It may not be the first comparison that comes to mind, but in fact, the world of film and TV series isn't too different from the world of system integration. To convince you, let's take some Hollywood scenes and compare them with enterprise integration patterns (EIP) to better understand how they work and what you can do with them.
Since the days of the original Star Wars, Hollywood has realized that having a consistent world and background story that goes deeper beyond what is shown in the film can contribute greatly to its success.
For example, what was most striking in the character of Luke Skywalker was not so much his character nor the actor who played him, but the fact that he was a Jedi apprentice, a futuristic warrior monk who's the heir of an ancient order that participated in the "Clone Wars". Nothing was said about the war except only for vague references. But just mentioning it gave the viewer the feeling of being in the midst of "something bigger".
Unfortunately however, it's not enough to throw cryptic references and half-sentences in the scene to get a final product that ultimately satisfies the viewer (as the fans of "Lost" could attest). Nonetheless, each background element should "fit" and be consistent with the others in the storyline. Otherwise the viewer will notice.
Just like any complex task, creating a background story goes through a design phase before being implemented. It's often iterative and has considerable difficulties. It's no coincidence then that many of the films and of the successful series of recent times were based on existing books or comics that already have a background. Fortunately in the scripts, there are common patterns that the writers already know based on standard solutions proven by some of the most popular series of recent times.
The Chamber of Secrets: An Example of "Message Passing"
An important part of Harry Potter's world are the secrets hidden behind every corner and the events leading to their revelation. Every character, every artifact, every single stone of Hogwarts castle has a secret that sooner or later passes to someone, and then someone else, and so on, up to the final inevitable revelation.
This scheme can easily be displayed as a form of EIP's "Message Transfer". Whenever a "message" (the mystery or guarded secret) passes to someone else, this process could be displayed by a flow chart, where the nodes are the characters or objects concerned and the arrows represent the flow of information. (Want to learn more about Enterprise Integration Patterns? Download our System Integration Knowledge Pack!)
Through this chart of "message passing" it'seasier to understand if there is something inconsistent in the storyline. Aside from gaining a clearer view, this also helps to evaluate the choices of the characters. In many situations, these messages don't automatically move from one node to another, but rather they are routed in one direction or another depending on the personality of the character.
For example, at the end of the first chapter of the saga, Dumbledore must decide whether to tell Harry of the prophecy about him. This information is very important for how the story will continue. The choice of Dumbledore to not route this information to Harry sets the stage for the rest of the whole plot. It established and displayed the logic on how the information is routed and was the key to obtaining three-dimensional and consistent characters for that story.
Aggregation: Avengers, United!
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the movie "Avengers" started a revolution in the world of superhero movies. For the first time, different movies and characters were combined into a single "crossover" film. They have come together to form a stronger and more powerful force to tackle an enemy that they could never overcome if they were divided. This is a rare case where you can observe the birth of a new, revolutionary pattern in the world of cinema - a film that is a direct result of the flows and narrative content of other previous films.
This new pattern of "aggregation" (adopted from its world of comics which later inspired the films) has been so successful that their competitor, DC Comics has decided to adopt the same pattern for its new cinema releases. Ultimately, it's clear that from now on it will be difficult to see the superhero movie that does not use this pattern of "aggregation."
Splitter pattern: “You know nothing, Jon Snow!”
Although the aggregation pattern has proved successful within the realm of superheroes, there's at least one example of a saga that got its success using a diametrically-opposite pattern. I'm sure you're familiar with the book series "A Game of Thrones" and the series that came out afterwards.
In the storyline, the author George RR Martin starts from a world where characters gathered in groups and then separating them on their own individual parallel paths or storylines which are narrated at the same time. In some cases, they can also cross-over.
Also, unlike the first example presented, little or no information at all flow between the different storylines of the series, keeping the characters ignorant of everything that happens to their friends and to their loved ones in the other storylines. However, this also makes development more manageable since each storyline is not too influenced by the others.
In this case, for the setting and the purpose of the plot, it opted for a "splitter" pattern that is completely different from the previous examples. But rather than bring ruin to the series, in this setting and choice, it turned out to be completely in its favour and helped develop the series on whole.
Just like in the fast-moving world of blockbusters, even in IT there are similar patterns like those we mentioned above that can help in integrating IT systems. However, as we've seen in the case of "Game of Thrones," the real challenge is to choose an integration pattern that's right for the situation.
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