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Five Developers Who Should Make the “Inception” Video Game

Five Developers Who Should Make the “Inception” Video Game (photo)

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According to a recent report in Variety , Christopher Nolan let slip that his hit film “Inception” could be coming into the video game medium:

“We are looking at doing is developing a videogame based on the world of the film, which has all kinds of ideas that you can’t fit into a feature film…That’s something we’ve been talking about and are looking at doing long term, in a couple of years.”

With this news, it’s easy to assume that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will take the lead on executing the property’s transition to video games. After all, Warners bought the remnants of Midway Games, when the company responsible for the “Mortal Kombat” franchise filed for bankruptcy last year. WB also acquired a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, the British devs who turned out 2009’s amazing “Batman: Arkham Asylum.”

But, let’s fantasize here that one of the WBIE studios won’t be the ones on “Inception” game-making duty. I talked a bit about how it felt like Nolan embedded video game logic into “Inception.” Which development house would be the right fit for making that logic playable? A few possibilities, in no particular order:

1. BioWare

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Over the last decade, the makers of “Mass Effect” have catapulted to a perch amongst the best dev houses in gaming. BioWare nails what so many other developers struggle with: weaving narrative branches and character development in a richly imagined universe. It doesn’t hurt that the Edmonton dev house has worked on licensed-property games before, having partnered with LucasArts for the “Knights of the Old Republic” games and the upcoming “Star Wars: The Old Republic” MMO, all set thousands of years before Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s stories. “Inception” riffs on the classic heist film structure and the first half of “Mass Effect 2” had the same assemble-the-team mandate as heist films require. But, structural similarities aside, what the “Mass Effect” games show is that BioWare knows hoe to make characters feel differentiated and like they have history, both with each other and with the gameworld.

2. Irrational Games

The commonality that 2007’s “Bioshock” and the in-development “BioShock Infinite” share is that they’re set in captivating yet dangerous environments. The titles that come from Boston-based Irrational Games boast some of the best art direction in the entire medium. But, all that pretty isn’t just there for eye candy. Irrational’s always made environmental design reinforce the thematic elements of their games. (Just look at my reading of the “BioShock Infinite” gameplay trailer if you don’t believe me.) And, in a fictional universe where the action takes place in the worlds inside individual minds, I’d love to see how the art team and game designers at Irrational Games would envision an “Inception” video game.

3. Q? Entertainment

Ken Watanabe’s slick exec Saito provided much of the super-cool vibe in “Inception” so let’s give some love to the Japanese, eh? Q Entertainment specializes in games that knit the aural and visual aspects of games to the point where founder and lead designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s creations look and feel dreamlike. His masterpiece “REZ” won hearts and minds by creating a constantly morphing cyberscape that throbbed in time with both the controller’s vibration and the thumping techno soundtrack. There are intriguing possibilities in using such synaesthetic game design as a metaphor for the dreamstate and it’d be interesting to see what Mizuguchi’s Q team could do in crafting a more realistic, narrative experience instead of a sensory one.

4. Remedy Entertainment

The thing I liked most about “Alan Wake” was its dread mood, generated by the sense of sanity at risk. Wake wasn’t fighting to save the world; rather, it was the adult life he’d built for himself that he was trying to salvage by fighting the Dark Presence. That’s similar to Cobb’s motivation in “Inception.” Remedy’s already crafted haunting dream sequences in their over-the-top “Max Payne”noir shooters, so getting the trippy feel of the imagination is something that they could do easily. Also, both “Alan Wake” and “Inception” comment on the seductive power of imagination and how it can harm as well as hurt, so Remedy could be a natural fit for extending Nolan’s vision.

5. Ubisoft Montreal

The plot gimmick in the “Assassins’ Creed” is that one young man finds he’s descended from a long like of stealth killers and must descend through his genetic memory to learn their lethal skills. Like some of the other games I’ve listed, it bears more than a little similarity to the mechanics of “Inception.” (Or is that the other way around?) But the one thing in the “Assassins” games that made me think that Ubi Montreal–who’ve also made al the modern “Prince of Persia” games would be up for the job. When you bounce around the ancestral timeline, the levels build themselves around you. The dev team has already created a visual language for descent into the unconscious, complete with geometrically shifting environments. Also, they excel at creating densely populated environments, one where your actions create ripple effects. Those two signature skills would be the main reasons Ubisoft Montreal would be well-suited to crafting levels where player interaction changes the landscape.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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