Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peep My Nasty Ass Desk

I've been slammed. Work has been nuts- which explains the lack of updates this week. The state of my life and soul can easily be discerned by the cleanliness of my office and car. And when I am crazy with work, the rest of my life goes to pot (no time to clean, or excercise, or eat's all work). Good news is these come in fits and spurts so it's not like this the whole project...just a lot of design docs to get written this week.

 Anyway, just wanted to share and say hey! Been too long.

Picked up DEAD RISING 2 and FRONT MISSION today. Hope to find some time to play this coming weekend.

Hope you are all well!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Jaffe The Couch Potato

I had big plans this weekend.

I really did.

I was going to drive up to LA tomorrow, see a buddy of mine and eat some amazing Indian food for lunch. Then I was going to swing by a friend's surprise birthday party- which has not been a surprise to him for about a week now. Then I was going to go to a show that night and meet the person doing the show (can't say who but I'm a mega, mega fan of this person)! AND I was going to meet a new industry contact who is doing some pretty big work in the biz. And I was going to stay with my brother who lives in LA and who lives right around the corner from the amazing Canter's Deli on Fairfax! Breakfast at Canter's=amazing!

Packed, fun weekend for sure.

But I'm bailing on it. I just have to.

This week was a lot of late nights for work and last weekend was non stop with the kids at Disneyland. And I'm just so damn fried that I think if I don't take care of myself and just let myself veg, watch tv, play some games, hang with the family, get in some exercise, lay in bed and read magazines on my iPad, watch a movie or two, and just- in general- fuck around, then I really think I'll be hating it on Monday. And there really is nothing worse than rolling in to work in a job you LOVE and just not being able to motivate yourself to do great work because your creative, emotional tank is just flat empty.

So sometimes you gotta know when to just say, "Fuck it" and remove yourself from the rat race (fun as that race can be).

This weekend is one such time.

Hoping I can resked all the LA fun for the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I'll be on the couch :)...

Great weekend ya'll!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

R.I.P. Blockbuster Video

Ok, that may be a little premature but you get the idea. And you never know, they could come out of this stronger than before but I doubt it. Plus shit, much as I have fond memories of going to the video store, most of those memories are from Mom and Pop video stores, NOT Blockbuster. So maybe it should not be R.I.P....hmmm...anyway, I'm slammed. Here's a video blog :)

Hope all is well!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Am Ken Watanabe!!

Just woke from a dream in which I had cracked open the PS2 version of the new Twisted Metal game we are making. It was being created by a different, brand new, much smaller team of people. Brand new start up group. This was their first game.

Now there IS no PS2 version of the new Twisted Metal. THAT should have been a tip off that I was dreaming and my architect had overstepped.

But I stayed asleep.

After I opened the box I immediately grabbed and flipped thru the manual: it was filled with lots of super cool ideas for car combat games. Most of it was the stuff I wanted in the current PS3 TM that we just have not had the time to do (ex: laying oil slicks in the level and then if you drop napalm onto the oil or shoot missiles over the oil, the heat from the napalm ((or from your missile trail)) would ignite the oil slick and create giant protective walls of flame). Stuff like that. And this team- this small, scrappy, brand new 'never made a game before' team- HAD somehow managed to pull all that stuff off!

So all the ideas I wanted for the new TM that we did not have time to do were in someone ELSE'S game...but not in ours?!? Hmmm. Now THAT should have tipped me off I was dreaming...or in hell. But nope, I stayed asleep.

What woke me up was when I took another look at the game manual and realized it was more than 5 pages long and in color.  HA! A nice, slick, THICK, COLOR game manual!?! In 2010?!? PLEASE! Nice try Sidhe! You almost had me! MAYBE next time!


ps. It's 5am. I'm goin' back to bed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sweet Tooth Returns!

Get all the latest info on our new game in the latest issue of Playstation: The Official Magazine! 

I have not seen the piece yet so no idea if they dug the preview we gave them or they hated us or what. Gulp! Hope they dug what they saw last month! 

Either way- check it out- should be on new stands any day! Lemme know what you think!


ps. A character/vehicle many folks have been asking about is revealed in this issue.

pps. Not only is this issue of P:TOM sweet cause it has OUR game in it :) BUT this is also the kick off issue of their brand new redesign! Eager to see what the new look/take has in store! 

Up With The Sun...

It's 5:30am, up since 5 to work. So much left to do on the game and most work days after around 5pm, I'm done, fried, kaput. I can do bizzy work after 5pm, but creative, analytical work is pretty much shot for me once the sun goes down. As I get older, I DO tend to be able to do creative work late at night but I can't always count on that (I never know when that energy surge is gonna hit). So I get up early to try and get as much work in before late afternoon as I can. Hard to tell if it's better to be more clear (i.e. less tired) for less hours (i.e. sleep till 7-7:30 instead of up at 5) OR if it's more productive to get up at 5 and have more hours to work but have less focus. We'll see! :) it odd I'm really excited to see this?!?

I know it's a kids movie...or maybe FAMILY movie is more correct? Either way, I'm taking my kids this weekend. Has sort of a Dark Crystally feel, yes? PLUS it's from can you go wrong with a PG kids movie made by the 300 and Watchmen guy?!?! Anyway, let ya know how it is! 

Ok- gotta get cranking- later!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Journalistic Assumptions

I'm really tired of journalists writing pieces about what they feel is lacking in games- be it deeper artistic sensibilities, deeper stories, meaningful mature views of the world, or more realistic portrayals of women- and framing the opinion as if it's a foregone conclusion that what they are asking for simply needs to happen and it's our lack of maturity as developers or our lack of ability or our fear of a lack of sales that are the things that prevent their desires from coming true.

It's like they never stop to consider that perhaps many of us game developers don't want what THEY want.

Maybe some of us LIKE games that don't want to be art.
Maybe some of us would rather be the Jerry Bruckheimer of games than gaming's Orson Wells.
Maybe some of us LIKE portraying women in a more comic booky way (the same way- by the way- that the vast majority of male game characters are portrayed).
Maybe some of us don't want to load our games down with political and philosophical discourse.

The point is not whether games can or should push at these boundaries. For some developers and gamers they absolutely should try to do so (and some games do try and at times somewhat succeed). For other gamers and developers, not so much.

But just because YOU- dear journalist- may want games to be a certain way (and you have every right and in some ways even an obligation to shout from the rooftops about what you don't like and what you want to see changed about the medium that you cover) don't assume that we all have the same desires that you do. And more importantly don't assume that the reason things are not the way you want them is because game makers are just not trying hard enough or we're all stunted or we're all too scared of not moving units.

And if you really want to write about this topic in a fresh, meaningful way- and since some of you are so clear on the fact that if we were just more grown up as developers we could be making video game versions of Citizen Kane (don't fucking get me started),  how about an article explaining exactly what you mean? Be specific. Explain first off what it is about Citizen Kane you want to see done interactively. Explain the psychology that drives a player to chase after feelings and emotions in a videogame that they can already get in other mediums. Talk about the collapse of the suspension of disbelief in the fiction- that is required to immerse someone in a film or book (and thus allows those mediums to be powerfully emotional and moving)- that occurs the moment you pick up a controller and are given a task to complete. Discuss the challenge - and is it even possible- to create emotion while a player is also- at the same time- busy dealing with a task. Instead of just being accusatory ('developers are stunted' 'developers are scared of real women and/or don't understand women'), and instead of being presumptuous ('games should be ABOUT something! They should tackle the tough subjects like marriage and death and politics and these game makers are just so worried about blockbusters that they avoid making the medium great!) actually dig into whether this thing you say you want is even possible in this medium, how it works, the brain science and psychology behind interactivity and how there may (or may not) be ways to merge play and emotion.


ps. before anyone comments about how games can be art and such, I get it. I want games that have deeper meaning and deal with tougher issues as well. I'm not opposed to that. And as much as I'd like some games I work on to allow me to proudly wear the 'Jerry Bruckheimer' label, there are times- and games I want to make- that would let me drape myself in the cloak of Sidney Pollack or Spielberg or Nolan. So I'm not hating on the idea of games being 'more' than just action/adventure and explosions and T&A. I'm bitching about some journalists that assume that the reason most games are not 'more' than this has everything to do with lazy, untalented, and/or scared developers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2 Quick Thoughts

Is amazed that so many ultra right wingers can- on one hand- claim to be anti Muslim but on the other hand endorse the very freedom killing beliefs that only the most extremist Muslim folks (who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims) support. 

I'm watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance these days (taking me a few nights to get thru it) and I just don't like seeing Jimmy Stewart older than say 35. It's just not right, not natural, and it's downright creepy. He's only and always supposed to be young, full of life, energy, and good old fashioned can-do American spirit. Like this:

And this:

Now THAT'S Jimmy Stewart dammit!

Right wingers want to ban media and games and movies? Well start with this: Ban all Jimmy Stewart movies where he's older than 35. No matter if they are classics like Valance and Vertigo, just ban those fuckers. Ban them now! Old Jimmy Stewart is bad for America.

That's is all.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet! New Disney Animation!

Day one! With my kids of course! But hell, it looks so good I'd probably end up seeing it even if I didn't have little girls :)

I know I'm in the mega minority on this but I tend to like Disney animation more than Pixar movies. Princes and the Frog had some big issues but I enjoyed it much more than the latest Pixar flicks (which had tons of heart but mega story issues for me).

Anyway, this looks great!

Torn Between Two Dantes

So this dude above- based on all we know right now- is the new Dante from Devil May Cry.

Fans ain't happy. Well, at least if internet message boards are to be believed (but given how well Scott Pilgram and Snakes on A Plane performed at the box office, isn't it time we just accepted that all of the geeks posting on the net really only amount to like 1000 people or something??!)

I'm torn. As the guy who was very seriously considering turning Sweet Tooth into an inner city gang banger (big ass, super tough black man with fire tats on his bald head instead of flames), I get the need and desire to freshen up and re-imagine characters from time to time. Creative folks have got to have the freedom to play around, experiment, push boundaries. That's why they- we- are creative folks. It's what we do.

At the same time, when you are talking about classic characters- like Dante- how much consistency is owed to the fan base? How much consistency is needed for you to be allowed to drape your product in the name of an established franchise? And does that amount change if what is being delivered- new and fresh as it is- is crazy great? I would imagine if the dude above was all kinds of awesome visually, fans would be being more forgiving. It's not that he's bad at all. He's totally fine but he's kind of generic. Which may very well be the point. Maybe he BECOMES classic Dante with all his crazy quirks and flair as you play thru the game. Maybe he's generic so players can project their own personality on him (ala GTA). Maybe he's generic because they are going for an archetype (ala Nathan Drake). I got no way of knowing at this point. 

Fans should also keep in mind that the Devil May Cry games- at least since the first one- have not been mega sellers. Yes, DMC has its share of devoted fans (and I'm one of them). But it's not like we're talking Modern Warfare numbers here. Not even God of War numbers. So I can see a publisher and developer going, 'Shit, we gotta do something to take this amazing game series and make it more relevant to a lot more people'. So I can see how they ended up where they are now. This guy's design may not be the next Master Chief but I can see him being more commercial to more gamers compared to the very cool but also very effeminate classic Dante. 

So I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Let the team play, let them roam, let them try to entertain us. I'm sure this decision was not made lightly. I think sometimes the net jumps the gun and mocks and makes fun and tears creative types apart without giving them a chance to prove themselves. 

Once the game or movie or comic is out? It's fair game, for sure. Hell, I'll never forgive Crystal Skull for being a shit pile. But until the game is done, I'm all for supporting the creative process. Because when it works, we get amazing, amazing things.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My thoughts on the recent used games court ruling...

Happy to see the the recent legal ruling over used game software. I'm excited about what it could mean to console game makers if game publishers step up- as a group- and make some demands of the retail giants (Gamestop, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Walmart,etc.).

Now don't misunderstand. I'm not opposed to used game sales. I NEVER have been (contrary to what some will tell you). I think used games help the market- to an extent- and I think gamers should always get the very best deal they can get when buying ANYTHING.

And I don't disagree with the doomsday scenario Jim Sterling of Destructoid paints of what could happen to the game business IF used games are no longer sold: fewer new games sold because customers could not use in store credit to buy new copies. Sure, that's a possibility. And a bad one.

But I'd like to think this legal precedent could/would be used instead to either:

a- motivate publishers to force big retail into sharing profits with publishers on used titles (i.e. 'hey, you want to keep breaking the law big retail store? Fine...then cut us in'). This is the ideal solve so publsihers win, big retail wins (a bit less than they win right now but they still get to make gobs of cash), and gamers themselves never have to feel ANY change to their game buying habits. Check it: everybody wins!

b- motivate publishers to force open a window where games can not be sold used OR rented for the fist X months of release. THEN once the window closes, the games can be sold used and rented and the publisher gets a cut. In this case, everyone wins but the gamer who buys used or rents and thus- annoyingly- has to wait a bit longer to play. But this is the movie model and it seems to work fine for those folks.

A common, obnoxious game fan insult thrown at any game maker who voices that they don't like the current used game market system is that game makers are greedy. I hear that a lot whenever game makers bitch about used games. I hear that AND I hear the stupid 'first semester on the debate team' quality analogy comparing used games to used cars which simply doesn't hold up if you think about it for 5 seconds. But on the greed insult, it goes something like this:

'You game makers are greedy fucks! You charge 60 bucks for your games- which is way too much- and they are never worth that much anyway. How much is enough for you? You just want all of our money!'

Now sure, some game makers are very greedy and would sell their mother to the Taliban if they could turn a profit (and we all know who I'm talking about here). But most are not. Yes, publishers want to make money and lots of it. But that's just business. That's not greed.

And the consistent decline in game sales shows that business is not so good. Some attribute it to longer games- ala RED DEAD and COD4:MW2- keeping players from buying more games (aka if a game can last you 100+ hours, you don't need to buy another game for a good long while). Some say it's the free stuff to play on the net (why pay for anything when I get just as much fun- for free- from!?) . Some say it's iphone and ipad games (that are not tracked with the NPD). These are all valid- and in some cases wonderful- reasons the core console business is struggling.

But many suggest- myself included- that a good percentage of the issue is that used games are ruling the roost these days and gamers- especially in a tough economy- are opting to save cash by buying a used game versus ponying up for a brand new one. And since a new game is the only way publishers and developers make cash on their work, well it makes sense why the industry is suffering.

So for me this legal decision is a GREAT thing. But only if publishers use it to force big retailers who sell used games to cut them in on the deal.

THEN we all win.

Well actually- truth be told- THEN the fight will be developers struggling to get publishers to include used game sales in their contracts. But that's a fight for a different day :).


It's 12:11am...

...and I know what I'm doing for the next hour or so.

Halo, Abba Zaba, and diet Coke! What could possibly go wrong?!?

Sure, I gotta get up early for work and to take my kids to school but fuck it, I can play till 1 or so and still get around 6 hours of sleep...that should be enough,eh?!?

Thanks to the fantastic help from Jose and Kristen at my local Gamestop for helping me secure a copy at the last second. You guys rock tons!


Monday, September 13, 2010


Hey ya'll! Wanted to share 2 things real quick:

About to settle in and take a first pass whack at getting our vehicles to feel unique and special and make sure each vehicle is balanced. The first step in a long process of tuning and tweaking nobs begins with a spreadsheet.

I'm just seeing this for the first time today. I have to imagine this has been going around the net for ages and I'm just now seeing it. It seems like perfect NEOGAF fodder altho I've never seen this image on GAF. But a buddy of mine just brought it to my attention this morning. Hard to not respect the length these gamers went to in order to create an online game experience with a split screen game, as goofy as this picture is. But two things:

#1- as a guy who loves split screen gaming, to me, I always design with the fact that the other guy CAN see your screen in mind. To me, it's part of the fun, part of the strategy. Doesn't mean these guys above are not having a blast doing it their way; I can see that working out really good. But I always assumed others were looking at my screen and planned around that fact (as a player and a designer) accordingly.

#2- Fuck, it must REEK under that sheet! A potent cocktail of nerdsweat, cheetos, and stale farts.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


Sweet! Excited for the VMAS tonite!

It's odd: I'm almost 40 and I know more of today's bands and singers and songs than the acts that were hot 10 years ago. Why is that? itunes and youtube, man. itunes and youtube have totally kept me in the know and excited about today's popular music whereas 10 years ago I had stopped listening to radio- cause it was just an abysmal experience- and so I fell out of the loop in terms of which singers, bands, and songs were popular.

NOTE: I refuse to call them 'artists'. Entertainers, singers, acts? Sure- totally. But 99% of them don't deserve the title 'artist' and I just fucking laugh when they use it to define themselves. The writers and producers? Yes, some of them are artists for sure. And some of the musicians and singers are as well. But the vast majority of today's prepackaged acts? Not so much. Which is fine. I still dig Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, totally! But they ain't artists. Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Mary J Blige, tho? Yeah, I would say they are artists for sure.

Anyway- artists or not- seems like it's gonna be a great show! Kanye doing an apology song to Taylor Swift? Live performance of AIRPLANES by B.o.B and Hayley Williams, live stuff from Eminem! What's not to love?!? And Chelsea Handler hosting? Should be a great fucking show! I'm jazzed!


Ok, I think I just had a cranky senior moment. But I'm only 39! Yeah, I know. But look:  the more I think about it, if you WRITE a song and it connects with people, then fuck it, in my book, you get to call yourself an artist. I mean, isn't that the whole point of art? So sure, while I like the pop bubble gum vibe of Taylor Swift's music (which she does write herself) and simply think it's fun, light, silly music to have on in the background, there are probably millions of teeny bopper girls who do see Taylor Swift as a genuine artist. And who am I to say different? To them, Swift's music is probably an anthem for their lives. For them, Taylor Swift's music touches them and makes them think and makes them feel. So fuck it, she gets to be an artist too :)

And hell, I guess even if you don't write the music, if you can sing it in such a way that your voice- or your guitar or your drums or your fuckin' flugal horn- touches and moves people, then shit yeah, you can be an artist too.

But if you DON'T write it and your voice is pretty much all computer processed out, then no, YOU do not get to be an artist. You get to be an 'act'. And there are LOTS of people out there making hit music who do fall into this category. So them? Those people? I laugh at them.

The rest are my book. No idea what's up with your book :)

Ok, now I'm done.

FUCK I'm getting old! :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Community vs. Choice

My youngest daughter is having her birthday party tomorrow and the picture above is going to be scanned onto her cake.

That's right. We're in an age where kids- and people in general- are no longer limited to pre fab, licensed approved cake kits. When I was a kid- and up until not so long ago- you'd really only have a handful of choices for what would go on your cake. Into super heroes (like I was)? You'd have your Batman, Superman, Spidey, Hulk, and that was pretty much it. These days? FUCK THAT LIMITING SHIT! These days you can get NOVA or Namor or Alfred Pennyworth (Batman's Butler) on your super hero cake!

Just grab a pic from the net, shoot it to your grocery store, and BAM! You got yourself a one of a kind custom cake! And as of this writing, the grocery stores don't seem to care about using copyrighted materials. Which is why my kid is getting a Moshi Monsters cake tomorrow!  I made the image above using Photoshop and a handful of Moshi pics from the net. And I think my kid will flip when she sees this- versus some pre-fab cake kit from a Nickelodeon or Disney TV show-  given how much she loves Moshi Monsters. Yeah, she digs the Disney TV stuff for sure. But she LOVES Moshi Monsters.

Pretty amazing how the media we consume is becoming so personalized.

I kind of miss the days when the whole country had- for the most part- the same frame of pop culture reference. It tied everyone closer, there was a sense of community because of it, a sense of warmth and belonging. We all watched the same handful of tv shows, we all went to the same big movies, we all listened to the same 10-15 pop hit songs during any given month. But on the flip side, yes, it was pretty homogenized. But you never really felt that; at least I didn't. I just dug the sense of belonging that came from those shared references. So I wonder sometimes which cost is the worst one to pay: giving up community for choice or giving up choice and gaining the warmth and connection that comes when everyone is drinking from the same pop culture well?


ps.It does make you rethink the idea of yesterday's successes as well. So much stuff was mega successful not because it was amazingly great but because out of the limited choices we had. So yes, while most thinking people would still concede that the last episode of M*A*S*H (highest rated non sports television show ever) was amazing television, out of the 106 million people who watched, my guess is that at LEAST 30% of those people would have watched something else if they had the choices they have today. But until all the choices came along, it was just assumed that M*A*S*H- and all other successes- deserved every last 1 of those viewers based on quality alone.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Have Fun Storming The Castle!

As a parent, I feel a big part of my job is observing my kids and seeing when their eyes light up, taking note of what causes their imaginations to fire. And then- once I have a rough idea what excites them- I try my best to expose them to all sorts of opportunities to explore that thing.

With my oldest it's reading, stories, animals, gymnastics, physical sports.

With my youngest it's turning out to be video games and puzzles. Watching her navigate 3D space in a video game, master the many kid flash based MMOs she plays, or even if she's just solving a 2D puzzle you can tell her brain feels at home with this sort of thinking; like she is in her element when she's thinking in this specific puzzle solving way.

So with that in mind- and wanting to find some other outlets for her to explore her gifts- I got my youngest daughter a big Lego Kingdoms set for her birthday last week. I figured if she dug 2D puzzles, she'd love a 3D one. And boy was I right! She's taken to this like a pig in shit, as they say in the south. Actually, I don't know anyone who says that other than my parents. But they live in the's that.

But yeah, what a joy to see your children get excited and turned on and connect with something that really speaks to them. Will this lead to her being an architect? A 3D modeler? Perhaps just someone with a life long love of Legos?!?! All- or none- would be fine with me. I'm just digging watching her connect with a part of herself that is clearly and naturally very strong. 

Here's what we've done so far. We just spent about an hour on it last night and she is only 5 but I'm pretty darn proud of her! 

This is the throne room about 70% complete. We're doing the roof and fine details tonite when she gets home from school. As you can see, we lost a few of the tiny bricks and had to pull the pink and orange ones- that stick out like a sore thumb- from some other Lego set we had. But again, for a little kid I think this is darn neat! 

On a tangent: This is the first time I've ever watched a real Lego set be built. I used to play with Legos as a kid but never did a real kit/set. I just took the pieces and made what I wanted and never followed the instructions.  But low and behold: doing the pre-made Lego sets is really cool! I should done this when I was a kid! :) Can anyone recommend a great, challening Lego set for adults...or are those called models??!


Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Makin' Tha Game

I've spent most of the last 2 days working with Scott trying to figure out how we want to adjust some of our levels to create maps that support smaller numbers of players. We start our levels off thinking about NUKE and 16 player games, but since there will be times players will want to play with fewer people- as well as just wanting to give players a large variety of places in which to battle- we break our mega levels up into smaller chunks as well. So by the time we ship, each mega map will have 2-4 variations. Sometimes the variations simply are to accomodate different numbers of players. Other times the variations create totally new play experiences based on where we throw up our walls.

The image above shows one of our levels- high enough of a view that I can't be accused of giving much away other than pure layout- in the planning stages. The way it works is Scott, Kellan, and I send each other maps all marked up like this and then we pick the top 3 versions and those go in the game.

So I thought I'd share some of the process. Sorry I've been away as of late, between working on the game and getting my kids back to school, there's been very little time to breath let alone update the blog.

Ok, crazy busy around here. Talk soon!