Rockstar Stories – How Rockstar Games is Leaving Money on the Table
Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent with an Open Storefront for Content http://jeffool.com
Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent and Make Tons of Money Doing It http://jeffool.com
Rockstar hasn’t released any single player DLC for their 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V. What they have released is tons of free content for it’s multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, and offered in-game currency for real money. Apparently it’s sold gangbusters. Every time news hits about GTAO there’s always complaints “I wish they’d release single player content” or “They said they would release more heists!” (They haven’t.) So, I’d like to pitch an idea for a lot more, widely varied, single player content. Allow me to dream for a moment.
I’d like to see Rockstar open a new studio largely staffed of fresh hires to bolster their future games. People looking to get into the industry, for that first job. The kind of people who want to apply, but don’t have the experience to get the type of jobs that are actually advertised. Start them off with jobs scripting single player DLC content in Rockstar’s open world games.
You want your A team on your A job. Rockstar’s teams all have excellent content creators who create, often, very compelling and interesting quests that work on several levels, both offering fun gameplay and compelling main quests. I imagine (maybe wrongly?) that a second team, still of top level quality, is tasked with the non-essential quests, offering wonderful atmosphere and characters to fill out the greater world. For brevity’s sake only, let’s call them the B team.
But what about the minor leagues? I’m confident Rockstar can create a studio chiefly staffed of entry level developers, all tasked with learning and using the tools to put written missions into action. This farm league of content will obviously need scripts. Open that to everyone.
Create a blind submission system open to everyone, and let the studio decide what works well as a combined DLC package. Let aspiring designers write and pitch concepts at different levels, let those ideas be greenlit, conditionally greenlit with criticism, or turned down with optional criticism. From this point Rockstar can bring those designers in to flesh out points of contention or script, or do it themselves, but it’s key they cut those writers in on the profit. And while those rookie scripters should all get a salary, I can imagine some of them wanting a percentage too, but that’s their place to argue for.
The real benefit to this? Once you have teams able to work with each other, and others, to create worthwhile DLC? You have a team of people pumping out lots of small content for small fees, using existing in-game resources and existing tools. Then what do you do? You pluck the top talent of this creative team, and you partner them with big names.
I’d love to see the mix of character and crime drama author Greg Rucka, or Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven DeKnight, or maybe some inspired work from Dear White People’s Justin Simien (did you know that’s getting a Netflix series? I and @GiantSquidOverdrive called that in January, and Simien even retweeted that, four months before the announce… Ain’t he a stinker?)
Offer players a storefront for single player DLC. I’m not even asking for the ability to inject new models or sounds. Rockstar would probably demand full voice acting, but honestly so many people click through that it’s crazy. Only bother with rookie voice actors too, to help them get their chops, if you really want that.
My underlying point here is a simple one. It’s completely feasible. And with the half a billion Rockstar has made in GTA V’s online alone, it would be doable for a very tiny portion of that. Especially if you use similar tools for more than one of their future games. Then you’ve opened the floodgates to creators making money from working with, and writing for, Rockstar.
Spare paragraphs written for, but not used in, this post:
In 2015 Bethesda tried to monetize mods for its game The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, and the backlash was palpable. Not just because people were stealing mods and uploading them as their own to make money, or the concern that popular mods used as bases would demand payment, but also because the rate the mod creators were paid was shit. The modders who made the content could set their own price, but they only received 25% of that fee. The rest went to Bethesda and the store owners, Valve.
Did you know Star Trek used to have an open script policy? From 1989 to July 2001, any fan who enjoyed the show could write and submit up to two full scripts in attempt to have it bought and made into an episode. Of course the vast majority were never followed up on, they had several lawsuits thrown at them, and only handfuls were made into episodes for the various Star Trek TV shows… One might say the lawsuits are the prime case for not opening your doors to new entrants. I say the 12 year lifespan of this is exactly why it’s worthwhile. They canceled the program just a few years before they canceled the TV show that was on at the time, Star Trek: Enterprise (February 2005).
Would it change your mind if I told you one of those writers was Bryan Fuller, creator of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal? Or Ronald D. Moore, who went on to win a Peabody for his work on Battlestar Galactica? Read up on some of the people who got their foot in the door that way: https://weminoredinfilm.com/2015/06/27/6-writers-who-got-their-foot-in-hollywoods-door-thanks-to-star-treks-open-submission-policy/
So I’ve decided to create a 24/7 “MTV for video games”.
It’s called Screenlook, and it will be a 24/7 stream of smaller, indie, and amateur game videos, trailers, and things. I’ve also reached out to one person about even featuring a very short review that was creatively done. (My point being I’m open to content.)
I’ve created a few volumes to show the idea. I’ll be looking into the 24/7 aspect soon. While not a direct comparison, the inspiration comes from my love of the old G4 show Cinematech, and how it made phenomenal “background TV” when getting things done. I want to make a channel you can turn to when you don’t know what you want to play, and you can find something. Steam Queues or browsing itch.io show a ton of varying options. But Steam often shows you clones of games you have, and with itch there’s tons to wade through before you find what you want. I’m just trying to make a new avenue for discovery for smaller games.
I WILL be monetizing the channel. Be that on YouTube or Twitch or wherever else I find to air the show.
If you want in on it, feel free to follow the Twitch, which will alert you to when it goes live: http://twitch.tv/screenlook
And the YouTube, which enough subscriptions will get me a custom URL (YouTube doesn’t give everyone a URL now, due to name hoarding.) That’s at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa0Smevh5EBqREP7hGWlWqg
And you can always follow on Twitter, for the very rare tweet. http://twitter.com/_screenlook
And if you’ve got an opinion about it, or know of a game I should include, email or tweet me.
For a better idea, here’s a volume that would air, in loop with other similar volumes:
This post was initially written on May 27th, 2012. I’m sure that’s when the news broke that Shadow of the Colossus had been optioned for a film. Obviously that didn’t happen. But for no real reason other than to put something here, I’m going to revise it once tonight and press “Publish”.
The only way I care to see it working is with little speaking for the majority of the film. And I don’t mean this will become Quest for Fire, or even Once Upon A Time in the West. Having long stretches with little speaking totally worked for Cast Away, and that was a $90 million Hollywood film with Tom Hanks. (And in revision, how great was Mad Max: Fury Road? It cost $150 million.)
What’s important is how the visual storytelling and the tone are handled, and to that end, I know exactly who I want to take this endeavor with. I want to see (at least the non-action scenes) it directed by Andrew Dominik, with cinematography by Roger Deakins. The two previously worked together on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. If you haven’t seen it, that movie IS the very concept of amazing cinematography encapsulated in celluloid. Their work, what they got from those actors and the world they were in, made the moments without words some of the best in that film. Hell, the film even made a narrator work exceptionally well (though, I wouldn’t want that here.) Admittedly, I can’t say how they’d handle a CG-extravaganza with certainty, I don’t have many reservations.
That said, also, you’d have to cut down the number of colossi, obviously. No more than four. Sure, we could do a montage, but no one wants that. Though I suppose you could put more on the “Insanely Long Director’s Experience” version, if they’re feeling ballsy, and want to create the lore of, say, Apocalypse Now. (There’s a poor quality workprint that rabid fans watch that has 87 minutes of footage that wasn’t even included in Apocalypse Now Redux, totaling almost 5 hours!) But at that rate, do a TV show, right?
The beautiful shots of scenery in The Assassination of Jesse James and the characters existing in them offer a wonderful place to start. Begin with our introductory journey as shown in the game, traveling to a land with the body of a woman over his horse. Our protagonist converses with Dormin, but at a fountain inside the temple. Wander holds up his sword, determines the direction to travel, and speaks to Agro a little as he journeys; traversing environmental challenges when… We meet our first colossus.
Wander finds a grassy plain and in the shadow of the canyon, finds his sword doesn’t pinpoint the location of the colossus. Not seeing him, he climbs a onto a large stone. He hears rumbling, and sees a shift in the ground some distance off, then suddenly the statue he’s on lurches into the air, and he flies off! Yes, it was part of the sword in the colossus’ hand that Wander was resting on. The rumbling in the distance was part of the colossus’ foot becoming unearthed. It was asleep and the earth settled around it probably decades ago.
The fight could be amazing. If you’ve played the game I don’t think I even have to lay out how well the drama could be handled. But if not, watching our hero Wander climb up a massive beast as it struggles and attempts to shake him off is a glorious feeling in the game, and I’m sure a good director could convey that to video well. And each time Wander wins, something comes from the colossus, and he wakes at the temple, in the fountain, confused. Sleepily he asks Agro why he brought him back here. He runs a hand over the hair of the woman’s body he left in the temple. He tells Agro “you brought me back to her”, and that she won’t be waking up again. He checks his sword and sets out. Now he’s slightly weaker, and hungry. Wander trails a lizard climbing a tree with his bow, but sees a sole piece of fruit hanging from it, and shoots it down instead. Good.
Cut to Lord Emon discovering Wander has stolen a mysterious sword and left for the forbidden land. He sends words for a hero of the kingdom to be dispatched immediately, and calls for his troop of personal guards to be prepared. Wander travels through the remains of a decayed colosseum where he finds, fights, and kills another colossus. This time we watch as Wander pointlessly attempts to fight off the darkness that spews from the fallen colossus, then falls unconscious. He wakes coughing up water in the fountain again. He cries at the body of the woman he brought to the temple. Wander uses Agro to help him hunt and eat a large lizard. He cooks it, but it’s not great. It’s edible, but it tastes bad.
He finds another colossi, this one near a beach, in loose sands. It looks like a snake with wings, it flies, and with a force that shakes the ground, it dives into and out of the sand as if it were water. The third time he kills a colossus he bursts from the water on his last breath violently sick, puking up cups of dark viscous murk, visibly pale and cold. He heaves himself over the edge of the fountain and climbs on Agro again. He checks the reflection of light from his sword and sets out again for his next challenge. We follow him this time, traversing the natural obstacles he’s faced. Lord Emon’s Hero arrives at the temple, and seeks him out, trying to stop him, but Wander wins the fight. Lord Emon arrives at the temple, where the guards find sign of the Hero on the hunt. Lord Emon says they should stay there, and guard the fountain inside the temple.
Wander crosses the bridge, and sees the final colossus. (Yes, that thing that happened by this point has happened.) Wander tries to approach the colossus, but is almost killed by it when the Hero saves him! Wander does not take this lightly, killing the Hero, and showing no remorse. Then he conquers the colossus. When there’s a loud boom and darkness erupts into the sky, Lord Emon and his troops at the temple notice even at their distance. A moment later there’s a slight whine, and then a huge splash into the fountain behind them. Wander has landed.