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Media Consumption: Telltale Games' Kevin Bruner

Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column asking our favorite personalities in the games industry what they’ve been digging in the worlds of audio, video, print and game...
Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column asking our favorite personalities in the games industry what they’ve been digging in the worlds of audio, video, print and games, speaks to Telltale Games CTO Kevin Bruner. Bruner, like most of the Telltale team, has a history at LucasArts, with programming credits on Escape from Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, and Star Wars: Obi-Wan. Additonally, Bruner has taught at the Full Sail Center for New Media, spoken at the Game Developers Conference, and has had a hand in creating technology for a number of MTV game shows. Bruner and his team recently wrapped production on Bone: Out from Boneville, the first chapter in Telltale's serialized video game adaptation of the Jeff Smith graphic novel epic, while being fueled by the following: Sounds: Bruner relates the story behind his abandonment of commercial radio. "A few months ago," he said, "I discovered a country music radio station in the Bay Area. I’ve never been that into country music, but it was something actually different on the radio, and some of the tunes were hilarious, so it was what my car was usually tuned to. Then one day, I got in my car and “The best of the 70’s and 80’s” was in its place. Overnight the station had completely changed its format, and not a hint of the old station was left. This new format (and likely the old format) was obviously some “radio station kit” product peddled on some convention floor somewhere. The whole experience hammered home how amazingly uninspired broadcast radio had become. So that day I went out and got an XM radio." Bruner has never looked back, waxing poetic about the satellite provider. "It’s awesome," he says. "I can go from rock to country to electronic to radio plays to comedy to sports. I can stream it over the web, listen in my car and hook it to my home stereo. Between my iPod and my XM, there’s no looking back!" Words: Bruner just finished Douglas Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, which Amazon's editorial review describes as "a sunny exploration of scholarly and linguistic play and love's infinity." "This is a remarkable book about the subtleties of translating poetry between various languages," said Bruner. "Since our games use a lot of humor, good localization into appropriate idioms is terribly important, and I’ve never seen such thorough and entertaining examination of the subject." Bruner has since moved on to an unnamed biography on Abraham Lincoln, and is "trying to muddle my way through some remarkably self absorbed books on interactive narratives," he said, without naming names. Moving Pictures: "I recently watched The Trilogy by Lucas Belvaux," he said. "This is actually three films using mostly the same characters in the same situations, but using radically different narratives and perspectives. These films can be watch several times and gain new perspective on each interaction. It’s really well crafted and highly recommended. Netflix it now!" Games: "Of course, Out from Boneville is my latest favorite game," said Bruner, seizing the opportunity for a plug. Bruner has also been playing Myst V, and is currently readying himself for Indigo Prophecy, French developer Quantic Dreams' open-ended adventure. "XIII from Ubisoft is also a great and underrated game," he said, "I'm hoping for a sequel! My Nintendo DS has also been sucking up a lot of time. Of course, there's Nintendogs, but also Wario Ware: Touched and Project Rub [otherwise known as Feel the Magic: XY/XX] are shiny bits I just can’t take my eyes off of. I’ve always been a big Nintendo fan, and I’m constantly amazed at how “out of the box” their thinking is. I only wish I had time to port some Telltale games to it!" [Frank Cifaldi is a Las Vegas-based freelance author whose credits include work for Nintendo Official Magazine UK, Wired, and his own Lost Levels website.]

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