Ronald D. Moore knows a thing or two about reinventing old intellectual property for a new audience. The writer-director has turned Battlestar Galactica into a hit show for the Sci Fi Channel and now is looking to delve deeper into video games as a further extension of the franchise.
The series was revived as a game in November 2003 to coincide with the launch of Moore's Galactica miniseries. The timing makes even more sense now as game publishers are turning to the Hollywood archives to take an interactive look at such films as The Godfather, Scarface, Jaws, Dirty Harry, Star Trek, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The key to bringing a property back, Moore says, is finding the heart of that material. Moore, who came of age during the Atari era in the 1970s, has watched many Hollywood contemporaries over the past decade gain a comfort level with how games operate and finds himself joining in.
"It's a pull that there's something interesting happening over there," Moore says. "It's also a new medium and new technology for storytelling, which means there are a lot of things people haven't done yet and figured out yet."
Its influence already is evident, he adds, in how games are influencing the way Hollywood makes TV shows and movies today with a whole generation of gamers now behind the cameras. "There's a lot of technical and stylistic impact that I'm aware of in my world," Moore says.
One of the biggest influences video games are having on Hollywood is the creation of rich and vibrant worlds. The fact that kids spend hours and hours in front of a video game exploring complex backstories and mythologies of these game worlds is impacting the level of detail and complexity in certain TV shows.
"It's been a bit of a surprise to people involved in studios and networks, the idea that people will soak up that type of detail and depth," Moore says. "The audience is willing to immerse themselves in these environments."
Although Moore would like to see another Battlestar Galactica video game, he realizes the challenge of bringing a TV show to the game world. While a movie is a one-off experience that has a set release date, he says a TV show is a different animal.
"A TV series encompasses 20-some hours and has a long, complicated narrative with lots of established back stories and continuity," he says. "You're forced to make a choice with a Battlestar Galactica game in defining what's fun. Is it about experiencing the first season, navigating from the miniseries up to 'Cobal's Last Gleaming'? Or is it doing something that's going off into uncharted territory but taking it further away from the reason you watch the show in the first place?"
Moore says no one has come up with the great TV/video game hybrid yet, the game that everyone in the US has to play. As a result, there's the opportunity to be a pioneer in this space.
"I've thought about doing something where you start a property across mediums, with Internet participation and role-playing video games," he says. "Not every show or property will lend itself to that type of hybrid environment, but if you set it up from the get-go to design it that way, I think that's a really rich and interesting place for the business to go."
Another area Galactica may be heading toward is mobile phone games. Moore says the popularity of Galactica on iTunes has opened a lot of eyes on the corporate level.
"They come to us once they've made the partnerships and then ask about back stories or art," he says. "Creators of the show are pretty far down the food chain with these types of things."