Sunday, September 20, 2009

Together through life.

It's a pretty good sign that you've been away from your blog too long when spam starts appearing in the comments. Seriously, WTF? You've gotta be getting desperate for attention for whatever you're peddling to think that that's a good marketing strategy.

Anyway, yeah, I've been gone. I know you know. I've had incredibly itchy writing fingers for at least a week, but instead of actually putting them towards writing, I was applying them to the plastic guitar in Beatles: Rock Band, which didn't do anything for my writing skills, but sure was a lot of fun anyway. Oh, and my Sim in The Sims 3 wrote 5 science fiction novels in the time I've been away, too. So at least that guy got some writing done!

It's been a busy, crazy, difficult, and sometimes fun month. The Games Com convention in Germany was exhausting and at times just not even remotely fun (you try sitting in a small room without windows demoing a game to non-English speakers over and over and over for 8 hours!), but I'm still glad I went, if for no other reason that to see another city in another part of the world, which is always worth it no matter what. Cologne was quite pretty--the cathedral is stunning (despite a co-worker's LOL-worthy complaint that, "UGH, it's like there's one of these in every city in Europe!" Yeah, ya think?), looming over the mostly modern city (the original was mostly destroyed in WW2) like some giant, dark Gothic beast. And you can tell when a writer is out of practice when he writes a fucking horrible middle school creative writing sentence like that.

The other lowlight of Cologne was being forced into two dinners the first two nights first at an Indian restaurant, and then at a Japanese restaurant. Yeah, because neither of those cuisines are readily available in the Bay Area. And, hey, who doesn't go to Germany for the sushi! Thankfully, the next two nights were done right, at an outdoor beer garden, with schnitzel and beer and the warm summer air, which was exactly the kind of European experience I was craving, and which often makes me feel like sometime before I croak I really should live over there for awhile. Or maybe I can just buy a beret!

No sooner had I returned from Games Com than I was off again to the Penny Arcade (PAX) convention in Seattle. And, hey, if you're gonna go to another city in the US after a Europe trip, it might as well be Seattle, truly one of the cooler American cities, other than the fact that every third building seems to be a Starbucks. I've said this on more than one occasion now, but, with 13 years of gaming conventions under my belt, I can confidently say that this PAX--the first one I've attended--was the best convention I've ever been to. This is what E3 should be, or wishes it was: A celebration of the industry, a geeky lovefest for what we do and what we play and what we're into, devoid of cynicism and bored obligation. Credit the fans for making it that way--the ones paying to get in, flying in from around the world on their own dime cuz they WANT to be there, reminding those of us who get paid to do it that, hey, ya know, at root this is and always has been about providing people with entertainment.

Showing MySims Agents was an absolute joy this time, because those who came to see it--whether it was because they knew me from my press life or were fans of the franchise and had no idea who I was--stopped by because they were truly interested, not because it was their job to do so. And, hey, not that there's anything wrong with it being "your job to do so," because that was MY job until I came to EA. This isn't about bagging on the press. It's about interacting directly, eye-to-eye, with people who are there ONLY for the love, with no other agenda other than that gaming makes them happy. It may sound corny, but it's just utterly refreshing, and was actually contagious--just like the swine flu I picked up! When folks started lining up to get Tim Schafer's autograph on Brutal Legend posters, I snuck out of my booth and got in line right with them, caught up in an unexpected rush of goofy fanboyism.

Of course, the proverbial icing on the cake was the GFW Radio reunion, which was just an incredible blast, humbling and exciting and satisfying in so many ways--not to mention just being a serious ego boost. Because, hey, let's not be falsely modest: Having hundreds of people lining up, hours ahead of time, to hear you talk, is a fucking surreal and awesome experience, and is easily one of the highlights of my entire professional career to date. And even better was the feeling of being back together with those guys and, even with the obligatory moments of awkwardness, clicking again and finding that groove that made that podcast so fun to do. Because in the old days, all we were doing was trying to please ourselves. We knew no one was listening, and, at first, we didn't really want to be there anyway. So we just did stuff to amuse ourselves, riffing off other podcasts, websites, magazines, talking about the things that drove us crazy at our jobs, that embarrassed us as members of the gaming press, and just talking about all the same kind of random nonsense that we would throughout the day anyway. The fact that it DID ultimately catch on, over time, was a bonus for us--a surprising one at first, but one that we did become proud of, and that we tried to take ownership of, treating it as seriously as we would the magazine. And so when everything went to hell and we all started bailing out of there, it was GFW Radio just as much as GFW the magazine that we ourselves came to miss. Getting the opportunity at PAX to reunite for one more round was an honor and a thrill and went better than I think any of us dared to imagine. So thanks to ALL of you who went, or listened, or tried to get in, or whatever. We all felt, and feel, extremely lucky and grateful for that experience.

Of course, karma kicked in immediately after, as karma likes to do, and whomped me upside the head with the swine flu, which took me out of circulation for over a week. It's only now, really, that I feel fully rested and back to life and ready to contribute to society in a way other than coughing. I realize this blog post is completely meaningless and boring, but this one is more for me than for you. I'm just tryin' to get back on the horse here.

It's been a long summer, with big highs and serious lows. Frankly? I'm ready for Fall.


Sully said...

Just heard you on the Out of the Game podcast saying that you guessed you would have to shell out for the Batman game. Look - it's worth it. The last game I would say this for is GTA4. Batman is amazing. Totally worth the money. I even look at an ad in a game magazine for it and am comforted by how awesome it was. Okay, that is all. PS. You were great on the panel at Pax. you were all hilarious and gorgeous and thank you.

Javier said...

My internet connection in my dorm was throttled down to 32kbps for a day because I watched the reunion in one go. It was worth it. I really wish I could have been there, but you know how college is. I hear reefer helps with the swine flu (supposedly decreases the severity to the level of the common cold). Did you by any chance try this remedy?

Brynn said...

I just want to tell you that the reunion was awesome. I wish I was there at PAX to show my support how great the GFW podcast was, and it's honestly something you should get an ego boost from. It's a long lived dream of mine that maybe one day you or Shawn or Ryan might reply to one of my posts, or that I might meet you, and then I will have been recognized as existing by a celebrity - haha,

Joe said...

Welcome back, Jeff. Always good to read stuff of yours that's longer than 150 characters.

Rich said...

Thanks for updating your blog Jeff, always good to hear from you.

Too bad you caught the swine flu. Glad your better.

spate said...

In case folks are too lazy to google it: GFW Reunion Podcast (video).

Jeff, not sure if this is the place to ask, and I hate to complain about such a great podcast/ask such a douchey question, but I often find it difficult to hear what your co-hosts and guests are saying when I listen to the EA podcast on the go. (Especially your last few guests, it seems when they get serious about something, they get a lot quieter and more difficult to make out.) Are you guys all sharing a single mic, or is it just that my lowly ipod and non-noise-cancelling headphones are just not handling the show's spectacularly hi-fi dynamic range well?

Anonymous said...

Oho! So he still knows how to write more than one sentence!

That was kind of like an update of all the stuff he's been Twittering about this summer - almost like a cut and paste job from his Twitter feed actually.

It's kind of surprising how much information a person can communicate when he's limited to just a few words. I was skeptical of Twitter at first, but it's been fascinating watching all of these people informing us of the minutia of their lives. ("We're at Cats, and the guy beside us is asleep! Here check out the photo!")

And many thanks to Jeff for not rubbing it in about the Dragon Age mug. That was a nice bit of swag you got there, Green. If you ever lose your job at EA and need to start selling stuff on Ebay, just give me a ring.

Does anybody here know where we can download the GFW reunion episode, because I still haven't listened to it - I can't find it?

The Goose

Tristessa said...

It shows that you're not up here in Seattle more often. If you were you'd know that while every third building is a Starbucks, in at least 25% of all the remaining buildings is a Starbucks kiosk. Don't undersell my fine city's ability to provide a refreshing Starbucks coffee beverage!

While I don't doubt it's surreal to have us folks wait in line to hear you talk, I can assure you was also surreal for me to meet you! After reading your work in the magazine since you started writing there, then being entertained by the podcast, it was like I was about to meet a living legend. As it turned out, you weren't a superhero at all but a regular, funny, down to earth guy. And that made talking to you much cooler.

Too bad about that flu. I managed to escape it's clutches. I have a rule I try to follow when I'm out in big public spaces like that. I try to never touch my face with my hands. In those situations, I'm a strict elbow-face kind of woman. Oh, and don't lick the game controllers.

Baylith said...

You'd be surprised at exactly how happy I am that you are back updating your blog. It's an odd feeling reading something from someone where you feel a kinship simply because you've been with them watching gaming grow up.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Trisstessa, I'm in Vancouver, and we've got a Starbucks on every corner as well.

There's a funny little story about the actor, Tim Reid, who played Venus Flytrap on W.K.R.P. In Cincinnati.

Reid was here in Vancouver almost two decades ago filming Stephen King's 'IT'.

Because he was a high profile actor, a lot of people assumed he had money, so he was approached by two investors who wanted to know if he was interested in investing in their little startup operation.

He declined.

He said he always regretted that decision - the little startup company was called Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

Today is my daughter’s 1st birthday. Let me start off by saying that I am an avid gamer. I was hooked the moment I first played Frogger and Pitfall on the Atari 2600 as a small child. I had a NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, Xbox, and a 360. Wolfenstein 3D was the first FPS I beat. Dragon Warrior (Quest) was the first RPG I beat. Street Fighter 2 was the first Fighting game I mastered. My favorite game of all time is a tie between:
Fallout – it was the first game that spoke to me as an adult.
Virtua Fighter – it was the first and only game I was able to straight up hustle
people at in the arcades.
Oblivion – it was the first game I ever watched my wife play through to
I LOVE listening to video game podcasts. I listened for the ENTIRE runs of 1up Yours, The Brodeo, and EGM Live*, and 1up FM. I am (or was) a huge fan of Rebel FM, Listen UP, Out of the Game, Geekbox, Gamespy Debriefings, and A Life Well Wasted.
Today is my daughter’s first birthday and I have decided to give up gaming. While I still love video games and will proudly refer to myself as a gamer, it’s time for me to stop. I’ve decided not to spend another minute playing games or listening to podcasts that could be spent with her or my wife. Today is my daughter’s 1st birthday and while it’s been an amazing year, it went too fast. Life has been good. I have a good job, exciting prospects, an absolutely beautiful family, and we are in the middle a modern gaming/entertainment renaissance. But a lot of time I spent making Trials tracks could have been spent interacting more closely with my wife and daughter. The late nights I spent wandering the Capitol wasteland with Dogmeat I could have spent sleeping to wake up earlier with my family.
I’ll never get that time back.
I had so much fun gaming last year, but the time I spent with my wife and daughter were the only achievement points I scored that mean anything to me right now. If my daughter ever wants to play games I’ll play them with her. If I have free time to myself, I’ll spend it staying in shape, reading books, or watching movies.
So I just wanted to say “Thanks”. To all my favorite podcasters and fellow gamers. It’s been a good game. Have fun. :)

Chuck Diamond

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Green, I just saw your Twitter feed. Majesty 2. What an amazing game. It's compelling, and charming, and frustrating, and gratifying, and puzzling - all at the same time.

But seriously, by now you've bought the PC version of Batman - yes?

I've just entered the medical wing (the game informs me that I'm at 5% completion, even though I've been playing for hours) and I'm pretty much blown away.

Batman is better than Fallout 3, it's better than Bioshock, and I'm tempted to say that it's even better than Half Life 2.

Indeed, Rocksteady has obviously been studying Valve, and is obviously not content just to mimic them, but wants to outshine them as well. I'm in complete awe of everything that I'm seeing in this game. All game designers need to study this game - not just play it, but study it.

Yes, it's that good.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Jeff

You joked that your blog post was "meaningless and boring," but you must know us fans of CGW/GFW will always care enough about what you have to say to read every tweet and every post, no matter how silly or self-indulgent they may be. Your posts keep us connected to those happy memories of better days in the gaming magazine industry. I'm still trying to come to grips with the idea that CGW will never resurrect when EGM is being green-lit for a December revival. It doesn't make sense. ;_;

I'm only now discovering your podcast with EA because I'm a n00b, and I'm thrilled to see you got a decent job with EA. The guys from EGM are only just now seeing rays of hope for job-reclamation as they collectively munch their 300th bowl of ramen. I hope you'll keep EA on their toes with your commentary so they don't get lazy about making quality games, considering their Walmart-status in the industry.

Where can we find the CGW reunion podcast from PAX? As mentioned above, I'm a bit of a n00b finding things like that.

I'm glad you got over the flu. I would have been really p*ssed off at the universe if you had died. Your Kryptonian blood won't let you go out in a dumb way like that. It would take a lot more exploding and kung-fu to take the Greenspeak down. ;)

Davin said...

Hey Jeff. Glad to see you recovered quickly from the swine flu. Is everything "kosher" now???

Sorry, had to say it.

Anyway, I wanted to again thank you for letting me embarassing the hell out of you (and myself!) and your cohorts at the reunion panel with the Corean snacks, wedding dolls, bad 80's porno, and the banner. But the best part was letting me call you Reed Richards and the hug at Taphouse Grill. You're an incredible guy and I wish you nothing but love and continued success in all your endeavors!

PS How was the peach?

Fuzzmaster said...

Great to have you back on Greenspeak, Jeff. I just can't get over my hatred for twitter, so it's nice to see great writers in the blog format once in a while. I had a great time talking with you the day after the Brodeo reunion. Thanks for not passing the flu to me!

Anonymous said...

Jeff, a heads-up.

Direct 2 Drive is continuing its sale of games for $5. Since you never posted about it, I'm assuming that you haven't played the amazing Drakensang. (I spent practically the entire summer playing this game.)

This graphics of this old school RPG are very reminiscent of a children's illustrated storybook - and the game itself just charmed the pants off me.

For a ridiculous $5 you should buy this title.

Just start the download before you go to bed, and you'll have it by morning. This game is my sleeper-hit of the year - no question about it.

And I urge anybody else who might be reading this to head on over to D2D (a completely hassle free service that doesn't download any obtrusive third-party software onto your computer) and buy this game. If you're at all interested in RPGs... man, five bucks... I can't believe it.

I can't believe it.

Macroe said...

Although your blog has been severely lacking of your affections, we still hang out here in the hopes of a Greenspeak post. Your Twitter stands out from the rest; it does brings forth the charm in those 140 characters. One can feel your writing begging for the longer form of the blog, letting it flow seems to be a sort of relief for you (for which I´m glad).

I´m sure that you will have important news SOON about the EA changes, we will be here for you. The Goose plus the usual cast of anonymous legions of Greenspeak fans await!

BTW, you really can´t beat a nice Biergarten in Germany. I can just picture your face when The Man suggested a business dinner... Sushi, Indian food... in Köln...?! Blasphemy I say.

Mike said...

You picked the right time to be self-indulgent. It was great to read your writing again. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Macroe.

I also am interested in hearing about the changes at EA that Jeff alluded to in his Twitter feed. I hope that they're changes for the better!

The Goose.

Anonymous said...

Glad you're feeling better. I was always a big fan of the Brodeo, and hearing the PAX reunion was a great 2 hours for me. Got lots of housework done and snickered like an idiot the whole time, which earned me the occasional worried look from my wife. Thanks for getting back together, it was great.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, same D2D sale: Elven Legacy for five dollars.

I've spent the entire evenning playing it. Basically, Elven Legacy is a modern version of Fantasy General.

I hadn't even heard about it until today. I read some reviews in which the reviewers stated that the game was for hardcore strategy gamers only - one reviewer awarded the game a 40 out of 100, saying only that he couldn't fathom what the game was all about. (Okay, a game shouldn't get a poor review because the reviewer can't be bothered to read the frickin' manual or play the blasted tutorial.)

What's kind of annoying here is that this game plays almost exactly like the Panzer General games. Do these reviewers not know that Panzer General was itself a game that was intended to make war-gaming accessible to general gamers? And now this type of game is suddenly 'hardcore'. Say what?

Anyhow, Panzer General was one of those games that I would spend hours playing and not even notice the passage of time. Elven Legacy is exactly like that. I spent about four hours playing it this evening, and when I was finished I felt that same sensation of euphoria I would feel after having played Panzer General - you just want to keep going.

Games like this, I'm certain, release a chemical in your brain that makes you feel good.

Check it out if you're at all interested. The sale is on for the entire week.

Anderson said...

I loved the GFW Reunion, but I have to say it was slightly eclipsed for me by the latest Out of the Game. It really feels like you guys hit your stride with the latest episode. Even the chemistry felt stronger somehow. With no offense to Luke Smith, truly a fallen god if ever there was one, the full crew was in this episode.

Take this for the ego stroking that it is: I am a grown-ass man who loves listening to you and your nerd friends talk. You deserve the praise.

Anderson said...

Dude: the fact that you have some anonymous marketing drone from Direct 2 Drive plugging games in your blog comments? That means you're a tastemaker.

Anonymous said...


I resent being called a drone!

No, no, my friend, I'm a lover of PC games, that is all, and Jeff needed to be informed of the D2D sale that's happening right now. We're talking about some crazy deals here, the likes of which I've never seen before.

I got Riddick, Bioshock, and Elven Legacy (a wonderful game) for five dollars each. There are some other amazing deals to be had there as well (like the superb Drakensang, for example). I don't know, I just thought that Green needed to know about this, especially since he's a developer now, and probably should at least be taking a look at this stuff, if not playing it through to conclusion.

There are still two weeks to go as well. Next Monday there will be ten more new deals, and ten more the week after that... you know what, I am starting to sound like I work for D2D?

Oh well, I can't help myself. These are some amazing games at some great prices. I got three super great games for just fifteen dollars! I absolutely raped them! (Sorry about the strong language there. But I did.)

darvoid said...

Thanks for everything Jeff. The reunion show was too short, even though you went almost 2 hours over. I love to read your work and really appreciate that you take the time to spill your guts in this blog. Please will you share some more motorcycle stories? With all the riding you do I'm sure you could entertain us with a week in the life of commuting to work on a scooter.

Tydigame said...

I am glad to see you back from my ancestral homeland. I've been away from my blog too, but not for a good reason like having a job and being in Germany.

Unknown said...

Loved the reunion podcast, of course. But I really just wanted to comment and let you know that I just listened to the latest EA Podcast, and I really enjoyed it a lot—and as a non-race car game player, I'm actually considering the new Need for Speed game! Tell THAT to your EA Overlords! Oh, and tell them that I skipped the podcast episode that you weren't on, too…

Anonymous said...

For whoever has not seen it:


JSD said...

@ Anderson
Did you even check out the sale? It's really an amazing collection of games for $5 each. Bioshock, Assassin's Creed, Neverwinter Nights 2, Drakensang, Civ 4, Titan Quest bundle, each $5. And this Monday and the following Monday, two more sets of $5 games will be released. I picked up 2 copies of Titan Quest (to play with my wife), Civ 4, Pirates, NWN2 Storm of Zehir, and Bioshock. That's some serious gaming for $30.

Check it out here:

Arclite said...

For anyone who hasn't seen this yet, it's pretty funny. And definitely not safe for work.

Puts it in the wrong place

Anonymous said...


Green checked out the D2D sale, because he Twittered about it. I think that by now all gamers must know of this sale - and those that don't... must be living under some class of boulder.

As far as the rest of us are concerned, we've been busily buying the one or two titles we don't already own (ELVEN LEGACY! -YES!), but for the most part we've been visiting the D2D website and just shaking our fists in anger, since we already own all these great games and paid full price for them on day one. NWN 2 for five dollars! You have got to be kidding me!

That said, two words to Green if he happens to be reading this (he seems to be a lurker at his own blog?) - Elven Legacy.

And two words to anybody else who might happen to be reading this.

Elven Legacy.

Ha! That's four words, not two.

Elven Legacy. That is what I am taking about, my friends. (And the superb Drakensang, as well, of course.)

See ya later, suckers.

Rich said...

Wow great to see most of the gang back together. I miss the old CGW / GFWs days, really brings back great memories. You know the thing about those mags were how polished they were. They were so highly professionally done. Everything about them was so brilliant. Oh and you still owe me 6 months subscription.

Anyway good to see the gang again. You are getting a little grey on the sides Jeff so use some hair dye if you need to.

Robert Coffey was not there, probably out rounding up animals for his torturing projects.

Were you friends with Robert much?

OK well it was fun to see all of you again. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What's this about Robert Coffey torturing animals?

Rich said...

Jeff Green made a remark in some GFW issue that Robert Coffey was working on some animal torturing project. It really seemed that Jeff thought that Robert was on the edge of going postal. I think that it may have been just joking around. Robert seemed to be the only employee there that Jeff would joke like that. On 1up way back when Robert Coffey actually posted on his blog and his fan club, well he seemed like a very friendly and normal person. I still feel that there was a falling out with Robert and the rest of the CGW/GFW gang, just my feelings though. I just have that feeling.

Jeff Green said...

Robert Coffey was and is a friend of mine. There was no falling out - he just left CGW to pursue bigger writing opportunities. He's a great guy and a brilliant, brilliant writer. I was constantly jealous of him, because he could write *fast* and was always coming up with hilarious sentences that I couldn't imagine writing. His "edge" (not sure how else to put it) is where the animal torturing jokes came from, and which he liked to participate in as well (though usually he made jokes about being a psycho killer). In reality, he's one of the nicest and most thoughtful guys you'll ever meet.

Anonymous said...

... and quite frankly, he's also somebody you ought to have on 'Out Of The Game' at least once.

I was seriously disappointed that Coffey was never on the old CGW/GFW podcast.

Can it be arranged? Sometimes these things slide, and they never happen. If anything, it would be an excuse to give Coffey a phone call. I read the guy's stuff for so many years - I want to hear what he's like in person.

Anonymous said...

Also, about Arkham Asylum.

Is it not clear that Rocksteady has been studying Valve? Why has it taken nearly a decade for a gaming company to do what most typical artists would've done within six months - namely, to steal another person's ideas and use them to create their own art?

The introduction to Arkham is basically ripped right from the pages of the original Half-Life.

The sequence in which Batman is following The Joker as he's wheeled into the asylum is basically the tram ride of Half-Life (I was pretty much in awe of everything that I was seeing as I followed The Joker in his chair - and the sequence with Killer Croc coming up out of the elevator was really just the icing on the cake). You're seeing the entire first level (almost) as you follow The Joker into the asylum. And just like in Half-Life, you'll re-trace your footsteps and return to this area after The Joker has escaped. Essentially, you'll end up seeing two versions of the level - the version when the guards are in control, and then the later version when The Joker is in control. That is exactly how Half-Life started.

I knew I was in for a wild ride the second this game began, when The Joker was strapped into that chair, and was pushed forward, and suddenly these two massive spot-lights were switched on - there were all these guards stationed everywhere, and they were all pointing their guns at The Joker. I walked Batman off to the side, over towards one of the guards (there was no reason for Batman to be going out of his way like this), but I wanted to take a look at the detail on one of the NPCs. To my surprise, the guard didn't just stand there looking at me, he actually spoke up, as though he knew that Batman was standing right in front of him. "Thanks for bringing The Joker in, Batman," he said.

That is incredible attention to detail - and astonishingly you continue to see it throughout the game.

There are so many great things I could say about this game. Relating to this blog, I can only say that writers, in order to become better writers, must read as many great books as they can - but not just read them, study them as well. I can only assume it's the same with developers?

Developers should study Arkham. They should rip it apart and analyze it, because it's clear to me that Rocksteady did exactly that with the Half-Life games.

Also, Green, I hope you bought the PC version. I've looked at the 360 version, and no way does it compare to the PC version. PhysX, by the way, actually works in this game!

Jeff Green said...

I absolutely agree with you about Arkham Asylum = Half-Life, and was planning on making the same comparison on Out of the Game. :)

Jeff Green said...

Oh and I do have the PC version, but it crashes so f'ing much (my PC's fault, not the game's) that I've since switched to the 360 version just so I can play the damn thing. :(

Rich said...

Thanks Jeff for setting me straight about Robert.

As most of the old gang moves off in their own directions I still feel a longing for the old days. I am glad that you spend time with us as for me I am very grateful for all that you have done for gaming.

I hope never to be too old to game.