Bad Day McGee

Russ Pitts

The Boss of You
May 1, 2006
Bad Day McGee

Bad Day LA is Not the Development Out-Sourcing Poster Child You're Looking For

JoystickwithaQ dropped a metal glove [] the other day, and fearing that they may decide to come back for it and hit me with it, I decided to pick it up.

For those of you who were quick to dismiss American McGee and his street cred, now is the time for you to check out the man's work for yourself.

Now I know that this was in reference to forum posts on their own site regarding the B-list rockstar developer we all love to be apathetic about, but considering that McGee is one of my favorite targets for a quick, easy joke, I decided to take this invitation to "check out the man's work," and see if my frequent, ongoing criticism was really valid, or if I'd fallen into that old internet trap of blogging a dead horse.

I downloaded the Bad Day LA demo on Friday, forgot to install it, saw the zip on my machine this morning and decided to give it a try. After the demo installed itself and a few codecs and helper apps (I'm not kidding), I finally got my chance to see what the man-who-would-be-Romero has been doing for the past few years.

The verdict? Yeah, it pretty much sucks.

Granted, it's a demo and as they always say, not representative of the final product, but I have to be completely honest: Based on this demo, I'm no longer interested in playing the game. The graphics are lousy, the play mechanics feel out-dated, the story is kinda dumb and some of the humor is downright offensive. And coming from me, that's a hell of an indictment.

The game looks, sounds and feels like it was cooked up by a second-rate designer with very little class, style or imagination and then handed off to a bunch of programmers and artists with very little comprehension of basic game-making techniques and no creativity whatsoever. Which, strangely, is exactly how the game was made.

Straight from the mouth of the man []:

U.S. game development teams are really creative, brilliant, innovative?and they?re really headstrong. A guy that I?d hire to be a junior artist would try to force an idea into a game and hijack the production, throwing a major monkey wrench into the process. That?s the Western development team. It?s the opposite with the Chinese team. If you come up with a good idea and you give them good direction, they?ll stamp it out. Problem is, they will not deviate a f***in? inch from what I say. So the challenge is coming up with enough of a good idea, and?like, I find my days are now 80 percent just giving directions. And it?s really frustrating and really annoying and boring, but it works. Otherwise, I?ve had people following orders until there was nothing else to do. They just sit there and stare at the screen.

What he's describing is a game development studio with American McGee in the role of single creative, out-of-the-box -thinking designer, presiding over a bunch of literal-minded, culturally-brainwashed idol worshippers. American McGee Presents: Noble Savage Game Studio.

He goes on to justify his point-of-view:

I?d like to make it clear that my intention was not to ridicule or insult workers in China. I?m pointing out a clear distinction between two styles. US workers tend to be highly autonomous and self-motivated. ? Seems I didn?t express the point as maturely as I could have. Might have been because (as the interview notes) I was drinking while answering. ? If you are uncomfortable with the concept of cheap, off-shore labor being used to produce the games you play, then I suggest you start making your own. ? Bad Day LA wasn?t outsourced to China. It was built 100% in China.

I hope this guy never goes away. I don't really even have to write anything here. I could just reprint entire sections of his blog every single day and ride the Irony Train to Donesville.

But to those who worry that the success of "outsourced" games like Bad Day LA will create a gigantic money suck Eastward, ruining the market for US-based developers, I say: Don't worry. Bad Day LA will not be the game to trumpet that charge. That day may come, but it will not be presented by American McGee.



New member
Jul 14, 2006
Fletcher said:
considering that McGee is one of my favorite targets for a quick, easy joke, I decided to take this invitation to "check out the man's work," and see if my frequent, ongoing criticism was really valid, or if I'd fallen into that old internet trap of blogging a dead horse.
I seem to remember you saying that you actually liked Alice. Have you since changed your mind?

Lex Darko

New member
Aug 13, 2006
Adam LaMosca said:
The term "Ugly American" comes quickly to mind.
Nope the term dunce is what comes to mind.

He blast U.S. devs for adding ideas to the main line of thought for a game and then blast Chinese devs for not adding ideas.

Who needs comedy central when there are people like this in the world writing blogs.


New member
Aug 22, 2006
You know, it's very hard to take Robert Sumna seriously when he uses terms like "street cred" with a straight face in 2006.

Why does Sumna say "download the game at MTV, of all places?" Puerile, faux-hip, 'alt-corporate' shrines like MTV are EXACTLY where creatures like McGee are spawned and also accurately reflect his customer demographic. Remember, American is the guy whose idea of "edgy" was to send the Cheshire Cat to Hot Topic.


New member
Aug 24, 2006
Wow, there's a lot of American McGee haters here. I'm not here to defend him, per se, but I do want to point out a few things. To begin, the first quoted section has been taken out of a larger context. He was being interviewed and was asked what differences there were in the culture. McGee was simply pointing out the differences as he saw them.

You also have to understand that McGee's career has been kind of tumultuous. He went from working at id on Doom, to working for EA to trying to find his own way without big company. The fact that he doesn't care too much for these big companies should be an indicator of his decision to create games on his own, far away from these sources. You're talking about a man who hasn't had many great experiences working here and has had a hard time finding people willing to work on these niche titles. If it ain't Halo, we don't want it.

The fact that he also had to create a screenplay for Oz and submit it to Hollywood for it to be turned into a movie BEFORE he could even think about creating the game is indicitive of why he feels this way. He does have a grudge against some of the companies in the US, but really, if you look at it from his perspective, it's not very hard to understand why.

Concerning the demo, there were some issues I found. The gameplay was arcade-feeling, pick up and shoot. That was the intention. The conversations and humor isn't any worse than what you'd find in an episode of South Park or Chapelle's show (though the chappellesque voice of the main character is a bit trite). As far as the graphics go, with the exception that I found it odd you couldn't adjust the resolution, I don't think they were bad. In fact, they were designed by noted and well-regarded Kozyndan art duo and really feel like a kozyndan artwork come to life. It was a purposeful decision and, in fact, it pushes forward the satire on events that (if portrayed realistically) would be pretty dreadful.

Finally, the story...well it's pretty difficult to dissect how good or crappy a story is based on a ten-fifteen minute demo. Heaven forbid you take 5 minutes of a film and then try to have a conversation on how good the story is.

At any rate, that's my two cents.