Wednesday, January 13, 2010


And that's all she wrote folks.

In a few hours, the Calling All Cars servers go down for good. And after that, there's no way in the foreseeable future to play Calling All Cars online.  Heck, if I'm being honest, truth is: she's never gonna be online again.

I'd say she had a good run online, but she really didn't. With the exception of the first few hours when the game hit PSN, there were never more than 3-5 people playing at a time. Until tonite, that is, when a handful of loyal CAC supporters came out to say their goodbyes. Thanks for that, ya'll. I know it's just a fucking video game but that meant a lot to me to see a good chunk ('good chunk' being relative) of you folks online and giving her one more go. Check it out:

I'm a little sad, naturally, to see the online aspect shut down. This was the first online game I'd ever done and so it was a HUGE learning experience. And it was my first step away from the more story based games I'd been working on (Twisted Metal:Black, God of War) and my first step into the arcade, play mechanic experiences our new company is focused on now. I loved working on it and many on the team did as well. My biz partner Scott Campbell often says this was the most fun he ever had making a game. I don't know if it was- for me- the MOST fun but it was indeed a damn good time.

I think the game had it's flaws for sure.

The biggest one being a lack of stickiness.

Even playing tonite after 3 very, very fun matches full of shouting and overtimes and comebacks, I was done. I didn't want to play anymore. I think we did a really good job making a fantastic piece of bubble gum that was sweet and jam packed with sugar and had a hell of a bang when you put it in your mouth. But for some reason I still have not totally figured out, the flavor faded VERY fast. You could come back to it after 2-4 weeks and have that same great experience, but it was always a really short ride. Some folks say leaderboards and trophy support would have helped.  And they would have, for sure. But the core game was lacking something that kept people coming back...I think most likely in our attempt to create a fast, furious, pick up play party game that reminded us of the classic SNES and arcade games we grew up on, we neglected the depth. I know you can have both in this kind of game...hard to know if Calling All Cars doesn't have the depth because we were so focused on short term play goals that we simply forgot to put it in or because it never occurred to us to put it in in the first place (i.e. we thought the moment to moment fun would be more than enough)...

Lack of defense when carrying the criminal was another problem the game had. Not sure what the logic was in making it so you could not fire weapons when you carried him (I recall this being my request, truth be told). Not sure why we didn't have a team mode. Not sure why we didn't have a pure combat, Twisted Metal style mode. Don't know why I didn't fight harder for the bawdy, XXX rated vibe the game was originally designed to have...I think that would have been much more targeted to early adopter PS3 buyers. Hell, we shoulda just made it war themed and fucked the cartoony stuff. Not kidding about that. Altho I gotta say, I love the cartoony look :)

I guess we just didn't know what the hell kind of game was expected of us, truth be told. No one's fault but ours. But you gotta remember, this was the launch of PSN and no one really knew what these small games needed to be. I mean, Geo Wars was huge on 360 but we were not making a high score driven game, so it was hard to use what we learned from playing that title when designing this title.

I guess it really came down to us gambling wrong in terms of what kind of and how much entertainment people wanted for their 10 bucks on a- at the time- $600 HD state of the art game machine. We just thought, for 10 bucks, people woulda been trying these things and sampling them like candy. But alas, much of the same logic that applies to what people buy for 60 bucks also applies to what they spend 10 bucks on.

Perhaps it would have done gang busters as a Wii game. Perhaps it would have done just as poorly over there (altho I do think we broke even on CAC and we did get a majority of favorable/ good reviews and got a decent number of GREAT reviews. I think CAC is perceived as a failure even tho it actually was wasn't a smash hit or even a hit, but it was not a critical turd and I am pretty sure IF it lost any money, it was a very, very modest sum).

Whatever the case, for me, 10 bucks was totally worth the fun I've had online and off with the game. But for many, it was clearly not.

Still I'm really proud of our baby. It's a really fun game in short bursts and gets people yelling and laughing and swearing at the tv and that was always the core goal we set out to achieve. We wanted to make people happy with this game. And so when I hear stories of people playing together and having a great time, it really does mean tons to me. And I'm sure the rest of the team would agree. And so while I'm sad to see online go, most folks never played online anyway. It seems to have found a home- albeit a very modest home- via split screen and I'm glad Calling All Cars will live on as a local party game for years to come.

Perhaps Calling All Cars marks the beginning of the end of my career making hit games. Maybe when I'm 90 and sitting in the game designer retirement home, I'll be like, "Yep, after Calling All Cars hit, it was all downhill"...

Or perhaps it will be viewed as simply a stepping stone, a learning process that we had to go thru so me and the team could move on to our next mega blockbuster!

Who knows. Who cares. That's for the future to know.

All I know is I'm really damn proud of the game.

And I know I'm grateful for all of ya'll out there who played it and who continue to play it.

And I know I'm so thankful for the amazing team at Eat Sleep Play who built the damn thing. Ya'll made a damn fine game people. Thank you so much!

Ok, enough sissy talk! Time to get back to work and make another hit! Not being in the top 10 motherfucking sucks! :)