Star Wars 30 Years Later

I was a young guy in 1977 and my very first movie in a theater was Star Wars episode IV. I have been hooked for the past 30 years. Of course I bought into the merchandise and had quite a collection back in the day. I was never a fanatic or superfanboy, but I did enjoy all of the films and I have shared the Star Wars experience with my kiddos. My five year old son in particular is now a big fan. From the Lego Star Wars franchise to action figures to legos, he loves all things Star Wars as I did at his age.

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So this past week we hopped in the van and made our way to Ft. Worth to visit the FW Museum of Science and History. For a few months they are housing a special Star Wars exhibit called Star Wars where science meets imagination. In the exhibit are actual props and models from the various films. Everything from the land speeder in episode IV, to an actual destroyer droid, to anakin and obi-wan’s costumes and lightsaber hilts from episode VI, Wookies, and Stormtroopers, X-wing models, and of course Darth Vader! There were also hands-on labs where the kids could build their own robots and a green screen where you can be placed into a photo remaking some of your favorite moments from the films.

If you are a fan of the films and want to share some of the history with your kids or to just take a trip down memory lane for yourself then I highly recommend going to the exhibit. Wow, I cannot believe it has been 30 years since I first saw a Star Wars movie.

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Game Review – Bioshock

Bioshock gets my “pick of the week” in terms of games I am currently playing. I am very impressed by the Unreal engine powering the game as the motion is smooth and the controls are tight for a console based FPS. I highly recommend picking it up.

The premise is you are a plane crash survivor who discovers a hidden underwater city called Rapture. Rapture represents an idealistic society that goes astray when the inhabitants become obsessed with genetic manipulation which turns them into something else entirely. The game is unique in that it is a mix between the RPG and FPS style of games. There are clear goals and objectives but you have the freedom to roam through to look for all of the extras or play straight through. The mini games compliment the story and you have an option to buyout or autohack an object if you are not interested in running through the process of hacking the device. It is more on the horror side and rated M so no playing with your small kiddos in the room.

The achievements associated with the game are feasible. There are a number of secret achievements but there is a good reason for the secrecy as they coincide with events in the game. One of the features I most enjoy is the save anywhere function. I like that I can be in the middle of an event in the game and save at that exact moment and pick it up again later without missing a beat. One note, be sure to concentrate on the gathering all of the elements for achievements on each stage as you will not have the option to go back to a previous level once you leave it. Also, when you complete the game that is it there is no going back. That would be my only negative associated with the title. So be dilligent in your searches and research!!!

Recent games worth mentioning are Overlord (love this game), NCAA08, Madden08 and the EA Skate Demo. Speaking of Skate, check out my latest vid capture from the demo.

Tom Edwards with Big Daddy from Bioshock - Blog

Fun on a Friday – Part 2

A few months ago we introduced the world to “Cardboard Rob“. Today, we unveiled “Bobblehead Rob”. In the ever escalating pranks on Rob Howard, CEO of Telligent Systems a.k.a. our fearless leader, I crafted a plan a few months ago to come up with the ultimate, tasteful office prank. Careful planning and multiple iterations went into the creation of “Bobblehead Rob”. From the clay models to the final paint approval. Each step of the way focusing on authenticity and realism. I was very satisfied with the end result.

This morning, Rob walked into his office only to be greeted by an army of… “Bobblehead Rob’s”. Yes, he has been immortalized in small ceramic, nodding statues. His initial reaction was one of shock and bewilderment as a future Telligent tellicast will reveal. But today Rob came face to face with…. well.. himself.

If you act in the next 7 days, you too can own your own Rob Howard Bobblehead. Supplies are limited.

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OXM… Really?

haloIt all began when I started receiving random friend requests via Xbox Live. I was suddenly hit with a flood of new requests from people I didn’t know. Then came the news that my gamertag TheBlackFin and blurb were included in the October #75 edition of the Official Xbox Magazine.

There is a section of the magazine called “Live Spaces” it is a page dedicated to highlighting a few of the Xbox Live community members (pg 95). You write in about the achievement you are the most proud of, games you are looking forward to playing and a little bit about yourself.

I am definitely the most proud of the 100% completion achievement (This is a single achievement in the game, not a 100% completion of all achievements) on Lego Star Wars II as it was me and my then 4 year old son Gavin playing co-op together almost every night. We searched every level as we built, smashed and jumped our way through the game. I really liked the fact that we can spend time together and have a lot of fun without worrying about the content of the game.

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The Halo 3 Marketing Machine

While flying to New York today I was reading an industry magazine and came across a Halo 3 cross-promotional ad that caught my attention. Outside of this ad featuring Halo 3 & 7-11, the teams at Bungie and Microsoft are collaborating with a number of brands and agencies, including the same team that brought you 7-11’s transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, to kick off a Halo 3 go-to-market campaign that will be assaulting mainstream audiences faster than Master Chief can blast a covenant elite with a dual-wielded mauler.

It looks as though Halo 3 inspired Mountain Dew will be flying into 7-11 sometime in August. This promotion will also see Halo 3 Slurpee cups and Master Chief emblazoned bags of Doritos. The Doritos campaign will be tied to a voice cameo contest for the upcoming Ensemble Studios Halo Wars title. I have been very impressed with 7-11’s strategy over the past year. You would not think that a convenience store would have this type of marketing prowess but the proof is in the tie-in’s… Spider Man, the Simpsons, and Halo. And this only accounts for campaigns launched in 2007.

Regarding Halo’s GTM strategy, other brands will also leverage Master Chief to help cross-promote their offerings. Pontiac, Burger King and even a Halo 3 sponsorship for an upcoming music tour featuring acts like Linkin Park are just a few of the publicly available elements of the upcoming campaign. All of this does not include the Microsoft centric items such as Halo 3 branded Xbox 360’s, controllers and Zunes.

What this tells me is that the point is no longer to just make a game that entertains. The main goal now is to develop something that can transcend a niche genre and break through to the mainstream. It happened with Pac Man in the 80’s, it has happened with the Electronic Arts Madden franchise which is the best selling franchise of all time and now Halo is primed to cross into the mainstream by following the road taken by many a Hollywood blockbuster… meaning directly into kids meals at Burger King and on the bag of chips you eat in your living room… while playing Halo 3. Who says marketing doesn’t work?

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2008 & Beyond

Strategic planning, execution and constant measurement are the key factors in taking an organization from good to great. Currently each member of the Telligent leadership team is drafting a business plan for their respective areas of the business. That means I had the privilege to prepare 3 (Product Sales, Services Sales, & Marketing). The focus of the documents are to review goals to close out FY07, but more importantly to define a roadmap of where we expect to be and how we expect to get there in 3 years.

This exercise is key as with any organization that handles the amount of business that we do you can get caught up in the day-to-day activities and not necessarily keep a razor sharp focus on where we need to go. We have outlined aggressive but achievable revenue goals and expectations and it is a great exercise to pause and take a macro view of the organization to ensure that all teams are working towards the same objectives.

I look forward to the presentations on Monday and more importantly the specific action items that will result from the meeting. This is a very exciting time as 2008 looks to be another phenomenal year across all areas of the organization.

20,000 Points

It is finally official. I have reached the 20,000K gamerscore mark!!! I have expressed in the past that I am an avid gamer and I enjoy the work that we do with various gaming studios such as Electronic Arts.

One thing about me is that I am very competitive and focused on results. I like to set goals and subsequently achieve them. This coincides very well with the Xbox 360 achievement system as you get a very measurable ROI metric out of your gaming experience.

Gaming is a lot like marketing in that you select a specific vertical that you want to target. For example, I like to focus on sports and retro titles. Then I formulate a plan based on the market segment that I have selected. I review the achievements that are available with each game prior to playing to predetermine ratios around potential time spent on pursuit of the goal vs. actualization of the achievement and then move towards the execution phase of the plan. Once the plan is put into motion it is very easy to then determine success of the strategy. And it is just a lot of fun to have the achievement pop-up on my screen once I have earned the achievement.

So is a 20K gamerscore required to be a good marketer? Not at all… All it shows is that you spend a lot of time looking at a screen. Speaking of which I have to thank my wife and children for allowing me the “small” amounts of time that I spend on…. market research. I also would like to thank the guys at EA for giving me the hookup on the best EA titles.

Thanks again! On to 30K!!!

Did You Know?

Taking from an old ESPN Sportscenter segment, I thought it would be an appropriate title for this discussion. With more and more people plugging in to social networking sites like MySpace it is becoming a tool used by organizations to scout potential interview candidates prior to ever meeting them in person.

Normally it is the individual who is being interviewed that researches the organization and if available the bio of the person who will be conducting the interview. But with the flood of personal information that is now available it is the employer who is researching the potential candidate.

A hiring decision is one that requires a significant investment in an individual and a one hour meeting here and there does not always allow you as a decision maker to have all of the information necessary to make a hiring decision. Most candidates put their best foot forward and are actively trying to make a good impression. It is interesting to read blogs of potential candidates and how they interact with others. As I have stated before a resume is a foot in the door, but it is how you will fit within the culture of the organization that is also very important. And that is difficult to determine within the limited amount of time allocated to the recruiting process.

So my word of advice is to be mindful of what you make publicly available as it is just that publicly available. It is not only your peers that read what you have to say. Prospective employers are very interested as well.