DID YOU READ

“Halo” creators looking to help launch indie games into orbit

“Halo” creators looking to help launch indie games into orbit  (photo)

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No matter how big you wind up getting, everybody starts off small. Bungie–the powerhouse development studio behind the mega-hit “Halo” franchise–started off as a partnership between friends in Chicago, where they boxed copies of their self-published games by hand. Even though the Mac platform had a smaller base of potential customers, the nascent Bungie focused on making games for Apple’s computers. One moderate success was an RPG called “Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete,” which moved a whopping 2,500 copies. Not a lot by any means, but enough to keep them making games. And it’s a good thing, too, because after “Minotaur” came “Marathon,” the first title that wan Bungie a significant following and one that hinted at the design philosophy that would inform the “Halo” games. After years of a slow and steady build, “Halo” was the game that got Bungie acquired by Microsoft, as well as lionized by millions of fans the world over. 2010’s “Halo: Reach” marked the end of an era for Bungie, though. In a surprise move last year, Bungie left Microsoft (who still retain the rights to “Halo”) to chart their own destiny, and entered into partnership with Activision to create a new intellectual property meant to sprawl out over a ten-year span.

So, yeah, there aren’t many companies bigger than the Seattle-based dev collective nowadays. But, the recent announcement of a new initiative by Bungie makes it clear they remember their humbler beginnings. Dubbed Bungie Aerospace, it’s a project that aims to help incubate and disseminate smaller games in the mobile and social markets. While most of Bungie works on their new mystery IP–which they’ll own outright–a small team’s dedicated to all things Aerospace. Part of that involves helping fund a project code-named “Crimson” by indie studio Harebrained Schemes. Not much is being said about “Crimson,” but it’s due out for Android and iOS this summer. When it does come out, Bungie will use Bungie.net, the website that’s home to their most loyal fans to get word-of-mouth started. Aside from their experience and track record of success, Bungie.net is another part of the company’s formidable ecosystem, one they didn’t have to let go when “Halo” stayed with Microsoft. The combo of resources and marketing make Bungie Aerospace a rare bird. It’s a developer associated with a hardcore game franchise actime almost like a publisher for smaller dev teams. Over at Kotaku, Bungie’s community manager Eric Osborne describes it this way:

We want to give them some of our proprietary rocket fuel, whether that be resources, audience, funding or what have you and let them showcase their great games.

There isn’t a checklist I could give you about: ‘These are the three things we’re looking for. It really is about finding teams that we believe are passionate about making games. That may sound like a naive, optimistic approach, but, when it comes down to it, that’s what makes a game great: the people who are building it. If we believe in them and see the experience they are building is something that would resonate with us, that’s a pretty good metric to think that maybe we should be working with these guys.

When you think about it, it’s heartening that Bungie Aerospace is being started as a launchpad for other smaller games to fly off of. Having become masters of their own destiny again in this, their 20th anniversary year, no one would blame Bungie for focusing squarely on their own future success. Yet, the pay-it-forward ethos of Aerospace revolves around the idea that shared success benefits the entire video game medium and that not every game has to be a “Halo.” And with the prestige of a studio like Bungie behind it, it probably won’t be long before an Aerospace game goes into hyperdrive.

Do you think Bungie’s efforts in the indie game space will be fruitful? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.