Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Don't forget! Our first LIVE BLOG BROADCAST (is it blogcast?) is TODAY so stop by at 5pm Pacific and interact with me and Brady Fletcher- newly appointed editor in chief of PLAY magazine!-as we talk about the game biz and interact with everyone on the blog LIVE!

Just scroll to the bottom of this blog, click the POPUP/POPOUT window tab, and join in the discussion!

Still scrambling for topics but I think we've got a couple of good things to talk about...and bring whatever questions you may have!


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Interesting Observation

I was riding in the car with my father-in-law yesterday and he said something that stuck with me.

And I paraphrase:

'Man, the media sure can't get enough of that story of the swimmer being eaten by that's on the news constantly...'

If you have not heard the sad, shocking news: a man was bitten- and killed- by a great white here in San Diego, about 150 yards from shore! The attack occured- by the way- about 5-10 minutes from my house!

But so I guess it's been all over the news. Local or national, I don't know. My in-laws watch alot of local news. But I did see it on the front page of DRUDGE, so I guess it at least made a few national ripples.

But what struck me as interesting about this comment is how much it says about the way many of us consume media these days.

In the last year- probably two- most of my media has come from the surfing the internet and from playing video games on my tv. Yes, there are still some shows I TIVO and love...but nowhere near as many as back in the day. And sure, I go out out to the movies alot/Netflex stuff,etc. But my sort of bread and butter/daily media-and certainly my NEWS media- is net based. Which means I get to CHOOSE what info bombards me. And if I don't choose what someone else chooses- or if I don't choose what the cable networks are telling me is important- I really do have alot less of a sense of how important something has been deemed to be.

And I sure as hell ain't complaining. I just find it interesting.

For example, these days, based on the info I surf, my view of what has been deemed important is:

-Iron Man opening on Friday
-GTA IV hitting on Tuesday
- Indy IV fluff news
-What certain colleagues of mine in the industry are up to on a personal level
-Why Obama lost PA and what it means for his bid to be the Democratic nominee
- How to get two Asian women and a small, Uraknian folk dancer named Mimi to bend over in juuuuust the right way as, wait...that's...that's private, that's just for me :)

But you see my point. This is the stuff that's on MY radar.

And it gets me wondering something...something that- by the way- I am WELL aware that much smarter and better writers from places like Wired magazine have been pondering for so long, they're bored of the discussion by now...but for me, it gets me wondering: what happens when tv is pretty much dead and we are ALL getting our personalized info off the net? What happens when we no longer- in the real world-have many/any of the same shared info/experiences because our frames of reference have become so specialized? Is this good? Bad? More importantly, it's going to happen so what will the world look like when it does? Will we treat each other better? Worse? No different? What will tie us together then? Maybe we'll then have to start to talk about issues that are more universal regardless of where you get your news.

It also gets me wondering about my father-in-law. He is in his sixties but loves the net and uses it like a pro. Why in the world is he still getting his news from television?!?! Old habits die hard, perhaps? I will ask him next time I see him.

Ok, going shopping- chat soon. later ya'll!


ps. don't forget! Our first LIVE BLOG BROADCAST (is it blogcast?) is this Wednesday afternoon so stop by at 5pm Pacific and interact with me and Brady as we talk the game biz! Just scroll to the bottom of this blog, click the POPUP/POPOUT window tab, and join in the discussion!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Join me and Brady Fletcher- the new editor-in-chief of Play Magazine- this coming WEDNESDAY at 5PM PACIFIC for our first ever episode of ROUNDTABLE, our live blog show all about games and the gaming biz.

If you scroll to the bottom of this blog you will see the live blog viewer. You may need to click on the POPOUT tab to get a full window that will let you see the show and be able to interact with us.

But interact you, if you want to :) Basically we're gonna be talking about the gaming biz for 30-60 minutes as well as taking live questions from viewers of the show. So any of those questions you always post in the comments section but I never get the chance to answer, now's the time to ask me live. And anyone wondering about game ratings (including Play Magazine's bold new rating system) or game journalism in general, Brady's your man!

We may never do another one of these, we may change the name, we may change the format, who knows (I really wanna get some industry folks on with us). But we're gonna try it...all prepared and everything, this time :)

So stop on by and give us a try, interact with us, tell us we suck...whatever floats your boat! Hope to see ya'll then!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Wow- what a great fucking concert! I have NEVER wanted to see the same concert more than once but dude, if Kanye West was coming back, I would SO see him again. The opening acts- for me- were just ok. I would have been VERY happy with just Lupe Fiasco and then Kanye. But whatever.

But the main show?!? SOOOOOO fucking good! I was always a big Kanye fan but now? HUGE fucking Kanye fan.

So what else?

Oh three things:

#1- GREAT to be back! Missed ya'll! :)

#2- See the upper right of the right side of the blog? If you have not noticed, I'm on twitter now, so you can follow my EVERY MOVE! It's kind of addictive...I was updating from the Kanye concert all night!

#3- I did an interview with The Escapist web magazine last month about a game we were working on called HEARTLAND. Never came out and this article goes into aspects of why. Check it out!

Ok guys- will prob. do a video post later today, so check back if you are so inclined!

Also, will be doing our first official live blogcast with Brady- the brand new editor-in-chief of PLAY magazine- end of this week. So watch for that too!

Talk soon!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Ok, I really promise...this is the LAST video I upload...

...tomorrow is a NEW post and no more of this stuff from the web that I think is amusing...but given that Forgetting Sarah Marshall just hit, I thought this would be appropriate :)

You may have already seen this...

...but if not, you really should.

I don't like posting videos to my blog that are not our own but I think this is really, really worth it.

Nice to be back. Will do a new post tomorrow.


Friday, April 11, 2008

I know I am on hiatus...

...but I ran across this and HAD to share:

With the exception of the confederate flag (which makes me kind of ill), this is ALMOST enough to make me join the army...just so I could drive and ride in this thing! Amazing!!! Man, when I strike it rich, I'm so getting me a General Lee!!!...with an American Flag replacing the confederate flag, naturally :)

Ok, back to work- see you guys in a few weeks!


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

10 Minute Break!!! Everybody out of the pool!

...err, everybody out of the blog, I mean...and a 1-3 week break is more like it :)

I think hiatus' for blogs suck. They are the quickest way to watch your readership plummet. And right now, with daily hits being at an all time high, I hate to duck out for a few weeks. But turns out, I gotsta.

Major time right now in the life of our design and while the blog takes little of my time- especially when I do video posts- I just don't want any distractions while I pound out a few key documents for the team. Also in the next 1-3 weeks I got:

a- my birthday
b- my mother-in-law's birthday (and a big surprise party....and she don't read this blog and no one she knows does either so we're safe! Don't tell her, dammit!)
c- Taking our kid for a surprise visit to Disneyland. I remember when Scott did this for his kids about 8 years ago and I always thought, 'Man, that sounds so cool! Making them think they are going to school and at the last second, you hit the freeway and head to Disneyland! When I have kids, I'm doing that!'....well now we have two kids and one is old enough for Disneyland so we's going! Hell, truth is, the trip is probably more for me than her but hell, she'll dig it too :)
d- Going up to Sony to pitch Allan and Shu on the current state of the game
e- GTA 4 hits and I'm gonna need a few days to digest what I am sure is going to be a bar raising- fuck it- bar SHATTERING experience.
f- I imagine I will head out to Utah for 1-3 days to work on the game and pitch the documents once I am done writing...

So with all that PLUS these key design days I got ahead of me, I really need my focus and energy.

I will be back in the next 7-21 days, no doubt. This is not a long haitus, just a few weeks. I'll miss the blog, I'll miss you guys. Hope to see you all very soon!

Thanks for all the support and thanks for reading- talk soon!





NOTE: Me and Brady Fletcher will be testing out our live blogging 'show' today at 5:10 Pacific time. We are only going to go online for about 10-15 minutes just to test it out in prep for an actual show we are going to start doing. If you want to say hey and help us test out the service, scroll down to the bottom of this blog. If you can't see us talking, hit the button that says POPOUT and you should get a window that shows us chatting. Stop on by, interact with us, and help us get a sense of what the actual show should be about! Thanks ya'll!



Ok...on with the post :)


Something amazing is happening at the movies and I’ve gotten so used to it that the magnitude of this event almost passed me by.

Check it out: We are in the middle (maybe towards the end) of a Marvel Comics movie explosion!

Now to younger folks who may not know what the name Cannon Films means, who may have never seen what ‘The Boy Who Could Fly’ looks like dressed up as the Human Torch, who didn’t nightly curse the names of Golan-Globus before they went to bed, this is probably a ‘what’s the big deal’ moment.

To those youngies, they just take for granted that this summer Iron Man is gonna be tearing it up on one screen, while down the hall the Incredible Hulk is kicking ass and tossing around army tanks. To these kids, it’s no big deal that last year they got to see what Ghost Rider looked like on the big screen, they got to watch the FF battle the Silver Surfer AND they got a third installment of Spidey with not only Black Suit Spidey but Venom, Sandman, and Goblin II tossed in for good measure! And the fact that they’ve already gotten to watch Daredevil battle Kingpin and Blade battle vampires? No big deal.

But to me- a Marvel Comics geek- it’s a HUGE deal. And it took some amazing shots from the new IRON MAN flick to wake me up and get me to realize that this is really happening!!! (I would have posted those new shots but it seems Paramount has gone around to the various sites that were hosting them and requested they be taken down…but rest assured, they rocked!!)

I just never thought I’d actually see the day when so many of my childhood heroes got the big screen, big budget treatment. But now I walk into any multiplex, and I’m likely to be greeted by a standee of one of the Amazingly Masterful, Monumentally Magical, Mega Marvel mainstays! (That’s for you, Stan!!)

And soon, from what I hear, there may be an Avengers flick, a Thor Flick, and a Nick Fury movie?!?! I mean, come on!!! They should get Angelina Joile to do a Silver Sable movie, too! But that’s just me being greedy!

Do I have a point with this post?

A few points actually:

a- I’m just fucking crazy excited with every new IRON MAN still I see. And Favreau has never made a bad movie. This could be the biggest hit of the summer…bigger than Indy or Batman!
b- I’m just sharing the love cause as a kid growing up loving comics, I never thought I’d see this day. Which brings me to…
c- …ONE DAY- maybe soon- Hollywood is going to really get behind games in a big way and make some damn good movies out of these properties. It may take a few more years for games to really get mainstream…it may take another generation so the majority of the studio execs are the ones who grew up playing CALL OF DUTY, DEVIL MAY CRY, and METAL GEAR SOLID. But it will happen. It will be HARDER than making movies from comics because comics already have good-to-great stories and iconic characters. While the scripts certainly don’t write themselves, a lot of the ground work has been laid…Games on the other hand tend to be based off movies anyway and have shit-to-average stories that would not cut it at a pitch meeting for a low budget, straight to video flick. But the themes and characters and worlds of these games ARE worth crowing about and CAN be translated to film in a big way. At least I think so. Hey, maybe the God of War flick will be the first GREAT game movie!!!

So yeah, I’m excited.

Ok guys…I gotta get to work. But in celebration of Marvel movies kicking ass, this morning I picked up one of those Iron Man Slurpee cups at 7-11! I even got the $1.50 straw with shellhead on the top!

I felt like a bit of a dork buying a Slurpee, let alone a Slurpee in an Iron Man cup, let alone a Slurpee in an Iron Man cup with the official Iron Man straw, but what the hell.
Summer movie season is almost here, ya’ll! Sweet!

Later ya’ll!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Another reason I miss Los Angeles...

...massive movie billboards that take up entire sides of buildings!!!

My brother- who still lives in LA- sent me this yesterday. think he said this one was on the corner of Highland and...shit, I forget. But man, look at it! It's so big! Even tho I really do not like the final Indy poster (it's just boring and Karen Allan looks like she's posing for a portrait at the Sears photo studio), it's still great to see Indy back and larger than life!

Only in LA!...well, and in NYC and other big cities...but certainly not in the burbs of San Diego :)

But yeah, I used to love to drive down Sunset and see all the giant ads for the new flicks coming out. Heck, I remember for God of War we were toying with the idea of spending most of our marketing dollars on a massive animating Kratos billboard that would have loomed over Sunset Blvd! That would have been so cool! But doing so would have blown our marketing budget for the title, so I think Sony marketing chose wisely! :)

Ok guys- gotta get to work. Talk a bit later!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

My new office...

Sitting at a Starbucks in Carlsbad, Ca while my wife takes a pole dancing class down the street. She's been pole dancing for fitness for like, 8 months now, and she's just nuts about it. And my God, it has transformed her body like you would not believe. I've taken a spin or two on the pole we got at our house and let me tell you, that shit is HARD! Now granted, I'm not in contention for World's Strongest Man, but hell, after just one spin on that pole, I was sore for two days. But anyway, she's there, so I'm here, working :)

We're back in LA for a wedding we went to last nite. One of the lead artists on the GOD OF WAR series got married. The wedding itself was personal and sweet and clearly full of love. Plus we had a blast seeing lots of the God of War/Sony Santa Monica team. It was tons of fun.

Then me and my wife went to the best Mexican restaurant in the world for brunch this morning...check it:

Mmmm....Panchos! If you are ever in Manhattan Beach, you gotta give Panchos a try. It is so good! And the chips alone are worth the trip!

God, it's been good being back in LA. Gotta get our asses back up here soon...I miss this town!

Maybe we'll swing by GATE OF INDIA on the way home so we can have Indian food when we're back in San Diego tonite! Yumm! Gate of India!!! :)

Man, I'm sitting here with the Sunday LA TIMES next to me, just begging to be read (LOVE the Sunday LA TIMES)....yeah, I gotta alot of work to do...already behind on the design...but damn, it's Sunday...what to do...Ok...I'll work for a good hour, then chill and read the paper as my reward! That'll do it!

Chat later ya'll!


Friday, April 04, 2008


Reader Da Dark Knight just sent me this pic he did of me, Kratos, and Sweet Tooth having a cook out! I freaking love it!!!

The orbs from the grill rock and check it out: Kratos is wearing a USC jacket! Fantastic!

Dark Knight, thanks! You made my day!


ps. gonna show the shirt I am wearing in this pic to Scott. Would LOVE to get Eat Sleep Play shirts like this for the fall! This design is perfect. If we get one made, I'll send you one Dark Knight!

Hey World...Check ME Out!

The amazing GAMETAP service has picked my games for its Playlist of the Week!

It's basically a game version of the itunes celeb playlist, where I post little blurbs about my top 10 GAMETAP games...

Check it out and you will not only learn about the world's best video pinball game and what inspired the level design in God of War, but you can also discover what a smooth playa I was back in junior high!

Click me!

Thanks to Gametap and Gametap's Doug Perry for the very cool opportunity! Appreciate it, guys!



VIDEO BLOG: Design Conundrum + BAFTA award! + wedding haircut blues :)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Lying Down on the Job...

...the last few days have consisted of compiling tons of new ideas about the game we're doing, writing tons of notes, chatting with Scott out in Utah about design direction. Today and tomorrow are all about putting all those elements together, killing some, reviving others, and putting it all in a document.

So for a change of pace and scenery, I spread all my notes on the floor and stuck itunes on shuffle (Duran Duran into John Williams into Nelly into 2pac into Gwen Stafani into Samantha James into Ray J into James Horner into Queen into Mary J into Hugh Grant channeling the 80's ((from Music and Lyrics!)) into etc,etc.etc......Shuffle rocks!)....and then I plopped my ass down and got to work.

Check it out: my workspace for today:

Something was/is so fun about working on the floor...feels like being a little kid, you know? The creative energy is just different down there. I love it!

Anyway, going to lunch. Just wanted to share! Take it easy, ya'll!


ps. oh, and don't let anyone tell you the whole 'rule of 10' is bullshit in game design (or whatever it's called). You know, the idea that you need to design your game so that there is something that excites/engages the player in the first 10 seconds, then the first 10 minutes, then the first hour,etc...that's a real important set of goals to design around and we're trying real hard to do it...check it out:

With a game like GOD OF WAR, you only need to worry about exciting the player moment to moment because it's a roller coaster ride. With what we are doing now, you let the player loose in your world and hope you've packed enough cool stuff in for them to make their own it's a much tougher challenge.

I erased my 'answers' cause I ain't giving anything away but thought I'd share a glimpse at my white board anyway to show one aspect of how we try to design our stuff.

Oh, and yes, that is my kid's art around my drawing skillz do indeed suck but I CAN- at times- draw a bit better than a 4 year old! :) Ok well, the car up there, that's mine. But the smiley faces, those are my kid's, dammit! :)

pps. yes those are strategy guides on the floor with me. They help me go back to games that inspire me and see if I've missed any of the depth or core ideas that are not always apparent on a play thru. They are both instructional and inspirational and intimidating (when you realize how much STUFF goes into a AAA game these days!!!)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

How Lucky I Am...

I sit here on a beautiful sunny day, the breeze floating in thru my open window, along with the sound of birds and the rustling of the willow branches just outside.

Music plays over a computer that allows me to do the work I love, and connects me to family, friends, and colleagues all over the world.

I have my health. My family has their health. As do our friends.

I am surrounded by the books, toys, games, and photographs that have made up 30 something years of my life. And while I know they are just things, it is still nice to have them around me.

And downstairs, I hear my two daughters laughing and yelling and playing pretend. They are happy and content and safe and loved.

I am blessed to have such joy in my life.

Ok, I should probably keep my mouth shut...

...but...I can't in this case.

I check my blog log every day, just to see where folks are coming from before they hit my blog. I'm always interested to track down the obscure and no-so-obscure links that lead someone here. It's often times fascinating.

Well on this morning's perusal of the blog log, I find this. Click me!

It's a web address for a game design/game art class at the the Illinois Instititue of Art. Looks like they are/were studying game design docs (not sure when the link went up). And it looks like they've linked to the CALLING ALL CARS doc/post I put up last year as one example of a game design document. No issues there. I'm somewhat flattered.

However, I do take issue with a doc I co-wrote being included in the assignment when the assignment tosses out such gems, regarding design documents as:

"In case the in-class lecture on game design documents didn't convince you of their importance, you can read this Adams article entitled "Why Design Documents Matter."

Look, Earnest Adams may be a great designer, I don't know. Have not played any of his games (I've played some of the Madden football games he's provided video for however and those were great). But as many of you know- and as readers who read the post attached to the linked-to-design-document know, I don't think design docs are worth much anymore. You need 5-15 pages to get the concept across. And then little emails for the rest of the project sent to the folks who need and want to know the rest. None of the GOD OF WAR games had a game design doc and we did just fine.

Here's another quote I love:

" do not have time to produce a 67 page document, but here's what a GDD looked like in 1996. Sorry, they just keep getting bigger."

Says who? Who says that design docs just keep getting bigger? I think it's a terrible thing to tell future game makers that EVERY GAME game HAS to have a mammoth 250 page bible/phone book in order to kick start production. Do some? Sure? Do most? Not sure. Do All? Hell no.

And it's a downright lie to suggest that game docs keep getting bigger and it's just the way the biz is and that is how things are my experience they do NOT just keep getting bigger. They keep getting smaller.

My experience says that: no one reads one of those meaty fuckers, it takes TONS of valuable development time to write it, and it's a waste of several good trees. And game making is iterative. If you spend 4-12 weeks writing a doc, and THEN start production, within a week, a good 5-25% of your doc is useless because a programmer or artist or designer or janitor in the building had a, 'hey, what if we put this over here and make button X do this instead' moment and POOF! All that work you did is rendered useless.

But look, I am not suggesting the work, the design process is any different. You still should think shit thru on paper/white boards and with blocks/toys as much as you can...but that's for you, the designer, so you KNOW what your game is and so you can answer questions about it and so the team can build some faith in you that you are not making it all up as you go. And that design work occurs throughout the whole development process. If you sit and try to design it ALL up front you will miss out on the magic of production, the magic of iteration.

To me a design document is a roadmap at a very high level. It gives you the main highways and routes and even shows some of the individual side streets and interesting rest stops along the way. But it's not a Thomas Guide. And if it IS, I sure as hell don't want to take that road trip cause there's a good chance it'll end up taking me to someplace boring and dull and someplace I've already been 50 times before.

Later ya'll!


ps.again, hated to say something but damn, if you are gonna include a link to a doc I wrote and that link includes MY THOUGHTS ON GAME DESIGN DOCS that clearly contradict the person linking to me, at least acknowledge the difference of opinion on your page that links to me! Do not toss me into your philosophy and make me guilty by linksociation (hahah! See what I did?!? I made a new word! Man, I rock!)....

pps. I'm sure you will find many designers and teams who LOVE design docs. I know some of the GOD OF WAR team would have loved a design doc. No worries there. But link to them! :)

ppps. Not really upset, more annoyed/amused. I think it's great there are actual classes out there teaching game design! Yeah for us, our medium, and our industry.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Can you help me out!?! ROCK BAND related...


Ok, so thanks to you kind commenters on this blog, I got me a code that unlocks everything. Thank you so much!

While it's clear that ROCK BAND is a groundbreaking, amazing game- and one that seems already destined to become a classic in my house- to me, turning it into a GAME first and a social TOY second, was a design mistake. BUT what the hell do I know? Either way, thanks Harmonix for the very fun game...and thanks for making sure an Unlock All code was included :)


Hey! If someone out there would not mind:

just got home with Rock Band. Sat down with the wife to play and first thing I did was download a song we both dig (Brass in Pocket) from the ROCK BAND store. So far so good.

Problem is, I can't find that song I just purchased in the game and I can't find any of the cool songs I want to play that are listed on the box as available with the shipped disc.

Now I think I know the answer to this, but I hope I am so wrong cause if I am not, the thing is going back to the store.

Can I access these other songs- including the ones I paid for after I bought the game- without earning the right to play them?

Please don't tell me that after giving EA/MTV/HARMONIX 190 bucks- and then an additional 2 bucks- on what clearly seems to be advertised as a casual/family/party game (i.e. fun and easy and no work involved), that the only way I get all these songs - songs that are advertised on the box-is to EARN them?!?!

Ok, I am prob. just being paranoid and negative...this can't be the way it is, right??!?....right?!?!? Please don't make me work thru a bunch of songs I could care less about to get to some songs I love!!! I understand this design philosophy when all the content you are tossing at the player is new and part of the brand new, unique game experience...but in a game where more than half the appeal is content that you already know and love from your 'real life', forcing me to endure stuff I already know I don't care for just to get to the stuff I know I do love is annoying and cruel. Especially when I rushed home with the box all ready to play some songs that the back of the box TOLD ME I was gonna get to play (with no indication that I would need to bust ass for a week before I got to play what I consider the 'good' tunes).

Help! Thanks!



If you are so inclined, check out Gamespot's latest edition of BEHIND THE GAME. This week's subject: l'll ol me :)

You can find it here!

Later ya'll...lotsa design work going on today, brain too full (of hopefully cool ideas!) to write a post! Later!