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Picasso & Video Games

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Watching Nintendo's turnaround at E3 has been encouraging to say the least. At a time when the company's fate has never seemed so uncertain, fans of of the big N probably had their faith restored with this year's E3. Could Nintendo be the comeback kid? If Nintendo stays lean and hungry, and keeps doing what they did this past week, the answer is a resounding... maybe.

But to see Nintendo finally shake off itself off and rise with renewed vigor has led me to dwell on one simple question: "What took so long?"

I really want to know how Nintendo finally got it's mojo back. And why now? Why not six months ago? Although I keep mentioning Nintendo, they are not the only company that this query could be applied to. What about Sony? At exactly what point did the head honchos at Sony realize the gravity of their circumstances? What was the catalyst that brought about their renewal?

To see the current success of the Playstation 4, and the slow, but steady reinvigoration of the PS Vita is simply amazing. Sony's new attitude on nearly all fronts seems to be more consumer friendly, more accessible, and flexible. Sony's new willingness to correct mistakes and learn, and adapt is in many ways the Sony that consumers and gamers always wanted. The Playstation 2 hinted at that sort of potential, but somehow, Sony got off track with the PS3. Despite the sheer power of their hardware, it seemed that their focus wasn't as sharp, their objectives not nearly as clear. Fast forward to the present, and the story is almost a complete reversal.

And what of Microsoft? The Redmond based software giant seemed to have charted a course for disaster at the time of last year's E3. If there was any bad decision or move that a company could make, it seemed that Microsoft had done it. And what now?

Microsoft, like Nintendo and Sony, has also shown enough wisdom to eat humble pie and make the changes needed to right their ship. A full reversal on their DRM and used games policy did much to keep them in the fight. And the most recent decision to release an Xbox One without Kinect will probably be one of the best decisions Microsoft has ever made for their new console.

So what makes three titans of the business world change? Or rather, how do they forge a path towards greatness?

Recently, I stumbled upon a quote from Pablo Picasso which I found to be immensely thought-provoking. It is as follows:

"My mother said to me, 'If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.' Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso."

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Can even a Master, plan a masterpiece?

 

Whether you're Pablo Picasso creating you're next masterpiece, or the head of a new software developer, is inspiration something that we can plan?

The Uncharted series is probably one of the greatest to ever exist. Is it mere coincidence that the same company responsible for creating Uncharted also gave us Jak and Dexter... and The Last Of Us?

What sort of magical potion lies in the coffee pots and water coolers at companies like Rockstar, who give us one hit after another, after another? Is it simple planning? Budget size? Recruiting the right talent?

And here's the clincher. Having what seems like all the right elements does not always guarantee success. Being a creative genius does not always produce... well, genius. Look at the original Sonic Team, the brains behind the original Sonic The Hedgehog that almost single-handedly gave Sega it's brief leap ahead of Nintendo. Sonic has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the years, but never attained the level of greatness he once knew. Why?

Consider John Romero of Daikatana infamy. To have started on such legendary games as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, what happened?

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How do you ruin a great idea?

 

What makes a company like Blizzard decide to implement DRM measures that result in a deeply flawed gaming experience? What makes a company like EA... well, be EA?

People spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on expensive educations every single year, all under the assumption that such education will provide them with a clearer path towards success. Corporations like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo spend money on focus groups, polls, product testing and other standards of measure. So what causes all of that to fail?

Sometimes, I've wondered if the executives running some of these companies just get bored and decide to initiate a horrible idea just for the hell of it. Just to throw a stone and watch the ripple.

Did the top heads at Microsoft really expect the Kinect to be as popular as they clearly wanted it to be?

Did the folks at EA really think that people would be pleased with their botched release of last year's Sim City? If not, why take such a risk?

In Picasso's case, he once revealed in an interview that he did not see himself as a great painter. In fact, no one could have been more surprised at the popularity of his odd, and now iconic painting style, than Picasso himself. He once described himself as being a horrible sketch artist, and admitted to having trouble illustrating the human form, thus his trademark look of "cubism".

Is it possible, that the process for designing the next great game is just as random?

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