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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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.