Premortem

deadspaceinkblot
Photo credit: Electronic Arts

As mentioned in a recent post, I wrote for a small games-centric website for the entirety of 2012.

At the time I kindly refused to review titles for fear of feigning objectivity, which was, to be frank, ridiculous. The op-ed’s I composed instead were rife with proclamations on every aspect of whatever game in question. Perhaps I felt I’d be pigeonholed somehow by form, and opinion pieces would offer asylum from such circumstance. Again, ridiculous.

There is never a ‘free form‘, of any stripe, on any beast. We arrive at our works and their conclusions on 0.5% intention and 99.5% maelstrom.

One of my recurrent series of write-ups was titled “Premortem”, wherein I made an as-yet-unreleased game my focus and argued why all legitimate media and information concerning it pointed to its failure. This was not done to throw shade, but the opposite: the only games discussed were those whose success I was deeply invested in, whether because of the potential they teased (or outright promised) or for my affection for their predecessors if an ongoing series.

Premortem was my attempt, however limited the effect, (the site was chronically invisible relative to its competition, of which there was plenty) to plant a red flag, or several, for the developer, publisher, or other significant party. To show how and why, if my concerns were validated (in most cases I truly didn’t want this), there was still time to correct the project’s course before said time had elapsed. If no such actions were taken, and the game the ill-conceived or implemented disaster I feared it would be, then the piece’s saving grace would be its instructive value for future purposes.

I was under no illusion of most of these concerns being unique or local to my scrutiny. In the case of both Ninja Gaiden 3 and Dead Space 3 the problematic creative (or business) choices were blatantly disastrous, and the outcomes by the same token hopeless.

When the game at hand belonged to a lineage I had great affection for, it wasn’t fun, let’s say, to spell out the means by which I believed it was about to disappoint me. So I made fun where I could. Was the tagline, in Dead Space‘s case, “the only dismemberment this time just may be a castration” a little jockeying and unneeded? Alas, it was.

The intention was always to stir some level of conversation on a project’s potential issues. Unfortunately, the echo did not travel far beyond the meager peak from which I was sending it out, and I don’t imagine it will from this one either. But it affords me the sense I am somehow a productive variable for creations which have no direct connection to me whatever.

I am writing this to procrastinate on a similar endeavor regarding The Last Guardian. The difference there is I don’t think the game will fail; I’m worried for reasons which aren’t all of them observed. It’s the opposite, really, the blanks we’re still at this point made to fill in though they’re specifically what comprises its majority.

I can’t say if I will or when, but I would like to write more Premortems. Just as I’ve been considering the idea of a novella on this blog published chapter by chapter as a first step back into fiction (it’s been over a year), and momentum I can use to launch into a novel manuscript in the next few years. The failure to do so I would consider especially large.

I don’t know. Sometimes thinking out loud’s just easier without having to make the noise.

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