Team KAIZEN Had A Pretty Epic PlayStation Experience
So, yeah. You could say Team KAIZEN had a pretty epic trip at PlayStation Experience 2 months ago :-).
Sorry for the late posting on the video, but we wanted to get all our media related to the trip together to give you all the ultimate TK trip report! Special thanks to our audio engineer Nick P and friend of the staff Hannah for working their tails off to make this the best trip video yet!
Besides what you see in the video, we had some other really cool experiences too!
First of all, no discussion of PSX would be complete with us nerding out about a certain game:
Yup 🙂 While it’s certainly a rush (and the primary purpose of us going) to network and build connections for our own games, one of the joys of attending these expos is getting to see everyone else’s artistry early. This was especially true for Uncharted 4, NaughtyDog really outdid themselves this time and the release date can’t get here fast enough!
Speaking of the main reason we go to these shindigs though, this was one of our most productive trips yet! First of all, we got to show David Jaffe (creator of God of War, Twisted Metal, Calling All Cars and Drawn To Death) our model for Elymas from Shattered Soul:
If you want to see the same model he did, check it out below and use your mouse + left/right click to navigate around Elymas in the viewport!
David loved the model and spoke with us about the process of getting a demo playable. It was JAW DROPPING to be listening to this guy, who has been turning out hits since we were kids, give us feedback on our work and really dig what we were doing. Philip (far right in the photo) was awestruck and it was cool to see him get some real world feedback on the work he’s been toiling away on for Shattered Soul. Like we mentioned in the video, it’s straight up humbling to have these various people from Sony and other studios treat you like a colleague and talk shop with you, we walked away from that experience feeling pretty proud plus Trev got his Sackboy (cosplaying as Kratos) signed!
David also signed my PSone and, true to his style, wrote the F-bomb on the inside of the disc bay. It was chuckle worthy at the time but made for an even BETTER story that I’ll get to in a bit :-).
David’s new game, Drawn To Death, had a pretty cool deal going on in their booth too where people could sign/draw on a giant notebook. These drawings are later going to be scanned in and used as part of the skybox in future Drawn To Death levels, so keep an eye out for our 3 pieces of art:
We also got to hang out with our friends from Sony Europe and check out some of their projects related to RIGS, LBP and Dreams (more on Dreams in a sec)!
As PSX was closing down, we had to sign the community wall to show our love then grab some pasta (turned out there was a really epic noodle place across the street but we didn’t find out until the last day!):
That, however, was not the end of the trip! There was a certain special place we had to be the next day…
That’s right! We got a private tour of PlayStation HQ! Special thanks to our friends at PlayStation for hooking us up with this!!!! Sorry that we didn’t cover it in the video, but we wanted to respect the Non-Disclosure Agreements we signed at that blue front desk. So, we only took stills when we knew we had permission to do so. Oh, and Uncharted elevators incoming!
Considering I had just got done re-plat’ing Uncharted 1, 2 and 3 (off of the British special edition I ordered from GAME UK–in steelbook and all–that I just had signed by some NaughtyDogs at PSX!) I was in love with these and could stare at them for hours. The whole architecture of the place just screamed gaming, including a festive Helghan, a festive Kratos and ceiling decorations inspired by the wavy look of PlayStation UI and commercials:
So, anyways, one of our first stops on the tour was to say hi to Shawn Layden and Andrew House:
They’re awesome guys, and of course Shawn made me jealous at PSX rocking his awesome Crash Bandicoot shirt (I still hold out hope that he’ll come back somehow–and it’s not a true comeback unless it’s accompanied with commercials of that guy in the full body Crash costume with a megaphone…). In the 2nd pic, I’m handing my PSone to Andrew House to have it signed. Remember when I said David Jaffe’s little addition would make a funny return? Well, this pic was snapped right as Andrew learned about how David signed it, his face showing a mixed expression of, “That’s kind of funny!” and, “Oh holy crap of course he signed it that way!!” I immediately connected with that because, as we have some interesting and fun personalities on staff, I’ve had to sometimes break out the, “Seriously guys, you can have fun but let’s not beat each other with 3 foot long licorice ropes in public,” talk (yes, seriously, that happened). It was cool to see how approachable and real they were (which we already knew from previous interactions with them -at E3 Andrew actually got down on one knee so he could talk with Trev at eye-level when Trev was in his wheelchair).
From there, the guys treated us to lunch in the PlayStation employee cafe…
It was another cool experience where we could relax and talk about the intricacies of getting our tech demo ready for pitching with people who have a lot more experience than us yet were still treating us as equals/colleagues. It was surreal to say the least!
We got to see several of their props they’ve used for various events, including Trev and I nerding out pretty hard core over a replica of Cole’s Amp from inFamous 2:
And a giant Kratos wall decoration…
(Yes, we asked permission before Gerardo picked Kratos’ nose…)
After we saw some cool stuff, the PlayStation guys told us they had to wind down the tour a tad early. See, they had just received confirmation that they got us into a pretty exclusive and important event and we needed to get to a different part of San Francisco…
We got invited to a private party to celebrate Media Molecule’s (makers of LittleBigPlanet) birthday, where they were showing off their latest powerhouse creation tool/game, Dreams! You can actually see Anton in the pic there playing Dreams and it was crazy to watch him and Kareem from Media Molecule effortlessly create awesome things. I mentioned to Anton how I’m a nut for building rides and roller coasters in LittleBigPlanet, and he showed me how a duplication tool in Dreams can make laying track for a coaster a much simpler process. Trevor mentioned to Kareem his liking of making custom animations, and Kareem showed him how you can import an artist’s mannequin into Dreams that has a bunch of pre-animations on it. You then simply build material on it to make it your character and tweak various options such as movement style and speed to make it unique. The whole time our heads were spinning with the possibilities of how this could enhance our educational camps with kids.
On that note, we started speaking with Media Molecule’s Studio Director Siobhan and Community Manager Jenny on how we work with kids. They were very awesome to talk to and gave us a ton of swag (some that night, some shipped to us) to give to the kids who participate in LittleBigPlanet Club. It was so great to connect with them, Anton, Alex and Kareem on how we could use their software to positively impact others. It really was the perfect way to end the trip!
(Mom and I chilling with Alex Evans -Technical Director at Mm- and James Spafford -former Mm Community Manager and now CM at DoubleFine).
We even spoke with Jenny about the really cool feature that Dreams has where players’ creations can be sent to a 3D printer. She ended up having one of Media Molecule’s artists 3D print and hand paint a figure of Frances (the zombie-fighting teddy bear chick from the E3 reveal trailer) and they mailed it to us -complete with a separate 3D printed box to ensure her safe journey!
You can bet that has a hallowed place on our nerd shrine!
In conclusion, PSX was amazing for us. As Burst! and Shattered Soul’s tech demo progresses along, it’s great that we’re building these connections with people. Even cooler than that though is these friendships remind us that, when it’s at its’ best, this industry shines as a people industry. You get to meet all these amazing people who turn passion into tangible and awesome things, and to be treated like an equal in that arena left us mystified and overjoyed at the same time. As Trev said in the video, when you hear about someone ‘making it’ you’re only hearing about what’s going on with them today, not the decade or more of blood, sweat and tears that led there. We’ve been working hard to get TK off the ground for a decade now (just realized, as I was typing that, that we started the same year as Media Molecule!) and there has been times where we had to work hard against various preconceptions people had. This trip was an experience of fresh air for us on so many levels because it was a visceral reminder that our hard work and passion is paying off and we’ll soon be able to rock you with awesome games. Like Trev also said, we can’t wait until we’re up on that stage at E3/PSX/Whatever announcing things that blow your minds, and trust us that day IS coming! Thank you so much for your continued support KAIZEN Fans and thank you so much to our friends at Sony, Mm and David Jaffe for our most memorable convention yet!
(Yes, for those wondering, more Shattered Soul and Burst! awesomeness is incoming this year!)