My name is Shalom Mann, Studio Head for Sony Online Entertainment Los Angeles. You may not have heard of our small studio before, but we have produced more than 45 games for PCs and mobile phones, including Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile and God of War: Betrayal. For 2008, we’ve been hard at work on a few games for the PLAYSTATION Network. Today, we are happy to announce that our first game, JEOPARDY! will be released for the PSN on Thursday, September 11, 2008.
JEOPARDY!, as you may know, is one of the most popular game shows on television and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season. During my time here at SONY, I have had the good fortune to work on several games based on JEOPARDY!, including multiple versions for PCs and mobile phones, as well as skill-based and ITV versions. The PSN version, however, is easily the best looking and marks the first time we have been able to include real-time multiplayer capabilities.
While having multiplayer games was one of the key features we wanted to include, we also needed the game to look like the TV show. Everyone on our team worked on dual monitors, and it was common to see the TV show running on one monitor with the game engine or Maya on the other. Here are a couple of screen shots for comparison:
Some features of the game include:
- More than 2,500 clues and categories randomized for multiplayer games.
- Single-player games versus AI with three levels of difficulty (Average, Smart and Genius).
- Online and offline multiplayer games.
- Voice chat for online multiplayer games.
- Expansion packs with new content (coming in 2009).
During the course of production, we worked closely with the producers of the TV show to make sure that we could bring you a fun game that is true to the JEOPARDY! brand. However, I have already seen a few forum complaints in regards to the game trailer about the game being multiple choice. We made this design decision so that single-player and multiplayer games would have a quick pace to them. I have played the PS2 version of the game where players had to use the DualShock to type in responses. This input mechanism felt tedious in single-player games and would be just downright painful in multiplayer games. We looked into the idea of using voice recognition, which would have been a lot of fun. The PS3 has the power to do it, and we saw great middleware that would have made it all possible. However, we felt that by making the game require a Bluetooth headset, it would limit its accessibility. Maybe in the next version…
Also, I want to point out that the game does not give you the choices until after you buzz in. This means that players commit to dollar amounts upfront before getting a chance to see the responses. This adds a bit of risk to the game, and players who continually buzz in first, thinking it will be easy to select the right response, might find themselves in third place more often than other players.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great time playing JEOPARDY! on the PS3. I look forward to reading your comments (even the negative ones – well, maybe I do not look forward to them, but I certainly will read them) and will do my best to respond to frequently asked questions when I can.
PS – Wheel of Fortune is already in production. More on that coming soon ….