Wednesday, January 31, 2007


EDIT/UPDATE: Just a quick note...I've been real bothered by folks assuming I am not greatful or appreciative of the play testers we use at Sony. I realize this is 100% my fault as I wanted to post without editing so you all could get a real sense of where my head is during focus no time to think or edit before I hit the PUBLISH button.

So please allow me to briefly explain:

Play tests are of key importance for all of the games we do in Santa Monica. They save our asses time and again and make our games better and a good play tester is worth his weight in free pizza (as well as the cash and free games they get paid for participating in our little play tests).

So for 95% of these guys/gals, I am thrilled and appreciative that they take time out to help us out. And to the poster- think his name was Brian- who felt that we are too arrogant to learn from these guys, and that we think we know it all, that could not be farther from the truth. We play test like crazy because we KNOW there is tons we do not know about how users will interact with our procuts.


anyone who has participated in focus groups knows two things:

1- you tend to get 1 to 2 real stinkers/play test group. Guys/Gals who show up only for the cash and to fuck with your results and who have no interest in doing their job- and it is a job, since we do pay for it. Plus 1-2 of the guys we had in this group were insulting to the guy who was running the group (calling him idiot, etc). and put answers on the questionaire that were totally useless (in an intentional way).

2- Watching folks play a game you have labored over is like watching the final seconds of a heated sports are shouting at the screen, pulling out your hair, throwing you hands up in triumph when something you worked your ass on works...I was trying to share that with the readers of the blog...sorry if it came off as disrespectful of 95% of the tesers we had...that was not my intent.

So there ya go...

And for the self rightous fucks who are posting comments like: I would never run a focus test that way or 'in OUR focus test we respect EVERYONE'S ideas..."...please go FUCK yourself. I wish I was as perfect as you...I really, really do. Man, I've been doing this for 13 years and I KNOW the value of play tests, you ass. I KNOW how important the play testers are and hell, in the original blog post I said so! But that does not mean I'm gonna be all flowers and kisses to some stoned asshole who we are paying to help us out and who shows up and just fucks off.

Ok, back to the post :)

Take it easy ya'll!


prob. will post more tonite as my wife got a new laptop and we may head to the local coffe shop to play around with it...see ya'll!

Focus tests are starting for the game; prob. the last focus/play tests we will have. I will try to live blog it cause...well why not...maybe it will be interesting...or suck. This will be more stream of consciousness than usual...and the spelling lots worse as I'm gonna be focused on the test but trying to blog here we go...

Here's me at 9:15 LA time:

We are waiting for the last player to show up...we are looking- for this first session- there are 3 today- at 30 to 40 year olds who are semi-hardcore gamers.

Sitting here with Scott Campbell and Kellan Hatch from Incognito and waiting to start...let you guys know when we are underway...


9:22- Still waiting for this motherfucker to show...that's the thing with focus pay these companies a good amount of cash to go out and find inbiased people to come play stuff, and they get paid, and you usually have like an 80% show rate...there's always a few who sign up to come but do of these focus companies would do well to charge a bit more and then have back up testers to promise you get the number of people you want even if the first picks have a few no shows....fuck tards....and yeah, since I am typing fast, prep for lots more cursing cause I got not time to edit :)


9:27- Ok, we're gonna start without the fuck...whatever. Dammit! But yeah, here come the butterflies...will they like it, will they make fun of it, will they LOVE it?!? HATE IT?!?! Shit, here we go...they are all sitting down at the ps3' we go...

Oh, here's the sheet they fill out at the end...praying for 10's! But would be happy with 8's! :)


9:36- Jesus...this one guy on the right screen is so fucking stoned...he's like 40 and at a focus test on a wed morning....he prob is a stoner...cause he has NO CLUE how to play this game!

9:44- Going from single player to multiplayer....split screen first, then we go to online...we can see player's faces in a picture in picture window so we see when they smile, yawn, get's really nerve wracking when they make faces that look either like they don't dig your game or are taking a shit...hate to be so disrespectful sounding of these guys...I really do appreciate them giving us their time...I am just nervous....

Ok, multiplayer, here we come:


9:50- FUCK! The dev kits upstairs are not accepting 3rd player we are going to switch from 3player split to 2 player split! FUCK! 3-4 player split is where it's at! Ah well, we'll see how it goes!


9:54- Scott just said: Stoner is prob. getting freaked out form all the sirens sound fx in the game...that makes me laugh :)


10:02- Watching some really fun 2 player games going...but you NEVER know...lots of times they look like they are fucking LOVING IT! And then they give you a score of like 4/10! In GOD OF WAR, we had guys who seemed to hate the game, kept dying all the time...and they gave us 10/10!!! So you never know...I've learned not to get my hopes up when watching this stuff.


10:10- Switching to net play....really cool to watch people play the game and understand what to do...that never gets old as 4 months ago at a focus test players had NO CLUE how to play this game and what to was great watching people use all the weapons, steal the crim with magnet right as other players were about to score....shit, online looks like it's crashing...fuck! What is going on?


10:15- Upstairs machines crashing because they are not signed onto the Playstation Network! FUCK! You'd think that would be done already...ah well, Adam- one of the designers- is now setting up accounts on all the machines there will be a bit of a delay...which sucks as the scores we get from these guys will not be the result of an experience that has been broken in half by this delay....but ah well, prob. more a realistic representation of how many folks will play the game spurts here and what the hell....I feel bad for Adam as setting up the accounts will take him a bit...but I don't wanna go up and help as if these gamers recognize me from the net and interviews and stuff I don't want them to have any idea I am watching them play,etc...don't want to taint the thing...sorry Adam! I know it's a pain!


10:30- We're gonna have the guys start filling out paper work now....hope by the time they are done, we get the online issue solved...NEVER had an online issue may be the way these dev kits are set up...sheesh! Ah well, at least we can get scores for singleplay and split, I am sitting here with an unopened bag of cookies and a diet coke...I am SO not hungry...just stressed...I can see it in my mind, I SO want to eat these to dull the stress....fuck it tho...I ain't gonna! Fuck stress eating! Ok, talk to ya sooN!


10:37-Ok, I had 2.5 cookies from a bag of Knott's Berry Farm BoysenBerry Coookies...and a SIP of diet I am done...I WAS looking for something sweet...but not gonna stress there :)

Still setting up the online shit...I think we are gonna send group #1 home without having played any online....shit man, I bet this shit never happens to Cliffy B!


11:16- Focus group #1 done; no multiplay :(.....

major feedback issue was turn rate of cars is too we've just gone and tweaked that and getting a new build sent from Utah...the hope is the next group will not have that issue to complain about :)


11:36- Talking to Kellan and he feels we need to announce to the players at the start that this game is a downloadable title on PS Store to sell between 5 and 10 bucks...otherwise, we are getting feedback from these folks where they go in feeling they are playing a game that can- in scope- be compared to HALO 3 and GOD OF WAR 2. And when they get CALLING ALL CARS, there's a knee jerk of like: this is too small a game to pay 60 bucks for. And when you tell them AT THE END it's a download game, they get it but they've already had that negative I think- since the way the player will experience the actual title- via a download interface and tossing 5-10 bucks into the till- we SHOULD let them know that upfront so they know what they are getting into. Next group starts in 20 min...breaking for now...will be back online after...


12:40- Oh my God! We have 2o min till the next group...where is the FOOD?!?! We are so hungry :(


12:59- Za is here!

Ok, new group is here too! So now I get to eat, watch the test, and blog all at the same time! FUCK!!!!! Here we go! Gonna head up and tell the new group- casual and hardcore in 20's- that this is a download game...not full retail. I am dying to see what that does to the response...


1:30- there was a delay...about to start...Adam says these guys all look like testers and wanna be testers who are ready to tear the shit out of this game...he's says they are out in the lobby talking GEARS OF WAR...this was the one group I did not have timeto cherry pick to make sure we were not getting ultra hard core...turns out I shoulda made the time as these are looking to be the hard corest motherfuckers out there...ah well...

and fucking Adam is at it again:

1:34- Players are taking their we fucking go! Single player starting out in the city level...fingers crossed! And yes it is cheese pizza! And now it's gone! But Iwas actually hungry, not stress eating!


1:49- Moving to split tester #5 is a fucking dolt!!! What the hell?!?! He is just driving in circles...not even playing the that fucking spit drooling out of his stupid fucking mouth!?!?! Ahem,well...anyway.... :)


1:56- IM comment from Adam on player #5...who seems to be unable to do anything but sit upright and not fall over:

adamorth (1:53:11 PM): should i put 5 into split next game or let him drive in circles on his own?



2:04- Online game starting...going to do 3 player online first...have to decide if 3 player is best default or 4 player is....4 player may be too chaotic for default mode....but we will see in a sec....lots of laughing and cursing going on upstairs....don't mean shit, they could still hate it...but it's always nice to see people smiling from something you've been involved with...


2:18- Network crash...trying to get them back into net was clear something was odd when Player one had a score of 12 to 2 to 2 on his screen and the guys he was playing had a score of 3 to 9 to 7! Fucking internet! :)


2:28- Just had a great series of net games...doing a few more right now....some very close games, some that went to I hope they give us a good score...
And Mike B, shit yeah, at least I THINK I recall...isn't that odd that I may not?!? So you are making games in BHAM?!?! THat is very cool! And shit yeah,I TOTALLY remember the computer being down...and EVERYTHING ELSE! Let's chat next week?


2:37- going into our last game with this group...and Arnoldo, it's not the code, it's the fact that these machines in the test room have been used to test PS3 games from Santa Monica and none of them till this one have had net we're just not getting the machines set up in that room and there were a few mistakes in how they were hooked up....all seems well now...


2:53- Watching them on the monitors filling out score, they are taking a long, long time...writing, one just a second one....SHIT! I am nervous!!! What will they say? Sad I get so nervous, but MAN I do!

4:30- sorry for the delay. Needed a break! Going well! Last group coming in soon...12-17 year olds!!!


4:55- new group about to IM from ADAM:

adamorth (4:52:36 PM): my prediction for the next group:adamorth (4:52:42 PM): #5 is an idiot.


5:02- last group of the day...12-17 year olds...they are starting now...hope it goes well...last group was great and the change we made from this morning (making cars turn sharper) seemed to really help...hope these new kids dig that as well...

5:28- Kellan watches the players thru our super sneaky we can hear them hootin, holleran, and bitchen about the game! :)


5:33- So fucking strange to watch kids play this game; a game inspired by games that were long since forgotten by many by the time these kids were fucking born!!!


5:41-The kids faces are so funny...they are either really focused or really bored...hard to tell...Kellan says they look like they are in math class :)


6:03- From IM between me and Adam:

adamorth (6:00:57 PM): GOD DAMMIOT!!!!!
spdrmn375 (6:01:06 PM): what?
adamorth (6:01:13 PM): not only is #4 stupid, but he's a fucking asshole
spdrmn375 (6:01:18 PM): y?
adamorth (6:01:23 PM): jesus!
adamorth (6:01:27 PM): what a fucking snot
spdrmn375 (6:01:29 PM): what?!?
adamorth (6:01:39 PM): no swag!
spdrmn375 (6:01:49 PM): lame
adamorth (6:01:55 PM): he called me an idiot
spdrmn375 (6:02:01 PM): why?!?
adamorth (6:02:18 PM): becuase i told him not to keep pressing the buttons
spdrmn375 (6:02:24 PM): for what reason?
adamorth (6:02:46 PM): because he kept rushing through the menu to create game ahead of the host
spdrmn375 (6:03:07 PM): ah...sweet! BLOG TIME!!!



6:30- tHAT'S A wrap! Thanks for sticking with me thru the day and keeping me company! I will be posting some of the best of the best comments later this week! Gotta catch a cab to head back to San Diego for to you guys soon!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Hey ya'll...sorry for the lack of posts of late. Been swamped with home life and with work.

I am in Utah as I type, tuning the game with Scott and da Boyz (tm) for our play test in Los Angeles tomorrow. Sitting in my hotel room, waiting on my whole wheat French Toast to arrive, then it's out into the cold Salt Lake morning to make the walk to the Incog offices (only about 2 blocks away...ain't life tough?!?) :)

We've been getting lots of the Santa Monica folks to play the game the last few days to get feedback on the big issues we want to adjust before we let the 'real' play testers have at it. And that excercise has been interesting.

On one hand, we've gotten just the kind of feedback we've been looking for. For example:

Catching the Criminal when he's popped into the air seems too difficult for most people who play. So we're going to tweak up the assist number so the crim has a bit more homing on him as he's falling from the sky and into the player's car.


The AI is too relentless right now, shooting missile after missile at players the instant the human player picks up a criminal. The result, in the single player, are lots of comments that the game is too chaotic and difficult.

These kinds of comments were expected as, when you make a title, the team ends up tuning it to what is fun for them. But living with the title every day makes us experts and so we tune the thing to be ultra hard (which- to us- reads like medium level of difficulty). Same thing happened with Twisted Metal:BLACK. Difference there is we shipped it without play testing it and probably lost 50% of sales as folks tried it and ended up taking it back as it just kicked their asses.

So those sorts of notes we are excited to get. We knew they were coming and know they will make the game 100% better.

But we've also been getting some other comments that have me...what's the word? It's not concerned's more interested, more curious.

See, CALLING ALL CARS is- for me- probably the most fun game I've ever worked on. I don't mean the time I've had as one of the lead designers, but as a player. I enjoy playing this game over and over and over (mainly in multiplayer). And so it's odd when I see reactions from other gamers who are going: yeah it's fun, but it's too basic.

But then I look at the folks who are sending these notes and they are- for the most part- hard core gamers. The more casual gamers seem to be complaining about the stuff listed above (too hard to catch criminal, too chaotic)...those things that are easy to tune.

But the hard core guys seem to be looking for much more depth in the title. These guys play lots of FPS games and shooters and fighting games. Games that I dig as well...but games they would slaughter me at if I sat to play with them :)

And so we're dealing with a game tuning dillema:

Do we adjust the title to give those hardcore folks what they are looking for or stay the course and deliver a game that we feel is- barring the kinds of expected tuning mentioned above- working really well?

The focus tests tomorrow night well help as I've requested both hardcore gamers and more casual players to show up. It will be interesting to see which way the wind blows then.

And it could be that the game we are making is good but it's better suited for the PS3 2 years from now, when more casual game players start grabbing the hardware.

But I was talking to Scott about adding some of the more hard core requests to the title and we were both like: well yeah, we could add some of those things, but do we really want to?

If we had wanted those elements in the game, there was nothing stopping us from putting them in from the start. Sony gave us pretty much free reign with CAC and this is the game we wanted to make.

So it begs the question: do we even want to be making games that appeal to the hard core gamer? Maybe we do; maybe it's just this game and the next game will be ultra hard core. Or maybe not. I really don't know.

I can tell you the games I'm playing alot of these days- and I mean ALOT, not just little spurts- are GO! SUDOKU on PS3, TOWER BLOX on my cell phone, Blast Factor on PS3, and Resistance on PS3.

So...there's only one hard core game in there.

Am I just getting...old?!?!?

Ah well, bring it on. As my father-in-law always says, beats the alternative!

Ok, french toast is here and I gotta get going with the day.

Chat with ya'll later!


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Gonna try an odd and one of the designers on GOD OF WAR 1 and 2 just got off chatting on the IM....He was in Santa Monica waiting on GOD OF WAR 2 to finish building and I was in San Diego answering we had a good chat, I thought....and I thought it was a good conversation on game theory and thought I'd post the IM versus one day deciding to write a post about how I feel about games and then having to retype it all and try to make it sound all smart and stuff :)

So, this may be hard to follow (spaces are-naturally a break in speaker and the other designer- whom I will not ID- started talking first)....but anyway, what the hell, thought it might interest someone....or not!

See ya'll!


8:15 PM
9:20 PM
sup dude?

nothin much
just waiting for a build
how u doing?

cool; not bad. Just saw you had written.


i was just seeing if u had time to chat. You at work?

not much but about 5-10 min....what up?
Nah, at home.
Benefit of working on a smaller game is you only work late- most weeks- 1-2 nites/week!

yeah i heard
that must be nice
getting over early would be like a mini vacation
so do you like working on the smaller games now a lot more?

oh HELL yes!

well i guess since your able to get off so early

Not just that; not even MAINLY that.


Alot of it is that it's just new; a new space, a new kind of game, a new kind of that really is is always exciting.

yeah i hear you on that

it nice to think of ideas in a new mental design space
beyond that, smaller games are what I play 90% of the time these days. So I love being able to make something that I want to play. GOD OF WAR 1 was a game like the games I was playing when I was working on it...NOW
with 2 kids, a wife,'s really hard to make the HOURS needed to play big games. But I still love I find myself playing smaller, casual and arcade games...SO I guess it makes sense I would want ot make those too! Plus, on top of ALL THAT the production process is SO MUCH NICER (a year ago I had NO IDEA what CALLING ALL CARS! was...not it's coming out in a month!)....12 core man team vs. cut scenes or story shit to deal with....audience expects FUN not perfection....good times dude! I just hope there is a fucking market$ for this shit I'm working on

yeah, but there has been a lot of sucess on the xbox live marketplace
so i think there is room for both types of games

Well not ALOT of success...about 3 games have done AMAZING, and the rest have died. But I'm willing to take the risk...cause I have not had this much fun in my work...probably since old TWISTED METAL 1 and 2!

when i play now its still either a quick game of multiplayer, arcade style, or i block out time to play zelda

You are still young And that is great!


I hope when I get OLDER I can go back to the Zeldas for more than 1-2 hours...but right now, just not doable.

yeah...and i can imagine myself with a family and wanting to spend time with them and not games non stop
or i guess you could just not sleep...hehehe

yeah I mean, that's life right? It's good stuff. You just got to balance and to be fair- fair to yourself and your family-however at this point i dont have to worry about that aspect

I have- like you- worked on a game that was about as good as it could get...if GOW had not turned out so well I would prob. still be struggling to make THE DREAM I'm lucky I got to work on it and it's out of my system!

yeah, thats so awesome...i still got all these ideas in my head and would love if i could even make 1 of the games

I am sure you will get to if that is your goal.

so when you have a game idea, how do you begin to boil it down?
like, do think of the game as this kinda idea or like a more systematic approach? or does it depend on the game?

well I usually start with theme...which is I guess bad...vs. starting with mechanics. These days I start more with mechanics.
I am thinking more mechanics as I do the smaller games...the bigger games I start with the story/settling and then try to shoehorn the play into it!

right...i saw you do that with god of war, and calling all cars is more about the mechanic of driving and chase. i was listening to the clify b gdc talk and he was talking about games as little loop or algorithms

yes and the game I wanna do after that- since it is small- start with the mechanic. You can start where you like, as long as you don't neglect the play.

and then i was reading the chirs crawford book and he tries to define all these laws

Cliffy talks design a hell of a lot better than I do. I like what he says but I'm not as articulate about design as he is...I can talk design but it doesn't come as natural...I am more of a gut guy...

yeah, your style is much more about "feel" and OMIT here is very technical


it just interesting to see how everyone else designs and how they formulate ideas in their head

technical bores the SHIT out of me. That is why OMIT and I always butted heads...he is very technical...

right...but for me i also like figuring out how it works, like what mechanics can i throw in to make this idea or image into something fun,but sometimes combining the 2 is the real i was just curious of how you kinda see it in your head

it is....and it's why I still don't know if I feel story and gameplay mix all that does not need story....and the PRODUCT may benefit SOME FOLKS who are hard core from story...but the VAST MAJORITY of folks just want fun....see NINTENDO and the emerging PC CASUAL GAMES market for proof.


would love to get you to play a rev of calling all cars when I am in the Santa Monica office next week.

i was thinking like what if there is a story game and for the mass market just make almost like a interactive movie where you can hit buttons like a mini game but i dont know if that would work either
it would BUT- and this is just my if my mom would enjoy that BUT however i was talking to OMIT and she just likes playing and beating the game when she has 10 x damage on and she still enjoys it and almost would rather play it that way, b/c there are still the parts that she likes without being too hard and she can get the story

I think it's a very small group that wants story and play to merge right now...I think most average people who don't consider themselves hard core are not looking for story or theme or emotion beyond the normal emotions games have always given (competition; tension; anger; comradere;etc)...I was playing SCRABBLE with the wife and dad-in-law over the break and we had a blast and no one was like: ya know what this Scrabble game needs? A STORY!

lol...right, but that game is based upon the pure mechanic and social interaction
which a lot of wii kinda style games are going for
my whole family loved playing the wii sports
and never b4 had we all sat around and played a game

right and that is what I mean...I THINK, in the same way people go to movies for stories and to have certain buttons pushed (sadness, thrills,etc). they play games to have other buttons pushed (tension, competition, social networking,etc).

but is the reason people dont want story, is b/c they haven't experienced a good 1, or for the mass market the controls on the hardercore mechanics get in the way of letting the story shine through

This is my long way of saying that I've pretty much stepped away from wanting to do story least as my CORE focus...but that is just me! Still love them, just not sure how much farther I can go with it.


I think the reason they have not experienced a good one is that games may not be the best vehicle to deliver one. Games- as games, not just video- have been around for over 4000 years since they invented Parchesi in all that time, can you think of a game that has told a story or made people emotional LIKE a story?

like maybe this medium or the current approach isnt going to work for the kinda story that will really make you feel emitions that arent so survival based (ie: fear)

yeah...people have always played games
1 day at usc ray bradbury was there and i asked him what he though about video games
he told me that man will always have their games, and then signed my book

right...and after GOD OF WAR- where I put all I had into trying to crack the nut of story and game- I have come to the personal realization that - for me- all the work we put into it resulted in a story that was maybe 1/20th as powerful as an average tv drama...Loves the Bradbury!

however i though ico was very powerful
but maybe im just gone of those small % of people looking or can appricate the story
but how that guy tells stories is interesting, b/c he leave a lot untold
and lets you kinda fill in the blanks of what is happening, rather than force feeding you everything
i guess its kinda like the sims too
people want to create their own stories

Yes this is true and ICO works as a whole, satisfying experience so I can see potential there. But so much of what made ICO work for me was NOT the interactive but the art and sound design and visual added to the experience but it was the periphery elements making you feel, not the gmaeplay.
And to me, until the CORE of what games are- INTERACTIVITY- are the things that are the story telling tools, it will always feel like we're just missing the target.

right, the entire package is very cohesive and doesn't ever take you really out, but the puzzles and combat arent the best
and maybe thats why the game didnt do so well
that why i still love multiplayer games
b/c its all about the interactivity
and not just against a machine, but with your friends
it creates that virtual social factor of you and your family playing scrable

The MOST fun I've had in the last 6 months with a game was UNO on XBLA...played it for like 3 hours a few weeks ago...

thats why i would like to see games explore a lot more of the co op or multiplayer experience
and create mechanics that really play upon these natural tendencies people have
yeah, uno is a blast
especially with the camera

see THAT would be a cool game!
Hey, gotta run!
Good chatting with you...I will talk with you later...



later, yeah you too!

would you mind if I cut and pasted this and posted it to my blog? Good conversation about game theory! And I won't have to retype it all!
I will ID you as a designer on GOD OF WAR 1 and 2?
Or no?

i dont really care

Great! Thanks!

i love talking about design, game theory, and the human mind
thats what design is all about!

me too!
Chat with you later dude!

later man

let me know when the playtest is

love me to see the game

I will! See ya!

And there ya have it! Hope you could keep up and it was as interesting for you guys as it was for me :)

If not...sorry!

See ya'll soon!



Hey ya'll...just wanted to alert you to a new CALLING ALL CARS! trailer that just hit

Here is the link:

It was captured at 1080i, then compressed to 720. So if you can watch it at 720, please do.

But either way, I feel the footage captures the TRUE if you like what you see, try out our game cause it plays like it looks in the video...If you don't dig the video, it's prob. not your cup of tea, sad for me to say! But I hope you think it looks fun!

Let me know!

Gotta go, busy as shit today!


ps. Ok, so FIRST it was the CHILDREN OF MAN touch I get this one from fellow designer Adam Orth who STILL recalls my innocent statement that ONE DAY (one day, you fuck!!! Not NOW) that the chick who plays Herminie (spelling?!?) in Harry Potter would be hot....well here's what the little fucker sends me not 5 minutes ago:

...what an asshole...:)

Hey, she IS getting I wasn't wrong :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Man! How frustrating! Someone beat us to the back in 19-fucking-60! I shoulda just ebayed this thing and ripped off the design....ah well! :)

Also, I can always count on the gang at to keep me laughin! Check it out:

Dying to see CHILDREN OF MAN as well as PAN'S LABRYNTH...hear they are both amazing. Maybe this week? Hope so!

So hey, we did press for CALLING ALL CARS yesterday with (for the show)...from what I gather, that airs this Friday on It was lots of fun watching them play the game (they SEEMED to like it and they gave me some great feedback, but you can never tell if a journo really digs what they are playing ((when they play it in front of you)) till they write about, fingers crossed!)...Luke and Kathleen also asked some refreshing hardball questions. I was stunned by them; not bothered, I liked them. I appreciated them. But it was so surprising that I kind of had to switch gears and I think you can see me doing it ON CAMERA...looking foward to how it all plays out.

Also, just got done with a video chat interview with my buddy Brady from PLAY magazine. Loves me the PLAY magazine...feels like old DIEHARD GAMEFAN! (and it should, since it's published by the same guy)'s like a very, very glossy love letter to video games...I love how they champion games that may not be the world's most polished but still get behind the unique ideas within those games (i.e. ADVENT RISING).

So Brady played it, seemed to dig the game as well and they- from what I gather- may be doing a feature on the game for the next issue (the one that comes out in February)!

Brady asked how I felt about working on a game that may not appeal to current gamers who are not in to straight up fun, arcade style games...we talked about how this game appeals to those gamers- like me- who are older and still love games but do not have the time to devote hours upon hours to play...never REALLY thought about it as I always work on stuff that I would want to play...but now he's got me wondering: will today's gamers show up for these kinds of games? And are there adults who still love games who still want to game but are LOOKING for smaller action games?!?! We will see! I hope so!

But both interviews were a blast to sweet...getting the word out there!

Ok, gotta get back to work! Talk to ya'll later!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


UPDATE: Ok, tuning is DONE! Lots more to do but a hell of a good trip...lots of neat stuff we worked out and got working lots, lots better. I plan to show the game to the folks at next week and I hope they dig the thing as much as I do! I think it's going to be part of the 1up radio show they do, so I'll post a link when that is up and running!

So, it snowed after all, check it out:

You can't see the massive flakes in this image, but trust me, they were there. So much fun walking in the snow to get to the Incognito offices!

Here is a pic I took of myself walking in the snow. I look ultra serious/mad but I was just really cold!!

I am in Utah this week, working with the gang at Incognito to tune CALLING ALL CARS. So far, one day down and things are looking great. Tomorrow is the real test though as we start to get new numbers and tweaks into the game and see if the fun factor takes another leap forward!

Ok, so two things:

JAFFE'S SPACE ODYSSEY: Started reading the novel of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY! Oh man, it's soooo good! Even tho I know it's based on the screenplay, I have to say that, so far, I like it more than the movie! Never read any Arthur C. Clarke before...this may be the start of a wonderful relationship!

Look hold OLD this book is! I think I bought it thru that Scholastic school program back when I was in 6th grade! The one where you fill out a form of the books you want and then like 6 weeks later, the teacher hands out all the books. Man, I used to get so excited for those...what were those called? Anyway, I'm just NOW getting around to reading it, some 25 years later! Ahhh, books!

SCOTT'S LITTLE WOODEN FOLKS- Scott Campbell- head of Incog and producer/designer on CAC- carves these little statues and figures out of wood. He says it helps him relax and deal with stress. Makes sense to me. Check out his latest: a little carved figure of one of the baddies in CALLING ALL CARS!

Ain't that cool? I love the little bag of loot!

Ok, gotta head off...gonna call the wife then hit the hay. Early morning tomorrow and it's supposed to snow on top of it.

Speaking of, check out these mountains...took this on my cab ride in!

Ain't Utah purdy?!? But man it's cold for a guy who lives in Southern California. It was 80 degrees when I left home today and I hear it's supposed to drop down to TWO tomorrow night. That's TWO my friends...freaking TWO!!!

Ok, see ya'll soon!


Monday, January 08, 2007


Calling All Cars tuning kicks into overdrive this week as I head out to burden the talented folks at Incognito with my oh-so-wonderful presence! We've got a 3 day tuning spree set to start Wednesday and before that gets going, I need to get my crap ton of notes together and whittle down only the most important aspects that I really want to see addressed. Time is almost out and the game- in my mind- is getting there but is still 'not yet ready for prime time'. The thing about these pure mechanic driven games- I am finding- is that all it takes is a push in this direction, a tweak in that direction (i.e. adjusting a camera; speeding up the turn rate on a car) and it either all falls apart or comes together. One little decision, and your game can come alive!

Unlike GOD OF WAR where every sequence could be judged- to an extent- on its own (outside of the overall experience), with a game like CALLING ALL CARS there are probably 15-20 knobs we can adjust in tuning that have a profound affect on the entire title. Hell, those knobs- and the elements they affect- ARE the entire title! The good news is that we have until end of this month (give or take) to find that combonation of knobs. The bad news is- in my mind- we have not found it yet.

Here is a screen shot of just SOME of the issues that are left to be dealt with.It's a screen capture for MS Excel, the program I type all my tweaks into...

I am confident that we will end up with a great game, but that still doesn't soften the blow of seeing our game previewed in EDGE magazine yesterday.

I LOVE Edge magazine; I get it from Barnes & Noble each and every month and if it were a girl, I'd have a crush on it. I get giddy when I know it's coming in; I love the fucking SMELL of it; the glossy pages and great, great writing. Ahh, Edge!

But so they had a preview of alot of the PS3 games, and Calling All Cars was in there. And I know the version they previewed. It was a version that- trust me- didn't have ANY of the knobs tuned. They were not mean to it; they were not super kind to it. It was a just a standard preview. But it sucks because I KNOW we could have given them a better copy if we had known it was for preview in a major magazine. But alas we didn't know and chose to- development wise- focus on other aspects of the game.

But that's ok, more for them to love- we hope!- when the final game does hit.

So speaking of PS3, I played ALOT of PS3 this weekend. I finally had some time to spend with the consumer model and I have to say, I am really impressed. If you can, forget that I WORK for Sony. And try to remember that on more than one occasion I have professed a love for my 360 and my excitement about getting a Wii (if I can ever find one). These are NOT fanboy rants.

Keep those things in mind when I tell you that I played lots of Resistance, GO! SUDOKU, and GRIPSHIFT and had a blast; that I surfed the web on my PS3 and really dug the experience (although, how the FUCK do I resize the screen so it all fits on my SD tv screen?!?). There's something different about the PS3 than the's a real difference but I can not figure out what it is. There IS an elegance about the PS3 that is missing from the more workhorse, blue collar (in a great way!) 360 experience. Sure, I wish some of the amazing games I've seen behind closed doors would be OUT already! And I wish the stuff we have all seen (Motorstorm; Heavenly Sword;MGS4) would be out already...but on first blush- as just a consumer- I have to say, I'm excited about this system. And when I hook it up to my new 1080p Bravia, I'm sure it'll get even better! I LOVE how I can go from a blu-ray game, to a downloaded game, to messaging people on my buddy list, to surfing the web all in the same session...and imagining doing all that in 1080p (when my living room gets set up) is like: sweet! So it was a good time and I'm looking forward to more PS3.

Ok, so finally, I found this link and wanted to share.

This is a clip of Steven Spielberg in a hotel room, talking about the future of cinema. He comes in about 10 seconds into the clip, so give it a sec.

So he's around 34,35 in this clip. And he seems VERY rough around the edges. He says SHIT for God's sake! This is a man who, publicly, NEVER curses. And hell, is this the Spielberg of Saving Private Ryan and the Shoah foundation talking about MASTURBATION!?!? My goodness, it is!

Compared to how the guy seeems now, this guy is the life of the party. Toss him a lampshade!

These days Spielberg seems...well, boring. His movies are- while stunning on some level- a bit boring as well. He seems so much more interested in being earnest and having something important to say; having something to leave behind. But even with all that good stuff, he's become- to me- a pretty big drag. I don't know the man personally, but as a public figure, he just seems to be...not real, anymore. He seems like a walking ICON versus a person.

But it's nice to see ol' Stevie back in the day, when he was clearly- to me- full of piss and vinegar and passion....and he seemed like a real guy you could hang out with. Maybe this fades with age, maybe it will fade for me as well. I hope not but maybe that's just life.

Even so, I dug this. If any of you are old time Spielberg fans (like me), you may as well.

Ok, off to work! Gotta get to tuning!


Monday, January 01, 2007

Death of the Edge

Being sick- and being a parent- I kept my ass inside last night and watched tv and ate pizza. Even when I was single, I never really did anything on New Year's Eve. Now that I'm married with children, you know I'm not doing shit.

But so I'm sitting there watching AN EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH 2: EVENING HARDER. For those not in the know, it's a document of his 'stand up'/Q&A shows he takes to- mainly- college campuses all over the world.

I'm watching it on my still SD tv, sadly. BUT, the Sony Store called a few days ago and are saying my new Bravia is in! 1080p, here I come, bitch!!! I am very excited!

But so to the Kevin Smith DVD: I really wanted to watch it on New Year's Eve so I drove way out of my way to grab it a few days ago as the only store that had it in stock was 45 minutes away.

But that's ok. I like Kevin Smith; enough to drive around for almost an hour to take in his latest work. Not a problem at all.

That said, I don't LOVE his movies. His movies range from dull-to-really cool (for ex: loved Clerks 2, got bored with Clerks 1, thought the other flicks were all just-above-average with bits of genius sprinkled in)... but his movies aside, I've always loved his personality and stories and DVD commentary and comics and the universe he's created. I remember seeing him speak in a packed-but-tiny room at Comic-Con back in like- what was that?- 1999. He was just as engaging and funny then as he is now, playing the huge venues that you can see him selling out in the DVD. Love his blog, love his website and his comic book store in Westwood. So I like him alot, right?

In fact, I would say his career- from a promotional standpoint and how connects to the folks who purchase the stuff he works on- was one I was trying to emulate to an extent for a while over the last several years. Sometimes it worked, other times, not so much. But still, he's a hell of a salesman who really gets his audience,and I respect, admire, and aspire to that.

And he curses.


Hell, after watching a 4 hour doc of him on stage- and hearing him cuss like a sailor- MY potty mouth has kicked back in to gear (at home, on the blog, on message board posts), after a year or so of trying to tone it down just a bit.

And that is one of the things that struck me as odd about the DVD. I liked it but the magic and innocence that seemed to be there in the fist EVENING WITH KEVIN SMITH was gone. This one- while entertaining- seemed more like business. I think the guy- who was 34 at the time of the recording- is just too old to be acting like he does. It comes off as a bit...wrong?

And not because I sit here as some sort of judge and go: PEOPLE OVER 30 SHOULD NOT CUSS. I don't care that he cusses. Cussing is fine. It's just that it no longer feels genuine for Kevin Smtih. THAT is what I have the problem with.

At the time of the recording he had just lost his dad (which-naturally- affected him deeply, as you can tell from the DVD and from his blog), his latest flick (Jersey Girl, which I liked enough to see twice) had bombed, and you could tell he was flailing a bit, trying to find his bearings in his personal and creative life. I can relate to that; I can releate to that MORE than I can relate to another story of him being obsessed with fucking his wife or how he made Clerks. And I wish he would have spoken more to those areas of his life. I wish he would have GIVEN more of his true self.

But that's interesting- to me anyway :)- as I look at my career and my public persona- such as it is- and realize that I've become less interesting as a public person over the last year. I see it in my interviews, I see it in the readership drop of this blog, I see it in the types of public events I'm asked to participate in (more detailed Q&A about the work VERSUS Q&A about my life and the 'wild' things I say). The edge and kick I used to see attributed to me- such as it was-is dull and dying out. Hell, you can see it in the latest incarnation of the blog. I was looking at the posts since I've launched this site and man, none of them are full of heart. It's more like I'm just giving you guys information. And how fun is that?

So the Kevin Smith movie really got me thinking. How do you deal with an established public image when you change as a person? Do you try to stay the same in your interviews even tho you are clearly a different person (what I see Smith doing). Do you just be honest with folks and even if you are no longer entertaining, keep plugging away (that'd be me)? Or do you reach into your gut and find the stuff that- while different from the past, is still REAL- and present that (what I wish Kevin Smith would do)?

And yeah, I could do that last one. I could really dig and write about the things that really affect me these days. But the thing is, I've become much happier as a REAL person over the last year. I've lost weight, I spend more time with my family, I'm reconnecting with friends, and I have fallen in love with my work again. In fact, I feel the work I am doing now- as a happy, balanced person-is BETTER than the work I've done in the past. We'll see if you agree when the new stuff starts to hit, but that's how I feel at least.

And to me, one of the fallouts of being more balanced and healthy is that I no longer feel the need to write down EVERY THOUGHT I HAVE on the blog. Did it make for more interesting reading when I did do that? I think it was more interesting when I was doing that versus just giving out information like I am now, to be sure. But I no longer feel moved to do it.

I'm not thinking of stopping blogging, I still enjoy it. It's just got me wondering if there's a middle ground. Because to me, the blog should serve the same purpose as the games: it should entertain folks. If not, then what's the point?

So this is the stuff I am thinking about.

Anyway, gotta go to bed. It's like 5am and I just got up to drink some tea (sore throat) and I ended up doing this. Thanks for listening guys.

Oh,and for the love of God, just for the record: I DO NOT think my public persona or career success is anywhere close to that of Kevin Smith. The biggest name in video games is not at that level, and I sure as hell am not even close to being ONE of the biggest names in games. I wish I were a better writer who could make that clear without needing a footnote, but I am not. So there you go. I can relate to aspects of Smith's career (far as I know about it), that is all. So please be aware of that as I know it could come off as- gasp!- arrogant otherwise. :)

See ya'll!