Boston Sing Along

The Boston in this video is just like Dude. Whenever I play the recorder, flute or trumpet Dude will just wail along with me. It seems like certain notes trigger him, I wonder if it's the same notes for this dog. Perhaps it could be the motion of tilting the instrumented mouth up toward the sky. Maybe that motion triggers some primal howl function in the dog. Or possibly he's just trying to tell me I suck and I should give up the trumpet.

Bathroom Heat

Last night there was a fire in the restroom here at Santa Monica Studios. Check out some aftermath photos over at potatoes' blog. I guess the fan was on and just caught fire. Scary because I leave my fan on at home while I'm not there to pull the moisture out of my bathroom. I hope I don't have the same brand fan. Maybe I stop leaving it on.

God of War Bloggers

There have been several of my co-workers blogs recently brought to my attention, so I thought it was time to do a re-cap of all of the God of War bloggers.

Max Ancar - 1 & 2 - Particle System Artist
Cory Barlog - 1 & 2 - Animator, Director
Michael Cheng - 2 - Level Designer
Derick Daniels - 1 & 2 - Combat Designer
Johnny Hawkins - 1 & 2 - Level Designer
Cecil Kim - 1 & 2 - Concept Artist
Gio Luis - 1 & 2 - Animator, Character Rigging
Jason Minters - 1 & 2 - Technical Artist
Potatoes - 1 & 2 - Character Artist, Concept Artist
Eric Williams - 1 & 2 - Combat Designer

Gears of War

I've found Gears of War interesting graphically since i first saw it. Graphical tech has been the whole of my interest in that game. I haven't really had a desire to play it. Given the time and equiptment I probably would play it, but I really am not chomping at the bit for another first person shooter.

Then I saw this trailer. Mad World adds such a depth to the game it really turns my head. I guess because it is totally not what you'd expect. To me it implies that the developer has put thought into the game besides shoot monsters and move. It makes me feel that the game would transport me to a world where I am defending my home and my life, rather than just kicking ass for ass kicking sake. If only I could be sure that this is not the marketing department grafting their viewpoint on the game.

God of Noise

Join the Gods in Mt. Olympus as the God of Noise. We are running a contest to pick a song to go on the God of War 2 sound track. Check it out on myspace.

Be careful. Even if you're a god kratos will kill you.

Video killed the mp3 star

I'm really digging some of the videos that are out there. The ted talk videos are great. Some are great demos like Jeff Han's touch computer screen. There are a lot of inspirational talks and others are just fun to watch to see how pompus one man can become. I'm not going to say who I'm talking about. Then you have the google techtalk videos which are very techincal and very interesting.

International House of Pancakes

Today is my birthday. That means I held ultimate authority in deciding where my work friends and I went to lunch. I could make them eat anywhere I wished. My decision was to go to the International House of Pankakes. I chose this for 3 reasons: 1) It's funnel cake days at iHop. 2) We had never gone there for lunch and some of my friends had never, in fact, been to an iHop. 3) We are an international group. In the group we had 3 Brits, 1 French, 1 Russian, and 2 Americans. The iHop seemed appropriate. I thought the nature of our geographically eclectic group would make an interesting anecdote for the waitress but it seemed that the humor would be lost on her. Aside from functional waitress topics and the fare on the menu, I think she only spoke Spanish making the experience that much more international.


E3 is Dead

Wow! E3 is gone. Pretty amazing. My first thought was, "Man, that sucks for buyers." Buyers meaning people who go out to E3 for GameSpot or EB or Walmart and make the purchase orders for games. Then I realized, maybe those people won't have as big a role in the future. For that matter, maybe EB and GameSpot won't be a big deal either. I mean direct download is comming. The last four pieces of software I bought I directly downloaded to my computer. Those series of tubes we call the internet are getting fatter and fatter and reaching more destinations. Soon, you won't have to go to the store to get a game. It will be just like Star Trek. We'll be able to beam the money directly out of your wallet.

Santa Monica Boston Terrier Meetup

On Saturday we took Dude down to the Santa Monica Boston Terrier Meetup I captured some video of the event. If you have a Boston and would like to join us next time check out the Meetup Group.

Cashing In

Cashing In
Originally uploaded by inglian.
My friends from London tell me that CocaCola there tastes different from Coke in the US. They say it has sugar instead of corn syrup. I guess corn is very abundant here and cheap because of government subsidies. I've had Mexican coke I wonder if that has sugar instead of corn syrup. It does taste different to me.

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Games on Late Night Talk Shows

Eric Williams, the combat designer on God of War II just posted about games on late night talk shows. It's a subject I've been thinking about for a long time. In fact since that rumor about David Jaffe not wanting to go on a press tour because it didn't involve TV.

I don't believe the violence in games has much to do with the absence of video game plugs on late night. However, I do think there are several real factors to the problem. The complexity of presentation, the opacity of our industry, the lack of big names, and the unfamiliarity of product to the host all contribute to the barrier that keeps games off late night TV.

The presentation problem is a real issue. Bands and comedians come out and do their songs and jokes then take off. Actors come out, show a clip, sit on the couch and look pretty or exude fame. What are game developers to do? Come out and play a level? Show a clip, sit on the couch and look not so pretty and exude what? Mtn. Dew? And what clip would be shown? How could you possibly describe the depth of a game like Spore in a clip? A similar problem is seen in commercials for video games. Show the story or show the game play? If you show the story people think the game play is going to suck, but if you show the game play you don't get an emotional connection. And if the game doesn't have story is it really in the same product class as movies, TV shows and music? Or is it just a toy at that point?

Our industry is very opaque. Very few people know how games get made or by who or where. It's magic to the general public. Contrast that with the prevailing opinion on acting. Most think that acting is easy and they could do it, it's just pretending and everyone remembers pretending as a child. People can put themselves in the place of the actors very easily. Plus the actor is the person you see in the movie. That visual association causes a hugely disproportionate amount of credit for the movie to be given to the actor. That's why you see lots of actors on late night and very few directors, unless they have been actors at some point or are ultra huge like Spielberg.

We have no big names in our industry that permeate outside the industry. We are familiar with the Will Wrights, Carmacks, and Jaffes but very few outsiders know those names. If Letterman said, "Tomorrow night on the show David Jaffe." The crowd would not applaud. His name is not big enough. That is what the producers of those shows are looking for, name recognition to draw the viewers. It's a symbiotic relationship big names draw the viewers for the show and the show permits the big names to plug their crap. Standard Hollywood issue, nobody will let you in until you have star power, but you won't have star power until someone lets you in.

The bigger the name the fewer questions there are that relate to the item being promoted. A no name actor in a well known series fields 95 % of his questions on the series and 5% personal questions. Where a Robin Williams comes out, plays the clip and doesn't mention the film at all. A game developer would be 100% about the game, nobody knows this guy, why would they want to know personal stuff about him. That puts the whole interview's quality to rest on the presentation problem.

All that said, I know that some of Jon Stewart's guests are not big entertainment names. Big names are not the draw to that show, people watch that show because it is hilarious. His smaller name guests, who pen political books that 90% of America would never read, are there because it is a political show.

I doubt John Stewart plays many games. I think he would relate very poorly to a game developer in an interview. He or any other late night host would just poke fun or make broad generalization references in order appeal to the greater portion of his audience.

Uh oh, There goes some talk about games right now. As I am typing this I'm hearing it from the TV. Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on March 26th 2006. Oscar DeLahoya plugs Fight Night for XBox 360. He's presenting the box. No clips just details about the game and how he plays himself. Not an industry guy, but at least they are cracking open the presentation problem.

Subway in LA

I've loved trains since I worked at Disney World. I drove the monorail. Moving massive amounts of people to where they want to be, trains are great. The only thing better would be teleportation. This year I took the subway into downtown for E3. It's great. I actually had Liana drive me to her work in the valley so I could take the Orange Line to the Red Line to the Blue Line to the convention center.

I couldn't find any references to Google Earth files that showed the routes so I made one for the Red Line and one for the Orange Line.

What's really exciting is the new Expo Line. The first phase, which is breaking ground this year, will run from the edge of Culver City to the 7th St / Metro Center Station. It will pass by USC, the Expo Center, the Convention Center and the Staples Center. Officials are planning its second phase which extend it to 4th Street in Santa Monica, which is the best part for me.

E3 2006

God of War II is showing very well at E3. The kiosks we have it running on always have a queue of people. They all seem to enjoy playing it.

That eye toy card game seems like it could have some potential. It needs a lot more work but it looks like they could do some fun things with it.

The PS3 stuff looks hot! Warhawk, which is being produced out of our studio, feels great with that new motion controller. It does take a few moments to get your brain to wrap around the control system and stop fiddling with the analog sticks.

The Wii was weak in my opinion. Granted that I only played one game because every year the Nintendo booth makes me run screaming in claustrophobic terrors. I played ping pong and after about a minute I thought the Wiimote was going to give me carpel tunnel. Overall it didn't seem that the wii was worth releasing a whole new console. I have the notion that they could have just put out the wiimote as a controller on the gamecube with similar results.

I wanted to see Spore, but it was behind closed doors and I didn't want to wait in that line.

I got a ticket to the Gears of War showing and it looked really nice, but it's just floating on top of the sea of the other million games that have a guy with a big gun as the primary character.

The most interesting thing in the Xbox booth was Viva Pinata by Rare. Looks like it could be fun.

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God of War 2 Director Moves to Blogger

Cory Barlog, the director of God of War 2, has moved his blog from modblog over to blogger. I'm glad he's finally seen the light. Blogger has never given me any problems.

I really think that Cory has taken up the director position well on GOW2. If you're lucky enough to get to E3 this year, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Oh, and GTA4 is not 360 exclusive. There is just one exclusive mission that you will be able to buy on XBox live. GTA4 will be available on PS3 and I'm sure the PS3 will have it's own exclusive mission.

Lego Kratos

Someone is selling a custom made LEGO Kratos figurine on ebay. Too funny. I think it's more interesting then the guy who sells wooden Kratos blade replicas.

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Son of a сука

I missed Yuri's Night!! The LA party was on the 8th this year. I am so upset. Last year was so much fun. I was working hard for E3 on Saturday anyway. I wouldn't have been able to go even if I had realized it was on the 8th instead of the 12th.

There are some parties on the 12th in other places of the world. Find a party near you at

Desert Bulls

Originally uploaded by Jose F. Torres.
My roommate from college, Jose, is now in Iraq. He's keeping a photo log.

Good Luck man. Stay Safe!
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God of War 2 Announced

This is a video of the announcement trailer from the Game Developer's Conference.


Pillow Talk

I found this video tape under the pillow in Dude's dog house. It was addressed to a dating service and was accompanied by a profile form:

Name: The Dude
Sex: Male (neutered)
Hometown: Boston
Seeking: A hot bitch for long walks and excessive humping. Number one quality, a good sense of smell.

The things that dog gets up to while I'm at work. Shesh.

The Unknown Surfer

This is some video I took down at Bay St. Santa Monica in December. I'm not sure who is surfing.

TIVO, master of media

I have a server setup in my house where I store all my CDs. My TIVO can access this server and play all of my music through my entertainment system. A neat and useful feature. Today I noticed that there a slew of new features on my TIVO. These features include downloading Audio Podcasts directly to the TIVO, access to movie times and tickets, Yahoo photo browsing, and 360 Radio.

I doubt that the podcast player will play video podcasts but I haven't tried it.


Better Kick It, Before You Click It

When you use Google's ad sense you are not allowed to click on ads served to your page. I find this very frustrating sometimes. The ads are placed using keywords. The keywords come from paragraphs that I have written. So, sometimes Google places an ad that is relevant to what I have written. Why shouldn't I then be allowed to click it? I understand if people are clicking excessively, then you got to nip it. If I am really interested in the ad, I don't see the problem in using it.

Unanticipated Speech

Today we had a meeting to explain the game engine we developed for God of War. I can't say who was in the meeting or for what purpose. I was assured that I was not supposed to go to this meeting. Just about the middle of the day I get a call, from the conference room. "Can you come down and explain the AI waypoint system." Uh-oh, I haven't messed with that in months. I get down to the room peek in the door and then I got nervous. There were more people in there than I expected. I thought maybe two or three. No, it was more people then I cared to count. After that the meeting turned into one of those nightmares in which you have a test but you didn't study. My voice cracked a couple of times and I could feel myself sweat. I really shouldn't have been so nervous. For some reason I just was.

Dick Cheney Should Play Video Games

Dear Mr. Cheney,

Everyone is talking about your recent hunting mistake. They are saying you lost control of your emotions. I say accidents happen with guns and hunting. It's a dangerous sport. Especially as you start to age, your reaction time is plummeting.

I suggest that you start playing video games. There's no chance of injury, except maybe a sprained thumb. No killing, maiming or hurting of anything living occurs in the virtual world.

If you don’t want to give up the hunting completely, that’s ok. I understand, it’s hard to break some habits. At least if you played a video game some of the time you could titivate your hand eye coordination. Fine-tune that reaction time with some Quake. Practice keeping your excitement in check. You know, so you’ve got the skills to not shoot a buddy in the head.

You may say, "I'm too old for video games." I think you could meet many people your age in XBox Live. I'm sure Old Grandma Hardcore would really enjoy taking you out in a Halo 2 death match. Still, no one's really hurt, except maybe your ego. Ganked by a grandma, you best brush up your skills Dick.

You may say, “I get exercise hunting that I wouldn’t playing video games.” It is true that toting injured cronies out of the forest burns many calories. Another great calorie burner is Dance Dance Revolution. I’m sure if you asked, Konami would put together a version just for you featuring hits of the 20’s.

Maybe you disagree with what I'm saying. Maybe you despise video games. Are you afraid the games may turn you into a trained killer? If that's the case perhaps you could become friends with Jack Thompson. Maybe one day the two of you could have fun hunting together.

Thank you

Avian Flu

Is anyone else finding it hard to swollow the the cosmic coincidence that the bird flu just happens to be emerging in Turkey?


Happy Valentine's Day

Liana and I just hung out at home and baked some cookies. I had a great time and the baked goods turned out to be really tasty treats.  Posted by Picasa


God of War wins seven AIAS awards including Game of the Year! There is an article on Gamespot.

Lost in the Big Apple

Apple maybe winning the download wars, but I wonder for how long. I, like many other users in the last month, have run into a download issue using iTunes. The discussions and complaints list for miles in the Apple Support Discussion Boards. In all these pages of people asking, "What is the error message 0xFFFE7958?" the most resounding comment is "Where is the support?"

The problem is cross platform and cross media. You can have it on OS X downloading Gwen Stefani or on Windows XP downloading Desperate Housewives Episode 6. I can't download two episodes of Lost. People have been waiting weeks to hear from Apple about what they should do. Users are offering each other support. Telling each other to reinstall things.

Maybe Apple not addressing the problem is keeping it hush hush. Maybe they don't want to come out and say they have a bug. Is that why Apple computer systems have the reputation of being more bug free? They have bugs but never acknowledge them and they are forgotten?

Microsoft is now gaining a large base of content downloading customers. Their points purchasing program is beaming the money out of wallets across the nation. Games like Geometry Wars on the XBox 360 are just the start.

The XBox 360 is strategically placed in the entertainment cortex of the household. No downloading to your computer and then re-downloading it to your ipod. No having to watch the shows you download on your computer screen. One download and there it is on your television.

Microsoft has made it a reality for games. It's only a matter of time before music, television shows and movies are on the XBox menu. I just hope that Sony has a similar plan, but I doubt it.

I know I've always dreamed of only paying for the shows I want to see. Why do I have to pay the cable company for all this other crap like the golf channel, the fishing channel, HSN, etc. Some people are just seeing the light and recognizing the power.

It allows the true American vote (the dollar) to be focused. Plus it allows me savings in the ultimate currency (time.)

Oh, and Barlog, leave the code for the coders.


I think this post from the itunes support boards is the summation of most of the problem and frustration:

"This is completely outrageous! Why are these errors not addressed? I have the same issues as posted here. When you contact Apple (which I do not recommend) their "answers", after an hour of useless diagnostics, is that it is a windows virus!!!! I cant believe that since they can't fix the problem, or better, don't know how to fix the problem, they blame it on Windows. Customer service is lacking big time on Apple's side. I have to think that the majority of iPod users have windows, and to use that as a cop-out to issues they cant resolve is so annoying. PLEASE, someone figure out this not downloading issue. I am so tired of googling every little thing that goes wrong with itunes and having to act like my own personal IT department."

My Gamer Card

I got a gamer card:

Now if I only could get a 360.


Originally uploaded by thesoulofhope.
I haven't been surfing in a long while. This photo looks toward the south. Just past pier is where I would normally surf.
To the right is where the pier becomes much thinner and heads further into the ocean. I've paddled through the pier under that thinner section. It was a freaky experience. Paddling through a group of surfers is easy. They all move with you when a wave comes. The pier is fixed and the difference is amazing.

Flickr AI Project

I wonder if anyone is using the flickr photo sharing database to train AI. It would be an amazing task to get an AI to play the flickr game fastr.

fastr selects a keyword then searches the flickr database using that keyword. It retrieves 10 images tagged with the keyword. One image at a time is exposed to the players. If a player guesses the keyword having been shown only one picture they get ten points. After two images they receive 9 points and so on down the line.

The game illuminates the difficulty of the image classification problem in computer vision. Maybe it's because I watched Robosapiens last night, but the game really got me thinking about robot vision.

Take this image as an example. It is tagged with dog, kyla, 2006, and Boston terrier. Dog and Boston terrier are derivable from the photo, but kyla and 2006 are not. So, the flickr database is probably not optimal for training image classification algorithms.

What can you tell from the photo: Dog, Chair, Boston Terrier, Fiberglas Chair, Orange Chair, indoor, hallway, shadow of photographer, subject illuminated from behind camera, dog seated, and dog alive. There is probably a bunch more information one can derive from the photo, but I'll stop.

A more useful database would be created if you could classify the image by indicating which parts of the image allow you to derive which information. Meaning maybe you could outline areas of the image and tag those areas. For example outline the dog and tag it: dog, dog seated, dog alive, and Boston terrier. Then outline the shadows and tag it: subject illuminated from behind camera.

Anyway, I find the whole problem intriguing.

Update: I guess there are some individuals that can derive the information kyla and 2006 from the photo. It's all a matter of perspective. For a personal robot that info would be relevant but for a generic system, not so much.


The guys of tripod got game.

God of War Blog Buzz

God of War's reception of such acclaim is causing a little bit of a stir.

Some question the validity of the awards. Who paid what to whom to join this club or that association.

Then of course there are the people who agree with the praise:
Gamer's Journal
Chris vs. Free World
Jen Folds Five
Pixel Kill
Poly Cat
Foos Gaming

a tale of self discovery with Kratos:

Then those who disagree:
No Faith - Believes Hulk should be game of the year.
Todd Gibson
Duct Tape Romance

More GOW Award Nominations

The AIAS has posted their award nominations!

God of War is up for 12:

  • Overall Game of the Year

  • Console Game of the Year

  • Outstanding Innovation in Gaming

  • Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Outstanding Achievement in Original Musical Composition

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • Outstanding Character Performance - Male

  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering

  • Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering

  • Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • Action/Adventure Game of the Year

Plus a quote from EGM:

"A game with soul that transcends borders and cultures. Its story, sense of world, and graphics gave me a strong, exotic impression. [Mario creator Shigeru] Miyamoto and I had a laugh when we first played the game. We noticed a very Japanese-like 'service' to gamers, in particular the emphasis on details and sense. The God of War package includes an honest presentation with love elements and a game design implemented with the player in mind. Lastly, the game was designed with a good balance of theme and play. I truly feel that God of War is a great culmination of Western and Japanese (i.e. Nintendo) game design. Let's hope this is just the beginning for this trend."
- Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima