Sunday, May 30, 2010


I need to go to bed.

But first:

1. the EATSLEEPPLAY forum is now open! Please visit our newly birthed community to get to know members of the team (who never get enough press, credit, or face time), chat about some of the great games the team has made over the years, talk about our new game (when the time is right), and just shoot the shit with fellow game lovers. Here's a link so ya got no excuse! :)

2. SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2 STAR REPORT: 10 stars including a mystery star. Loving it so far, just started 2 days ago. Grabbing a bit of play here and there and I think it rocks.

3. SPLIT/SECOND- Playing this too- LOVING it.

4. NO MORE PAPER?- Have not bought a physical magazine or read a physical newspaper since my iPad arrived in the mail. Have also read two books in the same amount of time. Amazing device- I love it!

Ok, what a shitty blog post. I know, I know. But I'm fried. Going to bed- talk soon!


Friday, May 28, 2010


Hey ya'll- sorry been away for a few days. Game is in milestone crunch on all fronts and there is just no time to breathe.

Wanted to pop in and say hey and share 2 things that have come up in recent days that have really struck me as important lessons about making games or making anything creative or...hell, perhaps living life in general? Dunno. I will elaborate more when I have more time but for now, here goes:

1. BEING NICE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING A PUSHOVER...AND OFTEN TIMES EVEN BEING NICE CAN BE MISTAKEN FOR BEING A PUSHOVER SO SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA PUT YOUR FOOT DOWN- At times I've had a reputation for being kind of a hard ass to work with. Demanding, basically. I'm not a yeller or a shouter unless I'm yelling more at the tv or the game and something's not working. Then I'm all like, "FUCK THESE MOTHERFUCKING SWORD ATTACKS! NOT TRANSITIONING FROM ATTACK TO ATTACK DAMMIT!"...but It's rare that I deal with people that way. I DO sometimes, but not often.

Again, I can be demanding and very protective of a game's vision and I can be relentless in pushing myself and pushing others to improve that vision. And the people I love working with are the same in that they push me and force me to improve the vision too. Nice thing about that is, the game gets better. But you do take on a reputation for being a pain at times.

So as of late I've tried to be nicer, kinder, more inclusive.

Fuck that. Doesn't work.

Can I still be nice? Always. But not at the expensive of the game's vision. Thank God no real harm was done to our current game because of it. Nice wake up call tho. Grateful for the lesson.

Here's the reality: on a creative project there's the vision that once it's locked, we all must be slaves to. Protect that vision at all costs. And sometimes that means you open the doors a bit to let the vision grow and be improved by the right members of the team who 'get' it. But not everyone on a game will always get it and so it's key to know when an idea improves and when it takes away from the game's core.

And never allow your desire to be nice and liked to get in the way of the vision because the game will suffer.  And the team will suffer as well because a failed game means the studio is at risk.

2. AH-HA MOMENTS ARE RARE WHEN STARTING A GAME- Been thinking about future games to make as of late and as we're head deep in this current one and it's taken on its own life and it's come together as it's own living, breathing thing, I caught myself thinking that a new game idea should have the same sense of purpose and meaning and locked vision that a game as far along as our current game should have. I felt the same after GOD OF WAR when looking for new game ideas: that the game idea should feel solid and locked and I should just 'know it' when the idea came to me or was pitched to me by someone else. But I only recently realized that it rarely works that way. Often times you just start the journey of a new creative project confident or semi confident in where you are going but until the team comes in and adds their amazing talents, before you get the- hopefully- great ideas that you contribute and see come to life, your game really is this lifeless thing. And so as I search for new ideas it's key to remember that a lot of faith is needed in knowing what idea to pull the trigger on because it's very rare that the idea itself is a slam dunk.

Ok- back to it. So slammed no time to proof read so hell if I know if what I just wrote even makes sense!
Sure there is a shit ton of typos!

Talk soon- later ya'll!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


This is from Kotaku's just posted, very positive preview of the 14.99 download only TOMB RAIDER hitting this summer:

My only concern is that The Guardian of Light may be over too soon after you start, with just eight or so hours of gameplay. But there are a couple of things that lead me to believe that won't be a big issue.

Wha?!?! 8 hours of fun for 15 bucks. That's a BAD DEAL?!?! 

Kotaku, you know I love you- and MOST of your writers :) - but come the hell on. Really? 8 hours for 15 bucks is not ok in your book? And your preview is so positive as well that I'm now dying for this game! But I think our views on the value of a dollar are way outta whack.


ps. When is Kotaku gonna do their own PAX kind of convention. I bet it would be a big success. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010


That's me! :)

Later ya'll! Hope all is going well!


Monday, May 10, 2010


Hey- slammed with work so this is gonna be fast.

Went to LA on Friday to do a playtest and now am back with a trunkful of very useful notes. Gonna spend most of the day getting those on lists and then sending off to Utah to see which ones we can/should/want to address and which notes we want to let go (always a tough a call after a play test: which comments to incorporate and which to throw back).

But a few things about my trip- if I may:

Caught the Kevin Smith Q/A live at the House of Blues on Sunset. Me and my brother went and it was...ok. Yeah, just ok. I dig the Smith a lot but his schtick is feeling tired and no longer feels genuine. I get it tho- I feel for the guy. I am a fan, to be sure. But you see the same kind of 'tiredness/struggle' in his movies as well: where he's been trying since Jersey Girl to step away from his View Askew stuff but has not had a lot of success with that and so keeps going back to his old vibe because (just guessing here) it's either safe/feels natural and/or it's lucrative. I don't begrudge the man- it's tough to grow creatively and I wish him the best. But we left the show 2 hours in (he's known to go on for 3-5 hours sometimes). Nice and kind a guy as he seems, the show just dragged and got pretty dull. Still, cool to see he can pack a house. As I said: I'm a fan, so good for him!

Yeah, I wrote that...whatever! Would have been happier catching this on Blu Ray when it hits in 4-6 months. It was fine but nothing close to being special. IM1 was crazy fresh and had a heartbeat that was incredibly attractive and charismatic and the story was so tight and smart. This one just felt...corporate? Serviceable? Certainly not a BAD movie in the scheme of things. It was solid for sure but it just was not special enough to merit me spending 2 hours of my life at a theater. As I get older, I still love movies but I get a lot more picky now and this one - for me- just didn't cut it as a full price,  big event deal. Watching at home or catching with medium expectations at a matinee= the perfect way to watch Iron Man 2.  Come on Marvel Studios...don't start slipping on us now!

So I caught IM2 at the fantastic GROVE in L.A. with my brother. Before the flick we browsed the amazing Barnes & Noble superstore that they have there and check out what I found!

How cool! I had seen early versions of this at the studios, but to see it on the stands (last copy left too!) was just crazy neat! I grew up loving comics and still buy and read comics and hell, some of my personal inspiration for God of War 1 came from my love of comic books. And to see a comic based on a story/world/character that I had a huge hand in crafting? And to see it as a REAL comic in a REAL store (vs. a one off comic that is done JUST for promotional purposes and handed out at trade shows and such?)...Well wow man. That's just amazing to me. How cool is that?!?!

Got the ipad. LOVE the ipad. Read comics, books, magazines on the thing all the time. I've spent way too much cash already on ipad digital media that used to fill my house as physical media. Man, it's all nice and tidy and simple to carry around on my little ipad. Totally rocks. I love it. But having all that digital media on the pad made it odd going into Barnes & Noble Saturday cause I LOVE bookstores. Always have. And mega book stores like the B&N at the Grove make me crazy happy and I could spend hours in there just browsing and getting lost. But now that I've had a week of buying and reading magazines and comics and books on the ipad, a real life book store just seems archaic to me. I know some peeps will always love their physical media (and I get it...I LOVE to smell new books and fold magazines and carry around a weathered paperback that I'm working thru)...but once you go digital with this stuff, the waste of space and death of trees and mega effort to create and store and sell and buy real life paper media just seems...stupid.

#5- SPAM- Hate all the spam the posts have gotten as of late. Turned on the spam filter which means if you want to comment you gotta enter in one of those little code words they provide you. Sorry about that. I know it's a pain. But it beats having 50 messages about buying some bullshit this or that.

Ok, tons to do! Later ya'll!


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In Defense Of Non Arty Box Art

Lots of gamers- myself included- like nice, artistic box art.

Lots of gamers- myself included- bitch when a publisher kicks a nice, arty box to the curb and replaces it with a lesser box. ICO is a pretty famous example of this:

Neither box is that commercial and no doubt the box on the left better represents the brilliance of the game inside the box. BUT I would say that the box on the right- which promises an action adventure to the average person just strolling by the box- is a smarter marketing decision. It's simply more commercial. Not by much cause there are better looking action/adventure boxes out there. But compared to the two, if I HAD to choose one based on which box would generate the most sales, I'd take the one on the right.

Two More Examples:

EXAMPLE #1: Twisted Metal:Black box art. I fucking LOVED it.
Thought it was and still think it is a powerful image. But it was a terrible box for a game about car combat. And I think it hurt our sales. I pushed for the mood and theme of the game over the game itself and I think it was a mistake.

Granted, you can go too far with JUST putting the core mechanics on the box. For example:

Now I really like the Split/Second demo and wish the game well. It looks tons of fun. And to be fair to Split, I think they have a new, better retail box and are not using this early box for the retail space. But there are lots of final, retail boxes out there like the one on the left and it illustrates the danger of being too literal and SIMPLY reflecting the mechanics and setting and leaving out the spirit of the game; leaving out the FEELING that the game promises to provide. Hell, now that I think about it, the perfect box for TM:BLACK would have blended the Black image above (what you FEEL) with the Split/Second image to the left (what you DO). With some guns and rocket launchers thrown in for good measure and so it was clear TMBLACK was not a racing game :)...

EXAMPLE #2: HEAVY RAIN. Lots of people don't like the SCEA version of the Heavy Rain box. They'd have rather seen SCEA go with the SCEE box. I happen to disagree. Here is why:
Do you see it? See how the Heavy Rain box- in CONTEXT- kind me anyway...fails?

Now Europe- duh- is clearly a different market. So perhaps the lone origami image works great over there. And no doubt it's a very nice cover. But is it an effective cover? I would say- at least for America- it is not. Just look at it: amid the sea of boxes that promise action, adventure, power, fantasy, much loved movies, being a sports hero, and taking home a virtual pet, the Heavy Rain box looks like some dull puzzle game. Is it a jigsaw puzzle game? Do I fold virtual paper to make shapes? For me, I would totally pass it by if I just had the box art to go on (which is how a good % of shoppers look for games. Sure, many use the net or word of mouth to aid in their decision, but when they go into a store, the box art is a major factor in if they are going to take the time to reach out and grab the product).

So I guess what I'm really saying is: I've changed. I don't need art for my box art. I don't need a box that can be turned into a nice poster or tee-shirt or an icon that those in-the-know will respect. These days I want a box that functions, a box that screams- to the masses- pick me up, bitch! :)


ps. I get that for SOME people- and maybe some cultures even- a nice, arty box is JUST the thing that makes them reach out and grab the box. I just don't think this is the case for the majority of American game shoppers.

pps. I also get that for new, unique games like HEAVY RAIN there is value in standing out as different from the crowd. Because a good argument to be made is that a large number of the people who will love HEAVY RAIN are the same kind of people whose eyes are glazing over at ANOTHER box with a power fantasy or sports star...and they would pick up the SCEE HEAVY RAIN box simply because it looks DIFFERENT. I get that. Makes sense. But in the case of the box above, I think that idea could have come across while still creating a box that seems less like a puzzle game. For example, the SHUTTER ISLAND movie poster seems like it could have been a good inspiration for 'something different but still commercial'. Anyway, just rambling now :) 

ppps. Shit, they made PAIN into a retail game over in Europe? Sweet! Did not know that :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Things Are Tough All Over

Creative products do not magically appear via wishing and pixie dust and good old fashioned hope. Yeah that's part of it for sure. But the rest takes good, old fashioned hard work and hustle.

I know, I know: no shit, Jaffe.

And I should know this.

Given how challenging it is to get a video game made, I should be as aware of this fact as anyone working in the creative industries. Every day all of us on a game deal with the pressures of budgets and schedules and expectations and creative differences and egos and technical snafus and our personal lives that affect how we do our day to day, and the pressures to be great that come from us, from our fans, from the press, from the haters,etc,etc,etc. It never, ever ends. Cause when one game is done, you're off to the next one. Hell BEFORE a game is done, you're already thinking about the next one. 

It's a tough ass job to pull something worthy from the ether. 

And I should know this.

I should know that ANY product- and certainly any creative product- is a multi year long battle just to push that motherfucking bolder to the top of the hill.

Speaking of, here's a little pic I keep taped to my monitor to remind me- when the days are hard as hell and you just want to give up- how great it feels to get that boulder to the top.

Yeah I know. I can't draw for shit. Fuck off. :)

And yet, when I read something like this (detailing the recent challenges and mad rush of the Disneyland corporation to turn around the California Adventure theme park using a 1 billion dollar influx of cash), I am still amazed. Because as a fan- with no stake or involvement in any theme park- I nurse this fantasy that theme parks magically appear and magically run and that there are no egos or budget issues or late nites or time away from family in order to make those truly magical places come to life. To me places like Disneyland simply ARE. They are wished into being and that's all there is to that.

And as a fan, this is how it should be. Unless you want to get into the business of making this stuff (and I highly recommend it cause it's a fucking blast!) then you really never should peek behind the curtain.

Cause if you peek behind the curtain you realize that this stuff- no matter the format- is HARD WORK.

But in many ways I am glad to see how tough the Disneyland people are having it right now. Because it makes me realize that EVERYONE who does creative work is always up against the shit, day in and day out. That it's ALWAYS a struggle. And that it's NOT just me, not just my design partner Scott Campbell out in Utah, not just the amazing team at Eat Sleep Play, not JUST the super talented folks at Sony or Microsoft or Nintendo. And not just people in games. But people in movies and music and comics and television and theme parks and plays and on and on and on.

So I dunno, in some ways, it makes me feel like part of a big ass, hard working club, you know? Like we're all busting ass just to make people happy. I like that :)

And speaking of busting ass- back to work! Later ya'll!


Just a shot of the tots of behind the scenes work being done at Disney's California Adventure to create the new CARS LAND area of the park. As a fan, I can't wait. But I'm sure the Disney peeps are shitting a brick to get it done in time :) Thanks Disney! That's why you get my money!