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The Kingkiller Chronicle is Coming to Every Dang Where

Our schedule gets pretty intense around here sometimes. Case in point, last week was so chock full of new releases that we only squeezed our Once Upon a Time post in on Friday. And while we intend to make that the new normal, it meant that one bit of news got bumped.

Kingkiller Chronicle

Patrick Rothfuss “The name of the wind” © Bragelonne by Marc Simonetti

The Hollywood Reporter and Patrick Rothfuss himself simultaneously reported that Lionsgate had acquired the option for The New York Times bestselling series The Kingkiller Chronicle. Apparently without a hint of self consciousness, it’s a deal of three parts. The product will be developed simultaneously for film, television, and video games.

The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

Studios have been approaching Rothfuss since before The Name of the Wind debuted in 2007. For years he declined to sell. However, in 2013 he apparently found some kindred spirits at New Regency Productions. Developed for television by Eric Heisserer, distributed by 20th Century Fox, and purchased by NBC in 2014, Kingkiller was billed thusly:

On the night of his sixteenth birthday, KVOTHE bears witness to the slaughter of his parents and the rest of the traveling troupe of stage performers that had been his family. The murderers are THE CHANDRIAN, a group of powerful villains straight out of folklore, hundreds of years old and thought to be nothing more than a myth. Kvothe’s need for vengeance is forged that night, but as he embarks on the long and arduous path of training and study to defeat the Chandrian, Kvothe learns there are no shortcuts to power, and his impatience for answers will make him hunted by the very forces he’s desperate to destroy.

Heisserer left the project in January of this year. And the option lapsed right before SDCC 2015. On his blog, Rothfuss talks about a series of meetings with major studios culminating in an amusing paraphrased exchange with Lionsgate.

Rothfuss: “If you came at me with a pitch that involved a television show AND a movie, I’d listen to that. I’d listen really hard, because something like that would let us be big-budget while still giving my story room to breathe. It would give people the ability to spend more time in my world. I can’t think of anyone who has really done that, but it seems like we could have the best of both worlds that way. And it seems to me that you guys are one of the only places that could realistically pull something like that off.”

Lionsgate:  “About that whole TV-show-and-a-movie thing you mentioned. If we’re going to do some sort of big narratively intertwined multi-platform development deal based on your books, wouldn’t it make more sense to do a video game along with the TV show and movies? Because seriously, why wouldn’t we want to do a video game too?”

Rothfuss: “What?”

They signed a deal. Nobody’s mentioned how long Lionsgate has to realize their plans, yet. Erik Feig, Jeyun Choi Munford, and Jessica Switch will develop the film. Chris Selak and Peter Levin will develop the television series and game respectively. Robert Lawrence (Clueless, Die Hard with a Vengeance) will produce.

Rothfuss spoke in 2012 and 2013 about breaking the books up into an episodic format. Heisserer created a series bible for the entire trilogy. That medium seems solid. The author has stated that he doesn’t believe the books can be made into films. So that might be a stumbling block.

On the other hand, he is involved in Torment: Tides of Numenera. He suggested when he signed on that its success would increase the chances of a Kingkiller game getting made. I’ll leave you with a link to the hilarious vision he and longtime collaborator Nate Taylor for Kingkiller Online in 2011.

Kingkiller Online by Patrick Rothfuss and Nate Taylor

Ars LudiPage 1 : Page 2 : Page 3 Kingkiller Online by Patrick Rothfuss and Nathan Taylor

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Frozen Friday: Little Big Arendelle

Frozen Little Big Planet

This is breaking news, but it was news to me. We used to be avid, even hardcore, gamers. Like, we’d spend time between progression raids enjoying console titles. At the recommendation of some good friends, we checked out Little Big Planet and had a lot of fun. Like a lot of folks, we were enthralled by the costuming content as much as the gameplay.

So when I saw that Sony and Disney had released a Frozen-themed pack for Little Big Planet 3, I felt a tug on my heart. We’re calling this a hiatus. The period where our toddler’s motor skills and attention span develop to the point where we can all sit down and play together.

The character costumes – Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Sven – can be purchased separately or together with a bonus Olaf costume. So get that one. The Winter Creator Kit that allows you to recreate your favorite locations in Arendelle is a free download.

Frozen LBP shot


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Frozen Friday: Early Science

Disney ImagicademyYesterday, Disney Imagicademy announced the first of four new iOS apps intended to bring early science concepts to children three to five. Featuring characters from the beloved film, Frozen: Early Science – Cooking and Animal Care introduces toddlers to the phases of matter and life sciences.

The latter is presented by way of a a veterinary role playing scenario in which players raise and care for baby reindeer. Children will learn to respond to the animals’ basic needs and diagnose ailments. Essentially they’ll get a feel for what it takes to keep the reindeer happy and potentially apply that to themselves or their future pets.

The former comes in the form of a cooking game that offers the opportunity to help Oaken and Olaf prepare dishes for Queen Elsa. Dozens of ingredients and various kitchen tools allow players to experiment or follow recipes. In the meantime they’ll learn about the addition and subtraction of heat and moisture and observe water in its various states.

It sounds great and I’ll definitely show it to our toddler. Interest in screens is in a trough, but we hope to bring back a review as soon as we can. It’s available from iTunes for $6.99.

Frozen Early Science

Three more apps will roll out through July. Growing Garden will introduce botany. Ice Structures will encourage logic and reasoning with engineering and design. And Frozen Wilderness will explore ecosystems and zoology.

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Book Review: The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 by Brett Weiss

There have been many top 100 books before, but rarely one like this. Here are the best of the early video games, shown in over 400 color photos and described in incredible detail in the entertaining and informative text. Each game’s entry features production history, critical commentary, quotes from industry professionals, gameplay details, comparisons to other games, and more. This book celebrates the very best of the interactive entertainment industry’s games from this highly crucial, fondly remembered decade. This pivotal period was marked by the introduction of the indispensable Atari 2600, Odyssey2, and Intellivision, the unleashing of the underrated Vectrex, the mind-blowing debut of the next-gen ColecoVision and Atari 5200, plus the rebirth of the industry through Nintendo’s legendary juggernaut, the NES. Whether you’re young or old, new to the hobby or a hardcore collector, this book will introduce you to or remind you of some of the greatest, most historically important games ever made.

This is a masterwork of scholarship in a field we’re only beginning to recognize the need for.  While on the surface it looks like many other X best Y’s and while the average gamer might have her own list of ten or even twenty, Brett Weiss has thrown down a gauntlet with the kind of intertextual support typically unseen outside of Oxford University Press or more recent Tolkien ephemera.

These probably actually are the one hundred greatest console games of the period.  Not your favorites, not the most popular, but objectively.  The burden of proof is now on everyone else who might disagree.  They’ll need ten citations and a cross system comparison in addition to personal testimonials just to begin that debate, though.

I’m sure I excluded some cartridges that many gamers – including you, constant reader – hold in particularly high regard, and for that I don’t apologize.

Rather, I hope my perceived oversight makes your blood boil (or at least simmer), forcing you to fire up the respective classic console, plug in that old favorite that I neglected to include, and extol the virtues of that game to anyone who will listen online or in person.

It’s bold, but aside from forgetting a title you might be especially nostalgic about, you needn’t worry. No matter what you loved, more than one of your favorites will be in here.

The years covered include the Second Generation, The Great Video Game Crash, and the beginning of the Third Generation.  The selection is omnivorous, with games for the Arcadia 2001, Astrocade,  Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, ColecoVision, Intellivision, NES, Odyssey2, Sega Master System, and Vectrex.  If any of that isn’t familiar, it will be by the time you finish the book.

Each entry includes original box art, publication data, and one or more of the following: screenshots, cartridge photos, instruction manual art, box back, and ad copy.  In addition to descriptions of the games, entries are heavily sourced with reviews from contemporary publications and current enthusiasts.  None of this is just Brett Weiss’s opinion.  You’ll also learn about how to play the games, or variants, on modern systems.  And the entries end with an interesting fact about the game and a one sentence “WHY IT MADE THE LIST.”

The selections are system specific.  If a game was demonstrably better on the Intellevision than the Atari version, Weiss explains why.

Some of the games are ubiquitous.  Combat, sold with the Atari 2600 (VCS) made the list.  Others are so obscure only serious retro gamers have even heard of them. “Most Gamers who have actually played Bounty Bob Strikes Back love it.”

Some stand out for other reasons.  Centipede was the first shooter to appeal to women and a recognized and remembered classic even on the 2600, which is noted here but justly not included in the praise for the 5200, Colecovision, and 7800 ports.

The original was programmed by Dona Bailey in 1980.  Check out what happened and note how little has changed in more than three decades.

“When asked if things changed once she programmed Centipede, Bailey said, “yes,” but not necessarily for the better.  “There was a lot of surly attention after that…people just started, you know…the typical kind of thing people would say was, either it was a fluke or I didn’t really do it, somebody else did it.”

Since the book is well researched and clearly referenced, I was able to find the original interview.  Bailey’s experience was both disappointing and unsurprising.

Yes, but I’m not sure it was for the better! There was a lot of surly attention after that. It’s not always popular to do something [like] that — the first thing that happened, I was not ready for at all, and I still haven’t figured out how to deal with this part — people just started, y’know… the typical kind of thing that people would say was, either it was a fluke or I didn’t really do it, somebody else did it. I’m a very peaceful person, and I felt sick of fighting, so I really just disappeared, and I haven’t had contact with the industry for at least twenty years.

Sounds disturbingly familiar.  The gamergate movement is apparently upholding a tradition in its fourth decade when it attacks game developers like Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu.

A few entries made me want to expand my collection.  Shark! Shark! for the Intellivision is all about fish who eat fish.  Brett Weiss loves it because it was an early example of power leveling your avatar and killing sharks.  It’s another game programmed by a woman, this time Ji-Wen Tsao.  Its initial print run was 5600 copies versus supported titles that released 800,000.

Some of them are true loves, possibly in despite the consensus rather than because.  Rambo: First Blood Part II for the Sega Master System is lovingly described even as its criticisms are fairly presented.  Weiss wants to spread the word so much he includes theWarlords screen cheat codes for the game, without which it’s unbeatable.

My favorite console game of the era, Warlords,  finally appeared at number 96, with “some of the best party-style, four-player gaming ever created, regardless of the era”.  Something of a hybrid between Pong and Breakout,  it was the first game whose coin-op version derived from the console game rather than vice versa.  And it was programmed by a woman, Carla Meninsky.  Her first game, Dodge’Em, also appears in the book.

With a foreword from Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day, an
appendix of one hundred honorable mentions with brief descriptions, a bibliography (including websites), and a title based index, this book is indispensable for collectors, enthusiasts, and researchers.

Recommended for Ernest Cline, retro gamers, and would be Kings of Kong.