Last Night in Austin

The Alamo Drafthouse is one of Austin’s current cultural treasures. I saw a Swedish film from this year’s Fantastic Fest over the weekend, called Let the Right One In, and I loved it. Avoid spoilers, but definitely check it out. Alternately dark and touching, creepy and sweet.

I went with my standard Drafthouse meal…no experimentation this time: White wine, hotwings, hummus with pita chips. I’d just shaved and–in the dark–ended up with hotwing sauce all over my face. Note to self: Avoid hotwings on days that you shave. Face. On. Fire.

In gaming news, I finally got the card game Zombie Flux, and I’m excited about trying it out soon.

I’m still playing Spore and Civilization Revolution…I hope to write up some comments on both soon. I tried to play Just Cause and couldn’t get into it at all.

Last Night in Austin

The Alamo Drafthouse showed the 1984 film Streets of Fire last night, bringing in two of the actors: Michael Paré and Deborah Van Valkenburgh.

When I was a kid, I loved this (super melodramatic) movie and the associated music. Seeing Streets of Fire again was great and the event was made more fun by the cast member Q&A.

As usual, my camera-phone photography is atrocious and might blind you.

As a followup, the Drafthouse screened the Road to Hell, a short film based loosely on Streets of Fire. I respect the efforts of any group of creative people, but the short film seemed to misunderstand the emotions and concepts behind Streets of Fire. The basic idea is great: Driving along a seemingly endless desert road, two women come across a man who seems adrift…haunted by some obsession from his past. For me, the entire idea was wrecked by the depiction of the women as psychotic travelers and Tom Cody from Streets of Fire as a man who has lost his mind and has become a savage killer. This is a fine direction for a film, but it just seems like a project completely unrelated to Streets of Fire.

I’d love to see a graphic novel or short film that sticks to the themes and tone of the original. If they’d broken down at an abandoned refinery or a blue collar ghost town at the edges of some place that seemed like some mythic NYC, it might have worked better. In the version I want to see, the two women (one angry, one always dreaming of what she can’t have) come across Tom Cody. He’s unsure of where he is, lost and out of touch with the world because of his obsession with Ellen Aim, trapped in some place that doesn’t exist. Streets of Fire meets King’s the Gunslinger, or Streets of Fire–the post-movie Twilight Zone episode. This seems like it might be closer to a world scored by Jim Steinman. Lost boys and golden girls.

Austin GDC ’08

It’s been a rough year for Austin game studios. Lots of upheaval. Some people have been affected adversely by project cancellations and layoffs, while others are staffing up, excited about the coming years. This seems cyclic to me, but there’s definitely been a lot of chaos, in Austin and elsewhere. I’m eternally optimistic, because I know that the desire to play (and design) games will never go; everything else, including “the industry,” is a distant second to that primal drive.

I’m excited by projects here at Arkane Studios and I’m hopeful for games underway at other independent Austin companies: Certain Affinity, Edge of Reality, King’s Isle, Blazing Lizard, Pixel Mine (who just got nominated for a couple of awards, I think), etc. There are a few interesting startups in the background too, coming soon. Larger companies like Nintendo, Disney (Warren’s group), and Bioware hold great promise, and I’ve even got high hopes for (ex-Deus Ex designer) Ricardo Bare’s project at Midway.

Because of the year we’ve had, I’m hoping that Austin GDC will be exciting and reflective this year; a bunch of smart people coming together to network, socialize, share ideas and debate the process of not just shipping games, but making games great.

I’m giving a career-track talk aimed at new people coming into games now, at a time when no one knows what the industry will look like in 5 years.

There’s a charge in the air…is it the imminent hurricane or is it something else, generated by passion… by people who love what they do, who want to pick themselves up and charge the hill again?