Jet Moto 2
 
Jet Moto 2 (Jet Moto ’98 in Japan)
 
So Kelly Flock comes by my cube at a time when Sony Interactive Studios, who was essentially 1st party development for Sony Computer Entertainment America, was going to be split off from SCEA.  It was an interesting time for me...
 
Kelly gave me a choice - I could go to SCEA, and take Gran Turismo (which I was working on at the time), or I could stay with SISA (whose name would change to 989 Studios) and develop different non-localized product.  It was tough, because Kelly wanted me to stay, and SCEA wanted me to go with them.  It was also unusual because I was one of a couple development people who actually had a choice to stay with SISA or go to 989 Studios (the other was my assistant).  I took a gamble and went with SISA.
 
When I made my decision that day (didn’t take long, huh?), Kelly announced he wanted me to develop Jet Moto 2.  Ironic given that a)the studio I helped get started I would finally work with, and b) the game I was going to work on was a sequel to a game I absolutely hated.  That’s right, I hated Jet Moto.  With a passion.  It didn’t help that the game came out at the time of Wave Race, took place largely over water, and was constantly compared to Wave Race.  But they were completely different games.
 
My boss (whom I hired - oh the irony) designed the first Jet Moto.  It was an imaginative game, but I hated how difficult it was, and how loosy-goosy the controls and physics to the bike were.  The game did live up to the motto thrown around the office and the press:  it kicked your ass.  This game was a gamers game, period.  Casual gamers need not apply.  
 
So the Director of PD gave me a task - do something different with the game.  Do what?  It’s a racing game.  But I set out for the challenge, and decided to first correct what was wrong with the first game (yes, I just said that!).  First up, I cut 10 of the racers from the game.  Gone were 20 competitors only to be 10.  But why?  Because I wanted to open the game up to a broader market, one that wasn’t driven by hardcore.  One of the biggest complaints is it felt you never gained any ground on the other riders.  How could you?  Being 15th on lap three doesn’t evoke much confidence.
 
Second, truly outrageous tracks that would be part fantasy, part futuristic reality.  More on that later.  Third, adjust the physics so the bike wasn’t impossible to control (self-centering/righting bikes was what we did).  And finally?  Very few people get it, but dammit if I don’t get enthusiastic when someone says “it felt like a racing - platform game.”  That’s it!  That’s what the essence of the game was!  There were platforming gaming elements (timing jumps notably) that I experimented with, and that’s what I did.  It was different, that’s for sure.  It brought something new to the genre.  But it was far more reserved than I’d have liked it to be.

The tracks, my assistant and I came up with concepts for half the tracks, Singletrac the other half (10 tracks total).  Then all of us each picked one track we really liked and did the design/paper layout for the track and the events that happened.  My assistants track  (Darren - he came with me) was the canyon track, the first one you play.  The track I was passionate about and designed?  Post earthquake Los Angeles.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                The Japanese release of Jet Moto 2 (called Jet Moto ‘98) feature  a giveaway fold out
                     map of the post-earthquake Los Angeles track I designed.
 
The concept just works so well, using sunken airplanes as jumps, and racing around Los Angeles.  It also kicked your ass, but not like the later tracks.  I went with a “Journey” themed song as well (think Journey’s “Only the Young” - what I was using while designing the track).  Singletrac was going for the dark futuristic look, but I wanted to steer clear of the “Escape from Los Angeles” look.  Hence the bright sunshine that you’d expect in California.
 
Singletrac was a great developer.  They were grounded, and were very easy to work with.  Danny, Travis, and other team leads were accomodating and we worked well as a team together.  Even their receptionist ended up in the game as one of the riders.  

It was also one of Sony’s first heavily branded games.  Chef-Boy-Ardee was one of the companies that paid money to be in the game, but I fought like hell with Business Development against making them a team sponsor or putting a chef on a bike.  Hell no.  Everyone else, not well known names but far cooler than Chef-Boy-Ardee.  
 
I knew I wouldn’t have a year and a half to develop it, knowing Kelly would later want it as a Xmas title (and that happened).  So some changes didn’t get implemented into the game.  It was considered highly successful, outselling the original Jet Moto.  Having television ads for it sure helped (done by Chiat Day).
 
But I wanted more from the game, and I’d get it, but it wasn’t supposed to see the light of day...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jet Moto 2: Championship Edition
 
“But there was no Jet Moto 2 Championship Edition?!?!”  
 
Oh yes there was!  I was never happy that Jet Moto never ran faster than 20fps.  It was a limitation of the number of polygons being drawn and the number of individual AI characters being monitored.  So, as a condition of signing off on Jet Moto 2 for production, I asked Singletrac to give me my own Jet Moto 2 version.  What was different?
 
-  The game now ran at 30 fps, 50% faster than the normal Jet Moto
-  To get to 30 fps, the number of competitors had to be reduced to just three (3) other riders.
-  All the tracks, including the tracks for Jet Moto (original) were unlocked making 20 tracks.
 
The game ran so much better, that frame rate change made it that much more exciting.  The game played differently.  I brought it to Kelly, said we should re-release as a Greatest Hits title.  He quickly agreed.
 
The master disc for Jet Moto 2 at DADC was destroyed (so it was said)  because we were going to re-release, and thus we sent over the master disc for JM2:CE.  SCEA quickly balked saying no Greatest Hits title can be different from the original.  We argued the content was the same (why is a Sony group arguing with another Sony group?).  But SCEA or the powers that be told Kelly no, he was not allowed to release it.  He apologized to me, I was pissed but what could I do.  So we were notified by marketing that DADC needed an original Jet Moto 2 master disc, and thus we burned one and sent it over.
 
When the final product was manufactured, it became clear when I got the first batch of finished games that they had burned the Championship version.  I was elated, but scared at the same time.  DADC was calling SCEA, SCEA was calling 989, heads were going to (or implied) roll.  I had the VP of marketing (Jeff Fox) breathing down my neck, but I pleaded with Kelly that I did send the right disc, it was properly labeled, and it’s not my fault that DADC couldn’t read.  Kelly didn’t get mad, he laughed, and was glad the proper version came out (Championship).  It quickly blew over (within a day), and the game went on to sell over 800,000 copies at Greatest Hits.  Yay!
 
I started Jet Moto 3, but ended up off of it and onto three other titles:  Cool Boarders, Xena Warrior Princess, and Running Wild.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pimp Moto
 
I always wanted to do a pimp game, but alas, tough to get marketing to green light that one!  So instead, this website (now gone) “Pimp Fiction” actually had a funny site and they even pimped up some products.  I sent them copies of my games to pimp up and here are those results.  Chris Newsome was one of the guys that ran the site.  I miss that site, as silly as it was.