Despite not having my own Gamertag, I had an awesome time playing random gamers on Xbox Live. We were set up on the 20th floor and it was actually my first time up on that floor. Twenty had been off-limits to regular EA serfs but since the corporate re-alignment, it’s now just a regular development floor now, along with some execs.

Swapping between Jordan and Andy, I managed to play about a dozen people over a 1.5 hr period. It was crazy seeing how many friend requests had been sent to these accounts. Each tag had about 50 people wanting to be friends. Some people just sent us messages, thanking us for making a great game. Now, I’m just saying but there were even a few that said, “you kicked Tony Hawk’s ass.” I’m just saying!

We accepted as many friend requests as we could to get visibility on as many people at once. The first guy I talked to was probably the most memorable. I still remember his Gamertag. I’m pretty sure he was ditching school to play with us. He sounded no more than 10 years old, possibly younger. I asked him if he should be in school today but unfortunately, his answer came back all garbled. He was genuinely excited to be playing with us.

Another player I chatted with was from Brooklyn which was really cool since I was just in NYC three months ago. He totally had the Brooklyn accent and we discussed where his favourite areas to skate in and around NYC.

One dude had a pretty funny tag. I won’t divulge his whole tag but part of it was “HumanGarbage”. Andy was scrolling through the friend requests and he said, “Oh, we gotta invite this guy to our session.” It turns out he very, very excited to get our invite. He was quite chatty and ethusiastic through out the six player Spot Battle we had.

We unfortunately had to end the session at 1pm because the NFS: Pro Street devs had their session scheduled right after ours. Before we logged off, I had a chance to thank a few gamers for their support and for playing our game. If I could label one thing that made the whole play session worthwhile, it was exactly that. As developers, we’re told by EA not to respond to or post messages on boards. For the last three months, the team has seen an overwhelmingly positive response to skate. Sadly, there’s no easy way for us to thank the general public for everything they’ve done for us. So even though I was only able to tell five guys that I appreciated their passion for the game, that was very satisfying to me.

Overall, I feel lucky to have participated and wouldn’t hesitate to join another of these sessions.


Today mark’s the fifth anniversary of the launch of Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online gaming network. As part of the festivities, I was selected to participate in a large “Game with Developers” event, which takes place all day today. Game developers from across the world will be playing random Xbox Live gamers on the game they worked so hard on. While apparently the gamers get a big thrill from playing the devs, from all reports, it’s the devs who get the most satisfaction playing someone from the public.

I was selected weeks ago for this but unfortunately, my name didn’t go out to Microsoft for the initial requests for Gamertags. My name went out in a subsequent request that went unanswered. If you click the link above, you’ll see the second team listed is the skate. dev team. Notice four of my coworkers are there but not my name. It’s the Gamertag that allows any random Xbox Live member to initiate a game with the developers. Without a tag, I’ll be just sitting there.

A marketing dude said I could just share a tag but as cool as Jordan is (and I know because he sits next to me), I don’t want to be known as “SkateDesign”. I want to be “SkateSoftEng”. You cannot even imagine how pouty I am as I type this. LOL.

No, but seriously, can you imagine if some kid wants to ask Jordan some design question, gets me in a game and then I have to break it to him that I’m the dude that actually crammed the ones and zeros into the game? I bet I’ll be able to hear the disappointment over the headset.

Yeah, I am being whiny about this and I realize other real problems exist in the world. I would like to point out that if I could solve all of Darfur’s problems I certainly would. Also, this is my blog and I’ll complain if I want to. You’d complain too if this happened to you…

Ok, lyrics aside, if you’ve got a copy of skate. jump on XBL from 11am – 1pm PST and request a game with those Gamertags, one of them actually might be me!


One of my pet peeves is leaving a whole pile of games lying around, each unfinished. It’s effectively wasting my money and time. I’ve invested in both and if I don’t finish the game, I don’t get the payoff that I was looking for.

I’m currently about a third way through Resident Evil 4 on the Wii. I last played that last spring. I feel bad about that because I’ve forgotten all the controls and I need to get caught in the story again. I’ll eventually get back to it but I’ve determined to finish the glut of games I have on the 360.

I just finished Saints Row. Next I have The Simpsons Game which I refuse to just let sit there. After I’m done that, I’ll get onto Tomb Raider: Anniversary. It should be about 2009 before I get to Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty 4.

Oh and for lunch today, I had six pieces of salmon nigiri.


I’m guilty of not blogging even half of what I did in New York this summer, like that time I bought a heavily discounted Rolex watch from that guy in Times Square. I hope better late than never applies here.

Anyways, one of the things I did was go on a two and a half hour boat cruise around the bottom half of Manhattan. Joel, my ever so patient host in NYC, indulged me in the adventure. We picked quite a nice Sunday for the cruise, it was sunny but not hot.

The two and a half hours flew by and it really is a great way to see parts of the NYC. The cruise comes with narration from a tour guide who pointed out interesting landmarks and gives you some historical notes. This in itself is a nice touch.

If you’re interested, I took some pictures, check them out here.


The power went out in my area around 11pm. I was playing Saints Row on the Xbox 360 at the time. It’d been half an hour since my last save. I broke my own cardinal rule of “save often”. I don’t have anyone else to blame except myself. Still, I’m annoyed.

If I had been a logical person, I would have just gone to bed but of course, me and logical don’t meet up too often. Instead, I lit some candles and sat in the near dark for over three hours, waiting for the power to come back on. It finally came back on around 2:30am.

I’m gonna get back that lost half hour in Saints Row.


This week my employer, Electronic Arts, made the difficult decision to close our Chicago studio. It was deemed a business decision as that studio was not profitable and would not be profitable for at least two years. The move put about 150 people out of their jobs though EA was trying to do its best with relocation assistance.

The news made headlines with nearly all the large gaming web sites. I read a lot of the comments that average gamers left after reading the story. Now, I know that EA isn’t the most beloved gaming company in the biz but some of the comments left by people were quite surprising.

While most people felt for the employees who lost their jobs, some commenters openly cheered the closing of the studio, as if this was some sort of gamer victory for the little guy. More than one poster hoped that this was the beginning of the end for EA as a company. For some, the closure of an EA studio made their day.

Just to show you how you can’t please everyone, average gamers in the past have been openly hoping that EA would stop making games because they didn’t like EA. Then when EA closes a studio, which meant EA had to shelve any games in progress, people said this move made them mad. What do people want?

It’s kinda of weird working for what is most likely the most hated gaming company in the business. People openly hope that the company that I work for and depend on for my livelihood will go out of business. Can you imagine that? Take Joe who works for an insurance agency. Can Joe go to a dozen web sites and read about how people hope his company goes under? That’s the position I’m in.

Now the Internet being what it is, I probably shouldn’t care what a bunch of 12 year olds think. It’s just difficult to understand their rage since I’ve only worked as a developer on one EA title. Now that title happened to be skate. which oddly enough, is mentioned in discussions like, “I hate all EA games but skate. I hear is surprisingly good“.

Luckily, while the haters are a vocal group, they certainly don’t outnumber the people who do buy EA games. Also, if all EA games suck then why did Madden 08, FIFA 08, NHL 08 and skate. all get Metacritic scores above 80 (on both Xbox 360 and PS3)?

At the risk of partaking in one of the seven deadly sins, I have to say I’m proud to have been an EA developer on skate. EA isn’t going away any time soon, so all those haters better stock up on that bile.


I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll do it again. I have a very simple e-mail address at a major Canadian ISP. I never use it and I only have it because my ISP forced it upon me. As you might imagine, I do 99% of my e-mailing on this kickass domain and 1% on Hotmail when I need to enter contests and the like receive pornography.

Every once in a while, I check the other account. Because the address is so simple, once in a while, I get messages that aren’t for me, sorta like if you had or something. Anyways, a few weeks ago, I got sent some weird e-mail from some irrigation regulation board in Alberta. Apparently, the dude they were looking for was selling water he wasn’t supposed to. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Anyways, I ignored the e-mail but tonight, I got a follow-up e-mail from the same person. They were all like “why comes you haven’t responded to us G?“. Ok, so they didn’t actually write that but that was the intent of their message and I had fun writing it.

Based on their serious tone, I decided I had to tell the water police they had the wrong guy. So I replied saying I wasn’t that dude. I won’t reveal what I wrote but I was perhaps a little bit more cheeky than I had to be. That hindsight crap is like 40 * 0.5 /40 * 0.5.

Let’s see if they reply to my e-mail. What if they don’t believe I’m not that dude?


I was at Wal-Mart over the weekend. They usually play music throughout the store to enhance my shopping experience. As I was trying on a pair of pants in the men’s department, the music caught my attention.

Was that a Christmas song?

I listened intently for a few seconds. Yes, it was indeed a Christmas song and when that one ended, another played. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me but I believe some retailers are now waiting until the day after Halloween and then immediately swinging into Christmas mode. In this manner, they maximize their Christmas retail period with the full 54 shopping days. Crazy.

Anyways, I decided to go with the pair of acid-wash jeans which I will wear to work tomorrow morning.