Short Bio: Hi, I was the producer on Mortal Kombat from 2000-2008, and started at NEC’s Turbo-Grafx-16 in 1989 (Bonk or Bomberman anyone?). After the TG-16 crash I worked in QA, then into production in the mid 90’s. I’ve done console, PC, arcade, casino and mobile games, like MK: Deadly Alliance/Deception/Armageddon, Beavis & Butt-Head, Arctic Thunder, Marvel Avengers Initiative and WWE Immortals.

Companies I’ve been at include NEC, ICOM Simulations/Viacom New Media, Blue Byte Software, TerraGlyph Interactive Studios, Midway Games, WMS Gaming, Wideload Games/Disney Interactive and Phosphor Games Studio (consultant)

I currently have a small consulting company, and am exploring the idea of helping people interested to work in the game industry, but stuck not knowing what to do next.

Proof Links:

Edit:

  • Ongoing: will pop on as time's available and continue answering questions.

  • Fri. 9/25: I'm back on today answering both new questions and ones from late last night.

  • Thurs. 9/24pm: wrapped up for tonight, but if there are new questions tomorrow I'll jump back in an answer them...take care everyone.

Comments: 139 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

jpodzilla10 karma

Thought I’d kick things off with a couple pics. Here’s one from an early 90s CES show with the TurboGrafx-16 Bonk mascot, and a reprint of cells from Scorpion’s cameo on Comedy Central’s old show, Drawn Together.

diosmuerteborracho3 karma

Sick tie dude.

jpodzilla6 karma

Totally! The scary thing is I needed a decent sized tie collection back then. My role at NEC TurboGrafx-16 required me wearing a tie days a week. Yes you read right, wear a tie 4 days a week to work at a video game company.

But it was the times, and being a global Japanese corporation that was the office expectation back then. So I built a small collection of the most obnoxious ties I could find...usually from T.J. Maxx :)

For some reason I never got rid of them. Still take up 90% of my damn tie rack too!

http://i.imgur.com/9W1u0UF.jpg

lunaticlabs9 karma

First, I wanted to say thanks for working on Bonk's Adventure! I have fond memories of that game.
How has the game industry changed since you started? Do you look back to the old days and wish it was the way it was then, or do you prefer the industry now, and why?

jpodzilla8 karma

Glad to be here lunaticlabs! The Bonk series was a lot of fun. Besides graphic fidelity (crazy you can play old TG-16 games on a crappy phone now), the biggest change is team size. On console at least, it used to be 6-9 folks, now it's a frickin' army, both internally and externally. And since headcount is about 80-85% of a game dev's budget then related would be budgets. $50-75 million for a big console game is the norm, if not more, just for dev...amazing.

Sometimes I do look back and wish, but think the industry now is more exciting. There's so many different outlets for games now, and different things you can do. The industry has matured more too, and there are so many different tools for task tracking, schedules, etc. Plus VR is on the horizon, 2016 will be interesting to see how that battle starts shaking out.

LastLevel-NoLives2 karma

How were these roles divided if you had 6 to 9 people? How much hand did each person have in the final gameplay? Also the Indie scene seems like a revival of this small development team styles...when do you feel the size demands of console development blew up? How do you feel someone can really get their vision off the ground in today's development climate?

jpodzilla2 karma

A lot of great questions here. It was just a lot less of the same people; a couple programers, maybe a programmer/designer, a designer, a few artists, maybe an artist/designer, part-time audio person, and either full or part-time producer. Finally gameplay was owned by the designer, but many contributed. Depending on the project and who was most passionate/vested it's possibly a programmer/designer or artist/designer could also own it.

Totally do agree the indie scene in a revival of this type of small team environment. It's cool too since there are so many better tools for development, collaboration (Slack), and scheduling (Trello, etc.) that teams have now.

Hmmm, hard to pin a date but around I'd speculate around 2005 - 2010? I know on MK the team kept growing from the MKDA roots of around 30s core members. As the platforms got more powerful it turned into an arms race. Bigger graphics, more realistic (and frequent) cut scenes, huge features, online gameplay, etc. That's when middle-sized publishers felt the squeeze. How do you compete against the big guys and their war chest? If focused on Tripe A console dev it just got harder and harder to compete. And you saw those middle guys get absorbed into bigger publishers and/or file for bankruptcy unfortunately (which was hard for me to see happen to Midway, even though I wasn't there at the time). Luckily some got picked up, like the MK team, which grew to be a bigger & stronger solo studio under Warner Bros. wings.

Plus as the teams grew internally they also needed to be supplemented with outsourcing help. Outsourcing is tricky, but pretty much required nowadays. It can be highly effective if done with the right group, with the right expectations established and managed. You have to over-communicate with them since not in the same space. But it can work if done right.

Done wrong - a train wreck. Especially for programming. Gotta have a solid technical foundation for a game, otherwise it's a house built on sand. It'll turn into 'whack-a-mole' at the end in QA. Fix one bug, make two new ones. I have flashbacks to being in QA and working on games that just couldn't seem to ship because the engineering foundation was a such a mess. And outsourcing engineering adds way more risk than other disciplines.

As for someone getting their vision off the ground in today's world it depends what environment you're in. If you're indie it can be done bootstrapped, or the help of crowdfunding. Need to put a killer demo together, and have a team or small group in place to deliver the rest later. I know they're rare, but the first that came to mind is something like Five Nights at Freddy's. Seemingly came out of nowhere (although he'd been working intensely on it for a long time), and suddenly everyone was playing it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Nights_at_Freddy%27s

If in a big space like a publisher, you need to sell people on the idea every step of the way. PowerPoint, comparison documentation, and always with powerful visuals. Then have something compelling at the "vertical slice" phase (I know, it gets abused often and can be smoke & mirrors, but it's still a hoop to jump through that's often still needed). And I really dislike the practice of just using killer cut scenes to get production approved. It may show the vision, but how are you going to execute it? They go out and get someone top shelf, like a Blur Studio, to make a beautiful cut scene reel. Everyone gets excited, money gets thrown around, then the team can't deliver on anything near the bar that was promised.

1tudore6 karma

Having worked with a number of different teams, what recurring problems do you see in collaboration in video game design & production? How do you prevent those problems or effectively address them when they arise?

jpodzilla6 karma

Great question. It's always a challenge - design always wants to add and tweak things more (there's some famous designer quote, can't remember who but "I love deadlines, especially the sound as they go whizzing by my head."), and production just wants to reduce risk, but often at the cost of features and fun.

So it's a balancing act. Give and take. One thing we used at Wideload/Disney was Hansoft, a project management tool, and Agile practices. Features were written up as "stories" and rough point values voted on (planning poker) by the discipline leads for how much work it'd be. If there were people with two extreme scores they'd have to discuss why they believed in theirs, then come to agreement.

As a library of back stories was built up it'd be used as data for planning milestones. Each milestone had had a "burn rate" that showed the points completed for it. As a series of short 2 week milestones were logged there was some historical data to go from for future milestones. So as planning was being done and features A, B and C were wanted, we'd look at the rough points assigned for each against the cadence/burn rate of previous milestones. If we went way over we'd trim say feature C for the milestone, or implement a sub section of it.

We'd then factor in if team members were going to be out, etc. and use those stories for the milestone. Then sub-teams would tackle the individual work, and break down the tasks for reals, as they say. If they came back and said, "WTH, this is going to take 3 weeks alone to do" we'd then recalibrate the milestone and make adjustments and tradeoffs at the beginning.

It didn't always go verbatim as described, but the concepts were used. Plus it greatly helped being a dev studio for a big publisher who we got along with, and gave the team space. Often studio work-for-hire situations have the milestones given to the team without any planning consideration for the work. So you need to "back the work" into the time allocated, which can be really tough, depending how aggressive they are....

diosmuerteborracho2 karma

I love deadlines, especially the sound as they go whizzing by my head.

That was Douglas Adams!

jpodzilla3 karma

Yep, that's it...great call. Such a talented guy. And sad about his passing much too soon at 49.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams

1tudore1 karma

Thanks for the AmA & this answer.

I'd also like to ask how you prevent or deal with groupthink? The extremes you describe sound like your teams generally have a diversity of perspectives.

jpodzilla2 karma

Groupthink can be hard, because of some many diverse perspectives. But when you boil it down there needs to be the "buck stops with <name> person." It doesn't have to be a dictatorship, and it can be hard for team members to accept this, but it's required. Otherwise there are game direction issues and too much infighting.

Ideally that "buck stops" person has both a strong track record, and strong will.

BlueC0NVERSE4 karma

Thanks for taking the time to do this IAMA! What are some Game we should look out for in the Coming Year?

jpodzilla6 karma

Being a music geek I'm interested to see what Rock Band 4 does. Plus other stuff like the new Halo and Fallout should be huge.

diosmuerteborracho1 karma

What is your favorite video game soundtrack?

jpodzilla2 karma

There are a lot of great ones, but first to mind is Road Rash. Remember it having Monster Magnet, Therapy? then also BOTH Soundgarden & Swervedriver! I thought "best soundtrack ever," plus being a motorcycle enthusiast it was perfect.

How can you not love this (ignoring the cheese factor)?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esH3QSsDKRk

Phyreball3 karma

Who has been your favorite designer to work with and why?

jpodzilla2 karma

I've worked with a lot, but would have to say Ed Boon. He just has such a pulse on the MK series and how to make it FUN. Think sometimes people geek out on stats, etc...but he always keeps his focus on is it fun. If not, we reworked it

1tudore3 karma

Many in the video games industry suffer from health problems, including the predictable - back issues from extended sitting, carpal tunnel - and the less obvious - poor diet, sleep hygiene. What do you do to ensure you and your team have a healthy work environment and habits?

jpodzilla2 karma

That's a good point. I've seen people not take care of themselves and get sick, sometimes developing long-term issues.

The biggest thing is greatly reducing crunch. If you crunch less you have more opportunity to have balance in your life and (hopefully) go to the gym, etc. Many bigger studios too have workout areas. NRS has a nice workout facility, and I know others do.

While at Wideload we worked really hard to minimize crunch. And if we did work a Saturday we'd start late, bring in trays of Jamba Juice, lunch, etc. Two times we had a massage chair brought in and team members took turns getting all the knots worked out of their shoulders. :)

But it really comes down to finding ways to work better and reduce crunch. And it's always a challenge, since "fun" can be so damn illusive.

1tudore3 karma

Over the course of your career, what has been the most important lesson you've drawn from your experience?

jpodzilla8 karma

Listen to your gut.

If you think something's not right, but tell yourself it's not a big deal then 9/10 times it'll later blow up in your face. Cut problems off at the pass, address them now.

Crusaruis283 karma

Which Mortal Kombat character do you like best?

jpodzilla9 karma

Kinda partial to Rain, mostly because I did his foley (grunts, hits, yells) in MK Armageddon. :)

gga_ghostlord3 karma

What has been your favorite game to work on and why?

jpodzilla7 karma

I'd have to say Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. There was a ton of effort into getting the game on those consoles, working with a new game engine (RenderWare), and releasing with a hard deadline. Was very gratifying to see how well it did, including Europe.

jgcorvetteboy2 karma

What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in the gaming industry? Personally I'm attending college for video game programming and want to know what is the most important lesson on would need to know if they were to get involved.

Thanks for the AMA!

jpodzilla2 karma

Congrats jgcorvetteboy for going to school for game programming. If you don't mind, which one are you attending? Did you just start, or are you further along?

My advice is to get really good at solving math problems and programming (key...you'll have a hard time getting hired if you don't have the chops, no matter how charming you might be :).

Do you know yet what kind of coding you like doing best? Gameplay, tools, online, UI (not sexy, but someone has to do it), etc.? You don't want to get pigeonholed, but depending what size team/studio you want to work at having an area you're really focused on can help.

When you get out of school - be persistent about getting interviews. You gotta hustle. Reach out directly to game studios you'd like to work at and share how you can contribute. Have your school demo and/or others online for people to see. Go to industry events (IGDA, etc.) near you and meet people. Always be looking at how to improve and learn your craft better...

If you're interested I also put together a short video game industry quiz with a free eBook. You can check it out here:

https://howtogetintothegameindustry.com/welcome-start-quiz

jgcorvetteboy1 karma

Wow thanks, didn't expect a reply like this.

I'm only in my first year and we just started about 3 weeks ago, so we have only been doing basic programming so far with C++ and HTML5. We haven't really gotten to the point where we are coding games yet, but I think that I would be interested in doing gameplay programming.

The comment about not being pigeonholed is good to know because my main concern was being stuck doing one thing and eventually hating it.

Thanks for taking the time out to do this AMA and answering my question!

jpodzilla2 karma

No worries, glad to help! Great programmers are always in demand, so keep your eye on the ball for getting excellent at coding and solving math problems, and you'll be set in the future.

Best of luck in school, and keep me posted how things go.

adam_boyes2 karma

What was the craziest thing you witnessed during your Midway days?

jpodzilla2 karma

Update: craziest in a bad way was all the smoke & mirrors crap pulled by Surreal Software. Their arrogance and lack of respect for budgets was just shocking.

http://www.gamesradar.com/this-is-vegas-cancelled-50-million-lost-lol/

Frajer2 karma

what do you do as a video game producer on a day to day basis?

jpodzilla2 karma

It varies, which keeps things interesting. Often it's about spinning plates; are we behind schedule? what does marketing want now? did that person show up this morning? shit, we have the stand up meeting in 5 minutes, etc.

Boiling it down though it's owning the deadlines. Everyone works on their parts towards the goal of release, and it's the producer job to own planning, the schedule, and making sure everything is working right. Or if not, figure out what's wrong and fix it.

Freenokia2 karma

What's you're opinion on the pause move? Legit? Pause move is when you pause during a fight to try and throw you're opponent's timing off.

jpodzilla2 karma

Not a big fan of it. Understand the functionality, but as you pointed out it can be greatly abused.

Maybe in future games there could be a pause setting = on/off in the preferences? Then also have an icon that shows players with "no pause" enabled, so you can be more selective about who you pick to fight against?

Shugbug19862 karma

Do you like where the MK series has gone? What do you feel could be done differently? What kind of games do you enjoy yourself?

jpodzilla2 karma

Hi Shugbug1986 - I do like where it's gone. Mixing it up between DC Universe and MK9 & 10 to keep to the gruesome roots. Really amazed at the amount of content in MKX, reminds me of a smaller version of MK Armageddon in terms of modes and content krazy...

Can't think of any big, "they should totally do this next" thoughts...although thinking of MKA, maybe an updated version of Motor Kombat? :)

I don't play as much as I used to. Mostly driving games like Forza, etc. And I've been addicted to Splash Road: Wanted lately on mobile. Short, addictive gameplay, plus the "lucky dip" mechanic to take a spin of chance for a better car. The Swagmobile has been pretty good lately.

Shugbug19861 karma

Ah, Good answer! I see you're wanting to do more to bring in more people into game development and have a lot of advice for programmers, but what about people who'd like to enter through writing and design? I'd love to work on a team making a game, and I'd love to do the story and help guide the mechanics to better lend themselves to the story, what are some good routes are there for something like that?

jpodzilla1 karma

Thanks! The path for writing and design isn't as clear as programming, but there are ways. You won't get hired out of school to be a game writer (that's usually outsourced for big console games anyways), but if you focus on design and putting a portfolio together you could land a junior designer gig.

The most in-demand designers have good technical abilities too, so download & learn Unity, or now that it's free, Unreal. Have you looked into traditional 4 year colleges (i.e. DePaul in Chicago) or dedicated game schools like Full Sail (one of the better ones out there)?

Shugbug19861 karma

I've actually used cryengine for creating a pretty basic level for a Project once, and I've been considering learning unreal and unity.

jpodzilla1 karma

That's excellent to hear. Unity is the most popular free engine, but Unreal is making serious in-roads too. I think it'd be smart to learn one of those. I bet there are some good tutorials for both online to help also.

If you're interested don't forget to check out my video game quiz and free eBook, have lots of links and info in there:

https://howtogetintothegameindustry.com/welcome-start-quiz

mailman44551 karma

Thanks for doing this!

Was the guy who would pop up in the corner and say "Whopsie" in Mortal Combat one of the developers? If not, who was he?

jpodzilla1 karma

Wait, are you talking about "Toasty!" That was the sound designer Dan Forden who still works on MK...great guy. http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Toasty!

mailman44551 karma

Toasty!! Wow.. so many years of being wrong..!

jpodzilla1 karma

Ha! No problem, glad to help.

ADudeWithAHat1 karma

Any words of wisdom or advice for an aspiring game developer and computer programmer? Thanks in advance.

jpodzilla1 karma

Very cool, thanks for reaching out ADudeWithAHat. Since you're interested in programming I'm speculating you're really good in math? Have you started learning any languages like C++, etc.? What kind of games do you like to play?

At the risk of sound self-promoting I think you'd be interested in my short game industry quiz that has a free eBook Report at the end:

https://howtogetintothegameindustry.com/welcome-start-quiz

It should have some helpful information for you, along with URLs to resources like: software, schools, GDC, etc.

Check it out, and feel free to reach out to me directly (there's contact info at the end).

gamemaker141 karma

  1. What would you say helped you get into the game industry, and more importantly, actually hold down a job in a generally unstable industry?
  2. Do you ever wish you worked in a different industry?
  3. Would you ever advise someone to not pursue a career in games even if they were passionate and had the skills to do it?

jpodzilla1 karma

What would you say helped you get into the game industry, and more importantly, actually hold down a job in a generally unstable industry? Do you ever wish you worked in a different industry? Would you ever advise someone to not pursue a career in games even if they were passionate and had the skills to do it?

Wow, some great questions here.

  1. Getting in is about being ambitious and hustling. It was probably easier back when I got in, nowadays there's more jobs, but a lot more competition too. True, it is an unstable industry...without hits the lights go off. The key is to work your ass off, have great work you can show/talk about, and earn a good reputation. If you're a slacker and burn bridges with bad work your name will get around. And pretty soon you'll run out of opportunities because of your reputation. You have to earn and protect it.

  2. I'd love to work in the motorcycle industry. I reached out years ago to an industry legend, Erik Buell. I rode up to WI and met him for coffee, we talked a couple hours about motorcycles and music. I still keep in touch with him, a really amazing dude.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Buell

  1. "Would I advise someone not too"...sure. It's a demanding industry and you have to be up to the challenge. Plus if they're really adverse to moving that could be an issue too. The industry as noted is very volatile, and can often mean moving for jobs.

MagicalMysteryBro1 karma

Do you think there is something missing from modern MK that can be improved? Maybe something that it can improve on/adopt from the earlier games?

Thank you for this. I have seen your twitter account before (don't remember how), but now I'm gonna follow you for sure.

jpodzilla1 karma

Glad to do the IAmA and will keep answering questions as I can. Thanks for asking the design question. To be honest nothing really jumps out at me that's missing to adapt from the earlier ones. Plus I never felt my role was to push design ideas...being a producer to me means focusing on the schedule & deadlines.

Please do follow me at @JPodzilla, thanks. It's not always about video games, but I try to keep it entertaining. I also have a gaming community on FB you might be interested in:

https://www.facebook.com/realcareersinvideogames

AlexanderS41 karma

Ah, MK Armaggedon, memories.

Anyway, here:

1) I'm not studying programming in uni, but I'd like to start to develop games (I know some C++, that should be useful, right?). Do you think that not having a diploma in programming could be a problem for me in the future if I try to do something with games or software dev?

2) Any particular advice when it comes to coming up with a story for a game?

3) What's the game you like the most, not counting the ones you've worked on?

4) What's your favorite movie?

5) What is your favorite food?

jpodzilla1 karma

Glad to hear you have great MKA memories, we put a lot of work into that game. :)

  1. C++ is good to know, definitely. Not having a diploma won't stop you, but the doors will be harder to get in for an interview. Do you plan on taking online courses to develop your coding skills? If you want to code you need to have a plan for getting really good at it, either through online courses or schools like Full Sail, DePaul, etc. If you're interested check out my quiz here and free eBook with more ideas for programming: https://howtogetintothegameindustry.com/welcome-start-quiz

  2. I'm not huge on stories, and to be honest, just about anyone interested in the biz can come up with something. It's really about how well can you execute on the story and the gameplay to turn into a prototype, then a game. Plus story content for big titles is hired out to freelances usually (but not all the time).

  3. I love the old PC Formula 1 racing games (with steering wheels and pedals, what can I say I'm a speed freak :). Hate to admit it but I got really addicted for a period to Simcity 2000. Seeing all the planning come to life was very compelling, and in hindsight, foreshadowing my Producer tendencies (I studied Art in college).

  4. That's a hard one. I know I'm in the 1% here, but not a classic big sci fi fan although I loved the movie Brazil. Goodfellas is a classic, along with Rear Window. Comedies would be Super Bad and Slap Shot (awesome Paul Newman role): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHMi-j7W2gM

  5. I like to try about any kind of food, but my favorite is probably Indian. There's a part of Chicago on Devon street known as "Little India" with all the restaurants, shops, etc. Used to do a Friday lunch with some of the MK programmers up there and stuff my face. Had to hit the coffee around 3 to fight off the "Naan" comma. :)

AlexanderS41 karma

MKA was amazing! Konquest mode was cool. Btw what's up with "Kombat", "Konquest", etc.?

1) Mmm... Well I'll look up on online courses. I'm starting so I don't have a real plan yet.

2) One of my main concerns was that I'm not good at writing stories, your answer got me thinking makes me more confident, thanks man :)

4) The comedies you say are pretty good actually.

Thank you for taking the time to answer me bro! I really appreciate it. I'm about to do the little quiz you got there :)

jpodzilla1 karma

That's cool to hear you loved MKA! Glad to help with the answers, and you have good taste in comedies too ;-)

Let me know if you have any questions after the quiz and eBook, hope you find it helpful.

AlexanderS41 karma

Dude, it's a really awesome eBook. Seriously, well done.

jpodzilla2 karma

Hi AlexanderS4, that's very cool to hear!! I wrote it in a "vacuum" here in my little office/music room, and wasn't sure if it'd connect with people. Thank you for letting me know.

biscuitatus1 karma

What makes a game good?

jpodzilla1 karma

Wow, that's a good question...

Short answer is one that makes you say, "oh shit, it's 3AM already?!" Something you get you so wrapped up, so immersed, that you lose track of time. How do you do that? Capture "lightning in a bottle" as they say Well that's the $64,000 question. :)

I was big on PC games coming out of college in the late 80s. A game that really grabbed me in the early 90s was Geoff Crammond's World Circuit

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqbqTIhjG5U

As an F1 follower I'd get totally immersed in playing that game. If I remember right when exiting the game it'd show you how many hours & minutes you had played. I'd always be shocked at that stat, bleary-eyed...and not wanting to look at the clock. :P

dleacock1 karma

Do you have any more photos from early 90's CES?

jpodzilla1 karma

I might, let me dig around. It was harder back then, before everyone walked around with a computer, camera & gaming system in their pocket like we do now. :)

dleacock1 karma

Awesome, thanks. No problem if you can't. I dug seeing the photos from the old days at ID Software. I'm a sucker for that area of gaming, the photos from then take me back.

jpodzilla2 karma

I know I have some of the hotline stations and stuff. Think it was a little before things closed down on the NEC side. Cool thing is I'm still in touch with some of those guys, 20+ years later after the end of TG-16.

rakust1 karma

How hard did Johnny Turbo take the failure of the TurboGrafx? he seemed pretty invested in it

jpodzilla2 karma

It was hard for him, we talked a few times about it.

But he went on to do great things at Sega, then start his own company, Flying Tigers. Think they just celebrated their 17 yr in business?

https://www.facebook.com/ftegames

MrTroggy1 karma

Considering the amount of games you've worked on: Have you ever regretted working on a game? If so, which one and why?

jpodzilla3 karma

My biggest regret was Zoop.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoop

It was Viacom New Media's big launch game for 1996, and although just a simple puzzle game it was ambitious being on so many platforms simultaneously.

I was helping run QA at the time, and we had to seriously crunch to get it to work on all these platforms with a little developer in the UK. We sent QA testers over to the UK to be on-site testing, and worked throughout that entire summer to make our date.

That was the last summer my grandfather on my mom's side was healthy before his later passing. He was a role model to me, and I developed my love for music, drumming and cars because of him. I regret not spending time with him before he got sick with cancer. When I think about I still get pissed off...lost that time to be with him so I could crunch for a fucking little puzzle game.

adijordan1 karma

why does always rayden win in the game? it always seems to be more easy to win with him.

jpodzilla1 karma

Thanks for asking. But I can't really answer, guys like Paulo, Eddie, Lebaron and of course Ed took care of all the balancing.

joa80001 karma

What do you think about next-gen games? Are they better with dlc's and that stuff?

jpodzilla2 karma

I think favorably of next-gen; bigger games, better graphics, etc. DLC can be cool too if done right. Never like it when too much of the core experience is tied into forced $$ DLC. But when it adds value and expands the experience with interesting content that seems reasonable, especially if priced decent....

Whatsuplionlilly1 karma

I had a TG-16! Bonk was good, Splatterhouse was fun and the sports games were all right. That one turn-based strategy game on the moon was neat too n

But otherwise what a useless system. How could they make the decision to have Keith Courage as the pack-in game???

jpodzilla1 karma

All good games, especially Military Madness! Remember one CES a guy camped the WHOLE DAY at the kiosk for MM, just couldn't get enough of it...

For the life of me I don't know why Bonk wasn't bundled instead of Keith Courage, that decision was above my pay grade. :)

r00t11 karma

Have you heard 'in the court of the crimson king' by king crimson? What do you think about it?

jpodzilla2 karma

King Crimson is an interesting band. I got into them in the 80s with albums like Discipline, Beat & Three of a Perfect Pair. Killer lineup with Fripp...and I once ran into Adrian Belew (twang bar king) in a little town having a fish fry, seemed embarrassed I knew who he was. :)

I then dug into the catalog of the original lineup and listened to some of the early work. Different, but prog rock cool. Think I have that on vinyl somewhere, but it's been decades. Need to dig it out, thanks for the heads up!

Whatsuplionlilly1 karma

Also - just saw your bio. Beyond Shadowgate... any relation to the classic NES Shadowgate? (Yes I could google but this opens up human-to-human interaction)

jpodzilla1 karma

Hi Whatsuplionlilly. Hmmm, I worked on the NEC Turbografx-16 version, I think the NES version was prior?

Kamaria1 karma

How do you feel about the portrayal of Fatalities in the newer MKs vs the originals?

jpodzilla1 karma

Hmmmm, it's hard to compare. I wasn't around for the originals, but they were just so unique, so shocking for the times. All of a sudden video games are on the cover of like Time magazine, etc.

The new ones I've seen are pretty awesome. They have that shock value and klassic over-the-top element. I'm sure the team had fun during the dev process working on them, That used to be one of the weekly team review highlights for me; seeing what new mocapped Fatalities Carlos & Tony Z had to show. :)

Kamaria1 karma

I don't dislike the new ones necessarily, but I always kind of felt the ones from MK2 were the most impactful for some reason I can't figure out.

jpodzilla1 karma

I can totally see that point. Think is was the "holy crap, I've never seen something like that before!" factor that made the MK2 ones so impactful...

harleyworm03101 karma

What is the best part of your job?

jpodzilla3 karma

The variety..no day is ever exactly the same.

Plus the satisfaction of seeing something out in a store or on the app store (especially if it hits #1, like MK Deception did for a week or two in Oct. of 2004 :)

NorbitGorbit1 karma

what was the weirdest feedback from NEC japan on any of the tg16 projects? also, any behind-the-scenes takes on johnny turbo http://sardoose.rustedlogic.net/reviews/jturbo/ ?

jpodzilla3 karma

Couple things. I remember when HudsonSoft took over TG-16 after the other consoles had HUGE leads. I was in their LA office and they showed me the game that was going to turn things around in the states for them - Sumo Wrestling. I was like, "oooookay" (note to self, don't move out here to work with them). Ending up helping them remotely instead which went pretty well. (Trivia - pretty solid rumor that Tony Hawk, yes the Tony Hawk, was on the TTI hotline help phone for a period as an employee).

There was an giant inflatable Godzilla that was going to be used for a promo event, think it was at the Park West in Chicago. The brass was very upset about using Godzilla, so it wasn't put out for the event. (Got to play Bomberman on stage with some buddies as part of a t-shirt contest with everyone screaming for their color to win. I lost both rounds, early :)

My understanding is it was Japan's idea for the Johnny Turbo campaign. He's actually a really nice guy that worked at TTI. They built the campaign around him...but it just didn't work. But man, they had some great Shooters!

DontHurtMeImJustADot1 karma

What sprouted your interest in gaming in general and when did you start developing games?

jpodzilla3 karma

It started with pinball, remember being a kid and going to this bowling alley FULL of pins, and my uncle giving me a bag of quarters...paradise.

I later got into the arcade games. Spy Hunter was a favorite, used to play the stand up and sit down. Found out later from game designer George Gomez that WMS/Midway used to put games on test at the arcade I practically lived at..."The Machine" in Crystal Lake, IL., think I still have my lifetime membership card :)

Actually first dev experience was in QA. It was about just hammering on a game to find bugs and write up for the programmers. Not playing for fun or to beat it...but break it. Sometimes it was mostly fun, like Beavis & Butt-Head Genesis, other times painful. Playing a partially done, rushed game on a bad TV license for 12 hours a day, plus weekends, sucked. But there were deadlines and it was your job, so you just had to suck it up.

Zockman1751 karma

What do you like to do in your free time?

jpodzilla2 karma

Besides my family it's dual sport motorcycles and music. A drummer since 4 I've always loved music and played in a band in the mid 90s called the Mess that got signed to Hammerhead Records. The CD went "cardboard" as we joked, 400 units. :)

I also have been riding for over 20 years, went from Chicago to Colorado Springs last year with a buddy. Got hooked on the whole "ride on the street or offroad" thing after seeing Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman's Long Way Round documentary. F'ing a, ride a motorcycle anywhere! Sold my Honda VFR and bought a Kawi KLR650...gravel, dirt, MX track, it weighs a ton but can take the thing anywhere.

Zockman1751 karma

Have you done a backflip with your bike yet? :P

jpodzilla1 karma

Ha! I have a Yamaha WR250R that while riding up a hill did flip over backwards! Busted the mirrors off, etc. My son Jack was like....uhhhhh, what?

But I was fine, I always ride AGATT (all the gear, all the time).

Zockman1751 karma

Your son should be so proud of you. Lol

jpodzilla1 karma

Made for a good, "don't do as I do" talk... :)

Zockman1751 karma

Haha. Thanks for the Ama! Nice talking to you!

jpodzilla1 karma

No problem, and I can hang on for a little longer if you or anyone else has a question.

Zockman1751 karma

Alright. I just want to say thank you for Scorpion and Sub Zero. Both are my favorite characters. Now I need to get Mortal Kombat X lol. What is your favorite game to play?

jpodzilla1 karma

Thanks, but can't take credit...those characters are Ed Boon & John Tobias.

I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but I've been hooked on Smashy Road: Wanted lately. :) It's a quick session, and reminds me of the old GTA2 on PC kinda...at least the driving part.

mindblazin1 karma

Which do you prefer Playstation or xbox?? What do you think about the new mortal kombat??

jpodzilla3 karma

Have a soft spot for Xbox, mostly because they were SO damn helpful to developers with the original system. Dev kits, tools, conferences, account managers, the full boat. Sony was like, "here's the PS2, go figure out our strange hardware yourselves."

Ironically, that sounds to have changed a bit with this latest round of console wars and Sony being a lot more helpful. Shout out to my buddy Adam Boyes who works for them now too. :)

Just realized I missed the MKX part...d'oh! I think it's amazing! Shows what happens when you carefully grow a super talented team, give them more time, and have killer marketing behind it. That was always such a challenge at Midway, the 2 year cadence was very tough. And MK Armageddon (or as I heard described, MK Kitchen Sink :) had so much content to get in too.

adam_boyes3 karma

Adam Boyes Is literally the worst. Ever.

jpodzilla2 karma

Oh man, don't get me started about that guy! :)

mindblazin1 karma

Thanks for the reply jpod peace

jpodzilla1 karma

No problem mindblazin, I'm going to hang for a little bit longer too...

liljakeyplzandthnx1 karma

What's something that you're really excited about in gaming that nobody else seems to acknowledge?

jpodzilla1 karma

Hmmm, that's a hard one. Most people acknowledge it (there are some old time designers that sill poo poo it), but VR seems really exciting. Oculus VR has FB, Minecraft & Samsung Galaxy mobile support, HTC has Valve which is important, and PlayStation looks strong with the Move and of course its own console.

I've not had a chance to demo any of the 3 yet, but looking forward to seeing where things go. Kinda like playing Hard Drivin' for the first time...ha!

WeFuckBitches1 karma

Since you like music... Who are your favorite bands/musicians?

jpodzilla3 karma

Man there are so many bands. Grew up on U2, the Police, the Who, and being a drummer, RUSH. Love the Foo Fighters (trivia - they played a drunken set for like 100 people at an E3 in Atlanta around 96, 97...and I used Nate Mendel's last name for an evil scientist character in a game called Incubation: Time is Running Out when localized from Germany for the US. Met him at an airport going to Germany to work on the game as was like, he's a cool dude, lets call the scientist Mendel).

It's not what the cool kids listen to but I love the Black Crowes. The way they mixed the Stones, the Faces, Zeppelin and Allman Bros was amazing. Best live shows I've ever seen, made a road trip out of them playing down in Atlanta in 2010.

Tom Waits and Keith Richards are my favorite artists. Listen to Bone Machine and I was like, "what the f' is this?" Hooked ever since. And Keef' is the man. How is that guy still standing...amazing. I wanted to name our twin sons Tom and Keith after them, but my wife shot that down pretty fast. :)

suuserx1 karma

Is Joe Flacco a ELITE NFL quarterback?

jpodzilla2 karma

Hard to say, I don't follow football much. But when I do watch it (sound like the Dos Equis guy) I get mad at Cutler...WTF. Such a big football town and we have him, with Packer fans constantly winning, and giving shit.

Oddly, I do find the show 'The League' one of the few I regularly watch...although I'm behind. That show kills me, especially the Taco and Rafi characters.

radioknob1 karma

What would you consider the approximate minimum team and time to make a simple non-commercial 3d fight game using an accessible engine like unity3d? Something simple like a boxing game (repetitive animations and assets, no sfx, no need to be creative in design, few simple backgrounds).

jpodzilla2 karma

Good question - and wise choice on Unity which just keeps getting better and better.

Depending on skill level (output can vary by 5x or more based on the individual's aptitude and work ethic) a small team of 3-5, and maybe 3-4 months, depending on the polish level? It'd take a week or two to get the tools, environment, etc. setup. Then flesh out the pipeline with game assets getting on screen (although easier in new engines like Unity). Placeholder models could be done fairly quickly for animation (likely hand-animated since a small team), then shared with design and programming. Placeholder environment could also be knocked up quickly to have a ring/arena to start in. Then it's updating, improving, and not stepping on each's work. :)

I remember that being a big challenge initially on MKDA, just having two characters on screen, with a background loaded. It took a while for us, just because RenderWare was so crude back then. Plus we always wanted it working on all the platforms, it's too easy to focus on the easiest platform, then let the one with limitation lag behind. It takes forever to catch up later...

Really comes down to the skill level and motivation. Big teams can have circles run around them by a smaller, focused, hungry team.

radioknob1 karma

Thanks a lot for the answer!

jpodzilla2 karma

Oh yeah, just in case you didn't get a chance you might want to check out my video game quiz and free eBook too:

https://howtogetintothegameindustry.com/welcome-start-quiz

radioknob1 karma

Cool. After reading it I think I'll be sticking with maya and unity.

jpodzilla1 karma

Hey radioknob that sounds good, glad to help out.

jpodzilla1 karma

No problem, glad to help!

MsNewKicks1 karma

Does it feel like the console wars of old are gone seeing as how there really isn't much to differentiate XB1 & PS4,other than the few exclusives each have? I can remember when you were either SNES or Genesis and they felt like different animals.

Also, how was the process of coming up with the insanely popular fatalities, babalities, friendships, etc? I always imagined a group of guys sitting around just having fun laughing coming up with random scenarios.

jpodzilla3 karma

Very valid point. Graphically they're pretty on par, it's about the exclusives like you pointed out. Yeah, it was very different between SNES and Genesis. SNES was about their Nintendo characters, and Genesis was scrappy with Sonic and getting licensed sports games. (Which TG-16 never did, although the T.V. Sports series was a lot of fun...just not much fantasy aspect playing as the name of dev team member, instead of Joe Montana, lol :)

Ed would pretty much drive all those with stick figure drawings to represent the key parts of one. And after Carlos, Tony Z and the guys mocapped them we'd often totally laugh our asses off. They got more and more intense, so I ordered this stunt dummy called "Mocap Man" that was used for selective parts to keep from killing people in the mocap shoots. Remember calling around to find this thing and putting it on my credit card (reimbursed of course), then a giant box showing up at Midway one day. He has a cameo in the MKDA making of video.

SinisterPaige1 karma

What happened to Moby games? If I remember correctly they were pretty big in the late 90's and early 00's and it seemed like they just vanished.

jpodzilla2 karma

Not sure, but it did seem to fall off the radar.

And there was that crazy gaming gossip site called "Fat Babies"...remember that? Ironic to the name I remember being in the hospital after our twin sons were born and it was late night/early morning. Everyone was sleeping and I was awake (adrenaline?) and bored.

So I wandered around Good Shepherd hospital until I found a PC I could get into Windows on (it was 2001, didn't have a laptop at the time). Fired up "Fat Babies", and got my fix of rumors & gossip in the pre-dawn. Never posted on it, just read...kinda like a car accident, you don't want to look but you still slow down and do. :)

jarysenfeld1 karma

You have any games on your phone?

jpodzilla1 karma

Yes, but not many. I've been playing a lot of Smashy Road: Wanted lately...addictive. Reminds me of old GTA2 on PC.