Category Archives: Grimm

UE3 Level Designer Incubation

My entrance into the game industry was a bit of pure luck.

In 1993, John Carmack plucked me from an illustrious job as auto mechanic and dropped me into the role of tech support/tester at id Software. I was a high school drop-out with few prospects, a passion for games, and a strong desire to make something better of myself. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

15 years later, I am acutely aware of how much I owe John for giving me that chance to prove myself. And I’ve always believed that a story like mine is the ultimate proof that anyone can make anything of themselves as long as they’re able to see beyond the present and apply themselves to the future they want.

Today, as I look around the Spicy Horse offices in Shanghai I see new versions of this same story being written. I’ve “paid it forward” for several of our team members, and they’re shining in the roles that have been handed them. Really wonderful.

Only, I want to do more.

I want to expand on and formalize the idea of extending opportunity to people who have the desire and ability to move beyond their current, limited stations in life.

With that in mind, we’re launching a program where we accept applications from people who want to break into the game industry. To start, I’m looking for 3 individuals who would be willing to accept trial intern Level Designer positions at our Shanghai office.

This isn’t an unqualified invitation. Just as Carmack must have seen something “more” in me, we’re looking for unique individuals who fit this template:

-Gamer experience
-Artistic eye
-Strong core computer skills
-Devoted and passionate
-Self motivated
-Inquisitive, curious
-Strong spatial sense

If you’re in Shanghai, looking for a unique opportunity to create interesting games, and ready to challenge yourself, then please contact me.

New Office

Two weekends ago Spicy Horse Games picked up and moved to a new home. We had been sharing office space with game art outsourcing company Vykarian. But both companies have been growing too quickly, so we moved.

We got lucky and were told of a cool space which had been occupied by a film/tv production company. The work they put into remodeling, wiring, and decorating meant the new space was basically plug&play. We couldn’t be happier.

I’ve posted some images:

Team Spicy Horse Sep '07

Spicy Horse Screening Room

Click on the images to go to Flickr and see more.

Life has been crazy busy, hence the lack of updates. Spicy moved into a beautiful new office. The Grimm project has been humming along. The team has really gelled and is cranking out beautiful work. And today we get to announce the technology we’ve been working with:




SHANGHAI, P.R.C. – September 21, 2007 – Spicy Horse Games, a Shanghai based game developer, together with Epic Games China announced today that it has entered into a multi-title agreement to license Unreal® Engine 3.

Spicy Horse Games is using Unreal Engine 3 technology for “American McGee’s Grimm” along with upcoming PC and console game titles. “Grimm” is a part of the GameTap original lineup, expected to launch starting in 2008.

“Unreal Engine 3 has given our team the tools they need to express their creativity in a rapid and predictable way,” said American McGee, Creative Director of Spicy Horse. “Working with the great people at Epic Games China allows us capture rapidly expanding business and creative opportunities in Chinese and global gaming.”

Paul Meegan, CEO of Epic Games China said, “We’re very happy to be working with American McGee and his team at Spicy Horse. American has a reputation for being highly creative, and his is one of the first independent teams to make games for the global marketplace entirely in China. We look forward to the next Alice.”

About Unreal Engine 3

The award-winning Unreal Engine is known for cutting-edge graphics and a best-of-breed toolset. Unreal Engine 3 is expected to maintain those features while adding massive world support, multi-processor support, next-generation console optimizations, and one of the most mature tool pipelines in the industry. Unreal Engine 3’s new toolset is designed specifically to accelerate developers’ productivity for ultra-complex, next-generation content. Additional information on Unreal Engine can be obtained at

About Epic Games

Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and game engine technology for PC and console. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in their Unreal series and their latest game, Gears of War®, broke sales records on Xbox 360 selling more than 3 million copies worldwide in the first ten weeks and awarded overall Game of the Year for 2006 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, Game Developers Choice Awards, GameSpot, GamePro and many others. Epic is also responsible for the Unreal Engine, which is the underlying technology for a wide range of games including, Console Game of the Year winner, “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell TM” by Ubi Soft; PC Gamer’s Game of the Year, “Deus Ex” from Ion Storm/Eidos; “America’s Army: Special Forces,” by the United States Army, and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (PC) by Electronic Arts. Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 is the current holder, and three-time consecutive winner, of Game Developer magazine’s Front Line award for Best Game Engine. Epic Games was also awarded Studio of the Year at the 2006 Spike TV Video Game Awards and Developer of the Year by Official Xbox Magazine. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through Epic’s Web site at

About Epic Games China

Epic Games China, based in Shanghai, licenses Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 2 and Unreal Engine 3 in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South East Asia. The company provides local technology support and professional training services in Mandarin and English. Epic Games China also offers AAA quality content production outsourcing and game development services to developers and publishers worldwide. Additional information is available at

About Spicy Horse Games

Spicy Horse is an American owned and financed video game development studio located in Shanghai. The company’s mission is to create boutique games for the PC and next-gen console market using rapid production techniques and high-end technology with a creative focus on storytelling and art. Spicy’s development philosophy is geared towards putting the fun back into making and playing games. Additional information is available at:

Unreal is a registered trademark of Epic Games, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies.

So, there you have it. A mini-update and a press release. Exciting huh? Seriously, the UE3 tech has been a joy to work with. Although I find it ironic we’re using a next-gen engine to build a casual game. I guess that makes Grimm “next-gen casual”?

AI.implant – 0$ Licensing Fee

Cool news from the guys over at Engenuity today:

Engenuity will no longer charge a licensing fee for AI.implant and will now offer perpetual source code agreements in exchange for marketing exposure relating to future titles developed with AI.implant.

Qualified Xbox 360 console developers and PLAYSTATION3 game title developers will now have full and complete access to the source code for AI.implant, Engenuity’s highly acclaimed AI middleware solution.

By taking advantage of AI.implant’s perpetual source code agreement you can create more immersive games better and faster, while tailoring the AI.implant core to your specific needs. Save on the expense of game development through the power of AI.implant, a two-time winner of the Game Developer Front Line Award for best middleware.

As far as I know the “Grimm” project was one of the first to gain access to AI.implant technology under this new licensing setup. We’ve been using the technology for a while now – and having great success. Our new on-staff “brain surgeon” is Marwin So, who also doubles as our game designer. He’s managed to pick up and run with AI Implant pretty much out of the box, teaching himself everything needed to put dynamic, interesting NPCs into our game. This is testament both to Marwin’s own decent brain, and to the ease of use and flexibility of AI.implant.

If you’re looking for a good AI solution then AI.implant (plus a Marwin) is an option worth looking into. If you’re an interested developer, check it out.

PS, Marwin not included. Get your own. – Into the Pixel

Spicy Horse conceptual artist Lin Ran did a series of images during early “Grimm” pre-production. I posted some of these images to my flickr account a while back, like this one, “The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was”:

The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was

These images were entered into the annual “Into the Pixel” competition – “An exhibition of the best video game art at E3.” – and “The Boy” won! Congratulations to Lin Ran on this prestigious honor.

USA Today is running an article on the event and a nice gallery:

Across town from E3 at the LA Convention center’s “E for All,” the Into the Pixel exhibition examines the most stunning art from last year’s games. A jury of museum curators, designers and producers selected sixteen pieces from submissions worldwide based on the “criteria of traditional fine art,” according to Lead Juror Kevin Salatino.

Check it out here: – Into the Pixel