Friday, August 31, 2007

America the embarassing...

How fucking sad and stupid that the GOP wants Craig to step down for what amounts to- in my mind- nothing more than a semi-creepy act in a bathroom stall but the Republicans- and probably many Americans- have no issues allowing Bush and his evil cronies to stay in the White House. What's worse: a guy soliciting sex in a bathroom or Iraq/Katrina/Having 9-11 happen on your watch/putting folks in charge of mine and bridge safety and then watching them fuck up and get people killed/etc./etc./etc....

Not saying the Democrats would be much better. They'd be spineless wimps as well, just over a different issue, I'm sure.

I mean, what really is the problem here? I don't know Craig's work as a Senator. For all I know he was great; but I heard something about him being an uncompassionate ass, so I don't know. But either way, if he worked for me, that's all I'd care about- did he do his job well?- in regards to him staying in office.

And what the fuck is with these hollier-than-tho motherfucking politicos like Romney saying what Craig did was 'disgusting'? What is he, 8 years old? Shit man, yeah, if I was taking a shit in a stall and some dude's hand started creeping under the stall, I sure as shit wouldn't be down with that. Man, I'd probably stomp on the thing out of instinct, thinking it was a strange spider or something. I mean, yes, it is- as I said- kinda creepy. I get that, I agree with that.

But when you toss out words like disgusting, it just kind of makes me a bit ill. Because folks using those sorts of words are doing so mainly to paint themselves in this bullshit Normal Rockwell sexual light that pretty much says, "I am a robot. Only missionary sex is ok and I never think of any women other than my wife and we have sex 2-3 times a week even if we are not in the mood and why would I ever want to go into a stirp club...that's icky!- and every now and then my wife gets a 'little naughty' and wears a little something from Victoria's Secret'....fucking ugh, dude. How fucking sad that our country's views of what is ok and what is not ok sexually are so watered down and dull. Again, I'm not into bathroom stall solicitations but fuck man, maybe if parts of our country didn't demonize sex and make sex 'dirty and wrong' on one hand, but then pour it down our throats in tv and movies and advertising on the other hand, we'd be ok. Or in this case, if our country wasn't so homophobic in the first place, Craig- who seems gay to me or at least curious, assuming he did what they said he did- could go do what he needed to do without HAVING to get his fucking rocks off in a bathroom stall. Sheesh! And it's not just sex either. It's not only about here's the way you should FUCK to be accepted... it's beauty as well. It's like: here's the way you should LOOK to be accepted....even if we have to air brush the shit out of you to the point that NO ONE actually looks that way...but we'll float it out there, to hell with the fact that it fucks up kids who grow up with an impossible sense of what beauty is... Jesus man, junior high never ends, does it? I mean, if I have to hear one more time that Romney LOOKS like a president....I mean, who gives a bathroom-stall-fuck what the man looks like?!?!? I'd vote for a fucking brain in a jar if it could do good work....hell, I'd elect Lulu from fucking Hee-Haw if she'd get the work done! Shit man... to do my work...

See ya!

ultra liberal David! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let your damn kids be what they want...

Saw that USC/NFL/ARENA FOOTBALLER Todd Marinovich was arrested again for drugs. I read that this will be his 9th or 10th drug charge and he's already on probation. Seems like jail time is certain. Check out the sad, sad mug:

This fucking breaks my heart, man. For two reasons:

#1- I was at USC when Todd was there. Never met the man but we were in the same year and I had friends who knew him. It just makes me feel old I guess, seeing his pic; granted, it's a mug shot but still...last time I saw him he was like the total golden boy. He really defined the stupid term BIG MAN ON CAMPUS when he was at USC. I can't image there was one thing he would have wanted- a girl, a car, a check- that, at the time, he could not have gotten. Just amazing and sad. Boy I feel old today.

#2- I always heard these stories about how Todd's father was obsessed with him becomming an NFL great and from early childhood had put Todd on that path. The big story that got repeated all the time at SC- which I can't imagine is true- was that until he came to college, Todd had never been allowed to eat a hamburger (because he was on such a strict training regimen his whole life). True or not, I can't say. But it makes me very happy that I really could give two shits what my kids grow up to be, as long as they are happy and kind, or doing what they can to become happy and kind. To that point, it makes me really happy that my parents didn't care what I grew up to be, as long as I was happy. I mean, damn people, let your kids be who they want. There is a HUGE difference between parenting and controlling. Hell, as long as you raise them to be good people, the rest is, really, none of anyone's damn business but their own. God, to think how many kids are simply ruined because they have parents who think it is their place to determine what their kids will become, who they will be, what they will want. Just amazing and, again, sad.

Good luck Todd. No one deserves a shitty life and I hope you find whatever strength you need to turn this shit around.

See ya'll.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Visiting with old friends...

Out in Utah for the next few days, tuning and tweaking levels for Tm:Lost and Tm:Head On. Man, being with these characters, these cars, being in this world, it feels like visiting with old friends...again! I thought I was done with car combat after Black but I'm surprised at how much fun I am having! Lots of passion for this little port, I have to say. I really hope you guys/gals dig what we are doing! Here's some quick pics:


That's the car ROADKILL racing thru the Hollywood level of TM:HEAD ON. The team is in the processes of resing up the textures so it will look much nicer on the PS2 that it did on PSP. They are off to a great start!

Every TM game has 30-40 pages of tweaks. Here's just one of the pages, car dynamics. Today I was working with Scott to tune the car speeds, turn radius, decide how much skid/slide the vehicles should have. I am starting to feel when we made Black, we made too chaotic of a game. The ability to focus on the action and play in a more strategic way got lost for many players. On the port we are toying with dialing it back a bit, exploring the idea of getting back to what made the earlier TM games so much more accessable.

Here is just one page of the main menu of tweaks. It encompasses things like car dynamic tuning; weapon tuning (hit points,speed of weapon, rate of pick up regeneration,etc), AI, and lighting effects. Out of all of these pages, I usually focus on only about 4-10 of them. The others I never touch...cause I don't have a clue what the hell they do!

Art for the shell. Don't let all the Bonus Features fool you. We WANT all that stuff...not sure if we'll be able to get it all in. But we're going to shoot for as much as we can!

Lots and lots of play tuning going on these days, trying to get it just right. Here is one of the levels being tuned and tweaked. One of the most fun parts of this game is sitting with the level builders and pushing and pulling the 3d geometry around, adding a road here, putting up a wall there (well it's fun for me, I just ask for stuff and someone else does all the hard work)! I am always surprised by how one little element (a ramp, a wall, a blockade) set down in just the right place can make a level a blast to play. After all these years I still don't know how to make a great TM level. We can pretty consistently make a good level; but the great ones you just close your eyes and prey because they just sort of come together and end up great, and you are never really sure how or why. The Rooftop level in TM1 is- to me- one of the best levels we've ever made. But rooftops on BLACK is a pretty poor level to me, and we worked HARDER on the Black rooftops than on any other rooftop level in the series! Go figure! Shows what the hell we know! :)

New snazzy reflective, warbly water going into the Egyptian level. Lots of nice spfx touches going in the game- besides the upresed graphics- to make this thing really pop!

Ok, so there's a photo tour of my day. Had to get up at 3:45am to catch a 6:15 flight to Utah so I am friend. Heading to bed. Night ya'll!


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Full Circle Moment

How fucking cool is that?!?!?

Thanks to Adam- he of Sony game design and the many 'Herminie Loves David' pics- for the great mock up. This takes me back to riding with my dad in his truck, going to Sears to pick up Yar's Revenge at the Century Plaza mall. Ahh, the good ol' days! :)

So hey, make your own...go here:

Ok, back to work. See ya'll!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Calling All Cars: The Postmortem (Part I)

It’s been almost 4 months since Calling All Cars! was released on the Playstation Network. As of this writing, it has garnered a decent-but-not-great review score of 77/100 on It has sold well, but not so well that it’s broken records or established the current ceiling for best selling downloadable titles. Overall, it’s performed solidly, respectably, and gathered up a loyal group of fans who really seemed to dig and enjoy what we were trying to do.

So now that some time has passed, I feel I’m at a place to look back and see what we did right and what we did wrong on the title. Some of these issues are game design related, others are PR related, while some deal with the philosophical aspects of what a game reviewer’s job is supposed to be and what customers should be expecting out of these new breed of ‘smaller games’.

Time being as limited as it is these days, I’ve only had a chance to write up the first part of this postmortem. The final part will follow in a few days.

All that said: here’s what I learned from working on Calling All Cars:

LESSON #1- GET EVERY ELEMENT RIGHT OR RIP IT OUT- We should have not included a single player mode in this game. From day one, CAC was designed to be a multiplayer title, an action/party game designed to make folks scream at the tv and trash-talk their buddies (online and in the same room). And because the only way people could purchase the game was off the internet, we knew there would be- usually!- at least a handful of people online to play with (so the idea of downloading the game and not being able to play it in multiplayer mode was never a concern). The logic behind putting singleplayer in the game was- I suppose- an unconscious, ingrained game design choice born out of the pre-internet days where every multiplayer-designed title still needed a singleplayer component, even if that mode was not all that great. The problem is, if it’s included, people will judge it. Unless you bury it in bonus features- where people are grateful to get anything extra, including elements that are not-quite-up-to-snuff- there is the expectation that everything on display should be great. And this is a fair expectation. I made an incorrect assumption that it was clear the game was multiplayer centric, an incorrect assumption that most people would play singleplayer to just warm up and learn the game (I mean, who plays games like NBA JAM, or Madden for that matter, for the singleplayer?) But there were people out there judging it mainly as a singleplayer title- as was their right to do since we included it in the core package/shell- and because of this, we got lower scores on some sites and some message boards. This is not the ONLY reason we got some bad scores, to be sure, but I did see a number of reviews (pro and amateur) where people were complaining that the singleplayer game was not very fulfilling. And they were right. But it was never designed to be. The team executed it well, but there was not much to it, design wise, to begin with. So now I know. In the future, if our game is really meant to be a multiplayer title, we will only provide that and not spend valuable time trying to make the singleplayer work. We had a very talented programmer focused on single player for months. I kick myself now when I think that his talents could have gone towards making the multiplayer game player even better.

LESSON #2- SOME CRITICS GET IT, OTHERS DON’T- I got a lot of crap when I called out the Gamespot 6.7 review on this very blog. Most people didn’t like the fact that I- the designer of the reviewed title- was responding to a review, but I didn’t- and still don’t- care. I just don’t agree with those folks who have a problem with it. And today- 4 months out- I still think the Gamespot review was off base and I think I had/have every right to shout about it. And it’s not because of the review score. We got a lower score- a 6.0- from the European site, but not only did I not have a problem with this lower review, I thought it had some excellent points. Like this one:

More than that though is the fact that Calling All Cars! can swiftly descend into a series of multiple bumper car-style melees, with little reliance on skill required to emerge victorious from the scuffle. Too many journeys back to the clink are essentially one-note, repetitive ramming contests that effectively randomise who the eventual winner of the round will be. Short of an extremely well-timed nitro boost it's difficult to break out of this cycle once it has begun and you can't help but think that it wouldn't be happening with more balanced gameplay.

I love that! Well I hate it, cause they hit the nail on the head. But I love that a review understood the game- warts an all- well enough to be so eloquent about the mechanics under the hood. Their critique is so true and it’s the biggest weakness of the title, one we should have caught very early on but simply didn’t (more on why in Part II). But to the point: if you want to give us a 6 and you can back it up with good, solid analytical critiques like that? I not only can live with it, I support it and appreciate it (as a player and designer). I am a better designer for such a succinct analysis of the issue. So thank you, Eurogamer!

LESSON #3- 10 BUCKS IS WORTH DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE- 10 dollars to me is an impulse buy. I’m 36, make a great living, and barely notice when 10 bucks gets spent. If 10 bucks flew out the window while I was zooming down the freeway, I’d wince but keep driving. 100 bucks, I’d turn around and go back for. Not for 10. But some- many- people think 10 bucks is a lot of cash. And that is fair. I have no issues with this. But it DOES affect the game design mindset and I am resetting my mindset for future PSN titles to make sure we pack in as much value as possible into our games. Not that we didn’t feel we were doing that with CAC, but we should have pushed harder, for extra levels and extras modes (I still hold that more weapons would have hurt the balance). At the same time though, it does get a bit frustrating to read comments from forum posters saying things like: it’s a great game but it gets old after about a week. To these sorts of responses, I usually shout the following at my monitor: ‘Dude! It’s 10 dollars! You can see a movie for that and after 2 hours (usually less) it’s over and you’ve got nothing to show for it. We entertained you for 7 days for the same amount of cash! Why are you complaining?!?!’

Yes I’ve seen the net response that you can buy a full used game for 10 dollars and get 60 hours of play from that used game! And to that I respond: I have no response. You are right. You can do that, and in doing so you can get better value for your money. And that applies to most downloadable titles, not just CAC. Hell, that applies to all titles, even upcoming 60 dollar monsters like HALO 3 and DRAKE’S FORTUNE. But isn’t the logic then being trotted out by this statement that: games should only ever be 20-100 hour beasts and they should only sell for 10 dollars and anything else is not worthy of my time/money?

It may very well be the logic on the part of the gamer but it’s hard to do the job of a game developer by going down that path. So the promise I can make is that we will work so hard to make you always feel you got your money’s worth. We don’t set the prices on these games (that’s the publisher) but we will pack in as much value as we can. It will never be enough for some, but for others, we hope you will play our games and always feel we gave you a great time for your money.

Ok, time to get back to work. Part II coming soon.

Oh, and let me leave you with this:

This is me and Lee Wilson, the creator of Sweet Tooth! We were shooting the Twisted Metal doc in Los Angeles last week and he flew down from Microsoft (where he is now a concept artist on Halo 3…and was on Halo 1 and 2 as well) to be part of the doc. He really was key to the series, creating the look of the world and the characters and the initial visual heartbeat of the whole thing. So thanks Lee! For coming to do the doc and for helping us bring the world of Twisted Metal to life!

Ok, gotta run…talk to ya’ll later!


Friday, August 10, 2007


Ain't video chat great? I'm doing all the interview questions from home in San Diego while the camera crew films the guys responding out in Utah! Sweet!

Here is Scott ready to go, out in Utah.

Kellan Hatch, creative and art director on many of the Incog/SingleTrac/Eat Sleep Play games...

Michael Jackson, art director on Twisted Metal and shell master supreme!

I'll be doing my bit in LA next week, along with the co-writer of the Twisted storyline, and one of the key concept artists for the series (who is now a concept designer for Halo 3 at Bungie!) it seems like we're gonna get some great fan videos coming in, so that- along with tons of old concept art, toys, video, and other behind the scenes stuff we've uncovered- should make for a good package! I'm jazzed!

Ok, back to work! If I don't talk to ya'll before, have a great weekend!


Monday, August 06, 2007

BE A STAR!!!...well, sort of :)

Want to be IN the Twisted Metal documentary we are putting on the TWISTED METAL:HEAD ON port disc?

If you are interested, go here for all the info...we'd love to have ya!

thanks ya'll!


PS. Here's some photos of the new space!

Here is the new building! It's a sweet ass space housed in what used to be an old hardware manufacturer...all the brick and wood inside- from what I understand- is original. Gives the space a nice, warm feeling. I love it! I hope it's haunted. It's so old, it just might be :)

Here is the water tower on the roof. Scott and I were up there taking pics for a profile on EAT SLEEP PLAY that will run in the Salt Lake Tribune next week. Scott climbed the tower. I did not. He is brave. I am not.

I know it's just our name on an office directory but hey, I still think it's pretty fucking cool!

Some pics inside...there's the team eating lunch on Friday...we're only about 20 or so big...nice that we can all fit in the same conference room! Hope we don't grow much more! Oh, and the pic above is us in a meeting trying to pick the company logo. Logos are tough! You don't want to look like you tried too hard, but you also don't want to be so obvious in trying to look like you don't care. My gut tells me tho, end of the day, logo is good or bad if the games we make are good or bad. That's how it gets remembered...not if it's a great logo or not.

For folks who played Twisted Metal:Black, Scott drove me by the school that was the concept art inspiration for Blakcfield Asylum! I never knew it was based on a real school...and man, it looks so close! Pretty eerie to me!

Ok, gotta run...see ya'll soon!


Saturday, August 04, 2007


As a married man, my Saturday afternoons and early Saturday nights tend to either be filled with doing something with the wife & kids (dinner at RED ROBIN/Buco DeBeppo style family-dining places; taking walks with the family; going to the park or a theme park like Lego Land) or going on dates with my wife (I am a firm believer in the whole 'date night' concept...I really like being married and it's done wonders for my relationship with the wife). So those sorts of activities represent about 95% of my Saturday nights. And I love it.

But every now and then, I just want to chill in front of the tv, watch movies and shows that I want, order in some food, and just veg my fat ass out in front of whatever Direct-Tv and/or Blockbuster Video can throw my way.

Tonight is such a night. And I am so excited. Small pleasures, right?

I think alot of it comes from the fact that I was in Utah the last few days (pics of the new space to come, soon as I can get my damn pics sent from my amazing new iphone-love it! love it! love it!)...but yeah, I was in Utah Wed-Friday and it was my first time at the new space, my first real week of work for Eat Sleep Play. And while the work was not crazy hours, it was just overwhelming. It's a new job, a new company (one that I am co-founder/owner of), and new challenges. And I had such a fucking blast. I love the vibe of the Eat Sleep Play offices, not just the space itself, but the energy of the team. We've got an amazing group of folks working at the company and there's such a nice, fun vibe in the air. And I love the fact that we ALL own a piece of the place...sure, me and Scott are the co-prezes of the endeavor, but we all own a really is OUR company and I love the way that the office feels because of that. As a guy who worked for Sony for 14 years- and loved 99% of it- I can tell you it gets tough working hard when- end of the day- none of it is yours. So I'm real happy Eat Sleep Play is able to offer us all a bit of ownership in the studio. So sweet stuff. But very,very in, I think my brain was working overtime to process the emotions, the work, and the new challenges of being a biz owner and starting a new game company and even though I didn't realize it at the time, the last 3 days took a shit ton out of me.

Which brings me back to tonite.

Gonna chill, eat pizza, drink diet Coke, and watch whatever the fuck I want on my big, flat screen tv. One of the things I am gonna watch is this baby:

I get that ABC wants to let this thing die, even tho the reviews have been really, really great. That's just life these days on network tv. Play to the lowest common denom, or die. Fair enough. Biz is biz. But I hope that some cable channel picks this thing up (assuming it's as good as people say it is).

So I'll watch that, maybe pop in Monster House on Blu Ray (not seen it yet), geek out a bit in front of the tv. Oooh, I should try to watch some classic Star Trek too.

Ok, anyway, gonna get to it...just had a moment before the kids go to bed and I phone the pizza place and wanted to say hey.

I'll chat with you guys next week and show you the photos of the new space. I'm so excited to share.

See ya!


ps. we started working out the maps for Twisted Metal: Lost this week, tuning and adjusting to make them as fun as can be. Man, it's fun to be working on Twisted Metal again. I'm loving it and hope you guys dig the new levels! Ok, gonna run. See ya!