CITV’s Share a Story has been nominated for its fourth consecutive Children’s BAFTA award, and that’s a big deal. It’s won in the last two years (I was fortunate enough to take home the statue in 2012) and I’d like to make it a hat trick, if only for the sake of our brilliant and talented (but don’t tell them I said that) in-house designers and animators: Frank Mansfield, Wal Werbel, and Jardine Sage. It’s their names on the prospective trophy this year, their nomination, and they more than deserve it.

Credit also needs to go to all the rest of the team, from graphics boss Carl Hadley to Lucy Godding, who organises pretty much everything, to our amazing editors Rachel Stacey and Andrew Connor. For my part, I work with the kids, edit their stories into scripts, and direct their voiceover. It’s definitely a team effort.

Also a major, major shout-out to Chris Randall of Second Home Studios, who produced My Motorbike alongside Wal Werbel.

And - of course! - the kids who enter Share a Story. They’re the driving creative force behind everything we do, they’re an inspiration, and they’re really rather groovy. 

CITV show Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge has also bagged a nomination this year, so cheers for them, too.

All in all, not a bad morning! Well done and good luck to everyone.

idwcomics:

Transformers: Primacy #3 SUB Cover by Sarah Stone

All the yeses.

idwcomics:

Transformers: Primacy #3 SUB Cover by Sarah Stone

All the yeses.

Weekend Top Ten #135

Top Ten Videogames of the 2000s

And so here we are: the final of my trilogy of lists. Maybe all you youngsters out there will actually have heard of a few of these bad boys.

I’m going to stop here, as far as listing games in decades goes. We’re only four years into the current decade, so maybe I’ll come back to this theme in 2020 (crikey, 2020!).

Normal service will be resumed soon, as next week the theme is over and I’ll get back to making lists about things other than 15-year-old PC games!

  1. Half-Life 2 (Valve, PC, 2004)
  2. Deus Ex (Ion Storm, PC, 2000)
  3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (BioWare, Xbox, 2003)
  4. Halo: Combat Evolved (Bungie, Xbox, 2001) 
  5. Fable II (Lionhead Studios, Xbox 360, 2008)
  6. Civilization III (Firaxis, PC, 2001)
  7. Crackdown (Realtime Worlds, Xbox 360, 2007)
  8. Perfect Dark (Rare, N64, 2000)
  9. Medieval II: Total War (The Creative Assembly, PC, 2006)
  10. Wii Sports (Nintendo, Wii, 2006)

Tough to pick a Civ, it’d either be III or IV. But III was the one that my wife and I played against each other at uni, so that’s the one I went for. Totally scientific!


DC Movies: I Could Have Been Wronger

So yesterday Warner Bros announced the titles and - in some cases - talent involved in their upcoming mega-slate of DC Comics-based movies; their Justice League-flavoured franchise to rival Marvel/Disney’s Avengersverse.

Now, a while back, I predicted what films would come out on what dates. So how clever am I? Let’s have a look…

March 25th 2016: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (confirmed!) - yeah, we already knew this, so obviously I’m right.
August 5th 2016: Shazam (starring Dwayne Johnson) - nope! The other confirmed 2016 film is Suicide Squad, which I’d have never guessed.
June 23rd 2017: Justice League - I think WB/DC had already revealed that Justice League was due in 2017, with Snyder directing, but it looks like it might be the later date…
November 17th 2017: Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark movie - nope, totally wrong; del Toro’s film doesn’t get a mention. Wonder Woman is the other 2017 film, and possibly the June rather than November release.
March 23rd 2018: Wonder Woman - wrong! Looks like this is The Flash.
July 27th 2018: Aquaman (starring Jason Momoa) - YES! Looks like I got one bang-on! I’m a Brainiac-level super-genius.
April 5th 2019: Batman solo movie - nope, sorry; looks like this is Shazam's slot.
June 14th 2019: space-set Green Lantern movie - are you being serious?! This is Justice League 2!
April 3rd 2020: Man of Steel sequel - looks like this is Cyborg, which again, I’d never have guessed.
June 19th 2020: Justice League sequel - nope, this is the Green Lantern reboot you are waiting for.

Now, what’s interesting, is that there’s also this comment which indicates that a straight-up Man of Steel sequel, as well as a standalone Batman film, are also due but not yet scheduled. So I reckon DC cheated there, as I was counting those in with the other films.

Of course, WB also announced slots for other “event movies” which I correctly predicted were the Fantastic Beasts trilogy. I had no idea what the scheduled animations were - turns out they were Lego movies. Who’d a thunk it?!

Anyway, I think I was playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. Make up your own mind as to whether I am a genius or mud.

Above image taken from Bleeding Cool.

Transformers Wedding Album

So when my wife and I got married several moons ago, I suggested that we name all the tables after Transformers and, because she’s awesome, she agreed. Her only condition was that two of the tables be Silverbolt and Ultra Magnus, because those were the two toys she’d had as a girl. Even if I’d just kept the list limited to toys I’d owned rather than characters I’d enjoyed, my list was still a lot longer.

Anyway, the other day I stumbled across the drawings I made for the tables. Each table, you see, as well as having the name of a Transformer, also had a drawing of said Bot or Con. So I thought it’d be interesting to post these online, for posterity. 

There are also some concept sketches as I worked out how to draw the characters, some of which I hardly ever attempted even in all my years of writing Transformers fan-comics. Soundwave, for instance, is my favourite of these drawings simply because I don’t think I’d ever tried to draw him before, and because his pose turned out pretty much exactly as it was in my head.

I’ve kept all the imperfections from the scanning as I thought it added character, and because these technically aren’t the final-final images that were used. I tinkered with them a little bit more on Photoshop, removing the odd errant pen-stroke and - in the case of Megatron - replacing an arm that I felt was positioned at a curious angle.

Anyway, I’m still pretty chuffed with how these turned out. Obviously I’m no Nick Roche or Andrew Wildman, but it was great fun to do and spoke a lot about my wife and me, and it was certainly a talking point on the day. And, alongside the poster I produced for my brother’s play, probably the best piece of doodling I’ve ever done.

Interestingly I just saw the ask about Who writers, as I've been trying to work up the guts to ask something for a while now about this: A friend & I are working on changing that "nobody". Particularly we want to do a whole spinoff -- we've an outline for an entire first season plus a bit already and we think it's pretty awesome. So if it's not a bother I wanted to ask for any advice you might have on the matter of pitching it to the BBC, as I've heard they can be stubborn about such things.

neil-gaiman:

I’m thrilled that you want to write for Doctor Who. It definitely needs some women writing for it.

If you’re serious — and I assume you are: the BBC can be stubborn, yes, but possibly not as stubborn as you imagine. They really want writers. They may be more stubborn about Doctor Who, mostly because it’s their flagship show. If they are hiring a writer, they want to know that they are hiring someone who can do it, who, having pitched a great idea will, at least, turn in a script that they can shoot.

So my advice to anyone who really wants to write specifically for Doctor Who would be, write stuff that’s going to get you noticed, write stuff as a calling card. Write plays. Make fantastic, well-written, small cheap films with friends, write short stories and books and comics, do things so that when you ask to write Doctor Who they get excited. It’s the BBC’s flagship show, and if you are going to write an episode, make them want you. 

I remember, when I was about 20, walking past the BBC in Portland Place. Back then they had a doorman outside, and I went over to him and said, “How would I write for the BBC?”

"You can’t, mate," he told me. " You ‘ave to know someone who’s already in ‘ere."

These days I know how not-true that is, and how not-true it was then. The BBC want scripts and writers, and even, now, have websites which tell you how to  submit/format etc your work, including unsolicited scripts.

My reply about “nobody to hug” was mostly wistful, by the way, and not, as I’ve seen it interpreted, an attack on the Doctor Who team or anyone on the team.

In the six years I’ve been working with the Doctor Who team, the producers and script editors I’ve directly worked with (four out of six of whom have been women) have had a lot of attention on getting women writers onto the team. They’ve reached out to a lot of women writers — I know that Steven Moffat has personally been in touch with a lot of female writers and been defeated over and over by scheduling problems, and people saying no, and been as frustrated as anybody (probably much more frustrated as he’s the one reaching out). It’s a priority for them too.

To get started, head over to http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/

The BBC Writersroom informs new writers about how to submit unsolicited Drama and Comedy scripts to the BBC. They are on the lookout for writers of any age and experience who show real potential.

BBC Writersroom will read all unsolicited scripts for BBC Films, TV Drama, Children’s Drama, TV Comedy, Radio Entertainment and Radio Drama. They accept unsolicited scripts written for film, television, radio or stage.

BBC Writersroom is always on the lookout for fresh, new, talented Writers for a changing Britain. If you have talent, an original voice, and stories to tell, then BBC Writersroom wants to know about you.

Reblogging because it’s an awesome response from an awesome writer, and because it’s always with highlighting the very good avenues and advice the BBC offers new writers. Even if they’ve never really been successful for me. 😉

Also: Big shout-out to everyone else who wants to write Doctor Who one day!

Weekend Top Ten #134

Top Ten Videogames of the 1990s

And my three-part journey into the best games of yesteryear continues…

Okay, this is when I really started playing games. I got my Amiga; I graduated to a PC; my brother got a Nintendo 64. This is when the real games were released; classics that built on the strengths of the previous decade, but carved out new and bold visions of what gaming could be. Most of my favourites are still from this era.

Also, back then, I actually had time. I tinkered with the Build engine, crafting levels for Duke Nukem 3D. I edited the rules.ini file for Red Alert, making tiny tanks fire nuclear missiles and giving the spy a sniper rifle that could reach halfway across the map. I sometimes wonder what I’d have accomplished if Minecraft or Project Spark had existed back then… 

  1. The Secret of Monkey Island (Lucasfilm Games, Amiga 500, 1991)
  2. Half-Life (Valve Software, PC, 1998)
  3. Lemmings 2: The Tribes (DMA Design, Amiga 500, 1993) 
  4. Duke Nukem 3D (3D Realms, PC, 1996) 
  5. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (Westwood Studios, PC, 1996)
  6. Dark Forces: Jedi Knight (LucasArts, PC, 1997)
  7. GoldenEye 007 (Rare, N64, 1997)
  8. Flashback (Delphine, Amiga 500, 1992)
  9. Sensible World of Soccer ‘96-‘97 (Sensible Software, PC, 1996)
  10. Quake III Arena (id Software, PC, 1999)

So! What’ll make my final retrospective Top Ten of the noughties? Will we see any sequels to any of these classics? Will more console toys get a place on the lists? Who knows! Well, I do, I’ve already written the list.

Oh, and one final thing: Monkey Island. It’s very, very hard for me to separate the first two games. I love them both equally, but it was the first game that struck me, that made me fall in love with it, that really made me fall in love with gaming full stop. I guess technically Monkey 2 is a bit better, but Monkey 1 will always be special because it was first.

I forecasted this once. I made up a scary story a few years ago for Zoey, so that she’d take her protection seriously. I went too far, and I scared her, and she cried. This was the story.

In terms of on-screen drama, this sequence (both of them, actually, the original prediction and the later action) is excellent. But I feel this went too far, tipping the show momentarily from idealistic-but-sort-of-realistic into melodrama. Like, “the President’s daughter is kidnapped” is a plot for a big movie, because it never happens. But it happened to Bartlet, and it sort of feels out of place because it’d be the thing that defined his Presidency. Although Zoe does suffer some degree of trauma from the event, as a show, it’s more or less “gotten over” and arguably brushed under the carpet a little bit.

It’s one of my least favourite storylines on The West Wing. But, like I say, it’s excellently produced: written, acted, directed. It’s a good few hours of cracking, top-drawer drama. I just feel it rocked the show on its axis a bit too much.

Still a great show. Love it to bits, miss it a lot, even now.

ryallsfiles:

Monster Motors: The Curse of Minivan Helsing #1 cover by Nick Roche. February 2015

Yay for Monster Motors! Still say this would make a great film in the spirit of The Monster Squad.

ryallsfiles:

Monster Motors: The Curse of Minivan Helsing #1 cover by Nick Roche. February 2015

Yay for Monster Motors! Still say this would make a great film in the spirit of The Monster Squad.

Weekend Top Ten #133

Top Ten Videogames of the 1980s

Okay, we’re going to go on a little thematic holiday the next couple of weeks, as I explore my gaming history by selecting ten games from each of the three decades of my life (the 2010s don’t count yet because they’re not finished). So, obviously, we’ll start with the 1980s.

This is probably the hardest decade simply because I remember it the least, and because I didn’t get a computer of my own until right at the end. So these are games that, for the most part, I played round my cousins’ house or at a friend’s house. And because I’m a good-hearted Brit, there will be lots of proper home computer games, and very few silly console toys.

Oh, and the listed platform is the one I played it on, not necessarily its first home.

  1. Ghostbusters (Activision, ZX Spectrum, 1984)
  2. Skool Daze (David & Helen Reidy, ZX Spectrum, 1984)
  3. Fantasy World Dizzy (The Oliver Twins, ZX Spectrum, 1989)
  4. Batman (Ocean Software, ZX Spectrum, 1989)
  5. Elite (David Braben & Ian Bell, Commodore 64, 1984)
  6. International Karate + (System 3, Amiga 500, 1987)
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Komani, Amiga 500, 1989)
  8. Super Mario Bros (Nintendo, NES, 1985)
  9. New Zealand Story (Taito, ZX Spectrum, 1988)
  10. Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters (Atari Games, Amiga 500, 1989)

Edit: I don’t normally go back and edit my posts, but I’m making an exception here. I made the decision last week to credit the publishers/distributors of these games, but on reflection that’s a mistake. I feel that the heart and soul of most classic games is defined by their developers, not their publishers, and so I’ve made the decision to come back, edit the post, and credit the devs instead. If you want to know who published these games, there’s always Wikipedia.