Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Hey ya'll...sorry for the lack of posts of late. Been swamped with home life and with work.

I am in Utah as I type, tuning the game with Scott and da Boyz (tm) for our play test in Los Angeles tomorrow. Sitting in my hotel room, waiting on my whole wheat French Toast to arrive, then it's out into the cold Salt Lake morning to make the walk to the Incog offices (only about 2 blocks away...ain't life tough?!?) :)

We've been getting lots of the Santa Monica folks to play the game the last few days to get feedback on the big issues we want to adjust before we let the 'real' play testers have at it. And that excercise has been interesting.

On one hand, we've gotten just the kind of feedback we've been looking for. For example:

Catching the Criminal when he's popped into the air seems too difficult for most people who play. So we're going to tweak up the assist number so the crim has a bit more homing on him as he's falling from the sky and into the player's car.


The AI is too relentless right now, shooting missile after missile at players the instant the human player picks up a criminal. The result, in the single player, are lots of comments that the game is too chaotic and difficult.

These kinds of comments were expected as, when you make a title, the team ends up tuning it to what is fun for them. But living with the title every day makes us experts and so we tune the thing to be ultra hard (which- to us- reads like medium level of difficulty). Same thing happened with Twisted Metal:BLACK. Difference there is we shipped it without play testing it and probably lost 50% of sales as folks tried it and ended up taking it back as it just kicked their asses.

So those sorts of notes we are excited to get. We knew they were coming and know they will make the game 100% better.

But we've also been getting some other comments that have me...what's the word? It's not concerned really...it's more interested, more curious.

See, CALLING ALL CARS is- for me- probably the most fun game I've ever worked on. I don't mean the time I've had as one of the lead designers, but as a player. I enjoy playing this game over and over and over (mainly in multiplayer). And so it's odd when I see reactions from other gamers who are going: yeah it's fun, but it's too basic.

But then I look at the folks who are sending these notes and they are- for the most part- hard core gamers. The more casual gamers seem to be complaining about the stuff listed above (too hard to catch criminal, too chaotic)...those things that are easy to tune.

But the hard core guys seem to be looking for much more depth in the title. These guys play lots of FPS games and shooters and fighting games. Games that I dig as well...but games they would slaughter me at if I sat to play with them :)

And so we're dealing with a game tuning dillema:

Do we adjust the title to give those hardcore folks what they are looking for or stay the course and deliver a game that we feel is- barring the kinds of expected tuning mentioned above- working really well?

The focus tests tomorrow night well help as I've requested both hardcore gamers and more casual players to show up. It will be interesting to see which way the wind blows then.

And it could be that the game we are making is good but it's better suited for the PS3 2 years from now, when more casual game players start grabbing the hardware.

But I was talking to Scott about adding some of the more hard core requests to the title and we were both like: well yeah, we could add some of those things, but do we really want to?

If we had wanted those elements in the game, there was nothing stopping us from putting them in from the start. Sony gave us pretty much free reign with CAC and this is the game we wanted to make.

So it begs the question: do we even want to be making games that appeal to the hard core gamer? Maybe we do; maybe it's just this game and the next game will be ultra hard core. Or maybe not. I really don't know.

I can tell you the games I'm playing alot of these days- and I mean ALOT, not just little spurts- are GO! SUDOKU on PS3, TOWER BLOX on my cell phone, Blast Factor on PS3, and Resistance on PS3.

So...there's only one hard core game in there.

Am I just getting...old?!?!?

Ah well, bring it on. As my father-in-law always says, beats the alternative!

Ok, french toast is here and I gotta get going with the day.

Chat with ya'll later!