Jeff Green (CGW): Part III
Conducted by Omni
So, how have the last 12 months been at Computer Gaming World (CGW)? Has the editor-in-chief gig worn thin yet?
Itís been a fine, happy, frolicking time at CGW this past year. No, really! Iím really happy with the current staffóI think itís the strongest itís been in a long time, after some shaky times. And itís helped that itís been an absolutely phenomenal year for PC games, which has kept the mood up. Any year that can produce both Hooters: Road Trip and a game that uses the Skittles candy license is one that just makes me as happy as a little girl. Thatís why Iím dressed like one now.
And, ya know, I can take-or-leave the editor-in-chief gig. Itís no big secret. Iím way too unambitious to lust after power, or even to make decisions. Iíd rather just play games and crack jokes. Anything that interrupts those two activitiesówhich happens all the time as editor-in-chiefójust tends to annoy me.
How was E3 this year?
Very good! This was my 6th one, and, I gotta say, going into it, I couldnít have been less excited. But thatís the great thing about low expectationsótheyíre easy to beat. I was really surprised by how many cool games there were for the PC. And then thereís the whole getting-away-from-the-family-and-staying-out-late-and-getting
-drunk-for-a-week thing. That didnít suck either.
Any embarrassing or awkward moments?
I really could have done without the late night, drunken CGW group hugs. I mean, Iím all for hugging. Especially other guys. But thereís at least one editor who has apparently not had a shower or crossed paths with a bar of soap in months. Iím not going to name names, because that would be rude and unprofessional. But his initials are Will OíNeal.
Who had the most interesting booth?
Oh, gosh, I dunno. Theyíre all the same. Giant monitors, lots of blaring music and videos, half-nekkid girls. Everyone desperately trying to grab your attention. The US Army, of all people, had a great setup for their "Americaís Army" game, where they had these guys rappelling down from the Convention Center ceiling. Later we saw those same guys talking to the half-nekkid chicks over at some porno DVD booth. U-S-A!!
Some might say it was the absence of Duke Nukem Forever, but what was the biggest surprise of E3?
You call that a surprise? What are you boys smoking over at Armchair Empire? And can I buy some? Iíd say if Duke Nukem Forever actually showed up anywhere in public ever again, that would be the surprise. TRON really surprised meóthat game looks awesome, and that is far from the worldís coolest license, except for a certain sub-strata of uber-geeks. Zelda for the GameCube looked neato. And The Sims Online. That was the first time that I understood that that game might actually be fun.
Doom III sure looks neat, but thereís more to life than looks. Will the gameplay rise above just shooting things?
Yeah, I agree, and thatís a fine question. Those are some very clever folks at Activision and id, and they knew how to put together a demo that was the talk of the show. It helped that only like 15 people at a time could see the damn thing, ensuring a long line throughout the week, which only added to the frenzy. And the game looked and sounded amazing from a purely aesthetic standpoint. But, yeah, what about the gameplay? I canít tell yet whether itís just going to just be more of the same, or whether theyíre going to incorporate more later-generation shooter features, like team play, "realistic" weaponry, and so on. And if they do add those things, is it still going to feel like a Doom game to us? I really donít know. I sure hope itís great. I played the first two games for 100s of hoursÖIíd love for Doom III to be great. Iíd also love it if id would give CGW the chance to cover the game. But they canít ever seem to get over the fact that sometimes weíre not just gonna fawn all over them all the time, so they go running to our competitor instead. Not that Iím bitter.
What was your favorite showing at E3?
Stop asking me about E3!
What were your experiences writing The Art of Warcraft? (Good? Bad? How was it different than your regular writing duties?)
Well, it would have been a lot more fun if I had done the work on time. Instead, I procrastinated on it for like forever, up to the point where Brady Books started yelling at me and lowered the amount they were gonna pay me. I had kind of a bad attitude about it. I donít think Iíll do anything like this again while Iím at CGW. I had fun writing about WarCraft, because itís such a great series, but I really prefer writing critically and honestly.
This was essentially a shill job. They couldíve got any monkey or retard or other game writer to do it, and it would have made no difference to the end result. But I really wanted to buy a motorcycle. And thatís what I did with the money.
I noticed that a "Jeff Grubb" wrote one of the Warcraft novels. Come clean, how else are you involved with WC3?
Iím the body model for the Night Elf Priestess.
Was Hooters: Road Trip really that bad?
No. I just said that to look sophisticated and sensitive, to impress the ladies. Actually, Hooters Road Trip rules! Especially the opening cinematic stuff, where a bunch of Hooters girls jiggle their rather formidable breastages. Now thatís good gaming.
Erik Wolpawís name has been popping up in CGW. Is this something new or should I buy new glasses? And how did he get there?
I love Erik Wolpaw! Literally. Erik, if youíre reading this: I love you. Heís easily one of the funniest and smartest guys in the "gaming journalism" business. Heís been writing for us on and off for awhile now, so itís nothing overly new. You need new glasses. We got him because, like everyone else, we were fans of Old Man Murray, and wanted him to write for us. So we begged. We pleaded. We bought him lap dances. Then, after his lawyers and our lawyers hashed out a 45-page contract, we finally got him aboard. Now, because of those pictures we acquired of him with barnyard animals, weíve got him for life.
Gamespot seems to have restricted him to reviewing games. Will CGW permit him to "keep it real" (*see Part II*) with an editorial or two?
Here at CGW, we donít believe in "keeping it real". Thatís for sissies. Actually, I donít know why I said that. Erik can do whatever he wants, as far as Iím concerned. He can write the whole magazine. All I ask is that he keeps his clothes on. Or at least the black leather thong I bought him last Xmas.
Maybe youíre not allowed to comment, but what do you think of Gamespotís recent financial model? (Making readers actually pay? Whatíll they think of next?)
Ahhh, yeah, I donít know. Iím a print guy. This whole Internet thing still frightens and confuses me. All I know is, whenever I go to any site now that makes me pay to see stuff, I just go somewhere else. Iím not saying this makes it a bad ideaóIím just saying itís not for me. Because Iím a cheap bastard. And lazy. I donít even like to go to sites that make me just sign up for free. As soon as they start making me do stuffówhatever it is---I figure I can just go somewhere else thatís lower-maintenance and get basically the same information, for free. But, hey, if Gamespot can make it workómore power to Ďem.
Do game publishers still pepper the CGW offices with useless knick-knacks to hype their latest games?
Sadly, that whole tchotcke thing has fallen off dramatically over the years, thanks to the collapse of the economy. We still get the occasional piece of junk, but itís nothing like the old days when we were buried in the stuff. Luckily, we still get t-shirts all the time, which accounts for most of our wardrobes at the magazine.
There seems to be a strange continental gaming divide. Not many PC games from overseas (either Ocean) make a splash in North America and vice versa. Are gamers different from continent to continent?
Oh, I donít know how true this is. Sure, different countries have their own kinds of games that wouldnít necessarily translate well abroad, but the big stuff is popular all over. GTA3, WarCraft, Counter-Strike---everybody in the world plays that stuff. On the other hand, thereís not much call for EA Sportsí Cricket game over here. And Iím sure the Japanese never really went for the whole Deer Hunter craze. But all gamers recognize the classics, regardless of nationality.
Should Microsoft have gone with the name "Project Midway" instead of "Xbox"?
Yeah, that was a good one, huh? How about "Americaís Console"? Or "KillTheJapsBox"?
Do you think opinion of Tim Schafer has changed among the PC die-hards? I mean, he is making an Xbox game after all. But on the other hand heís responsible for many, many of the most memorable PC gaming moments and characters.
If the opinion of Tim Schafer has changed among the PC die-hards, then the PC die-hards should lighten the hell up. Schafer has indeed contributed some awesome moments to PC gaming, ones that can never be taken away. Now heís running his own company, taking his own risks, and he has the right to do whatever the heck he wants. He doesnít owe PC gamers anything. And the new game looks spectacular.
LucasArts announced work on a sequel to Full Throttle, but didnít say much else. Is this the harbinger of the return of Adventure Games (at least in North America)?
No. Itís the harbinger of a sequel to the Full Throttle game. I mean, I suppose if it sells 8 bazillion copies, then maybe other companies will start thinking twice again. But, really, this is a unique situation: the sequel to a popular and much-loved game. So the fanbase is built-in already. But itís not like id and Westwood and Blizzard and Valve and everyone else are waiting with baited breath to see how this does before working on their own adventure games.
How long does it take you to figure out a gameís crap? (Or do you play right to the end then have an epiphany that you just wasted many hours of your life?)
Itís usually obvious to me right away. Thereís so many giveaways when a game is lousy. You can smell it. You can smell the lack of caring, the lack of creativity, the desire to just get some piece of shit out onto the shelf in order to make money. But, fortunately, the opposite is true. The awesome games also have that aura about themóan aura that the game developers took pride in their work and made the game for themselves as much as for anyone else. Those are always the best games. Always.
With the widespread misuse/abuse of accounting practices in corporate circles lately, when will the sky coming crashing down on game publishers? (As of this writing Vivendi Universal seems to be in mid-collapse.)
JeezóI hope never. I wish only good things for all the game companies. Even the ones grinding out the pieces of shit I donít want to play. Because successful game publishers means I still have a job to go to. Obviously, some companies are going through hell right now (like, where the heck is Interplay? And 3DO?). But letís all hope that the gaming industry weathers the storm here.
Ever wonder what kind of results youíd get from a Wil OíNeal vs. Greg Vederman (PC Gamer's hardware editor) cage match?
A sissy-fight of epic proportions. But I think those guys actually like each other now. So theyíd probably just sit in that cage and blab to each other about video cards or RAM cache or whatever hardware dorks talk about.
In the gaming industry, do PR and Marketing folks get any respect?
They have a tough job. I donít envy them. Howíd you like to be the PR person for the freakiní Army Men games, and have it be your job to contact game journalists to get them to cover those games? No thanks. But the PR folks who are good at their jobsóand thereís a lot of themóget lots of respect from those of us on the magazine side. The best PR people know how to make our lives easier. They know what we need, and they talk to us honestly about the upcoming titles The PR people that say "I know this game is not the greatest, but please look at it anyway"óthose are the ones I love.
How does Valve justify its existence?
Well, they did make one of the greatest games of all time, right? I wish I knew what they were up to now. But Iím not about to second-guess them. Half-Life came out of nowhere, practically, and changed the entire landscape of gaming. So whoís to say they canít do it again?
Thanks again for your time, Jeff!
(July 20, 2002)
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