Fit for Dummies" and interviews book

In related news, Christina and I successfully came to an agreement on the table of contents and finished a sample chapter (Chapter 07 - Strength Training) for "Wii Fit for Dummies". It looks like despite the tight schedule and several other projects going on, "Wii Fit for Dummies" is right on track for a June completion and an October 2009 release.

Matt and I will have more info for you on the interviews book after we get back from GDC 09...

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
Grats, Bill. It's amazing

Grats, Bill. It's amazing that you are working on that project with all this other stuff going on. Your house must look like a printshop!

I've been working on the treatment off and on as I get a chance. I plan to do a bunch more on it this weekend. What I'd love to do is actually combine two books; our first one (history of the platforms) and the second one (Vintage Games). So, you'd end up with a nice history of both the hardware and the software, with the personalities of the developers/commentators thrown in for spice. That to me would be an intoxicating brew indeed.

Still working on getting the right tone though. I'm thinking of something with some punch but also not skimpy on detail. Obviously, we will be going for accuracy here.

n/a
Rowdy Rob
Rowdy Rob's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/04/2006
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice wrote:

[...]"Wii Fit for Dummies". It looks like despite the tight schedule and several other projects going on, "Wii Fit for Dummies" is right on track for a June completion and an October 2009 release.

Daggone.... JUNE?!!?! That seems like a very short window for such a book.

Bill Loguidice wrote:

What I'd like to hear from our amazingly intelligent and attractive readership is what exactly you'd like to see in an "ultimate videogame documentary". In other words, what would be your ideal content for such a picture?

Since your project is only a vague concept to those of us "in the dark," it's hard to know what direction you are going with this movie, and thus hard to give a specific "wish list." Keep in mind that we, the "common people," haven't even read "Vintage Games" yet, which your documentary is apparently based on!

Perhaps the main thing I hope you touch on is the JOY that videogames brought to our generation. There would be no "Armchair Arcade," and thus no "Vintage Games" or "Woot!" if you guys didn't feel the joy, but the non-game-geek masses also felt the joy too! While not without controversy, the videogame revolution brought a new type of fun to the masses.

It might be fun if you occasionally show clips (montages?) of casual people enjoying the fruits of their labor. It would be nice to see a "payoff" of these programmers' hard work in the form of gamers enjoying their games. I don't know how you'd do that, but it's just an idea.

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Vague because it can change to suit our needs
Rowdy Rob wrote:

Daggone.... JUNE?!!?! That seems like a very short window for such a book.

Indeed it is. If it weren't a "For Dummies" book and my wife couldn't take the lead on it, I would have passed. The "For Dummies" books are incredibly structured and require a great deal of discipline to write in their format. It's not pleasant, but their books are a success for a reason, I suppose, as people know exactly what they're getting. Anyway, it's a bit shorter than we originally pitched it as last year, so the writing will be less (it will be roughly 224 pages, inclusive of images). On the plus side, it's another full color book.

If Matt and I go through with the interviews book, we'll only have roughly until the end of September, though that should be relatively straightforward.

Bill Loguidice wrote:

What I'd like to hear from our amazingly intelligent and attractive readership is what exactly you'd like to see in an "ultimate videogame documentary". In other words, what would be your ideal content for such a picture?

Rowdy Rob wrote:

Since your project is only a vague concept to those of us "in the dark," it's hard to know what direction you are going with this movie, and thus hard to give a specific "wish list." Keep in mind that we, the "common people," haven't even read "Vintage Games" yet, which your documentary is apparently based on!

Perhaps the main thing I hope you touch on is the JOY that videogames brought to our generation. There would be no "Armchair Arcade," and thus no "Vintage Games" or "Woot!" if you guys didn't feel the joy, but the non-game-geek masses also felt the joy too! While not without controversy, the videogame revolution brought a new type of fun to the masses.

It might be fun if you occasionally show clips (montages?) of casual people enjoying the fruits of their labor. It would be nice to see a "payoff" of these programmers' hard work in the form of gamers enjoying their games. I don't know how you'd do that, but it's just an idea.

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Those are great thoughts, Rob. I didn't give more detail because there really isn't more detail at this point. It is more or less going to be what I said it would be - a look at the complete history of the videogame industry. The online Pong bonus chapter from "Vintage Games" should give you an idea of what we're going for from a historical standpoint, and the focus, like in "Vintage Games", will be more on the software than the hardware, though certainly the hardware will be featured - as well as key historical events - that are not found in that book. It's technically NOT based on "Vintage Games", but "Vintage Games" - particularly the game list - will provide a solid blueprint to guide our path. Again, the comments that you made are all I was really looking for. I'm terribly curious what would make a good film to someone such as yourself outside of the usual production values stuff. In your case, it's convey the "fun" and show how it's relevant to "regular" people. Makes good sense to me.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/31/2008
Ask "Why?"

Rob covered a few things I wanted to say - He mentioned that we haven't read "Vintage Games" yet. Reading that book would give us some perspective and direction for gathering our thoughts and ideas on a documentary. Rob also mentioned that we are in the dark on this one. I keep returning to the top of this blog entry and asking myself, "what *exactly* are they doing again?"

I am not sure if you guys are aiming to make "Vintage Games, The Movie. Starring: John Moschitta, Jr." I would assume that you will draw quite a bit from your book, and I recommend you continually ask yourselves, "How can we use video to help better communicate the points we wish to make?" What does the video let you do in a few seconds that may have taken many words in the book?

On a more specific note, I would recommend you try and answer the question of "why?" when making the documentary. I've seen many documentaries in recent years on various things. These were mostly behind the scenes type content on DVDs. These productions will oftentimes simply state the obvious in a well-edited and narrated matter. While that makes for a professionally made DVD extra, it neglects the two important things I want to experience when taking the time to watch a documentary - Insight and simply "getting to the heart" of the manner.

Take Super Mario Bros. I assume you guys are going to cover this. You would most likely mention Miyamoto, and I figure you would also mention composer Koji Kondo. You might mention a small bit of history, the video game crash in America, its inclusion with the Nintendo toaster-VCR console that took America by storm - I don't know. What I would consider an important part of a documentary on Super Mario Bros is asking and explaining "why" the game worked so well. You guys know the facts in addition to your own opinions. I'll interject my opinions here as an example to how I would answer this "why" question.

The most intangible aspect of videogames that cannot be easily described in words, on paper or in a video is ironically that which is most tangible when experiencing the games firsthand - The controls. Super Mario Bros took the Famicom/NES pad along with the music, physics, and overall simplicity and created a gaming experience that could be shared by many. A player could work at their own pace. Hold the B button down the entire time or take it slow by inching forward with the D-pad? Jumping speed was variable. Mario's jumps had a bit of hang time, and that gave the player some precious "oh no!" seconds so he could correct a mistake. I am only scratching the surface of some topics here, not explaining in great detail, and certainly not pairing it with a video containing SMB footage and a narrative. Most people that watch the video are going to know of the plumber in overalls, the Mario Mania of the day and other such things, but the juicy details are what will hold interest. Perhaps the play control of SMB is one of them.

So long as the video has good flow to it between the points, details, footage, and narration, I think you guys are going to create something that is absolutely dynamite. If I may make one last suggestion, try to be aware of when it is necessary to explain something as a person in front of a camera vs. narrating on video. I believe a person's ability to listen and cogitate is drastically altered when he is listening to someone standing in front of the camera talking directly to him vs watching video while listening to someone explain a concept. If you were to explain how to play a certain "scene" in a game, something like Matt Chat works quite well. However, if you are going into detail about controls, physics, etc, it might be best to give a brief explanation of something you are about to show off by talking to the camera before you do it so you do not lose your viewers. It's too easy to get caught up in eye candy and completely miss the point the video is attempting to make. "Was he talking about physics or something just now? I was watching the goomba walk across the screen." It sounds silly, but it happens.

You guys can obviously judge the best way to do things - narrate over video here or do a brief introduction before showing footage? It's a decision based upon the subject at hand. Having a good synergy between multiple styles of presentation for your games as well as knowing a good way to segue between each will help keep your viewers interested. You have plenty of quality games to talk about. Just remember that it isn't only about what notes you use, it is also about how the orchestra plays them that helps create success.

n/a
Calibrator
Offline
Joined: 10/25/2006
I know it's only a working title, but...

In German TV we had four entertainment shows (music, comedy & dance) with a single theme for each one. They were called "Bang! The Western Show", "Scream! The Horror Show" and so on - complete with fitting costumes, stages and music etc.
They already reserved the name rights for about 20 more but the four had a low viewing rate and the series was ended prematurely (thankfully).

Your working title "W00t!: The Videogame Revolution" reminds me very much of that ;-)

First of all I would refrain from using internet catchprases in the title if you don't want to alienate the "non-professional" audience.
"Revolution" sounds a bit trite, too. A person not really knowing videogames doesn't even know there was one and you would have to convince him on the backside description.

Gamers often "misunderestimate" the impact of games on non-gaming people. The latter haven't the slightest clue what impact they had (into other fields like virtual reality), how they are/were being made, how they advanced and what people are the major players. The don't even know how much money is being made with them and that it rivals that of music and movies.
I can't imagine a person completely unaware and uninterested in video games buying/seeing such a film but there is a large group thanks to Nintento: The Wii clientele.
Imagine a person having bought a Wii and using it lot. He/She begins to taste the world of freedom/interactivity such a device opens up. Then he/she *may* get interested how it all came into being and see your film advertised somewhere - what title should it have to get him/her interested? (All the other geeks would be interested anyway.)

Alternatives?

What is your main focus? The games or the impact they have made? The interviews or the narrative? What timeframe is the most prominent: The beginning of video games with the 8-bit age or - like the book - equally distributed to where we are now? How much detail on the games will you have?

take care,
Calibrator

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
All valid and valuable

All valid and valuable thoughts, guys, thanks. I too have some reservations about the title being too insider, but it seems to have stuck, so it certainly may be the final title (at least the "W00t!" part), though the subtitle will surely change.

Right now the film will likely be a narrated story with no onscreen persona(s) other than the interview subjects. You'll get lots of video clips of the games in action and era-specific stock footage, as well as other appropriate inserts. Keep in mind that this is an indie film, so, while professional, there is not the budget to do extensive field work.

We've been told our Directory of Photography for the GDC 09 shoot will be Mike Bratkowski (www.bratkowski.us), who has done some fine work.

I envision talking about the entire history of our industry in a logical and fairly linear manner with lots of discussions of the important games and their various impacts. Of course things like the crash and shifts in consumer preference will need to be covered, as well as periods when certain genres rose and then fell in popularity. That will certainly evolve as we get more ideas and right the thing over time.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
I'm to the point now where I

I'm to the point now where I can see the movie in my head (and hear it as well), but obviously a lot of this won't come together until post-production. I'm 99% positive, for instance, that our script will change as we work to integrate interview material or discover that some footage just doesn't work, etc.

I really liked CKRtech's suggestions about balancing narrated and hosted material. I'm not sure if Bill or I had thought much about actually being in this ourselves, but I've kept the possibility open for situations exactly like that D-Pad segment you brought up. It'd certainly be..er, handy, to have that demonstrated rather than just a still shot of a controller. Indeed, I think most situations involving a "still shot" might be better with some type of demonstration footage, provided it's done well and not cheesy or amateurish looking.

I also agree about not having the whole thing be 100% eye candy. If we're trying to get across a difficult topic, cut back on the visuals and maybe just show a talking head, still shot, anything that won't be too distracting from the message. On the other hand, I'd convinced that it's usually better to show rather than tell, so if we can somehow get across the "message" in visuals, that's better than just putting up text/narrating something. Better to keep it simple on screen; if people want to dive deeper into complexity....buy the book! :)

This whole project is fascinating to me because my skills are in writing, using visuals only to supplement the text. Now I'm being asked to do the exact opposite. Challenging, but also exhilarating!

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Consistency
Matt Barton wrote:

I really liked CKRtech's suggestions about balancing narrated and hosted material. I'm not sure if Bill or I had thought much about actually being in this ourselves, but I've kept the possibility open for situations exactly like that D-Pad segment you brought up. It'd certainly be..er, handy, to have that demonstrated rather than just a still shot of a controller. Indeed, I think most situations involving a "still shot" might be better with some type of demonstration footage, provided it's done well and not cheesy or amateurish looking.

Either ourselves, an actor or a host would probably be prohibitive, simply because the only live recording scheduled - and likely in budget - will be the GDC 09 interviews. We'll have to work around that and then see as we get further along if something like that makes sense. It's all in the consistency of the HD filming...

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
It may be something as

It may be something as simple as having a close-up of someone's hands operating the d-pad controller. Not necessary to have a whole big host thing. I'm not seeing that as a big deal, just in a few key spots.

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.