Steve Peters

Experience Design

Partitions, Producers and Platform Independence

Yeah, so obligatory blog apology about being too busy to blog, yada yada blah blah shmow shmow. Well, I'm reeling from a catastrophic computer failure last night that left me with the fun day of reinstalling windows and every application I have today. I was trying to partition my main drive last night, and the computer did what all computers love to do if you wait long enough: Prove To You That It Is In Fact They Who Are Overlords Of You And Not The Other Way Around. Yep, some glitch during the repartitioning left me with an unusable hard drive. Had to reformat and reinstall WinXP.

Fortunately for me, I'd finally gotten around to getting myself an external firewire drive to backup all my data on, so I didn't lose the most important stuff: finances, family photos, etc. It sucks for sure, but it could've definitely been worse.

Took advantage of the situation to give myself a partition to install the beta of Windows Vista in, to see what that's all about. Bottom line, it's pretty, but SLOW and BUGGY, but hey, that's why it's beta, right?

Seeing as it's the first weekend of summer, my daughter and I went to Hollywood video to get a weekend's worth of DVDs, since it's so hot during the day you can't really actually DO anything around here. One of the movies we picked up was The Producers, which I'd already seen in the theater.

Bottom line on that is that it's one of the few movies ever to make me laugh so hard and often that my sides hurt. It really is that funny, at least to me. Mel Brooks is really a master of comedy, as far as I'm concerned. He knows when to go over the top, and when to be subtle, which is so rare nowadays.

Best laugh in the film for me came over the credits, which I'm sure most people weren't around for in the theaters. Will Farrell does a Celine Dionesque version of Der Gutan Tag Hop-Clop that had me in tears, wheezing. From the David Foster-ish arrangement to the Titanic Irish Whistle during the big key change, it was a masterful satire of the whole "gotta put a hit song over the credits, regardless of if it fits the rest of the movie style-wise" thing. If you have the DVD, don't miss it, and don't miss the final song after the credits, either.

Finally, Sean Stewart updated his site to include a really great article on Alternate Reality Gaming, which includes a list of what he thinks the Hallmarks of an ARG are. Very interesting read, for those of you interested in such things, and you know who you are.

For me, he was able to finally quantify something that I'd been unable to figure out, precisely. From his article:

“For both the Beast and I Love Bees, we refused to do interviews under our own names until very near the end. It's OK to see the name of a book's author on the cover—but imagine how jarring it would be if periodically the actual narrative of your Napoleonic era sea story was interrupted by someone reminding you it had been written by a little old lady named Doris who lived in a condo in Tampa and liked Siamese cats.

When there is no frame around a story, you have to be really careful about reminding the audience that it is, after all, "just" a story... “

Finally! All along I thought I was just being weird, or purist, or eliteist or something. It always bugged me when Puppetmasters (ARG developers) were so blatantly out from behind the curtain before and/or during their game, and I know many players have felt this way as well. Now I know why, as this makes perfect sense. It'd be like watching a film, and every 10 minutes they cut to a shot of the director telling you something about how he made this scene, or what it means, or something about his life.

Because ARGs typically take place on a "Platform Independent" stage, coming at us from all the normal channels of communication that we use every day in our lives, it totally ruins it when the puppetmasters are interviewed, or blog, or whatever, as it's taking place in the same space as their creation.

Does that make sense? It does to me, now. Totally.