Saturday, October 21, 2006

High fives

So we have done it! The God of War 2 team has made alpha and now, after Sensi Steven Segal went around the office in the "high five" pose (pictured to left) and congratulated everyone, the team is enjoying a few days off to relax and recharge for our push to Beta and finally Gold. It was cool that Steven decided to take a break from his rigorous touring schedule with his band Thunderbox to stop by and give us "High fives". We like "High fives" and especially like reciving them from the ass kicking hand of Steven Segal. We are forever indebted to the 'mojo priest' as he is referred to in some circles of the music world. I believe that Clay Aiken and the last surviving members of Menudo also run in those same circles. I probably shouldn't say anything bad about him as he can kick my ass up and down the street six ways to Sunday.

Anyway, the alpha build went smoothly, much smoother than our alpha build for God of War 1...Though I am not sure if that means anything. I am sitting down today and playing through the game as whole...So that should be fun.

I once again ran around the office with my sweet cam...Though I still didn't get to get as many pictures as I wanted to...That whole alpha thing kept getting into he way. So here is some random images of the team on Alpha day!

This is Jason. (Tech Artist) What can I say about Jason that the Weekly World news has not already said? He is the guy we call when the game breaks and we can't figure it out. He and the other tech artists do their damndest to make sure everything is running smoothly with the tools. I imagine that sometimes that is not always the most fun job. As seen in the picture Jason's passion for peace is only rivaled by his love of unicorns. They are pretty much his favorite animal, mostly because of thier prefferred skill being magic and all. Jason likes Magic. But not that creepy movie about the dummy...that movie scared him as it scared us all.

This is Adam (combat designer) and Joel (AP) discussing why Night Elves suck and the benfits of "Magic Missle". Actually they are probably scrambling to get one of the creatures or bosses to work on the alpha disk.

This one is a little far seems I try to keep my distance from everyone when taking photos because I half expect them to grab the camera like Sean Penn and clock me one in the jaw. So anyway...this is Wade (Effects guy) and Artak (cinematics animator) arguing over who they think will be americas next top model. Well that and making sure our Alpha presentation of cinematics is the best it can be. In the foreground is Tim (animator) who was misatkenly said to be the lead animator on a DMC board in response to my last post about him and Jason playing DMC3. A post that made me laugh since they used the word pwned or pwnage or something like that. I still can't understand why people who like DMC hate God of War so much. I personally am a fan of DMC...though the begining of the first one had some horrible camers in first room of the castle...and that whole slide on the bodies thing ala Legalos in DMC3 is kind of lame. Otherwise it is a cool game...can't we just all get along?

This…is the empty desk of one of our designers Johnny. Johnny was unable to be in the office during the alpha push because he got in an accident...on his 'Big Chief' edition scooter. Yeah I think now is the time to say that we have some bad luck…or dare I even say curses going on with this project. Since we have started several designers have gotten into automobile accidents, which only seems to compound my stress with this project. Johnny has a leg/ankle broken in three places and has to have some crazy surgery. His presence was missed. Sweep the leg Johnny! In the background you can see Jo (designer) feverishly working on some level implementation and psychically sending her thoughts of healing via the power of crystals to Johnny.

This is Michael (Lead Level Designer) Nate (Designer with the pink shirt) and Fabrice (Programmer and all around french guy) troubleshooting some problems with the build.

This is Chris (Environment Artist) and Lois (Environment Artist whose name I most likely got wrong or spelled wonrg...because I suck) working on tightning up the graphics on level 3. Now that right there...that was really funny...but only if you have seen the dope commercials for Westwood college school of game design. This is by far the most realistic depiction of game design I have ever seen. Seriously, it is scary. It was like they put a hidden camera in our office and then just aired the resulting footage. If you go will go far...and have tight graphics on level 3.

This is a shot Mark (Camera guy) scrambling to get the millions of things he has on his list done for the alpha burn later int he day. He along with Paul (designer) are the only ones doing the camera for this game, which is a massive task for them to take on. Big ups to them.

And here is what all of our hard work and sacrifices have yielded...the sweet ass alpha disk you see here. What you see is not only important because of the year and a half of blood sweat and tears this team gave, but it is also the alpha disk of my first game directing experience. Big milestones all around. Here's to me not fucking it far that is.

We still have a lot of work to do in order to get the game into shape for all of you to stay tuned for more updates on the progress. I might even post some videos...if I can figure it out.

ok...I am going to go play the game now.

Oh one last thing...I will be having a guest speaker on the blog in the next few days so keep an eye out for that as well. I think you might have heard of him it should be an interesting post.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hey Hey Hey...

Is that Alpha I see? SWEEEEEEET! Yup...3 days away...just 3 days away from alpha and a nice, albeit short, break for everyone. You can't see it, but right now I am doing the Rerun dance...and surprisingly I am really good at it. I got the moves.
Things are shaping up nicely I think. There were a bunch of us in yesterday trying to get the last of the content finished for the deadline. So I figured I would go a little nuts with the phone cam this weekend...but most of the pictures I took were crap...which leads me to believe that it must totally eb the camera. Since I really can't be that bad of a photographer. Perhaps I will break down and purchase a "real" digital camera so I can continue to do the photo updates as they are fun for me. I think rerun would agree that the purchase of a digital camera would be a good thing.

It is a little hard to take photos of myself I just took one of Kratos. I know what you are you ever do any "real" work around there? To be I mostly talk...and since I really don't view talking as real work...I classify myself as a sorta worker. On sunday Nate and I were trying to polish up the last of the enemy placements in the game...getting those last minute brilliant ideas in the game. It sounds so much better when I call them last minute brilliant ideas. Let's hope they turn out to be brilliant. Most likely I will be going through and changing every fight post alpha, when I get more people playing the game all the way through.

This is James (animator) and Derek (combat designer) hard at work on a sunday. These are some dedicated guys whom I give mad props to for doing what it takes to make this game great! James is actually showing off his "crane technique" to Derek. Unfortunatly my camera is really slow at the picture taking and I missed James accidentaly doing a Steven Segal on Derek's head.
Actually they are working on the final boss encounter here and from what I have been seeing it is coming along great.

This is our art is images that fans have drawn and images of that cominc Dax the Destroyer...a charcter who bears a striking resemblence to Kratos. This is where we go when we want to be inspired or remeber why it is we are working so much...we do it for the guy in the lower left of the image...yeah....we do it for him. This one's for you!

This is Tim (animator) and Jason (combat designer) hard at work playing DMC3. After that they were doing little things like finish a boss, fixing creatures, and genrally making sure all the stuff you are all going to play next year is freaking AWESOME!!!! These guys are the magic men...the music makers...the dreamers of dreams. Yeah...going a little overboard on the quotes today...but thats how I roll.

This is another shot of the art wall...with my favorite image of all time...Kratos about to stab Sora from Kingdom Hearts...cause Kratos is crazy like that. He will kill anyone. Someone else sent in an image of Kratos battling Peter Jennings. I framed that one and it now resides in my private collection.

Seriously though...I think fan art is awesome. I used to draw a bunch of stuff and send it in to the magazines hoping they would publish my ode to whatever game I was into at the time. Alas I was a really really bad I got no love on the fan art. But in the immortal words of my friend art is "where it's at."

This is Eric (combat designer) He doesn't like photos...something that I can relate took a photo of his dope Herculoids collection. Eric really doesn't have anything decorating his desk...and if you knew him you would know that is normal for him. So we were all surprised when his full set of Herculoids toys arrived, granted he did not buy them to decorate his desk...they were a gift. Though it wasn't surprising that the show they were modeled after was seen by like 14 people, Eric is super OG like that.

I had never heard of the Herculoids before...but the rhinocerous and the gorilla I am a fan now. Eric was in getting all the cool stuff sewn up with the hero. I was able to see and play with some of the new specials and moves for Kratos this weekend. I was worried about being able to get all the things I wanted to get in the game...but I should have know better than to doubt Eric or Bruno. (The animator working on the Hero)

This is Todd...he is a sound guy. He was also in a boy band many years ago that went horribly wrong...he still will break out into a boy band pose every once and awhile as if to punctuate a really important point. Right here he was telling me that everything he is doing is already "alpha!" There is actually some cool soudn stuff going in now...but traditionally most of the sound work doesn't get going until we get into the "Beta" phase of the project. Which is no good for the sound guys as they get slammed with a TON of stuff at the last minute and end up killing themselves trying to get it all in and perfect. This is probably why todd's boy band never really got off the ground.

Well that's all I got today. You should chjeck out the God of War myspace page with our God of Noise contest on it. If you are in a band...or know someone in a band you should defintely check it out as the prize is getting your track on the soundtrack of the game. Should be some pretty good exposure...that is unless I fuck up the game.

Which I don't plan on doing. But who plans on fucking up though right?

ok...time for the leads meeting.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

roundhouse kick to the alpha!

ALPHA!!! YEAH!!!! Well...we are not there yet, but this image (to the left) is a depiction of how much ass we are kicking right now. You see we, the team, are chuck norris, and the's the wolf. (Ok so its probabaly a dog, but wolf just sounds cooler) And rigth now the wolf is getting a front kick the chest. Sweet. Not that I advocate violence against animals or anything. But we are kicking the wolfs ass right now.

So I thought I would do something a little different today and give you a little pictoral walkthrough of alpha. Well not exactly a walkthrough, more like a bunch of photos I took with my crappy phone camera that serve as a rough throughline for my blog post today. I am sure it will be fun. Plus it gives me a chance to use my totally overpriced phone with its lame built in camera for a second time since I purchased it last year. The quality is pretty bad on the pics so you will have to use your imagination on this, but I will do my best to narrate this journey. So without further little bit of insight into our

This is an attempt at taking a cool photograph by putting the PS2 controller in the forground...not a very successful attempt though. It is also an attempt to tart up the crash screen we see a lot...make it prettier. Not sure that worked all that well either.

This is the screen we see a lot during the development process. It's the crash screen or as I like to call it the 'Time to take a break screen.' sometimes it gives you helpful information as to why the game refuses to work. Then other times it just says "????" Those times...are the sweet times.

This is the back of Nate's head. Lately I spend most of my day here at his desk tuning the various levels of the game. So I basically spend the whole day looking at the back of his head. Saying things like "what if we add this guy...and then spawn three more of this guy" or "wouldn't it be cool if we..." Then he sits there cursing me and watching videos on you tube, like that sweet David Hasselhoff video "Jump in my car". He fucking loves that video. I think it is because he identifies so completely with the "Hoff." This is probably because at one point in thier lives they both had cars that talked to them. I'm pretty sure he hears the song in his head even when he is not watching it, which is like all the time. Just kidding...he doesn't curse me.

This is a shot of the studio as everyone is in high gear finishing up the game. I got to see the final boss level in the game the other day, which has nothing to do with this picture but I thought it looked prety freakin sweet so I figured I would bring that up. I wish I could show you a screenshot of that, but alas then you would have nothing to open up on Christmas day. and I don't want to ruin Christmas. Well not exactly we are releasing several months AFTER Christmas...that was just a metaphor.

This is another shot of the various craftsman hard at working making God of War 2. I know what you are saying...those all look like normal people. I though God of war 2 was made by a workshop full of elves in funny little felt costumes with bells on them. But alas that is only our european games that use the elf workshops. though I have always thought that Hot Shots golf was made by elves. Elves with big heads who eneter every room running and sliding like a figure skaters on crack...the faint sounds of applause always follow.

This is Todd...or rather the back of Todds head. You might be noticing a pattern here. You might think that most people are ignoring me...and to be quite honest you may be right. But I would like to think of it as the rest of the team "pacing" thier interaction with me. That just sounds better. But seriously, Todd is another guy I tune the game with. Right here you can see we are tuning a super bad ass section of the game that is so freaking exciting that we had to pause it so we could take a break and recover. And so Todd could watch videos on youtube. He loves the bollywood video with Little Superstar bitchslapping fools. It rules.

This is a shot of the final boss in the game...I got a little excited while taking the photo so you can't make out the details, but trust freaking rocks. It makes me say "Next gen who?" Not that I am not excited to check out some next gen stuff...but I think the stuff we are doing is great...great like whipping out the proverbial "Legendary Creature" card!

Ok enough with the Chuck Norris's old now. Well maybe not totally old for me. It still makes me laugh. But I am simple and easily amused...and I still believe that Chuck Norris's Tears can cure cancer....but he never the world will never know.

Maybe tomorrow I will take better pictures that even include peoples faces. That would be cool, though it is pretty dependant on people not telling me to go away when I whip out the super bad ass photo phone!!!

'Aight...going to go playthough the game and make some notes.


Saturday, October 07, 2006


Hello blog. It’s been awhile since we last spoke. Things have been hectic as usual; we are less than two weeks away from our alpha date. This would definitely qualify as one of the tougher times on the project to date. We have to have everything that is going to be in the game done to about 50-70% completion. Sounds fairly simple, but it is soooo not. The good thing is we are in a better position at this point (in relation to alpha date) that we were on God of War 1…so we got that going for us. But unfortunately that news does little to ease the pain of the long hours. Actually I may be over dramatizing it a bit…the hours are long but not terrible. It is more the amount of time we have been putting in the hours that wears you down. In the end though it will all be better for the game so it is worth it.

We had a nice early night week last week. Everyone got to go home at a decent hour and recharge for this last push to alpha. This really helped, but it also gives you that taste of normalcy, which really makes it hard to go back to the late nights.

SO let’s see…what is the haps. I got everyone’s emails for the demo and I have a running list. Not sure about all the non-US peeps, but I will see what I can do. I am all about sending them, just got to check with the “man” and make sure I can do that. Anyway…new with the game…we are working on a few bosses simultaneously and getting those into tip top shape. The one cool thing about the last few weeks to alpha is that every single day I am seeing something new get in the game in a close to final form. That is truly what keeps me going through all of this.

I have been doing some fight tuning with Nate the last few days, though I haven’t been able to do as much as I would like due to the numerous interruptions for meetings and last minute documentation and such. But we were working on a fight that would take place late in the game yesterday so I started bringing over people to test it out and make sure it wasn’t too hard. After the first few people we started getting a large group of people stopping by and trying the fight out. Now at this stage it is hard to get the exact tuning of a fight since we don’t have the final tuning on the blades, weapons or magic…but right now I am just trying to get the right vibe for each fight. The vibe for this specific fight was to make it hard, but also to engage you enough to want to go back and beat it if you died. Now it was crude, with several annoying little bugs, but in the end I think we achieved that. It was also great to have a group of people, who have been slaving away on this game for the last year and a half, sitting around and laughing and challenging g each other to finish the fight. It is moments like those that say something about the work we are all doing…that even though we should be tired of this game…we are not. I just hope this will translate to all of you as well.

Another cool thing to see was the further implementation of one of the weapons. Eric (Combat guy) had some great ideas for control mapping on the weapon and I finally got to see how other people would use it while they play. I think this new addition will really add a lot to the weapon.

I have been working with Charlie, our Visual development director, on the box art for the game the last few days. I think we have found a really good direction to go in so now he is going to go in and take the thumbnails to a more finished look.

I have also been working with Ariel (Editor and AP) to fine tune our cinematics and trim out all the unnecessary fat. This is hard. Because when you write the script for the story you think you are only putting in what is absolutely necessary to tell the story properly. So going in and trying to find ways to trim the movies down, after having already trimmed them down like 20 times before, is tough. That is the beauty of having an outside opinion of a good editor. They can look at the material that you are so close to and give you an objective opinion on what is really there and what is needed to convey the point. Though she is not totally an outside opinion since she also did some work on the script with me and the other writers…but hey beggars can’t be choosers right?

I met with Jo (level designer) and Michael (Lead Level Designer) about some last minute tweaks to some puzzles in one of our levels. It was good to finally see these puzzles get worked out. We had designed the areas such a long time ago, at a point where we were creatively drained, so there were a few puzzles that we just said “Ahh…we will figure this out later.” In hindsight I realize it was not the best of ideas, but both of them came through in a pinch and put together a couple of pretty cool puzzles. I also got to see Jeremy’s (Level designer) implementation of a puzzle in his level. It is something that Michael pitched to me a week or two ago and it sounded pretty cool, but with these things it is so hard to tell if something is really going to be fun from just a pitch. Finally getting to see it and play it proved that it is going to be fun. We just need to work out a few details about it and then it is ‘in there like swimwear.’

I saw the first rough sculpt of the action figure and it is coming along really nicely. I can’t wait to see the final product…and for all of you to see it as well. I think you will be pretty psyched…if you like that sort of thing. If you don’t, well we have God of War handguns as well…maybe that’s your thing? Or how about our God of War Flamethrowers? The kids seem to love this one.

Well it is Saturday at 9:20am and I got to start getting ready to head into the office.