Danger – I Made This!

An interview on Gamasutra today posed some interesting questions, including:

American McGee On Creative Outsourcing
GS: What do you think “American McGee Presents:” in front of a game title means in the minds of gamers?

AM: That depends on the gamer. I’ve seen positive and negative responses. For the “fans,” I think they have come to expect something a little different from the mainstream. That’s my hope anyway. For the detractors, I get the sense they feel I haven’t earned the name-above-the-title right.

Soon after the article posted I received this comment to my blog:

I used to believe you putting your name on your products was just a reflection of your pompous, narcissistic nature, but now I realize after playing your latest “butt mud” that it was a bit of a warning sign. American McGee on a title now has the same effect to me as the Surgeon General’s warning on a pack of cigarettes. “DANGER: AMERICAN MCGEE MADE THIS” Just wanted to say thank you again.

Blahahaha. Awesome. This guy gets it!

When looked at from this perspective you’d think the haters would have reason to rejoice at my name being in the title. They never have to worry about accidentally playing a demo or buying a game that I’ve been involved with.

I wonder if he’d mind my borrowing his idea. From now on games I’m involved with could be called something like:

“DANGER: AMERICAN MCGEE MADE THIS – Twisted Fairy Tale #6”
or
“DANGER: AMERICAN MCGEE MADE THIS – Other Person’s Idea #4”
or

Well… you get the idea. And the best part is that all these bored, irritated detractors could go off and lead safe, happy lives. Only if they become addicted to, or affected by second-hand usage of my games would they have reason for their anger and grief. Like a cigarette smoker who inhales despite the warnings, then sues someone when he gets cancer.

But then, what would they have to vent their unfocused rage upon? Maybe at that point they’d start using their time and energy to write letters about things that matter, like genocide victims in the Sudan, the false “war on terror”, or hell, something more “selfish” like their rights as American citizens being taken away in the name of “protecting freedom”.

Nah, what’s the point in that when you can slam on a silly, budget video game that you haven’t even bought a copy of!?

28 thoughts on “Danger – I Made This!”

  1. You have certainly not earned that honour.

    Firstly i commend your work on Alice and especially Scrapland.

    but if BDLA ever hits the streets ALL respect is lost. you will have sold your soul to your publishers and so too will anyone who buys that game.

    FFS dude WHAT IS THAT CRAP!?

    SCRAPLAND 2, you know that game would be AWESOME on 360.

    if not scrapland something in that same genre.. its totally empty NO ONE makes games like that anymore.

    to go from that to… whatever BDLA is.. if not the worst GTA knockoff.. i don’t know man.. thats shows absolute lack of pride in ones talent and contempt for the entire industry to sink so low.

    for shame.

  2. Well said.

    I’ll admit, I was always a little confused at how you jumped to having your name on games so quickly. But to be fair, I don’t know that you could have gotten away with it as quickly without having a fairly unique name.

    “Bob Johnson’s Alice”

    “Fred Smith’s Bad Day L.A.”

    As for actually having to deal with the enraged kiddies ranting, that is what you get for making yourself so publicly available on the internet…

  3. As I recall, the idea of including the lead designer’s name along with a game title is a pretty old practice that has little to do with how “big” their name is. Since the development teams were rather small and often the game was based primarily on the lead developer’s stylistic ideas, PC games often ended up having the “brand” of their designer, mainly so that players could associate the stylistic elements to their developer. Sid Meier wasn’t a big name when he started prefacing his games with his name. Chris Taylor’s first big game, Total Annihilation was prefaced by his name. The same goes for Will Wright. Other developers, such as John Carmack and Shigeru Miyomoto, may not have branded their games as such, but nonetheless, gamers recognized their names even before they were all that popular.
    Now that game development has become such a large-scale production, single names are less and less associated with the games that are made. (Who in the world was associated with Halo? Um, Bungie, I guess . . .) Meanwhile, in the indie-gaming arena, games are still prefaced with the names of their developers. (Pixel, ZUN, and Chris Delay are some examples.)
    In short, it’s more of a tradition than an ego-trip, and since American was on the scene back when game development was still handled by a relatively small team, associating his name with a game is nothing to find offensive. It’s just part of that tradition.

    On a side note, I was greatly encouraged by the Gama Sutra article. It seems that American’s focus is definitely on gameplay and innovation, something the industry seems to be sacrificing towards pretty graphics and heavy marketing nowadays . . .

  4. When Russian Government desides to engage WW3 against USA, we will gladly use this lovely game as the tutorial material to annihilation of LA, thank you a lot comrade Americanovich McGee

    — Ivan, Russian Nuclear Submarine Crew

  5. How can you now not admit the mistake of china? Whatever your ideas in the game, the execution was horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Every review states, every user comment states, the animations in particular look like they were done by a high school student.

    You keep throwing around this “35-40%” of all games will be outsourced, with nothing to back it up. If anything bad day in la will scare people away from outsourcing to china.

    So stop okay? A big boy admits a mistake. Come back to the states, get some perspective. Come back and work with a team that OMG!! might inject their own ideas into the game and make a better game.

  6. I do love this little position you’ve got here. You can, on one hand, make self-righteous ‘satire’ from your ivory tower, but any criticism can be deftly put down with the other because it’s really all just unfocused rage spewed (undeservedly, no doubt) on an innocent, unsuspecting “silly, budget video game.” It’s brilliant.

    I can just picture it now, with all the righteous indignation you can muster, “How dare you spend anytime criticizing my game. There’s an illegal war on terror out there stripping everyone of their freedoms. There are people dying in the Sudan! I just make video games!”

    Jeez, there I go again with the unfocused rage. I’ll be back after I write a few letters to my congressman.

  7. Internet detractors are a bit of a joke, in my opinion. It’s one thing to state your opinion that you don’t like a particular game. If you’re a blogger or reviewer, even go in depth and explain it. But when the obscenities start flowing, the intelligence starts running.

    I’ve not been thrilled with all of your games. To be honest, Alice was the only one that really stood out as a fantastic game. The rest have been average. However, you have the balls and the position to do something different than the norm, and that’s what I appreciate about your work. They’re not the most well-executed titles in history, but they’re also not Madden 2015 or Final Fantasy 37. They’re sitting on my shelf, so that means something.

    By the way, what’s the story on the Xbox version of this game? Is it still coming? Most online shops don’t even list it as a forthcoming title, and the Aspyr Media site has nothing on it. I’m curious, as I’d like to play it, but being an audio guy my computers are dedicated to audio work. I do not have a decent video card here… if I was able to play PC games, I’d never get any work done.

  8. It is doesn’t matter if the game is popular or not. Putting the “American McGee Presents: XXXXX” in front of a game title is a means of own value reflecting. For the movie, we can idolize some star. For the game, why not do the same? It is also a good means to define the game, just like we defining the game ACT, RAC, STG or EA Sports, etc. When the gamer see the title like“American McGee Presents: XXXXX”, it is no need checking the game story or screenshot at all, they also can know much about the game style. As far as I know, the first designer who put his name on the game box is Sid Meier. And in the future, I think, there will be more designer doing like that. For the game industry, it is a good mode exactly. 😛

  9. I just wanted to say that although I think Alice is still your best game by quite a way, I really respect you. Why? Because you’re one of the very few people out there who’s at least trying to do something other than either kowtow to the masters of the older generation or give up and take your toys home or some variant on that. The world needs more name figures like you.

  10. I *have* played BDLA, and I don’t know what you thought you were making, but it can’t be what you ended up with. By pretty much any available metric, it’s a *bad* game.

    “Silly budget game” may be how you’re describing it now that it’s out and looking to be a serious contender to sweep every “worst game of the year” award. In interviews you’ve given over the past couple of years, you certainly didn’t make it sound like you were making a silly budget game.

  11. Yes, and maybe you could’ve spent some free time helping others as well, you know, taking the money you invested into making a crappy game in which you will see no profit on and..gee i dunno, put in it to a worthy cause.

    You talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    So please, don’t lecture people on what they should or shouldn’t do, in America they have the right to do what they wish…perhaps you forgotten about that since you take your work overseas.

  12. Any time I see the “American McGee presents:” or “American McGee’s:” I awlays get a warm fuzzy feeling. It all started with Alice, and it was Alice that made me appreciate the story for what it is. It was also an amazing game period. Scrapland was outstanding, looked amazing, but had the hardest frickin’ end mission ever. I can’t make a proper car to fight through it. Meh. Anyway, I haven’t played BDLA yet, since I don’t have the proper computer power to do so, but I think that it will be an awesome game. It’ll have an original twist that only American can do. It’ll have you thinking, “Now why hasn’t anybody thought of this before?” That is what the “American McGee” brand means to me. Quality, Originality, and Fun.

    BTW, complete fanboy question here, what is the current status on the Alice movie? Is it still in production? Every bit of info I can find on it is old. Just thought I’d ask an official source. Love your stuff!

  13. It never fails to amaze me how people take the time to constantly stalk a someone’s blog and post negative comments about something they hate so much as if they have nothing better to do with their lives, examples being:

    (a) Get a job
    (b) Finish High School
    (c) Get laid

    [Not necessarily in that order, and for many of the trolls here, they’re not going to be able to accomplish any of them]

    Reminds me of all those idiots who went flooding Harlan Ellison’s website when he made some rude comments to the boys at Penny Arcade, and vice versa.

    Word to the stupid:
    If you don’t like someone or something, don’t take the time to go to his or its website and post vitriol every other day.

    I frequent the forums here, so I have a valid reason as to why I’m always reading his posts and occassionally commenting.

    Other people, most of them directed here from SomethingAwful (whose forums, I reiterate, are suspiciously blocked from public use due to membership fees, which is odd considering all the ads on the site)[http://maddox.xmission.com/sa/], have their idea of a good time as bitching about how shitty a game is instead of actually going and, you know, BUYING AND PLAYING A GAME THEY’D LIKE BETTER!

    Many of these people act as if McGee’s forcing all of this down their throats. It fascinates me how more popular and politically-oriented blogs receive less trollings than McGee currently is.

    If only the people who post crap like this would take the time to bash racists on Skinhead sites or the like, then maybe those websites would be shut down due to excessive flooding.

  14. Your ranting at comments that are critical of you and your games do more damage to you than the comments themselves. Surely, you realise that by releasing a demo and inviting comments leaves you exposed to reactions of all sorts. I’d expect someone who prefixes titles with his name to be more sensible than arrogant!
    The fact remains that for whatever the reason, the BDLA demo is spectacularly bad. I sincerely hope that for you (and your brand name) this isn’t a sign of things to come.
    -Robert

  15. I never understood the big boo-hoo outcry over the use of “AM” or whoever’s name on a game. It always seemed pretty clear to me that it was mostly just for the publisher… they feel they are getting some branding benefit for their marketing use.

    Game players with any brains continue to read reviews and forums before buying anything, regardless of the designer’s, developer’s, or game franchise name on the box. Anyone that doesn’t do that, well, deserves what they eventually get.

  16. I think it’s funny that KobukSohn would quote Maddox to show how “bad” Something Awful is, while Maddox surely sits right next to SA in the same little boat.

  17. Write letters to a family in the Sudan? You almost had my sympathy, as negative people will lash out about things like this, but come on. People may be way too critical about the quality of games and whatnot, but don’t make us feel like slime. How many letters to the Sudan have you written? Come down from your pedestal and design a game that cures AIDS or something. Or is that what Bad Day LA is supposed to be? I’m not a hater, but your venomous response seems like you are taking comments very personally. A lot of people post negative things to get reactions, and I think you are appeasing them. Just make games and movies and scripts and every other Hollywood thing you can do, and forget them.

  18. This is mostly to reiterate what some people have said. Like most people, I was gobsmacked by Alice, which despite some controls flaws, remains my favourite game design and universe ever.

    As for BDLA, since I haven’t played it, it’s hard for me to criticize, but even if the reviews are true, I’d rather a brave bad game than a boring average one.

    One type of game which I’d like to see would be a game with circus freaks in it. It could have that whole Southern Gothic/Carnivale/Tom Waits/Freaks vibe. Put it on the Wii and I buy it regardless of the reviews!

    I really wish games would pay more attention to design, art and atmopshere. And you’re the only who gives it a go!

    Keep on trying to innovate!

  19. Look, I thought Alice was a great game for the time. When I read in a mag maybe 2 years ago that American was working on a Zombie title, I nearly flipped! I kept up on the progress here and there eventually moving on to other things.

    Fast forward to the present: A friend mentions Bad Day LA and “American Mcgee”. I was intrigued and confused, so I downloaded the demo and bam…

    You’re obviously a man with bright ideas and a lot of potential. But I think your inability to listen to your audience (ie: “it is what it is”) will hurt you. Yes, there has been a lot of ill constructed criticism which can be ignored. But other people who are saying “what happened with this?” are showing genuine concern for losing someone who can probably design something really forward thinking.

    Bad Day LA was a terrible game. The only reason why I write this is because I know you can do better. American, don’t get lazy and simply shrug it off. There are people like me who are really anticipating what you are truly capable of as a creative designer.

  20. Fot the Alice, I have went through it last week. Altho I didn’t read about the original story Alice and even didn’t read the conversation during the game carefully, but I think it is a successful project on recomposition. I almost can image something about the original story. Since each gamer’s feelings are distinctive in some game, so I don’t want to say much about my feeling further on this early project . What I want to say is if the users have much desire to read the original one, it should be a success. Just like the fans buy the book of Harry Potter in a swarm after the movie. Whatever, that’s my opinion about the recomposing game. 🙂

  21. “But then, what would they have to vent their unfocused rage upon? Maybe at that point they’d start using their time and energy to write letters about things that matter, like genocide victims in the Sudan, the false “war on terror”, or hell, something more “selfish” like their rights as American citizens being taken away in the name of “protecting freedom”.”

    You know, for somebody who is trying to sell a game based off of satirical humor, you sure are humorless. I was actually looking forward to this game before I read this blog, but your self-absorbed rantings threw up a few warning flags.

    And, here’s a thought: couldn’t you have written a letter to Sudan or two in the time it took you to complain about your detractors saying mean things about poor little you? At least the guy you quoted had something insightful to say.

  22. There is a frightening comment “You die in the game – You die for real” for the movie “Stay Alive” I watched today. It brings this “Danger” title to my mind and 2 additional topics.

    1) “Is game that dangerous?”

    As it reported, many people are addictive with online game day and night neglecting their studies, works and familys. “Is game that dangerous?”. Go to ask Patricia Vance this problem. “Gun doesn’t kill people. People kill people”. That’s what I know and I love GTA series in despite of some kids committing a crime imitated this game. 😛

    2) “Real life” & “Game life”

    When I set foot in the game industry several years ago, my faith is to “Designing the game” for all the game fans. But with the time goes by, It becomes “Designing the fun” now.

    Although each game I ever playered will bring me inspirations more or less, However, a movie, a book, a dialog between friends or a drawing on the street wall…I prefer finding inspiration from daily life even if it’s wrong and stupid. Everyone has (needs) different types of curiosity just like the other daily needs. So the conversion between “Real life” & “Game life” is one of good apocalypse. The world is a big game to me.

    BTW, I don’t want that movie scene take place in real life, That’s the danger…a really danger in deed. 😛

  23. KobukSohn wrote:

    It never fails to amaze me how people take the time to constantly stalk a someone’s blog and post negative comments about something they hate so much as if they have nothing better to do with their lives, examples being:

    (a) Get a job
    (b) Finish High School
    (c) Get laid

    [Not necessarily in that order, and for many of the trolls here, they’re not going to be able to accomplish any of them]

    >> Woo. Nice start. Get a job! Priceless. Haha You can’t get laid! Sheeple! Awesome. I can see why you love it here.

    Reminds me of all those idiots who went flooding Harlan Ellison’s website when he made some rude comments to the boys at Penny Arcade, and vice versa.

    Word to the stupid:
    If you don’t like someone or something, don’t take the time to go to his or its website and post vitriol every other day.

    >> Even though you advocate exactly that later in this post? Perhaps you meant ‘If you don’t like someone or something I like’?

    I frequent the forums here, so I have a valid reason as to why I’m always reading his posts and occassionally commenting.

    >> I was here first, I’m a forum regular, my opinion is valid, yours isn’t.

    Other people, most of them directed here from SomethingAwful (whose forums, I reiterate, are suspiciously blocked from public use due to membership fees, which is odd considering all the ads on the site)[http://maddox.xmission.com/sa/], have their idea of a good time as bitching about how shitty a game is instead of actually going and, you know, BUYING AND PLAYING A GAME THEY’D LIKE BETTER!

    >> Suspicious? Yep. There’s something really suspicious about blocking forums so that people like you can’t come and troll. 🙂 In actual fact, it isn’t blocked. Pay your $800 per month, and you too can troll. Until you get kicked for trolling.

    Many of these people act as if McGee’s forcing all of this down their throats. It fascinates me how more popular and politically-oriented blogs receive less trollings than McGee currently is.

    >>If you don’t want it judged, don’t put it in the public domain. McGee is getting the attention now because of really missing the mark with this game.

    If only the people who post crap like this would take the time to bash racists on Skinhead sites or the like, then maybe those websites would be shut down due to excessive flooding.
    >> 1. You said earlier that people shouldn’t do this, remember.
    2. They do: look at article 4080 on SA. Sunday, September 10, 2006: Johnny “Doc Evil” Titanium – RESISTANCE.
    3. They aren’t. Excessive flooding won’t even bring down 419 scammers bank sites for good, even if it does cost them a fair bit in bandwidth charges.
    4. I haven’t seen a lot of crap posts. I’ve seen some fair criticism of the game, mirroring the reviews dotted around the web, and I’ve seen some good questions on outsourcing.

    I’m pissed off with this game because it utterly fails to address TWAT/TWOT, apart from in the most cursory, 13-year-old ways.

    Rather than getting so worked up about the posts, why not take your own advice. Perhaps America could animate you a Ms Hand for a private date if you’re shy?

    Love your anime art, though 🙂

  24. Uuhh..Poor Chinese guys, if they had money and wisdom to *rig* the reviews. Gamers would have been playing “beats the crap out of GTA” game.

  25. I love you man. Working with you and Ken has been a pleasure. Two of the most talented visionary people I know.

    And to those who don’t know…Now you know.

  26. I fail to see what all the fuss is.
    If u dont like the game dont buy it, simple
    As for the people moaning about him expressing his opinions err what are you doing reading is blog?
    And the people complaing that he has His name above His game, are u pissed cos alls u will ever do is eat chips, get fat and play games.
    There are many more important things in the world that you could waste yer time moaning about.
    But sadly i dont think u will.

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