Talking with Simon Carless, Part 2

Talking with Simon Carless, Part 2 (photo)

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(For Part 1, go here.)

So, what was once GDC Austin is turning into GDC Online. What do you see as the big trends in terms of these games and these companies that are focusing strictly online. They’re not working on physical releases that come out on discs anymore. Do you feel like that’s changed the development styles away from the cycles that were used for disc-based games or physical media games?

Oh, yeah, yeah. The reason there continues to be a massive change. I think one of the hints to this is the fact that we have a new track called the Live track this year. And that’s a track of programming. But we understand, it used to be perhaps, you made a game for a long period of time. You didn’t necessarily show it even to anyone. Obviously, you tested it and then you released it. It used to be the case where you would spend a long time working on a game when you wouldn’t really, other than patch Beta testers, a few internal ones. And obviously some focus testing.

You wouldn’t show it quite so much to the entire world. Whereas now, there are social and online games that launch with a relatively small amount of the their content complete, and they’re really shaped over many years by the player, and by people continuously playing them and giving feedback on them. So there’s been this big shift in development cycles. I don’t think that means that we’re moving away from the auteur model. I think there’s still a lot of opportunity for creativity within that. It’s definitely good for designers to see in real time how the public is responding to their games, because you can make significant and great changes. So that’s why we have the Live track within GDC Online, and that’s a big focus for us.

Another thing you guys will be focusing on at GDC Online is going to be iPad. I feel like even after iPhone gaming started, it took you guys a little while longer to start up a programming track specific to that. Whereas now, the device is not even a year old yet and you are already creating a programming track for that. Do you feel like the device has real legs as a gaming platform? Do you feel like games content on other tablets–like ones running Android–will have as much success as iPad games?

We are actually talking about how we continue to build this. Because we realize, within GDC Online, we have definitely the iPhone summit, and the iPad gaming summit, but within it, in fact, we do have things about other platforms. In fact, within the iPad summit even, we have alternative mobile platforms for your games with a number of examples.

Obviously, iPhone and iPad are the dominant platforms in the market right now. But, clearly, devices like Android on both the phone and the pad side, are coming through. There’s a whole set of design, marketing and business challenges around making touchscreen games, and having them available on stuff like application stores. So that’s really what we’re aiming to target. At GDC Online, we chose to do it in the form of an iPhone gaming summit.

That’s what we want to lead with but we are also are trying to give information for everything else, for other platforms, that may be in the market or coming through, because we think most the touch screen phone/device, the small form device, and the pad/mid form device, mid size device rather, are two platforms we see continuing to grow very significantly.

And it’s great that there’s a much lower barrier-to-entry which allows independent designers as much, if not more, opportunity than these larger corporate entities as well.

Yeah, I think something we definitely feel is we are very supportive of the independent scene. Obviously, we run the Independent Games Festival and Indiegames.com. The App Store ecosystem is definitely good for indies. If you look in the top 10 or 20 at any given point, sure there’s some licensed titles. Titles that have IPs that are well known in other markets, often stuff like Scrabble and things like that. But there’s a lot of games that are original games which have really interesting design and have actually come from much smaller teams, and that really does seem to happen.

So, as long as people can work out how to make a continued living from these kind of markets that tend to be quite sometimes hit-driven, then I think, it’s really an exciting place to be in the indie space.


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


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


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

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



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.


Self Defense

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


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