PlayStation Museum has organized a charity auction of all four Naughty Dog Crash Bandicoot games, signed by yours truly and Jason Rubin. The auction link can be found here. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Go bid!
In honor of the recent 15th Anniversary of my baby Crash Bandicoot, I present collected together the original suite of American TV Ads which premiered in September of 1996. It’s the suit that helped make the Bandicoot what he was.
Thanks to Playstation Museum for collecting and uploading these. You’re hurting my elbow!
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In honor of Crash’s 15th Anniversary I wanted to make a post whose primary purpose is to serve as a repository for comments from you — the fans — about your first and favorite Crash Bandicoot impressions. Please make them in the comments. This is the place to tell that story of how you got your Playstation and Crash Bandicoot for Christmas when you were five, etc. etc. So to that effect, I’ll start it off with a brief tale that begins the night Crash Bandicoot launched.
In September 1996 all of Naughty Dog flew to New York for the combined Crash Bandicoot / Playstation 1 year anniversary party. It was on a big rooftop deck in the meat packing (hehe Beavis, you said meat packing) district. All of us got pretty drunk. There was a loud band. Very loud. Simultaneously, Ken Kutaragi (father of the Playstation!) decided to engage me in a highly technical discussion — against the 120 decibel background — using his rather broken English and my exactly zero command of Japanese. But in any case I didn’t sleep — we saw dawn in some New York greasy spoon.
About four hours later, Jason and I were on a plane to London. I didn’t sleep — why waste good reading time.
We arrived in London for ECTS and various Crash launch promotional meetings. We were immediately conducted to small hot smoky cubicles and interviewed by a variety of game journalists in numerous European languages for about eight hours — also against about 100 decibels of trade show. We then went to the bar (scotch). Then to dinner (wine). Then to a night club (more booze). Then a cigar bar (more scotch). Then to our hotel room (with about 15 or so European marketing and sales folk). There we consumed every single item in our minibar. We called down to the desk (4 in the morning) and had them bring us a NEW minibar. Yes, a complete refill of all items at 4 in the morning. We consumed that. Except for two miscellaneous tiny liquor bottles I can’t remember. The cost of just one minibar was 800 pounds sterling. We ate/drank two.
We didn’t sleep.
But we did spend another eight hours giving interviews. Then we went out again. That night I think we got 2-3 hours of sleep. But interviews again starting at 8am.
Somewhere in there I visited Westminster Abbey.
By day three we discovered that a number of our new friends (English) had never left the Island of Great Britain. So we all boarded the Chunnel and went to Paris (from Waterloo to Napoleon stations specifically, which is amusing). In Paris we started drinking at 10am. We kept drinking (many bars). We ate dinner (more wine). We went to someone’s apartment (more drinks). There was no sleep involved. After staying out all night (drinking) after the day of (drinking) we boarded the Chunnel back to London. I might have dozed. We went straight from there to the airport and got on a flight back to LAX.
Ah, first class. There were scones with clotted cream. And perhaps an hour or three of sleep. But we landed in LA at 7am. I was on the beach jogging by 8:30am. In the office at 10am. Back to work on the Japanese version of Crash. I went home early that day. Midnight.
Making video games builds stamina.
Don’t forget to put your own Crash memories in the comments section!
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There are two basic approaches: home training and school. Personally I’d recommend both.
Let’s talk school. In my day (1980s) pre-collegiate computer classes barely existed, and if they did they were mostly about Pascal programming and data-structures. They often used p-System pascal, an old-school predecessor to Java!
College Computer Science programs followed (and I imagine they still do) a traditional regimen of stuff like Algorithms, Data-structures, Architecture, Compilers, AI, Theory of Computation etc. They rarely taught or emphasized programming itself. Personally, while I have this training myself (several years at the M.I.T. AI Lab working toward my PhD) I got it long after teaching myself to program and after having 5 published video games on the market.
What I was taught at M.I.T. (1992-94) was way too theoretical to make a good starting place for a young programmer. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a tremendous amount there and it really upped my game. But it was best digested in light of several years practical experience. So I don’t personally think that traditional CS is the way to start. But if you are really serious about computers it is a very solid choice for your higher education. You just need to be ready for it.
And here is the dirty secret about the University Education system: It’s made up of classes. Yep. Your four (or more) year educational experience will just be the summation of eight semesters worth of classes, usually 4-5 per semester. The exact order of these, which topics, and how they are taught will be at the whim of all sorts of varied factors. For example: scheduling, major and general requirements, teacher sabbaticals, friends, personal choice, etc. The school itself will have broad requirements (like you must have 3 science and 2 history classes). You major/department will have more specific ones (like requires 14 classes in the major, with 7 out of the 10 “core” classes — as defined by the department). So everyone’s education is different. That can be a good thing, but it’s less coherent.
And even within a particular class type, like say: Computer Architecture, the classes vary wildly and are rarely designed to work with each other or be taken in a particular order. The school and department might have determined that it should have a Computer Architecture class, but each teacher is free (somewhat) to determine the specific content and style of his or her class. Teachers vary wildly in teaching ability. I mean WILDLY! Even at the best schools. In fact, the teaching quality at M.I.T. was considerably lower than at my undergraduate school, Haverford College. It’s not that the M.I.T. professors weren’t as smart — they were plenty brilliant — but they leaned more toward being famous researchers while Haverford selected people who excelled first and foremost at undergraduate education.
In any case, even within a particular major, say Computer Science, the slate of courses you take might not form a coherent picture. There isn’t much effort made to ensure this. It’s more like, “we need a Compilers course, who wants to teach it?” and then that professor goes off and builds their plan. I’m sure there are constraints and feedback, but it being part of a single coherent program doesn’t seem to be one of them. And teacher style so heavily influences the experience. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of these courses are really good. But they require that you, the student, do a lot of the work integrating the bigger picture. Which really, for first rate minds trying to absorb advanced modalities of thought, is totally fine. It’s just not exactly the same as learning a complex practical field like programming.
But let me speak briefly about the classic topics:
Theory of Computation – Is the cool (but highly esoteric) field of math that endeavors to prove things about what can and not be computed. It includes a lot of discussions about theoretical computers like the Turing Machine and what sorts of computational problems are equivalently complex. This is actually very useful, but only if you have already encountered practical programming tasks. Otherwise it will probably just confuse the bejesus out of you.
Compilers – Is about writing compilers, and how computational semantics are transformed. This is bordering on totally useless for the novice programmer. I myself found it fascinating, but I wrote several compilers. Again, you want to study this several years into your career.
Algorithms – Is the formal study of different methods of problem solving. This is where stuff like the difference between a bubble and an insertion sort goes. Every programmer should know the basic algorithms, but you can read a beginning book fairly early in the learning process and pickup the basics. The college version is much more rigorous. But in the early stages you can lean on libraries which encapsulate these solutions.
Data-structures – These relate closely to Algorithms, but are methods for actually storing data in computers. Different data-structures lend themselves better to different algorithms. The mistake made by a purely academic approach is in thinking that they make a lot of sense without some practical knowledge of the kind of things that you do in normal computing. Still, Algorithms and Data-structures are essential at all levels of programming beyond the totally trivial, and these are the most practical of the classic topics.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) – Can be extremely useful to the game programmer. Games, after all, need enemies that appear intelligent, and in addition have to solve all sorts of big computational problems which use AI techniques (like moving the camera around etc.). But as taught in school it’s pretty theoretical and you need at least a couple years of practical skills first.
Architecture – Is the study of computer hardware, usually micro-processors. A lot of people hate this topic, not being hardware guys. And although you can learn this anytime, you really should. It’s impossible to be a truly great programmer without knowing something about the hardware that makes it all happen. If you are into compilers, this is even more true. I personally loved these classes.
I also want to mention the subject of Programming Languages. Most schools rightfully view the choice of specific programming language as fairly “academic” (or not actually). In the above classes advanced CS guys learn that all normal computer languages are “Turing Complete” and therefore equivalent to each other. Any program in one could be converted to a program in another by automated means (this is what compilers do). Languages all have the same basic features. And if it’s missing one you can write the feature within itself. So who cares which one you use?
This makes a certain academic sense, but in practice, the choice of programming language is vital. And the budding programmer should be introduced to a wide variety of them at a steady yet-not-overwhelming pace so that they learn the fundamentals common to all and do not become one of those lame-ass programmers who are afraid to learn a new programming language. I can be programming in any new language in one day, proficient in a week, expert in a month, master in six. It’s just not that hard.
College professors also don’t usually think that classes that directly and specifically teach programming languages and practical programming are very cool. There is no research or terribly theoretical aspect to them. I.e. the subject isn’t very academic. They are rarely themselves very good programmers (if they were, they’d be off working for Google or whatnot :-) but seriously the personality type for “programmer” and “professor” are different – albeit both bookish). This leads to professors rarely adding this kind of class to the curriculum unless someone makes them.
Having heard about all these more practical Gaming majors that colleges now have, but which I know nothing about (they didn’t exist 20 years ago), I asked a friend of mine who just finished her CS degree yesterday! Lauren is a fellow blogger, programmer, WOW fan, and budding game designer-programmer. Big congratulations! Her comments are in blue:
Having just completed my degree yesterday, I can confirm that not as much has changed in Computer Science education as one might expect, especially given the exponential growth of the field. Aside from the specific languages taught, which for me was mainly Java instead of Pascal, the curriculum is much the same. The breadth of languages taught is still very much dependent on what you choose to seek out yourself; were it not for honors opportunities or research, I never would have become as familiar as I am with functional programming or the MVC architecture.
After the first two years, programming takes a back seat to theory; upper division classes, while useful and offering a degree of specialization, can be light on actual coding. There are still opportunities to improve your skills, though. Project classes, at least at my school, offer a chance to really show your programming chops, so to speak; with the exception of one I personally considered, all required the completion of extensive coding projects in ten weeks or less to the exclusion of lecture material.
The biggest factor that affected the quality and extent of the education I received was the professors. Sometimes, you will get a truly horrible lecturer, someone who isn’t fair or just doesn’t care. For me, this happened more often than not. The best advice I can give is: Be able to teach yourself. To be honest, I didn’t bother attending classes where the professor was incapable of teaching — I don’t want to waste my time. I went home and read the textbook, or taught myself using tutorials or information online.
“Bad” classes will happen, and the most important thing I learned in college, or even before, is that you need to take active control over your education. Even if the teacher sucks, you can’t blame a failing grade on him; you have the power to learn the material and should do so to the best of your ability. This isn’t to say that poor professor performance doesn’t raise my hackles (it does, a lot), just that self-directed learning is a necessity for succeeding as a student and a programmer, especially since the number of future employers that will accept “The teacher sucked!” as an excuse for a failing grade must be pretty small.
Even if you’re taking the so-called “structured” or “formal” education path, no one will hold your hand. You need to look out for yourself, and find opportunities to broaden your knowledge. I learned firsthand that often these opportunities will not be supplied to you, or even pointed out. You need to be responsible for your own education, especially at large universities. Self-directed study and college are not mutually exclusive.
In that spirit, in addition to my CS degree, I also took a Concentration in Game Culture and Design. This was an interdisciplinary program in conjunction with the art school which, did add a nice game “focus” to my studies. I think these types of programs can be helpful, though to say this improved my coding skills would be more than a stretch. Mostly, it gave me a bit more insight into the game pipeline, and the scale of the work that goes into making a game. I’ve gained some skills which I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to; for instance, I’m now comfortable finding my way around game design docs and I’ve had practice giving pitches.
While not a value traditionally espoused as part of a CS education, some gaming or art courses can help your creativity. I can’t speak for the more technical games programs out there, I think there is merit in learning a bit about the industry even prior to leaving school.
This fresher opinion confirmed my belief that no school can be as rigorous as GOOD self training like I gave myself, and under no circumstances should you want until you’re 18 (unless you already are!).
The basic message: Start as early as you can, preferable at age 8-12.
Given that college is roughly age 18-22, and adds a lot of value an education begun at home, it can actually dovetail perfectly with said self education. This will be the topic of a later post in this series.
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This post is a sequel of sorts to my How do I get a job designing video games. The good new is — if you’re a programmer — that nearly all video game companies are hiring programmers at all times. Demand is never satisfied. And the salaries are very very competitive.
The bad news is that it takes a hell of a lot of work to both be and become a great game programmer. Or maybe that isn’t such bad news, because you absolutely love programming, computers, and video games, right? If not, stop and do not goto 20.
I’m breaking this topic into a number of sub-posts. Although this is the intro, it was posted a day after the second, number 2, on types of game programmers, but I’m backing up and inserting this new number 1 (I’m a programmer, I know how to insert). Other posts will follow on topics like “how to get started” and “the interview.”
So why would you want to be a video game programmer?
Let’s start with why you might want to be a programmer:
1. Sorcery. First and foremost, being a programmer is like being a wizard. I always wanted to be a wizard. Given that magic (as in the D&D variety) doesn’t seem to be real (damn!) programming is the next best thing. Computers are everywhere. They’re big, complex, and all sorts of cool everyday devices (like iPhones, set-top boxes, cars, and microwaves) are really basically computers — or at least the brains of them are. 99.9% of people have no idea how this technology works. As the late great Author C. Clarke said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Yay computers! If you actually know the arcane rituals, incantations, and spells to controls these dark powers then you are… drum roll please… a wizard.
2. Career security. Computers are the foundation of the 21st century economy. Nearly every new business is based on them. Knowing the above incantations is secret sauce. All the growth is in high tech (product possibility frontier and all that). Hiring is supply and demand too. The demand is for programmers and other high tech specialists.
3. Even more career security. Programming is hard. It requires a big New Cortex style brain. This means lots of people can’t do it. It takes years of study and practice. I’ve been programming for 30 years and there is still an infinite amount for me to learn. Awesome!
4. It’s a rush. Creating stuff is a rush. Making the infernal machine bend to your warlocky will is a huge thrill. It never gets boring and there is always more to learn (related to #3).
5. It pays really well. This is related to #2 and #3. People need programmers and they can’t get enough, so they have to pay competitively for them. Even in the late 90s early 00s at Naughty Dog it was very rare for us to start ANY programmer at less than $100,000, even ones right out of school. Good ones made a lot more. And if you’re a total kick-ass grand master wizard (nerd) like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg you can even start your own company and make billions. Take that you muscle bound warriors!
6. Solo contributions. You like spending time with machines and find all day dealing with illogical humans at least partially tedious. Sorry to say it, but even though most professional programming is done in teams a lot of time is spent at the keyboard. For some of us, this ain’t a bad thing.
7. Socialization. You need an excuse to hang out with others. On the flip side, because of this team thing you’ll be forced to socialize on and off between coding. This socialization will have certain structural support. This is convenient for the would-be wizard, master of demons but terrifying forces, but afraid of starting conversations.
So why would you want to be a video game programmer specifically?
8. Video game programming is really hard. Probably the hardest of the hard. It combines cutting edge graphics, effects, the latest hardware, artistic constraints, tons of competition, very little memory, and all sorts of difficult goodies. The really serious wizards apply here.
9. Other types. Video game teams have artists, musicians, and designers on them too. Lots of tech jobs don’t (although they sometimes have those pesky marking folks). Artists etc are cool. They know how to draw or compose cool stuff which makes your code look and sound much cooler.
10. Consumer driven. If you make it to work on a professional game they often sell lots of copies and people will have heard of what you do. This is much much cooler than saying “I worked on the backend payment scheme of the Bank of America ATM.” It’s so cool that it might even get you laid — which is an important concern for bookish wizards of both genders.
11. It’s visual. Seeing your creations move about the screen and spatter into bloody bits is way more exciting than that green text on the bank ATM. Talented artists and sound designers will come to you with said bloody bits and all sorts of squishy sounds which will make your coding look 1000x more cool than it would by itself. If you aren’t into bloody bits than you can work on a game where enemies explode into little cartoon rings. It’s all cool.
12. It’s creative. For me, I have to create worlds and characters. I’ve been doing so my whole life. Right now I’m not even programming but I’m writing novels, which is also about creating. Programming in general is pretty creative, but game programming is probably the most so.
13. Love. You love video games so much that working on them 100+ hours a week seems like far less of a chore than any other job you can think of!
I’m sure there are more reasons, but the above seem pretty damn compelling.
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There are a couple of broad categories of programmers working on video game teams. If programmer is your player class, then the following types are your spec. Programmers are all warlocks and mages so instead of “demonology” or “frost” you can choose from below. (NOTE: if you don’t get this joke, you don’t play enough video games) This is the real world however, and many programmers dual (or even triple) spec — i.e. they handle multiple specialties.
1. Gameplay programmer. Programs enemies, characters, interfaces, gameplay setups etc. Probably also does things like AI and collision detection. These programmers are sometimes a little less hardcore technical than some of the other types, but this is the sub-field where the most “art” and experience are often required. Learning how to make a character’s control feel good is not something you can read about in Knuth. It takes the right kind of creative personality and a lot of trial and error. In a lot of ways, this is the heart and soul of game programming, the spec that truly differentiates us from the more engineering programming disciplines.
2. Tools programmer. Works on the extensive tools pipeline that all games have. This is the only branch of game programming where you don’t absolutely have to know and breathe video games inside and out, and it’s a little closer to mainstream applications programming. That being said, life at most video game companies is so intense, you better love them. Tools programmers tend to be very good at practical algorithms, data processing, etc. For some reason, perhaps because it’s more “behind the scenes” this spec is often viewed as less glamourous and there are fewer programmers who want to go into it.
3. Sound programmer. A very specific niche. Here you have to not only know how to program well, but you have to care about the esoteric field of sound. You need the kind of ear that can tell if there is a one sample glitch in some audio loop, and you need to care if the 3D audio spatialization is off or the sound field isn’t balanced. This is often a fairly low level area as audio programming is often done on DSPs.
4. Collision programmer. This is a really specific spec, and often overlaps with Graphics because it involves totally intense amounts of math. You better have taken BC calculus in tenth grade and thought “diffy-q” was the coolest class ever if you want to go into this.
5. Network programmer. In this era of multiplayer and networked gaming there’s a lot of networking going on. And programming across the internet is a bit of a specialty of it’s own. In general, video game programming takes any sub-field of programming to it’s most extreme, pushing the bleeding limits, and networking is no exception. Games often use hairy UDP and peer-to-peer custom protocols where every last bit counts and the slightest packet loss can make for a terrible game experience. If this is your thing, you better know every last nuance of the TCP/IP protocol and be able to read raw packet dumps.
6. Graphics programmer. Some guys really dig graphics and are phenomenal at math. If you don’t shit 4×4 matrices and talk to your mom about shaders, don’t bother. This sub-specialty is often very low-level as graphics programming often involves a lot of optimization. It may involve coming up with a cool new way of environment mapping, some method of packing more vertices through the pipeline, or better smoothing of the quaternions in the character joints (HINT: involves imaginary math — and if you don’t know that that means the square-root of -1 then this sub-field might not be for you).
7. Engine programmer. For some reason, most wannabe video game programmers hold this up as their goal. They want to have created the latest and greatest video game engine with the coolest graphics. Superstars like Tim Sweeney,John Carmack, and even myself are usually seen as falling in this category. The truth is that superstars do all kinds of programming, and are often distinguished by the fact that we are willing and able to handle any sub-type and tie it all together (see lead below). In my mind engine programmers are jacks-of-all-trades, good at building systems and gluing them together. The top guys often blend with Graphics and Lead below. There’s also tons of stuff like compression (nothing uses compression like games, we’d often have 8-10 different custom compressors in a game), multi-threading, load systems (you think seamless loading like in Jak & Daxter is easy?), process management, etc.
8. Lead programmer. People also dream of being the lead. All the great programmers are/were. This is the hardest spec, and no one ever starts out in it. You need to be able to do any of the other specs, or at least judge what approach is best. You need to be able to roll up your sleeves and dive in and fix crap anywhere in the program. You need to live without sleep (4 hours a night every day for years baby!). You need to be able to squint at the screen and guess where the bug is in others people’s code. You need to know how to glue systems together. You need to be able and willing to trim memory footprints and optimize (no one else wants to do it). In fact, you have to know the entire program, even if it is 5-10 million lines of code, and you have to do all the crap that no one else wants to do. Plus, you often have to manage a bevy of other personalities and waste lots and lots of time in meetings. Still want the glory? Being lead is all about responsibility!
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As my friends who’ve known me since the 80s will recount, I’ve always been an enthusiastic advocate of upgrading the human race. In fact, before going to M.I.T. to start my PhD (aborted after two years to make Crash Bandicoot), I applied to all sorts of MD/PhD programs in biomedical engineering. I chose M.I.T. (AI Lab) over Johns Hopkins (Bio med eng) partially because I always had more fun with computers than in bio lab (despite having majored neuro-bio) but also because my enthusiasm for “improving” mankind with technology seemed to fall on deaf ears in the medical community. Somehow it’s perfectly alright to talk about giving sight to the blind — which, by the way, I’m all for — but uncool and oh so Dr Neo Cortex to discuss bionic eye upgrades.
In any case, check this guy out!
He’s replaced his eye (albeit already missing) with a camera and transmitter! For real!
Too bad he hasn’t yet overcome the really big hurdle: sending the signal to his brain! That’ll be a while, splicing any kind of video signal into an optic nerve or V1 (the early visual cortex) is, as we used to say at M.I.T.: non-trivial!
Get too it Eyeborg!
More information can be found at the Eyeborg Project’s home page.
This is an old Crash Bandicoot 20 questions that used to be on Naughty Dog‘s site a long time ago. I’ve gotten a lot of messages looking for them, so I dug them up, but I haven’t done any editing except for trivial formatting. They are served up “as is.” Additionally, the links in here are ancient and might not work.
|1) Q:||Are you all insane?|
|2) Q:||Help! I’m stuck in Crash! Can you give me some help?|
|A:|| No. But GameSpot
has a full walkthrough of Crash 2 online. Game Informer
Online also has good ones for Crash 1, 2, and Warped.
Or you can pony up a few more shekels and buy the
hint guides to Crash 1 and Crash 2 from Dimension
Publishing, or the strategy guides to Crash Bandicoot:
Warped and CTR (Crash Team Racing) from Prima. They
are the only ones with pictures of Crash on the cover.
Don’t be taken in by one of the unofficial hack jobs
out there, though. They all have errors. (ed.
note: Links to sites mentioned above were removed
because they are no longer active… sorry, that’s
the web for ya.)
|3) Q:||In Crash Bandicoot: Warped, what times are needed to earn each relic?|
|4) Q:||(a) What is a Bandicoot?
(b) Why is Crash a Bandicoot?
(c) Why is he named “Crash?”
(a) Crash is a Perameles gunnii, of the order POLYPROTODONTA,
family Peramelidae, commonly known as the Eastern Barred
Bandicoot. He is a marsupial, which means that he is born with a
built in fanny pack. They live in Tasmania, a small island south
of Australia, as well as on the Australian mainland. The
Parameles gunnii is, on average, 320mm from head to rump, and has
a 80mm tail. They weigh about 950g. Crash’s family, on the other
hand, tend to be about a meter tall, orange, walk on their hind
legs, and wear big shoes. They have, therefore, earned a good
living in the Parameles gunnii circus sideshow spinning real fast
and the like.(b)Because both of his parents were.(c) Because that is the name his parents gave him.
|5) Q:||We want toys and stuff. When will we get them?|
|A:|| Where have you been? A toy company
named Resaurus recently released their second series of Crash Bandicoot
posable action figures! They made the Duke Nukem and Quake toys, so
you know they are good. Other stuff is in the works as well. Check
|6) Q:||(a) Why did you choose to make Crash Bandicoot for the
(b) Are there plans to port any of the Crash games, or make original Crash games for other systems?
(a) Picking a game system, or “platform”, at the beginning of a
project is like picking horses before a horse race. It is more
of an art than a science. When we began Crash 1, the only 32 bit
systems available were the 3DO and the Atari Jagauar. There were
rumors about the coming PlayStation game console and the Sega
Saturn, and distant rumblings about the N64. It was easy to toss
the 3DO and Jaguar, neither had the power. And the fact that the
N64 wasn’t going to have a CD ROM drive made it ineligible. In
the end, we chose the PlayStation game console because it had the
best mix of power and storage. Based on its worldwide sales,
game players have picked the PlayStaton game console as well.
Looks like we picked the winning horse!(b) Until recently, PlayStation has been the only system capable of
handling the sophisticated graphics and gameplay of the Crash Bandicoot
games. The Saturn doesn’t have the power. N64 cartridges cannot hold
the data. Also, Crash likes the PlayStation. Naughty Dog has no idea what
Crash’s future holds. We do not control his destiny. You’ll have to ask him.CTR (Crash Team Racing) is our last game working with Crash (and our last title
for the first generation PlayStation). Naughty Dog’s future lies with
completely new characters on PlayStation 2.
|7) Q:||What are Naughty Dog’s favorite games?|
We wish the following games had never come out. They have
killed our productivity:Goldeneye(N64)Gran Turismo(PlayStation)Command & Conquer (PlayStation & PC)
Tekken 3 (PlayStation)
Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Point Blank (PlayStation)
Metal Gear Solid (PlayStation)
Banjo & Kazooie (N64)
|8 ) Q:||What other developers do you respect?|
|A:|| We don’t sleep well because we know
that Rare, Miyamoto san, the Gran Turismo team, and the Gex 2 team
are out there. So we’ve hired the lead programmer and lead designers
from the Gex 2 team (Dan
Chan, Evan Wells.)
They don’t frighten us anymore. Miyamoto
san, on the other hand, keeps turning our offers down!
|9) Q:||Does Dr. Neo Cortex use Rogaine?|
Yes, but only on the sides of his head.
|10) Q:||(a) What is it like to work at Naughty Dog?
(b) Are you hiring?
(c) What is it like to work with Sony?
(a)We don’t know. Nobody here considers what we do to be work.(b) Check
our job opportunities page.(c) We don’t know. The people we interact with at Sony are
so good that we don’t have to work at it. Seriously, we just
make the game, they take care of the rest.
|11) Q:||Naughty Dog created the first software z-buffer for the PlayStation. How did you do it?|
Greg coded it. We don’t know how it works. It just does.
|12) Q:||Where do the Naughty Dog artists come up with their ideas?|
|A:|| The Naughty Dog artists are so used
to Crash’s world now that it doesn’t seem like designing, so much
as just making 3D models of a world that already exists. Still, there
is a lot of exploration on paper, as well as on the computer before
the final locations and characters exist. Take a look in our Art
Gallery for some samples.
|13) Q:||(a) How many polygons is Crash?
(b) How many frames of animation does he have?
(c) How do you animate him?
(a)532 triangles.(b) In Crash 2, Crash had over 9000 individual
frames of animation @ 30 frames per second. In Warped,
Crash had around 30,000 frames! We believe this to
be more than any other console game character. If
we are wrong, e-mail usand we will change this answer.(c) We attach motion capture equipment to Crash and ask
him to do the moves we need for the game.
|14) Q:||What is your favorite food?|
The artists like sushi and Chinese, as well as Mexican. The
programmers are on the “flat diet”. We lock them in their room
until they finish a project and only give them whatever food fits
under the door. Pizza – yes. Pancakes – Yes. Hamburgers – Yes,
one layer at a time. Chicken – Yes, but it tastes horrible after
all of the shoving. They are very thristy.
|15) Q:||Crash doesn’t have any graphic violence. Are you against graphic violence?|
No, and if you ask us that question another #$@! time we’ll kick
your @#X* and rip your !@% off! Crash doesn’t need violence.
It’s that simple.
|16) Q:||How do I become a video game programmer?|
|A:|| All of the Naughty Dog programmers
started programming when they were very young. They all had computers
at home, and they would all spend a good deal of time in the basement
doing what was called “hacking”. Some of them took computer-related
courses in High School, but at that time you didn’t need to know that
much about computers to teach the computer lab teacher a thing or
three. Andy got
a post graduate degree in Artificial Intelligence, but one of the
biggest arguments in Artificial Intelligence is whether or not it
even exists. All the Naughty Dog programmers work very hard, keep
long hours, and have the ability to say things that make you confused.
|17) Q:||What percentage of the PlayStation’s power are you using for each Crash game?|
All of it. 110 volts. Exactly what is in your wall socket. But
there is a lot more that we can do with the 110 volts in the
future. Look for the next PlayStation games we work on to look
better and better.
|18) Q:||Is Crash related to the Tasmanian Devil?|
The Tasmanian Devil refuses to do blood tests, so we may never
|19) Q:||What kind of shoes does Crash Bandicoot wear?|
|A:|| Big red ones. Though
if Nike would like to sponsor Crash and start a line
of shoes like “Air Jordans” called “Spin Crashes,”
we are open to offers.
|20) Q:||Are there only twenty questions?|
Yes, so far.
|21) Q:||I thought there were only 20 questions. Why is there a 21?|
Because Naughty Dog is firmly AGAINST antidisestablishmentarianism.
Go look it up.
Subscribe to the blog (on the right), or follow me at:
Andy: or blog
Also, peek at my novel: The Darkening Dream
or more posts on
These are answers (of mine) to a series of interview questions from Russian game site www.crash-bandicoot.ru. They’re a major Russian Crash fan site, hence the bad pun in my title. If you happen to speak Russian, they’ve it here.
The questions are in bold, and my answers in normal.
There was the soundtrack of Komodo Bros. boss on the CB1 CD. Does it mean you planned to bring this boss to the first game? What the fight was like and why have you dropped this idea?
Time. We ran out of time, plus we already had six bosses. They ended up in Crash 2. The Crash 1 battle plan was about 30% larger than the game we shipped – which was plenty big enough – as we planned too much. Everything extra ended up in Crash 2. But we didn’t actually make it during the Crash 1 development, we realized before then that there was too much in the plan and shelved it for later. It takes much less time to write on paper, “cool snow level where crash can slide around on the ice” than it does to design, model, and program said level.
Why the cut levels from CB1 beta like Cavern, Cliff and Waterfall haven’t reached its finish point in the final version of the game? According to the video they were well developed.
These were two early levels. The Cliff and Waterfall are the same level (jungle1). The cave was (cave2). These were the first two levels we built in Spring 1995, and they just didn’t work. The designs were too open, showing too many polygons and not channeling the player well enough for proper gameplay. If the space was so big that Crash could just walk around the enemies it wasn’t very fun.
There is the screenshot on crashmania where you can see the fruit similiar to pineapple instead of wumpa. Is it right and was it planned to add different fruits to the game?
Originally (for over a year in development) we had an elaborate fruit currency for pickups. Different fruit were worth different “points.” The only problem with this was that we only had so much texture memory and so each fruit got very little, and didn’t look that great. We eventually decided to spent all that memory on one fruit (the Wumpa fruit) and make it look really good. We rendered it out rotating and stored all the angles. Doing the fruit in actual 3D wasn’t feasible because fruit are round (hence lots of polygons) and we wanted to have many of them on screen.
What the bosses’ heads of Pinstripe, Koala Kong and Papu were for in the bonus rounds in the early version of the game?
We experimented with different “bonus head” currencies. I can’t remember which. In the end Tawna, Cortex, and Brio won out.
What the famous platform with plants from the level Air Crash (CB2) was for? Lots of players used to think it could take you to some secret place however there was the published video where Crash stayed on the platform and nothing happened.
That is just a video of some uncompleted area in some unfinished version of the game (say for a tradeshow). It was under construction and was never intended to be seen. Under construction levels can display any kind of whacky behavior.
Why Nitros Oxide wasn’t brought to playable characters in CTR?
We only had room for so many, and the consensus (particularly of the Japanese) was that the cute characters were better choices (like the polar bear cub).
Is it true that there was a secret character called Hippo in the beta of CTR? Why weren’t all the characters from original trilogy included? It’d been nice to see Koala Kong and Nitrus Brio there.
Time and space. Each character was a lot of work and took up a lot of memory. I don’t remember the hippo though.
Why did you choose Mutato Muzika as the music composer to the all games of Crash Bandicoot?
We auditioned a number of composers to give us sample music for the game. Theirs was the coolest. And we were in a hurry J. But it worked out great!
Why CB1 takes all space on CD while CB takes only 1/3 of disk space? It’d be nice to see CB2 on mini-CD.
There is a huge fake file on the CB1 CD (the data.wad) which the game doesn’t care about. The file is full of random numbers and it was there to fill out the disk. The reason for this was twofold. First of all, the outside of the CD is faster, so by putting the useless file on the inside the game would be pushed to the outside. Second, we thought that pirates would be irritated by and less likely to download a 650meg game than a 150meg game. Less pirate copies is a good thing when you make games for a living.
Why have you deleted your official site of Crash Bandicoot on http://www.naughtydog.com? I’d like to read 20 questions and answers for Crash Bandicoot one more time.
I don’t control or influence www.naughtydog.com in any way, and haven’t since 2004.
What do you think about the bug which allows player to take the red gem in CB2 in an alternative way, not through the secret warproom?
I don’t :-) But it’s just a bug. In 1996 it would have pissed me off (mildly), now I shrug and smile.
Why do Brio and Cortex quarrel so that Brio looks for the way of destroying Cortex Spaceship in CB2?
Brio turned out to be surprisingly sympathetic (because Cortex picks on him) so we thought it would be amusing to develop that a bit. The Crash series, however, is not exactly The English Patient in terms of character depth.
It is very interesting what was planned to develop and what plans of that came true in CB2 and CB3?
For Crash 1 we had this huge three-part Island and all sorts of ideas for different areas and levels. Crash 2 was to a large extent those that didn’t make it in the first game plus lots of extra cool ideas we had. There was more time for new mechanics like the surf board, zero-G, sliding on the ice, etc. For Crash 3 we needed something a bit different and came up with the time travel idea (mine!). But truth is that we all loved that idea, and both Jason and I adore time travel. My second novel is about time travel! So the idea naturally led to putting in favorite times and places as levels for Crash 3.
Have you ever regretted of selling the rights of Crash Bandicoot franchise to another company? If there was a chance would you like to return on developing this franchise?
It made sense at the time, but I love Crash. Of all my creations it’s still my favorite and it’s sad to see him drop to his current lows. As Jason puts it, like discovering that your sweet High School girlfriend is now a street walker in Atlantic City.
Why did you call your company just “Naughty Dog”?
We liked dogs. Plus Jason was always drawing these cool cartoon characters (in the mid 80s) and one of them was “The Naughty Dog” a studly 80s shades wearing dog who always got the chicks. So he became the mascot and source of the name.
Why Crash Bandicoot and Jak franchises are so similiar? I mean it includes the way of games (1, 2, 3 and racing). The first game of Jak is very similiar to CB1, the attack of Jak is like Crash’s one, we are destroying the crates and so more. Dammit, you can also see the Plant from CB1 in the beginning of the game?
The same people made them. Sometimes you like your own ideas :-) Certainly there is plenty new stuff in Jak.
Why have you developed Action-Adventure but not the platformer on PS3 as it lacks of them? I have read your Making of Crash Bandicoot series where you have said Naughty Dog was always looking for the opportunity ways, don’t you think the nice platformer could worth it?
I myself didn’t really do much PS3 development. I left Naughty Dog when Uncharted 1 was in its infancy. But market wise there seemed to be less support for pure platforming. It was seen as old fashioned.
What are you interested in besides the video games?
Lots of stuff. Look at my blog http:all-things-andy-gavin.com. Food, history, travel, writing, fiction of all sorts, technology. I’m very much a fantasy geek in the broad sense of the word.
What is your favorite game?
World of Warcraft. Even though I “quit” (again) after six years. Told you I’m a fantasy geek.
According to Facebook you like classic music. What are your favorite compositions?
I like a lot of music. In pure classical everything from Mozart to Stravinsky. But I listen to a wide variety of things, from weird folk music to industrial techno.
Have you ever been to Russia or the countries of post-Soviet Union. If yes did you like them? If no then are you going to visit them some time?
The closest I’ve been is Budapest and Prague. I’d love to visit many places in the former USSR. St. Petersburg is high on my list because I have a palace and museum fetish and I must see the baroque palaces there. Jason’s been to Moscow too – and I’d love to go there myself.
How do you think if Crash Bandicoot is relevant nowadays?
Current (or recent) Crash games are not relevant, but the character is. The response I get from my blog proves this. People still love the character, his world, and the games. I’m sure if they got an opportunity to play good Crash games in an updated format — millions would.
Any wishes to the users of Bandicoot Internet Zone?
I’d like to thank all the fans. It’s always been so gratifying how much people enjoyed visiting and playing our whacky cartoon universe. We brought it to life because it was just this super silly place that we thought would be a fun to inhabit (even if virtually), and it’s so great that millions and millions of players agreed and had a blast there!
Subscribe to the blog (on the right), or follow me at:
Andy: or blog
Also, peek at my novel: The Darkening Dream
or more posts on
Author: Harold Goldberg
Genre: Video Game History
Length: 306 pages
Read: April 5, 2011
Summary: All the good stories!
This new addition to the field of video game histories is a whirlwind tour of the medium from the 70s blips and blobs to the Facebook games of today, with everything in the middle included. Given the herculean task of covering 45+ years of gaming history in a completely serial fashion would probably result in about 4,000 pages, Goldberg has wisely chosen to snapshot pivotal stories. He seizes on some of the most important games, and even more importantly, the zany cast of creatives who made them.
My personal favorite is Chapter 8, “The Playstation’s Crash” featuring none other than that lovable Bandicoot, myself, Jason, Mark Cerny and various other friends. This chapter covers loosely the same subject matter that Jason and I detail in our lengthy series of Crash blogs (found here). It’s even 98% accurate! :-) If you enjoyed our Crash posts, I highly recommend you check out this book, as it includes not only some extra insights there, but 18 other chapters about other vitally important games or moments in gaming history.
These include old Atari, the great 80s crash, Mario, Tetris, EA, Adventure Games, Sierra Online, EverQuest, WOW, Bioshock, Rockstar, Bejeweled, and more. All are very entertaining, and focus heavily on the personalities behind the scenes — and boy, are there personalities in this business! In many ways this reminds me of Hackers, which is dated, but was one of my favorite books on the 80s computer revolution.
So click, buy, and enjoy!