Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grading the Artistry behind Selena and Wizard101

You know, this whole Selena thing has really got me thinking lately and revisiting something in my mind that I learned back in college. (Yeah, Selena was still doing Barney videos back then most likely) It was something so simple and unspoken yet more profound and important to me than probably half of the information I digested at college.

This kind of stuff happens in retrospect throughout life. Boom. Magic. Someone mentions "creativity" and I'm instantly transported to that moment where it happened: a darkly lit back room in a college television station/practice lab and a professor, who was kind of a jerk that I didn't care for much at all. The class at hand was media copywriting and mr. professor had some wonderful insights to share about "creativity."

He said creativity is the mixing of things. In essence, creativity is picking objects or ideas and smashing them together. Aliens and mint gum. Books and the Ocean. Pirates and tutus.

yay halloweencostumes dot com (My daughter's homemade "devil riding a unicorn" costume from a couple years ago was better and cheaper . . . jus' sayin' . . . I am biased of course)

Take any two or more things, smash them together and make them live together in some kind of reality. Boom. Magic. He went on to say that creativity really isn't that hard at all and as a future copywriter, you will have plenty of opportunities to do this simple mental activity . . . somethin' like that.

This bothered me.

I was a poet and a songwriter back in those days and I got really stuck mentally on his definition of creativity because it was a message that probably wasn't really meant for someone like me. It was meant for joe blow sitting next to me who thought he could never write creative advertising because he was in fact "joe blow" after all. WAKE UP JOE BLOW! YOU TOO CAN WRITE CREATIVE ADVERTISING COPY, YAYZ!

So on my own time after the course I sat and mired and thought for a long time about things like "original creativity," which I proposed to myself would be creating something entirely new and didn't involve mixing things, but that was really hard to wrap my head around because everything that seemed entirely new could be broken down into something else. For instance, a beautiful wedding ring on my wife's hand. Nope. Diamonds and gold . . . and my wife's hand. It cold be broken down into things that mixed together to create a vision all its own.

Maybe you've seen where I'm going with this by now, maybe not. Let me cut that story short and get to the point . . .

I imagine working at Kingsisle and the message comes down, "we need to work Selena Gomez into our game somehow." Boom. Wizard101 and Selena. It's simple creativity involved in slapping these things together.

So here's a question for my readers, if you take away all the good and the bad feelings that might be associated with smushing them together and remove any feelings that might make you cringe or scream for joy, how do you think Kingsisle did with their creativity in smashing Selena and Wizard101 together? Or actually, it was more like Selena, Celestia, you, and Wizard101 (within the constraints of time and money I'm sure) . . .

AND ACTUALLY, in the end it's the "artistry" behind the creativity that matters most. Because, really, it was the discussion on artistry where my professor missed the mark for me (or perhaps it was my fault for not listening good enough and getting caught up in the definition of creativity). Any fool can smash running shoes and porcupines together, but how many fools could invent the world of Sonic the Hedgehog?

There were some things about the mixture that I didn't like. I hate the name Crab Alley. They have Firecat Alley, Colossus Boulevard, Triton Avenue, and Cyclops Lane. Why reuse "alley"? Why not Crab Cul-de-sac or Crab Corner or Crab Causeway or Crab Galley or even Crab Street? I wasn't really a fan of the crab king's voiceover, too . . . slobbery . . . although his poem was funny. I didn't really like the mention of CD's and what not in my wizard game where J. Todd Coleman has been quoted as saying that he *tried* to keep that real world stuff out of the game, but he also has been quoted as our world being one of those found in the spiral. Meh. It's just going to kind of be the nature of the beast with a promotion like this. Whatcha gonna do.

BUT I have to say that the creation of a new "smaller" zone, dancing crabs, story, preview of swimming, instanced zone cut-scene mechanic, rewards for the quest, and the way it all just laid out was AWESOME and well done by the KI crew (again, I'm sure time and money played a big part in what they could actually do . . . that's a given . . . I heard through the grapevine that this quest came together quite quickly). This was a much better application than the Snorri quests IMHO.

What do you think?

Happy Dueling!


Anonymous said...

You know, I thought "Crab Alley" was kind of unoriginal too, but for me it was the "Crab" part as opposed to the "Alley". Why should it be "Crab" when it could have been something like "Kraken" or "Coral"? Really anything underwater or storm themed but "Fish" or "Crab". Names should be mysterious, not straightforward like "Crab Alley."

Kevin BattleBlood said...

The content from this cross promotion did seem a tad rushed. I hardly reacted positively when I read the intro, which stated that cartoon Selena had somehow awoken in our world and is now looking for a way back. If I were her, I'd prolong my stay in Wizard City to check everything out, compare it to the fictional world of Harry Potter, and learn about the culture and history of the place. But I digress.

Perhaps it was rushed because this zone is only temporary (according to Ian E.). I hope and assume all the creativity firepower was channeled into integrating where Astral magic would come into place, and why such sorcery came into our need after the defeat of Malistaire, as opposed to before. We'll have to wait and see, huh?

Heather Raven said...

In a perfect world (where money, time and all that are poof) I would say this is a lack-luster quest. It's just really uncreative. Selena gets kidnapped by crabs? Really?

BUT, in the real world it's only sort of uncreative. I do have some major gripes in the plot line, such as: how did the crabs get to the real world? how did Selena get back to the real world? and a section of triton ave just happened to fall into the river and be inhabited by crabs?

May I also say, I am not a fan of how Selena was animated? She looks.... kinda... old. It's almost like they used the template for Sylvia Drake and stuck Selena in it. Not really flatering. She's supposed to be a young hip pop star! Can she look like one?

Anonymous said...

OMG your daughter is sooooooo cute! :)

stingite said...

@anon: Hey yeah! what about "Crustacean" or "Exoskeletal" instead of crab?

@kBB: Yup, it's a temporary quest as far as I've heard. Let's hope you're right regarding the creative firepower.

@Heather: I'd say that was a fair evaluation. I was more drawn to the mechanics of the instanced zone and the rewards for the quest.

@anon: oops! Not my daughter. That was just some random pirate tutu girl from halloween costume dot com.