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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 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.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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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…


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.


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).


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.


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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