Once upon a time, George R.R. Martin set out to write a trilogy of medieval fantasy books that tracked the ruling families of a fictional land called Westeros. That trilogy’s planned length grew into the seven-novel A Song of Ice and Fire, a saga so long that Martin has yet to complete it, even as the television adaptation, HBO’s Game of Thrones, comes to an end. Jumping from character perspective to character perspective, Martin’s novels are robust with histories, prophecies, and foreshadowing. The murkiness gave birth to an onslaught of “fan theories” that have existed nearly as long as the book series. But which is the oldest? The answer, as far as internet sleuthing can determine, won’t surprise book readers or die-hard TV viewers, but how it erupted from fan chatter speaks to the power of Martin’s storytelling. The theory involves Jon Snow’s true parentage, and while the novels still haven’t confirmed it true, the finale of … [Read more...] about Tracking the origins of the oldest Game of Thrones theory
Oral history association
You never forget a place like Morrowind. It’s like something out of a dream, only you’ve actually been there. Maybe you used a mouse and keyboard, or the Xbox “Duke” controller, to visit it. But that doesn’t make it any less real. While hardly the first open-world game of its kind, the third numbered entry in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series cemented a formula and a set of expectations that are still alive and well today in games like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3. It was an artistic and technical leap forward for mainstream role-playing games in the summer of 2002, and, for many, a beautiful and novel experience. A vast ashen landscape teeming with psychedelic flora and fauna — equal parts Jim Henson and George Lucas, with a dash of Tolkien — here was a game that resembled no other. For the people who made it, Morrowind was the product of tough crunch, a pressure-cooker basement environment, and constant uncertainty about the company they … [Read more...] about Morrowind: An oral history
Walt Disney built his career on the back of adaptations and today, 80 years after the premiere of Snow White, his company’s animated retellings of fairy tales and myths are considered to be the definitive versions for countless generations. Take Hans Christen Andersen’s Little Mermaid, published in 1837, which ends with the mermaid casting herself into the ocean and dissolving into sea foam rather than murdering her beloved prince. Most people know the redheaded, purple seashell-bra-wearing Ariel and her happy ending. Disney’s latest big-budget spectacle, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, is an unusual entry in film-adaptation history. Written by Ashleigh Powell and Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), the fantasy is based on the popular Tchaikovsky ballet, which itself follows the plot of Alexander Dumas’ 1844 “The Story of the Nutcracker.” The Dumas version, however, is a reworking of an 1816 story by E.T.A Hoffman called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse … [Read more...] about What is the oldest story that Disney has ever adapted?
It was Team Andromeda — an internal R&D team at Sega of Japan — that first revealed the potential of the Sega Saturn. Its debut game was the on-rails shooter Panzer Dragoon. Part Space Harrier, part Dune, part Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Panzer Dragoon filled Sega Saturns around the globe with evocative 3D shooting action featuring a blue dragon and its rider. Over the course of three initial games — Panzer Dragoon (1995), Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei (1996) and Panzer Dragoon Saga (1998) — Team Andromeda continued to mine this simple yet compelling premise: that of a rider and his dragon facing off against a mysterious empire. While 2002’s Panzer Dragoon Orta (developed by ex-Team Andromeda members who later joined another studio, Smilebit) kept the series going later, it was the role-playing game Panzer Dragoon Saga that ended up becoming the standout. Taken at face value, Panzer Dragoon and its much-improved successor, Panzer Dragoon 2 Zwei, … [Read more...] about Panzer Dragoon Saga: An oral history
The first time Taylor Kurosaki and Bob Rafei saw a running PlayStation, they were in a Las Vegas hotel room. It was the 1995 Consumer Electronics Show. They, along with the company they worked for, Naughty Dog, were being given a behind-closed-doors look at Sony's first foray into the game console industry. When they describe the event now, they use words like "inspiring" and "enthralled" and phrases like "blown away." They didn't know it at the time, but the members of Naughty Dog in that room — Kurosaki, Rafei and co-founders Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin — were looking at the system that would host the team's next game: Crash Bandicoot. They were seeing the console their company would eventually create the unofficial mascot for — the console they would develop Naughty Dog's first smash hit for. It was Kurosaki and Rafei's second day with the company. Naughty Dog released Crash Bandicoot for Sony's original PlayStation in September 1996. In it, the team took an old … [Read more...] about Crash Bandicoot: An oral history