Saturday, December 31, 2011

Contest Update

Hey all! Been slammed on the game most of the day and have only had time to go thru about 25% of the submissions. Calling it a nite as I'm gonna go do NYE with the family. So- alas:

BAD NEWS: Contest won't be decided tonite. I'll post results tomorrow or worst case Monday.

GOOD NEWS: Holy cow there is some AMAZING stuff ya'll are sending in and hell- since I'm running late- if anyone out there missed the deadline, go ahead and as long as I get it by tomorrow around 3pm California time, you're in!

MORE GOOD NEWS: There's just too much good stuff to give away one prize! The grand prize winner still gets all I promised but I'm prob gonna hand out at least 1-2 other runner up prizes cause there's just some amazing stuff ya'll are sending in!

Sorry I'm running behind on this- my apologies- just not enough hours in the day :(...but I'll get it done in the next day or so, I promise!

Ok- gotta get the night rolling!

Have a safe, happy, and fun as hell NEW YEARS! HAPPY 2012 YA'LL!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Bottom the Bottom, to the "Top of the Pops"

I won't lie: nice as hell to see our baby making some waves and gaining some interest! Shit won't last- it never does- so you gotta enjoy it while it's here! Thanks internet for kicking Twisted Metal up towards the top! Ya'll rock! 


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Final Days Of Twisted Metal Part I

My Top 3 Games Of The Year

Hey! IGN posted this piece featuring me and other game developers wherein we gab about our fave titles of the year. Check it out, if you are so inclined!

Talk soon-


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This will make sense if you go here and read my response to a poster who calls himself megamixer.




1- That's fair. I'm the same: unless I get the details I want, why would a game maker (or a maker of ANY product) expect my cash? I'm with you on that. As for the single player, specific details will hit in the new year.

2- Since you bothered to write, let me try to shed a little light on the campaign game (1p and split screen co-op). First off, it's the most varied Twisted campaign we've ever done. It's not just the rinse/repeat death match over and over of the old games.  BUT it's not a mission based GTA style game, either. So don't buy the new TM expecting some sort of BATMAN:ARKHAM CITY story mode, cause the game's not that.

3. Game has three characters (Tooth; Grimm; Dollface). Each character has an opening, mid, and end movie. In between the movies, each character has 6 unique events spread across 8 levels. The last of the events is a totally unique boss, designed specifically for that character/chapter.

4. Each event is still very much tied into the core idea of vehicle combat. But the individual events/goals are more varied. For example:

*we've thrown some combat races in there (i.e. Calypso has strapped bombs to every must race the other cars to reach the detonation gate that arms the bombs and then be the first vehicle back at the starting line that hits the detonator pad that blows up all the other vehicles in the race....and the LAST race ((there are three of them)) has the detonator pad inside a moving semi truck that's racing down the freeway so things get nuts!)

* Two of the races force you to race thru gates that make up the course. You can bypass these gates for sure, but miss too many and your bomb goes off and you die. The harder the difficulty setting, the fewer the gates you can miss.

*We have modes that contain armed-for-bear semi trucks that can take you our fast and that spawn enemies out the back. These guys don't appear on radar so you need to track them and always have a sense of where they are because every 45 seconds or so a new enemy is dropped out the back of their trailer and onto the battlefield so you gotta hunt those semis down and take them out before they spawn so many vehicles that the event becomes impossible to beat.

*We have traditional deathmatch levels that you must fight INSIDE these electric cages that move around the level, forcing the fight to various areas of the map. Some of the cage configurations are big, some are super small and tense. And you can only be outside the cage for 30 seconds before your health begins to drain when you are outside the cage. So you have to manage your grace period carefully (leaving the cage at the opportune moments to grab weapons or use the 100% full health regen semi from Calypso industries, etc).

*Straight up traditional 'kill all enemies in the level to advance' levels.

* Endurance battles where enemies never stop spawning but you must take out 8 or 10 or 12 to win the event. stuff like that. We feel it keeps the campaign unique and fresh while still staying true to the franchise (i.e. again, it's not turned into a mission based single player game).

* Once you finish an event, you can replay it at any time to earn medals (different from trophies). Earn all gold medals to get skins and other elements. Beating the game on HARD gives you the LASER PISTOL side arm. Getting ALL GOLD on TWISTED mode (the hardest mode) allows you to unlock WARTHOG. Both of these items (a side arm and a full on vehicle) can only be earned in campaign mode. So if you see someone online with either, you know they are pretty elite players!

Again, more details to come in the new year, but that should give you an idea of where we are headed.

5- I was going to say don't call me Jaffeyboy. But hell, you walk around head held high calling yourself 'megamixer' which means you probably would not understand why you calling me Jaffeyboy comes off as disrespectful and annoying :).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays Metal Heads!

Hey- heading out with the family in a few to see TinTin! But I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Chanukah and/or just general Happy Holidays! Thanks for all the support of Eat Sleep Play, Twisted Metal, and me personally over the years! And thanks as always for coming to the blog!

Oh, before I go, check this out:
This is a hallway in my house. And as you can see, I got a bunch of Twisted Metal PS3 swag and now that game production is winding down, I have some time to get this stuff out to the true TM fans. Some folks have already been promised stuff and me and Q (my faithful and super kick ass assistant) will start getting that out to ya'll starting next week. If you have met me at a show (PAX, Comic Con,etc.) I THINK I still have all your info but please- if you read this- remind me in the comments where we met and what I promised you and- assuming I don't think you're full of shite :)- then we will send your stuff on its way!

To the rest of ya, here's the deal: as we race towards the Twisted Metal February 14th launch day I wanna start making sure this stuff gets out to the true fans of the series. But since it's so limited-and since I love games-I ain't just GIVING it out...I'm gonna make you play for it! :)

Yeah, yeah, contests and the like! So here's the first one for those who are into such tomfoolery.

So all week long I've been getting packages at the house for Christmas. I saw this on the front porch this morning and assumed it was another of the many Phineas and Ferb or Monster High toys I had ordered for to put under the tree for the kids. But low and behold, check out what was inside:
Oh HELL yeah! A whole box full of the brand new TM shirts! Now these are shirts that I THINK will eventually be sold in stores! But right now- if you win this contest- you can get one for free! And well before they hit retail!

Here's a better shot:
Snazzy, eh? I really like it! Only glances at it for a sec but I THINK that's the front of the shit and the back is all black.

So cool!

...but that ain't all! Cause it's the holiday season- and cause this is the very first TM GIVEAWAY CONTEST, I'm gonna throw in even more. If you win this contest, you get one of the shirts above plus you'll get this stuff too:

Click to make bigger! 

That there is a still in the package Sweet Tooth action figure and one of the fully assembled cardboard Tooth trucks that you may have seen over the last few months at various stores (Gamestop, Best Buy, etc.)

About the truck: there's a spring I THINK that lets you attach the head to the rooftop so it bobbles and such but I lost mine (or my kids did) so that's why the head in the pic is sitting in front (cause it's a pic of the one I have sitting in my office). If you win the thing, you'll get a brand new one in an unopened box. It'll SHOULD contain the disassembled truck, the cardboard head and guns, the spring (again, I THINK there's a spring), and instructions for how to put it together.

Ok so here's the details:

THE RULES PART I: Send in SOMETHING to show your TM love/passion/fandom. But it's gotta be something you made or had someone make for you. Cos play, fan art, a video (no more than 1-2 min) with you doing some TM poetry or some such shit or hell, just telling us why you love/like the series. Anything really, long as it's legal and follows these rules :)...

THE RULES PART II: Entries due by 9am Pacific Time on Dec 31st. At midnight California time- aka NEW YEAR'S EVE- I'll announce the winner (be it on this blog or via my twitter if I'm not at home...still don't know NYE plans yet...but the twitter feed is on the top upper right of the blog so you can still find it there if you don't subscribe to tha twitter)...The winner is totally up to me and I may or may not explain my logic/reasoning for why I chose the winner. But hell, I'm sure I will explain it. Hell, I will probably comment on this very blog about any and all submissions as well :)...

THE RULES PART III: ANYTHING you send in I can use however I like. Meaning I can post it on this blog and hell, if Sony's ok with it, when the TM blog launches in a few weeks, I may put it up there as well. If you are not ok with that, please don't send stuff in. There will be other contests that may be more to your liking once the new year starts.

THE RULES PART IV: Please do not send me ideas or fan faction or ANYTHING with your own ideas for NEW stuff (i.e. no new characters or vehicles or levels or anything like that). I don't want to see your ideas and legally I am not allowed to. If it seems people are not getting this concept (i.e. I AM getting submissions with new, original ideas) I'll have to stop this contests cause it just opens up way too many potential problems.

THE RULES PART V: You don't have to make something brand new. Sending in older TM stuff is fine but I'm only human and if I've seen it before- even if I loved it at the time- it's prob lost some of its 'first time seen' power so it may not resonate as strong for me. Just so ya know...

THE RULES PART VI: I'm gonna post everything on the blog that I get sent for this contest. So I MAY have people vote for the best instead of me making the choice. OR I may give out the above described prize set to the one I dig most and then sent a tee-shirt (or maybe an identical prize set, not sure yet) to the one that gets the most votes...not sure yet. So just be aware.

Ok- so I THINK that's all the rules! Any questions, fire away in the comments.

Oh, I forgot! I made you some cookies! Here:
Ok, not really. Those are mine. And I already ate them. :) Me and the kids made and decorated cookies last nite and I took a pic of the ones I made and I figured I'd post it! :) Yeah, the upper left one started off as Spidey but whatever...still tasted good :)...

Ok- off to TinTin! Talk soon- and again, have a fantastic, fun as hell, and VERY SAFE Holiday! Talk sometime next week I'm sure!


ps. be sure to check the PS BLOG next week sometime (I THINK Wednesday?) for a special surprise announcement that I'm sure will make old school Twisted fans happy! And no- this is not the 'big surprise' I was talking about that we'll drop sometime soon in the new year. Next week's announcement is more of a nice 'thanks' that Sony put together for the harder core, old school TM fans. Check it out!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wow! Kratos has been Simpsonized!

Saw this on TV about a month ago, been meaning to post it.

Man, how damn cool is THAT?!?


Regarding What Makes A Great Video Game Box

Posted this over on NEOGAF, figure I'd share it here as well. Overall, the response to our new TM box has been super positive (so thanks for that- very relieved!) but some folks were saying they still liked the TM:B box the best. So here is what I wrote:

Regarding the TM BLACK box: I really love that box art as well but it really taught me a great lesson which is this: in the 60 dollar (i.e. expensive) retail space, box art first and foremost needs to be functional. It can- and should- be evocative and artistic, but more importantly- IF it is to do its job and act as another salesperson for the title- the box needs to catch the eye while explaining- to SOME degree- the experience inside the box that we are asking people to give us 60 bucks for. 

The folks inclined to be attracted to a box because it's mostly/only unique or clever or artistic TEND to be a lot of the same folks who read the game sites and already know if they want the game to begin with. The box is really there to catch the eye and mind of folks who've never heard of your title or who have heard of it but are not sold just yet.

So yeah, I loved the TMB box but TMB was also the worst selling TM game in history (other than Small Brawl). And it was released for the #1 console system at the time. Yeah, you could argue the M rating is what did it in and you could argue that POSSIBLY- except among the core fans of the niche genre- that car combat as a genre was on the wane. And those things may have been- and may still be- true. But I have to think the box art- cool as it was- didn't do us any sales favors.

Another great example is the Resistance 3 box art. I think it's a wonderful image and a fantastic artistic box but I think- as a sales tool- it's a pretty terrible box front. I think the new Saint's Row is a FANTASTIC game that has a GREAT, iconic box front but I don't think it serves the game as a sales tool.

Ok ya'll- off to start the day! Talk soon!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Twitter follower @RavensForLife1 let me know that Gamestop's just put our box art up on their site! So hell, since it's already out there, I figured I'd share a bigger version of it with you guys :)...

So then here ya go...our box! :)

Not 100% final. I think they are gonna add a copter on the front, adjust the hair a bit. But I'd say the front is about 95% locked. 

So tell me: what do you think? Like it? Love it? Hate it? How does it rank against other TM boxes?

So hey, let's look at some back options, yeah? 

So on the back of the box, the team is still trying to figure out which of these to go with. Clearly some of the text is wrong, missing info (i.e. local play is 1-4 players, not just a single player,developer logo :),etc)...but given the box back is around 80% locked, I figured I'd share that too :)...






Any thoughts on the back of the box? Preferences? I put a poll up on the upper right of the blog; I would appreciate it if you could vote for your fave box back if you have a preference (and have the time). Real curious to see which back of the box people are digging most!

Talk soon! 


Racists Pricks Give To Charity

Monday, December 12, 2011

Matt Leone Left A Note On The Door*

If you’ve not read Matt’s reply to my blog post from the weekend re ‘is it ok for developers to lie to the press’, please read that first if you don't mind? Thanks!
Here ya go!

Ok, so slammed with work and no time to edit so bear with the ramble and repetition please?- THX!

Ok, so here's my replay to's Matt Leone: 

Matt, hey.

You and I don’t know each other that well. We’ve chatted over the years here and there and I’ve always enjoyed those conversations and your work in general. Just wanted to take a sec to reply to your reply to me :). 

I see a big difference between holding back information and lying about it. And if someone asks you a question that you don't want to answer or can't for whatever reason, there's always a way to answer the question without lying.

As I said in my earlier post, I’m a fan of genuine, honest, great journalism and have huge respect for folks like Christiane Amanpour (yes, I had to look up how to spell it), Diane Sawyer, and- after watching Page One (the amazing documentary about the New York Times) I recently discovered the great David Carr and have been going through and loving his stories on the NYT website. On the entertainment side- be it games or music or movies- I think there are some fine journalists/writers in that neck of the woods, as well.  And if I may add: I still read an honest to goodness paper newspaper almost every Sunday and devour all kinds of news on tv and the net during the week (from politics to foreign affairs to entertainment to gossip). I’m a news junkie, for sure.

I say all of this so you understand my respect for your profession as well as understand that I come at this discussion as both someone who gets reported on from time to time but also as a voracious consumer and fan of the products that journalists create. And because of that, I 100% agree with you- in principal- with the idea that- as a reader- I want all the facts I can get and I do not want a subject to lie to a reporter because in doing so they are lying to me (a reader).

I also get that in the specific world that you report on- since only very rarely are there genuine news stories worth investigating and since most of your readers have shown again and again that they’d rather have previews and fluffier pieces vs. hard hitting news- that you guys sometimes have it tough. On one hand, you don't want to piss off the folks you report on because that means you may run the risk of being denied the info that your audience desires. On the other hand, even if you risk job security to bring your readers a true glimpse of the shady underbelly of the game making biz- on such rare occasions such an underbelly actually exists- you run the risk of 95% of your readership ignoring your story in favor of something much easier and safer to write about. 

NOTE: As an aside- I have only rarely partaken in any sort of ‘boycot outlet X’, fyi. And I would be embarrassed and hurt if anyone associated with the games we work on made this a common practice/threat. And I never would shut out the media- upon which our industry greatly depends- for things like asking hard questions and giving out poor reviews. That would be stupid of me and disrespectful of you and your readers. The only time I boycott reporters are when they’ve clearly, intentionally grossly taken my interviews way out of context (in a hurtful or mean way to either me or the teams with which I work).

In fact, in you look at my history and posts and rants from the time I started doing interviews and blogging, you will find me often pushing the game media to push us game makers more and call us out on our bullshit. You will find posts and tweets with me begging game reviewers to not be so easily be swayed by games that wrap themselves in artistic, ‘meaningful’ trappings derived from other successful mediums and thus promise that the game in question- simply because it wears the costumes of importance and meaning-is also meaningful and relevant itself. In short, I think for this amazing medium to thrive and grow and become all it can be (which is so much more than it currently is) we NEED the demanders of truth (aka you guys) to PUSH BACK and CALL US OUT when we are doing our ‘we’ve arrived/we are important’ touchdown dances but have actually not earned them.  I’m actually disappointed and frustrated that while we are doing these dances, you guys- way more often than you should- are cheering us on and gushing from the sidelines.**

All this is a long way of saying: As a fan of the games medium and a fan of journalism in general, I don’t want any journalist lied to. And in an ideal world, no journalist ever would be.

However, when it comes to reporting on video games, this is not an ideal world.

This is a world in which for years my interviews have been taken out of context in order to generate a click heavy headline. Granted, the big sites have gotten much, much better about this but they have also been- and occasionally still are- guilty of this. And I do get it and I hate it but it’s the cost of doing business. I understand that a sexy headline that is ‘true enough’ is better business than a dry headline that clearly states what the story and interview behind the click is really about. Just like sometimes it’s better business for us to lie about what we are working on in order to generate a bigger 1st impression among gamers- which is a great building foundation to generating the all important hype. Our hype, your click- perhaps we both sell our souls just a little bit so we can keep doing the work we so love. 

This is a world where no matter how honest I am (and I feel I am more honest than a lot of folks when it comes to interviews…hell, at least I’m honest about being dishonest! How often does THAT happen!?! :)...) and no matter how many virtual pages I fill explaining my position, hundreds of comments will sometimes be generated from readers who have done nothing more than read the sensationalist headline.

This is a world where 90%+ of the comments generated from this story (on your 1up blog, on my blog, on Neogaf, on the recent Kotaku story) have all agreed with my stance that ‘no comment’- in this day and age- equals ‘yes’.

Someone pointed out that Blizzard says ‘no comment’ all the time, which means-for them- people can actually take ‘no comment’ as ‘no comment’. That’s a disciplined tact for sure and a hell of an admirable one. However, for me, ‘no comment’ doesn’t work as an answer when a genuine answer- that I can give without doing any damage to our game or the teams- will do.

I love letting players peek behind the scenes whenever I can. Not the ‘happy, nerf gun battles at 3am, riding scooters around the office, we’re all just friends all the time, every single person on the team has equal say when it comes to deciding what goes in the game and we vote on everything from what the story is to what color the main character’s shirt will be’ behind the scenes kind of thing (I imagine that is true for some devs, but I can tell you, I sure as heck have never experienced that). So I want gamers to get a peek behind what I consider the REAL curtain. 

 I grew up bamboozled by the Hollywood PR machine and vowed- in my own small way- that whenever I was fortunate enough to have the spotlight aimed upon me, I would offer fans of our work a true look behind the curtain. I’ve always wanted gamers to know that making games is wonderfully rewarding and amazing fun, but it’s also HARD ASS WORK and it’s stressful and there are fights and battles with teammates (fights that you lose at times and it fucking hurts to lose) and families get torn apart and physical health sacrificed because of all the hours we put in. I want to share the great, amazing times and fun times, but the hard stuff too. I’ve always wanted to share the truth of the journey. And I do it- I guess- because I would never want to do to a fan of games what the Hollywood PR machine did to me (as a fan of movies).

So when you say ‘no comment’ or other terms will do, I take issue because in truth, while there are better terms than ‘no comment’, we live in a  world where ANYTHING other than shutting the question/issue down with a firm ‘no’ will result in sensationalized headlines that damage your game’s first impression AND enter the gaming collective brain as a confirmation that the game is being made.

I don't think GameSpot should have to explain the Gerstmann/Kane & Lynch situation if they don't want to (I think it would have been in their best interests to do that for credibility, but that's unrelated), and well, I do think media should be required to disclose any kind of shady negotiations like Jaffe mentions, but that's also unrelated. My larger point is that there's a way to talk about things that you can't talk about without lying in the process.

I agree and said as much in my post. The gossip lover in me would LOVE to know what goes down in such tense situations, but I get I am not owed that information and the folks at Gamespot should not feel compelled- and I am sure they do not- to offer that info to the public any more than us game makers should feel compelled to tell reporters about the game designer who has a drug problem or the lead coder who got fired cause he was caught fucking a bottle of Clorox bleach in the supply room while singing showtunes from Wicked. Both of these, by the way, are true stories. Actually happened!***

My point was I feel it’s hypocritical for game journalists to demand a certain kind of behavior from the folks they interview while not providing the same kind of behavior in kind. I mean, at the height of the Gamespot thing (which- for the record- I have ZERO details on other than what was reported in the press), do you think if someone would have asked the head of Gamespot point blank, ‘Did Gamespot take cash from Eidos in order to give Kane & Lynch a higher review than the reviewer felt the game deserved’ and the subject being interviewed said, ‘No comment’ or ‘We don’t comment on speculation or rumor’ that fans would have taken that as ‘oh, interesting, they had no comment…I’m just as in the dark now as I was before’? Please, you KNOW that’s not the case. I think we both agree that that is unfortunate that it’s not the case, but it’s just not the world in which we live.

…an explanation of why you can't answer the question is better than both.

You know, I think you have a great point here. But again, it goes back to the way so many stories in games get reported on. Think about this: if a reporter would have asked if I was working on a new TM, I could have easily said something like, ‘You know, I really would love to spill the beans about what we are making and I know a lot of folks think it’s a new Twisted. Problem with me telling you what we are working on is it dilutes the surprise when we announce it and I think surprises and first impressions count. If it’s a new Twisted, wouldn’t that be more fun to be surprised when you were least expecting it? And if it’s a brand new franchise- the thing we started Eat Sleep Play to create, by the way- then in this climate where it’s tough to break thru the noise created by all the yearly updates of beloved sequels, I gotta do everything I can to make sure the first time people hear about our new IP that our game Veronica Lodges** deep in the mind’s of potential customers’.

Nice statement. Non committal to both possibilities. And a good journalist may have run a headline that says, "JAFFE WON'T SAY WHAT EAT SLEEP PLAY'S NEW GAME IS"...problem is, a lot of sites would run this:

"Jaffe doesn't want to admit he's making a new Twisted Metal"


"Jaffe would love to 'spill the beans' about Eat Sleep Play making a new Twisted Metal!'


"Jaffe doesn't want to 'dilute the surprise' by announcing new Twisted Metal now'

This is how we've been trained, Matt. I'm not saying YOU or 1up have created this culture but it's the way it is. How do you suggest we respond given that this is the culture in which we live? 

YOU WROTE: Jaffe and Inaba have lost credibility for telling facts. I still trust their opinions, but I'm no longer confident I can believe what they say all the time. From the majority of responses I've gotten to the previous blog, most readers don't seem to care about that that, because they just want to be entertained by the media. And I understand that perspective, though it bugs me as a reporter because it feels like there's a lack of respect from the interviewee towards the interviewer in these situations.

 Totally, I get that and I was willing to roll those dice. I think I was so willing to roll the dice cause I consider myself a damn honest interview subject (I’ve talked about everything from my struggles with weight and how the biz exacerbates that struggle to my fears about a game not performing) and so given this was a lie I felt most consumers- once they knew why I did it- would forgive me for, and given that I'm a damn honest person in the press and on my blogs, it was worth the risk.

As for being annoyed that most readers just want to be entertained by the media and what you perceive as a lack of respect from interviewee towards interviewer:

a-   Just like most gamers don’t want art games like THE MARRIAGE at 60 bucks, as good as those games may be for the gamer’s nutritional diet, most folks who consume entertainment media don’t seem to want hard hitting reporting, they just want to see screens and hear about features and have a nice, fun time flipping thru the mag or the site while pooping.  I agree with you that it sucks in some cases and I’ve always wanted a magazine or site that is more hard hitting and tough on us game makers (and to be fair, there are some that manage to be that while still staying afloat).  But at the moment, the majority of folks who consume your product are not looking for truth as much as they want entertainment.

     I’ve always respected the folks who interview me and I always thank them for their interest. That’s not a line I use, it’s genuine. I’m always surprised and grateful someone from your world shows up to report on a game we’re working on. I do have respect for game reporters. BUT as I said earlier in this long ass post, I would have MORE respect for the game journalist that pushed on me (and my colleagues) when I was making claims about how my game were emotional and moving the medium forward and how it would change the world; I would have MORE respect for a reporter that challenged me and got real answers about the WHY and the WHY NOT of the games we make. I want a reporter who is fair, of course, and who DOES write about the good and helps us trumpet the great, for sure. But we work super hard on the games we make and there is logic and reason for every decision we make and I would not take offense if someone drilled down and talked mechanics or process or wanted to know why we did what we did; I would not take offense from a reporter who called us out when we made claims that- while lofty- were not really evident upon playing the title in question. I think that would be GREAT for the biz because it would start putting that critical thinking in the minds of the gamers and so gamers would start demanding us game makers to really deliver on our lofty goals (and thus force us to either switch to goals that our media is better suited for OR figure out how to push the medium forward so we could actually- for reals- achieve those goals we were promising).
=  ++

Jaffe at one point compares himself to a magician pulling tricks on the audience for the audience's benefit, which kind of blew my mind when I started thinking about it. I think readers are used to thinking they can trust what developers say (whether they should or not), and the more they're aware that developers might be lying and might be saying things to mess with their expectations, the more I'm OK with it. [So if for nothing else but making people aware of that, I'm glad my blog and this topic are getting some attention.]

I never compared MYSELF to a magician. My point was that a magician’s goal is to entertain with his tricks and that just because a reporter asks him ‘hey, did you do the trick by doing X, Y, then Z’ then the magician’s main job is not to be truthful because a reporter asked a question but his main job is to protect his trick- and thus his audience’s satisfaction and thus his own job and the jobs of all those who help him put on his show. And if saying ‘no’ does that, then I’m all for it.  But we’ve covered this. This is that ‘no comment’ issue again.


For instance, I think I recall Jaffe mentioning at one point awhile back (and huge apologies if I'm incorrect on this -- not at all trying to be insensitive) that he and his team had created a fake story about members of a Twisted Metal: Black 2 development team passing away in a plane crash, which if my memory serves me correctly he later said never happened. I find it strange that he's OK with putting out a story like that, while also criticizing puff piece behind the scenes making-of videos as "destructive" or something like that as he did recently (sorry, can't find the exact quote on this one either -- might be getting that word wrong), because to me that's essentially the same thing -- a company putting out a not-entirely-honest story to better promote their game.

 I never did what you are accusing me of doing. We never used- and I never would- a tragedy (real or fake) to promote ANYTHING. The story of the developers dying in the plane crash (totally fake) was never used to promote that game. That was simply the story OF the game that was only every discussed OUTSIDE of the game when a reported asked me about it being true or not. It was our take on a BLAIR WITCH set up but we never used it in promoting the game (other than when an interviewer asked me point blank about it and- frankly- I don’t recall if an interviewer even asked about it before the game had already shipped and all promotion for that title was done).

Sure my argument would be stronger if I could track down quotes of him admitting either of those things, but it's Sunday morning as I write this and I'm struggling to find them on Google, so I hope I'm not getting those details wrong.

Matt, you know that whole thing about you being annoyed that your interviewee doesn’t respect your interviewer? Or the idea that most folks look at game journalism just as entertainment? I can’t fathom why that might be…:)

BUT FOR THE RECORD, I’ve always had respect for you and your site. So don’t take this as me saying I personally don’t respect you (cause I do). But do you really want to admit the reason you can't get your quotes right- quotes that it seems you feel would strengthen your argument- because it's Sunday morning and you are too lazy to go beyond a Google search? Man, good thing Woodward and Bernstein came at things from a different angle :)...

I just wish more readers cared so developers would feel guilty about lying, because I prefer truthful behind the scenes stories over developer-created myths. It's a selfish desire, really

I prefer these sorts of stories as well. And again, from my past posts and my interviews over the years, I hope you’ve come to know me as a straight shooter that does not traffic in developer-created myths. My hatred for developer-created myths is the reason I am so open and honest about my experience with the process. I don’t see how the lie I told about TM negates all the credit in the bank- in this regard- that I have built up from being so honest- often times at my career’s expense- about the process of making the games.

Talk soon/see ya soon- gotta run. Thanks for this fun, educational, and stimulating (for me anyway) debate. It's appreciated!


* Yes, it's a Billy Joel reference :)...

** I do find this is more game centric than other entertainment media reporting. I'm always amazed that a Best Picture or Best Album Rotten Tomato aggregate rating can be in the low to mid 80's and still win such awards but with games, almost all GOTY contenders (and most 'almost GOTY' contenders) seem to come with 9/10 and 10/10 scores and heaps of gushing hyperbole.

***…actually not really, but that would be so cool!)…The Clorox story, I mean. The drug thing would be sad. 

****No clue why I suddenly started channeling Diablo Cody.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I love getting cool Twisted pics from fans of the series! Here's a few I got just tonite that I wanted to share:

Got an image of this great decade+ old sheet of notebook paper from Twitter follower @Chrisadactyl! Guy made this when he was 12 years old and found it after all this time! How cool is that?!?

Longtime twitter follower and super passionate TM fan @Needles_Kane34
 sent me this image he saw in his local Walmart! I LOVE seeing these kinds of 'out in the wild' Twisted Metal ads and images! It's so cool to know the clown is out there, burrowing into the minds of consumers all over America! If you spot anything similar, please please please, send it in to me?!? Thanks! And thanks Needles- fucking love this! 

And finally from my buddy Doc- who yes, you may remember from season one of the PSN show THE TESTER- sent this pic of a sticker announcing the trailer on the blu ray of Priest! I've not see the movie yet (trailer looked cool) and I honestly don't know what trailer is on the blu ray but pretty damn cool! Thanks Doc! Oh, and keep an ear out for a podcast Doc and I are gonna record in the next few weeks! 

Ok- that's it- it's super late and I'm crashing! Talk soon!


Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

New update at end of the post

Turns out Platinum lied to Kotaku about making METAL GEAR: RISING. Truth came out at tonite's Spike VGAS.

I had an interesting Twitter conversation about this with the great reporter who was the one being lied to- Kotaku's Stephen Totilo.

He said there are alternatives to lying such as saying ,'no comment.'

I said in this day and age- and perhaps back in the day as well- saying 'no comment' is/was the same as saying 'well the answer is yes but I can't say yes to you because that would put me in a bad spot'.

Stephen offered up some less obvious phrases than 'no comment' such as 'we don't comment on rumors and speculation' and I think he has a point, that there are some things you can say that really do allow the interviewer and the interviewee to emerge from the conversation with their reps and responsibilities intact. So for me, that was a good lesson to me from Mr. T (ha! I crack me ol' pirate self UP!) and I was done thinking about it.

But then I saw this from Matt Leone, the talented and veteran reporter. It's a question to his readers, asking if they dislike it when game developers lie to them. He cites tonight's MGS:Rising lie as well as the one I pulled in order to make sure the Twisted Metal E3 2010 reveal came off as a surprise.

Give it a read. It's pretty interesting, as are the comments from his readers (my analysis of the comments is the vast majority of Matt's readers feel lying is ok if it helps the game and protects secrets the team can't share but it's shitty when it hurts the customer...and I would agree with that view).

One of the things that bugged me about Matt's story was Matt's comment about 'the best spokespeople' are the ones who are able to distract the reporter or find loopholes to throw the reporter 'off the trail' when a reporter asks a question they don't want to answer.

I'm bothered by this because Matt's statement implies that it's accepted and it's simply how things are done that the experienced folks interviewed by the press have a bag of tricks that allow them to not have to lie but still allow the reporter to get a quote that's factual enough to print. I'm bothered that this is accepted and- it seems- and expected way to go about the job of getting and giving an interview.

Why would a journalist be ok with this and accept this status quo as anything other than shitty?!?

Plus, to me, an interview subject that uses 'loopholes' to get out from lying or telling the truth is the WORST spokesman, not the best.

Now look: I am as hard core a believer in journalism as you can get. I believe in the freedom of information act to the point that I would give my life defending it, I DESPISE the way government has treated journalists since the start of the Bush #2 term, I thought how the White House treated poor Helen Thomas- a national treasure, regardless of her views on Palestine- was the epitome of disrespect, and I am in awe of genuinely great reporters who risk reputation and sometimes life in order to give the world the truth. Oh, and Broadcast News is one of my top 10 movies of all time! So there!

But all that said: when did journalists begin to mistake themselves for judges speaking to witnesses who are legally under oath to answer questions truthfully? While there are certainly those great journalists- in every field, from super serious foreign affairs reporting to more fun entertainment reporting- who thankfully take their job very seriously to inform the public, I can say- speaking for myself- that I take my job to entertain the public just as seriously (and sometimes if I have to out and out lie to protect secrets that are going to make our product- that we've slaved for YEARS on, often times over 100 individuals working as a team- more entertaining for the people who pay out bills (i.e. the customers), then I won't even think twice before I do it).

I think I've been pretty open over the years when game journalists ask me all kinds of things and so I think most folks know that I'm a pretty honest individual. But if I can make our customers happier and more excited by lying to a reporter and thus revealing a title at the right time, then that's what I'll do.

And if I can lie to a journalist in order to protect information that will hurt my team if I reveal it, I'll do that in a heartbeat as well.

The only lie I would never tell is one that would hurt the customer (i.e. 'yes, we are shipping with 30 vehicles in the new Twisted Metal' when in fact, I know we will only ship with 17; or releasing screenshots that are CLEARY not representative of anything even close to the game we're shipping or videos that clearly are not representative of the game or the game experience we are shipping). To me, those are lies that HURT the customer and hopefully - if we do engage in that brand of dishonesty- the reporters and- more importantly- our customers-will lose faith in us quickly.

But there's a difference between a lie meant to entertain (i.e. you think the magician on stage sawing the woman in half is supposed to tell you 'now folks, this is all bullshit  and I'm not really sawing her in half'?!?) or a lie meant to protect the integrity of the product (i.e. 'Oh Mr. Reporter, your question is ''does Neo turn out to be THE ONE at the end of the Matrix trilogy? Sure, let me tell you that he DOES even though the last movie is still 10 months away!'') and a lie meant to trick your customers into thinking what they are going to pay for is different from what you know you are selling (i.e. saying 'our game is 100+ hours of gameplay!' when it's really only 12). I think reporters should blast the SHIT out of us and then never speak with us again if we lie like the later example because we are hurting their ability to do their job for their paying customers. I get that. But the former types of lies? I don't lose a wink of sleep over them. And I'm just surprised reporters think they are owed those sorts of truths JUST BECAUSE they ask for them!

Tell you what, if you expect us to answer those kinds of questions, then we should expect the same in reverse. I want to know what EXACTLY went down with the Kane and Lynch/Gamespot/Gertsman-gate deal. I want to know which magazines and websites have gotten favors and cash in exchange for good reviews. I want game journalists to publicly stamp a big, digital 'YELLOW JOURNALISM' sticker atop every headline that they intentionally sensationalize just to get clicks. I want to know the sources of all the anonymous tip offs you journalists are given.  I have a feeling that if I phrased all of those above desires as direct questions and then asked them to reporters point blank, those reporters would not run the risk of hurting their businesses- and thus their customers- and so would not answer the questions. Be their answer an out and out lie or a 'no comment' (which I would really advise them not to do because- as I said- 'no comment' to a direct question equals a 'yes' in the minds of today's readers), I don't think we'd get a 100% truthful answer from the majority of journalists in the majority of cases. And I would not blame the journalists one bit for not answering. We're not owed those sorts of truths.

(Note: I don't really WANT answers to these above things...well, I mean, I DO, but I respect journalism enough to respect that I will never get those answers, nor should I). But it just seems hypocritical for journalists to feel the world should be laid bare at their feet just cause they ask a question, but they don't want to reciprocate in kind.

I've had- and hope to continue to have- a fantastic and fun relationship with most game journalists in this biz, but I have to say: I am surprised that a reporter thinks they are just naturally owed the truth by people they interview. If they want the truth, they have to be willing to demand it and fight for it in the cases where they think they are being lied to. When you interview the President of the United States and you feel he's lying, pushing back when you feel he/she is dodging your question (or is out and out lying) is good for your audience. But in entertainment journalism I would imagine it's a bit different.

If I told someone we were not making Twisted Metal- which I did- and they had a gut sense I was full of shit (which I was, 100%!)- is it justified for them to sneak into the Shrine to watch and record rehearsals for the Sony E3 Press Conference just to prove I am lying?

I guess for SOME journalists it would be, but is that really what their customers want? Sure, that reporter may have caught me in a lie (a lie that I was happy to turn myself in for 30 min after the press conference started) but is it worth doing that at the expense of being banned from all future Playstation press events for sneaking into a private rehearsal? Speaking truth to George Bush or Obama and not giving a shit about the consequences is good reporting, because getting to the truth trumps all because that is what the people want and need! But doing the same in entertainment reporting? To me, that's a bit nuts. But that's easy for me to say cause I'm the guy who gets to lie and is justifying it :)...

Anyway, interesting topic to me (clearly) and I just wanted to ramble on it. Eager to bump unto my journalist friends in real life soon and get their views on this in person. My mind is willing to be changed; again- big supporter of good, hard news and am in awe of reporters- but at the moment, I'm more surprised by this article than anything else.



While I stand by the above 100%, in my almost 20 years working in video games, the ONLY time I have lied- far as I recall- was when asked (by press and by fans) was a game being made (i.e. TWISTED) that I knew was being made but that I could not talk about. So I lied and said no. I DO think there are other kinds of lies that are acceptable (and I've gone into detail on what those are above), but for the record: I've never used any of those other kinds of lies. Not that I should expect some of you to believe me at this point :)...but hell, what are you gonna do. At least I'm being honest about the lying, I suppose.
++++++END UPDATE++++++

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

This ONLINE PASS thing...

While it would be nice to take to heart the 'Jaffe's such a man of the people' well wishes that are coming my way from folks who usually dislike my virtual presence, I feel the need to clear up my stance on online passes.

In doing so, I’m sure some of my new ‘fans’ will call me an ass but at least I’ll be an honest ass.

Granted before they call me an ass I imagine some of them will talk to me about used car and used CD sales and on and on and on and on. Blech. Enough. It’s a junior high school debate team quality argument and you should know better. So moving on…

Point is this: I like used sales for customers. The customer should ALWAYS get the best deal they can. Been saying this for years and if you've followed this blog and my tweets, you know I've been unwavering on this view.

Now sure, while anyone who creates anything should always pursue and desire to create work that is so moving and so excellent that it creates a sense of loyalty in the customer, the honest bottom line is: the customer doesn’t owe us shit other than the cost we ask for to purchase the work we’ve done.  And we have to- as we should- work our ASSES off- with each and every new product- to earn the customer’s renewed desire to hand their precious money over to us in exchange for a product that- we hope- will bring them the promised effect (joy, entertainment, sustenance,etc).

But besides paying the cost of the product, the customer doesn’t owe us anything and I can tell you that when we put out a new game, we wait with baited breath hoping the customer will love- or at least like- what we’ve sold them because if they do, it means we may get a chance to do what we love once again.

But the core transaction is: we make something and (in my world) the publisher (who pays for that something) sets a price and the customer pays or doesn’t. And if the customer doesn't pay, then the publisher goes out of business. And the customer should not care. The customer should ALWAYS look out only for himself and should ALWAYS get the best deal they can and not give 2 shits if the publisher or the developer is making money or not. 

Now I'm not saying it’s not appreciated and nice when customers DO say stuff like ‘I buy my games new so the developer and publisher who paid for the game and bled for the game make the cash’…that fucking ROCKS to hear! I'm just saying those are nice surprises when we hear them, but we don’t expect that to be the general thinking and frankly, it should not be the general thinking. To me, the general customer thinking ideally should be: ‘Man, I love the games company X makes! They’ve made me so happy over the years and I feel like I’ve always gotten more value than what I paid for whenever I buy one of their products! Man, I just love that company and...Oh, what's that you say?!? They have a new game coming out? Well, it BETTER fucking good or those guys ain’t seeing a dime of my cash!’….  

So that’s my take on customers who buy games, used or otherwise.  

HIGH CONCEPT: I like used game sales for customers. Customer is always right. I get it and I like it.


I don’t like used sales for publishers and developers. I fucking hate what used sales do to publishers and developers. We make no cash at all when a game is sold used.

I wish retailers would cut us in on the action.

I get people don’t think we legally should be cut in on the action and they are 100% right. 

Legally speaking, I mean. 

Retailers don’t owe us shit other than what they promised in the deal that was signed.

We- or in my case, the game publisher- entered into a deal with the retailers and, far as I know, that deal didn’t involve publishers or developers making cash off the games the retailer sells to the customer used. I got no issue with that. It sucks, but hey, you live by the deal you make. Works for me.

Now, I do wish the retailers would cut us in as I personally like most retailers I’ve met and think they are honest and hard working folks as well and would like to see us all do well. But because the folks who pay to make the games are not getting a dime from a large (majority?) amount of sales the retailers do, I do think it’s bringing about digital distribution a hell of a lot faster than it otherwise would have. Which means sooner than later- just like record stores and soon to be book and comic book stores- those retailers (again, many of whom I like a lot) will be out of work.

And while I understand the point of view that used games actually help new games sell, and think in SOME customer’s cases this is totally true- we’ve seen way too much deterioration in the game business as of late for me to think that reasoning is pervasive among enough consumers that it counters the sales lost by publishers on used games. And so…

I do feel a large %  of that console software biz deterioration comes from the used game market cutting into the game maker’s ability to break even (let alone turn a profit).

Other than used game sales, I also get that another large % of the retail console software biz deterioration comes from the fact that MOST games cost too much to make and MOST games cost too much out of the consumers pocket.  60 bucks is a lot of muh-fukin-money for ANYTHING other that food and roof and shelter. No doubt. So hell yeah- at that price- customers are gonna be even MORE motivated to get the best deal they can. Why the hell not?!? So the games cost too much (to make and to buy...but I've seen the break evens and budgets folks...I assure you: there is not a lot of padding in these the cost of most 60 dollar games, break evens are close to 1 million units sold and often times that point the argument logically goes to: well SOME games sell amazing at 60 bucks so just make those! And to that I direct you here*)

Another big reason console game profits are falling is free and free to play games and less expensive download only games that- in many cases- are providing as much entertainment value as the big $60.00 games (again, I said ‘entertainment value’, not graphic quality or scope or similar experience as console gaming). Got no issue with this. If someone can entertain you for 99 cents good enough, why WOULD you pay $60 for anything OTHER THAN SIMPLY THE CREAM OF THE MUH-FUKIN-CROP, especially when that 'good enough but not great' $60 game will be $50 bucks used in just a few days...and 20 bucks in a month! So I get there are other reasons the 60 dollar game market is getting all fucked up. 

It ain’t JUST used sales.

And you know, that’s not even a bad thing.

Fuck it. If the traditional console market gets the shit disrupted out of it to the point that there are only 1-2 big budget games from 5-6 big publishers a year because that is what the free market decided, well then fuck it: that’s progress and disruption and it’s exciting and fun and I’m honored and privileged to be a part of it the biz at such an exciting time. Games have been around in some form or another for over 5000 years. We ain’t going nowhere.  So cool- bring change on. I’m in.

But RIGHT NOW we are still in the 60 dollar physical good space and that is space we are talking about. So…

…unless someone can show facts to the contrary (i.e. if there are facts out there that show that new games actually sell MORE because of used games, can you please provide a link? And don’t send me a link of the pres of some mega corp retailer just SAYING that…show us the figures, please…show us the stats)…but yeah, so unless you can show actual proof that used sales help new sales (and I don’t think you can, but I’m willing to admit I’m wrong if you can), it seems that a big % of the reason that it is feast or famine for the majority of retail console games is NOT because gamers actually feel the industry’s games are not worth 60 bucks, but it’s because the game you wanted that was 60 bucks 24 hours ago can now be purchased the day after release for a 5 or 10 dollar discount! Why would most people NOT WAIT the scant 12-36 hours it often takes for a BRAND NEW GAME to be sold used?   

And when the folks who make and/or finance the games don’t see a dime because the customer has been fiscally responsible and waited for a less expensive price for the IDENTICAL EXPERIENCE (which- by the way- is one of the big reasons ((but not the only one)) where the used car comparison breaks down), it becomes harder and harder for the folks who fund the games to break even, let alone profit.  

So why would us in the game biz try NOT to get some of that cash for ourselves, especially since there is truth when publishers tell you that it costs a lot of money to run online games and there are a large % of players playing these games for free and game makers/publishers should not have to take on the extra cost of maintaining the online game experience for those folks who have not paid us a dime.

*I get some folks will say, 'Well just make a game that I don’t want to sell back, you fucking idiot game maker loser greedy fuck'! And to that I say: yeah, fuck off. Actually I first say, ‘say good bye to story based games that last 8 hours (still a good fucking deal compared to a movie ticket considering you get to own the game and play it multiple times and a movie ticket lets you watch it a single time and then it’s a memory). And THEN I say to say goodbye even a lot of the long SP games cause those are getting hit as well...sure it may take a few weeks longer for a long game like Skyrim or Darksiders to hit USED but it'll get there, an it won't take long. So I say those things first. And THEN I say fuck off. And THEN I say, “show me something fun that never gets old and I’ll show you someone masturbating’.

And you know what’s funny? Besides that last line, I mean?

What's funny is: if used game sales for almost new games were selling briskly for 30 bucks less but barely a dollar more, then a message would be coming to us game makers loud and clear. That message would be ‘your products are wayyyyyy too expensive! We don't think they are worth 60 bucks or 50 bucks or even fucking 40 ass bucks!!!'....But a lot of used game sales are a tiny 10 bucks off. Usually less…like 5 bucks off! And they sell great! So you’re saying that SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED makes sense at 55 dollars but not 60?!? Or the brilliant RAYMAN:ORIGINS would have sold much better at 50 bucks but not 60?** Please. It’s a bullshit argument that really can only be logically made by folks who NEVER pay more than 30 bucks a game. 

So all this rambling is me saying these three things about the online pass:

-      -#1- I like the online pass for most games. I'm happy to be affiliated with a publisher that is at least TRYING to find a way to keep making big budget games that don't have to just be military shooters. Not that military shooters are bad, I love those kinds of games- they are great! But I also love that big publishers are willing- and currently able- to roll the big ass money dice on some titles that are more imaginative and unique (conceptually, IP wise) than military shooters. And if it turns out an online pass allows those publishers to keep rolling those dice on things like THE LAST GUARDIAN or LA NOIR or SHADOW RUN or BULLETSTORM or MASS EFFECT (on paper, that game- amazing as it turned out- could not have looked like a slam dunk, could it?!?) or NO MORE HEROES or yes, even TWISTED METAL and STARHAWK...then so motherfuckin be it. 

-       #2- I don’t like the online pass for TWISTED METAL but not for some 'man of the people/Jaffe really gets the customer and wants to stick it to the publisher/man' 'noble' reason. The ONLY reason I want Twisted Metal to ship without the online pass is because the big picture in my mind is to get as many folks trying Twisted Metal- even folks that we make NO money off of- so that if we ever make a part 2, our fan base will be much bigger and then on THAT game use the online pass. 

-      #3-I could be wrong about online passes. It could be true that making customers use online passes is actually hurting sales. Perhaps the vocal minority who say ‘they will never buy a game with an online pass’ is really quite a big ass group. And in that case- as I hope it’s clear by now- we should never do an online pass and figure out how- if at all- we can deal with the used sales issue that has significantly contributed to the drop in software dollars publishers (and thus developers) have been seeing as of late.  I’m all for letting the market decide and if the market says ‘we hate online passes’ then fuck it, you ignore your customers at your own peril and I don't want to play that game. Again, customer is always right. But I really don't think that's what is going on here.


** I enjoyed SHADOWS OF THE DAMNED and LOVE RAYMAN:ORIGINS (top 5 of the year, for sure) but I am just saying that if someone was willing to pay 55 bucks for RAYMAN, then they are willing to pay 60. I don't know if the number of folks who will buy RAYMAN:ORIGINS used (thus denying Ubisoft of any cash) is enough to bring them into profit (assuming they have not broken even- but I know NOTHING about that game's dev or cost...just using it as example cause I love it and it doesn't seem to have 'BIG 60 dollar hit!' written on it)...but no matter how much extra Ubisoft would make on that game if they got some of the used sales, at least it's SOMETHING they can add to get them closer to profit. Doesn't matter if you are talking a brilliant 60 dollar game that doesn't sell, a shitty 60 dollar game that does, or - best case- a brilliant 60 dollar game that flies off the shelf, the folks who financed it and made it NEED a cut from those used sales if the 60 dollar games biz is to survive in a form even somewhat resembling the current one. And again- if it doesn't survive- that's fine too. 99 cents, 10 bucks, 100 bucks...been wanting digital distribution and varied pricing tiers for years anyway! :)