THROW ANOTHER ANALOG ON THE DIGITAL FIRE
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skip the upcoming paragraph on the perils of fashioning comedy bits out of bytes In fact, you can blow off this entire chapter and move on to the nether realms of this worthy tome, where weighty thoughts and globs of impenetrable computer code await you Now that those humorless drones have fled, we can return to the challenge of delivering entertainment in the digital mode Five years ago I created PYST a best-selling CD-ROM comedy game, based on a parody of the much better selling adventure game, MYST I learned straightaway that the sense of timing I had developed performing before a live audience was of no use to me in the realm of digital interactivity On stage, I could develop a joke, nurse the audience, hold them until I was ready, and then wham! hit em with the punch line Not so, when the audience is on the other end of a CDROM or out there somewhere floating on the Internet There s no real time and space connection between me, the provider of digital ha-has, and the bozo or bozoette stroking the mouse I lay out the joke, and they can wait for bloody ever until they decide to click for the punchline To entertain and amuse via the digital domain is no longer an issue of split-second timing, but of providing your interactive audience with humorous situations and icons that intrigue and inspire them to click on and experience the joke In PYST, for example, there s a screen that depicts the lawn in front of the main temple No longer the idyllic greensward portrayed in MYST, I had transformed it into a decidedly low-end trailer park Click on the dog and he relieves himself on a marble plinth Click on the dilapidated Airstream and hear the TV inside the mobile home blare out a promo for Ken Burns new 12-part documentary on Hopscotch or an infomercial for the latest in careers, reading books backwards for blind Satanists Five years ago when I crafted PYST, I also launched RFONET, a Web site that offered a rich menu of streaming and downloadable comedy routines, which included the talents of John Goodman, The Firesign Theatre, and a bevy of Los Angeles humorists Back then, the equation was fairly simple: me plus media equals multimedia, but in the ensuing half-decade the variables have increased enormously To bring
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RFONET up to speed, I have had to offer streaming video files, chat-room access, Shockwave animation, and an everincreasing assortment of bells and whistles that I have to ring and blow just to avoid being wiped out as I surf the bitstream in the digital pipe And that s just the Web All you emerging digital content providers have to wrestle simultaneously with the ever-expanding palette of digital content distribution channels live, tape, broadcast, narrowcast, satellite, and the burgeoning intranets, which are hungry for formats that will keep the worker bees stuck to their computer screens while the boss reels out the company line Then there s the matter of the competition Any ordinary citizen in this post-modem world can put his or her hand on his or her PC and declare, I am a digital content provider! Example, my neighbor, Dot Broadband Once a typical Stepford Wife, she has up-stepped herself into the digital domain, Web casting Dot s Home Page Cooking from her kitchen and making real bread along the way That being said, there s a ton of good work waiting out there for you real professionals; and nowhere else has the rapid onrush of digital content creation posed so many challenges and opportunities than in Hollywood, where the Hot Shots and the big-time Suits gamble umpteen millions of dollars on the latest blockbuster That s where the most glamorous cyber jobs reside; so I think it only meet that I let you in on the latest digital dish from Tinsel Town In Hollywood, the stars are lining up on both sides of the digital divide Case in point, my lunch last week with Braveheart and Ms Icepick at Baldy s Le Dome, the glitter eatery on the Sunset Strip Braveheart was real excited with his latest cutting-edge encounter with digital filmmaking Ever since I laid in that all-cyber Irish army in Braveheart, he said, I ve learned there aren t any actors, just gigabit parts Now, I m in the middle of lensing the sequel and thanks to the digital pipe they laid in my back-yard, I don t have to go over to the set any more to be me I just show up in my Home Entertainment center in this blue jumpsuit, and the studio remotely renders my costume, hair-do, and skin color Then, I
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