Thursday, September 24, 2009

Land of the In-Between

And returning to my weekly gaming blog - things are going alright, as mentioned previously things are very very busy over here. It's been a tumultuous week as my partner and I scramble through development of our second iPhone application, lots of highs and lows. The big news is that, about a month since the first proof-of-concept, we've finally got the main implementation of the bulk of the gameplay in place, there's much to do with bug-fixing and presentation adjustment, but overall we are both very happy to see it is coming along better than we'd planned! In spite of this, a major blow early in the week which is - well, it's a pretty ridiculous slap-in-the-face, one of the more awful things that a dev with a secret project could imagine, I will have to save this story for the post-mortem. That being said, we are doing our best to make lemonade out of the lemons -

Next week is Indiecade in Culver City, International Independent Game Developer's convention. I am not sure how this this will be run/organized, it's my first time attending (first time I would consider myself an independent developer!) but looking very forward to the con and also to showing our new project around, and getting some feedback from our peers. Drop me a line if you will be attending and would like to meet up!

Things are alright besides. I have put my normal job search on the back burner for some time, as I am concentrating on the iPhone business for the time being. I still send out resumes and reels to the rate of about 3 or 4 a week, but there's really not much available for artists of my level in Southern California for the time being, I figure things will remain quite conservative until next spring sometime - after the 2009 Holiday receipts have come in and been tallied, generally, and the big studios can sigh a little relief and stretch out their development plans a little more. It's all airtight right now and I am not too keep to look for work out of the area (though after this small project wraps up, I will look where I need to - a guy's gotta eat!)

In the meantime it's quite humbling doing the indie gig, it is also very liberating to no longer be tethered to the extremely inefficient world of big-studio game development. I am sure I will return to that world in due time, but for now it's very gratifying to be master of my own destiny without having to answer to morons and producers who's only concerns are covering their own behinds. I detest what game development has become in the large scale, though it is quite apparent this is where things are going as it becomes bigger and bigger business (and requires so much more investment, in time, manpower, and budget). A few companies have their heads on straight and know what they are doing, but plenty of them are run, erm, "willy-nilly" I'll say to be polite - good studios who deserve respect for their past accomplishments, but who are in way over their heads in the current economic and business climates. I don't need to name names, anyone who pays more than a passing amount of attention to the industry news of the past couple of years can easily think of a few high-profile examples of what I am referring to.

But such is the game industry, it's quite well-known for it's usual topsy-turviness, dating back to the days when I was a kid (Crash of 1984!) This too will level out, and then it will eventually go haywire again - studios who were huge and in charge will become top-heavy and semi-collapse, some small places will have their eyes the prize and their heads screwed on properly and take good advantage for their own shot at market dominance. And so, the worm turns...

Follow our studio's progress at

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Re-Emergence Day

Greetings, out there in video-land. I am awake from my longer-than-long slumber and here to resume my particular brand of musings on the state of the videogame union.

This blog has necessarily been dark for some time, as I have been busy on a daily basis with the other blog and my own personal one - as well as an endless stream of work to deal with - though that is all changing now, as it's time once more to pick up the... err.. keyboard and get busy again. Off we go!

2009 has been an inordinately busy year for me. I got let go from a studio early this year as a big project of theirs went off the radar, to put it kindly. The other title I devoted my blood, sweat, and tears to the year and a half (or so) prior to all of that is still waiting to see the light of day - that means this is the longest drought in my 12 year career in games since a release (3 years now) had my name attached to it.

Well then what have I been up to since? A bit of freelance, tried getting a startup console group off the ground, banded together with a buddy to get some iPhone development underway, released a respectable app between the two of us, got a second (and profoundly more ambitious app) well into development, partied with a bunch of my peers, had a crazy E3 return-to-glory, got back in touch with character modeling and skinning (I am a level artist!), started to unravel Radiant, substitute-taught a couple of level and concept art classes, started helping out ANOTHER startup, and now pursuing another possible freelance partnership, so.. um.. you could say it's been a rather busy year.

How does this all leave me? In a good place. I am much happier now, in many ways, than I was when I was "just another studio monkey" - I am feeling much more in control of my own destiny, and excited about where things are leading. What does it mean for the present though? Our new iPhone game will release (6 weeks-2 months from now) and I am very excited for it. Whereas our 1st title was a humble experiment to learn the tech and pipeline of assembling such a project from start-to-finish, the next one will be (already is!) a game which I think looks great and is incredibly fun to play for any gamer worth his salt- As for getting back into the rat race? Well there's a lot of things on the table, some mentioned here, many kept hush-hush for reasons that anyone with half-a-brain can reason why-

As for the state of the game industry, well there's much to say on that subject. We will broach that topic next time-

Thursday, July 9, 2009

if I ever decide to raise children--

So I just had a thought. If I ever end up being the father of children, I will name them all after early 1980's classic video arcade games.

There will be Zaxxon Alpert, my eldest. She will likely have Attention Deficit Disorder, and get a lot of scorn from me while she is growing up. As she ages I will regret being such an unattentive dick and try to spoil her, but she will be forever bitter and never really forgive me. We will always resent one another, I can see her happily checking me into the old age home when I reach my geriatric years.

The second child will of course be Q*Bert Alpert. He will be the strange kid of the group, always jumping all over the furniture and swearing. I think he might suffer from Tourette's Syndrome.

Our third child will be Tempest Alpert. A fair-haired girl, Tempest will be Daddy's Little Girl and always have me wrapped around her finger. Such a spoiled, unappreciative girl.. she'll probably grow up to be kind of a hot chick, but ohhh what a short temper!

Child Number Four will likely be Galaga Alpert. Yes, this child will undoubtedly be a homosexual, but what can you do? So long as he is happy with his life, then his mother and I will support him.

If we can afford it, I'd like to raise a fifth child as well, that would be Donkey Kong Jr. Alpert. The fat kid at school who no one likes - and yet always following in his daddy's footsteps. I'll rely on him to get me out of jail now and then.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

E3 postmortem

E3 came, it went, so now it is back to business. Right?

Overall it was a good experience, as noted earlier the first day was kinda blase' and the second day was a ton of fun and drama. The third day I sat around at home and did some work (because - there's never a shortage of things to deal with!) In hindsight I sort of wish I made it out for day #3, there's so much I never did get to investigate - but to be honest, it's much easier to digest so much of what's going on across the whole convention if one is just relaxing in front of their PC and sucking up all the newsfeeds from the various websites and podcasts. Hell, I have "I-don't-know-how-many" hours of podcast backlog to work my way through, but rest assured I will (there's a fair amount of useful information to glean from them..) That all being the case, I don't feel like I had less than what I'd consider an optimal experience, I suppose. Some things I'd like to touch on-

-Project Natal/Milo - I watched some Youtubes of this. Definitely interesting, and worth keeping an eye on. I have investigated this kind of motion tracking technology recently, not firsthand but I know enough to the point where it looks legit. But it will not be cheap I am sure. I am also goign to side with all the people who worry about products like this "fracturing the market" and therefore only appealing to a niche audience, rather than having a full support (See, Nintendo obviously got that one right with Wii). Honestly, for me the big impressive thing was having teleconferencing righ tin your own living room through your Xbox - calling up your friends and seeing one another on your screen, that's sort of neat (and believable!) As for playing games without holding some kind of device, though, it just doesn't seem like it'd "feel" right..

As for the Milo AI demo, it's tough to say. I think that's probably a "proof of concept" thing matched with a little kerfloozery. I don't think we'll see stuff like this "for real" awhile yet, but down the road..

-Zune HD - Zune always looked and sounded like some weird Microsoft excuse to me. I never, ever even saw one, or heard anyone say they'd want to look at one. What the hell is a "Zoon" anyway! This sounds like they are finally getting their act together though, "we'll just rip off the iPod Touch" pretty much, but supporting with Xbox Live is a marvelously powerful idea. I daresay there's no way they cannot earn some decent market share if they handle this smartly. Xbox 360 has made a believer out of me that "Microsoft has it in them to know what they are doing with this general market"- even in Japan, for crying out loud! I still think "Zune" sounds almost as dumb as "Prius" but I think they will be good.

-PS3 motion control - looks neat and I love the demos on Youtube. Again I think it's a bunch of neat things that will not really get the hardcore backing they'll require to really make a big splash, it'll be expensive and again - niche market. I think they are just trying to say "we know what's up too, just like everybody else, so don't by a Kiddie Wii or an Aging 360 rather than our unit." Come on, they showed impressive Eye Toy gimmickry for years now and no one cares, no one's doing anything to take advantage of that power. That just required a consumer ot shell out for merely the camera device - this entire motion control setup will cost how much more?

-PSP GO - did I rant about this last time? Even if I did, it still deserves some whining. This is a terrible idea. If they stuck a 2nd analog on there it'd be easier ot swallow but still not worth it. If they crank the price down (like one hundred dollars less, for starters) than it's slightly more understandable. I feel bad for whoever is in charge of convicing people to buy this thing! Mind you I don't dislike Sony, never did - I just want to see them get some good footing again to support their powerful partners, and missteps like this are costly and ignorant. At least they are supporting that Sony Ericcson device (even if it's technically sort of competing with themselves in some way)

-Wii MotionPlus, we played EA Tennis and it felt - well, I didn't get down and dirty with it, but I would not say it was noticably much better feeling than good old Wi Sports tennis (still a very fun game, in spite of it's age, if you ask me). I didn't try out any other MotionPlus games, I would LOVE a "table tennis" or "air hockey"game, would shell out in a heartbeat if it honestly felt right.. Anyway I think this will be the one to watch, see if people shell out for this add-on. They really should have pushed this thing out the door from the start - come on. At least it looks much more affordable than the competition noted above..

-Team Ninja picks up Metroid - people are noticably mixed on their feelings regarding this game, I can't argue. Maybe if NG2 had come out differently. Watching that video of Samus tossing aliens just looked.. stupid. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they have some decent potential, but really this is just gonna feel like Metroid Gaiden (for a few reasons!) I think it will be forgettable. Leave Metroid to Retro/Armature/whoever's actually the Mother Brain of that thing (Gumpei!)

-Modern Warfare, Uncharted 2, Red Steel, Ratchet and Clank - the train keeps rolling. Assassin's Creed, well the trailer was pretty, I haven't paid enough attention to see where the actual gameplay was (more of the same right?)

-Disappointed to see no major iPhone presence. Come on.

Overall I would say E3 did a nice return to form, after the hibernation of the last couple of years. As I predicted, it was an industry of playing it safe, not pulling any crazy plans out from left field, and a sign that things are actually getting more conservative. Nintendo seemed strangely too relaxed, Rockstar seemed a little lazy/butthurt, I didn't pay any attention to Sega or Capcom (conservative, conservative). I bet next year will be interesting once more, but for now just sit back and play with your minigames, everybody.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

E3 2009 - Day Two

Whew! Well, here's what got done yesterday, then.

Tuesday was my "walk around and examine things with a critical eye" day. Wednesday was "hang out with all my buddies from various companies at the bar and talk trash and drink all day"-day. And of course try to take pictures of some booth babes occasionally. So then, I had a much better time than the previous day - it was more about relaxing and having fun than worrying about business..

Exhausted from the night before (following the first day of traipsing all over the show, "I'd hit the local tavern" for some drinking and dancing and had little more than 4 hrs of sleep!) I hopped outta bed, dusted myself off, grabbed a schwaerma at Al Wazir and hopped onto the Red Line straight to Downtown. 20 minutes in, met my buddies at the bar. Still a little hazy from the night before, chilled out and caught up and did the txt-message thing "Are you guys here? Well where are you?? meet at Gordon Biersch bar!" My buddies from Obsidian had already left by the time I showed up (lame!) but a lot of the ex-Neversoft fellows were hangin' around.. My buddy, his girl and I hit the halls and played a little EA Tennis on Wii (looks nice, more fun than the older Wii Sports version) and teased the girls at the Natsume booth, we grabbed the Ghostbusters promo guys and asked them to shoot the Afrika stuffed animals while I punched the giraffe and pretend-fed vodka to the zebra, it was sort of a full day. Take that Sony. You should have released Afrika YEARS ago. That's what you get. To be honest, I am wondering what a display to promote Home would look like... wouldn't that be a paradox?

Honestly we just fooled around a little, mostly just hanging out and having fun. Back at the bar, the crew was growing large and we got word of something going down at the Fig hotel and the pack of us moved on over there. One of the best things about E3 is the weird promo parties all over the place, some are big and some are quite small, but if you can find them and skeez your way in then you feel like a VIP for 15 minutes and can kinda hobnob with people who know what they are talking about, which is actually pretty fun! (Got to be careful not to be a jerk to people, especially when the free booze is flowing, don't wanna step on any feelings "how come your studio always makes such crappy games!" Oh,it happens...) Anyway we walked into this place like we thought we were actually supposed to be there, showed some guy with a list my E3 badge ad his face lights up "oh here's a wristband for the open bar!" WELL THANK YOU, SIR! One second it's empty and the next BAM 30 or 40 people crammed into a small tiny room eating deviled eggs and downing margeritas and talking about Play Control balance programming and iPhone app ideas..

The bathroom was strangely a mystery, asking a bouncer ended up with me and some random DICE guy (Mirror's Edge team) lost in the bowels of the hotel trying to find a W.C., finally we found one downstairs but there was a big IGN party raging down there and they weren't letting other people in. Somehow, some random Gamespy guy says "hey buddy I'll get you in," nice enough chap, we breeze past the bouncer and it's more similar madness as the upstairs Activision party only with WAY more booze and many many more people.. Scouting around, I ran into a fella with a Kaos Studios shirt on and struck up a conversation, about 30 seconds in it hit me "hey I remember you, job interview two years ago!" Kaos flew me out and we hit it off quite well, but I was way more tempted to stay in LA and work on the Aliens RPG at Obsidian (for an environment artist, that's pretty much a dream gig!) and though I've always wanted to live in NYC, there's a very tiny game-job scene compared to out here.. Anyway it was good to catch up with that dude, we went over stuff for a good 30 minutes. I ducked into the john and came back out, and WHOOSH the party done dried up. Seriously - all the booze was gone, all the people were gone. Retreated back upstairs to find my crew, that party'd wrapped up as well (and it was barely 10pm!) and so they all were chilling out back by the pool bar. I am there for one minute wen my buddy's girl starts swimming in the pool. Security was not a big fan of that, so they kindly asked us to split..

We were with a bigshot in our crew, he owns one of the companies I'd worked for previously - and he has a little crash pad downtown (separate from his house by the beach), was nice enough to invite us upstairs for more drinks and foosball. Seriously, this place was amazing - it's pretty much the dream of any dev who becomes successful that he can get a little satellite "home-away-from-home" place, load it up with art and booze and just go to chill to get away from the stresses of work and life, and just party..

My friend's wife lost her E3 pass, too bad she was borrowing it from his friend! He was not happy about this, rang us up and said "I'm coming over to get my pass, you had better find it (he hadn't been to the show yet, and with one day left wanted to at least get in once!) Anyway, the guy shows up and I gave him mine, I had enough E3 after two days personally. Situation defused, everyone's happy again, so we headed across the street to the bar to meet up with some other folks. Looks like the night can wind down peacefully..

..or can it? We walked in, nice little place, kinda posh, crowd was very mellow. A few of us walk upstairs and sit down - the bouncer rushes up and starts yelling "no one is supposed to be up here!" I guess he forgot to rope off the stairway. We apologized, we had no idea it was off-limits - I sat down to talk with some random artists who worked at Naughty Dog, and excited to get some contacts over there when my friend walks up "yeah, we've got to go now!" I guess the bouncer was not getting along so well with some folks in our gang, apparently still fairly rustled by the upstairs debacle. And so we split up and called it a night! My friend and I got a cab back to Silverlake, then I walked 4 miles back to Hollywood - hit my pillow and crashed O-U-T.

So, I had to leave some of the juicier bits out of this entry, I'll have to get to them someday. It was a crazy night! But that's what E3 is all about. Sure, it is a lot about business and the future of the marketplace, the tech - but it's also about the extravagance, the indulgence. I make no bones about it, working in games is a very demanding job that takes a LOT of time, energy, dedication, and just plain stubbornness. It winds you up pretty good, especially after you've done it for several years. As you go through this industry, you work very intimately with lots of people across various different disciplines, and you all really bond as you do this. It's quite fraternal, and it's my favorite part of the job. When E3 rolls around, this is when it feels like a celebration of this aspect, the gathering of lots of us folks - the low-end guys, the mid-level grunts, the rich-ass power players, we all get slammed together for a few days and it's our opportunity to just let our hair down for a minute and revel in our love of what we do and our camaraderie - while some of the people who we've helped make EXTREMELY RICH foot the bill and let us experience a little taste of the luxury for just a bit.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

E3 2009, Day 1 report

9PM, sitting at home for a couple of hours now, here's the wrap-up.

It's been 2 years since I've attended E3 (since many have!) so I was kinda looking forward to the Return of the Spectacle. Well, long story short - it was really meh, is all I have to tell you. Yeah, there were some interesting announcements, take your pick (Team Ninja doing a new Metroid, all the fancy new Xbox 360 and PS3 peripherals, Mario Galaxy 2 announcement, etc). But overall, just kind of a feeling that "man this would have been a lot more exhilarating a couple of years earlier!" I am sure there's a few things to it (not to get all into it, but yeah like I said it's not the same mood when you are job-hunting at E3 as opposed to just taking it in and relaxing, catching up with friends, and so forth) - really I was surprised that the attendance was much smaller than I had expected, you could actually get through the halls fairly easily and there weren't insane lines all over the place to see things from my POV. I guess it's sort of what I'd called in my previous post - things are pulled back these days, you're not really seeing a lot of impressive innovation, everyone's just trying to put out tried-and-true product that will ensure money coming in. But damn, so dull. Hey look ANOTHER Need for Speed! Sure it looks nice but who cares? PGR looked amazing 4 years ago! Another Shaun White. More cooking games. Yawny McYawnerstein.

Anyway, what did I actually look at?

-GI JOE - as was evident from the screens released months ago, this looked like a poor (very) last-gen game. The action and such didn't look so bad, but not noteworthy and the visuals were just very blase. Come on, we have Unreal Tech, why show us this?

-Need for Speed - see above.

-TMNT Smash - I didn't really look at it or play it but it looks like they are trying to follow the Smash Bros blueprint. Is that license still viable though? Stuff gets old.

-New Super Mario Bros. Wii - This sounded interesting to me. I could still sit down and play through a round of good old SMB. Unfortunately, the game was not exactly captivating. I never played New Super Mario Bros. (on DS) but I imagine it felt like this. This was not what I want Mario to feel like, to play like! It's all floaty now with the LBP-3D feeling, but not in a good way. Honestly I would much rather stick with the fanmade levels on LBP at this point. I am not a naysayer against new Mario (Galaxy etc) but something about this just didn't feel like I could wrap myself around it. I ran out of caring after beating a round. I don't like how it handles the 2P simultaneous mode, feels like an afterthought/frustrating.

-Zombie Apocalypse (PSN) - played excatly how I thought it would. Yawn.

-Pixeljunk Shooter - I knew this would be fun. These guys have that certain something that makes weird little titles fun. I would download this. Maybe just demo, but ya know.

-Wii Sports Resort - I wanted to try the new MotionPlus, but got bored watching the guy in front of me shoot hoops. I think the fencing might be alright. It's hard to get psyced about Mii stuff at a scene like E3.

-Transformers - they showed vids of it on the big Activision screen. I can't say much for the gameplay but they really nailed the visuals - it looks like what you'd want a Michael Bay Transformers game to look like. Hopefully they can put the pieces back together following the previous rushjob installment.

-Tony Hawk Ride - I was pretty tempted to try this out, with the new skatboard peripheral. I actually got pretty far in the (admittedly short) line but got bored waiting for the guy ahead of me to practice the simple maneuvers - also the screens they were showing didn't look very appealing at all, graphically. I will say this though, I can see why they decided to make a new board rather than use the Wii Fit board - skaters can grab the deck in their hands and get more of a "skater feeling" if that makes sense.

-DJ Hero - this is so tough to tell. They had a big demo where they really broke it all down and showed the nuts and bolts of the game - the thing is, with these types of games it's really hard to tell how it feels just by watching someone play it. It could be really fun or just very complicated and confusing. I applaud them for going out on a limb and at least, trying something a little unorthodox (such as it is). I will reserve judgement, it's definitely going to be a harder sell than Guitar Hero in some ways..

-Lego Rock band - saw this there, it was exactly as you'd expect. Rock band, with Legos, yawn. I make fun of it, but I think we'll probably pick this up cause Rock Band doesn't seem to age that badly. I don't like looking at the Lego avatars though, I wish they had a reskin with the current Rock Band? Or just release all the same tracks for us, same price? Please?

-Rock Band Unplugged (PSP) - this reviewed fairly well on IGN recently. I don't think there's anyway to say it's good or not after playing it at E3, it's reduced down to it's simplest formula (watching bars and hitting buttons) - and you can't hear the audio at all! So, don't ask me.

-Motorstorm PSP - looked alright, a little crunchier like PS1. I just donnnn't like PSP, what can I say.

What else did I see? Um.. Steve Wiebe was there playing Donkey Kong (OG) to try and recapture the world record, that was funny. People would cheer as he cleared rounds - it was odd. A little hypnotic to watch for awhile, but ti was getting late and we had to move on. I wish Billy Mitchell was there!!

There was a little "indie area," actually I wished this section was bigger. It was fairly anemic, but kudos to them for representing. Not much to really yell home about, but a couple of the games were actually pretty impressive! They mentioned there's some indie game fest due up in... October, I believe, I wanna say it was gonna be in Culver City. I'll check back on that, definitely would like to check that out.

It's hard to judge E3 by the same standard I usually would. It's one of those strange things that really seems to pop up in the more unusual times of my life, and now is not really any different. I can't say it's really the ideal time for me to be indulging in that madness, so I can't expect to have such a great time as I often do (and sometimes it's just been REALLY GOOD DAMNED TIMES!) I blame that on circumstances of life more than just some convention however (and not like my life is even bad, at all, it's just not as... innocent and rambunctious as it'd been in the past). There's obviously something to attending the show when you are a bigshot dev on a cool project vs when you are just a scrub lookin' for work.. hahaha. Ah well, time to hit the bar...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kick me out of E3!! AGAIN!!

What's up Mouseketeers. It's about 6:30 Monday evening, I just got back from downtown. Yeah, E3 isn't open to the masses until tomorrow, but I wanted to beat the madness and get a badge holder one day early - as opposed to waiting in line with 20,000 smelly nerds for a piece of plastic. I mean, I will wait with those same nerds all day long for other things I am sure..

It was funny walking in there. I was able to breeze Downtown from Hollywood in a flash (surprised!), parked for free (surprised - ALSO!), walked around the entire building the wrong way 'cause I am a moron, found my way to the South Hall Entrance where they were still setting up the most ginormous Rock Band Presented by Pepsi display I have ever seen, strolled up to the front of the line with my bade and presto. Actually, it felt like the end of E3s' past, since it was generally quite mellow with the occasional straggler here and there, and most folks seemed bored and sleepy. Soon, soon. Tomorrow will be a different story.

I am reminded of the last time that I was attending E3 without a job - that was back in 2001, I was freshly out of work from the collapse of 3DO (and my division, New World Computing). Working frantically to get my portfolio into some presentable state, and hurrying to get business cards printed until the last-last minute, I had been out of work long enough that I didn't have proper credentials for my own badge and so my programmer buddy from Neversoft lent me his ('cause he didn't care anyway!) For some reason, Matt put "Matty" on his badge - and I got randomly screened, after one hour, while entering an exhibit hall. "Is your name really 'Matty?' Let me see your ID!" I tried to call their bluff, but of course my Driver's License don't lie, so they stripped me of the badge and kicked me out, with my biz cards, portfolio samples and resumes - all I wanted to do was a find a job! Sob, sob. I didn't have a driver's license at the time so I sat outside and waited for the rest of my friends to finish up so we could go home. Pathetic, I know! I'd been 4 years in the game industry already - and now, a convention full of fat smelly nerds was rejecting me. Ah, the irony.

Well, that was (ulp) eight years ago. Sadly, I guess I may not have come so far, here we are at another E3 and I am still scrounging for work, same old story. In fact after I wrap up this entry, I need to bring my new business card template down to Kinkos/FedEx/whatever the hell they call it now and print up a bunch for my partner's and my new iPhone game venture. At least this time if I get kicked out of the show, it's cause I was doing something particularly unruly, not just crappy luck!

News-wise - lots of info already spilling out from the pre-show, Microsoft had their conference already earlier today. To tell the truth I've not done more than give a cursory glance to all the goings-on, what with running around and sending out bill payments and cashing checks and then all the admin setup for my new website, figuring out how to do MIDI capture and editing (I am 30 years too late, I know), and trying to give my girlfriend a moment of attention here and there... Anyway something about "Microsoft full-body movement control sensor," PSP GO (PSP GO AWAY!) .. they just don't understand... More Halo's (what's an ODSF?) Trailers for everything, I was proud to see a giant spectacular ALPHA PROTOCOL wall display inside of South Hall Section K.

The next couple of days will be a migrain, hopefully I can shmooze my way into some E3 party or other (yeah, yeah...) Good luck troops..

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pre-E3-itis, Second Verse

It is so funny to watch the game websites and forums in the week following up to E3. All the big studios drop all their big plans in the weeks (and final days) before the actual show itself, seems to be the trend - isn't this one of the big reasons why the show's format got altered in the first place, supposedly (competing with one another for attention in the midst of overstimulation?) With that in mind, it's notable that there doesn't seem to be a lot of hubbub for anyone to be raving about. Sega and EA both have (relatively) lackluster showings. Nintendo seems pretty tight-lipped, I guess we can expect to see some semi-interesting Wii titles from them next week but I doubt anyone's expectations are so high (as noted in my last blog post, "things are rather quiet these days..") Unusual to hear about High Voltages upcoming games (it's been awhile since they made some noise?) Activision dribbled out a couple of early tracklisting morsels for their Guitar Hero franchise, but really is anyone THAT thrilled about some new tracks (in this age of DLC) - as well, the new Tony Hawk game's been getting a little press, though it's more of a lot of "what? they're thinking wa-what?" when considering their new balance-board remniscient peripheral and lofty (rumored) price-tag. The new DJ Hero Turntable popped up as well recently, no surprise there, I think a lot of folks are waiting to get their hands on it at E3 (any chance?) before it gets written-off as "too late to the Beatmania party.." Well, we will see.. Anyway, they got Call of Duty, which will sel no matter what..

But, yeah, all is quiet. I don't think anyone expects to see much noteworthy out of DS or PSP, and I doubt there's much more expectation for Sony to come strong with (potentially powerful) hype for MAG (I love that name!) XBox is getting long inthe tooth now, if anyone's got a chance of showing up with somthing crazy I guess it would be them - but they always leak their stuff notoriously early. All we got in our sights is the HD Zune - which is a lot, mind you, but it's still gonna play second fiddle to iPhone if you ask me, unless they do something particularly clever and outrageous.

Yeah, I may be full of a lot of hot air, but I have been watching these markets for awhile now. Again, it's a tight economy and the release slate for this year is scant - also lots of previous big players (like THQ and Midway) are getting spanked badly, while guys like Microsoft, Sony and even the all-powerful EA have been closing shops and letting people go quite a bit in the past years' time - include the already-wilting Sega in that list (and I am a Sega fanboy, mind you!), it's a telling sign if there's not a few more half-assed Sonic games showing on this years roster (yeah, there's a Winter Games one, but otherwise..). And does anybody remember a company called Atari??

So I am declaring this, the E3 where it supposedly returns to it's former glory, the Year of the Casuals. The year of the Stifled Development. Expect to see a lot of gusts of smoke and disappointment. So hilarious that they pulled in the reigns for E3 just as the whole industry was getting incendiary, Wii and PS3 and 360 were raging in their freshness and youth and money was being poured full-bore into development everywhere, studios were overambitiously augmenting their team sizes ("why make 2 hits when we can just as easily churn out four?!!")

Well, we'll see some interesting iPhone stuff. Anyway don't fret, as the economy buttons up (I hope!) we'll see better conventions in the future. For now, just enjoy the love-in.. Hopefully, I will be able to find a still-existing Kentia Hall, where I can play Paperboy and Galaga (and Scramble on the Vectrex!) while listening to 8-Bit Weapon. Sounds good enough to me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Hot Damn Applesauce, how did THIS happen? It's excatly one week to go 'till the Electronic Games Expo once again descends upon our horrible, innocuous town..

It's a shock really, I've known it was coming for some time now (waiting for it with baited breath) as it's quite a symbol for many things in my life. A deadline, certainly - but also a true milestone, in each of the years since I have moved out here (nearly 10, now!) E3 was effectively put on ice for the last couple of years, reduced to less than a pathetic shadow of it's former grandeur, as it were - I am quite surprised to see that it's supposedly going to be a huge mosh pit of videogaming madness once again, I have to admit.

I am actually - NOT really looking forward to it, as opposed to my usual attitude. Right now is not really a god time for me to be participating in such insanity, I am really really busy and also really really broke. In fact, I am feeling quite antisocial as well - if it were up to me, I wouldn't mind if they could somehow postpone it for another month or two (that'd make so many things SO much easier). But, of course, the world seldom works that way, so too bad right?

Anyway E3 is usually a celebratory time for me, when I get to go out feeling like "Mr Cool Guy" and getting recklessly drunk in public and making all sorts of scene. This time it will be different, I am sure I will knock back a few at the bar, but really what I want to do is scour the landscape, document as much as I can, I am much more business-minded these days then I was several years ago. With games, the proof is in the pudding, and there will be a whole lot of pudding on display in a few days. It's overwhelming and exhausting to think about, in advance. All I can hope is that some good comes of it, for me..

Things have been tremendously busy for me in the past months. I have been working on several plans with a few different groups of people. Much of it has been back-and-forth-nebulous, but enough of it has powered me to keep going forward. I'll spit some of it out into the world shortly, to whatever consequence.. I am very looking forward to that point, when you cut something loose and truly "get the ball rolling." It's so hard to build up to that initial point, it sounds quite doable on paper but the reality is often that there's so much middling BS to mind as well that things tend to get a little messed up here and there. At this point in my life, in ANY project, I really come to expect it. Still, without speaking too whispy, I will say that I have been exercising my creative muscles quite a lot lately and it's making me feel quite competent. Now, so long as my nerves can hold out in the meantime..

The game world is - well, it's there. This has been a rather quiet spring, leading up to a customarily quiet summer. There's no huge tentpoles sticking out for the other ass-end of the year, 2009 is such a wash compared to an oversaturated 2008 (itself an orgasmic followup to an also hectic 2007). Hell year-on-year it's been this gargantuan, unstoppable, quite ridiculous really. And now here we are at the plateau - gears is behind us, resistance, rock bands and guitar heroes, halo this and that, whatever else it is that sony makes - wii is following up with decent titles these days but their luster has finally worn (no mario kart or zelda these days!) What do we get this year? GTA DLC, Bioshock 2 and.. um. I guess Modern Warfare 2 will clean up at the end of the year. No slouch, but something punchy is missing. A LOT is missing.

I have taken my usually-keen gaze away from the console arena a bit and I've been watching the downloads, the mobile stuff.. not that it's all wacky, but it's at least a little noteworthy. iPhone is the big catchphrase these days, it's no surprise, it is still trying to find it's way as a unique platform (more than enough support is there, it has it's own crazy market, the tech is quite formidable) but the "gamer" market is not quite absolutely embracing it just yet, it's still sort of a glorified Gameboy. I am waiting for someone to come and clean up shop and take over, they are really sitting on a goldmine (and I wonder how long they'll be able to fly in the face of the competitors, specifically Microsoft with it's endless deep pockets and eyes set squarely on "taking over the world of ANY KIND OF OS and INTERFACE DEVICE")

Man, I am so tired. So much thinking, there's a lot of things on my mind these days. I can no longer just sit back ad let some higher-up make the decisions, and hope that they don't trickle down and ruin my life (again). I am trying to be much more proactive, it's a necessity. I will always feel like such an outsider in this spiteful industry, I guess there's something to that then.. Anyway, back to work.

Friday, May 1, 2009

hello from the great beyond

well, it has been ages since I have posted on my "game industry blog," how's that then? Things are alright, it's been a few months that I am out of work now. All things considered, overall it is not bad. I am exceptionally busy, probably as much as I usually am during the thickest of it - trying to maintain my nerves as there's just so much volume to deal with lately. I feel like I finally understand how a producer feels, in some regards - just spending the day on the phone with this guy or that fellow, trying to see where everything is at, trying to keep some cover on the documentation of everything, trying to plan backups for A, B and C, and essentially trying to be the glue that holds everything together in some fashion. And, trying to be creative and productive on TOP of that (and also take out the trash, do the laundry). Hey! Yesterday I went to the gym! It was the first time in weeks.. sigh..

Despite my frenetic pace, I am in a good place. There's a lot of progress going on, it's not by any means smooth but I am certainly getting a lot of things taken care of. I am feeling ridiculously creative right now - since I am no longer quite so pigeonholed (and feeling powerless in that way), my brain is free to spit things out in a forum where it's actually useful for a change. I am getting a lot of valid ideas on the table, some useful, others which lead to usefulness, in some ways. It is very invigorating. Sure, I am broke and stressed, but at least I feel happier for a change..

The game world is pretty mellow these days, unsurprisingly. Not much new is out, not much is on the horizon. No surprise for this year, truly an in-between year in the Annals of Game History. I played the demo for Bionic Commando last night (the next-gen version) - they put out a multiplayer demo. Not my thing, but then, I am no multiplayer combatant. Seems fine for what it is, and some people like it. I think when the full game releases, it will look alright!

I am spending a lot of time watching the iPhone scene lately. very, very interesting market. Man, Apple are such stalwarts, everything they do is always so zigzaggy and stubborn but - damn them, they ALWAYS figure it out somehow!! I have much to day about iPhone.. for now I gotta get a move on..

Monday, February 23, 2009


Oh, I feel dirty. It was bad enough when (gulp) I acquired an Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii all within mere months of one another. Worse, when I participated in some kind of online connections with each. But now-- NOW-- I have actually downloaded and installed Steam onto my PC. HEAVEN HELP ME - I KNOW NOT WHAT I HAVE DONE. Sigh. That's just for research. It can't have any possible bad repercussions in the future, can it? ULP.

Things are alright. I am busy as hell with all that has been going on. Learning lots of stuff. Running things thru my head, particularly business-wise. To be honest, it's nice sitting around at home and really I'd love to pull away from the PC and plant in front of the TV and just.. play some frickin' GAMES, man. Once in awhile I will look into my shelf full of software, longingly "soon, my pets... soon.." You know what - some of those discs have been sitting there for YEARS. Some of them have never even been removed from their cases, even - pathetic, eh? It's not laziness, it's just I don't have time to enjoy my hobby anymore! What used to be my hobby anyway.. Well, if I DID have time to indulge right now, I am sure I'd be further investing time into LittleBigPlanet - also Thunder Force VI which I picked up as a second-hand import. My friends gave me some Xbox points for my bday so I would likely check out R-type Dimensions, 'cause it looks so neat and trippy. Honestly, as mentioned earlier, I am anticipating the eventual release of Space Invaders Xtreme (or whatever they call it) on Live - that's probably my #1 interest in all of gaming, odd as it may sound (I still regularly enjoy rounds of the oldschool one - even all these years later, there's still something weirdly entrancing about it). Otherwise, hook my X-Arcade stick up to the original Xbox and go to town with Mame. Right now my idea of paradise, dorky as it sounds, is going through a 12-pack and a full day of no worries and just that..

I have a new PC running here at home.. it's a.. damn, I AM so weak with the tech... a P4 3.80 Ghz, 2GB of Ram. Some kinda video card in there too. In spite of it all, I am a shitty nerd so I don't know what that means so much, other than that it doesn't choke and kill me wen I try and run Photoshop, a 3D app and mayyyybe a game engine all at the same time. It might not be psyched, but at least it doesn't crawl. Also, unlike my old box, the thing hardly sounds like a damned vacuum cleaner when it is running. I like the future! And, more bonus, it doesn't take 35 minutes from powering the on-switch! Well okay that last one is likely my own fault, between age, viruses, adware, shitty uber-fragmented drives and what-have-you. Also, this is funny - i have an older (couple years) 500Gb USB drive, Maxtor, it was essentially my jukebox - that and a bunch of necessary data as well, it pooped out on me like a good 9 months ago or so. I tried the freezer trick. i tossed it around a bit (bad idea). I set it in the closet for.. oh, 7 months. One day I will have enough spare scratch, perhaps, to shuffle it around for resuscitation, oh I dunno if it is worth it even. But I did find a "hard drive repair" program which attempts to file through the partitions and see what can be salvaged. Sure, why not, it's just sitting in the damn closet anyway! Ah so it's been plugged in, and the app's been running. I launched it.. Uh.. a week and a half ago? Let's see where it is now (checks) 14%. Oh okay that's incredibly promising. So now it's what, almost the end of February? So sometime after July 4th then maybe I can see how much of my data got corrupted then? Sigh.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

business minded

it's been a wild week, kind of. lots of ups and downs - lots of things to think about. stuff that makes me happy, stuff that makes me depressed. stuff that makes me feel pressured - i guess it sounds like every other week in my professional life, right? anyway, it's good to keep busy, and there's a lot of directions that everything could go right now. today i woke up VERY late, after being grilled by the unemployment lady on the phone (that stuff is still up in the air - lovely!) Cleaned up my house a little, took a long walk thru hollywood - i like doing that, makes me remember i live in a world that exists beyond just my desk, fridge and toilet - had a nice burrito ultimo at baja fresh, contemplated hitting hooters next door for $2.50 beer specials (all day Thursday!) but, super-stuffed from my $9 Burrito (yeah,I need to not do that stuff right now!) i continued to amble on down hollywood blvd, westbound. They blocked off the main street cuz the academy awards are coming up and they have a massive show to prep - i rounded the corner on la brea then made my way back homewards.

got home, downloaded Noby Noby Boy for PS3 (by the dude who made Katamari Damacy) - messed with that a bit, then plunged back into learning a new game engine, i need to produce a self-imposed test to get a shot at a decent job that i am looking at. I know a guy over there, I don't know how good of an in it is (but anything helps!) - looking at their editor, it's a little cumbersome but not TOO bad so far, just trying to adapt my usual style and pick up like I always do (a lot of that in my life lately!). I am familiar enough of the theme they wanna see, so i am not to worried about nailing it at this point - hell, i have done it enough times before. just concerned "will i make it in enough time, before someone else snatches up that position?" and all the usual "what other limiting factors are gonna work against me?" But yeah, the course is always the same really. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I have my hands in lots of things right now. Perhaps a few too many - mostly interesting, some kind of outrageous. There's enough stress to keep me motivated to follow up as much as possible, well - between that and hope for a better future. One day it will line up alright! But yeah, good to be busy, and kinda nice to feel like i am kinda in charge of my destiny --- kiiiinda. As usual, i must remain humble, good to be confident but bad to lean on it, especially during these trying times.

Grab another beer and get back to work - now!

Friday, February 13, 2009

that weight has fallen

It was leaning against the side of my computer and keeping it from making the damn whirry "I am gonna explode someday, soon" noise.

Tonight I drove out to the valley, it was my friend's kid's birthday. it made me melancholy - i really dislike the valley (as many do) for several reasons, but i do miss working there. in my decade-plus career in the industry, I have to say that my time at Neversoft was definitely the happiest, in many ways. Yeah, there were umpteen million tony hawk games put out by the time I joined up, but it was still a labor of love for many of the folks cranking them out even after that many iterations - and there was still a long way for things to go. But, that's beside the point - that was one of those studios which had attracted and maintained such a potent staff of wonderful, talented people, not only in their own right but collectively. I always used to refer to it as "imagine if you worked at a company with all of your best friends," even some of the shadier guys who kind of were more standoffish at first ended up being really genuinely cool guys who were a blast to hang out with. Man, I knew people at that studio for ages, and for my reasons I avoided trying to get in the door, I suppose - when I finally came around, well - it was kind of late, but I was still there long enough to learn and appreciate what i have just relayed. And of course, time passed and things change, as they always do. Projects changed, people left, priorities changed. Obviously, since that relative lull NS has gone on to be an even bigger and dramatically more successful company (lightning struck twice, who would have thought) - but the point I am settling on now is irrelevant in that regard.

Hollywood, I love it here, I really do - but it's a damned dark place. Not dark like the Combat Zone, per se, but still dark and shitty enough that you see a lot of messed up things when you venture out for a good time with your buddies, you see a lot of stupid people doing asinine things. You see your buddies getting a little sucked up into it; you see yourself getting sucked up too. So, yeah, after nearly a decade of this, one tends to get kinda down and depressed I guess (plus, hey, I am getting old). But hell, tonight hanging out with my buddies, those of the gang I used to see every day, work alongside, man - they have things that stress them, but they just seemed HAPPY, you know? One of the guys from Neversoft, he and his wife just had a kid and we watched them unwrap her 1st Birthday presents with her. And it was really a good time - just happy people, happy being together. It makes me a little sad, thinking back to those days, when things just were a little less complex, when we were all wrapped up in this stuff together, that excitement and enthusiasm.

The future is still bright, and it still makes me excited. I have a mixed feeling about my experiences over the past couple of years, it's not my interest to get into it now very much - for my own personal reasons as much as others - but I will say that I am very proud of the strides I have made, the tools I have learned, the work I have done, the perseverance and fortitude I have displayed, if only for self-gratification. And also, very importantly, I have made other friends since moving on from "that dream job," every time that's honestly one of the brightest points of this whole deal, working in this industry. It's not a shitty competitive rat-race. It's a brotherhood, it's fraternity, it's respect and appreciation and admiration. Yeah, sometimes I have been betrayed to some degree, I have had stupid crap happen, that happens to everyone. You never get less bitter for it, but you learn from it, and you move on, and you must appreciate all the positives that come out of it.

It's a sad time for a lot of folks in the world right now, even in this blog I have been writing much of the layoffs at many game companies - yeah, well there's plenty of poor SOBs out there in the world who have nothing to do with the games industry who are getting the pink slips handed to them en masse as well, let's not forget about them either all right! Good luck to us all, steel up for some more shitty darkness, and hopefully something good will come out of all of this, soon enough.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

tough as nails

So, things are alright. 2009 has been quite an interesting year out of the gate, and it's barely even started yet. I have to say I was a little disappointed at the beginning "oh it will be another one of THOSE years" and now - well, it's gonna be something. Just not too sure what...

The world of videogames is evolving in difficult and strange, painful ways. I guess it shouldn't be shocking, and yeah "the salad days" as we knew them are definitely over. There's still a lot of exciting, fun times coming, but it's gonna be hugely different from PS1 and PS2 eras. The world shapes games, and they shape the world. It's okay - even from my jaded standpoint, things have been kind of stale for awhile and in need of a drastic kick in the pants. It will come - the seeds are there (xbox live!). Nintendo and it's juggernaut systems will keep sailing along pretty powerfully. I don't know what things will look like when the dust clears, the world will still be there though!

I am really busy with my website, I have spent several hours pouring over it the past couple of weeks - have a look! - those that have seen it before will probably think "oh doesn't look that much different really.." Well, with certain things you can work on them a lot over time, even artistically - and the changes will be nearly negligable to the naked eye, but when you're dealing with a, ahem, nitpicky audience, a little will go a long way. The point is I have been running my website, in one form or another (it's pretty much direct from the same source - it's always been a portfolio website!) and though it's been upended quite a bit over time, I have it pretty comfortably representing myself, professionally, at this stage. There's always more I could do with it - and some of the stuff up there is painful as hell to look at and must get resolved ASAP - but for what it is worth, I am proud of my work and how it is presented there. Let me take this opportunity to request any feedback (always!) on anything up there, the overall design/presentation/individual content, anything that anyone sees that looks like it should be revamped or removed or whatever, please let me know - any info is always welcome and useful.

It is a really busy time for me right now. I have so much to think about, and a lot of important things to deal with - I wish I could write more about it on this blog, I will when the time is right. I will say this much, it is exciting and stressful at the same time (but then that is how it usually goes). Either way, watch this space, no matter what I should have some cool things to show and interesting news to relay soon enough.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the disco will find you

Tuesday night, I sit here at my desk at Obsidian, digesting a freshly-devoured turkey sandwich. This sandwich, it should be noted, not only had pickles on it, but also coleslaw - some semi-spicy mustard - a dabble of half-fake mayonnaise, and some healthier (?) cheese substitute that still tastes enough like cheese that i will accept it. All of this, compliments of the fridge which resides next to my desk will i work, every day. Ah hell yes, it is the life, isn't it, folks???

So, I am a bit down lately. Work is taking me out a bit, I review my eleven preceding years in the games industry and realize I still have to make "the big hit." I have had a couple of close calls, that is I have been at some places where if things worked out differently for me I'd be a rather rich man by now. I could have had some crazy guitar hero residuals. I could have had some insane WOW money. God damn, if only I had a crystal ball... But that's the thing. It's hard to see this stuff coming. You never know where your studio is going to steer, nor what will be the Next Big Thing. I mean, to harp on it again, look at freakin' guitar hero. Look at it! That thing could have been made a decade ago! (Oh wait - it was!) Well, there's a clear-cut case of something showing up before it's time and not being properly implemented, but at least someone was on the ball with the thought process. Anyway even at the start of it's current genesis (as opposed to Konami's initial offerings) it still had some hurdles to pass, and a couple of iterations to catch on, but here it is. And now it's just a box with bars that float down it, while zillions of dollars are being made. So.. what, then, IS NEXT?

This is what all my bretheren are scratching their heads on while they cruise on the freeway each day. "Where's the next idea? Who's got the next crazy gimmick that everyone will want to shell out megabucks for? What do we want - what do THEY NEED?" And then, less troubling, how many times can we repackage this chippity choppity and crank it out until the stuff is milked and drained?

Well, I won't get all crazy with this. I am not in this "just for the money" - but hell. I get tired of working my ass off and pouring my heart and soul into this stuff, and years pass, and I'm still driving a beater, dressing like I am homeless, feeling kinda crushed and run-over while the world kind of keeps whizzing past me. It's funny, I can sometimes think of some ways to "get rich quick" but hey - it's pretty hard to just detach yourself from your relatively stable sure-thing routine and put everything on the line like that, especially when we are not living in the most prosperous of times. Honestly - I am so happy and fortunate right now to just have a JOB, and one where the people are cool, the projects are cool, and there's a lot of things that I can feel positive about. Yeah, of COURSE there's problems which make me feel madness. Sure I hate scrounging and compromising things in my life, who doesn't. But the industry is a different beast right now, it's no longer a case of "hum a few bars and I'll fake it." Competition is beyond ridiculous now (look how many AAA FPS titles released in the past few months!) - there's just not really much room for dicking around. 2008 was an incredibly rough year for games, one that really surprised me a lot - and so my guard is understandably up for the new year as a result. At this point - just let me keep doing what I do. I will walk the walk and talk the talk. I won't be a bitch and I won't be a whiny "i wiiiiish things could be difffferent!" Yeah, we all get antsy sometimes (we are people, not robots!) but at the beginning of the day and the end of the day, I pass through the main lobby of this office building - and I always feel pretty DAMN good to be passing in and out.

So what am I playing right now? Well.. COD4 oooorah, and Mappy.

OOorah! I want to put colecovision on my game boy micro. OOOOOrah!

Monday, January 12, 2009

adios EGM

and so, another great videogame institution comes to an end. Though in many ways, for me EGM has been gone for so many years now, at least the one "of my childhood" - that rough, rushed-out magazine with half-realized misinformation and crappy editing, but all the same it looked very loved by those who worked on it and hey, it SPOKE to me! I would run to the mailbox every month hoping the new copy would be tightly folded in there, waiting for me - i still have a bunch of the old issues in a box in my closet, held together with staples and tape. "Turbografx-16 or Sega Genesis, which is better? First look at Super Mario 4, and Sega Genesis CD-ROM!" Ah the good old days.

EGM as it's been since I've been working in the industry is a whole different affair, but times are of course extremely different - oh, but they are. I don't need to go into it for the umpteenth time, about how games are a much bigger corporate deal than the days of my youth when it was merely a "hobby/toy" type of thing in the eyes of the industry.. Also, it's very important to mention how media/news dissemination has changed rather globally as well. It's no surprise that magazines (print journalism) just cannot compete with online journalism in many ways, though that isn't to say that print hasn't still got an important place (or is no longer relevant). It's sad to see that the online arm of EGM ( really dropped the ball in maintaining pertinence alongside rivals like Gamestop or IGN (perhaps they should have followed through with some kind of merger in earlier times) and kept their legacy going - as it looks now, things are just hitting a wall and splintering. That's not to say no good will come of this - a lot of the 1UP/EGM editors have quite high visibility on the games journalism scene, and no doubt many of the more "regal" ones will at least be able to maintain their presence elsewhere, in a way that people can still follow along. Yeah, things like "the 1UP show" and "the Brodeo" are no longer in existence, but they do leave a legacy and some smart and talented people in their wake. Hopefully, time and money will both be on their sides to continue in an appreciable fashion. I mean, I would watch the 1UP show as often as possible, it was far from perfect but certainly a great way to see what was going on arond the industry, in many ways (even if from a very particular view).

It's interesting to see where gaming journalism is going - other than EGM, I'd been a pretty staunch reader of IGN for ages (though as my time became more precious, and IGN became more blowhardy/illegible, I barely look at it more than a couple of times a month these days!). It's hard to argue with sites like NeoGAF, and Gamasutra - between those two, and the aforementioned podcasts, I would generally feel failry well-informed on the state of things across the board, in at least a pretty broad fashion. I still have things to pay attention to, but yeah - I have been spoiled! Please, some one else, rush in to fill the gap...

It was not hard to foretell the end of EGM. I think I made some mention of this in recent blog posts, basically several high-level people have been leaving long-held positions at the magazine/network. It was only a matter of time really (also, the PC edition closed up shop a good 6 months or so ago, as well...) I can't say I am really that sad about the physical mag coming to an end, again it's not the same as it was years ago, all things considered.. but it was nice while it lasted. Good luck to all of those who lost their jobs (it's been a pretty rough season!) and I absolutely look forward to hearing more from those talented folks in the future. I will go on the record here, if we see something else along the lines of a professionally-produced 1UP Show/1UP Yours/Brodeo set of things pop up, I would definitely pitch in a few dollars for a subscription (as opposed to the free model of the past). That would certainly be worth a few bucks to me!