December 21, 2006

Saint Peter let me into heaven...

super turbo

The picture says it all, but does not perpare you for two imacculate Astro City cabinets with perfect monitors, perfect american sticks, and perfect japanese buttons running head to head ST... yes Heaven is in LA! Thank you so much to Derek for driving and to Peter for setting this up and having us over. Two hours plus, 106 matches later I was still feeling like it was not quite real. I mean SPD was coming out and 720 even showed up to the party! Derek was raging with Ryu like always while Peter was showing us every trick in the book with New Ken... it got a little dirty when Peter summoned Old Sagat but hey he is fun to play too! Heaven ended a little after midnight much like a Cinderella Story.

It's hard to believe the game is 12 years old but I still play it every chance I get. While I do not get to play that often, it's crazy when you do get to play because people seem to pop out of nowhere to play. When that happens you know the game is special! I guess that is why I wanted to get into video games as a career, I wanted to be a part of something like that... I thought going to Sony would make that happen and it did with God of War. Now with God of War 2 it feels like it might happen again which is a real blessing but I will shut up before I jinx it. Hitting BETA feels good but the hard part is coming, polishing and tuning this monster before it ships early next year, fun fun times ahead. Anyhow check Cory's Blog because I am sure he will have more to say about Beta and God of War 2 in general.

October 25, 2006


Hey everyone, the blog is still alive I assure you of that! However my ability to conjure up anything worth posting has been minimized by the heavy demands of the God of War 2 work schedule a.k.a "The Red Schedule". I really tried to create a real update with something meaningful about game design, then I tried to write something about how I design, and finally this is what you get because my brain is mush. The blog will also not be updated much until the game is finished because well I like to focus. Cory and Derek are much better at updating with interesting stuff anyhow so see them for the dish on the game. I promise to get back to this thing in full force when "Boredom, the cure for creativity" shows up in March or shortly thereafter.

In other news I am not the biggest purchaser of Video games but the whole process of going to EB sucks balls. Everything has to be pre-order or hidden in the sea of used games without real boxes! If anyone knows of a good mom n' pop style game store in the Santa Monica or surrounding area other than Hyper Game please let me know. I used to work at a small store back in Ohio and miss those days of the people actually caring and wanting to sell games without warranty quotas or pre-order sales.

Case in point I want this, but cannot even pre-order it at the store. I need to pre-order it online, oh well times are changing.

portrait of ruin

August 8, 2006

Childhood Games - Part 1: DS Activity Book

Maybe I am just a nerd and liked elementary school way too much but I was addicted to Activity Book style assignments. They always felt like a puzzle or a game instead of actual homework. Normally I would not just post a game idea for everyone to read since one day I might get to make that game but since an Activity Book game would work best on the Nintendo DS and Sony had nothing like the DS I will make an exception. Hopefully someone will read this and go out there and make this game, which I would then buy and enjoy for hours on end.

The game would contain crossword puzzles, word jumbles, word searches, mazes, connect the dots, and even a coloring book with a grading system for staying within the lines. I mean really that’s it… nothing more to do just hundreds of these things to do for five minutes at a time. The point of this game is there is no point to this game other than to waste time and complete a task to feel good about completing the task but then again most parents will already argue that all video games embody this at the root level so what’s one more added to the mix. I think crunch time makes me want these kinds of games the most and that is why I fall back on fighting games since I can just turn my brain off and play from a previously built base of knowledge which requires little thought to recall for an intermediate level play. Also the game would be full of awesome little characters gauging your progress with witty wisdom regarding your skill level, wonderful completion sound tones like obtaining an item in Zelda, and topping it all off with a quick and intuitive menu system themed much like of a trapper keeper just for old time sake!

Back to the DS… so the question I have been going over in my head since I purchased a DS Lite is how long until kids are actually using this type of technology to learn in a classroom setting? Better yet could this be the place my design skills call edutainment home when the game industry casts me aside for some young kid willing to work twice the hours for half the pay? In all honesty it actually sounds kind of cool, making neat cute games that fit into tight little boxes that actually help a child to learn, I mean if we can corrupt the minds of the youth as the government says we do could we possibly help them to learn as well? Ok so enough with the questions and poor sentence structure and on to list of possible games found in my imaginary DS Activity Book. I admit this is a terrible way to express what would be found in this game but I am tired and don’t feel like doing all the work for someone else but if you would like me to complete the work feel free to email me and we can work something out under the table like back in 1989 when I was sticking it to the man by not paying taxes on my 700 dollar lawn mowing season.

- add / subtract / multiply / divide
- percentage / fraction / decimal
- square / square root
- prime numbers

- crossword
- word jumble
- word search
- word rhyme

- coloring book
- connect the dots
- map quiz
- i spy

- animal sound
- instrument sound
- simon
- name that tune

- crazy eights
- go fish
- old maid
- slap jacks

p.s. Veronica Mars Season 2 August 22nd!

July 30, 2006

E3, the party is over...?

After working all week towards a playtest I decided to catch up on my news and the bomb shell that E3 will not happen next year was waiting to explode on me. Tired and sad I am heading back to work to tell Kratos the news... right after I make a pit stop for an apple bear claw!

July 9, 2006

Industry Events Calendar?

If you are like me and do not get out much for whatever reasons, you probably get a little pissed when you miss something that might be interesting enough to make you go out. So here is my little attempt to remind all of us of upcoming industry related events. I wish there were a comprehensive website out there which had a real calendar with cool links and ultra neat html but no such site exists. So I tracked down as many as I could like the DNA of world icons needed to create Serpentor! I will try to do this once a month until someone with much more free time takes the lead and creates the Serpentor Calendar for Video Game Industry and Related Subject Matter… if you know of anything else going on please feel free to let me know and I will add it to the list!

California Extreme Arcade Pinball and Video Game Collector’s Show

Evolution: US World Fighting Game Championships

San Diego International Comic-Con

Atari Age: Classic Gaming Events

Women’s Gaming Conference

The Game Initiative

Video Games Live



p.s. Veronica Mars…

July 1, 2006

Jon Stewart totally reads my blog...

Well let me think he does since I saw coverage of video games on his show the other night. Now get some guests on there to talk about the topic from our industry!

Anyhow here are the clips for your viewing pleasure, writing about them seems pointless since they speak for themselves.

Exhibit A: New Era – Journalism

Exhibit B: Old Era – Editorial

Based on the clip below I went out and bought the book and while I do not agree with the whole of it so far there are some pretty interesting ideas. I plan on finishing it this holiday weekend and a review will follow later next week. Have fun grillin and chillin on the 4th of July or blow some shit up instead.

Everything Bad Is Good For You

p.s. this lame update is even lamer now that I see jane and cory have posted about the same topics awhile ago, oh well... great minds think alike?

June 25, 2006

Akward phone calls...

Oh, hello… what’s that you say, would I like to leave my current job? Funny you should ask this since I am at my job now! If you have not guessed yet this is a recruiter doing their job by asking me if I would like to leave my current job mid project to be placed into a position they feel I would be perfectly suited. I am in fact so perfectly suited for this position that it is of little consequence where or what the position will be. Let’s go jump off a bridge while we’re at it Karen (fictitious name of a false name of the real person calling me)! I wish I could push the sarcasm aside but when I am sitting at my desk and Karen calls me and I tell her thanks but no thanks and no more than 30 seconds later Derek’s phone rings with Karen on the other end, well how can one not poke fun.

Ok, to be fair lets establish what a recruiter is trying to do before I give my 2 cents. A recruiter is someone that might be able to assist me in creating a better future for myself in the video game industry by finding positions, which match my skills for usually more money than I am currently being paid. They are also trying to bring talent to teams trying to realize an AAA product, so the publisher is well served by recruiters in this example. So in a perfect world it looks like I am getting more money for my work, the publisher is making an AAA product, and the public is playing a great game then how can I wag my finger Steven Colbert style at recruiters?

First off as I was sort of mentioning before the phone call starts with a lie. The name given by the recruiter on the phone is rarely the real name of the person. What a great way to build trust when discussing the future of my professional career. Most already know this as well but that nice new awesome salary deal they just got you means they are getting 20% of that salary as a commission, good looking out for umm me I guess. The thing that really pisses me off is the devil on the shoulder aspect of a recruiter calling someone, temping them with more money and exciting projects while they are committed to a current project. Now all of a sudden ethics has become the issue and the recruiter does not care about ethics so the person has to go through that internal struggle of what is best for their career and family while battling the guilt of screwing over current team members. Depending on what kind of person you are this may not be a factor one way or the other but for some this can become a very stressful situation. I know when people leave in the middle of a project I get bummed because I know it is going to be all the more difficult to finish the game with the same level of polish without them. The best-case scenario is you lose a “bad apple” while the worst-case scenario is you lose a “friend” or “super star”.

The issue of money is a gray area when it comes to recruiters. Even though they get 20% they are still getting the client more as well which is a good thing. The Game Developer Salary survey and recruiters are about the only thing beyond inflation that will help employees gain a better wage. Here again I must admit some good can come from talks with recruiters. Management must hate the idea of recruiters when it comes to this because it gives the employee a bit of ammo during that next review.

The subject of unhappy employees is the one issue where recruiters make perfect sense. Under this circumstance I believe recruiters are doing nothing but good by trying to help someone leave a situation, which is making a negative impact on their life. The recruiter is the coast guard towing the lifeboat to shore after a terrible storm where rebuilding can begin.

In the end I don’t hate these people after all they are just trying to do a job but I do fear what they can do to a team that seems to gel and work well together. The constant temping of working on the next great superhero game, getting a 15% pay increase, or moving to a new location where housing is more affordable can make anyone think twice. I guess that is where being in love with what you are working on and working for a good company help to keep you on the straight and narrow, even though the calls roll in weekly.

Please let me know what you think about this because my mind flip-flops on this subject all the time.

p.s. Sorry it took me so long to update but the game is in full swing so the updates are going to be sparse.

p.s.s. The 1Up Show has this awesome Beach Boys inspired summer theme song so check it out!

May 22, 2006

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21,

I have been sick on and off since E3 to the point where I had to take Friday off from work to shake whatever it was that had me tossing my cookies once again. So I plopped down on the couch for a few days of what I hoped to be healing and relaxing fits of boredom. Thursday night was filled with awesome History Channel documentaries entitled anything about anything DaVinci Code, which I am naturally an expert on after watching the 6-hour block of programming. I was feeling a bit better Friday night so the lady made arrangements for us to see this The DaVinci Code film… halfway through I started shivering and my eye was twitching from a terrible migraine. Long story short, the movie was entertaining and I yakked once after exiting the theater and once again when I got home.

Wow, are you still reading? Ok here is the real reason for this post. Why in the hell are video games on a media blackout when it comes to talk shows fueled by entertainment industries? I was flipping through the channels catching talk show here and there and it dawned on me that I have never once seen a single person from the world of video games on one of these shows. One might ask who the hell cares, just a bunch of old people watch the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman. Ok smart guy so what about Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, and Carson Daily they have younger audiences. What it really comes down to is that appearing on these shows signifies some sort of relevance in pop culture whether it is an actor/actress, singer/musician, or the fruitcake lady, they all are doing something people want to know about right now thus they appear on these shows to advertise why they are important. Are we not doing something that people want to know about, oh wait they only want to know about us during the commercial breaks in 30 second bursts.

The finger can be pointed in many directions as to why the game industry has no presence within these media outlets. For starters publishers make games not creative human beings with vocal cords. I could go on being sarcastic about this but it really pisses me off to know not a single marketing person from a large publisher can land Will Wright, David Jaffe, Sam Houser, or anyone else pushing the medium onto one of these couches. Here is the reason it really pisses me off, Steven Spielberg! I love this guy’s movies for the most part but now he is linked with games through some EA deal and he is going to be the one on the late night talk show couches singing the praises of this amazing new storytelling medium called video games. Even when this happens I will be cheering because well it happened but inside I will be a little sad it was not one of our own.

I feel better now so it’s back to work on Monday…

p.s. 1Up Show keep making me proud!

May 15, 2006

E3: The vomit inducing headache machine of doom...

E3 made me sick on thursday but before all that I was having a great time and even went back for more on Friday, that's how good the show was this year. God of War 2 showed quite well from what I could gather so all the late nights and time away from the world as a whole were worth it for 3 days under the gaming world's microscope.

Michael Cheng pulled some strings for us so we did not have to wait in that abyss that was the Wii line. Once we skipped that thing we landed inside to find chaos and more lines with no system in place to move people in and out of the area, I did manage to play a few games just to get a feel for the controller. I want to believe but for now will hope they allow for personal calibration for all titles because it was either too senesitive or completely unresponsive, for now I am fence sitting. Nintendo had a massive DS showing although I must say the games all seemed a bit more mainstream and licensed oriented which sort of bummed me out but such is the way in the middle of the consoles lifespan. Speaking of the DS, I bought a DS Lite and OMG what a sexy little machine. I was a hater on the original DS so I am discovering the world of DS for the first time with the DS Lite plus New Super Mario Bros. comes out this week!!!

The 1Up Show kids totally made an effort to show us a good time by sending tickets to the Ziff Davis party along with a t-shirt for Derek due to his medical condition. We showed up to the party and they would not let Derek's girlfriend in so we pulled some trickery and threw the arm band over the fence for instant access. The party was crazy crowded but there was lots of food and they even had one of my favorites, Vanilla Tootsie Rolls (I pocketed a gang of these before leaving)! That Jane girl was kind enough to chat with us over some loud music for awhile along with some freelance writer guy that was quite entertaining yet I forget his name, sorry. Overall it was a nice way to end the first day so thanks again to the 1Up Show!

Cory Barlog, was part of an awesome panel series entitled Cracking the code of creativity, give it a read because the people knew their shit! Cory gave the God of War combat team a shout out too so that made me smile too bad he blew me off for some aussie reporter after the panel ended, I think the Hollywood nickname may return.

Overall show highlight for me was sitting down with SaiTong Man the combat designer on Heavenly Sword for about and hour to chat about all kinds of stuff. The guy was awesome and when we found out he was a Street Fighter kid it all made sense as to why that game feels so good upon first picking it up. It will be fun to see that game develope over the next year in conjuction with our own and even a nice healthy rivarly will begin or maybe we will just hire the guy! (just kidding of course)

Ok, I am really just rambling so I will stop for now because everyone has covered E3 so much already that anything else I write you have already read somewhere else.

April 16, 2006

warm socks...

To the people that read this thing (insert crickets), sorry it has been so long since I have updated but E3 is on the way and that means long hours at the office getting the game ready for some sort of showing. Kratos snuggling aside, I finally got a day to do laundry (oops April did the laundry) and catch up on the world around me. So with my warm socks fresh out of the dryer let us begin...

Derek Daniels has me hooked on the 1up 1up 1up shoooooow! This thing is pure genius and needs to be on network TV yesterday. After the total and complete decline of G4's Attack of the Show, yes new host girl you officially ended the party. Kevin Rose's departure started the fall now with Sarah and Brendan leaving Kevin P to save the Alamo, I feel like it's going to be 6 weeks and then out for the show as a whole. That's where The 1up Show comes in, get that shit on TV now... screw G4 and Spike with all their fake video game content, but we all know the moment it does go on TV it will most likely be ruined so quicktime downloads it will be for now! Oh yeah if you 1up Show people are reading this, Derek and I will totally buy you drinks at E3 and gossip it up with you so send us a note if you are down, let this be known that this is a huge offer on my end since I do not drink or socialize often at all... So don't leaving me hanging around Kentia Hall like your junior prom backup date!

On that note of meeting up with people I am going to extend that invitation to all game developers that want to talk shop or just plain BS at E3. Last year I saw Tim Schafer and said screw and went over to talk to him... it was awesome to meet the guy and it got me to thinking why can't I talk to other game designers all the time. Since that day I have been trying to figure out a way to get game designers to unite and talk to one another. So let's figure this out and make E3 the first of some kind of meet and greet your peers so we might advance this industry in a positive way by actually talking to each other. I mean it's pretty sad Naughty Dawg is like walking distance from our office but I have yet to meet a single designer that works there, Sony was going to set something up but I guess things were too busy or something... BOO! Thank goodness we got to say hi and hello to the Ueda and his team around GDC time but I want to do more of this, so send me an email if you want to meet up and E3.

Kingdom Hearts 2 and my Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper Slurpee are waiting so I am out for now...

March 16, 2006

Nugget of Wisdom...

Once and awhile a Nugget of Wisdom hits you upside the head changing thoughts, ideas, and views forever. Sharing these Nuggets of Wisdom can be just as enjoyable as receiving them so let me know what you think of this one.

"Movies are really good at story and use action to fill in the gaps while games are really good at action and use story to fill in the gaps"

This Nugget of Wisdom came courtesy of a conversation with a good friend whom I had not heard from in a quite sometime. He was interested in playing some video games since its cold where he lives right now. We talked and talked about many games and in the end he seemed bored before playing anything, he was saying things like "that seems way too long!" and "is that really entertaining?". The only games that he seemed interested in were games that seemed like big budget action movies, which brought him to say "what's short with a lot of action?", now we were getting somewhere. All of a sudden the Nugget of Wisdom slams into me as he says "playing the action will be awesome because it is usually the filler part of a movie". Who was this guy? Why did he say that? I thought about it and realized, movies are really good at story and use action to fill in the gaps while games are really good at action and use story to fill in the gaps. I think I might have known this on some kind of subconscious level but it definitely sank in after our conversation.

After coming to this realization, I researched this idea on the net and found quite a few resources detailing this concept. There was one in particular that caught my interest by a blogger named "Kung Fu Monkey"; I mean come on the guy had me at hello with that name. Anyhow, he wrote this awesome blog entry, Writing: Action Scenes, which might seem trivial to the more enlightened but I found it to be eye opening for someone that has difficulty with story writing. Give it a read because I am much better equipped to design an action sequence for a game after reading his blog entry.

Kung Fu Monkey's Nugget of Wisdom!
"Don't write action scenes.
Write suspense scenes that require action to resolve."

Simply remove the word "write" and replace it with "design" and video games might begin to combine emotional participation and physical participation equally. Who knows what kind of unique experience that marriage could create but I bet Hollywood will be a little more jealous of its growing little brother if it happens. And no matter how you slice it two degrees of participation is better than one so let’s hope video games develop this inherit advantage responsibly to grow out from under the shadows of other entertainment industries.

March 15, 2006

Shooters the old school way!

Why did Doom and its clones have to come along and call themselves First Person Shooters? Now every kid playing these types of games has truncated the name down to “shooter” thus soiling the original definition of a “shooter”. Real shooters have bullets flying everywhere, oh wait FPS’s do too… DAMN!

Anyhow, I am on a big “shooter” kick lately so I decided to make a list of my favorites. I chose one game per console that I owned at some point in my life, yes I even had an arcade cabinet. Also I know some of these games appeared on other platforms prior to the one I am listing them under but it’s where I experienced the game. Also Also I limited the choices to flight based games so I don't want to hear any bitching about games like Gunsmoke, Mercs, Heavy Barrel not making the list... I'll do a Run n' Gun list some other time. Finally the list was so hard to make, I feel like a loser for omitting Space Mega Force, Galactic Attack, Bangai-O, Forgotten Worlds, and I was called an “ignorant whore” by a friend for not putting 1943 on the list. Screw it; here is my list of sentimental “shooters”!

Ajax (konami) – Arcade
Zaxxon (sega) – ColecoVision
River Raid (activision) – Atari 2600
Life Force (konami) – NES
Un Squadron (capcom) – SNES
Starfox64 (nintendo) – N64
Ikaruga (treasure) – Gamecube
Afterburner (sega) – Master System
Thunderforce IV (technosoft) – Genesis
Lords of Thunder (hudson soft) – Sega CD
Radiant Silvergun (treasure) – Saturn
Mars Matrix (capcom) – Dreamcast
Aero Blasters (kaneko) – TurboGrafix-16
Einhander (square) – PS1
R-Type Final (konami) - PS2

Final verdict – UN SQUARDON #1

Tell me what else I missed because I know I forgot some gems…

On a side note I have found that it is damn near impossible to find any new “shooters” to play these days with the exception of Geometry Wars which I am considering dropping $500 to play right now. Craving a twitch based fix!

March 9, 2006



A tongue severed, a book burned, a radio silenced, a film edited, a song altered, a show cancelled, a thread deleted and so what censorship burden will video games bare?

The advancement of information/entertainment mediums always causes a regulatory reflex, which in theory will create a safe haven for the absorption of this new media content. Sadly though, being the new kid on the block also means assuming the role of public enemy #1, whether it is warranted or not. The first step in regulating usually comes in the form of a rating system developed and governed by the industry itself. Rating systems are useful tools which allow the consumer to make an informed purchase based on the age appropriate guidelines set by the industry. However when rating systems are tainted by the influence of politicians and parent groups seeking media attention and political gain it becomes an entirely different issue known as censorship which can lead to infringement upon the First Amendment. My political background is shaky at best so I am not going to delve into things I know little about but I am going to talk about something I do know a great deal about, Best Buy and the products it carriers barring the marks of the MPAA and ESRB.

First let us examine what the MPAA and the ESRB have created to measure the age at which certain types of content are deemed appropriate for viewing.



Oddly enough the symbols are different yet very close in meaning until you delve deeper into what content restrictions reside under each heading between the MPAA and ESRB. Also notice that the ESRB descriptions are quite specific and explanative compared to an almost suggested inference of wording found within the MPAA ratings. Looks like the ESRB is doing a better job at communicating whom should be playing what kind of product so why is the video game industry catching so much heat? Well this group disagrees plus I forgot about kids playing doom IRL at High School, “Hot Coffee” breaks at work, and laundering WoW gold via eBay, which are all evil things created by video games which never existed prior to the advent of the Joystick so perhaps something is wrong. Rant mode is almost upon us and since I have yet to help bring a child into this world pointing the finger at parenting would be unfair. However these few isolated cases contribute to preventing an entire industry from being respected as an art form.

Let’s talk Best Buy! I frequent the local store each and every Tuesday in search the hottest new movies and video games at great low prices! So I am browsing the new DVD releases and see quite a few specials editions of films brandishing “UN-RATED” tags, which tickles my interest on some kind of Mad Magazine level. I am thinking to myself I bet there is some cool shit on those discs stuffy MPAA people did not want me to see for the $10 movie ticket at the theaters but damn the movie publisher for suckering me with this poor yet effective trick. After I check out a few of these movies I start thinking could I make a game like this, I bet we could get lots of shock sales? The dollar signs in my eyes fade away as GTA: San Andreas enters my field of view because I remember it being pulled from the shelves and replaced by the new “EXTRA-RATED” version, so sad for video games.

“It's obscene, vulgar, vile, and on sale now. Get your copy of The Aristocrats today. Don't miss out on the joke! (Sigh… great marketing)”

Now this part is a bit I would love to test if I knew someone with a child between the ages of 10-12. The experiment would go as follows, send them into Best Buy armed with a handful of ten dollar bills to buy these movies on DVD: Finding Nemo, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Starsky and Hutch, Terminator 2, and Eurotrip. The probability of the child exiting the store with 4 or 5 of the movies in hand would be extremely high in my personal opinion.

Now let’s repeat the experiment with the following list of video games: Nintendogs, Lego Star Wars, Ratchet and Clank 3, God of War, and GTA: San Andreas. The probability of the child exiting the store with 2 or 3 of the games in hand would be extremely high in my personal opinion.

Here are the ratings breakdown of those movies and games.

Finding Nemo (G)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG)
Starsky and Hutch (PG-13)
Terminator 2 (R)
Eurotrip (UR)

Nintendogs (E)
Lego Star Wars (E+)
Ratchet and Clank 3 (T)
God of War (M)
GTA: San Andreas (AO)

The real kicker would have the child buy as many "UN-RATED" movies as they could over a period of a week while attempting to purchase one copy of GTA: San Andreas. I have a feeling more movies would end up being bought then a game(s). Good job media and politicians for exposing one game as the devil while neglecting a bulk of movies advertising controversial material as a reason to own and view the product. I know children should not be playing GTA and God of War not to mention many other video games labeled beyond their age bracket but let’s try to be fair here and keep other media out of their hands well.

Here is a little food for thought about some of the “Mature” rated titles that have come out over the last few years. For me the list is almost laughable at times but I guess blood and violence in games rates two whole categories above melting nazi’s with a religions artifact under the watchful eyes of the ESRB.

Mature Titles:
GTA series
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness
God of War
Dead or Alive 4
25 to Life
Resident Evil 4
24: The Game
True Crime
Spartan: Total Warrior
Poker Superstars
Rumble Roses
Prince of Persia 2
Blood Will Tell

March 6, 2006

When I grow up...

What do you want to be when you grow up? The question appears to be innocent enough but the answer will fundamentally alter a person’s course of life. The question is usually asked during youth to determine the interest of child so that parent’s may indulge and nurture this fragile ideal. For some this ideal may never be decided upon. Yet for others it will become the cornerstone of an educational focus which is later transferred into a career. However for most it continually changes often during high school and well into college where the question becomes painfully overbearing as the real world is looming just over the horizon of adulthood.

We all have our stories of how we got to where we are in the world and why or why not, so here is my little tale of how I became one of the lucky people in the world that gets paid to do what they love for a living. If any aspiring designers are out there reading, this one’s for you!

The first time I even thought of being a game designer was in 4th grade (1986-1987). We all know what came out that that Christmas, NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (NES)! The Atari was tossed under the bed to collect dust forever while Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda took over my huge ass 27” wooden cabinet Zenith hand me down TV for the remainder of my Christmas vacation.

The Cadillac of Televisions!

my old school tv

I remember my friends and I throwing snowballs at my kid sister like Mario’s fireballs as we hopped and jumped through the snow that first day back from winter break, it was a great Great GREAT time to be a kid! The teacher was quick to bring us all back to reality with our first assignment being a book-writing contest across the state. I selected that oh so important question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” as my topic. This book is what got me started on this post because oddly enough in 4th grade barely knowing what a designer was let alone a game designer I said I wanted to be one near the end of the book after all the cheesy typical cliché type answers like fireman and athlete filled the first few pages. I know many of you are saying, “yeah right you fucking loser” but here is the picture to prove it since I still have the book!

Point and laugh!


OMG look at that horrible artwork and damn that hair! Sadly neither has improved at all over the last 20 years… but HELL YEAH anyhow because I made a little dream come true, which is pretty rare in life so I enjoyed this immensely. I was going to post the whole book but it is a train wreck and I get enough shit from the other designers on a daily basis. The final page has a picture of an F-15 fighter jet because I wanted to be in the Air Force. As I grew older and learned I might have to drop bombs on land that might be populated with innocent people all in the name of war. Well I sort of had issues with that which I had never really thought about before so I started thinking I like stars maybe there is something there for me, look out Astronomy here I come.

So it was off to college to enjoy the stars and some numbers. Long story short 3 years – 3 colleges – 3 strategy guides later – I quit to chase after the dream of being a game designer. Just at the time that I decided to quit school an old contact, which I made at E3, helped me in landing a job at a small game studio called Paradox Development. I completed 4 games while 6 others projects were cancelled during my 4 years of employment, in the end those 4 years turned out to be my real college experience for game design. Life there was hard, because I did not know shit but was quickly moved into a position that was way beyond my skill set by default of others moving onward that were my superiors. The games were all kind of bad and the company was more concerned with finishing a game then making a great game but that is the nature of being a 3rd party developer. Milestones dictate if you are going to get paid or not so that game is created to get milestones approved instead of doing what is best for the end product. I learned all this while trying to learn my craft over exhausting hours for a peanuts wage due to my experience level. REMEMBER it’s not all getting paid to play games! So here I was transplanted from the Midwest for this dream job and it was really bummed me out. This did not compute and I felt close to short-circuiting and quitting the industry altogether. I had many heart to hearts with family and close friends before making the decision to leave Paradox. It was all aboard - next stop, Sony Santa Monica where it seemed like they wanted to make a great game and wanted to teach me how to be a strong designer. The short of it is, the team there under David Jaffe did in fact create a great game in God of War and well I am still learning how to be a strong designer in the company of some remarkably talented people. I want to thank everyone for giving the Midwest kid a shot, Fighting Game Community - Video Game Exchange - Brady Games - Paradox Development - Sony Santa Monica!

To all you youngsters out there, I have found that every game I played, every movie I watched, every comic I read and every toy I created a fictitious world for in my bedroom came together to create some kind of catalogued information which allows me to succeed at this profession so be a sponge and soak up the world.

P.S. Finish school I got lucky and I do not think people without degrees are going to be able to break into the industry much longer, plus your parents will be proud of you and stuff or something.

February 23, 2006

Personality Types

A long time ago in college I took a personality test for my Psychology 101 class. I thought this test would be a complete waste of time due to the fact that questioning for most any testing purpose usually harbors some degree of cultural bias, which ultimately skews the results. Wanting to get a good grade which in this case was pass for taking the test and fail for not taking the test, I decided to sharpen my No.2 and get busy. The test instructions were quite clear and concise with the overriding idea being the participant should answer as honestly as possible in terms to self-reflection. It sounds simple and oddly enough it was quite simple. The questions were fairly vanilla with a few strangely worded sentences sprinkled throughout.

An hour later my pencil was barely dull and the test was complete so I passed but had to wait a few weeks for the test to be scored for my personality type. A week or two of class passed and the test was lost from memory until one day I walked into class and many four-letter combinations were written on the board and no they were not the ones used during rush hour on at the 405/101 junction. I sat down and my test was passed back revealing my personality type, "INFP" - INTROVERT INTUITIVE FEELING PERCEPTIVE. The ensuing hour of class was devoted to explaining what the four letters meant how they determine my problem solving process, group dynamics role, romantic tendencies, and even why I will wash and use my special bowl to eat some cereal when there are plenty of other clean bowls already available. Imagine the number this does on your head when the test is almost completely correct in determining all these things about a person without knowledge of gender, race, or religious affiliation.

I have taken this test several times since then and I always seem to score the exact same personality type "INFP". However I border on the line between "INFP" and "INFJ" by the smallest of margins, which might explain my grumpy moodiness!

Now what you have been waiting for, WTF does this have to do with game design? Nothing really although I am sure someone much smarter than myself could apply some type of formula to satisfy the needs of all personality types within one universally accommodating game, Tetris?

However, what I did learn from the results of the test, which I may have never come to understand about myself on my own, is that I thought I had a gift for mathematics and scientific logic. Yet at the end of the day my gut feelings on game design yield me considerably better results once both of prior tools have been exhausted. All that being said, this magical gut ability is damn near impossible channel on a regular basis which makes creating "Fun" all that more difficult. So when the gut check is telling you nothing its nice to know you can "Math it out" until the gut feels like speaking up.

I could go on and on about the importance of this test in my personal opinion but it's like 3am and I need to play some games before bed so perhaps I will revisit this topic again at a later date. Until then see below for links to the test and profiles of each of the 16 personality types.

Here is a crude from of the test I took all those years ago, followed by a list of the personality type profiles...

Test -
Personality Test

Introverted Profiles -

Extroverted Profiles -

February 9, 2006

Capcom - I love you, I hate you

All bow down to my retrieving skills! Seriously bring your pooch on over and throw the stick but be prepared to watch him get devastated by my newfound talent. I owe it all to Onimusha 4’s Advanced School of Fetch, while attending I also minored in key finding so locksmiths beware. Go ahead and try to make the key before I find it deep in a well filled with Demon Soldier spawns. Trust me don’t even bother stepping up because you fools will get rocked just like Fido… Oh yeah, the game was boring overall yet entertaining on some subconscious level of male hunter/collector instinct. The game went down a little easier since I could skip all cut scenes and get back to awesome amounts of backtracking and uber-designed tests of valor, which totally do not kill any of the story momentum, which I skipped in the prior cut scene. Just to summarize, a “Test of Valor” is a fight scenario, which is governed by a timer, the scenario objective is explained during a splash screen. What this is doing in the middle of a heavy story driven game that is trying to achieve character feeling and emotion is beyond me.

Development teams please stop putting crappy side games in the middle of the real game, I am even going to call out the mighty Resident Evil 4 on this one. Shop Keeper shooting ranges should have been after the game was finished ONLY, you had me all the way until that came up and then the wheels started to rattle but thankfully never fell off so tragedy averted. Thinking about it more, I am going to call so much bullshit on that idea that it leaves me no choice but to say those were put in for the sole purpose of letting people know this was made by a Japanese team who thought they might lose their “we’re crazy Japanese game developers” membership card because otherwise it’s probably the single best example of an immersive genre game ever made! Regardless the game was awesome and I will be drooling for RE5, just check the needless extra games at the door, thank you.

Back to Onimusha 4, did I mention the game is fully translated into English? I mean all menus, subtitles, text, and spoken dialogue. Now while this is great for me, it makes me wonder is this saying something about the state of the Japanese game market? Perhaps it is simply a cost effective way to get a game ready for both shores? The series as a whole has been declining in sales since the initial release yet Capcom like all their franchises that start strong continues to make them. This brings up yet another question, why does Capcom care about their fans so much? Megaman is a license to print money since there are like 4957947 versions of the little blue guy they call Rockman but does it seriously generate that much cash? Well here is what I think about Capcom as a company or let me rephrase that, here is what I would love to think is true about Capcom as a company, THEY LOVE MAKING GAMES 1st and PROFIT 2nd! Admittedly this is sort of true on some level for me because they split off teams to try new things such as Clover Studios and their upcoming yet doomed to sell like 47,000 copies "Okami". These guys made Viewtiful Joe, which again sold like crap but was full of neat ideas. So Capcom I applaud you for fighting the “good fight” and making the games I still want to play even though you probably lose money on them. I’ve supported you on the backs of many dead blades of grass during my youth and will continue to do so especially since you put God of War out in Japan for us, thanks!

February 6, 2006

FILO: first in last out

So as you can see I started this thing way back in September 2005, well now all my friends are doing it... NOW I feel like the last kid picked for the kickball game. Thanks for not dropping the Ball!

Yeah! Game Design the thing I do for a living and hope to keep doing for a living if I do not screw it up with my grumpy attitude. Yes, I am grumpy yet have one of the best jobs in the world ain't life odd like that, sucks to be you happy guy that is not making games for a living! Oh wait the phone is ringing, yes was "Karma" leaving a message saying she'll be seeing me tomorrow for that shitty comment, please oh please let it be stubbing my toe on the wall I love that one so so much.

Onimusha 4 how you pique my curiosity yet bore me, thank goodness you have full english translation toggle in the options menu!

Ok that is plenty of rambling for tonight, I promise next time I will tell you about me and all that stuff that might actually get someone to care about reading this thing. Oh yeah I take requests too so if you want me to give my 2 cents on a game or donut (aplpe filled bear claw is top tier) just contact me by whatever electronic means you feel comfortable with attempting.

Future Topics will include:
Why Kill Bill should have been a game (the insiders dish dirt!)

the path of least resistance