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E3 2013 Platform Report Card

The dust has pretty much settled from this year’s E3, and in miraculously quick fashion I might add. The press conferences generated a lot of excitement and disappointment on Monday, which led to a lot of clarifications and surprises in interviews on Tuesday. With most of the cards on the table it’s time to take a look at how each platform fared in perhaps the most important E3 in the history of the industry. Brand new platforms are only announced once every seven years or so and with the industry evolving at a breakneck pace the future was at stake.

3DS

Nintendo’s latest handheld had a rough start, but a price drop, Ambassador Program, and some quality games turned the tide. Just like the DS and GBA before it, the 3DS is this generation’s most successful handheld, and the only current platform that’s up year over year in sales for 2013. It felt like Nintendo’s 3DS had a lot of momentum going into E3 2013, but its showing wasn’t stellar. The system should be in its software sweet spot right now, and despite games like Project X Zone, Sonic: The Lost World, Smash Bros., the Link to the Past remake, Pokemon X and Y, and Disney Infinity all on tap, the show didn’t feature an avalanche of impending hits. Obviously, games like Pokemon and Smash Bros. Will eventually butter Nintendo’s bread, but there simply wasn’t a big story for the system at the show. It also appears that its 3D functionality has fallen by the wayside with the current crop of games. Not a bad show, but not mind-shattering, either. Still really glad I have one, and A Link Between Worlds looked a lot more enticing than I thought it would.

Grade: B-

PC

The master race was gloating a bit over the last couple days with the revelation that the Wii U will be the only console left with free online play, but perhaps its biggest boon was the fact that the massive Xbox One “exclusive,” Titanfall, will also be coming to the industry’s oldest platform. Outside of that, the biggest games coming to the PC will also be available on other platforms. Even The Elder Scrolls Online is jumping ship. While there will always be PC rigs that will display superior visuals, what we saw from the Xbox One and PS4 is certainly comparable to today’s best-looking personal computing experiences. At E3 2013 we saw the advantage of programming on a closed system with powerful, but not elite, specs. We returned back to where the gap between consoles and PC is hard to quantify. It’s the natural cycle of things in this industry, but E3 didn’t offer a ton of incentive to build a beefy new rig.

Grade: C

PlayStation 4

Sony had the advantage of knowing the entire Xbox One ecosystem before taking the stage at E3. It was able to read angry fan comments and respond accordingly and boy, did it ever. It drew one of the largest rounds of applause in E3 history for its no-DRM, used-games-rock stance. Microsoft put the ball on the tee, and Sony drove it to the green. The PlayStation 4’s form factor was finally revealed and most agreed that it looked up to snuff, and gladly, it was a bit smaller than Xbox One. The games were essentially a more detailed look at what SCEA showed previously, which isn’t a bad thing, but an extra exclusive or two would have been nice. Then again, Sony said that it has 30 PS4 games in development and 20 will be released within the first 12 months. Twelve of those are brand new IPs. That’s pretty darned impressive, and when word came that The Last Guardian was put on hiatus it didn’t sting quite as much.

The day after the press conference it came to light that Sony would begin charging to play games online, though even that was muted by the fact that you’ll also get the excellent PlayStation Plus service for that cost. Then there was some confusion over the fact that third-party publishers might be able to actually stop used game sales, but even EA then went on record to state it had no plans to do so. While Sony had distinct advantages in going last, it certainly made the most of them, and it topped everything off with a price tag of $399, but later admitted that it did not include the new PlayStation Eye. Just another positive that was later dulled a bit. Sony was smart about how it presented its information without later looking like it was misleading.

Grade: A

PlayStation Vita

Things started off great for the Vita as Sony actually dedicated some time to it off the top of its presser, but hope soon turned to despair as very little was announced that would lead consumers to believe that Sony is still 100 percent supporting its product. A new Killzone was shown along with a new Batman game, but if you were looking for exclusives there wasn’t much to talk about. The Walking Dead was a nice bonus, but it’s also perhaps ironic that it was one of the few games of note at the show. Sony said there would be 85 new games for Vita by the end of the year, but you sure couldn’t tell based on its showing. Remote play for PS4 games might have ended up being its saving grace, but things honestly weren’t looking up for Sony’s awesome piece of tech at E3 2013.

Grade: D

Xbox One

Mircrosoft really took it on the chin at E3 2013. The old adage that any publicity is good publicity definitely did not ring true. Fans raged on and on about the required once-per-day online check-in, the smashing of used games, and the steep price of $499. As more details began to trickle in about the PS4 the price didn’t seem quite as outrageous, but the company came off as pompous and callous both during its press conference and in the interviews that followed. The bottom line is that none of Microsoft’s new policies were consumer-friendly, and considering a lot of its customers made a hard decision to leave the PlayStation camp and support the 360, it didn’t show a lot of appreciation. All that said, it was hard to deny that it delivered on the games.

While it showed little software at its initial unveiling, at its E3 2013 press conference the floodgates opened. There were surprises for fans like Killer Instinct. Debuts for games like Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive. And then meaningful exclusives like Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, and the next Halo. Sure, Titanfall will hit the PC, but it’s not coming to PlayStation 4. Smartglass practically usurped the Wii U. Project Spark, while a shameless rip of LittleBigPlanet’s premise, looked like a very powerful tool. Xbox One’s peripheral functionality looked superior to that of the PlayStation 4. Games sell consoles and Microsoft had a lot of them that looked good and will only be available for its box. I think people are going to be surprised at how successful the Xbox One launch will be despite the current sentiment.

Grade: C+

Wii U

It’s hard to remember a Nintendo console having a rougher start than the Wii U. With no real killer app over half a year into its life and two brand new competitors being shown for the first time, many thought this E3 would be a make-or-break proposition for Nintendo. In such a crucial time it decided to axe its annual press conference extravaganza in favor of a Nintendo Direct presentation live streamed across the world. Prerecording the video likely kept it from being able to react to Sony and Microsoft’s press conferences the day before and the stream crapped out in the US. Fans were left scrambling to find another feed. Yeah, it was bad, but Nintendo could have made everyone forget about the sloppy execution if it delivered something the Wii U sorely needed—great games. They were in short supply in the disappointingly terse presentation, and with the exception of Donkey Kong Country Returns 2, the entire lineup was already known. And even that game was met with disappointment because many hoped Retro Studios would have worked on something else. It did look great, though.

What became obvious at E3 was that Nintendo was not prepared for HD video game development. Based on games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World, it’s learning, but some of these games have been in development for years now. The third-party support for the Wii U was absolutely abysmal. Most publishers had just a couple lines in the water to see if they could get a bite. Even the miserable failure that was the GameCube had more support than this, and it also had games like Smash Bros., Zelda, Mario, and Pikmin. That’s the thing. It became apparent at E3 2013 that Nintendo had no chance of competing with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with the Wii U. It doesn’t matter. When all its big properties hit the machine its legion of 40 million fans worldwide will buy it, and its financial future will be secured with software sales. The difference with the Wii U is that third-party publishers figured it out a lot more quickly this time.

Grade: C-

Every E3 is full of disappointments, and the 2013 edition was no different. Yet, it appears that all the prophets foreseeing the death of the console industry were a bit misguided. By all accounts, streams and major web sites have had record numbers the last couple days, and anecdotal evidence was there too as it was great to hear from old friends once again who had stopped contacting me about the latest video game news two years ago. The hype and excitement are there, the machines and services are almost ready, and it was great to see the gaming industry re-establish its place as the premiere entertainment platform once again.

Xbox One Unveiling: A Different Strategy

So today Microsoft brought up the rear and finally announced the third, and final, entry in the next generation of consoles. It had the benefit of foresight, having watched Nintendo and Sony take their swings first. It listened to at least a little of the feedback from the PlayStation 4 reveal and actually showed the form factor of the Xbox One. In fact, the two reveals couldn’t be more different.

Where Sony spent a great deal of time showing games and talking about the theories behind the PS4’s hardware as related to game development, Microsoft went the exact opposite route. Instead, the Xbox One unveiling showed an acute concentration on general entertainment and how the machine will make accessing said entertainment as seamless and easy as possible. It succeeded. No one can deny that the responsiveness, ease of use, and Kinect 2 integration were compelling arguments for planting one of these things underneath your flat panel.

The problem is that most of the people who are going to buy it out of the gate at full price are people who play video games on a daily basis. This is an absolute and it will never change. It has been true since the NES generation. It will be true when the Holodeck is finally a reality. Hardcore players are taste makers—evangelists, if you will. If a system doesn’t get their nod of approval, it’s sunk. Today’s unveiling of the Xbox One was programmed as if these people didn’t exist. What do these folks want to see? Video games.

A few hours after the press event and I can’t think of many compelling reasons to buy it to play video games over the PlayStation 4. The sparse footage that was shown didn’t exactly melt the paint off the walls, but that could have been made up for with some semblance of quantity. If there are indeed 15 exclusives (and eight new IPs) coming to Xbox One in the first 12 months, it stands to reason that we should have seen at least five of them today, leaving the other seven for a big E3 splash. Instead we got another Forza and an interesting new game from Remedy, Quantum Break. Third-party showings were bloated PR reels with tons of CG and underwhelming real-time footage speckled in. It’s being released in the next seven months.

As for some of the frivolities, the console’s form factor is interesting in exactly how uninteresting it is. It’s like Microsoft just said screw it. After all, does one’s opinion ever change on the rectangle? You’ll hate it the same five years later as you did on day one. That’s better than thinking less of it over time, right? The name is just dumb, but it looks like Microsoft is trying to get into the numerical game like the PlayStation. Never mind that searching for it in Google turns up results for the original Xbox brick.

I’m down with the slight tweaks to the controller like rumbling triggers and lower latency. Hopefully the new D-pad isn’t another disappointment. I like how games will have the ability to seamlessly incorporate traditional and motion controls. I like that the new Kinect might be something worth actually fiddling with. Including Smart Glass integration, there is a possibility for some new gameplay experiences. While I realize I’m in the minority, I also appreciate the deal struck with the NFL and the Xbox One’s sports integration overall. The content deals and services can’t be viewed as a negative thing, unless they’re taking away from game development.

Now that the dust is settling there are some unsettling facts coming to light. The biggest being how the system is going to handle used games. Every Xbox One game is tied to an account. If you try to play that physical disc on another system, it must be logged in under that same account. So while you can take a game to a friend’s place and log into your account and play with him, you cannot leave that game behind for them to experience. To do that, they will have to pay a fee. Microsoft isn’t saying how much right now, but I’m guessing it’s basically full price.

Everyone has been quick to jump on Microsoft for this, but the truth is, we still do not know how Sony is going to handle it. This gives Sony a competitive advantage. I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to think that a large number of those early adopters might make a purchase decision based on something like this. With Microsoft’s cards on the table, Sony has the perfect opportunity to create a real competitive advantage and regain some goodwill with lost customers. Will it do it or will greed win the day?

Either way, Microsoft has set a precedent, and with no backwards compatibility, looks to be testing the mettle of its most ardent fans. With the initial showing of games lacking quantity and quality, Xbox One is poised for one memorable E3, but only if Microsoft realizes it needs to impress the audience that truly matters during a console’s first year on the market.

A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info
A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info
A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info
A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info
A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info
A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.
One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.
Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.
The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.
We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.
As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.
To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.
While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.
Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.
I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.
Zoom Info

A lot of folks have been asking me what I’ve been up to the last few months. I guess the short answer is that I’ve been doing things I should have been doing over the last 20 years, but sacrificed for work.

One of those projects has been helping my father complete his final car. He had been working on it for eight years and had reached a point where his poor health was making it impossible to finish. My father has built custom cars since the ’60s, but he hadn’t built one for himself since the ’70s. He deserved for this car to be finished. And he also deserved to be able to enjoy it for some measure of time.

Last month I flew back to the east coast, put together a team of people to help finish it, and bought any of the remaining parts/supplies that were needed. We had a tight timeline of three weeks to complete the project.

The photos above are in chronological order. When I got there it was a bare frame with some suspension parts installed. So we needed to assemble the entire car and finish the body to be mounted on the car.  When I tell people about this, the first question I always get is, “What kind of car is it.” That’s a tough question to answer because my father has created this car from scratch—right down to the frame itself. It uses the engine from a Toyota Supra, but otherwise, everything is custom. The amount of work that has gone into this project is honestly staggering. Literally, thousands and thousands of man hours.

We worked 12-hour days the entire time I was there. My hands and arms ached from all the sanding I did on the body that, again, he fabricated all by himself and from scratch. Sadly, we did not finish the car before I left, which was a hard pill to swallow. A couple days before I left we had paint bubbling that required we sand it all down again and re-spray it. This was basically the nail in the coffin.

As you can see in the pictures, it was so close. We essentially finished the entire chassis and just needed to finish the body and bolt it on. Then the interior could be installed. Since I came back to LA my father has continued to plug away, and this week the body is going to be installed onto the chassis, and the car should be completed by the end of the month.

To get an idea of what the final car will look like, I’ve included a photo above of a car that kind of resembles it. It’s a track roadster that weighs practically nothing and has 300 horsepower behind it. It’s going to be scary fast, and just downright scary. Most importantly, my father will be enjoying it in just a couple weeks. When I saw him at the holidays I got the sense that he felt it would never be completed and eight years of his life would be for naught. Well, we did something about that.

While watching my Dad realize one of his dreams was incredible, reconnecting with him on a personal level was priceless. It had been decades of only seeing him for a few days at a time, and it was amazing to kind of get to know him all over again. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has moved away from their parents for a career.

Working on his project for just a few weeks made me realize how much time he had invested in it, and my respect for fabricators and folks who build where before there was nothing can’t even be expressed. It is an art form and very humbling, but it also showed me how I became the person I am. I just wish I could be there when he takes it down the road the first time.

I’ll be sure to post a photo of the completed car in the next couple weeks. It’s going to be amazing.

Exclusive Video Game Reviews—No Easy Answer

There’s a lot of discussion flying around right now regarding IGN’s upcoming exclusive review of BioShock Infinite. Competitors are raising a stink while lots of players are saying it’s a case of sour grapes. The decision on whether to publish exclusive reviews was one of the most challenging I’ve faced in my career.

It was very difficult to turn down exclusive reviews at GameTrailers. It’s a question of eliminating doubt among users versus financial gain. We were offered them all the time and for the industry’s biggest games. Even after I would tell a publisher that our editorial policy didn’t allow for exclusive reviews, a month later they would ask again. And two months later they would ask again.

Some are saying that competing publications are raising concerns out of jealousy for IGN’s head start. While there may be some of that sentiment under the surface, it’s not the primary irritant. I’m certain they’ve been offered exclusive reviews many, many times. If they haven’t run any, it’s pretty safe to assume most of them have made a conscious decision not to.

There are huge incentives for publishing a review first. The obvious is that you get 100 percent of the review traffic right out of the gate. And in this case, you’re getting almost a week of that traffic on what many consider one of the first game of the year candidates of 2013. That’s a big deal in the immediate term, but it pays big dividends on down the road as well. Next Monday/Tuesday millions of typical game players will type “BioShock Infinite Review” into Google. Which site do you think will be the first result? Years from now folks will enter the same search query and get the same result.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a much bigger deal than people who do not work online realize. It’s the reason it’s practically impossible to topple IGN or GameSpot from the top two spots. When you’re embedded in search engines for almost a decade longer than your competitors, you can stop publishing new content altogether and still have a massive audience for years to come. It’s that powerful. And that’s likely why so many competing pubs are up in arms. Publishing a review first garners you much of the SEO juice for that game until the end of time.

Which leads me back to my initial statement: it’s difficult to turn down exclusive reviews. First, there are the immediate financial implications. Stakes are high. You’re literally leaving tens of thousands of advertising dollars on the table per review by not doing them. Your altruistic side says that eliminating any semblance of editorial ambiguity will pay off in long-term traffic gains. This never happens.

While a smattering of otaku will boycott a site if they think something’s amiss, most players just want the information as early as possible. In the industry, we call it drive-by traffic, but it still builds that ComScore for the month, and if you’re doing it consistently, it makes a massive fiscal difference over the long haul via SEO. With games coverage, there is very little financial incentive to be rigid with your editorial policies. It’s been one of the most disheartening realizations of my career.

It’s easy to sit on a high horse and condemn certain practices when you’re not emotionally invested in the company in question. What about the dozens of people who work at the publication who have nothing to do with editorial? They rely on their jobs to pay their rent/mortgage and put food on the table just like everyone else.

As a leader, you have to think about everyone at your company. You get to know them and learn about their hopes and dreams. It would be irresponsible to not consider them with every decision you make. It’s a tough position to be in. Something has to be said for the fact that IGN continues to publish exclusive reviews despite the criticism. If they hurt its brand or negatively affected its business it would stop.

In my 16 years of covering games professionally, I have admittedly lived in this somewhat delusional bubble as an editorial watchdog. Looking back, has it been the right decision? While you suffer financially for refusing exclusive reviews, it surely helps with perception, right?

Talk to many games journalists who have consistently tried to keep things buttoned-up and they’ll speak about how, no matter what they do, they’re still accused of nefarious editorial practices. All the negativity and pessimism make it easier to say, “Why bother?” From both a financial and perception standpoint, there’s very little positive reinforcement to be had.

I do not assume that any publication that makes a deal with a publisher to post a review early is doing it on the condition that the score be above a certain threshold. This kind of thinking is rooted in the madness of Internet paranoia. I also respect any site’s right to run their editorial however they see fit. They have to do what’s right for their business and workforce.

However, being completely candid, conversations I had with publishers where they eventually asked if we wanted to do an exclusive review almost always started with, “So how are you enjoying the game so far?” The response to that was always, “You’ll have to wait and see in our review.” I’m also not going to assume that this is the same conversation that happens with other publications, but that’s the way they approached me. And, to be fair, they never did straight-up ask me where the score was headed.

People often forget that behind all the forward-facing, personality-driven podcasts, editorials and reviews, these sites are businesses that are often expected to turn a big profit by the parent company. Making a nice chunk of cash often isn’t good enough. So you’re constantly faced with doing what you feel is 110 percent right, or doing something that will help the bottom line and all your employees. It can be easy to rationalize because you know you would never let anything questionable happen during the evaluation. But will the users believe you? Perhaps, more importantly, does the average video game consumer even care?

Do I regret being so militant throughout my career? In some ways, yes. I’d be a fool to not accept how my decisions have affected the bottom line over the years, and ultimately, my fellow employees. I’ve always said you win with class or you don’t win at all, but is it classier to look out for all your employees’ futures or doggedly adhere to a principle that is rarely rewarded? All I know is I find it easy to fall asleep every night.

Players can complain all they want about the integrity of video game journalism, but their clicks control everything. They need to be more aware of the fact that they alone will decide how video games are evaluated and covered in the years to come. If you’ve come to trust a particular site’s opinion, does it really matter if it publishes its review first? And if you don’t trust its opinion, you should probably ask yourself why you’re supporting it in the first place. 

Up and Out

Almost seven years ago I walked into GameTrailers to just a handful of employees. The company had just been purchased by MTV and I was one of its first hires as Editor in Chief. I remember walking into the company that day, being shown my desk (a table pushed up against a wall), and wondering to myself if I had made the right decision to leave my prior job. I was a fan, and I believed.

There was no structure in place; no editorial policies, no reoccurring shows, no production pipeline, and no real connection to the industry. No staff, no nothing. They say that the biggest challenges provide the biggest rewards, and my time at GameTrailers has proven this.

In the next couple years the editorial staff grew to 10 members, we launched GameTrailers TV on Spike, created digital shows like Bonus Round, and became the first gaming web site with user movies and 100 percent HD production. But reviews, convention coverage, exclusives, and an unflinching editorial policy really built the audience. With the consoles all going HD, GT was the right idea at the right time. I feel privileged to have been there to see it all happen.

It’s the people who really make GT what it is. Nearest and dearest to my heart is the GT editorial staff. Just 10 men strong, they pull all-nighters to compete against staffs four times their size, and to see how much they’ve grown fills me with the good kind of pride. The amount of quality work that such a small group of people produce is almost hard to believe. The GameTrailers video editors, coordinators, and post production squad are unsung heroes. Without them, everything GameTrailers does is just a script and a wish. Thank you for supporting me and my team over the years. I can’t say it enough.

Most importantly, it’s you, our dedicated users, who have made GT what it is, and made my time there what is has been. The feeling of launching a new show or feature and getting your stamp of approval compelled me to burn the midnight oil time after time . Those who have continued to support the site through thick and thin, I salute you and give you my deepest gratitude. Your support of GT, and me personally, is something that I will always hold dear.

GT has come from its humble beginnings to be a post production beast propelled by creative, smart, and hard-working folks. And I love pretty much every single one of them. Things are difficult for gaming web sites these days, and GameTrailers is no different. GT will be changing in the comings months, and after giving it a hard look, it’s not a perfect fit for me. I’ve been working 60- or 70-hour weeks for the past 14 years and I’m a builder by nature. The building at GT is complete and has been for some time. Knowing that the site is in more than capable hands, the timing is right for me to move on to the next chapter of my professional life. Before I started working at GameTrailers I was a fan, and I’ll remain one. You should too.

The decision to come to GameTrailers has been one of the best I’ve ever made, and I’ll always cherish my time creating content for one of the web’s smartest, most-discerning audiences. So I bid adieu, and if you miss me stop on by Twitter (@Dinfire) and say hello. I know I’m going to miss the whole lot of you.

Love and respect,

Shane Satterfield

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