In 2005 I joined GameTap as the VP of Content. My job was to manage all the game licensing, original content production, and overall content strategy. One of my favorite parts of the job was the GameTap TV component. The idea behind it was to create video content that would expose users to games they may not have heard of or played by using video programming. It worked for the most part. We would create “pull” content like animated shorts or celebrity segments, and wrap game promos or game related programming around them.
The content we created ran the gamut from documentaries to game shows to news programs.
We even won several Emmys! (Tomb Raider and GameTap News)
ReVisioned: Activision 2600
After a year in the can, finally released via YouTube! Credits on the series include Mark Waid and Christos Gage. Dave Foley, Ed Begley Jr., and Nicole Sullivan provide the voice talent.
ReVisioned: Tomb Raider
An animated series based on, yes, Tomb Raider. We roped in mega comic luminaries like Warren Ellis, Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Gail Simone, Brian Pulido, and a bunch of others. 10 episodes of Tomb Raider goodness. Below is a YouTube playlist of all 10 episodes. Pirated of course. :-)
10 Years of Tomb Raider
I really loved working on this one. A globe spanning 10 part web documentary/1 hour broadcast doc, on Lara Croft. Coolest parts? Getting the live action Lara Croft actresses together for a latex clad photo shoot and seeing the Lara über fans. All 9 webisodes and the model shoot out takes below.
Arguably the most comprehensive documentary on the blue hedgehog, EVAR!
Mini-Doc-In-A-Box. Basically mini-documentaries on series or career spanning subjects. Some great ones on Castlevania, Metal Slug and Street Fighter.
An even Minier-Doc-In-A-Box. Less spanning, more fun, than Retrospectives, but some great stories. We did one on Lord British that was AWESOME! Also some good ones on Yar’s Revenge and Psychonauts.
This little gem was from the fine folks at Soup2Nuts, the people that did Home Movies on [adult swim]. A bunch of geeky, funny vignettes about a, yes, computer lab. My role was mainly, “Yes, I like that” or “No, I don’t like that” but it exists because of ME! Ha ha ha ha!
Day in the Extra Life
To be fair, I didn’t come up with the idea for this. Our ad agency did. But I got to produce a bunch of ’em! Fun fun.
Part of my gig at GameTap was working on the game licensing and original game development strategy. I had the pleasure of working with a bunch of cool folks and helping along some ground breaking games. My role on all these titles was, at a minimum, the exec in charge at GameTap.
Uru was originally an MMO title in development by Cyan Worlds, creators of Myst, for Ubisoft. Ubi had second thoughts though, and the game was released as a single player title. Big fan disappointment and an underground effort to keep the dream alive via open source server code that re-created the beta MMO experience.
Years pass and I had the opportunity to green light the re-birth of the game the way Rand Miller, the creator, originally intended. My influence was to push the content releases into an episodic format, so that gameplay updates were released on a regular schedule.
Sadly, even the second time around, we couldn’t quite make it work and the world was shut down a second time. The sordid history can be found here.
Sam & Max are a sociopathic detective duo of dog and rabbity-thing created by Steve Purcell. As a comic, it had a huge underground following. As an animated series, a less hardcore, but stil dedicated following. As a LucasArts adventure game called Sam & Max Hit the Road, well, they achieved legendary status.
After LucasArts abandoned their plans for a sequel, Tell Tale Games picked up the franchise. They were already working in episodic formats, though not quite the way I needed content delivered, and the prospect of bringing back S&M in episodic format was too alluring to pass up. So GameTap funded development and was co-publisher of two seasons of the game. I think I had an Exec Producer credit or something, but my real contribution was to drive the idea of a monthly release with a pre-published schedule.
Katamari Damacy meets American McGee’s Alice in 24, half hour installments. A bold experiment in art, gameplay, and delivery method. And to my mind, a hugely addictive game. I had some small influence on gameplay (very small) but established some of the tenants of delivery, including releasing the game in three mini-seasons and releasing each game for free for 24 hours to promote interest and site traffic. Working with American was a huge plus.
One of the most interesting things I got to work on wasn’t a specific game, it was a way to deliver games, episodically, like a tv show. I came up with some rules, each episode is of relatively short duration, each episode stands alone but is part of a larger whole, and episodic games had to be delivered on a published schedule. Seems obvious, but no “episodic” games followed these rules prior to Sam & Max Season 1.