Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007


I commented in the last post about the Japanese version of God of War 2 coming out pretty soon so I thought I would follow that up with some pretty cool news I just got from my friends over at Capcom that God of War 2 just got reviewed in the latest Famitsu magazine. the scores were pretty damn good...something the whole team is excited about. (10,9,9,9 = 92.5% - take that Edge magazine!! :) The game also got a "Platinum Hall of Fame" award...I have no clue what that means but it sounds good so I thought I would mention it. I always thought we would do ok, but I really did not expect a score like that.

So I want to give a big thanks goes out to the GOW2 team as well as all the people over at Capcom who worked like crazy to get the localization freaking spot on! Great job everyone!

I have some scans from Famitsu, but no real translation. I was able to get a small excerpt from the article so I will post that now, and update when I get more.

"Wild combination of action and puzzles. Very responsive controls. This game will give you the highest entertainment. Just playing the game it is easy to feel like the character. The combat is kind of tough, but there are lots of checkpoints to help you."

I have no idea where exactly this is said in the article...but I imagine it is somwhere int he image below.

Other than that there is not too much else to report...this is just a little update! And I will try and check out UT3 since John has so graciously offered to hook a brother up with that hotness. (Thanks man!)

Heading out to the VGL show tonight where hopefully I will get a chance to catch up with up a bunch of people and hear some great music. I heard that The silent Hill Designer is going to be there...which is sweet since I love those games. Oh there is also this little known guy Nolan know...Pong and all that game industry pioneer type stuff. I am pretty excited about has been a while since I have emerged from my work cave.

Oh and I am going to carve out some time this weekend to play some Bioshock...who knows...maybe I will even finish that bad boy??

Here is the link to the Japanese website that Capcom put together for all of you who are interested.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

You will be assimilated!

Man, it has been a long time since I sat down to update this blog. I have taken a bit of a hiatus from the blogo-sphere for several reasons. Mostly because I have a ton of things going on right now and I don’t have as much free time to sit down and write. But also when I do have the time, I can’t talk about any of the things I am doing…so it makes the update feel kind of flaccid. And no one likes a limp update, right?

So what is new you ask? Oh freaking hell of a lot actually. We are getting closer to the finish line with God of War: Chains of Olympus. The demo disks went out a few weeks ago, and everyone seems pretty psyched about it. There is still a lot of work to be done to call it a day on that, but things are progressing nicely.

My main project I am working on is moving along quite nicely as well. I still am cursing this whole next-gen thing on a daily basis, but soon I will be assimilated into the fold…I guess. I really think we have painted ourselves into a corner with all this new hardware though. It takes so much longer to do things now due to the increase in fidelity and resolution that invariably the length of games, all games, is going to suffer. I would not be surprised to see games be an average of 2-4 hours in as little as 5 years. Well, if they are trying to keep up the Jones’s from a graphical perspective. If they cut more corners on the art side it may be longer. But then they might suffer from people not buying because they want the latest 1080p uber freaking high detailed slick-rick game. Whatever…I just want it to be fun…and looking freaking amazing. Pretty much in that order too.

I got to see some of the first level art to come out of the pipeline recently, and it looks pretty bad ass. We still have a ways to go in regards to our engine, but I can see the potential with this thing. I can’t wait to start showing everyone glimpses of it, but that is pretty far off from now.

What else is new? Hmmm…Oh yeah…I ditched the PC world (at home) in favor of a mac. I got a new iMac for my birthday last month and I freaking LOVE IT! I went kind of Apple crazy this last month purchasing two apple TV’s as well!! I know that the AppleTV is getting a bad rap in the press…many people are saying it missed the mark but I think this thing is mana from the heavens. I have a ton of TV show DVD’s that I watch and reference regularly for all things related to my job. Before it was a pain to find specific episodes I wanted to reference…but now it is all at my fingertips and I could not be happier. It is a bit sad that something like this can make me so happy…but I am kind of a big geek so it is the little things that do it for me. I also tested out a bunch of my PC games with the bootcamp Vista/OSX dual boot thing. My old PC was rather slow, so this is actually an improvement from a processor perspective, but the graphics chip is not all that great. It will still run everything fine, just not at maxed out settings or anything. Ahh well…maybe one day I will build a dedicated PC games machine…but that day is far in the future. I also got an iPhone.

Yeah, I’m an apple whore. Though I have to admit that I HATE the software eject thing...and the one button mouse thing. I ended up throwing that 'mighty mouse' away. What a lame name...that was a great cartoon...and I can tell you freaking Mighty Mouse would have used a three button mouse...not that fisher price thing they shipped with the iMac.

Ok, enough talk about Apple. Been playing a bit of Halo 3 and Bioshock lately. I gotta’ say that Bioshock had me right from the stat…right up to the first loading screen. Then I got kind of bummed out and stopped playing for awhile. It is a great game, and I going to go back to finish it, but I was hoping for a more seamless loading scheme.

Skate…I freaking love this game. I have not played a game in a long time that really made me feel rewarded for learning something. I know when I played the ‘Hawk’ I never spent too much time at a specific location trying to nail a line. I just would skate around and rack up crazy points in a “short attention span” sort of way. But with Skate I would stay a location for a while trying to nail a specific trick/combo. I felt like I was back in high school at the Wheaton College campus doing kickflips off the steps. It is freaking awesome. I wish I had more time to play…but alas work must get done.

I also ran across a site for the Stargate Worlds game…a Stargate inspired MMO. Now I am not the biggest of MMO fans. I play some WOW every now and again, but that is really it. I am, however, a huge Stargate fan. Remember…I said I was a freaking I am really hopeful that this project ends up making it to the finish line! Check out the site if you are into MMO’s, Stargate, or Patty Duke.

All right, I need to get back to work now. I do wish I could give more specifics about what I am working on but it is still too early. Oh…

The Japanese localization of God of War 2, released by Capcom, should be out pretty soon. Not sure if that means much to most of you but I am pretty stoked about it. I have always wanted to make a game with Capcom…and now I have…sort of. Many thanks to everyone on the localization team and everyone over at Capcome for making that happen!


I just heard that EA, not unlike the Borg, has swallowed up another two development houses. Seriously…I think if you zoom in really close on that shot of the Borg cube in First Contact you will see an EA logo on it. Good god…they are on the path to owning everything. More power to ‘em though, all I care is that great games are gonna come out of it! Next up to buy?? Ubisoft??

I am also going to be heading out tot he Video Games Live show in L.A. on Oct. 19th. I have only seen the show once up at GDC and it was freaking great. I can't wait to check it out again. I am also going to be doing the develpers meet and greet thing after the show so stop by and say "hello"...or "go to hell"...or whatever it is you want to say to me.

ok...I am out of here now. I have some more stuff to talk about, but I think I will save that for the next post.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Curious in Illinois

Ok, reading that back, that title kind of sounds creepy. Maybe next time you comment use a different handle so my next post won't sound like the dirty version of a Tom Hanks movie. I thought I would post my answeres to the questions the poster fomr my home state of Illinois posed. I have been in writing mode lately, so I figured I would use some of that writing momentum to get back into the blogging habit. Not sure if I will be able to keep up the pace I am setting here, but I will sure as hell try.

Here is my fairly long winded responses to the questions about my gaming habits/likes/dislikes.

What game systems do you own?
Right now I have a few PS2’s, (One I bought, and my old debug for playing GOW2 discs at home when we were in production) a PS3, a 360, a Wii, a Gamecube, (Cause the new Zelda is more fun for me on GC) an Xbox, (To play Morrowind and KOTOR) a PSP, a DS, a GBA micro, an Astro City arcade cabinet, and my home PC. At one point I did own an Ngage…but that was very short lived as it was fairly lame. Many people at work made fun of me for getting the side talking taco….even though the one I got did not require side talking.

Man…I never realized how much I have until I listed it out like that. I really need to get a life outside of games.

What games do you own?
There are waay too many that I own to list them all out. I buy a ton of games; I am a pretty big geek. It is a wonder that I have ever had sex really. I try to play everything in the action adventure genre, no matter what it is. And then I also tend to buy a bunch of the newer big games regardless of the genre. I have a stack of about 15 games that I need to work my way through.

What is your favorite genre? (I made this one up on my own...that's just how I roll)
I like story based games or games with strong sense of character development. Not that I have anything against other more ‘pure gameplay’ games, I just prefer to have a strong reason of who I am and why it is I am doing things in the world. That being said I really don’t have a favorite genre. I like adventure, action adventure, survival horror, and RPG’s. Not too into music games until a little game called Guitar Hero came along. Before that I had only played a little beat mania, amplitude, and this freaking rad dancing game called Bust-a-Groove. (That game was sweet)

What is your all time favorite three games, and why?
I really don’t have one favorite game, so I decided to talk about three…but even then that is too limiting. There are just too many games that I love!!! But I will name just a few here.

First, Future Wars for the Amiga. (Pictured above) This was a traditional point and click adventure game from Delphine Software (Another World, Flashback) about a guy, who I think is basically a janitor, who gets caught up in a time traveling adventure to save the earth from certain destruction by the hands of an alien race. The story sounds cheesy now, but when I first played this game it was just amazing to me. when asked abotu my favorite games I say this one all the time because it was really one of the first games that hooked me and had me staying up for two days straight playing until the end; I was that into the story and the sense of discovery the game gave me. There was no voice acting, just text and music, but the game had me hooked. This was way before the internet so their wasn’t any or strategy guides…so it took forever to figure some of the more obscure puzzles but I loved every minute of it. I still draw some inspiration from the way that certain scenarios made me feel…the sense of wonder these relatively simple graphics evoked in me.

Second on the list is a little adventure game called Grim Fandango. I was debating whether or not to put two adventure games on the list, but freaking Tim Shafer is damn awesome that I would be an idiot to leave off this freaking masterpiece. I wanted to put Day of the Tentacle, or even Full Throttle...but int he end I think this game grabbed me the most of the three. This game was truly in a class all its own. Some of the puzzles were a bit annoying, but all in all, this one was of the most satisfying and unique experiences I have ever had with a game. The writing was brilliant, the art was fantastic, and for the most part the play was great! I can still go back and play this one every so often, just as I do with Day of the tentacle and Full Throttle. One day I hope to be 1/50th as talented as Tim…one day.

The number three slot in this somewhat verbose list is the sweet FPS Half Life. I almost hate calling it an FPS, because when I think of most FPS’s great character development and great story really don’t leap to mind. But Half life really changed my perspective on all of that. I was actually working on an FPS when the Half life demo came out.(Requiem: Avenging Angel) It freaking blew what I was working on out of the water. The demo for Half life was better than our entire game. The level design was unbelievable, the core mechanics were fun and offered the perfect mix of familiar with ‘new’, and the presentation was top notch. Valve started something that everyone in the industry has been imitating ever since.

Cool little side note on that, one of the level designers on that game (Requiem) with me went on to be the Lead Designer over at Tim Shafer’s Double fine studios…he was the lead on Psychonauts…I am very jealous of him. :)

There are so many other games I love that I don’t even think these are my top three. This is the top three I can think of right now…but in an hour the list will change.

What games inspire you?
I think that every game inspires me in one way or another. Some really great games inspire me to get back to work and push harder to make what I am working on better. Really bad games inspire me to get back to work so I don’t end up releasing something that makes people mad they spent 50 or 60 bucks on my game. This is why I buy all my games…so when I get a Spiderman 3; I know what it feels like to feel cheated having spent the money on game that really feels unfun and unfinished. I actually like the second one, but three just did not live up to my expectations of the series.

As for specific games that have inspired me in the past….I would have to say there are so many that I will just name a few.

1. Indigo Prophecy was great…especially that beginning section in the diner. I played through that opening like 5 times trying different things to see what would happen. It’s a slower paced game, but I love the storytelling. I like the way they handled dialogue trees in this game, it felt pretty good. The whole 3D David Cage (The game director) tutorial in the begining was a bit much is kind of wierd to have a game version of yourself teaching people the mechanics of the game. But hey, maybe that is just me. I would not be able to supress the urge to punch myself int he face, or slam my own head in a door, if I had a 3d game representation of me.

2. DMC 1 and 3…you gotta’ love these games. Not that great of story telling, I don’t dig the mission structure, and I am not all that into Dante as a character, but the mechanics of this game are just freaking solid. This game has great animations and interesting enemies and bosses to fight. I don’t really care about the super insane difficulty of the game, that kind of gaming is just not my thing. Some people are all about ‘Dante must die’ mode, which is cool, but it is just not for me. I usually want to enjoy the experience, not get my ass handed to me by it. I love the air combat in this game as well. There is just something cool about how long you can keep Dante and an enemy in the air with the combos. Their effects are always top notch as well; I have noticed that most Japanese games have really cool ‘inventive’ effects. I think that western developers tend to reference a lot of Japanese games for effects. I could be totally worng on that one, just something I have noticed over my years in this business. I also dig the new style system they implemented in the third game.

3. Shadow and Ico…I don’t need to go into why since I already talked about that in the previous post. Needless to say that every time I play wither of those games I feel like I am not working hard enough.

4. Resident Evil 4…this game has it all, great level design, pacing, atmosphere, sweet bosses, and gorgeous art. This game was an all around masterstroke for the Resident Evil series. I was never a huge fan because I hated the survival horror design conventions. I couldn’t stand that the only way to convey fear and tension was to make the character move like a tank, and have characters attacking from off screen. And the puzzles always felt random and out of place. This series drove me nuts….cause I love the horror genre…but the game was just too frustrating to play. When RE4 came out, it freaking blew me away. That is until I wasted all my ammo getting to the Gondolas and I had to go back to an earlier save and play smarter. I still thought the game rocked, but I was pissed that I was so dumb. Anyway, this game kicked me in the pants and made me wish I was working on a horror game. It also made me take a second look at how I approach certain design decisions.

5. Medal of Honor…the first one. I mean, storming the beach at Normandy was freaking unbelieveable the first time you did it. This game raised the bar for immersion I think. I know that I still look at these games a lot to see how they are handling the narrative through real time NPC’s and events. It really is wonderful stuff. The later games in the series got a bit derivative, but I have high hopes for Call of Duty 4 and Airborne…we will have to see how it all pans out.

6. Marvel vs. Capcom 2...I just love this game. even though I am probably the worst of all the people I play it with, it is still fun. the game is fast, and sometimes confusing, but always a blast to play. The cast of characters is diverse and huge and for the most part the combat in this game is amazing. I don't think I will ever get tired of this game, it allows sloppy players like me to have fun in a way that Street fighter just can't do. I like most of the Street Fighter series, but most of the guys here I play with are just so damn good at it that I just dont have fun. And I really don't have the time to dedicate to getting better.

Ok…that is all I have for today. I am going to get back to the other four documents I am trying to finish. No more slacking for me today. Have a good weekend everybody!


Thursday, August 02, 2007

God of the Colossus

So many people have stopped by to check this interview out that I thought I would do another post where I answer some of the same questions, only about Shadow of the Colossus. I don’t imagine a western developer weighing with their take on a Japanese developer's game is as intriguing or exciting as when the situation was reversed. But what the hell…It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, right? Plus I am such a huge fan of their games that I love any chance to talk about them.

I am also going to do a post after this that answers the questions the curious gamer form Illinois posed in the comments. That will be coming soon, until then; here is my interview…with myself. This seems to be a growing trend…me interviewing myself. Which is lame, I know, but it seems no one else is interested in asking me questions.

Q: Have you finished Shadow of the Colossus yet?

Yes. When I first picked the game up, we had an early copy floating around the office, I played through a large portion of it in one sitting, but then things got kind of hectic at work so my play time had to slow down a bit. After a month or so I got the retail copy of the game and started over, playing sporadically over the course of a few weeks. Then I stopped for awhile, went back to it, and got to the final boss which proceeded to kick my ass. I knew exactly what to do, but I kept falling off when I would finally get tot the head. After a few times of that I frustrated and stopped, knowing I would come back again at a later time when I was fresh and finish it off. What I didn’t know is that wouldn’t be for like 8 months. But now, I can say I have finished the game and I loved it.

Q: What was your first impression of Shadow of the Colossus?

Unlike my first experience with Ico, Shadow grabbed me right away. With Ico my first experience did not grab me right away, I needed to step away from that game and come back to it to really appreciate what it was they were doing with the development of the relationship between Ico and Yorda. Once I did I was blown away with how much the ending of that game affected me as a player. It was quite possibly one of the strongest moments I have ever seen in a game.

With Shadow I was more prepared for what to expect, and I was immediately pulled into the experience. I was in awe of the scope and scale of the world. It felt like my little playground. The presentation and art style really sparked something in my imagination and I immediately felt connected to this world. It took me a while to find my first Colossus since I really did not understand the whole gleaming sunlight off the sword mechanic. I kind of wandered around on the horse for a long time marveling at the scope of the world. I found the forest, and got off Argo and walked around a bit. I played with calling the horse mechanic, which was really simple but it was doing something on such a subtle level I almost missed it. During all of this exploration I was establishing my relationship with Argo. As cheesy as it sounds, we were discovering these things together. When I would run him at full speed towards an upcoming cliff he would come to a skidding stop. He was telling me his limits, which served to flesh him out as a real character to me. Perhaps I am overanalyzing this, but I really do think this kind of interactive character development that Ueda and his team do is second to none. Very few games can get you to care about a bunch of polygons without using words.
Finally Argo and I stumbled on an area that looked like I could platform on. So I got off Argo, and left him down below as I ascended up into the unknown. As I was climbing up I was struck with mixed emotions. It was the first time I felt a small hint of concern for leaving Argo behind, as well as being the first time that I really felt that I was onto something. For the first time in a long time, I really felt like I was exploring in a game world, and it was amazing. Making the final jump up I knew something big was about to happen, but I was totally unprepared for what did happen. Seeing that first colossus has been burned into my brain. The music swelled perfectly as this gigantic colossus lumbered out through the fog. I was feeling the same sense of discovery that the character was feeling. That same sense of discovery I had when I played the original Tomb Raider, or when I was wandering around the various areas of Morrowind III. This sense of discovery was immediately followed with a smile when I realized I could run up to this thing and actually climb on it.

The mechanics for the climbing were perfect, simple and somewhat intuitive. I say somewhat because the grip meter took me a bit of time to really adjust to but once I figured it out it was no problem. That is the thing about this game; so much of it is about the players’ discovery of not only the world and its characters, but the mechanics and play as well. There is a patience to the design and pacing that, to me, is hard to do right. If you do it wrong it makes the game feel boring and uneventful, but if you do it right it is really something spectacular. The Shadow/Ico team has a sensibility, a subtly to their approach that may take a little patience to see but is so unbelievably worth it.

Q: Perhaps this sensibility opened your eyes, right?

Yeah it did. I think a lot of people would say that God of War is a bit more of the in your face ‘Hollywood’ movie style presentation, which for the most part is considered a western style of presentation. Although I don’t think that is totally accurate since there are so many great eastern films that have the same intensity and over the top quality. I mean, look at Hard Boiled; I wouldn’t say that is very ‘Hollywood’. It’s a style all its own, one which westerners immediately began incorporating or copying.

What they did with Shadow, the sheer simplicity of their approach really made me take a harder look at how I approach various aspects of making a game. I don’t think I will ever make a game in the same way that they do, because that is really just not my style. But there is so much I learned, and am still learning, from what they do.

With God of War, we want the player to always feel like they are experiencing something new, and that everything you are doing is clearly part of the bigger picture. In that respect, we will tend to try and find clever ways to guide or lead the player without them knowing that is what we are doing. Essentially we are leading the player along by a thread, once which we try hard to be as invisible as possible. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. With Shadow and Ico, there is a sense of cutting that thread and empowering the player to freely explore, while still remaining on a somewhat straight narrative path. It’s not sandbox but, especially with Shadow, it kind of feels like it. I loved that. Even though our games are not that similar, there is something to be learned there.

Q: Has Shadow of the Colossus inspired you in any way?

Very much so. I mean the opening of God of War II was partially inspired by what I saw in Shadow. We knew we were not going to be able to do the full on climb on the Colossus thing, but the sense of scale, the whole David vs. Goliath thing they captured so well in Shadow, was something I wanted to achieve in the opening of the game. But I wanted to do it with our own sensibility, our own style.

Another thing they did so brilliantly is, with very few words, they made me care more about a character than I ever have in a video game. In that regard, I am so completely inspired. I hope that I can evoke the same emotional response that they did with Yorda and Argo in all the games I do in the future. To me that is the holy grail of games right now…getting players to feel something other than fear or anger.

I have to say that as much as I admire those guys, and feel I have so much to learn from them, I don’t think I could make the same type of games they make. Perhaps it is because I have such a ‘western-short-attention-span-need-some-ridolin’ mentality? Probably not though, I love to play their games, but I love to make a very different type of game. You know…the type that punches you in the stomach in the first five minutes, as opposed to one that slowly creeps up on you. Both are very effective, the latter is especially effective when handled in the way Ueda and his team do it.

Ok...I need to get back to work now. Stayed tuned for more.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ico of War!

So no luck for me on the GOW PSP, but it was my own fault. I got too busy with other stuff and did not realize that it was over and done with. But it is still cool though, it fetched a pretty penny for the modder as well as for the Child's Play all is right in the world.

In other news, we got a translation the other day of a Famitsu interview with Fumito Ueda, the Director of Shadow of the Colossus, about his impressions after he finished playing God of War 2. It's great to hear a Japanese game maker's perspective on the series so far, especially when it is from someone whom I respect so much. If you are a fan of God of War, or Ico or Shadow, then you should give it a read. The translation was done by a friend of Eric's, Andrew Alfonso, so a big thank you goes out to him!

Aight'...check it!


Q: Have you finished God of War 2 yet?

A: Yes, of course I have. However, at first when I was playing God of War 1, I thought "This kind of game is rather cool". The player's character is on the screen, and he can move on both the X and Z axis. Also, it's the type of game where you have to be up close and personal with your opponent, and it's quite interesting but there have been so many games that have the same style that I was sick of it. So, I had kind of a negative image about the game to start off. But as I progressed through the game it really opened my eyes and I was like "wow this game is pretty cool!". The guys who developed this game have such enthusiasm that I really felt like they were saying "dude I want you to see all of this awesome stuff!" on purpose. Usually with sequels the tension and excitement goes down but I felt with God of War 2 that was the complete opposite, and the excitement factor was definitely higher than the first game.

Q: What was your first impression of God of War 2?

A: The way the game first grabbed me was pretty awesome. The way the game started off, it made me think about how in Japanese games that would never happen. It wasn't a matter of "how many explosions can we have on the screen in a short amount of time", but it definitely felt like a Hollywood movie. The way that everything was changing and expanding, I had never thought of that, I had never gotten tired of it, it constantly pulls in the user into the game's universe. Everything from the combat, to the programming, to the way of thinking is totally different from a Japanese game. For example, when you see the stage where you're flying (ed. note flying pegasus stage), and you see another stage, the more someone says they're two different games, the more varied the game becomes. The game's contents change, and if too many elements are thrown into a game you can quickly lose the interest of gamers, and it'll end up costing you. When I talk about Wanda and the Colossus (Shadow of the Colossus), the whole game is consistently based around the system of "the climb and the battle", and if you really say that we only made that kind of system, then it really was a success. However, when making God of War 2, because of the ideas, the programming of the stages and the numerous ways of capturing gamers, it became something really different. Each part was specially created, and the parts were all consistent with each other. That's a really extravagant way of creating things. But having so many different elements in a game makes me feel a little uncomfortable, and it's expensive too. If it was me, I guess I would use things multiple times.

Q: Perhaps the amount of volume kind of opens your eyes, right?

A: Even more than before, the modulation, and even though you push, it's still advantageous, I think. However, I think the service is a little excessive. However, talking about the flying stage I mentioned before, it's a little bit hard to put into words but I got this really old feeling when I played it. You can't really fly around like you could in newer games, and you could only attack on the Z Axis... But, even though the game design isn't totally new, the powerful imagery doesn't make me feel like it's an old game. With the CS Attack, the tension and the imagery's power is vast, I think. You could easily say that it copies a game like Made in Wario with its numerous mini-games, but it's a type of game where you can enjoy the varying tempo. Not only that, but the game also has a wonderful sense of direction.

Q: As for the graphics, from the way it looks like it's done by hand, did it surprise you?

A: I think the way that Japanese people handle it is a little different. It's only my impression, but perhaps Japan would say it's a little low poly? It's a minute detail of course, but usually in Japan we use textures to cover up for the low poly, I think. The edges of the polygons aren't all that conspicuous so it has that soft look to it. On the other hand, God of War rather than use textures they use polygons to represent their characters, so it seems very hard to Japanese people. So, like a rock's hardness, that's how God of War looks. So in God of War II, even if you arranged ICO or Shadow of the Colossus' objects in that game, they wouldn't match at all, since the way we made all three games are different.

Q: Do you think there's a relation between the way the game looks and how late it came in the PS2's lifetime?

A: Yes, perhaps. With PS2 games, right now you can get a lot of power out of the system. In God of War 2, there's almost no loading time, and how fast it reads your save games is really fast. That's because you only have to look for procedures on one hardware, which makes things easy.

Q: So everything rests on a higher foundation then, and that's why everything looks so good, right?

A: As for the ideas, even though they are very common, the way everything is represented makes it interesting and fun to play, I believe. And yet, the action, puzzles, graphics, everything was realized on a higher foundation, that was my impression. From the start, everything was put in with care, and nothing was really neglected. Basically, like how a Japanese game carries itself. But with japanese games, the really interesting parts are kind of sparse....

Q: It's not fresh but...

A: That's right, the attacks, system and ideas have been done before, I think. However, when you try to play the game, you have a usual sense of tension, but the graphics and the reactions become better and better. Perhaps, starting now, Western games are advancing quickly, you know.

Q: Has God of War 2 inspired you in any way?

A: Well there are certainly a lot of ideas and such in the game, and they're all really fun things. I haven't had a lot of time to think about it though. If there are things that I can really absorb from the game I think I will absorb it, but God of War 2 is such a high value game (ed. note: I don't know if it means that it's valuable or if it was expensive to make.) that I don't think I can really copy it. Perhaps with this kind of game, we'll leave it to the Western designers to make them, hah.

Q: Why would you do that?

A: Well, I think it'd be kind of difficult to do things like that. The reality is that costs to develop a game is different between Japan and Western studios. One year ago I observed how things were going with God of War 1, and I was really surprised by the number of people on staff. With one team they made a lot of programs that couldn't be used more than once. It's the kind of trouble I hadn't thought of. Also, everything took a lot of time too. Perhaps they were implementing a lot of elements into their game. When you have a lot of stages, the player won't get bored and it's really interesting. However, with Japanese style, when you apply that kind of thinking, I don't think it'd be cheap at all. I don't think our schedule or budget would be enough for that kind of project. However, budgeting and scheduling is difficult, but more than that, focusing on the scope of the game is important. Within our team, and within a workable scope, the best ideas will eventually win out and be something we can work with. Up until now I've held that idea and I've made games with it. However, right now when I play God of War 2, I think that if I don't think things clearly and with a level head, I may create something that's only halfway finished. That's the kind of impression I get.



Well that is all for today...hopefully everyone got a chance to vote for the Gphoria thing...we will have to see how all of that goes. In then end it really doesn't matter all that much, but it never hurts to get some recognition for the teams hard work on the game.


Monday, July 23, 2007

sweet psp loving!

Just a quick update today as I am pretty swamped with things here at work. First I want to give a big shout out to the freaking skills of Buddy Ramon and his God of War PSP mod. This thing is pretty damn cool. He is auctioning it off on ebay, so I think I am going to bid on this one. That way I can play Chains of Olympus on a one of a kind God of War psp! Plus part of the proceeds (Though I wish it was more than 15%, but it is freaking awesome he is doing it!) go to a good charity as well, (Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play Charity) so everybody wins here.

Here is the link to a story (Thanks to one of our Level Artists Chris Sutton for the heads up on this) as well as the link to the ebay auction!

Not too much else to report otherwise. This is a pretty crazy past few weeks for the gaming industry though…Peter Moore going to EA, Dyack and Co. suing epic over the Unreal stuff, God of War 2 getting nominated for awards right next to next-gen games…oye. It’s like the gaming equivalent of Armageddon. (Minus Affleck and Willis) All that is left is Reggie quitting and coming over to Sony…I think that is when I will truly believe the seventh seal has been broken and judgment day is upon us.

Still not much of a chance toplay my newly purchased copy of The Darkness…everyone here has said good things about it so I am anxious to get some time with it.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Help me are my only hope.

Well there has been a whole lotta’ stuff goin on lately. Been so busy I almost forgot about my little blog again.

First I want to encourage everyone to stop by the G4 website and vote for the game awards…we were lucky enough to get 4 nominations!!! That is pretty freaking sweet. I really was not expecting to get any love next to all these slick next-gen games. It also is funny that there are two GOW games up for awards. I am thinking of officially changing my name to coryB beforehand...that or Jade Raymond. Here's the links...even if you don't vote for us, you should stop by and vote.

Main link
Game of the Year
Best Action Game
Best Voiceover
Best soundtrack

The ‘not so E3’ E3 just finished up, which was pretty so-so. I think Sony had a really good show, that Killzone 2 footage was a sweet ending to the press conference. I really want to play that game now. I was not all that excited about the game, mostly because I wasn't seeing or hearing much about it, but after that...I want it now! It’s a bummer all that price cut stuff seemed to be the only thing people wanted to talk about. We showed Chains of Olympus to everyone and gave the press some hands on time with it. People seem to be really digging on it, which was nice. I also got to play Rock Band several times…which was probably the highlight of the ‘not so’ show for me. I can’t see myself playing that game in my living room unless I have a big party going, but in that kind of atmosphere that freaking game rocks!!! It was waaaaay harder than Guitar Hero or Guitar Hero II though. They said they were still tuning it so that is good...I just hope to god they keep that level of 'forgivness' that the other two games had. That way you don't have to be a freaking badass to still feel like you are rocking. The notes in Rock Band seem smaller, and you have to hit them dead on. Needless to say I was taking advantage of the "get your bandmates back in by playing well" feature quite alot cause I was failing out like a mutha'.

I also got to go to some EA gathering for the Sims: Castaway where they had a monkey you could take photos with. I guess it was actually a chimp, but whatever, I got to take a picture with a chimp. That was pretty cool, in fact I think it was even cooler than Rock Band. How sad is my life when getting a picture with a chimp is the highlight of my day? E3 kind of sucked, but the chimp rocked.

I got to hang out with some people I hadn’t seen in some time in my brief one day at the show, but I missed out on hanging with my old high school friend who works for Konami. Sorry Jason, we need to hook up when you come back into town again…or if I ever get time to go up north.

I still wish I was showing the game I am currently directing, ****************, but it is pretty far off from being ready to ‘wow’ people. I had a meeting with some Sony execs last Friday…one of them was a freaking Bitmap Brother…how awesome is that! Xenon and Speedball ruled. I tried very hard not to get all fanboy…you know…playing it cool. It was a trip to be breaking my game down to him and seeing him get excited. That was a good day. It was a good week I guess…Got to play rock band, got a picture with a chimp, and hung out with one of the Bitmap Brothers. It’s weeks like that that make the months of lost sleep worth it. Well kind of.

I also got to go hang out with the fine folks over at Insomniac games and check out the latest stuff they are doing with Ratchet and Clank Future. The game looks and plays pretty great. That type of game, the Racthet and Jak and Sly's, have never been my cup of tea but there is no doubt those guys know how to make a great freaking game. After seeing that stuff I think I am going to pick that one up when it comes out and give it another go...since I am out of games that I want to play on my ps3. It was also cool to be able to have two groups of developers sit down together and chat about the whole game making process. I wish our industry was more condusive to that kind of thing. It used to be, but that was waaay before my time. I thnk games would be better as a whole if we all did that more. Though I think the suits would disagree with me on that.

How about that crazy news about Peter Moore today? I can’t believe his salary and deal points were made into a news story. That kind of sucks for him a little…but whatever I guess it won’t faze him much. Seems like a lot of people are making moves these days, maybe it is something in the air?

I watched that freaking hilarious ‘translation’ video about the lyrics in the GOW theme. That thing has been passed around quite a bit at the office. So whoever did that…great freaking job…the Mulan thing still makes me laugh.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Inside the Actors...err...Developers Studio

So, I did a few posts over at the playstation blog. Well actually I answered some questions for one, and then wrote up a little diddy for the other. There was a little hub-bub about the first post, which was the inspirations for me to write the second. (Though I was always planning a real post) I then saw a posting on Joystiq about the first post, which cracked me up as well as inspired me to write this post. Confused yet? I am.

Anyway, I couldn't sleep tonight, and since I can do pretty much what ever the hell I want over here on this blog, (made clear by my poor grammer) I decided I would write up my own interview with one of the greatest characters on TV. How I imagine it might go if the great JL interviewed me. I am sure none of this is really all that funny, but it's almost 2am and I can't sleep, so right now anything is funny to me.

I did one of these things on my modblog site a looong time ago with Connie Chung. I don't think that one was very funny either.

Be warned, it's a long one and it may not have much to do with games.

(The opening credits roll showing a montage of images moving slowly across the screen. This cross dissolves to a shot of the audience clapping with little enthusiasm. The camera pans over and pushes in to a seated James Lipton.)

Lipton: Welcome all of you wonderful…and devoted…fans of me. We have gathered together today to discuss a topic of which I know very little about, but I am told…by my shows producers…that Mr. Cheech Marin was unable to attend this weeks edition of Inside the Actors Studio…so now we will be sitting down with a…Mr…
(Examines one of the many note cards stacked in front of him)
…Cary Balrog. Oh my…was that you in the Lord of the Rings. I do love those films. Hobbits are such funny people.

The camera pulls back to reveal Cory Barlog sitting in the chair next to James Lipton)

Barlog: Barlog.

Lipton: It’ a funny word too. Hooobbit. Say with me…Hoooobit!
(Lipton lets out a giggle)

Barlog: Yeah it’s a funny word. But it’s Barlog. Cory Barlog.

Lipton: Well I’m sure that doesn’t matter much Mr. Fiery bad guy who killed Gandalf.
(Laughs, mostly for himself)
Well…let’s get right to it, shall we? You’ve…worked on some pretty bad things haven’t you?

Barlog: What? What do you mean?

Lipton: Well I certainly haven’t a clue; it’s just what the note card says.
(Shows the note card to Barlog)

Barlog: Wow, you’re right. Ok. Yeah, I suppose you could say that some of games I have worked on in the past have been less than stellar. I mean, I worked on a game that starred the Insane Clown Posse. Not so sweet.

(Lipton plays to the audience and looks overly shocked and appalled)

Lipton: Yes…not so sweet indeed. I have no idea who this Clown Posse is that you speak of but I am sure that they are, in fact, insane.
(Lipton smiles and looks very proud of himself)
Well let’s talk about your accomplishments, which no doubt must have been substantial, otherwise you wouldn’t sharing the stage with someone of such a monolithic stature…such as myself. You say games, do you?
(Lipton sits back and ponders for a moment)
Let’s talk about one of your shining achievements, the strongest horse in your stable, the game of chess. Tell me, what was going through your mind when you created that one?

Barlog: What? Chess? I didn’t create chess.

Lipton: Really? It was checkers then?

Barlog: Nope, can’t take credit for checkers either.

Lipton: Othello? Mmmm
(Lipton stares longingly off into space)
…I really do love that play.

Barlog: No.

Lipton: Uno then?

Barlog: No.

Lipton: certainly Hungry Hungry Hippos then?

(Lipton throws his index card in the and exhales dramatically)

Lipton: Well for someone who claims to be the ‘game’ man you certainly haven’t made any games I have heard of.

Barlog: Well I make video games. More to the point console video games for Sony.

Lipton: Well…they make good TV’s, don’t they? A little out my price range, though. The old Zenith works just fine for me, thank you very much. Plus I really don’t believe this whole color thing is going to catch on.
(To the audience)
Just a fad with these kids...with thier rock music...and big pants...and...What was I talking about?

Barlog: You’re probably right. And you were talking about what I worked on.

Lipton: Yes, exactly. Don't tell me what I was talking about. I'm James Lipton. I interviewed Tom Cruise for God's sake. So, Just what is it you have done Mr. Smarty Pants?

Barlog: As you said before, I have had my hands in some products of questionable quality, but more recently I have had the good fortune of working with a very talented group of people on a couple of PS2 games. I was the animation lead on God of War...

(Lipton gets really excited now)
Lipton: Oh yes...Gears of War, I have heard of that one. So you're that cliffyb then?

Barlog: No, I'm not cliffyb, he is far more photogenic than I am. Gears is a pretty fun game though. I worked on God of War. Anyway, after doing animation on God of War 1 I got offered to take over the directing job for David Jaffe (the series creator) on God of War 2.

Lipton: What a clever title. Did you come up with that by yourself?

Barlog: No, there were a few of us who worked on that one.

Lipton: I wouldn’t doubt it…
(Litpon take a dramatic pause)
…and what is this God of War about?

Barlog: It’s the story of Spartan warrior who takes on the Gods of Olympus to exact revenge for the torment they have put him through his entire life.

Lipton: I was once offered the part of Spartan warrior. It was long time ago, in an off Broadway production of 301. It was story about the Spartan who got food poisoning the night before the Persian invasion...and missed out on the whole battle. It would have been wonderful.
(Lipton takes a beat)
I…would have been wonderful.
(To the audience)
Wouldn’t I have minions?

(A deafening silence rings throughout the room)

Barlog: I would see that.

Lipton: Yes, I know you. So now you are a director? You were once a lowly animator, an now a great director?

Barlog: Well I wouldn’t say animators are lowly. I loved being an animator; in fact I still kind of miss animating.

Lipton: And yet you are a director now? Odd, isn’t it?

Barlog: No, not really. I am also very far from being a great director. Like 3000 miles to Graceland, far. Like really far. I have a long way to go before I can even be called an ‘average’ director.

Lipton: Kevin Costner.
(Lipton takes a dramatic pause)

Barlog: Yeah, Tin Cup was pretty good too.

Lipton: Indeed. He once sat on this stage with me. He is a great man. I mean anyone whose films average 3 hours has to be a great man, isn’t that right class?
So tell me, what was it like directing this war game?

Barlog: It’s actually a third person action adventure game, but that doesn’t really matter. It was a pretty tough ride for the first year, since I really had no fuicking clue what it is I was doing. But I had a very good and very patient team, so I finally got into the swing of it.

(Liptons’ eyes glaze over as he sits with a somewhat demonic grin on his face)

Lipton: FASCINATING!!! That reminds me of when I scaled the great pyramids of Giza. When I reached the summit, considerably out of breath because I had a big lunch the day before, I had visions of a great society. My mind touched the stars and I imagined a society of people who built fantastic monuments in glory of themselves, much like this great monument I have constructed to honor me. My desk of supreme power…
(Taps his 35 dollar Ikea desk)
…and minions…whom I berate often...and order to do my bidding.
(Lipton motions to the audience)
Thank you, minions. Your dedication to this cause will not go unrewarded, when the end time comes, you will be spared.
(Back to Barlog)
Have you…ever…built a monument to yourself?

Barlog: Uhhh…a monument to myself? I think I once built a diorama of the Taj Mahal out of sugar cubes for history class. I thought I would be really good at it, you know? I mean I was in art classe4s, I liked to draw. But man it was a pretty sad state. I think I got a ‘C’ on it. Of course that may have been due to the fact that I added a few features onto the Taj Mahal that were not included in the original plans. I thought it wouldbe cool if it were even bigger. That, and we didn't have the internet and I completely slacked off and forgot to check out the books I needed. I had to pretty much wing it.

Lipton: Wonderful! Such a poignant and yet altogether pointless answer to such a serious and well thought out question. I can see why the media very rarely takes people in your field seriously.
(To the audience)
If I made cd’s for a living I certainly would think a little harder before answering questions, isn’t right minions?

(A few forced claps)

Barlog: Games.

(Litpon looks confused)
Lipton: What?

Barlog: Games. I make video games for a living. Some of them come on CD’s, but now they mostly come on DVD’s. Some are even coming out on blu-ray now.

(Long beat)

Lipton: I’m sorry I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about this wonderful macaroni I had earlier today. Macaroni and cheese I believe it was called…have ever had it? It’s WONDERFUL!!!

Barlog: Yeah, I dig on the mac and cheese. I haven’t had it in a while, but I can get down with it. Maybe we should talk about the games a bit more? I wouldn't mind talking about God of War:Chains of Olympus, or maybe even the other project I am working on now. We haven’t announced it yet, but I figured I would just tell you what it is…it’s…

Lipton: (Laughs) I am certain I would not be interested in that. In fact it appears those 4 double bourbons I had before the show seem to be catching up with me, so it seems our time is up.

Barlog: What that’s it? You not even going to ask me my favorite swear word or anything?

Lipton: No. Those questions are reserved for the ‘real’ famous people…like Mr. Cheech Marin…an actor extraordinary range and accomplishment. A performer with more talent in the left half of his moustache than I am sure you have…in your entire body.

Barlog: yeah, he is pretty good.

Lipton: So good night Mr. CD maker…
(Lipton plays to the camera)
…and until next time…remember that if you don’t see the brilliance that is me…then you are obviously totally blind. Be good to yourselves.

(The camera pulls back as the end credits play)

And there you have it.

God, I need to get a life. It really is amazing that I am employed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The King of Kong

I think I am the worlds worst blogger. I have let my updates fall pretty far behind, but honestly I don’t have much I can actually update about. I would love to go on and on about the day to day things I am doing on my new game, but unfortunately I can’t talk too much about it.

I can say that I just distributed the story and gameplay outline to the team, which is a huge milestone since this thing has taken a lot out of me. I am pretty damn excited about it though, I think it is going to rock the freaking house. I am very biased of course, so take that with a grain of salt.

I got to check out some new mechanics this week as well. Things are moving along pretty quickly so I am always having that feeling of running to keep pace. It is definitely the most hectic pre-production process I have been in. Though I guess the producers would say we are in “actual” production now, but I still feel like I need some more pre-production.

Oh, if you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, check it out. It is a documentary about the two best classic game players in the world battling it out for the Donkey Kong championship title. It looks freaking awesome…if for nothing else than the wicked mullet the current champ has. Nice.

We are gearing up for the big E3…well not big E3…more like the little E3 next month. God of War: Chains of Olympus is going to show there. It should be pretty cool as the game is coming along great. The ready at Dawn guys were in the office today hanging out with Eric Williams. (Lead combat designer on the GOW 1 and 2) I really can’t wait for this game to get finished. I think in part so I can just focus on one game, but also so I can have GOW in my pocket anytime I want to rip some limbs. That is one great advantage to overseeing a project that an outside developer is doing, I removed just enough that I will want to play the game right when it is done.

Speaking of playing, I have been playing some of Tomb Raider anniversary lately, and having a great time. It took me awhile to figure out the settings with the new ps3 firmware, but once I did it looked great. The game still suffers from fairly simple combat, but the puzzles and the new time slow sure shot mechanic are pretty cool. If I have the time I want to finish that one.

Earth Defense Force…freaking blast of a game. It gets old after awhile, but for the price it was a great time. I give some big ups to the developers of that game for really embracing that 50’s b-movie style. I actually had more fun playing that game than Destroy all humans…go figure.

I think I am going to do a post or two over at the playstation blog, so keep an eye out for that. the guys from Brazil that made the cool GOW video...I have a question so let me know how to get a hold of you.


Monday, June 04, 2007

this one is in Drop 'D'

Today is a sad day. Well I guess it would be more accurate to say that this week is a sad week. On Wednesday I will be attending a good bye lunch for one of my extremely valued co-workers, and I would like to think good friend…Mister Derek Daniels. That is not him pictured to the left…that is the result of putting the name Derek Daniels into the Google images search engine. That Derek Daniels is actually the acting Director of the Quaker Peace Movement…it looks nothing like him so I thought it would be appropriate. He actually did a blog post that breaks down his sordid history and how we ended up working together…I won’t rehash that I will just link you to it. I have worked with Derek for a long time…and while our early efforts in the game production world were pretty damn sucky…the later ones more than make up for it. Plus he is just a blast to work with. I hate to see this great team changing...because I hate change. I am a luddite like that. Well maybe not a luddite, since that really deals with fear of technological prgress and change, but I am defintely adverse to losing the good people. There isn't a word for I will just call that a luddite as well. Because I can.

So now I am just going lament a little about how sad it is to see him, and several others move on from Sony to bigger and better things…like Spongebob Squarepants. Just kidding…I don’t think anyone is going on to work on Spongebob. But alas they are indeed leaving, and that fills my heart with sadness. I know that each of them are going on to work on something great, and I am happy for that. I just wish they weren’t breaking up the band. So to all of the extremely talented peeps who helped make God of War 1 and God of War 2 the best that it could be…you will be missed.

On a much more upbeat note, things are progressing forward quite nicely with the new project. We have finished the story and gameplay outline as well as the rough level design overview. That is a huge freaking relief to have that all worked out…though now is the time everyone will tell me we don’t have the time or the manpower to finish it. But that is how it usually is in the beginning…a long negotiation of figuring out what the game is an how it could possibly get done.

I also got to see some cool mechanics that have been in the prototype pipe for the last few weeks. Always good to see things that you can actually play with this early on.

The PSP game is moving along nicely as well. I am going to be playing through the latest build tomorrow to check out all the new stuff.

As for that CVG rumor…I would have to say that there isn’t much truth to any of that…that is really the first I have heard of that. If we do get started on a GOW for PS3 you can be sure I will be screaming about it from the mountain tops the first chance I am allowed. Until then…I am plugging away on my RPG opus ‘A Family Ties game’. It is going to be so freaking awesome…awesome to a level that will actually transcend awesome and become something entirely different… freakin LA LAWsome!

ok...I am tired from a wicked bout of insomnia last night so I am going to end this now.

NEW ADDITION! Check this freaking sweet link out. Appearently they are working on GOW 3 in Brasil!! Too funny...I am credited as a producer again!!!


Friday, May 18, 2007

Now with Retsin!

The first week of work after my vacation is now almost in the can. It was definitely a shock to the system to come back after such a relaxing bit of time off, but it was also good to get back into the swing of things. My vacation was really an illuminating experience on so many levels for me though. I came to understand a lot about my career and work in the last two weeks. The time really opened my eyes as to where I am and what I need to do to keep doing the things I love. Prior to taking off I was feeling pretty frustrated and creatively stifled, which is really not a good place to be when you are trying to lay the ground work for a project. But now, thanks to some really great conversations with various people over the break, I feel freaking great! It is amazing to me how much clarity you can get from stepping away from things for a few weeks. I think I need to do that more often…not all the time…but definitely more often than I have done in the past.

I went down to San Diego on Tuesday night to do the Sony gamers day event and chat a bit about God of War: Chains of Olympus. Seems like everyone is pretty excited about the game, which is good since I am busting at the freaking seams about this game. I really think it is coming along beautifully. As is par for the course for me, I ended up hanging out Tuesday night and kicking a few back with some friends I don’t get to see too often, leaving me wrecked for the next day. But since I normally look like I haven’t slept in days, it was hardly noticeable.

I also go to check out this Game Deconstruction Group last night. This is where a group of USC game development student’s breakdown different games and everyone chats about various aspects of the game. There were a bunch of people from the development community there as well so it was nice to get to meet and chat with everyone; it’s always good to hear about what everyone is working on. (Plus I got a free copy of F.E.A.R. for ps3..sweet! Thanks again for that!) I wanted to go to the last one they did about Gears of War, but I was working. They were doing God of War 2 last night so it was good to get for that one. These guys that broke the game down were pretty freaking sharp too! Three of them had come in for focus tests of God of War. It was pretty cool to see someone really break down the game in detail and hear what others had to say about it. I think they are going to do a deconstruction of flOw next time since the GOW2 thing went longer than they expected. Hopefully I will have the time to go back to check that one out.

I have a story meeting to get to, so I am going to cut this short.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hanging Chad!

So much drama lately, huh? I have been doing a bit of relaxing and enjoying the beginning of my vacation away from work. I decided to check on the latest happenings in the games world and came across now infamous Sony Europe 'goat' stuff and the crazy coverage of Jaffe speaking out about the CAC reviews. It made me really think about the way things work now, and frankly it disappointed me a bit. I personally don’t’ think that developers commenting on reviews are whining, that is just such a stupid argument. Maybe it is hard for people who have never created something, and put it out there for the world to shit on, to actually understand. I don’t really know. I do know it is no easy thing to creatively put yourself out there, and when the public opinion turns against you to stay quite and just take it. Sure, sometimes that is the wisest course of action, but I have always respected those who still speak out, even in the face of harsh criticism. The industry needs more people like that, regardless of how it gets spun. Though the Uwe Boll thing about boxing his critics is probably taking it a bit too far.

Reviews are such a maddening thing for the people who actually create things. I mean, you work your ass for years on something and it lives or dies by the reviews. Though, this is not always the case as many games and movies have received terrible reviews, yet been a commercial success. But as a creator, the reviews still affect you. How could they not? I have worked in this business for almost 8 years, and for a large portion of that time all the games I released were welcomed with scathing reviews. Granted these games sucked, I know this, but that still eats away at you a little. It is like people calling your child ugly. I can’t imagine that most people would respond too kindly to that, eve if their kid is not winning any beauty pageants.

Why can’t developers comment or even disagree with review scores? This makes no sense to me at all, it never has. If you put a game out that gets some harsh reviews, and you have the audacity to comment or disagree with them, you get the “whiney” card pulled. What?? How is it whining to disagree with another person’s opinion of your game? When you think about it is a brilliant trump card for the press, and this kind of “sour grapes” defense is used all over the place. It makes them come off as the rightous intelligent observer while you come off as an embittered Al Gore demanding a recount. They get a forum to completely decimate, sometimes professionally and constructively - sometimes not, something that you have spent a considerable amount of time and energy on. If you do as Jaffe did and share your thoughts on their “thoughts”, you get treated as if you are whining like a child. How stupid is that? It is not too dissimilar to that whole Wii debacle I had a few moths ago I guess. I know that being in a visible ‘public’ position means that you are held accountable for the things you say…and I am totally fine with that...but to me it really seems like a one way street here. With developers being held accountable and some members of the press (not all mind you) running off and making up whatever the hell they want. Not so sweet.

Whatever…in the end a review is an opinion. So when people comment on it, developer or non-developer, they are providing an opinion of an opinion. It is not whining…hell it’s not even news…at least to everyone else except some of the vultures circling above who realize they can spin it as whining.

Im gonna go play a little EDF 2017 now...


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This station is now the ultimate power in the universe!

Well my schedule has picked up considerably since I last posted, leaving me little time to update as frequently as I would like. I actually have a little time here and there, but when I have it the last thing I want to do is sit at the computer. Plus I can’t really talk too much about most of the things I am working on now, so it is not much fun. But it is good to see that God of War: Chains of Olympus is finally fully out of the bag! Well maybe not fully out of the bag...but it is out there now. I can't really give you any more info than is already out though, but more info will be coming soon I promise. That game is shaping up nicely though...hopefully all of you were able to sign up for the free demo offer so you will get a chance to play the game when the demo is done.

This week has actually been one of the more hectic weeks as I am preparing for a nice little vacation. I hadn’t planned on it, but I am so very thankful it is happening. Since I spent a large portion of my break prepping for the current game I am working on I am not going to do any work, or even think about anything work related on this one for a full two weeks. (maybe I will take some time to play through some of the games that Totilo reccomended as well as my newly acquired copy of Planescape:Torment. Sweet) My god my brain really needs this. Lately I have been feeling like everything is moving in fast forward…like one of those old keystone cops movies. It will be good to slow the ride down for a bit and catch my breath so I can come back and make the push I know is coming.

Today Mark Ryden put up one of his prints for sale, an event I have been looking forward to for some time. He usually only puts out one print a year with a very limited number (500) so they are very hard to get. I got lucky last year and picked one up, a cool print called Rosie’s Tea Party.(pictured above) This year he was releasing one to promote his Tree show he has going around galleries. I was up at like 6:30 this morning refreshing his webpage like crazy hoping to catch the buy button the first moment it came up. I even had my mom (down in San Diego) working on this one. The button came up around 8:45 this morning, but the traffic quickly crashed the servers several times. Neither of us made it past the “add to cart” page. After about an hour or so the site went down completely and I had to get to work. So my mom took the reigns and kept an eye on the site. IT came up a few times over the next few hours but always quickly crashed. It seemed all hope was lost and that it was not meant to be. I was getting ready fro lunch when I decided to open the page up to see what it said, and in place of the buy button was a message apologizing for the bum servers and saying to send an email to the store with your info and they will take them on a first come first serve basis. I guess they still had a few hundred of the 500 left, so both of us sent an email in hopes of getting one of the last few. About two minutes after we sent them in the page refreshed with a “Thank you, this edition is sold out.”

Damn, no such luck I guess. They said they would call people today to let them know if they got it. By 6pm I had no call, so I was pretty much resolved that I got no love. But then an email shows up in my inbox like mana from heaven saying I got a print. Sweet…that was a nice way to cap off the day. Plus, my mom was able to get one as well…so we are both happy.

After that sweet victory it would have been nice to just call it a day and go home, but I still had a bunch of script notes to take care of so it was back to the grind for me. But I still got out of work at around 8:15 tonight, so I can’t really complain too much.

God of War II sold like 833 thousand units in the first month…good god that is crazy. That is like more than three of my previous games lifetime sales combined. Thank you all so much for supporting this game!!! I hope we can keep it up…then maybe we will get to make another one!

Let’s see…what else is new…I am going to go speak at CSU in early may. That should be fun. I got to go talk with a few classes at USC over the last few months and that was a blast. I always have a good time doing that kind of stuff. It gives me a chance chat with people without the fear of something I said ending up as a negative punch line on Kotaku.

Ok…I am going to watch a movie now.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It is 5:01...and you are listening to Los Angeles...

It has been a while folks, but I honestly haven’t been that compelled to write on the blog as of late. I think mostly because things have cranked up pretty heavily at work. It’s weird, in the beginning of a project you are supposed to (or at least I think you are supposed to) have the creative ramp up. The point where you have died down to zero from the last gig, and then you slowly throttle up to full speed and find your pace. But right now I feel like I have gone from a dead stop to full speed, like I am trying to hold on to the tail section of a rocket as it blasts off to freakin’ space. The strange thing is I have a lot more confidence in what I am doing now…I mean I know what it is I want to do. But trying to get it 'done' seems to be getting in the way.

Imagine this…it is like trying to write a term paper while running a mile in the rain with your coach pacing alongside you screaming for you to “move faster!” Perhaps I am over dramatizing it a bit…in fact I know I am over dramatizing it a bit. But you get the point.

I think I am just experiencing a little creative block or something. But at the end of the day this is a job, so being creative ‘on call’ is part of that job. Sometimes that is so much easier said than done. Only 24 hours ago I felt pretty damn good about everything we are doing…but what goes up must come down. I guess I am still good with where things are at right now, but there is still a ton of work. And some major points of where the story is going right now are starting to lose their luster. Perhaps I am allowing the excess noise to get in the way you know? Yeah maybe that is it…I just need to step back from things and take a look from a different perspective and I will see it.

Man that sounds convincing to me. Maybe it will work?

Nice, I haven’t written in a while and all I am doing now is bitching like I just skinned my knee playing kickball. That is lame. I mean the game is doing really well out there. People seem to be enjoying it. Well except that cat from the action-button site…he was not loving life when playing GOW2. Though it seemed the content of the review spoke fairly well of the game…at least what I could understand of it. That thing was more of an incoherent ramble than my post-alpha, late night, sleep deprived posts. Though I am sure it got their site a bunch of traffic. Smart move when you think about it. That is why Kotaku probably picked up on it…I loved the write up about the review that says people should read it “if only to see just why God of War II is so shit.”

Sweet. Perhaps not every gamers cup of tea, probably not the greatest game ever made, but ‘so shit.’ Maybe I am just biased but I really don’t see it as shit. But this is coming from a site that is the gaming equivalent of the freaking “Bennifer report!”…so whatever. Well maybe that is not entirely true since I do read the site form time to time and it has some good stuff. But I just wanted to find a way to throw the Bennifer thing in.

I suppose I should feel much differently than I feel now. I should be stoked. Aside from the usual smattering of haters, which you will get no matter what you do, most people are into the experience. I think we finished a great game, a game we are all so freaking proud of, and I am now full speed into another project. Things seem to be going pretty good right now. I should feel pretty damn sweet.

But I don’t. Instead I feel this insane case of writers block, or creative block…whatever. Like there are so many great ideas dangling from a string right in front of me, only someone just hit me in the head with a hammer, and I can’t make out which of the twelve things I see is the real idea. It’s there…I just gotta’ make sure I don’t get hit with a hammer again.

In other non-self indulgent news, Tim Moss, our director of technology has started a blog. After a few years of using my blogging as a weak punch line for his own amusement, he has finally succumbed to the world of the blog. (I think he even said that he was disappointed in the Wii…get HIM!!!) I imagine it is because he has a lot more free time on his hands right now…though that will all change when his kid arrives.

I honestly do not know how anyone does it here. How they can do this job and have a family. I am so completely consumed with the work that I can’t imagine how I would balance this job with trying to see a wife and kids. I can’t even have a freaking pet! I had fish…but even they required more time than I was willing to give. How freaking sad is that?

“Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffin’ glue.”

I am sure this is just me though, since there are so many people here that have families as well as pets. They make it work…and god bless em’ for it cause’ it is so not happenin’ for me.

Ok, I have rambled on for long enough, I am going to go to sleep. Tomorrow I will wake up and all will be right in the world.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Thats a wrap!

I have been pretty busy lately getting the next game we are working on up and running so sorry for the lack of communication everyone. We still have a lot of work to do but I think I am finally getting my head around this thing. Not that I fully understand it yet, because I am far from that, but I have made some good progress.

We had the God of War II wrap party on Friday, which was a freaking blast. The team was on the tail end of their breaks and it was good to see everyone from the team enjoying themselves even if it was under somewhat inebriated circumstances near the end of the evening. We got the first week sales numbers which were pretty freaking amazing. It is very strange to work on a game that outsells most of my other games in the first week. I still look back on the game and nit-pick several things about it but overall I am very happy with what we ended up with. It is a little sad to reach the end of God of War 2, but also very liverating to know that we are comeltely done with it and people are digging it. Though to be honest I did stop looking at reviews recently since I am so swamped with work and reading them just puts me into a nit-pick mood again.

Also sorry about that whole website confusion…we had some silly routing issues that were never checked out and a bunch of stuff got screwed up. My bad on that one folks. I am proud to see someone who follows this site found the secret first…though I am bummed that it was all messed up when you found it (edit.) GodModeGod. ( bad!) Stay tuned for the reveal of what it is all about.

Thank you again for all the kind words and feedback about the game. I have finally caught up on everything and rather than respond in a bunch of comments I thought I would just write a post. The European version will have two different SKU’s, unfortunately the US version is the only single two-disc version. If you want both discs you will need to get the two disc edition in Europe. I have put some calls in about the PAL demo and when I get it I will be sending it out to everyone who is on the PAL list.

Let’s see what else is new…sadly not too much. Prepping for the next game is taking up almost all of my free time. I did get to pick up S.T.A.L.K.E.R this weekend but it took me forever to get it up and running. You know, as much as I dig playing PC games I think I am going to cut down on the number of PC games I play. It seems that I usually spend a day or so just trying to get the damn things running. Then I find out that my machine is unser spec for the game to run smoothly with at least some of the cool looking options on so I end up thinking about an upgrade. No good. I think I will be sticking to console games for awhile since it is just easier. I will say that the drama I had with S.TA.L.K.E.R was mostly due to my own machine though. The CPU kept overheating when I was trying to install it. I needed to open up the box and clean it out…then it worked like a charm. That is until I loaded up a game and realized that I have to turn almost all the options either off or really low just to get a decent frame rate. Boo for that. But I spent some time tinkering and found a somewhat happy medium…total time from opening the box to actually playing…6 hours. Not too much fun. I start lacing up the boxing gloves when it gets that 'unfun' :)

This is not to say “GOW developer gets a PC game, gets disappointed” or anything. Because that is so comepltely not true. I just don’t have the time like I used to spend fiddling with things just to get a game to run.

I have been playing a little bit of Dawn of Sorrow on my DS as well…I really like that game. Sometimes Castlevania games are hard for me to get in to right away, which cause me to stop playing. But I always end up picking them up again and finding that groove. I found that groove on the plane back from GDC. I got to a point in the game that had me thinking about what free time I can steal to sit down and play some more. That is definitely the sign of a good game to me.

I am still not playing much of my Wii though. I went back to Trauma Center and tried making sure the lighting in the room was did feel better, but I still suck at it. The DS version was more about the fun...this one feels like it is just harder. I got a lot further into the game but there was a point that I just stopped. I might go back to it, but that game was kicking my ass. I haven't had as much time over my 'mini-vacation' to play the new Zelda, which bums me out. I want to see all the cool things people keep talking about. Maybe I will do that tonight?

We got our copies of the soundtrack CD today so that was cool. I have been listening to the master recording they sent me when we were in production so it will be nice to finally have a real CD.

I just realized that this is my first official post about the next game I am working on…crazy. It is definitely good to have that first one out of the way, but going on to a new piece of hardware kind of makes me feel like I am hitting the reset button all over again. Which may be a good thing since I think it makes me work twice as hard, which in turn makes the game that much better!

So there you go. Hope all is well with everyone and you are enjoying the game!