Thursday, May 29, 2008

Diary of a Mad, Black Woman


ok, I have no idea why I used that title. I'm a Tyler Perry shoot me.


Out in Utah for full time meetings as these pics can attest:

These meetings focus mainly on scope of the game, budget, feature set, etc. It's basically us meeting with Sony to review where the project is at, not so much game design or production wise, but more from a financial standpoint.

It's so odd/funny/wrong to say 'us meeting with Sony'....we've know these people- and worked with them- for like 13 years. And for many of those years, Scott and/or myself were Sony employees. So it's more just kind of like old times, like nothing has really changed.

Good meetings, got alot done.

Then we went out and smoke and drank a bit:

There's me (with the cee-gar smoke), Scott Campbell, Allan Becker (head of Sony Santa Monica), and Tina Kowlaldekdkwkjdweidjwiejdijsosidski. She is the new head of external development for Sony Santa Monica. And she knows like EVERYONE in the freaking biz. I mean EVERYONE. Most connected person I know. She rocks.

She's actually got this amazing book she's been working on for years that has little sketches/drawings from all of the most successful and well know game designers in the biz...West AND East! It's pretty amazing to see little drawings from Kojima and Miyamoto in there, right next to each other! She should really publish that thing one day....anyway....

Good times.

Ok, still out in the Utah, gotta get in for a design meeting. Chat with you guys/gals later.


ps. took a pic of this cartoon from a book on the Disney World theme park ride builders that my brother had. It reminds me very much of the process of making a game and the process of scoping out a game, which we are going through right now (hell, that process never ends, you are always adjusting design, adding, cutting,etc). It's kinda blurry but here ya go:

Panel #1 says: Concept Phase
Panel #2 says: Feasibility
Panel #3 says: Reality
Panel #4 says: Descoping (which basically means, the reality of money and time has gotten in the way so go back to your 'amazing, brilliant' concepts and chop them up!)....hardest- but often times the most important and best- part of making a game. My experience says that 30-70% of what you are forced to cut for money ends up being stuff you needed to cut anyway, so you can get to the heart of your product. And we've cut on this game, but there's alot of meat left on the bone and we're working hard to make sure we don't cut anymore cause I think where we have it right now is the sweet spot. But as always, I know ya'll will let us know if we hit the bullseye when the game hits.

Ok, running late. See ya!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hmm....I dunno...

Ok...Kotaku turned me onto this flick, made my a prof. in Georgia. All about sex and video games...pretty neat, I suppose.


the problem I have with it is the same problem I have when academics, forum posters, and game makers- all folks whom it SEEMS (whom? who? whatever!)...but folks whom it seems have never actually been in a position to design a game- decide to go off on how games should be more artistic, emotional, and relevant; how games should deal with more serious subject matter than just power fantasy. They also assume that game designers/publishers are just pandering to the current fanboys instead of growing the medium, or that game makers are simply immature.

And yes, some of that is true.

But MOST of the reason games have not delved into more mature subject matter has to do- in my mind- with the fact that we don't know HOW to do it! Not because we're idiots. But because the medium itself has yet to show much in the way of a capability to examine more serious subject matter in a way that is compelling.

I remember being on a panel with the amazingly talented Harvey Smith a few years ago and he was talking about how he wanted to make a game about death. Now to me, my knee jerk was: sweet, it's an action game like Devil May Cry but you control a bad ass version of the grim reaper and you use his scythe in cool,violent, bloody ways! Love it!!! (by the way, no you can not rip off that idea...that baby is gold!)...

...but Harvey- being a very smart, deep thinker- was talking about DEATH as a force, as the thing that rips lives apart, that turns the circle of life,etc,etc, know, a deep, meaningful game.

And I loved it. Loved the promise of it.

But I asked him then- just like I would ask now- what is the actual GAMEPLAY!?!? What do you DO with the controller?!?!

And that- it seems- is where alot of us get stuck.

It is very, very, very easy to shoot the shit about our artistic ambitions. It makes us- and the medium- sound good and important and relevant to those who know very little about games. And it makes us- who know alot about games- feel- at times- like we are doing something more than just making electronic theme park rides. And this makes us feel more important and all arty farty.

I love those feelings. People should feel arty farty from time to time. It's nice.

But the reality is, the medium- so far- has shown a piss poor ability to actually deliver on these lofty promises.

And yes, the medium is KIND of young. But it's old enough to have given us SOMETHING along the lines that our critics say we should be making. And if you look at the medium of GAMES themselves, well, there's over 4000 years of road behind us at this point, and there's not alot- anything?- that I can point to in my board/card game collection that evokes deep philosophical discourse and/or deep, emotional release. Sure, you can claim chess is a metaphor for war, but that metaphor is not clear while playing the game unless someone tells you about the metaphor first. Playing the game of chess itself does not make one think of the sacrifices of soldiers or the tragedy of war. And if it does: you so crazy!

Now to me, all of that doesn't mean we should not try.

I played a bit of flOwer the other day, from That Game Company and I was like: hey, this makes me feel....well, it's not my place to spoil their game and tell you how it made me feel. But it DID make me feel. And there have been a few other games the last few years that seem to be doing SOMETHING that, in doing so, affects me on a fresh- for games- emotional level.

So it seems like it IS possible? But the question is:

is this just the start of deeper, more meaningful games now that people are able to start trying out these theories they've had about games for years but can only now- with the indie game scene- execute on those ideas? Or are we killing ourselves to be relevant and meaningful but even with all that work, we're only able to squeeze out a touch here and a touch there, and it's never going to go beyond that?

Ok, lots to do...gotta run! Later ya'll!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some thoughts on Indy 4

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Killing my darlings...

Stephen King once wrote about how- in telling a story- it is sometimes necessary to 'kill your darlings' , meaning that even if you love something you've written or cooked up, putting it in your story can- often times- hurt the piece as a whole because the idea simply doesn't fit into the yarn you're spinning. Same goes for game design. As cool as a play mechanic may be, as cool as a level design may seem...sometimes, it just doesn't fit in with the game you're making. And unlike writing a novel, with game design, there is another reason to sometimes kill a darling: cause it's just too damn ambitious to create!

But that's the production phase...that's the hard part!

Pre-Production is one of the most fun times for a designer because it's- in many aspects- the blue sky phase of the game. A million seemingly cool ideas just floating in the ether, ready to be plucked from the air and inserted into the next great gaming masterpiece! No limits on your game, no limits to your imagination, and no limits to your fantasies that THIS IS GONNA BE THE ONE; this is gonna be the one time when you really do get to make the best videogame EVER!

And then reality sets in (if you have a great producer...which we do) and you have to start making hard choices. And you have to hope that you and the team have the experience and insight to make the correct calls, and that you are tuned into the gut/vibe/spirit of your game so that you kill the stuff that needs killing while greenlighting the stuff that really belongs in the game. If you are lucky, your gut will guide you in these decisions most days. But every project has those 'Sophie's Choice' moments where there is no good decision. Even when the game is done and- hopefully- has gone onto much success, you still wonder: did we make the right call?!?!

But for the last 3-5 months, it was easy and fun. Just blue sky for miles around.

During that time, me and other members of the team have been brainstorming and designing, trying to discover what it was we wanted to make. That work resulted in about 75 pages of notes and sketches and drawings (you can sort of see all those pages in the video blog post from yesterday, altho the video quality- for some reason- is shit).

So in prep for a Utah meeting next week- where we will need to start making some final decisions on aspects of the game- I went thru all those pages and crossed out the stuff that no longer felt right. The stuff that still made sense made it onto this list:

165 single line notes. Each one a mechanic or play idea or weapon or level concept. Each one representing between 3 days of work and 2-3 MONTHS of work! Which means, we ain't gonna get to do them all.

Which means my job today is to whittle these into Category A (the stuff I feel we MUST have and that I must sell the team on), Category B (the stuff I really want and hope to somehow get enough time and support to get it in the game), and Category C (the stuff that we'll probably end up saving for a sequel if we are fortunate enough to make second one).

And the fun part? The other key members of the team are gonna have their OWN lists and OWN categorization of those lists..which means next week should be a fucking blast of haggling, debating, arguing, and- best case- collaborating!

But as productive as next week will be, I know that some of my faves on this list are gonna get slaughtered. Some of my babies are gonna get murdered, and there's just no getting around that. And I'll- as often as Scott or Kellan or anyone else on the team- be the one holding the damn axe.

Wish us luck! :)


Thursday, May 22, 2008

VBLOG: Indy (no spoilers!), Clifford B, SAG wants MONEY!!!

ps. I actually rented and watched NATIONAL TREASURE 2 last nite, as I was SOOOOO dying for an Indy type movie that I had to see something! I actually liked it- much more than the first one, which I turned off about 1 hour into it.

pps. not sure what is up with the shitty vid quality- sorry!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My GTA4 Ramblings

People have been asking my thoughts on GTA 4. Have not played tons of it so take this 'review' with a grain of salt. I put review in quotes cause it's not really a real review...more of a rambling. So take this rambling with a grain of salt. Or more to the point: take it as the ramblings of someone who has given about 2 hours of his life to it (both single and MP modes...and MAINLY multiplayer). So here goes:


Well I've never loved the GTA series...always appreciated and respected the hell out of it, but the mission design (fetch quests, checkpoint racing, and 'go here and get this object' tasks abound) and the 'we think we are edgy and satirical and funny but we are really just at a junior high school level of comedy but since at least- in games- it's more than most offer and since we've gotten alot of praise,we'll just keep on doing what we are doing' school of comedy really- as you can tell :) - annoys me. There's such an abundance of the comedy and world view that- even worse- it SEEMS like the makers of the game really feel they have discovered some unique world view/unique comedy styling and they just want to shove it down my throat. Not saying this is how they feel. It's just how I feel when I visit the worlds in the GTA universe. But that's just personal taste. It's done really, really well, I just don't care for it.

But so, there you go. Always stunned and in awe by every GTA game since #3 (the the 2D ones were sweet as well) but I've never been a convert to the GTA religion. So GTA 4 was not exciting me all that much...altho it clearly seemed impressive scope wise. To the point that it scared the SHIT out of me as a developer.

And I was VERY excited about the multiplayer in this one. First few nites I did Deathmatch games and the GTA race games and they were kinda MEH for me. But I finally got onto a few games of Cops and Crooks last nite (not sure if it was me or the GTA servers but I had not been able to log on for the last week and do any GTA MP)...I heard this mode was the crown jewel in the game's multiplayer and from a design standpoint, I really do think it's cool.

But the car controls are so bad- to me- that I could not spend more than 30 minutes with it. They are floaty and the cars flip over all the time. The physics model for crashes sucks because the density of traffic is so high and the speeds of the cars are so fast and the result of a crash brings the game to a dead it's a real momentum killer.

Also, because the city is so big and the road layouts so detailed, you really have to drive by the map. The city streets are kind of dark as well so it's tough to get going up to any real sense of speed and still be able to see the turns coming up in time. The other aspect that bugs me is the realistic city design (non breakable walls that you can't get your car over but you can't see until you are inches away from smashing into them, trees that don't get knocked down when you hit them,etc) does not seem conducive to the arcadey design of the MP modes. And so- with all these aspects- frustration easily sets in for me.

All that said: car control can be mastered. And a map can be learned. So I imagine if I had invested more than 1 hour in the single player, I would have learned the city a bit better and the driving mechanics would be second nature and my fun factor would shoot thru the roof. And I do plan on playing Cops N' Crooks again as I see the massive fun potential in that mode. I really, really like it. It just frustrates me right now.

BUT it does strike me as curious as to why Rockstar didn't fix these issues. Is it because they don't see them as issues? That's a fair reason, to be sure. I think a valid design argument could be made for needing to master a system before fun kicks in. It's just not the way I would go.

Then again- these guys are kings of the world sales wise and any designer would be wise to sit back and study the massive success- design and sales wise- that the masters at Rockstar have achieved. Now review wise? Well, that's something else.

Review wise, I'm sorry...the reviews this game has gotten seem nuts...and that's no backlash...I respect the hell out of Rockstar and am glad they are doing so well...they deserve it. But the praise the press has heaped on this thing seems a touch out of's like they are desperately trying to find a game that is 'important' and 'meaningful' so to prove they are more than just fanboys pounding out reviews for toys. I hate to be a jerk to the press because I like most of ALL the people I've met in the press and my goal is not to piss them off (hell, we all need the press in this biz) but COME ON...I am NOT saying GTA 4 is not an amazing game, I am NOT saying it's not a watershed moment, even. Perhaps it is. But Jesus, ya'll. There are some serious flaws in this game. Flaws that get in the way of the experience Rockstar has clearly busted ass to created. And I'm not saying some of the reviews have NOT mentioned these flaws, but the scores this game gets seem out of whack given that the game does- in my mind- have these flaws. But again, it's subjective and- to be fair- I have only played 2 hours while most of these guys have finished it. So you know, those flaws could easily fall away once mastery sets in and the gems of the game could then shine even brighter. I'm totally open to that. And if it turns out to be the case- as I play the game more- I'll be the first to admit the press was right and I was wrong.

And look, what do I know? Rockstar should be proud and excited for their massive success. And let's be honest. The majority of the people buying the game are willing to put up with tons of annoying elements (controls, annoying city layouts where the streets are too narrow for the speeds of the vehicles they let you drive,etc.) as long as they get to live the life of a modern bad ass. That is the real secret sauce to the series, to me. And in that regard- as well as many, many others- GTA 4 delivers. It just seems that it may not- once again- be my cup of tea.

BUT- a few more nights of Cops N Crooks and I may just change my mind :)


Monday, May 19, 2008


Not sure if that is how you spell standee. Is it stande? Who knows...but you know, those movie theater and video store displays that advertise upcoming releases?

Man, they are getting more and more elaborate every year! Check out the one for The Hulk that I saw this weekend when I went to see Narnia (walked out of it, terrible, dull-as-shit movie)...

And Kung Fu Panda's standee rocks...and last year's Silver Surfer was- and remains- my fave ever. Hell, even the standee from last month's Prom Night (where you get to open the doors yourself to see what is inside) was amazing!

I used to beg and plead with the video store owners to get the standees when they were done displaying them (I think they are SUPPOSED to either send them back or destroy them, but sometimes they would look the other way). Still, I never got the good ones. But it didn't matter; I would take ANYTHING. I even had a KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN standee just because it was a big ass standee from a movie (that I have yet to see and have no desire to ever watch). But hell, it was a real movie ad from the mythical peeps out in Hollywood! That's all I cared about!

But man, the standees today would give movie-geek kids, like I was, freaking heart attacks! I mean, this Hulk one is - far as I can tell- actual Hulk size, so it was really cool to stand under it and imagine what it would be like to encounter the Hulk in real life. Ok, so now we know how big a geek I am because yes, indeed, that was a cool moment for me :)

Ok, gotta run. Been taking my kid to pre-school these days cause after next month, she's onto kindergarden. Man, it goes fast. I don't wanna miss a moment! And then it's back to the desk to start the week- hope ya'll had a great weekend!

Chat soon- David

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Come work at EAT SLEEP PLAY!


Hey all: ok, so if you fit any of the descriptions below, please send to:'ll be on the lookout!

BUT PLEASE understand....we are only looking for the positions listed below. I am so appreciative and grateful to all of ya'll who have expressed interest in working together. Who knows what the future holds. But for now, we really only need those slots filled. So if you do something else that is NOT those slots, you really don't need to spend your resources sending in a resume. I will alert you on this blog and on our eat sleep play site when new positions open up...thanks for your understanding!



Hey- wanna come work with us on our brand new Playstation 3 game? It's gonna be really cool, I promise :)

Well if you are interested- and you fit any of the below descriptions- then we're dying to talk to you. The company is in Salt Lake City (altho I work from San Diego, so you won't have to deal with my handsome mug every day!) and it's a great, great group of people. I've worked with them for 13 years- on and off- and they just rock.

We've also got a great deal with Sony (worked with them for 13 years as well) and a terrific producer who- unlike other places- will make sure the game actually ships and you get your work seen :)

So if any of this sounds good, let me know in the comments and I will let you know where to send your resumes.

Maybe we'll be working together soon! Sweet!

David here's what we need:

#1-Gameplay Programmer-
Overall, the position of Game Programmer is expected to partner with the organization to:

1. Implement code systems based upon:
• Technical designs as submitted by the Lead Programmer
• Game designs as submitted by game design and art staff
• Working cooperatively with team members to form or further enhance code systems

2. Develop skills to produce competitive and technically superior code systems by:
• Communicating with experienced staff on the team to learn techniques and/or design philosophies
• Working with existing code systems and learning how and why they have been developed
• Seeking outside development influences through either peer relations and/or conferences related to current field and project parameters

3. Support code systems including:
• Pre-existing code systems
• Newly developed technologies
• 3rd Party libraries / tools and technologies
• Provide technical support to art and design staff for tools and game logic code systems

4. Self-Manage programming tasks including:
• Task management based on schedules provided by the Lead Programmer
• Communicate with the Lead Programmer on amount of time required to finish tasks on a timely basis
• Identify tasks that require extra scheduled time or extra programming help to aid completion.

REQUIRED SKILLS – This section outlines skills necessary to perform the function.

• TEAM: Must be able to work effectively with other programmers, artists, and designers in a team environment.

• PROCESS: Must be able to take instruction from Lead Programmer or Senior Programmers and be able to provide insight into a broad range of technical challenges. Must be able to utilize a variety of tools to aid in programming and be able to think beyond the given challenge presented for a potential solution.

• TECHNICAL: Must have a competent knowledge of the programming languages and practices being used on the project. Must possess good problem solving skills and have a working knowledge of 3d Math. Must be able to tackle new challenges as presented, such as working on unfamiliar hardware or code environments.

• PLANNING/IMPLEMENTATION: Must be a self-starter and be able to follow implementation plans provided by the Lead Programmer.

• COMMUNICATION: Excellent communication skills are required to be able to explain programming solutions and ideas. Must be able to adequately provide instruction to non-programming personnel on how to use programmer generated tools and code implementations.

We also are looking for:

#2- Software Engineer: Looking for highly talented Software Engineers with 2+ years experience in some or all of the following: Flash programming, Online game programming, game scripting.

#3- Sr. 3D Modelers: Looking for Sr. Modelers with 3+ years of game specific modeling experience. Must be proficient in MAYA and Photoshop. Animation experience a plus.

So again, if any of that sounds like you, hit me up with a comment and let's see if we can make this happen!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Man, how I love this damn movie!

Just got back from Blockbuster with the remastered Indy flix. This is the third time I've bought them all and I am sure I will buy all three again when Blu Ray hits. Don't care. I'm that much of an Indy freak!

So now I sit, working away on the game while Indy keeps me company in the background!

Sweet! Boulder scene is starting- later ya'll!


The Man Who Heard Voices...

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Fuck the haters. I LOVED this movie! A little long and a little young/kiddie (for ME!) but overall it rocked...and that scene with the truck vs. Racer X on the mountain road?!? Pure Twisted Metal!

Shame this is getting hit as the first big bomb of the summer. I think it'll be remembered much more fondly than that.

I know nothing I write on my little blog will make any difference, but if you are looking for a good, fun, cool time at the movies, Speed Racer- to me anyway- really delivers. And I was never much of a Speed Racer fan. I knew of it, used to watch it on and off as a kid...but had/have no real allegiance to it. So I'm not biased, you know? With Indy 4, it could be terrible and I will still love it cause it's Indy. Not so with Speed Racer.

This makes me wanna go get the game- which I hear is darn solid, especially for a movie game.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

O 2 B IN LA!

EDIT: Not sure why the video quality is so poor. Will check into it and make sure it's fixed for future posts- thanks!

Where it all began! :)

Me and Scott, kicking it as toons!

Only in LA!

Thanks Rey! Fantastic stuff!!! Ya just never know!

Livin the dream, bitch!

My visit with Mr. Wheaton!

Sunday, May 04, 2008


It's nice to know that sometimes even the biggest, baddest mother fuckers out there have a weak spot!

And that's all I'm saying for now!


ps. more posts to come this week...last week was crazy insane. Fill you all in later!

pps. Yes, Iron Man was crazy good! In the rank of all time great summer flicks, it's in the top 20% for sure. In the rank of summer films from the last 10 years, it's in the top 1%. THIS is how they used to make summer movies; this is what summer movies used to be! Not just great fx, but great story, imaginative moments and set pieces, characters you LOVED...and that all added up to a movie you wanted to see again and again. I NEVER see movies more than once but I am SURE I will see this one more time in the theater. And if not that, day one Blu Ray purchase for sure. Get going on the sequel, already!!! :)