Tag Archives: china

American in China

Spicy Horse Logo

The Spicy Horse Logo

Brian Ashcroft from Kotaku has presented a really great interview with me and a few others from Spicy Horse. It details the history of my move to China, the formation of Spicy Horse, and our vision of the future of games in China. From the article,

It was 2007, and China was buzzing — with optimism and energy. “Chinese contemporary society is like a whirlwind,” says McGee’s business partner and art director, Ken Wong. “It seems to have changed in 10 years as much as America has in the past 40.” McGee and Wong, started boutique studio dubbed “Spicy Horse” or “Ma La Ma” in Chinese. Initially, they worked out of their homes on an island off the Hong Kong coast. “We moved into some really low-rent warehouse space in Shanghai upon our initial landing in the mainland,” says McGee. “From there we moved a few more times, ever growing the company, taking on more people, and evolving the culture.”

Be sure to check out the full article.

Many thanks to Brian for crafting such a cool article. And thanks to Kotaku readers for supporting interesting interviews like this 🙂

First Flights, China Style

First Flight

First flights over Fuyang, China

Yesterday, after several weeks of theory and ground handling practice, I took my first paragliding flights. Soaring over the farmlands of Fuyang, China was beautiful and thrilling. In total I had 5 flights in 1 day. Flying and landing I handled pretty well. Takeoffs still need practice – going in the bushes is no fun! Check out some video or pictures. I’ll post more from future flights.

BaiJiu Racer Concept Announcement

Widescreen BaiJiu Race

Bai Jiu Racing

Today we’re going to try something a little different: Pitching a video game concept!

Traditionally when I’ve pitched game concepts the process involved face-to-face meetings with potential publishers, use of our agents (CAA) back in Los Angeles, and lots of traveling. Well, I’m getting old, China is FAR from the rest of the world, and the Internet can do a lot of amazing things, so here’s a game pitch for the next generation:

Announcing “BaiJiu Racer” – An MMO-lite racing game concept with China as the core theme. The concept has been in focused pre-production for the past three months here at Spicy Horse. Working with our Chinese publishing partner ICEE we’ve crafted a solid Game Design Document, Technical Design Document, Art Bible, Visual Target Demo, and Development Plan. Together these materials constitute a compelling pitch for a title we think will be a strong competitor in the worldwide, lite-MMO, online racing category (think “Kart Racer”).

A lot of teams dream of a “Mario Cart” or “KartRider” killer – and we think our concept goes a long ways towards being a viable contender. For one, it’s the first Chinese cart racing game developed with an authentic and original Chinese art style, set in real-world locations, and featuring some of the funkiest racing vehicle designs the world has ever seen (inspiration coming from actual Chinese vehicles). We’re focusing on semi-realistic (and fun) physics-based racing dynamic, going light on the power-ups, and throwing in a lot of visual action. Check out the art and video to see the result.

A few key features and differentiators:
* Distinctive art style featuring a timeless portrayal of everyday Chinese people and locations
* A clean and clear graphic style for UI
* Core gameplay focused on skill-based racing, avoiding fun-killing power-ups
* Strong narrative backbone and emotional drama – “everyone can be a hero”
* Unique and interesting vehicle designs based on real-life Chinese vehicles
* Track locations that reveal a China few foreigners have seen
* Risk reduction in production through use of 3rd-party tools and engine (UE3)
* A fast and efficient project schedule built on Spicy’s proven development processes

Our Chinese publishing partner ICEE has a lock on the publishing rights in China. What we’re looking for now is a publisher interested in the remaining world-wide rights. We might also be open to territory specific deals with the right partners.

To learn more about BaiJiu Racer and what’s on offer, you can do the following:

Visit my Flickr Account to view a collection of concept artwork related to the project.

Visit my YouTube Channel to watch a video of sample game play, primarily intended to show the art style working in-engine.

Finally, email me to request information (GDD, TDD, budget, schedule, etc) relevant to deciding if the publishing rights are a fit for you.

Spicy Horse has established itself as one of the strongest independent game developers in China. Following the success of Grimm we’re growing and expanding to leverage our core talents, process oriented development methods, and inspirational location. If you’re interested in learning more about the studio, our capabilities, and our ideas, let me know!

Looking Glass Vet Joins Vyk Games

A big welcome to another foreigner in the big crazy pond that is China: Looking Glass Vet Joins Vyk Games | Edge Online
Tom Sperry, former director at revered (and now defunct) Thief developer Looking Glass Studios, has joined Shanghai, China-based outsourcing firm Vyk Games, the company said Wednesday. — We used Vyk to build 100% of the art assets that went into Grimm, and were always pleased with their quality output, reliability, and pricing. Now with special ingredient Tom – even better than ever!

Crytek in China?

I read on the Game Daily News this morning:
Developer Crytek , the studio behind Crysis and the CryEngine middleware, sent word today that they will be showing CryEngine 2 in China for the first time, at this year’s ChinaJoy gaming convention in Shanghai, which runs from July 17 -19.

Sounds like selling bikinis to Eskimos. Might work in 50 years when global warming has turned the arctic circle into the new Bahamas. But today?

Their managing director mentioned the growth of the market and said they’d like to capitalize on it. Of course. But what they seem to be ignoring is the fact that most Chinese gamers are located in 2nd and 3rd tier cities – playing on machines in Internet Cafes – and are lucky to have anything above an nVidia 6800 graphics card. How exactly is the world’s most advanced 3D game engine going to work in that environment?

Chinese Gaming Boom

China is a fun place to be a gamer. If you aren’t buying 360 games on the street for 10RMB, you’re downloading them from P2P and sharing them with your buddies at work. We had to put a stop to that latter practice at the Spicy Horse offices – we found some of our guys were transferring 100s of Gb per day. Yikes. Regardless of how Chinese gamers get their hands on games, one thing is clear: Gaming is HUGE here.

As if the point needed further making, the following article posted on gamedaily.com today:

Niko Partners today revealed the results from a report on the Chinese video gaming industry. The 2008 Annual Review & Forecast Report on China’s Video Game Industry says that China’s 46 million gamers spent $1.7 billion on online games in 2007, an increase of 71 percent compared to 2006. Looking to the future, online revenue is expected to be $2.5 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2012, increasing by roughly a third every year.

“China’s spending on games is up thanks to their booming economy,” said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners. “14 million hardcore Chinese gamers play online games more than 22 hours per week. They play online, LAN, and single-player offline PC games in China’s 185,000 Internet cafes and increasingly on their PCs at home, thanks to falling prices and higher disposable income.”

That’s a lot of hours spent playing games. The (un-)funny thing is how these stats only track (basically MMO) online play. Console and PC gaming are huge, but so far no one’s paying for it. The culture doesn’t support it – neither does the market. Even if you wanted to buy a legit game – you’d have a tough time finding one.

The situation is far from hopeless. World of Warcraft and online-only Chinese games are amazing examples of the market potential. Just don’t put something in a box and expect it to avoid being pirated. This is a country where you can buy fake everything. Soy sauce made from hair, bamboo shoots made from chopsticks, and fake boiled eggs made from… I don’t want to know what.

To honor Chinese gamers and their warrior-pirate ways, here’s some Chinese warriors from an upcoming episode of Grimm:


Ni hao! If I told you what episode of Grimm then I’d get a sock stuffed in my mouth. Just enjoy the image and don’t ask questions! Wo bu yao wen ti!