American McGee Presents: Bad Day L.A. Updated Q&A - Bad Day Nearing Completion

It's been a while since we've seen this satirically violent action game, so we caught up with creative director American McGee for an update.

It's been almost a year since we last saw American McGee Presents: Bad Day L.A., the satirically violent action adventure game from the mind of game designer American McGee. In Bad Day L.A., pretty much everything bad that can happen to a city happens to L.A. in a single day, and the results will be over-the-top as you battle zombies, terrorists, angry suburbanites, and the Mexican Army (among others). McGee has stated that he wants Bad Day L.A. to be sort of a commentary on the state of fear and violence in the American media. We caught up with McGee to get an update on the game, which is due out later this year.

The unique visual style of Bad Day L.A. helps emphasize its satirical nature.

GameSpot: We haven't heard about Bad Day L.A. over the past year. Have there been any major changes to the game since we saw it last September? Is the game almost done at this point?

American McGee: Yeah, we got pretty quiet during the middle of development and crunch time. Also, it's pretty easy to ignore the outside world when the development studio is in Hong Kong. Since the last time the game was shown to the press we've added a significant amount of gameplay features, such as chaos management and a greater number of ambient rescue missions. This means that there's a lot more moment-to-moment action than before.

GS: The game focuses on how homeless person Anthony Williams (your character) battles his way out of LA on the worst day possible. Give us a recap of the horrible things happen to LA that day.

AM: The day starts with a terrorist attack that spreads zombie-creating biochemical gas clouds over the city. Soon after the city is hit by earthquakes, meteors, fires, riots, and a tsunami, and the Mexican army invades and tries to take Los Angeles back for Mexico. All of these disasters compound on top of each other, so by the end of the day the city is fully trashed.

GS: We understand that Bad Day L.A. has an over-the-top amount of violence as a reference to both America's fixation on violent entertainment and to the kind of catastrophism that has become common in a post-9/11 world. Have you felt the need to adjust or change any of the satire to take into account recent events, or do you think that the content is still as relevant today as it was when the game first started development?

AM: The only thing I wish we had done differently was make more of a statement regarding these things. I was worried that by the time the game was released, the concept of "fear culture" in the US would have been replaced by a more sensible worldview. If anything, since we began development on the game things seem to have only gotten worse--bird flu, dirty bombs, domestic terrorist cells, and government eavesdropping, to name a few issues. We probably could have incorporated these elements into the game's social commentary. I guess we'll have to wait for Bad Day L.A. 2 to address those new threats. (Badder Day L.A. anyone?!)

GS: The violence in Bad Day L.A. is obviously satirical, but people don't always recognize satire when it's staring them in the face. Do you still feel the same way about the kind of controversy the game is intended to generate as you did when the game's development first started--especially in light of the many video game-related violence stories that have made the headlines in the past 12 months or so?

AM: The concept of video game violence is one that I talk about on my blog frequently. I have Google news alerts set to deliver me stories related to "video game violence," "video game murders," and related topics like "golf murder." It is true that there have been more and more headlines related to the topic. But the strange thing is that I've yet to see any increase in actual video game-related violence. It seems to me that someone out there has a vested interest in making video game violence a headline issue, even though it isn't a real issue.

McGee wants to take aim at the fear and violence culture of today's media.

Originally I had hoped that the violent content in Bad Day L.A. would spur debate over the use of violence in art, movies, music, and other forms of expression, and help to validate video games as an artistic medium where the human condition can be exploded and explored. These days I can see that there is a hidden agenda behind all the "video game violence" propaganda, and I doubt that any real debate will come out of the release of Bad Day L.A. or any other video game for any time to come. It's likely that the issue will only really go away when today's politicians finally croak out and some kind of cyberpunk, direct brain-stimulation entertainment medium replaces video games.

Going Hollywood?

GS: About how long will the game be? Will there be anything there to bring players back for another round of replay?

You'll turn ordinary, everyday items into weapons as you battle a wide range of foes.

AM: For the average gamer, play time is around 10 hours. If anything will bring players back it will be the game's humor. Personally, I love sharing funny moments from the game with my friends, and I can picture other people doing the same.

GS: We understand that the soundtrack is composed of quite a few licensed songs, but is there an overall theme? For instance, are they all apocalyptic, satirical, violent, sarcastic? And what can you tell us about the voice talent for the game?

AM: Actually, the soundtrack is made up of over 100 unique music tracks, broken into groups representing all the major music genres, such as rock, urban, country, classical, and Latino. The idea was to produce an accurate cross-section of the sorts of music styles that you might hear in different areas of Los Angeles. So when you're in a predominately Hispanic area of town you'll hear more Latin music. Because this is a comedic game, we tended to avoid an overly serious or game-like soundtrack. The "normal" music of the city makes for a good contrast to the disasters going on all around.

GS: We understand that there are apparently plans in place to create a motion-picture adaptation of American McGee's Alice with actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. Any similar discussions going on to bring Bad Day L.A. out of the world of video games and into another medium?

AM: Whenever I set out to create a game I'm always thinking about other ways in which the property can be exploited. These days, the stories, characters, and worlds represented in films and games are so similar that it would be silly not to. Bad Day L.A. is no different. We're currently in talks with several major studios and TV production houses to get Bad Day L.A. out there as linear media.

GS: As we understand it, the game was developed by two studios in China. How were you able to get the social satire across to developers who spoke a different language and came from a different culture? Do you think that working with outsourced studios is the future of game development?

Bad Day L.A. will ship later this year.

AM: It was pretty difficult. Many times myself and my art director just had to force the content onto the team and tell them what to build, even when they didn't understand it. Early on, this was tough, but eventually the team understood more and more of the comedy.

As for outsourcing of game content: I believe it has the ability to radically shift the way that games are conceived and developed. That's why I am staying in China, helping to build a large-scale game art outsourcing company called Vykarian and starting a large-scale development studio in Shanghai. If anyone out there is interested in joining the new teams, drop me a line at my official Web site.

GS: Thank you, American.

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Discussion

41 comments
Coolgamer
Coolgamer

I had a bad day just like this bad looking game.

iDShaDoW
iDShaDoW

Looks like it could have potential. One of those games you play to kill some time or just to enjoy yourself a bit without getting too into it.

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ckapop
ckapop

With a name like 'American McGee' is sure is in a rush to outsource software and design jobs out of America and into China. Should we start calling him 'Hong Kong McGee'?

banethebastard
banethebastard

I have a feeling that some crazed American Senator is going to complain about this game

BurningWreck
BurningWreck

I played the demo on the PC. Someone tell me...How is playing a homeless guy stopping zombies and looters some kind of biting social commentary? It feels like a clone of some of the GTA San Andreas gameplay.

tomp814
tomp814

Looks funny, but I doubt it´s gonna make me buy a Xbox instead of a better vg.

jbi00b
jbi00b

It's amusing to see cars and explosions made with cartons =D The game's concept is not that bad, but it would be better if the saw-tooth graphics are gone

kiddsilk69
kiddsilk69

to hell with this game what happened to "oz" game we were promised years ago.

Zierfish
Zierfish

www.kowelenzer.de/zierfish-33130v2.html

Xtressbro
Xtressbro

sounds lame. They try to mask the fact that its unnecessarily violent by claiming its a social commentary. For shame!

Gleba2388
Gleba2388

Cool game... too bad I don't own an Xbox ^^

godless_b
godless_b

hey scor! shut up i you dont have anything good to say, have you not played games like XII? carton violence is the best and this looks like its gonna be the best ever(until another one comes up) and you start complaning?! have you ever developed a game?! dont think so! think about all the work they put into a game that we get through in 6 hours(if you got the 1337 skillz)youst to make us happy(and get cash) P.S. got a weird pc so it may have ben wrong on a couple of words.

rl_41
rl_41

This game could be awsome... I'll probably buy it if it's any good

J-a-m-e-s
J-a-m-e-s

Hello and can I just say this game is completely and utterly poorly made. I suggest dont waste your money. Now for your reading pleasure and to help you decide if its worth the buy. http://www.somethingawful.com. On that site they have a full review. U have read a good review now read one that is true.

ergo2497
ergo2497

The demo was good fun - I think they made need just one more layer of polish, but so far the game looks entertaining, and the satire is pretty dead on. I dunno what game all of the haters played, but it's clear that the final product will be very different.

someguy503
someguy503

Sticking it to the man with a video game....we got bad news coming our way..

Expane
Expane

this one is headed straight to the bargain bin

schwartzj
schwartzj

Lousiest game I ever tested. Reminded me more of a webbased flashgame than a 'real' game. Linear, No physics engine, Some uglyness hidden behind cellshade... etc etc American McGee... u really let me down on this one...

JammerX
JammerX

So, his name is "American" McGee yet he is all for outsourcing... and is starting a large outsourcing company in China... guess he will change his name to "China" McGee?

scortech
scortech

I have tested the demo of this game..the game is ridiculous,not sure what kinda graphics engine that is used here but it looks terrible.....Well we are in 1990...Ohno,,,we are in 2006..LOL

faceman420
faceman420

It's good to see more and more people exposing the propaganda matrix for what it is. Too bad I don't have xbox and my pc sucks, cuz I would def. get this. Looks like I'll have to wait a few months until I can get a new comp.

DrCLos
DrCLos

This game sounds like it could be a good buy. Too bad I traded in my XBox for a 360

ivan_the_one
ivan_the_one

anythiing with hobbos has got to be cool^_^

L1qu1dSword
L1qu1dSword

I have to also agree with GetafixOz. This game looks intelligent, exciting, funny and overall a much larger contribution to gaming in general then yet another generic FPS. Prey would be just another "murder simulator" to that fool Jack Thompson but the nuance in this game would suggest that gamers have a highly developed social conciousness and are not just "cretins" like he has said before. Thank you American McGee...Im looking forward to this one. Ninjafoot your lame attempt at being "people's champion" has backfired. Next time try to not flame somebody who actually has something to say. There are plenty of trolls out there for you to slay instead if that is more your thing.

Erebus
Erebus

I enjoyed the movie Falling Down. I'll probably like this game, too. :)

MB_E102
MB_E102

lol, I think I agree with GetafixOz, the game looks amazing. And, who isn't ADD? or ADHD? lol, even if you aren't its pretty fun to act like you are lol. But... a game with scope and real world satire is needed. I'm tired of CNN's 24 Hour War on Terror... why can't we have a War on Boredom? Come on all, Nationwide 364 (Gotta have thanksgiving MMMmmm Turkey...) Day, all hours of the night gaming and just casual fun fest. frick, I'd take Osoma and Suddam in a round of Halo anyday. And you'd see all those crazy dudes just partying it up, ol' George Bush chillin' with the Terrorist chicks after a vomit-inducing 8 hour DDR fest. Come on man, this is great!!! More of what we need, about less of what we don't, way to stay heads up American McGee.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Sounds like the premise of the movie Falling Down with Michael Douglas except three hundred times more violent and amoral without a hint of hope, NICE! Hopefully it'll be fun and the movie was decent by the way so hopefully this game will be pretty fun. I loved Alice!

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

you can download this game's demo on the pc...its pretty funny...borderline racist.

NinjaFoot
NinjaFoot

GetafixOz, thats quite the condescending and illogical attitude you have there. Obviously since YOU dont like Prey, then anyone who does must have ADHD?! Nice try on acting smart, but no dice. Regardless of how good or bad Bad Day L.A. ends up, your attitude is ridiculous.

NinjaFoot
NinjaFoot

FPS#7865234 was actually Doom 3.

darkxinos
darkxinos

This game looks cool. I'm getting kind of tired of all the seriousness in games.

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Despite the usual unimaginative bleatings of the "teh g4m3 sux0r5 kthx" kiddies. I think it looks very amusing and fun. The demo confirmed this for me. When you consider the redundant development of FPS#7865234 or Prey as it is otherwise known, youd think people would be ready for something a bit different. But then ADHD is more common now so maybe thats why FPS#7864234 is still selling. BDLA will get my pre-order if for no other reason than its different and I enjoyed Postal 1 which is certainly its spiritual forefather.

Cainekass29
Cainekass29

I cant wait to get my hands on this game!

Schillinger
Schillinger

Sounds interesting, hopefully the demo'll be fun!

Deagler_
Deagler_

lmao this game is messed up!

ChromeGrill212
ChromeGrill212

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