Thursday, January 18, 2007


Gonna try an odd and one of the designers on GOD OF WAR 1 and 2 just got off chatting on the IM....He was in Santa Monica waiting on GOD OF WAR 2 to finish building and I was in San Diego answering we had a good chat, I thought....and I thought it was a good conversation on game theory and thought I'd post the IM versus one day deciding to write a post about how I feel about games and then having to retype it all and try to make it sound all smart and stuff :)

So, this may be hard to follow (spaces are-naturally a break in speaker and the other designer- whom I will not ID- started talking first)....but anyway, what the hell, thought it might interest someone....or not!

See ya'll!


8:15 PM
9:20 PM
sup dude?

nothin much
just waiting for a build
how u doing?

cool; not bad. Just saw you had written.


i was just seeing if u had time to chat. You at work?

not much but about 5-10 min....what up?
Nah, at home.
Benefit of working on a smaller game is you only work late- most weeks- 1-2 nites/week!

yeah i heard
that must be nice
getting over early would be like a mini vacation
so do you like working on the smaller games now a lot more?

oh HELL yes!

well i guess since your able to get off so early

Not just that; not even MAINLY that.


Alot of it is that it's just new; a new space, a new kind of game, a new kind of that really is is always exciting.

yeah i hear you on that

it nice to think of ideas in a new mental design space
beyond that, smaller games are what I play 90% of the time these days. So I love being able to make something that I want to play. GOD OF WAR 1 was a game like the games I was playing when I was working on it...NOW
with 2 kids, a wife,'s really hard to make the HOURS needed to play big games. But I still love I find myself playing smaller, casual and arcade games...SO I guess it makes sense I would want ot make those too! Plus, on top of ALL THAT the production process is SO MUCH NICER (a year ago I had NO IDEA what CALLING ALL CARS! was...not it's coming out in a month!)....12 core man team vs. cut scenes or story shit to deal with....audience expects FUN not perfection....good times dude! I just hope there is a fucking market$ for this shit I'm working on

yeah, but there has been a lot of sucess on the xbox live marketplace
so i think there is room for both types of games

Well not ALOT of success...about 3 games have done AMAZING, and the rest have died. But I'm willing to take the risk...cause I have not had this much fun in my work...probably since old TWISTED METAL 1 and 2!

when i play now its still either a quick game of multiplayer, arcade style, or i block out time to play zelda

You are still young And that is great!


I hope when I get OLDER I can go back to the Zeldas for more than 1-2 hours...but right now, just not doable.

yeah...and i can imagine myself with a family and wanting to spend time with them and not games non stop
or i guess you could just not sleep...hehehe

yeah I mean, that's life right? It's good stuff. You just got to balance and to be fair- fair to yourself and your family-however at this point i dont have to worry about that aspect

I have- like you- worked on a game that was about as good as it could get...if GOW had not turned out so well I would prob. still be struggling to make THE DREAM I'm lucky I got to work on it and it's out of my system!

yeah, thats so awesome...i still got all these ideas in my head and would love if i could even make 1 of the games

I am sure you will get to if that is your goal.

so when you have a game idea, how do you begin to boil it down?
like, do think of the game as this kinda idea or like a more systematic approach? or does it depend on the game?

well I usually start with theme...which is I guess bad...vs. starting with mechanics. These days I start more with mechanics.
I am thinking more mechanics as I do the smaller games...the bigger games I start with the story/settling and then try to shoehorn the play into it!

right...i saw you do that with god of war, and calling all cars is more about the mechanic of driving and chase. i was listening to the clify b gdc talk and he was talking about games as little loop or algorithms

yes and the game I wanna do after that- since it is small- start with the mechanic. You can start where you like, as long as you don't neglect the play.

and then i was reading the chirs crawford book and he tries to define all these laws

Cliffy talks design a hell of a lot better than I do. I like what he says but I'm not as articulate about design as he is...I can talk design but it doesn't come as natural...I am more of a gut guy...

yeah, your style is much more about "feel" and OMIT here is very technical


it just interesting to see how everyone else designs and how they formulate ideas in their head

technical bores the SHIT out of me. That is why OMIT and I always butted heads...he is very technical...

right...but for me i also like figuring out how it works, like what mechanics can i throw in to make this idea or image into something fun,but sometimes combining the 2 is the real i was just curious of how you kinda see it in your head

it is....and it's why I still don't know if I feel story and gameplay mix all that does not need story....and the PRODUCT may benefit SOME FOLKS who are hard core from story...but the VAST MAJORITY of folks just want fun....see NINTENDO and the emerging PC CASUAL GAMES market for proof.


would love to get you to play a rev of calling all cars when I am in the Santa Monica office next week.

i was thinking like what if there is a story game and for the mass market just make almost like a interactive movie where you can hit buttons like a mini game but i dont know if that would work either
it would BUT- and this is just my if my mom would enjoy that BUT however i was talking to OMIT and she just likes playing and beating the game when she has 10 x damage on and she still enjoys it and almost would rather play it that way, b/c there are still the parts that she likes without being too hard and she can get the story

I think it's a very small group that wants story and play to merge right now...I think most average people who don't consider themselves hard core are not looking for story or theme or emotion beyond the normal emotions games have always given (competition; tension; anger; comradere;etc)...I was playing SCRABBLE with the wife and dad-in-law over the break and we had a blast and no one was like: ya know what this Scrabble game needs? A STORY!

lol...right, but that game is based upon the pure mechanic and social interaction
which a lot of wii kinda style games are going for
my whole family loved playing the wii sports
and never b4 had we all sat around and played a game

right and that is what I mean...I THINK, in the same way people go to movies for stories and to have certain buttons pushed (sadness, thrills,etc). they play games to have other buttons pushed (tension, competition, social networking,etc).

but is the reason people dont want story, is b/c they haven't experienced a good 1, or for the mass market the controls on the hardercore mechanics get in the way of letting the story shine through

This is my long way of saying that I've pretty much stepped away from wanting to do story least as my CORE focus...but that is just me! Still love them, just not sure how much farther I can go with it.


I think the reason they have not experienced a good one is that games may not be the best vehicle to deliver one. Games- as games, not just video- have been around for over 4000 years since they invented Parchesi in all that time, can you think of a game that has told a story or made people emotional LIKE a story?

like maybe this medium or the current approach isnt going to work for the kinda story that will really make you feel emitions that arent so survival based (ie: fear)

yeah...people have always played games
1 day at usc ray bradbury was there and i asked him what he though about video games
he told me that man will always have their games, and then signed my book

right...and after GOD OF WAR- where I put all I had into trying to crack the nut of story and game- I have come to the personal realization that - for me- all the work we put into it resulted in a story that was maybe 1/20th as powerful as an average tv drama...Loves the Bradbury!

however i though ico was very powerful
but maybe im just gone of those small % of people looking or can appricate the story
but how that guy tells stories is interesting, b/c he leave a lot untold
and lets you kinda fill in the blanks of what is happening, rather than force feeding you everything
i guess its kinda like the sims too
people want to create their own stories

Yes this is true and ICO works as a whole, satisfying experience so I can see potential there. But so much of what made ICO work for me was NOT the interactive but the art and sound design and visual added to the experience but it was the periphery elements making you feel, not the gmaeplay.
And to me, until the CORE of what games are- INTERACTIVITY- are the things that are the story telling tools, it will always feel like we're just missing the target.

right, the entire package is very cohesive and doesn't ever take you really out, but the puzzles and combat arent the best
and maybe thats why the game didnt do so well
that why i still love multiplayer games
b/c its all about the interactivity
and not just against a machine, but with your friends
it creates that virtual social factor of you and your family playing scrable

The MOST fun I've had in the last 6 months with a game was UNO on XBLA...played it for like 3 hours a few weeks ago...

thats why i would like to see games explore a lot more of the co op or multiplayer experience
and create mechanics that really play upon these natural tendencies people have
yeah, uno is a blast
especially with the camera

see THAT would be a cool game!
Hey, gotta run!
Good chatting with you...I will talk with you later...



later, yeah you too!

would you mind if I cut and pasted this and posted it to my blog? Good conversation about game theory! And I won't have to retype it all!
I will ID you as a designer on GOD OF WAR 1 and 2?
Or no?

i dont really care

Great! Thanks!

i love talking about design, game theory, and the human mind
thats what design is all about!

me too!
Chat with you later dude!

later man

let me know when the playtest is

love me to see the game

I will! See ya!

And there ya have it! Hope you could keep up and it was as interesting for you guys as it was for me :)

If not...sorry!

See ya'll soon!



Hey ya'll...just wanted to alert you to a new CALLING ALL CARS! trailer that just hit

Here is the link:

It was captured at 1080i, then compressed to 720. So if you can watch it at 720, please do.

But either way, I feel the footage captures the TRUE if you like what you see, try out our game cause it plays like it looks in the video...If you don't dig the video, it's prob. not your cup of tea, sad for me to say! But I hope you think it looks fun!

Let me know!

Gotta go, busy as shit today!


ps. Ok, so FIRST it was the CHILDREN OF MAN touch I get this one from fellow designer Adam Orth who STILL recalls my innocent statement that ONE DAY (one day, you fuck!!! Not NOW) that the chick who plays Herminie (spelling?!?) in Harry Potter would be hot....well here's what the little fucker sends me not 5 minutes ago:

...what an asshole...:)

Hey, she IS getting I wasn't wrong :)