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Hard Project: Jurassic Park

Fun for people who like watching from the sidelines, less so for pop culture generators.

Let’s see how absurd this all looks in another ten years of research, because we still don’t know a fragment of what we like to pretend we know about dinosaurs.

The Jurassic Park franchise seems a lot like its main draw – it keeps dying out, then getting resurrected through increasingly flimsy means as an excuse every few years.  We’re getting another movie soon, and while the temptation to see it remains because I both love Chris Pratt and dinosaurs, I also know that there’s literally no movie that has been made or will ever be made that can actually live up to what was done with the first film.

Which itself was less of a great film and more of a long love letter to special effects with a fairly straightforward plot, but at least it inspired one of the best fan videos of all time.

But I have to say, the discordant screeching of that right there is how I feel when I fire up pretty much any video game based on the franchise.  Every single time.  I’m not saying that every single one of them is terrible, I’m saying that none of them really replicate what Jurassic Park is or was, and we might need to find a different way to get our dinosaur-shooting impulses out in video game form.  A different, non-Turok way, preferably.

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Hard Project: Metal Gear Solid

Meta Gear?

The outrage over a change in voice actors might not be entirely justified, but it did sort of speak to one of the few reliable islands in the franchise.

It’s kind of hard to cut through the web of what’s actually going on with Hideo Kojima and Konami at this point, because it’s filled with statements, counter-statements, and at one point I think a press conference was held that turned into an unskippable 40-minute cutscene that lost narrative coherency five minutes in.  It seems likely that the man himself is no longer with the company, but maybe he is, but maybe he isn’t; who knows, and does it matter?

The answer to that one is both yes and not really at the same time, because we can be sure that new Metal Gear games will still be coming out and we can be sure that they will be a mixed bag at best.  But if we’re being honest with ourselves, that was always going to be the case.  Making a new game in that franchise is a hard project for a variety of reasons, and it’s only going to get harder.

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Hard Project: Otherland

And now the song is in your head, and I'm happy to be responsible.

Wastelands, teenage or otherwise.

There are a lot of things that I really like about Otherland, one of them being the simple fact that it followed the age-old trick of making the future seem real by only looking forward a little bit and making reasonable assumptions.  The story doesn’t take place in the year 1999 on a space liner, is my point.  Sure, VR technology didn’t become the focal point of computing for a lot of reasons, but the world put forth in the book feels plausible.

At a glance, it’d make a pretty cool game.

The Otherland MMO has shuffled developers and publishers more than once, but it always seemed like a really bizarre concept to me based off of reading the story’s setting far too literally.  Not that it’s the fault of the programmers, who doubtlessly just wanted to adapt a vivid and interesting world to play in.  At a glance, this seems like a no-brainer for a project; it’s only on closer examination that you realize the whole thing is damn-near impossible to pull off, and not terribly rewarding if you do.

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Hard Project: The Matrix

And it went so desperately wrong.

How could this have gone wrong? Oh, wait, all the ways.

The Matrix is one of those things that was a very big deal when it came out and then faded in importance about five minutes later.  It’s been a decade since the last film, and the odds of us seeing another one are slim to none.  Which is a shame, because it’s still a franchise I like quite a bit, even if I’d like it more if we had gotten the prequel-and-sequel the Wachowskis had originally wanted instead of the single sequel split into two parts.

If you like pretending the two sequels didn’t happen, imagine them as one lean two-hour film and start falling in love again.

We’ve seen three games based on the franchise, with one of them (The Matrix Online) both failing to live up to the promise of that concept and completely failing to deliver on what was originally conceived of in a persistent universe.  It kind of makes sense, if you think about it.  Even though the movies look great and prompt lots of thoughts vis-a-vis “man, it’d be great to play this as a game,” the whole thing winds up being a really hard project from the word go.

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Hard Project: The X-Files

I'm not saying that this series would be vastly improved with a constant string of Big Lebowsky references, but would.

“I think it’s aliens.”
“Shut the fuck up, Mulder.”

If I were asked to list things from my younger days that would be coming back as I pass through the early years of my 30s, The X-Files would not have been on that list.  But here we are with talk about a revival floating around, which doesn’t seem like a terribly good idea but may very well be a thing that happens anyway.  And that would possibly mean video games, something that the franchise has yet to pull off.

Just like compelling mythology arcs or decent feature films or spin-offs, if you want to be glib.

There were two games based on the show, and both suffered from fairly poor reviews; the first was functionally a mildly interactive movie, the second was a short shot to a Resident Evil clone that was plagued with an obtuse camera and overly complicated puzzles.  But neither one is entirely to blame in this particular situation.  The X-Files is a really hard show to make a decent game out of.  Or a decent feature film, or comic, or sequel, or…

All right, I’m not using that joke again.

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