Gamebooks Goes Independent

Posted: June 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

As you might expect, I’m constantly refining all aspects of GET LAMP as I go. I made a lot of choices over the past few years, and took the filming in lots of directions; some of them paid off and others didn’t.

One of them paid off, but I’m making a big decision with it anyway.

As part of the filming, I did a few interviews related to gamebooks, those interactive books where you can make a choice about where to take the story next.  I am not calling them by their colloquial name on purpose. I got a nice round of people, too, creators and writers and collectors and more. The episode that would focus on them is in okay shape, worked on here and there.

But I’ve decided it’s not going to go on the DVD.  Instead, after the GET LAMP DVD goes off to the printers, I’m going to finish editing it, and release it for free.

Let’s be clear – nobody is doing anything to me, nobody is making me make this choice.  I just looked at the whole gestalt of the production and the DVD and find that the gamebooks episode is both an odd duck and a problematic use of the space of the DVDs. It’s a cool story, and I’m very glad I filmed everyone, and obviously I’m going to release it, but absolutely nothing else on the DVD relates to it. Everything else is about computers and interactive fiction and text adventures. It just doesn’t belong there.

That’s one of the advantages of the modern era – even with something cleaved this late in the game, there’s a place for it. It’ll be online, in high definition, and accessible to everyone. The story will be told, and the people will have not wasted their time, or, conversely, I am not really forced into putting it in even though I feel it doesn’t fit on the disc anymore.  So really, everyone wins on this.

Of course, if you were buying the DVD specifically and only for the Gamebooks episode (and I think that would be strange), let me know, I can issue a refund.  But I promise you, the remaining items are stronger and thematic for it.

So, enjoy the free documentary, when it comes out.  It’s another subject that should have gotten a documentary long ago, and I’m happy I’ll be able to tell its story.

9 Comments on “Gamebooks Goes Independent”

  1. 1 Sean Huxter said at 5:55 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    I think this is a wise decision.

    I’m not disparaging the genre of “gamebooks”, in fact I wrote a program on the C64 called geoComix which was an illustrated gamebook engine, complete with a gamebook story with many branches.

    I had intended on writing an editor so people could create their own, but it was far too difficult a task for me at the time. I could do it now, but that time has passed.

    So I like the genre, but I think it is somewhat peripheral to the main topic of “Get Lamp”.

    And as you say, it is important enough to merit its own piece.

    Keep on keepin’ on. We’re keepin’ on with great anticipation out here…


  2. 2 Ben Combee said at 7:58 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    Did you ever see the film “The Cassidy Kids”. Some friends of mine made it a few years ago with a pretty strong cast in Austin. One of the main characters works as an author of these game books, and there’s a scene where she’s plotting out one of them with post it notes and a big whiteboard. It’s not on DVD, but it has aired on IFC a few times so it might be “out there”.

  3. 3 Jason Scott said at 9:22 am on June 3rd, 2010:


    The goal with GET LAMP is that there were/are a number of sequences where the audience goes “why are we here”, and they slowly realize why. This works pretty well, I think. The Gamebooks sequence was meant to be that as well – but then I found that the audience would still be wondering at the end. So it became a bonus featurette. Now it’s a loss-leading separate documentary. But the original theory, that it was the same thinking, was true but not enough to wed it into the narrative.

  4. 4 David Richardson said at 3:30 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    While I’m glad to hear that the gamebook episode will be released online, I’d love to be able to purchase this on DVD. You know, to have it on the shelf.

    A service like Amazon’s CreateSpace might not be a bad way to go. Right now, it’s very inexpensive ($0 in total, which includes a proof copy and UPC).

    I can guarantee at least one sale.

  5. 5 Jason Scott said at 3:34 pm on June 3rd, 2010:

    I’ll think about it. I find Amray cases and DVD-Rs such a crappy thing.

  6. 6 mike said at 1:26 am on June 4th, 2010:

    Kind of think it would have been cool to see at least part of it on the DVD, but understand the reasons for the omission and trust your production judgement. Used to love those books!

  7. 7 Andy Kosela said at 2:16 am on June 4th, 2010:

    Jason, I hope you cover Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy series in the gamebooks story, as this was and still is one of the best series in this genre.

  8. 8 Eric said at 9:25 am on June 4th, 2010:

    Wow, you really are packing the DVDs full to the last byte, aren’t you? I think it would have been a completely awesome bonus featurette, but if taking this off-disc is needed for the core content to fit comfortably then it’s an understandable decision.

    About how long do you think it runs?

  9. 9 Matt said at 11:44 am on July 1st, 2010:

    I’m in favor of a “real” release of the episode, too. While by no means the real reason I ordered the documentary, I loved the books and was looking forward to the episode – would also like to have it on the shelf, or even in the DVD wallet, on a nice disc, and would pay extra for it.

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