Posted on September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

I’m starting to get back into comicbooks thanks largely to the reboot of the Valiant Universe. I have almost all the original Valiant books in boxes in the basement and I think the reason I was drawn to them was its tight continuity within the universe. Events in one book directly impacted, and did not contradict events in another.

The ‘big’ universes of Marvel and DC have long had issues with continuity due to their sheer size and age. I suspect managing this problem is part of the reason why DC rebooted their universe last year (dumb, dumb move if you ask me…) and Marvel is apparently thinking about it as well. That is not to say that its not possible to have working continuity in a universe that large, and with more than one title per character (Batman has 8 titles right now). My example here is the classic Knightfall crossover (which Batman Returns is loosely based). It was across all the then Batman books and, well, was excellent. And in tone for each of the books. There wasn’t much bleed over into the other books in the universe though… but oh, did Batman bleed.

(What I need right now is a word that means something like hindsight, but for recognizing the choices that might have led the the current now.)

While reading Cem’s The Oracle Problem and the Teaching of Software Testing it dawned on me that in my brain, ‘Continuity’ and ‘Consistency’ are synonyms.

Wiktionary provides a narrative device in episodic fiction where previous and/or future events in a story series are accounted for in present stories as one definition of continuity and Freedom from contradiction for continuity.

So how do I think Valiant did originally, and should now, keep their continuity in tact? Glad you asked! Or didn’t and I’ll say it anyways.

  • Keep the number of titles manageable. And my manageable I mean in the area of 16. Now I have no idea the economics of the publishing world are like, but that could give a couple ‘mini worlds’ that could tightly collaborate sacrificing the whole. (Harbinger, Shadowman, X-O, A&A).
  • Don’t let the groups of books dictate direction. Where the universe is heading should be a Publisher level decision. The v1 universe had that direction available for anyone to see in big-scope-terms in Rai 0 (best cover of all time)

That’s it. Only two things.

Tying this back to testing/agile, I am starting to notice [now that I am looking for it…] this sort of failings in teams. Teams trying to tackle waaay too much work in a given iteration and when features hit production they don’t work as well as they should have when get into their hands. Happens. All. The. Time. I’ve also seen when agile teams or test groups wag the product dog based on their own whims and biases. Management is supposed to do that. Not you.

(Unless the name card on your desk says ‘publisher’.)

Posted on September 9, 2012 in Uncategorized by adamNo Comments »

Beyond the Matrix is an excellent article for a number of reasons. Not only does it give a peek to how a major movie came together, but it also gives insight into the difference between writing a book and making a movie.

Here is a paragraph from page 7.

The set was rudimentary: the control room of the satellite-communication center would be completed with computer-generated imagery, imagined by the Wachowskis down to the minutest detail. The scene in the control room, for example, features an “orison,” a kind of super-smart egg-shaped phone capable of producing 3-D projections, which Mitchell had dreamed up for the futuristic chapters. The Wachowskis, however, had to avoid the cumbersome reality of having characters running around with egg-shaped objects in their pockets; it had never crossed Mitchell’s mind that that could be a problem. “Detail in the novel is dead wood. Excessive detail is your enemy,” Mitchell told me, squeezing the imaginary enemy between his thumb and index finger. “In film, if you want to show something, it has to be designed.” The Wachowskis’ solution: the orison is as flat as a wallet and acquires a third dimension only when spun. Mitchell, who had been kept in the loop throughout the process (and has a cameo in the film), was boyishly excited by the filmmakers’ “groping toward exactitude.” “I was like Augustus Gloop in the Wonka factory,” he told me. “I’ve witnessed a long sequence of decisions, which I never had to make while writing a book. Intellectually, I know it’s a replacement, but I don’t feel a loss at all.”

It is this sort of detail that appeal’s to my tester’s mind. And one which I have been noticing since hearing an interview with L. E. Modesitt, Jr. on Writing Excuses (I think it is this episode, but didn’t double check) where he discusses things like the support logistics of great fantasy battles that authors seem to forget [ignore].

And now, you will notice them too.

(You’re welcome)