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.

Also..to 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 that...so 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!!!