Monday, October 31, 2011


Nice to see good ol' Needles and Kratos representing the freaks and killers of the world this All Hallow's Eve! Thanks for sending these in, ya'll! 

Here's AG3N1US about to get his sweet tooth on! Mmmmmm....cup cakes! :)

And here's one of AG3N1US in a bad ass action pose (clearly with a friend he picked up while playing THE HEIST!) 

Shit, be careful Joe_Stein89...the tip on that knife is sharp and fine! ...see what I did there? I took his name and made a...ah, never mind. Fuck off! :)

JRUFFLER looking creepy with that neat, evil green glow! 

Love the semi big headed look of this version of Tooth by LI_MILOE. That mask is super, super cool! 

And how could we forget the God of War himself?!? Where'd you get those blades, NINJEL1? Looking very cool! 

Thanks Batdump! The way the pic was shot makes it look like Kratos in Big Head Mode! :) Very cool costume! But why so sad?!?

Game Journalism's bad boy (yes, I just wrote that...), Destructoid's own Jim Sterling! Thanks Jim! When we gonna do a podcast together?!?! And by the way, I thought your love note to that hater earlier today was quite hilarious ('I am in love with you'), not to mention super romantic :)...

Ok, I cheat a bit. This is a guy from DragonCon that Edwinshouse tweeted me about. BUT I assume with a costume this cool, he'll be wearing it tonite as well! :)

Sweet Tooth, you will kill Captain America now! The Red Skull demands it!!!

Happy Sweet Tooth Halloween, compliments of Mr. QweggBomb! 

Talk about a Tag Team! Sweet Tooth and MJ, kicking some major ass on Halloween night! I assume Tooth used propofol to light his hair on fire?!? Thanks MetinVeyda! 

The man, the myth, the mo-fuckin' legend: NUCLEAR JOHNSON! that I just typed that name out I THINK I finally get it. It's a penis joke, yes? Anyway, Nuke: thanks for the great feedback on Twisted from PAX! Super helpful and super appreciated! Thanks for being a fan of the series- means tons to us! 

And the award for Sweet Tooth with the coolest alter ego goes to: KAPTNGRAVES! 

If you are heading out as one of our characters this year (or if you see someone out and about today in a Twisted or God of War costume), take a pic and send it to the blog, if you don't mind? Thanks!
Ok- gonna get the day rolling early so I can hopefully shut down around 5:30 and get the trick or treating rolling with the kids! Be safe and have today/tonight ya'll! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Meeting Heroes Rocks Much!

It's a stunning/humbling moment when one of your heroes becomes one of your friends. Amazing and fun to do the IGDA talk with John Mufu*!in' Romero last night! What a cool dude! And check it: there's TWO heroes for the price of one cause Ms. Brenda Brathwaite was there as well and as you probably already know, she kicks much game design/game making ass (she freakin made Train and designed Jagged 'Freakin' Alliance and co-authored one of my fave books on game design!) 

Oh...and please don't tell her this but she reminds be a bit of CJ from my favorite show, The West Wing. So last nite talking to her I spent half the time pretending I was President Bartlett. :) Does that make me a crazy person?!?


The Return Of Small Brawl?!?!

Not so much! :)

I mean, MAN, how cool is that?!?! Can't wait!


ps. I THINK there's an RC Axel coming as well! Seen stills of the model but not seen the real thing yet. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


My kids' school sends out a weekly news letter to let the parents know what's going on at the place (fundraisers, book clubs, Halloween parades...stuff of that nature).  The letter also contains a note from the principal (a super great guy who's passion for his work inspires me in my own work) and some light/fluff stuff (a little anecdote or quote or some such). This week the letter included this wonderful poem:

I dreamt I stood in a studio, and watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child’s mind, and they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher—the tools she used, were books, music, and art.
The other, a parent—working with a guiding hand, and a gentle loving heart.
Day after day, the teacher toiled with a touch that was deft and sure.
While the parent labored by her side, and polished and smoothed it o’er.
And when at last, their task was done, they were proud of what they had wrought. 

For the things they had molded into the child, could neither be sold nor bought.
And each agreed they would have failed If each had worked alone,
for behind the teacher stood the school, and behind the parent, the home.

- Author Unknown

Damn thing almost brought a tear of gratitude to my eye. I'm so grateful my kids go to a such a wonderful, caring public school, especially in this day and age where so many of this country's public schools are letting the kids down (and usually not because the admins and teachers at said school are bad or uncaring...although that sometimes is the case, for sure...). Our whole family is super lucky/blessed (take your pick, or choose both!) to be in such a situation. 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Take On Eurogamer's 'Controversial' Uncharted 3 Review

Eurogamer's 'controversial' review* of Uncharted 3 reminds me of why I love that site's reviews.

I also loved their fair and insightful criticism of Calling All Cars back in the day; how they sussed out the specific reasons for the lack of depth in our game. God, how I wish I had been able to articulate and even realize that flaw during  CAC's development! We coulda made some simple changes that would have resulted in a much better title!**

As for U3, I've yet to play the campaign mode, but I played the beta over the summer and really liked it; I enjoyed it more than 99% of human based shooters on the market.  And I'm sure I'll love the U3 campaign when I pick it up next week (just as I've loved the earlier Uncharted games).


…Eurogamer's conclusion/criticism about games that are super heavy on the 'experience' at the expense of the 'play' (like they claim Uncharted 3 is and like- by my own admission- GOD OF WAR 1 is***) is wonderfully thought out and presented and the only reason it's been labeled 'controversial' has nothing to do with the review itself and everything to do with the sad state of game consumers who have been so effectively conditioned by a number of the gaming press/gaming PR machines  that these gamers leap to a title's defense-not that this gem of a game needs defending- without even being open to the reviewer's criticism (be it valid or not). That's tragic. What's even more tragic is I would argue the games medium itself has been damaged by this practice. Irrevocably? No. But it has taken its toll for sure. 

So there's that.


Besides having some great insight, what's great about the Eurogamer review is that it manages to be both positive and critical at the same time (Garsh! Wonder of Wonders! How'd they do that?!?!) 

It doesn't bash U3 at all (for to do so would just be trolling for hits since it's clear there ain't a thing in U3 that is bash worthy) and it clearly sings the game's many wonderful praises and achievements.  But it does call out what some people consider a fundamental flaw in many of today's console titles where making 'cinematic experiences'**** seems to have become a more important goal than making games. And it's nice to see that level of criticism and insight in games journalism, especially with a game as hyped and anticipated (and as amazingly great) as Uncharted 3. How refreshing that a great, hyped, and soon-to-be much loved game can be praised while at the same time intelligently and non mean-spiritedly criticized for what a reviewer thinks (agree or not) are genuine issues. Wow, that's just like big boy writing! And I love it! :) 


*Amazing this review is the one being called 'controversial'. To me, the 10/10 review that either mentions the flaws of the game and still gives a perfect score OR the review that doesn't mention the flaws at all (an even worse crime, assuming the reviewer thought there WERE flaws) is the true controversial review.  Gamers that don't see this as a problem need to wake up to the PR machine cause the Matrix has you. 

** A lot of people think I bash Calling All Cars at every turn. I don't. I am actually and super proud of the team that made the game, I'm proud of my contributions, and I love playing Calling All Cars in split screen to this day. I just hate that it didn't succeed more and I place that blame squarely on my shoulders (and I've written about that before). I love the game we made but I think it needed more stickiness and more depth (not always the same thing although many will tell you it is), not to mention a more commercial theme. And I kick myself that I didn't push (myself or others) to address these issues. 

***A lot of people ask me if I'd ever make another GOD OF WAR (assuming that opportunity was offered) and I always say the same thing: if it were GOD OF WAR meets something like ZELDA (formula wise), then yes (aka Darksiders, right?)…But if it were GOD OF WAR using the current formula, I would not. For me- and this is just me PERSONALLY (I get and respect not everyone shares this same thinking)- directing GOD OF WAR made me realize that as a game designer (and certainly as game director) I want our games to serve the gods of GAMEPLAY first and foremost. My and then team's desire to tell a story/make a movie may or may not get to be fulfilled (depending on the game) but if we do tell a story, it will never come at the expense of the gameplay (the thing that makes our medium matter and special). Games can have story (and many should, such as God of War) and most games- even pure play games- should have strong world and IP. But working on God of War made it clear that- for me- if we have to cut a set piece or bit of spectacle because of our desire to put play first, then so be it. Ideally, the BEST games are those that do both.  

But what is really interesting/telling, is that as much hype and fan love as the cinematic experiences get, it's the game-y games that sell and sell and sell. Look at Guitar Hero, MW3, Angry Birds, Farmville, Mario, Madden, Wii sports, and on and on and on.  Hell, even GTA sells to MOST folks because they just like to fuck around in the world (the game part). I think hardcore FANS of games love seeing our medium push (successfully or not- YMMV) into the medium of film and utilize techniques from that medium (sometimes surpassing film, as it seems U3 does via the cargo plane sequence alone- Michael Bay simply DREAMS of such a cool scenario!) And I think these fans dig this stuff because it shows off the tech we love (and paid a lot of cash for), it gives us the stunning art our eyeballs crave and the energy/adrenaline our guts respond to, and perhaps (not for all but certainly for some) because it presents what is- to me- a false hope/desire (and a very real display of desperation) that AT LAST our geeky habit is now COOL and RELEVANT and MAINSTREAM! End of the day tho, look at the top of the charts: the GAME STUFF sells buckets when it's themed right and executed well. The EXPERIENCE STUFF sells well too but not near as much as the GAMEY stuff and the EXPERIENCE STUFF costs a hell of a lot more to make in most cases.

****I use the word 'experience' in 'cinematic experience' as shorthand cause ya'll know what I mean. Ironic tho since the whole point the Eurogamer review makes is that the player's actual INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE is many times relegated to second class status in order to present the player with a more controlled VIEWING experience. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Got the house ready for one of the best holidays of the year today! Slammed with work today and really didn't want to spend the time but once I got rolling, I had to keep pushing :)!

It's also fun that- now that my kids are a bit older (6 & 8)- I get to go darker and creepier :)!


LOVE that dripping blood! Tomorrow when I get a sec and I need to smooth out the top line so there's no light peeking thru, but besides that: I think it's super cool! 

Phantom in the bushes!!!

Behind the scenes (aka the kids' playroom totally demolished so I could stick all this stuff in the window)!

Packaging for the blood. Freakin' $2.99 a pack at Rite Aid! It's this thick, very sticky pre shaped gel and man, if this stuff actually clings to the window for a whole week and is still up on Oct 31st, I'm gonna  buy stock in this damn company! Ok, not really...but still: it's really neat! 

Saw this at Rite Aid while picking up the blood. I just want you to think about something for a moment: I'm 40 and I played this system 30-33 years ago and these were the games I grew up on. $25-$35 per game at the time and now here we are, a few decades later and you can play 60 of the damn games for what used to be the price of a single one! I know it's hard to imagine but in 30 years time, we'll be playing Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, COD MW3, and yes, Twisted Metal PS3 for a similar deal! Granted, it'll just be in a browser window or a we'll be playing a holographic image of the game, but still: just amazing how fast state of the art becomes charmingly nostalgic...

Ok- gotta do a call then get to bed. Up at 5am to Twisted some mutha fuckin' Metal! Later!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where The Magic Is Made...

...or at least a hell of an awful lot of it! I certainly don't want to make light of the significant Sony contributions to Twisted Metal (many departments, starting with Santa Monica PD and going through Marketing and Sound and Movies and on and on and on) or the invaluable contributions made by many 3rd party companies (not to mention my own work that is on display in the game), but this is where the Eat Sleep Play Utah team takes all of that stuff and turns it into a full fledged game:

Pretty unassuming, eh?!? Certainly not as cool as the Blizzard campus with the fucking Warcraft statue/fountain out front! :)

But before you judge too harshly, know this: Besides being a very cool building in which to work (it was an old hardware building built-I think-in the early 1900's) this building is also the NEXUS of kick ass game making in Salt Lake City! 

Or at least one of the Nexi (it's Nexi, right??!)...

Cause besides Eat Sleep Play, this same building houses CHAIR (the amazing Shadow Complex/Infinity Blade creators) and SMART BOMB INTERACTIVE (creators of the fantastic kid's MMO Animal Jam, a game my daughters have been addicted to for the last 4-6 months!)

So there ya go! 


Disney Days

Hit Disneyland and California Adventure last Sunday. FIrst time back since May because work has kept me so bizzy. But I needed some quality time with my girls and we'd been away from one of our favorite places for too long.  So I made the time and we went. Took some pics. Just wanted to share a few:

Our season passes! Got them in May but this was the first chance we had to use them. Man I love the Disney Season Pass! 

Nice to see Uncle Walt was also a firm believer in iteration. Good ol' Iteration: can't make a successful creative project with out it. 

Vampires on Space Mountain?!? This is the image that came back to us after we got off the Halloween version of the amazing coaster. WTF?!?

Both my kids are now brave enough to take on TOWER OF TERROR! This is a pic of the entrance to the ride car itself after you walk thru a super detailed line queue of an old, haunted Hollywood hotel. I've only ridden TOT once before last weekend (when my oldest had just turned 5) and the theme/set dressing/story scared her so bad, she's lived in fear of it ever since. This time, her younger sis wanted to go so she wrangled up some courage and we rode it! They both loved it and so did I...

 As you can clearly see from this pic! :) 

Ah, Mr. Bradbury-what a fan I am! So cool they did this for your classic story! 

Pumpkins hanging from the Halloween Tree branches...

One of my favorite rides- The Haunted Mansion- all decked out for its Halloween/Xmas mash up. Love the gingerbread smell! 

  Pumpkins all up in the woods as we wait in line to enter the mansion...

Words to live by posted in the queue for Splash Mountain. And yes, we took the plunge in FUCKING OCTOBER!

 As you can clearly see from this pic! :). Yeah we got soaked but were dry within 15 minutes! Love me some So Cal weather! 

By the way, check this out: 

That's about 1 year ago...check out the faces of my kids (same front position in each pic...I always try to get us the front of the log rides and the back of the coasters if I can!)...what a difference a year makes! From being scared to loving the thrill...there's a metaphor/life lesson/greeting card in there somewhere but I'm too lazy to sniff it out...

Ok, that's all I got for now- later ya'll!


ps...damn I hope that pic of me in the poncho doesn't end up as a gif on GAF or some such down the line. Ah well- the price I pay for sharing my life! :)...

pps. I'm not that vain of a guy but my brother did make me feel like a total wimp for wearing a poncho on a water ride. So as you can see in the most recent pic, those days are long gone :)...

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Subject to change a shite ton of times before we ship. This is just what it looks like right now.

 And in fact, this is just a list of a few of the many variables we're tuning but I wanted to look at hit points vs. speed vs special weapons only.

Those variables tend to be the big 3 that are most noticable at first. The nuanced variables such as time to break out of an EMP freeze or turbo drain speed are the variables we'll use to 'season' the vehicle distinctions once the core personalities are coming thru.



Just wanted to share! Have a great day ya'll! 

Mr. Grimm and his gunner taking on Iron Maiden!

She so big! If you can't tell, that's Outlaw wayyyyy down there (that little black & white smattering of pixels)....

Just in time for Halloween: here's Preacher- driving SHADOW- showing off the super powerful MAGNUM sidearm. The battleground is the HAUNTED CASTLE sub level of the game (a sub map of THRILLS & SPILLS AMUSEMENT PARK)


Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tuning a game is hands down the most fun and most satisfying part of the game making process. It's where all of the grueling work of the whole team begins to really pay off.

Just this last week, check out what me, Scott, Kellan, the rest of the ESP gang, Chad (from Sony Santa Monica), and Sony San Diego QA tuned and it will give you an idea of how fun/exciting/rewarding this time in the life of making a game is! 

NOTE: A lot of these numbers may be too big right now but we were feeling the vehicles were not feeling distinct enough and so we wanted to push those numbers way out to make sure we could give the vehicles really big, clear, individual voices and then we'll start dialing some/all of those big numbers back in a bit. 


a) Kamakazi's Turn Radius- went from a bit better than the other vehicles to CRAZY GOOD. Super easy to over shoot the 180 flips now BUT once you master the turn, he really is a BLAST to drive! 

b) Upped Reapers Flame Saw from 70 hit points to 150 mother fucking hit points! 

c) Upped the NUKE MISSILE hit point- in NUKE MODE- from 50hp (which we intentionally set way too low for the PAX build and- frankly- had forgotten to set it back) up to 150 hp!  Now shooting the missile down is very possible but either 1 member of your team needs to be the designated missile attacker (i.e. stocked up with powerful weapons and posted up somewhere with a pretty good vantage point) OR a handful of your team needs to be prepped to go into 'shoot the missile down!' mode if the enemy manages to launch the nuke.

d) Started messing with the Ram Matrix to make sure the bigger vehicles did MEGA RAM DAMAGE to other vehicles and to make sure the smaller vehicles were doing less damage than they were in the PAX build. Up until just yesterday, the spread between a medium sized vehicle's max ram damage and JUGGERNAUT's max ram damage was too small to really differentiate that aspect of the vehicle's personality.

e) Game Programmer extraordinaire Ryan added a tweaker to allow each of the 17 vehicles to have their own distinct EMP/FREEZE attack homing variable, meaning some vehicles have amazing homing applied to their freeze attack while other vehicles don't get any homing applied to freeze at all.

f) got to see the mechanic where if you freeze the copter, it drops super fast like a stone from the sky…giving players on the ground a great counter to the copter's ability to attack from above.

g) got to see the code where each vehicle has it's own 'breakout of freeze' strength, meaning a vehicle like REAPER forces the player to only pound the buttons a little to break out of the freeze whereas a vehicle like Outlaw takes a long time to break the freeze if he gets EMP blasted.

h) Increased some of the SACRIFICE CIRCLE ring sizes in NUKE which we were feeling might have been too small for a fun battle. Too big of a ring and you it's too hard to defend, too small (like we had it) and it's just too chaotic and you can't really do anything but button mash and hope for the best. We're not locked to our core ring size yet (we didn't tune the 'how long a vehicle takes to launch a nuke' number along with the sacrifice circle size yet) but my gut tells me we should go at least a LITTLE bigger on the Sacrifice Rings than what we showed at PAX/E3.

i) Messed around with hit points of vehicles to make players really sense the armor of the vehicles. For example, we've kept Reaper at 90 for now, but we popped Outlaw from 160 up to 300 meaty ass hitpoints (although we need to bring down the damage his special weapon currently does in order to compensate)

j) Showed our in game cinematic to San Diego QA and got some GREAT feedback. A number of slow parts from the movies (i.e. the looooong radio opening that you may have seen here) are being sped up this coming week. We'll also be removing some of the lines/moments from the movies that the QA folks were saying felt on the cheesy side. 

k) Began our final PICK UP pass, starting with NYC. Made sure to put our BIG 3 PICK UPS (the ones we want players to fight over/covet, memorize placement locations, care about) in more strategic, memorable locations and adjusted the derivative levels so they retain the core pick up logic from the main maps but have some special case pick up placement to account for the smaller level's intent. If you were wondering: our big 3 pick ups are: HEALTH, MEGA GUNS, and the POWER MISSILE. Sure, other pick ups are great too and for some players, they will covet other pick ups along with (or instead of) these main 3. But still we wanted the all players to feel that these 3 pick ups are pretty special.

l) Adjusted FACTION LEADER locations for NUKE for some of the maps that needed some love (mainly Theme Park, where we had the leaders spawning at the same area of the map- roughly- and since the map is so big, it was ALWAYS a big trek from one side of the map ((where the faction leader was)) to the other side of the map ((where the stationary Nuke launcher was)) ). I don't mind these big treks from time to time, but not every time.

m) Added a COOL DOWN period for MOBILE MISSILE LAUNCHERS in NUKE because the San Diego QA players were launching 3 missiles from the mobile launcher within the space of 30 seconds at times and that just ain't good :)…

n) Agreed to put in a FALL TO DAMAGE logic for ranked games in levels like rooftops where you take a bit of damage (45 hit points) if you fall but you will respawn BUT after a 10 second delay. We were going to make it FALL TO DEATH in ranked games (host can still choose this setting in an unranked game) but it was brought up that grievers on your own team could intentionally fuck with your team by falling and dying over and over just to piss your team off (i.e. if you fall, we take points from your team to dissuade a player who is about to die from just driving off a ledge so the enemy doesn't get a kill)….

o) Agreed to a visual change on the POWER/HOMER/STALKER missile pick ups so the 3 missiles are much more clear. For the longest time, Scott and I both were confused over which was which and given that one of those missiles does 12 points of damage and the other does 75, it's pretty important you know- at a distance and going at super high speeds- if that pick up in the far distance is one you want to go after or ignore. 

p) Worked with ESP QA to adjust cameras for 3/4 player split screen as a bunch of them were not showing off enough of the horizon and this making play a bit frustrating.

There was a bunch more but you get the idea! And as I imagine you can tell by the list above, all these changes really make a HUGE difference in how well the game plays! 

Here's a video of the tuning sessions I took with my new Ipad2…love the damn thing! Altho as you can tell, I shot it upside down and didn't even know it (didn't look upside down when I shot it, I assure you!)…I had a more detailed tuning video but accidentally erased it…sorry bout that :(…

Ok- gotta get some work done tonite then hitting the hay early as tomorrow is a Disneyland day with the kids! We've not been there since May and me and the girls are jonesin' for the Dland...especially since my youngest is now old enough to want to ride the Halloween themed Space Mountain AND go on Tower Of Terror for the very first time! :)

Talk soon- hope you're all well!