« Industry facts | Main | Sequel-itis »

Monday, February 09, 2004

Comments

Tadhg

I'd add one major item to the list.

* Avoid using Japanese-language names or fake Japanese names in the west.

Half the reason that Japanese games often do so badly in the west is because they have meaningless names that the public simply do not relate to.

That said, if you are going to translate the Japanese name into something in the west, don't do a crummy job. There's an interesting disaster-movie style Japanese game called Zettai-something or other which marketing people in the west rather uncreatively called SOS Disaster. Sold loads. Not. Shame.

dubeau

Scott, might i go off topic for a while and ask a question about Max Payne sales ? I have read somewhere (Sorry i don't recall where...) that Max Payne 2 wasn't overall a big commercial success, or at least not has expected. From your point of view, why do you think it did happen ? I am curious, because quite frankly, i though it was one of the best game i have played. The only thing i could think of, might be the lack of a TV ads for a broad exposure...

And it might be as well in topic. You see i remember Max Payne, and i know their is two titles because i played them both. But, apart that fact, the rest is bland in my memory. Why have put Max Payne 2: The fall of Max Payne, and not simply: The Fall of Max Payne, or Max Payne: The Fall. I am wrong to assume that Max Payne 2 title, would have been too long and not focus.

YicklePigeon

After reading this yesterday (and at that time all 50 comments), I wondered if long titles, titles with colons, titles with periods etc affected TV series.

Well, "Mission: Impossible" done extremely well, lasted for years and is still watched worldwide to this day, same with "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.". But then, you realise that (given the names) these are spy shows. Thus the negative effects colons and periods would bring are nullified.

On the flipside to this, "CI5: The Professionals" is a successful TV series, however most people (including the creator Brian Clemens) just call it "The Professionals".

So when I look at long game titles...and here's one that hasn't been mentioned yet:-

The Mystery of the Druids. I played the demo and it entertained me well enough, but the title is horrible - who would want to buy a game with the word "Druids" in the title even if they *haven't* played the demo?

Indeed, before release, Omikron: The Nomad Soul dropped the "Omikron:" title and just left "The Nomad Soul". This isn't that generic, and is at least interesting to the buyer. Then you have to take a look at Jagged Alliance, that although it's a great game when you play it (and indeed as a series), the title - to my mind at least - is rather generic (although I suppose it could be stretched to a point). The original title was "Ambush" which perhaps was a better title considering what you do in the game.

Now, in regards to the person who commented above about Broken Sword, you literally think of a broken sword. But this is not enough to make you think this is a point and click adventure game set during the end of 1999. Indeed, my sister - who doesn't like the Broken Sword series - picked it up for the GameBoy Advance thinking it was an RPG until the box reminded her that it most certainly isn't and she put it back.

Now the game's packaging is interesting enough that you'd pick up the box to look at anyway. And add to this, that the third game (Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon) dropped the number. And all three games still sold very well worldwide. Some food for thought: perhaps good games just nullify it's title's shortcomings and still manages to sell well. Just like the three TV series I mentioned.

After all, even if a title is dull and uninspiring, or the relevancy is not immediately present (unless you play the game) if there's an attractive packaged game on the shelf...it *will* be picked up by the consumer at some point. Indeed as has been said by Mr. Miller: "A name is only part of the puzzle". This further builds on PaG's post about he would pick up a game titled "Evil" just to (at least I would imagine) look at it.

---

Now, I shall take this opportunity to say hello to my fellow fanatic (albeit not *quite* on the same things)...sooo...

Hello there Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoh!!!

And http://www.meccaworld.com - Where the world comes to play, where the world comes to bang a gong, where the world comes to get it on!

Regards,

Yickle.

P.S. Not too shabby eh considering this is my first post in Scott Miller's blog after lurking for so long? :}

Paul Jenkins

Do you mind if I add "Online" to the list of horrible words? Find another way of telling people it's an MMOG. Consider the sheer volume of games with the word "Online" in the title:

Ultima Online
The Matrix Online
Middle Earth Online
Eve Online
Anarchy Online
Destiny Online
Dominus Online
Ragnarok Online
Warhammer Online
The Sims Online

Ok... that's enough for now. The point is that it doesn't take a Harvard grad to figure out if a game is played online or not, and I'm guessing that putting it in huge letters in the title can actually hurt box sales. Consider that an incredibly high percentage of people who buy the box never actually subscribe, it seems like you're shooting yourself in the foot with a title that might make some of those people less likely to try it out.

In the winners category I'd put: Everquest Live, City of Heroes, Worlds of Warcraft and Star Wars Galaxies. They somehow managed to make you aware that you might be picking up an MMOG without actually using the word ONLINE in big flashing letter... go figure. ;)

All time favorite name: Mythica. Short, simple, poetic, implies fantasy and a sense of scale. I still pick up the box every time I see it, and even though I know I probably wouldn't enjoy the game, I've still been sorely tempted to buy it just to find out.

Gestalt

dubeau - "I have read somewhere (Sorry i don't recall where...) that Max Payne 2 wasn't overall a big commercial success, or at least not has expected"

Take 2 blamed "disappointing" sales of Max Payne 2 for a drop in their earnings forecasts earlier this month. Of course, that might have had something to do with the terrible advertising the game got, on this side of the Atlantic at least. I remember seeing posters all over the London Underground for Max Payne 2 describing it as "a noir love story". Whoever came up with that tag line should be taken out and shot.

I'd also hazard a guess that now the novelty of bullet time has worn off and more and more games are starting to use it, Max Payne 2 just didn't have a unique feature to set it apart from other games. Or maybe everyone was sick of bullet time after the Matrix sequels. ;)

Either way, it's a shame because (although I've not had time to play it myself yet), everyone I've spoken to says that Max Payne 2 was a big improvement on the original.

Scott Miller

Dubeau, regarding Max 2's name, I explained what happened in my original topic post.

As for the sales of Max 2, right when the game went gold, to several people involved with the project I predicted that unit sales would fall short 20 to 30% compared to the first game. I had many reasons for believing this would happen, but can't go into them here.

Also, the marketing for Max 2 was only a notch above horrific. I'm positive that the game's poor marketing, including its advertisements, PR, and retail box, played a not-so-small role in the game's weakened sales. Overall, the marketing for the game missed opportunities to communicate the correct positioning messages, they failed to use the all-important concept of credibility, and the marketing failed to build buzz for the game.

Note that with the first game, all of these marketing phases were properly done. I can only explain the difference between the first and second games by saying that with the first game 3D Realms was intimately involved with the marketing process and giving detailed direction to the publisher, but with the sequel we were not involved at all (having by then sold the brand to the publisher, giving them all control over the game's marketing).

My belief is that 99 out of 100 people employed in marketing, simply do not understand this craft. They do not understand that it's more science than art. They love the creative angle, but they do not apply the necessary psychology. Marketing is the application of the science of human behavior. Do most people in marketing realize this? Nope. They just wing it, thinking that creativity will carry the day.

Tadhg

Or lack of creativity in many cases :)

One thing that regularly astounds me about thegames industry is the generally awful marketing. This applies almost across the board, and goes to explain why so many good or great games (like Max2) don't do as well.

It's only reasonable to assume therefore that the standards of professionalism of the industry's marketeers is appalling. My personal experiences of people involved back this up. Most of the game marketing people I've dealt with do not play games, and many of them are really cooling their heels in gaming until they can get a job in film or TV instead.

Too many games suffer from having the same five phrases attached to each box like "compelling story-based interactive stealth gameplay" in some sort of lazy half-assed attempto to curry favour with "The gamers". They honestly think that there's no accounting for people's tastes and no-one knows a hit until it happens anyway, so it' all what the Americans call a crap shoot anyway.

The only company in the last decade that has consistently marketed semi-well, at least in the UK, is Sony. Sony actually think up interesting campaigns, such as the Fun Anyone campaign that they ran with this Christmas. Like or hate the individual campaigns themselves, at least they try, and it seems to have worked for them.

Paul Jenkins

I'd be very interested in hearing what kind of things have influenced other people's buying decisions from an objective standpoint, and why some marketing techniques have been successful or unsuccessful in the past.

One thing of note, by the way, is the one television advert I saw for The Fall of Max Payne made the game look terrific. Had I seen more than one advert, ever, I probably would have bought it. While the box convinced me to pick it up and look, the backside didn't sell well at all. One thing that would have helped was if the box reminded me at some point of the commercial I'd seen. It didn't. In fact, didn't the reverse side focus on the "graphic novel" feel or some such?

One other thing that I think should have been done was to add a splash of red somewhere on the cover as well. The black and white made the box stand out, but also set the wrong tone. A simple red object on the front as the only color may have kept me from feeling "blah" while I looked the game over.

The biggest thing, though, was exactly what Scott said. No buzz. None. The only person who told me anything about the game was one person involved with the physics engine who said, "Man, you're going to be so impressed with the new Max Payne game that's coming out." That was it. That was all the buzz I got, and by the time the game was released, I'd already forgotten it.

On the other hand, this blog reminded me, so maybe I'll go out and buy it now. I hear the game is pretty good. ;)

Paul Jenkins

edit: Earlier I said that the name Mythica kept inspiring me to pick up the box... my mistake... was thinking of Majika... Mythica still has the best name ever, but was just cancelled by Microsoft do to... ummm... well, for some reason or other.. (www.mythica.com)

Scott Miller

Paul, I agree 100% that the back of Max 2's retail box was part of its overall marketing failure. Well, the entire box was bad, IMO, but the back was the worst. The style of the box was good, for the most part, which is probably all the marketing people cared about, but the box's message failed to sell the game inside.

Most marketing people believe style is what matters, all else be damned. And while style matters greatly, it cannot come at the expense of function: specifically, a box's sole function is to have the person who picks it up ALSO buy it. And to this end there are numerous techniques that were in place on the original Max Payne's box, that were not in place on Max Payne 2's box.

MMad

Numbers after sequel titels sometimes work well. "Doom 3" is an awesome titel, for many reasons. And "Final Fantasy XII" still sells copies like crazy...

Aubrey

"I remember seeing posters all over the London Underground for Max Payne 2 describing it as "a noir love story". Whoever came up with that tag line should be taken out and shot."

The "Noir Love Story" tagline got my sister to buy it. My SISTER. She's a GIRL. A GIRL bought Max Payne 2!

Then she tried it, and immediately gave it to me.

How long is the female demographic going to be disappointed by videogames? I'm not suggesting any amount of pandering or patronization be done, but my sister obviously wants to be onboard the new entertainment revolution. As such, she can only get third class tickets, and she's a first class kinda gal (err, not that I'm trying to pimp out my sister or anything).

Tadhg

But there is a love story in there. Somewhere. Underneath all the shooting.

And it was a good one too!

Walter

Maybe they should've called it "A Noir Love Shmup".

Jack

Hi Joe,

Care to go into a bit of detail about Alien Carnage?
This is probably my all time favourite apogee game, but it's got a horribly cliched title.. Was this forumlated a bit before you'd really studied the nomenclature of games, or was it something out of your control? THe protagonist seems a bit less thought through than in other games as well. The name "Halloween Harry" really isn't as in-your-face or explicitly action oriented as a lot of other Apogee/3DR heros, even though arguably he was second only to duke in terms of shoot-em-up attitude and gameplay. Again, was this just something you were not really giving much thought to at the time, or was it out of your control for some unexplained reason?

Do you feel that either of these factors adversely affected the games' sales?

Scott Miller

-- "...or was it something out of your control?"

Jack, this game was developed by a team in Australia, and was originally named Halloween Harry, a name we (Apogee) weren't fond of from the beginning. But back in those days we allowed the developers whom we worked with to make creative mistakes against our better judgment. After the game's release, the developers finally realized that the HH name wasn't the best, and accepted our argument that the HH name positioned the game as a Halloween-only game, which it clearly was not. So, they came up with the generic replacement name, Alien Carnage. At that point, we were just so happy for them to change the name, that we didn't suggest that it was equally poor, but in a different way.

It's a shame, because as you say, this was one heck of a game for its time, and generally didn't sell well. The two poor names were unquestionably one of the game's downfalls.

JP

"How long is the female demographic going to be disappointed by videogames?"

So long as developers continue to agree with this statement:

"... overall, I do not think women are a great source of industry revenue."

Nathan Peterson

So Scott, what do you think of the Metroid series names?

With the possible exception of 'Super' Metroid, and especially the games coming out now (Prime, Fusion, Zero Mission)

Prime 2 is coming out soon, but theyre saying they'll change the title to something more original (I guess we'll wait and see).

Each game plays as a new chapter or episode, rather than a rehash, and they were able to try a new version of their tested and true method (2D to 3D) and successfully do it now they have 2 platforms on which to expand their IP, in the 3D universe (GC), and in the 2D universe (GBA).

It seems that most other transfers of this type, especially on console games, have failed. A Few examples would be Castlevania (Lament of Innocence, I have not played, but the N64 games were total flops) and Megaman (Megaman Legends and Megaman Legends 2 were both flops, as well as Megaman X7)

-Nathan

Scott Miller

I haven't followed the Metroid series too closely. I didn't play the last one on the GameCube because too many people warned me it had a weak save system, so I stayed away.

However, it appears that they're staying away from sequel numbers, and so I think the names are good.

Robert Lacey

While I agree that for the most part numbers after titles are unnecessary, they are, just occassionally, of some importance.

Now, this post is not meant to be a plug, but I make some grotty freeware games, and a friend of mine once made a game called 'The Cafka Files'. I decided that this was far too cumbersome a title to use in a sequel, so I shortened it to 'Cafka'. In this case I feel that a number works after the title - 'Cafka 2: xxx xxx xxx' (where 'xxx xxx xxx' is the subtitle). Would Scott suggest that the 2 was still unnecessary (purely out of interest)?

Scott Miller

Yes, I'd drop the number. Perhaps trying playing with titles that follow the model of the Indiana Jones movies.

More thoughts on game-naming...

http://www.livejournal.com/users/zeitgeist2k4/

gangsta

"Armed & Dangerous" is actually a decent name. Enough time has passed that people will forget about the bad 80s movie. I think the fact that it was a corny game is what made it seem bad.

There's a difference between a bad name, and using the wrong name.

Raptor

Uh, I think pretty much everything has been said that I can think of, except for two small things.

Jedi Academy didn't include a sequel number because it was started as an expansion pack, but a few changes to the engine, and a few larger ideas, pushed it into a stand alone, but still tangential to the Jedi Knight storyline.

The other thing is actually related to one of the names listed... In actuality Freespace 2 was just that, Freespace 2; it was the first that was titled Decent: Freespace The Great War. Sure, it is a minor distinction really, however it would seem they learned a bit and dropped the entire Decent pretense, as really there was nothing connecting the two series.

Hey, if people were commenting about XIII being a Fren... scratch, Belgium comic, I figure Freespace 2 should get a little love too. Yes, yes, the sequel numbers... but hey, better than the alternitive of having a name longer than this comment.

Daedalus

I totally agree with Scott Miller. There are many horrible titles for games these days.

But you know what... german translations of american titles are the most horrible in the world! I'm a guy from Germany, so I know what I'm talkin' about.

Best example are the Thief series:

Thief : Dark Project
Thief 2 : The Metal Age

Now those subtitles doesn't sound that bad in english and the series really rocks. But now look at the german translations:

Dark Project 1 : Der Meisterdieb
Dark Project 2 : The Metal Age

Total crap if you ask me. First of all, the game is called THIEF and not DARK PROJECT. You cannot use the subtitle of the first game and use it for the entire series. How stupid is that?! Second, "Der Meisterdieb" means "The Master Thief". This title may sound crap in english, but very cool in german.

They could have named the german versions sth. like that:

Meisterdieb 1 : Dark Project
Meisterdieb 2 : The Metal Age

Sure, it's not wise to mix different languages in titles, but it makes more sense that way.

And you know something else? They will keep this stupidity and call the upcoming "Thief 3" in german "Dark Project 3". Now check this out. If this isn't the most shitty mistake in the whole gaming world.

The only good thing about the german version of the Thief series is that it's the only one which has brilliant german voice acting. Garrett sounds so much cooler in german than in english. But this shouldn't be an excuse for the shitty naming, though.

Alyssa

I disagree completely. Well, not completely but with a lot of this.

I think title game numbers can help. I was trying to find the latest Pokemon game and had to read through online posts to know that Pokemon: Ruby is older than Pokemon: Leaf. I'd like to just buy the latest one and a title++ would've helped. I think that for potential new customers an incremental number would help and not offend your existing fan base at all. Also, just like the developer for Slackware skipped 5,6 and went straight from slacker 4.x - 7 to be able to look as 'new' as the competing products that were on version 6.x....again for NEW users.

Also, if I was looking at a game for the first time I'd like to see the title Magic or Fanatasy in it because then I know it's like other similar games I like. And some games want to be generic and fit into a genre maybe they are spoofs of a famous game like Dragoness Warrior or something. Not all games can be completely original and weird. Most games are pretty much just twists on existing games/genres. And finally i don't think the title really matters as much as you suggest.

But then again i've never played DOOM (or duke nukem)and have played and enjoyed Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promethia or whatever it is called :p

Darting

Nice site :)

the doctor

Alyssa-

GREAT POINTS!!! I think the Pokemon games are ESPECIALLY confusing to consumers who just want THE newest game.

Also, incremental numbers make for much shorter titles, which Scott says are good. I just saw a link on 1up.com for the sequel to "The Suffering". Did it say "The Suffering: Ties That Bind"? NOPE! I just said "The Suffering 2". Man, "Ties That Bind" is an awful subtitle!!!

Ilya

Nice website. Compliments.

Aaron

What do you think of the new Brothers in Arms game title? I've always assumed it was simply "Brothers in Arms", but then I started seeing the title "Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30" more recently and I became confused. Is this an expansion pack? (I had no idea if Brothers in Arms had come out already or not) I'm pretty sure it's not an expansion pack but the first game in a series, yet it has one of the worst titles I could imagine. "Brothers in Arms" is good, the "Road to Hill 30" subtitle is meaningless and cheapens the name a LOT. I think.

Scott Miller

I've already told the developers I think this is a poor name choice, in another forum. Brothers in Arms is entirely generic, relative to all the other WW2 game titles out there. And then tacking on "Road to Hill 30" is as dumb as adding "Combat Evolved" to the title of Halo.

Overall, the game name rates very low, and has fully exposes the cluelessness of Ubi Soft's marketing department.

Robert Howarth

To me, I am reminded of Band of Brothers, the cool WW2 mini series from HBO. Granted, not everyone has HBO, or has seen Band of Brothers, but I associate the name in a positive manner because I have.

Gestalt

When I hear the title "Brothers In Arms", it just reminds me of Dire Straits. ;)

the doctor

Scott-

I disagree. Below are my notes on the title from back when it was first announced. I agree, the subtitle is a problem, but apparently it was added to help avoid an HBO lawsuit. :-(

>>>

"Brothers in Arms" is a good title. It directly evokes the hugely popular "Band of Brothers" mini-series, which was the spiritual sequel to "Saving Private Ryan." Their announcement is a little awkward though... As it sights emotional storytelling... Along with less scripted sequences. Or at least that's how it sounded.

But in the CROWDED market of realistic shooters (Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Men of Valor, Battlefield 1942, etc) it just might stand out. The focus on the squad (the "brothers") might be enough of a hook. And of course "arms" means weapons and war. So it's a good title. It identifies the setting (war), and the hook (the squad). The downsides are that it's not clearly WWII and not clearly an action FPS. But both of those things could be good for the franchise long-term (a Korean War spin-off, or a board game could use the title).

I also liked their logo, which is really evocative of the Band of Brothers logo. It is clearly military, clearly American, and clearly WWII. Here the logo helps the name clarify some of its weaknesses.

I've gone from thinking Gearbox had no hope... all the way to thinking they might be able to be one of the top three games in the pack that make it. Randy makes a good point that when Call of Duty was announced it was slammed too.

DukeFan

Doc-

I think Brothers in Arms is an OK name. Its problem is that it follows the NOUN-PREPOSITION-NOUN naming pattern of every other historical FPS:

Medal of Honor
Call of Duty
Men of Valor
Brothers in Arms

But… there is strength in numbers. A recognized naming pattern can be used to silently identify the genre of your game. Just like the original action FPSs:

Doom
Quake
Unreal
Halo

So while Brothers in Arms isn’t a revolutionary name… it’s not really trying to be a revolutionary game. The name does the job it needs to. But I can't think of anything better.

the doctor

So what's a better name for this game than "Brothers in Arms"???

Scott Miller

Practically anything that doesn't copycat the "NOUN-PREPOSITION-NOUN" genericness that we've seen in so many other similar games.

A name I *REALLY* liked that was up for consideration for this title, was Baker's Dozen (you play the role of Baker). Now here's a clever name that focuses on the lead character, and isn't generic, nor a copycat in terms of style. I think this name turned out to be unavailable due to trademark conflicts, but at least this is an example of an original, compelling name. There must be many others if given enough brainstorming.

Patrick Johnson Jr.

I notice when I go into a store looking at what's out on the market, as a programmer I'm looking at the gameplay they are promoting (whether it's all that it lives up to be is another topic), and as a consumer I look at it's marketing. We do this for everything (look at the marketing).

Example: Do you think we'd of bought coke if it was named cabonated flavored syrup water?

I agree with Scott on these things, game names are getting redundant and uninspiring. They either have nothing to do with the title, too general in naming, or stylized to another game's name that is popular in the genre.

if a game can't sell me by it's name and marketing schemes, it's gonna have to be on something that I heard to buy it. With marketing a product, if it doesn't have cachet (for you who remember Seinfeld...) most people have a less than lukewarm reception to it.

Games are usually sold by coverage by media that covers games. Alot of these "game media" are getting trade-offs for game exposure, example IGN for the past few months have had coverage on Midway's NARC. Now they're promoting the sale of it pretty heavily. Alot of people use this for info on games.

Word of Mouth is something that is a lost form of selling with games, I don't remember the last time I had a game recommended to me and had me sold about it.

In essence, the problem is if the name doesn't catch some spark in a consumer's inetrest, then it's a candidate for being a bargain bin liner. With a great name and marketing, you could potentially sell a game to someone that normally has no interest in the genre of the game. The name of the game is an important part of the marketing of a game.

example of name importance:
If a game's name was called "Total Crap"... how do you get someone to buy that?!

Robert Howarth

The only good 1-word WW2 themed names I can think of are German. :)

It would be an interesting challenge to come up with some good English ones.

Ami


Hi there this is ami.i request u to pls suggest me a good name for my gaming zone since am stuck in it .i hope i will find the right answer.

Andrei

"Duke Nukem Forever" can be converted very easily to "Duke Nukem Never" :))
Guy, did you think good enough about this name?

Toukan

Does anybody know that Half-Life translated as Период полураспада?

Log_in

Err... Toukan... It is shorter, "Полураспад"... But cam you find any person who call HL "Полураспад"? :)

^x___X^

ниасилил
но всё равно зач0т
=)

Dolphin

Just one title:
DOOM 3: Resurrection of Evil

Absolutely no comments, guys.

Peter

Hello, I liked you site very much. But maybe you should change the color of the background on the site?

Dilman

Ага, начитались статеек на АГ и давай туда же: "зачОт", "зачОт" :-)
Respect to author :-)

bob

So my game 'Evil Bob and the invasion of the suitcase full of fluffy dusters' would not be a good game title.
You play evil bob, on his mucky world, and these fluffy dusters turn up in a suitcase shaped spaceship, to clean up evil bob's world, and you as evil bob has to stop them.

Dave

Deus Ex is the cleverist game name ever. It only iscolates ignorant casual gamers who do not deserve to play this game. Let them stick with Fifa street. Deus Ex Machina 'God from the machine' is very appropiate for the game. Helios is a Deus Ex machina if taken literally. It can also mean an illogical solution not consistent with the rest of a story. This is recognised as the directors way of ending a film as he/she likes. Obviously you have 3 endings to choose from in deus ex. It can also refer to a solution to a problem that has seemingly come form out of the blue. JC is the 'solution' and he was genetically engineered, which is by no means usual!

Charles E Hardwidge

Just a note to Scott, or anyone that's maintaining this site on his behalf. Apart from the pages of links being thrown here, you might want to check the last two posts. They're noise with links thrown in the detail field to drive traffic to other sites. One suggestion Typepad might like to consider is adding a random code security image for clearing comments that are made manually, as a way of shutting out this auto-generated spam. Feel free to delete this comment once you're done with it. Thanks.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Recent reads

  • : The Little Book That Beats the Market

    The Little Book That Beats the Market
    I've totally revised my investment strategy on this once-in-a-lifetime investment book. Very quick read, as it gets right to the point. (*****)

  • : The One Percent Doctrine

    The One Percent Doctrine
    Superb book on the policies that lead us to the current Iraq war. Two words: Blame Cheney! (Well, and Bush too, but he's not the linchpin.) (*****)

  • : Brands & Gaming

    Brands & Gaming
    Mostly inconsequential book that doesn't really explain HOW to make a successful game brand. Instead, it focuses on marketing for game brands. (***)

  • : Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected

    Cleopatra's Nose: Essays on the Unexpected
    Truly wonderful book, mostly dealing with history, by one of my all-time favorite writers. The final chapters, written in 1995, give a clear reason why America should not be in Iraq, if you read the underlying message. (*****)

  • : Myth & the Movies

    Myth & the Movies
    Great study of a wide range of hit movies, using The Hero's Journey as a measuring stick. Very useful for game developers. (****)

  • : Kitchen Confidential

    Kitchen Confidential
    This chef is clearly in love with his writing, but the fact that he's a non-innovative, hack chef makes this book less insightful than I was hoping. Still, a fun read. (***)

  • : See No Evil

    See No Evil
    I do not list 2-star or lower books here, and this book almost didn't make the cut. A somewhat unexciting behind-the-scenes look at the life of a CIA field agent working against terrorism. The book's title is spot on. (***)

  • : The Discoverers

    The Discoverers
    Love books like this, that offer deep insights into the growth of science throughout history, and giving a foundation of context that makes it all the more incredible that certain people were able to rise above their time. (*****)

  • : Disney War

    Disney War
    I started reading this and simply could not stop. A brilliant behind-the-scenes account of the mistakes even renowned CEOs make, and the steps they'll take to control their empire, even against the good of shareholders. (*****)

  • : The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health

    The Hundred-Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health
    Do not read this book if you prefer to believe that the government actually gives a poop about your well being. (*****)

  • : From Reel to Deal

    From Reel to Deal
    Subtitled, "Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film." And much of it applied to the game industry. A revealing look at the true machinery of movie making. (****)

  • : The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

    The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge
    The building of world's most technological structure for its time, against pitfalls, deaths and political intrigue. An amazing tale, told amazingly well. (*****)

  • Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?

    Richard Feynman: What Do You Care What Other People Think?
    My first book by Feymann will not be my last. A champion of common sense and insightful thought, Feymann's story-telling about life's events is riveting. (*****)

  • : Marketing Warfare

    Marketing Warfare
    A revised re-release of one of the all-time best marketing books. Only bother reading this is you care about running a successful company. (*****)

  • : YOU: The Owner's Manual

    YOU: The Owner's Manual
    Another good overview of way to protect your health in the long run. It's all about prevention, rather than hoping medicine can fix us when we're broken (i.e. heart disease or cancer). (****)

  • : The Universe in a Single Atom

    The Universe in a Single Atom
    Perfectly subtitled, "The Convergence of Science and Spirituality." Buddhism meets relativity, and believe it or not, there's a lot of common ground. (****)

  • : See Spot Live Longer

    See Spot Live Longer
    Feeding your dog at least 65% protein? Most likely not, as all dry dog foods (and most canned, too) absolutely suck and have less than 30% protein. And that is seriously hurting your dog's health in the long run. (****)

  • : 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free

    17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free
    Anyone who needs motivation to make something of their life -- we only get one chance, after all! -- MUST read this book. (*****)

  • : Ultrametabolism

    Ultrametabolism
    Perfect follow up to Ultraprevention. Health is at least 80% diet related--nearly all of us have the potential to live to at least 90, if we just eat better. (****)

  • : How to Tell a Story

    How to Tell a Story
    Great overview of story creation, especially from the point of view of making a compelling stories, with essential hooks. (****)

All-Time Best