Feeling the Force or is it just starch?

December 01, 2009

Its not often that I criticize other Producers. I'm not perfect and I certainly wouldn't want to be accused of living in a glass house and throwing stones. But sometimes, we're just lazy. There are a mission things to keep track of, and ever exec in the industry is a frustrated game designer.  I've lost track of the number of times I've had to pull an accountant aside and point out that I don't tell them how to handle the companies money, even as I encourage their input I can't take it as a directive.

So now that brings us to starch,  One of the oddities, one of many, about the iPhone is the requirement that the name of the game when displayed on the iPhone is short. I spend a fair amount of brain power coming up with names for games that already have great names but are too long for the few characters that Apple gives us. (Side note, I was the original producer and designer on Golf Magazine presents: Fred Coupled best 100 golf holes, good luck with that title Apple)

I recently purchased Star Wars Trench Run from THQ. As I write this it has 2 1/2 stars with lots of crashes. Its clear from the reviews, and my own experience that there is a lot of work left to be done on this game but... one of the small things I see is that the game name on the iPhone is Starch Run.  To be fair, its Star...ch run but you get the idea.

Never heard of the Millennium Falcon?  It did the Kessel run to the cleaners in under 12 parsecs
If one of you would like to make the argument that there are other reasons besides producer laziness that forces a company to release a title too soon, I would have to agree.  I've been in many situations where I had to fight for my title to be held back because it wasn't ready.

But wait... there's more.

I love Batman. He's nuts... but I love his sheer power and the images he creates.  Some of the best storylines and art have come from Batman comics and movies.  And I am a HUGE fan of the recent game and I strongly recommend that you go pick up a copy.  I played it on the XBOX 360 and loved it.


The opening scene is a movie made from game assets.  Good call really.  The art is beautiful and well used in the opening.  But while I'm watching the movie, enthralled by the amazing art, control of Batman is suddenly returned to me.  The Joker is in stapped in his bed, being rolled into Arkham and since I didn't know I was moving Batman now... they go rolling on down the road without me.

I hit the controller almost by accident and noticed that Batman moved.  I quickly walked Batman, that's all he can do at this point, back to where he should hav been all along.  Now what was the intent here?  Tos how off that Batman can walk?  Of all of the great art, him walking is my least favorite.  Its very stilted and poor, so why show it off?  If there's no action going on, only walking, why do I as the player have to do it?  Why was there NO indication that I was now in control other than the scene moving away from me?

Producer got lazy. That's exactly the kind of things a Producer is supposed to catch and not fixing these two small things says the Producer was too busy doing other things to catch the small stuff.  We want you to catch these small things, they make for a better game experience.  Remember that these are tough times and my 99 cents or 60 dollars will be hard to get.

For now, I'm hoping for a massive update from THQ to fix the Starch Run Problems.  Batman, only thing I can say is: Walk on.