Sunday, March 04, 2007


Ahhh....what a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Sitting in my office with the spring like March breeze blowing thru my window; oldest daughter is outside on the swing I just installed, being pushed by her grandpa. Wife is on the couch downstairs, reading a book.

Man, this is nice. I love that spring is almost here!

Speaking of spring, you know it's getting close when GDC rears it's head. And GDC is this week, as you may know.

I am on two GDC panels, so stop by if you get the chance.

Panel #1 is on Tuesday night- around 6 I think- and deals with the indie game scene. Odd they would choose me for such a panel as Calling All Cars, while being small, is hardly independent. From my understanding tho, they want me on to talk about bigger companies- like Sony- getting into the smaller game space (sort of like how big movie studios have their indie divisions like Sony Pictures Classics). Certainly I could/would/should never design an ultra indie darling like flOw or Dawinia, but I am digging the smaller titles so maybe I will have something worthy to say. Either way, I am excited as the first two days of GDC are devoted- in part- to the small/casual/indie game scene...a scene that I am very rapidly falling head over heels in love with! In fact, I have DEFCON's eerie music playing in the background as I type...thanks Steam!

Panel #2 finds me competing for the GAME DESIGN CHALLENGE crown against last year's winner Harvey Smith (lead designer on my top 5 all time fave game DEUS EX) and Alexy Pajitnov (he of Tetris fame and all around genius). In other words, I am fucking dead. And not just dead, but 'killed in front of industry peers whom I would like to impress as one day I may be knocking on their doors for a job' dead. And get this fucking challenge: design a game where the user interface is a needle and thread and a piece of fabric. Yeah, you read that right. A needle and fucking thread interface. Dead, I tell you! Dead!

But that's ok. I have an idea that I think is kinda cool, both theme wise and play wise. And end of the day, all you can do is pitch what you like and hope for the best. I'll let you know how I do!



Me and the wife saw Music And Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore last week and I've been in 80's love mode ever since. NOTE: I just re-read that sentence and it could mean two things. I PROMISE you, it means the thing you think it means...not the thing it would so cool if it meant.


If you have not seen the movie - and you like romantic comedies- go see this flick. It's really good. And if you were a kid/teen in the 80's and have a fondness for that time period, you MUST see this flick if for no other reason than to see Hugh Grant play an Andrew Ridgely style character who was one half of a WHAM! like duo. Check this out, the opening of the film:

Not ONLY does the song SOUND 100% autentic 80's but the fucking video is spot on! I LOVE the fact that the doctor looks like a GQ model...and the red flashing heart under Hugh Grant's shirt at the end is perfect! Totally 80's!

So yeah, I got the soundtrack on my ipod the day after seeing the film and was jamming like an idiot to it while driving to LA last week for our second to last CALLING ALL CARS focus test.

Our biggest issue with the game right now is that when the battles are close, the game is a BLAST! We get amazing scores and people are laughing ,swearing, and having a great time. But when we get mismatched players- as in any multiplayer game, video or not- the scores drop as both players get bored.

We are debating if we should put in some NBA JAMS style catch up code that gives players who are lagging behind a bit (like 10 points behind or so) a bit of a boost in various areas of the game. Not sure how we feel about this for a number of reasons. Maybe we put it in but give players an option to turn it on/off. We will see but I sure as hell ain't letting you guys know what we decide as I feel that would blow the magic of the experience.

But anyway, I'm in 80's mode, listening to tons of 80's music and dreaming about Alladin's Castle at Brookwood Mall again...the old, long gone arcade I used to practically live in. Ah, those were the days. Man, I've searched the net for pictures of that place for years and have never found ANYTHING. How I miss Alladin's Castle :(

So hey, have you guys seen this book yet:

What a great book to trigger those amazing arcade 80's memories. I wish it was a huge coffe table sized book but it'll do. And it makes me so excited to have a game coming out this month that really speaks to the love I have for those old arcade games...from like 1978 up to like 1993, there were some amazing games in the arcade that changed my life and molded me as a creative individual.... and while I probably will never make an actual arcade game, Calling All Cars, to me, has the soul and spirit of an arcade game and that makes me very, very excited, happy, and proud.

Folks will get to play Calling All Cars next week at GDC and then, in a week or two after, the game hits. We'll see the reviews, see player comments on the's an exciting but stressful time. I really want people to like the game but you just never know. I am very proud of it but who knows what gamers expect these days. Will the gamers be willing (or have a desire) to put on their 'arcade hats' and have appropriate expectations for a game like CAC or will they come to CAC expecting the same depth and breadth that they want to see in HALO3 or KILLZONE 2?!?!

I have moments where I feel we've made a balls to the wall blast to play that will keep people coming back for more and more...and then I have moments where I'm like: fuck! This thing is gonna give all the Jaffe haters all the ammo they need to just bury me.

Some people are like: dude, don't worry about it so much.

And they are right. And I've done this long enough that by this point- most times- it doesn't worry me. I know we did the best we could. But there are those times when you catch yourself hoping for the great reviews and the fan board praises....but it's key not to think on that too much, not to come to depend on that too much.

All you can do is your best and HOPE you and the team have done enough to guarantee folks that the game will provide the most important thing of all: a good fucking time!

Ok, I'm off. May update from GDC...if not, talk to ya'll soon after!

Take it easy!



PlayStation Museum said...

If there's video of you speaking at the GDC, please send me a copy or post it online. I wish I were on the west coast to go to the GDC. I know quite a few people going so it will be a slow news week for the museum.

BTW, must be nice to have a breeze to enjoy. It's freezing here and we are expecting another snow storm this week. I'm still waiting for all the snow to melt.

Anonymous said...

GL at GDC. And about CAC...Dude, don't worry about it.

Arnaldo Licea said...

I wanted to go to GDC this year but I found myself with little to no money and schoolwork piling up. I'm going to try and see/hear the panel someway.

Going next year for sure!


David Doel said...

I have to admit that I'm an 80's nut too, and I was only born in '85. Even though I don't remember the 80s at all, there is something about playing a game like GTA Vice City, or watching a movie like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, 16 Candles, Weird Science, and The Wedding Singer (yes, I own all these movies on DVD) that makes me feel very nostalgic.

I'll make sure to check out that movie you suggested.

-- David Doel

Anonymous said...

If you add a handicap feature make it possible to turn it off. That can get really annoying for people of the same skill level.

For example the best strategy in Virtua Racing was to stay in second place and win with a burst of speed in the last 10 seconds of the race, because a boost was given to a player in back.

I don't remember what NBA Jam did. I do remember getting my ass kicked 60-4 so whatever they did it wasn't enough! (Once your opponent is on fire and can goal tend at will you are pretty much screwed if you suck like I do)

Greg said...

Must be nice to have some good weather - I just got buried by even more snow over the weekend.

Good luck with GDC, it sounds like a lot of fun. Oh, and don't worry about CAC - you can at least count on one sale of the game, ha!

thecapps said...

I wouldn't worry too much about what people will think about CAC. I mean, it's normal to worry about something that you've created and wonder if people will like it. The thing for gamers to keep in mind is that you're paying $9.99, not $59.99. They should not be expecting a 10-15 hour long single player campaign with 10 different multi-player modes. They should be expecting (IMO) a game that is fun to play with friends via split screen, or with friends online through multiplayer. I would expect it to not really have a story and be all gameplay. With the amount of time that I have these days between my family, job, and finishing out my basement, these kinds of games are perfect. They're designed to be pick up and play and you can play them for 10 minutes or hours at a time if you choose. I'll be getting this day one so you can count on my $9.99...

derrickgott007 said...

I used to spend whole saturdays at Alladins Castle..I loved that place. I would dream all week at school about about the arcade games, and then get to play them on saturday..I loved it!

Then I hit gaming gold...My uncle went to work for "Games Unlimited" repairing arcade cabinets and the chicken egg machines. It was awesome...all the really good games had to spend a myterious extra two weeks in "Repair" in his garage at home.

Bring Back Alladins Castle...that place was like heaven to me.

eightser said...

Hey I am Viktor, and I go to school at The Art Institute of California - San Francisco. I would just like to say that I think it is great to see you share your opinions and thoughts with us.

Second of all, thank you for many great games over the last 14 years now. Your the reason I want to work in the game industry, except as an artist since I can't design .

Thirdly, Wow GDC sounds serious. Good luck with both panels.

Last of all, if there is any chance of getting informational interview with you if your available ever by email or phone. I have always wanted to get the an idea of how you do what you do. if you ever get a chance to respond.

- Viktor

Anonymous said...


Joel said...

hmm... needle and thread.

im just going to throw out a few things that come off the top of my head...

if its turn based, players could take turns sewing barriers or pathways.. well i dont really know where to go with that though, maybe it could be some kind of a racing game, or a tactical shooter.

okay how about this..

i picture a sheet of rectangular material being like the "playing field" with each player sitting at opposite sides of it, as "goalies"

how could gameplay work, im not sure, but i picture it having something to do with how the thread would leave a trail. almost like your history.. what sorts of things in nature leave trails?

well.. im thinking like.. vines.. or something.

maybe it could be a tracking/hunting game, where you have to follow the opposing players trail? cut them off and kill them somehow?

dont forget that the material can DEFINETLY have a print on it.. think of pacman levels or something... as a print on the material.. players having to follow the paths.

maybe you could do something with multiple thread colors?

did you ever play that game called chips challenge? those are also an interesting level design type thing ..

if players take turns, maybe the print on the material could be like... dots.. and players have to connect the dots, to move... you can move from dot to dot, each move...

...although i've been thinking of this game from a multiplayer perspective, im sure you could make a solo game as well..

anyways, im sure you'll have better ideas than me, good luck, you can take those other designers, no problem!

(also for CAC, definetly add a "handicap" in the options.. if im playing with my younger sister, shes going to need all the help she can get.. but if im playing against my best friend, he better not get ANY help at all, if im beating him.)

Carlos M. said...

Hello, Mr. Jaffe (First time I've contacted you, so if you'd rather be called David...)

I'm a (currently independent) game designer that's attending GDC, and I just came back from the first day of the Independent Games Summit. Sony did have a representative today in a panel, Mr. John Hight, who talked about what Sony looks for from Independent Developers. He talked about the risks of Sony accepting independent game concept pitches without a prototype or demo for their platform, but that the risk was worth taking if the indy guys showed enough passion that could indicate the commitment necessary to actually come through with the production of the game. Of course, I'd imagine is much easier to accept a nearly finished product that can be proven fun to play.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing and (hopefully) meeting you at the Conference. I'll be attending both panels, including the Game Design Challenge. Harvey Smith is a regular visitor at Full Sail, the Game Development school I come from, and he has shared with us how his studio prioritizes Game Design, from Junior to Senior. That's admirable considering a lot of companies would hesitate to hire game designers that haven't already worked on several other commercial games. He's a very interesting and smart guy to listen to, which is why I'm looking forward to this year's Challenge particularly, as you'll be involved as well.

I wish you the best of luck, and see you at GDC!

Carlos Mijares

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr.David ! My name is dream(nickname, actually) I'm 24 years old and I'm Thai currently living in San Francisco.It's an honored to leave you a comment and probably more honor if u read it! :D well, I am a fan of GoW series and I just found out today that you're the developer of my favourite games!At first, Twisted Metal was a first surprised but then, again, mickey mouse on megadrive! that was like over 10years ago!.Anyway, I'm just searching for your biography becuz I'm interested in developing video games, well, not enough space to say just nice&surprise to know that all of your games you had developed are my favourite so I'm a fan of you now!Good Luck sir :)