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GEX

GEX was one of those projects from Hell. When I was interviewing at Crystal I was told that Gex was to be the next Sonic. It was to be a huge hit, the newest mascot, one of those titles that inspires all kinds of merchandising like toys and cartoons, pens, pencils, notebooks, underroos, … Just go into your local Toys R Us and look at all the stuff with Sonic or Mario on it and you can see why I was very excited at the opportunity to work on such a product.

When I started on the project there were 4 people on the team. Mira Ross (Lead artist), Suzanne Dougherty (Artist), Lyle Hall (Producer) and myself (Lead Programmer). A few months later Justin Knorr was hired as Lead Designer.

The design to that point was heavily influenced by marketing. The game was about Gecko X, a Hollywood stuntman (stunt Gecko). The studio he worked for was in financial trouble and helping it fail were the enemies Karl Chameleon and his henchmen like Guido Gila. Each level would be themed around a Hollywood action movie genre. For example the Western. The level intro would show stock footage of old Hollywood western movies (for some reason marketing thought this was the greatest idea ever) and then the level would have Gex going through it doing "stunts". The better he did the more money the ‘Movie’ made and therefore the better the studio did.

One level was designed using that theme and it was just awful. One of the problems of choosing a real world theme like Western Cowboy Movie is that you can’t make any game play structure you want and still have it make any sense. For example you can’t have floating platforms in the sky in the a western style town because, well things don’t float in the sky in the old west. If on the otherhand you choose a make-believe or fantasy theme you can justify any structure you want because well it’s fantasy. For a platform character game, I believe this is a very important decision. Most of the best games in the category use a fantasy setting. Mario, Sonic even Earthworm Jim are in completely fantasy settings and therefore anything that appears in them needs no explanation.

Sooo, after seeing the Western Town level design I strongly suggested we change the design. One to get rid of the incredibly lame concepts of Stuntman/Hollywood Studio…. and the other to change to a fantasy setting where any idea we came up with would not need justification. The change was that Gex would get sucked into ‘TV Land’ run by some villain. A place where the villain could make anything happen. This villain had sucked in many other characters and Gex would rescue all of them while trying to escape himself. Gex would need to find TV remotes that would allow him to ‘change the channel’ (go to new levels) and in each world when Gex defeated a boss the boss would turn out to be someone that had been pulled into TV land against his will and then turned into this big boss by the main villain. This would give that character a chance to advance the story.

This new idea was quickly accepted by the team. The main character was named Rezull by Dan Arey and he had his video warriors (other characters that were made of TV static) We designed 6 worlds each with 3 sets of art. One example would be ‘horror world’ where we had a graveyard art set, a haunted house art set and a something we called a mode 2 art set. Mode 2 was supposed to be very similar to the Sega arcade games ‘Rail Chase’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ where the level proceeds into the screen instead of horizontally scrolling.

Mira had already been working on the graveyard art set and it became clear that 32bit art was a much harder process than 16bit art. Here’s an example why. On a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis, most side scrolling games use 1000 8×8 pixel cels or less. 1000 8×8 pixel cels all will fit on one 320×200 pixel screen. In other words, go into any paint program, make a 320×200 pixel document. Fill it with graphics. You’re done! You’ve just drawn all the graphics you can have in one level of a 16 bit game. Now go to a 32 bit system. We now have memory for 6 to 12 320×200 screens of graphics per level and we have a CD so we could have even more graphics per level if we loaded graphics from the CD or at least we could make each level use a different 6 screens of graphics.. In simple terms that means each level has at least 6 times the work of an 16bit level. The graphics for the first level of Gex had taken 2 months so far so we calculated it out. 6 worlds * 3 art sets * 2 months per art set = 36 months of art. It was Sept 93 and the company wanted the game done by June 94. That’s 9 months so 36 / 9 months = 4 artists. Plus we needed art for the main character and all the enemies and all the glue screens (title screen, options screen, ..) plus all the maps (6 world maps) plus the video (title, ending and other videos between levels to advance the story.) It was clear we needed a much larger team. Unfortunately the company didn’t want to hear it. They wanted a 32bit game that would be the next Sonic but they were not willing to put the resources into it that would be required to do it. They had come from a 16 bit world and still thought they only needed a 16bit size team.

Another problem was that the first two games, Crash N’ Burn and Total Eclipse, didn’t require large art teams. The reason is in the nature of their design. Take Total Eclipse, there are 5 outdoor art sets and 5 indoor (tunnel) art sets. An outdoor art set consists of 3 basic title types. Example: A snowy mountain range takes 1 tile that looks like snow, 1 tile that looks like dirt and one tile that looks like water (for lakes). A tile is 32×32 pixels. Then you have to make 9 tiles that form the transition between snow and dirt and the 9 tiles that make the transition from dirt to water and you’re done. That’s all you need for one level. Something that could be done in a couple of days. Of course you still have enemies, ships, glue screens, video and stuff like that but it’s clear that art for one level of Total Eclipse is vastly less art than one level of Gex. Crash N’ Burn has a similarly small art requirement per level. Therefore the company’s experience told them that two artists was enough for one game.

The company did start hiring a few more artists. They hired an paper animator and an inexperienced artist to work as a team to make the enemies. That went on for several months but it didn’t work out. Steve Kongsle (from Crash N’ Burn) was asked to do the main character and accepted. They contracted some artist from Hungary that also failed to produce any useable art. They contracted with Kirk Henderson who did work out (he did much of Planet X, all the Jungle, and all the world maps) By June we had decided to get rid of Mode 2 and make each world have only one art set so for example the Horror world dropped the Haunted House art set and became just the graveyard. Done by that time were the graveyard art set, cartoon and sci-fi and almost no enemies. It was around that time that Silicon Knights (creators of Legacy of Kain) were asked to do some enemies for Gex. They cranked out about 26 enemies in about 1 month. Also Steve Suhy was hired and was asked to do many of the enemies.

Since it was now June and the project was not even 50% finished, the company decided to cut the sci-fi levels since none had been done and since they didn’t like the art. That brought the game down to five worlds and they hoped would get the game done by Sept in time for Christmas. 3 Scriptors were added to the team to script (program) the enemies for the game. 3 more designers were added to help layout levels and one more programmer was added because until that time I was the only programmer on the team. One other programmer had been working on the level layout tool for the game but she was officially part of the tools department and not the Gex team. That changed when she got the tool working and she also became part of the programming team.

In September we didn’t have any sounds yet. We had some music and we had no voiceovers. The des
igners didn’t have any idea what a theme for a level was. Most of the levels they had built were huge and used as many different things they could cram into them. This is not good design and it also meant that the levels took too much memory or didn’t leave enough space for sounds so when sounds were finally added all the levels had to be redone to use a theme. Pick 2 or 3 enemies and theme the level around them.

By Winter of 95 it was clear there were still a few more months. The Lead Designer had basically tuned out and was only working 10 to 6 while the rest of the team worked 12 to 16 hour days. To save our sanity a few of us on the team decided to take the Sci-fi art that had been cut from the game and make secret levels. Danny Chan (programming) and Evan Wells (designer) did most of the work. We recruited several people not on the team to help make some of these new levels. Evan had programmed a shooter for his Senior project at Stanford (he was finishing his degree at Stanford and working on this nightmare project and competing in National gymnastics) and we decided to stick that shooter in the game as a bonus. Susan Michelle (scriptor) decided she wanted to make a simple game too so we put that in too. I recruited our music guy to make some music and asked on the net for some submissions. We also got some artwork off the net for backdrops and 3D models for the shooter. All of this was done in secret without the knowledge of the company, 3 of the 4 designers and the producer of the game. The problem was we needed these levels to be play tested and so we had to let playtesting in on what we had done. Eventually the rest of the company knew.

As for the ending. Originally the credits were supposed to have pictures of the team. Lyle Hall was put in charge of getting everything for the credits organized and after a month without getting them done Madeline (head of product development) ordered us to just put in text based credits. The ‘secret’ team had a great idea. We decided to make a special ending that if a player played all our secret sci-fi levels and then finished the game they’d get our special ending. Dan Arey wrote the ending text which you can see during the special ending. It’s about 7 minutes long. Then I scanned in a ton of paper art, sketches and storyboards from Mira and put them all in the game. About 7 minutes worth. I then got everybody to supply the pictures we had requested for the original credits and Mei yu put it all together into an ending that lasts almost 18 minutes!

This was also going to remain a secret but then something happened. Justin Knorr, the Lead Designer, who had been only working 10 to 6 came in one day and found that one of his levels had been edited without his permission. Since he didn’t usually show up on weekends and since we where trying to ship the game, someone was ordered to edit the level to fix a few problems and make it a little easier. Justin was very frustrated because many things that he had wanted in the game were getting cancelled so as to let the game ship sooner. This editing of his level was the final straw and so we went into his office and did a big no-no. A few days later his edits were discovered by playtest.

We had programmed the ability to put any message in the game just by placing a ‘question mark’ object and typing the text you want to appear. Also, we had a level select screen that selected from over 80 levels (even though there are only 28 real levels in the game). There was a cheat code that would get you to that level select screen. Justin put in one of his levels in the Kung Fu world a secret message that he hoped the company would not find. It told of the secret level select screen cheat code and asked the player to choose a certain level. That level was the original version of the same Kung Fu level with several parts that he was told to remove because they were buggy and it was decided to remove them and ship the game rather than try to fix them and delay the game even farther. (The game was 8-9 months late at this point). At the end of this level were 3 more messages. They said in so many words, something like. "Didn’t you think this level had some cool shit in it? This level was cut because the company didn’t put you, the customer, first but just wanted to make money. Call Madeline Canepa at 415-555-1212 and give her a piece of your mind and my mind too." It did have her real phone number. Well, playtest found the message and when it came out Justin was immediately fired because the company pointed out that Mitsushita (Panasonic) would not take kindly to finding such a message in a game they were going to bundle with the 3DO in Japan and America and that Justin’s action had not only personally upset people but had possibly threatened the company’s relationship with Panasonic.

Well at that point the company wanted to know what else was in the game that they didn’t know about so we decided that we had to show them the 18 minute ending incase they felt that something in it would upset Panasonic. Fortunately the really liked the long ending and so it remained in the game.

The game was finally released in mid March 95. Most of the people on the team were not happy with it. We had worked for 21 months of Hell with too few resources, too many things cut and all the other unforeseen problems that had plagued the product. But, the public and the press really liked the game and so I guess that made us feel alot better at all our hard work.

  • tt
  • parappa

    dude… I loved GEX.

  • dolittledi

    I'm a GEX lover too! But I need some helpful hints where do I find them? Please help me?

  • greggman
    Gex Hints

    Click here

  • anon_i_liek_gex
    oh yeah

    i loved the gex games I really thought they were fun.Gex himself rocked…..they should definately make a “nextgen” Gex game.

  • AnneXiety
    Meh.

    Yes, Crystal Dynamics should make a new Gex game, although, he is in Mad Dash Racing. I wonder if Greg has played any of the 3-D games..

    phoenix_kamikaze@hotmail.com

  • greggman
    Gex 2

    I played Gex 2 to the end.  It enjoyed it quite a bit.  I didn’t play Gex 3.

  • anon_DavidRiolaorg
    Finally finished Gex. Only took 8 years.

    I used to work for 3DO– in the garage next door to Crystal for a while.  I’ve owned Gex for years but, with work and kids and all, I never got around to finishing it.  My 6-year old son loves it and has been begging me to play it through.  So after many evenings of effort, I finally finally finished it, no cheating.  Great game.  I was cursing you for your cruelty at some spots though.  My son calls you “The Creator”.

  • anon_FollowerofGex
    Gex is my idle!

    I love the Gex series. I have all 3 versions for PlayStation as well as one of them for GameBoy Color, and have completely finished each one 100% through without cheating or any strategy guides. Gex 2 was my fave though, and I played that game 100% through from start to finish 4 times in a row. And to this day, everyone online knows me as Gex. ^_~ My senior year of high school (which was around the time Gex 3 came out I believe), there were a few people who called me Gex as well, lol.

    It would be awsome if eidos made a Gex game for the PS2… And what ever happened to Crystal Dynamics? Did they merge with Eidos Interactive? I still remember the sad day when I went to crystald.com and the page was down… then eventually it automatically forwarded you to eidosinteractive.com

  • anon_Ger
    I love Gex, too

    !!!!!!!!

  • anon_Clint
    Humor

    i only have 2 of the gex games,i like the first one the best,i just played it with my cousins and they really think it’s funny.i think they should make a Gex 4

  • anon_Clint
    DUDE

    yo i was wonderin’,on gex 1 what does gex say when he gets 2 the dome.it sounds like he says GOOD BYYYE,but makes it sound like music

  • Bianca
    A little help, please….

    Gex rocks, but i am having a bit of trouble locating some remotes in gex2. you know how when you first start the game and there are the 2 stages you can choose from… well it’s the scream tv one, how do u get the one from  ‘ ride the haunted elevator? ‘ does it have something to do with the picture with the thing that says ‘off’?  how do i activate this elevator?.  

    and do u know where all the hidden remotes are?

    and in gex3 how do you get the paw print in mission control? the one in the air.         

    thanks, Gex rocks and i hope there are many more gex games to come out on playstaion.

  • greggman
    Gex help

    http://www.gamefaqs.com

    They have pretty much everything.

  • AnneXiety
    Whee

    Who came up with the idea to have Dana Gould do random jokes?

  • greggman
    Dana Gould

    I don’t remember who’s idea that was.  First someone had the idea that Gex should do random jokes.  Then they searched for someone to do it.

  • kongorilla
    Gex Memories

    My recollection is that the powers at Crystal Dynamics and 3DO were constantly emphasizing that there had to be something “32bit” about the games we were making. It couldn’t be a platformer undistinguished from those you could play on, say, the SNES. Also, the character of our game had to have “attitude” (the dawn of this particular cliche, I’m afraid). The idea that Gex was a wise-cracking gecko seems a natural development of those two criteria. Who actually suggested the idea, I, like Gregg, don’t remember.

    I believe the casting of Dana Gould was suggested by the marketing person who was somewhat overseeing the project, Scott Steinberg. The team accepted the choice, though I don’t think Dana was anyone’s first choice or loved by everyone on the team. I don’t think any performer would have been unanimously agreed upon by this team of strongly individualistic artists (the most charitable way I can think of saying that).

    I believe someone at Crystal wrote a script that was “punched up” by Dana Gould and his friend/comedy writer Rob Cohen (Coen?)

    I’m depending on my faulty memory for all this, mind you.

    By the way, the original idea was that the camera would zoom in on Gex’s face when he was cracking-wise. Whether this was abandoned for technical, gameplay, scheduling problems, or all the above, I don’t remember. 

  • AnneXiety
    Wow.

    Thanks, Kongorilla and Gregg. Do either of you still have ties with Crystal D? Mad Dash Racing is odd..

  • anon_Anyone
    3dfx

    how can i play gex 3d without a 3dfx card?

  • anon_Lauraagexwantingperson
    I HaVe A Drean etc

    I loved the first 2nd and third Gex Games…i think you should start selling gex the first one cauz i’ve been looking through hell to find it and it just hasn’t happened…im so desperate for that  game…you seriously would have buyers if you sold it…id buy it…i been looking for a way to buy it over the internet and i just cant do it…im probably not looking hard enough but i love all the games you’ve ever created keep making them and start selling Gex please!!!

  • anon_Talker
    Download

    You can download it at http://free-game-downloads.mosw.com/search.php?s=gex 

     

  • http://games.greggman.com greggman
    Avoid it

    Not that Gex is the best game ever but the PC version of Gex is just bad.  Avoid it.  The best version is the 3DO version.  It has the Sci Fi levels and all the secrets.  The PS1 version is not bad (it runs at 60hz) but it’s also missing most of the secrets.

  • http://www.terariumas.tinkle.lt arnasZenkeviius
    I love Gex

    I like Crystal Dynamics games and Gex is best game of this company.

    I am Gex fan… from Lithuania…

  • dazzla
    gex 4

    will there ever be a gex 4 coz all the others rocked!

  • PorkPieMan
    Gex 4?

    I’m stuck here with my family, and I have with me a PS2 with relatively new games such as Onimusha 3, CY girls, splinter cell etc… etc…

    Here I am completely bored rigid!! With no games that I really REALLY wanna play! So I dug up all my old PS1 games! And found all my GEX games! And now I’m (once again) completely addicted to them!

    And the hole time I’m just thinking “dude! what about GEX 4″

    It’s just not right that there isn’t a GEX 4 on PS2!

    I mean, GEX has got a pretty large fanbase, I am I right?

    So, I’m sure it’d work well!

    PLEASE! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!

  • Gexzilla
    Gex 4!

    I hope someone makes a gex 4 because im a really big fan, i have 2 Xbox live gamertags dedicated to Gex. If this game is ever made then im definitely getting it. I have constantly talked about on xbox live and i have never herd a bad comment about the game, everything was positive. i think Gex could make a great come back.

  • GusScholtz
    Fricken Idiots.

    dude… that game was one of the best ideas and was a unique wonder…i cannot belive those idiots would not let you have all the stuff u needed i mean. it would have been the next Link…. a legend. mario and sonic are okay but if you had all the stuff it would have been a LINK. those idiots. if they were smart they would have put alot more effort in it.

  • http://brando16.uni.cc Brando16
    If Gex 4 comes, push for those resources!

    I feel the game could be a lot better if you guys had those resources…a lot of people would have liked better camera angles, and the option to turn off the commentary he gives out…it could use a little work too…

    Anyway, if you guys manage to come up with a Gex 4, I’m hoping it’ll be a lot better than 3…because I was a bit dissapointed with 3.

  • http://fanmade.emulationzone.org/manicteam Manic
    Gex 4…that reminds me…

    I heard from someone that Crystal D keep talking about ‘What if we did another Gex game’. I’d support it, if they cleaned up the mistakes that were from Gex 3 (Though one thing that I loved about the series was Dana Gould.)

    Also the theme for the levels were badass in my opinion ( The disco section in Gex 2 and the anime level in Gex 3 stand out in my opinion.)

    Game Designing as a hobby, I think that ‘Gex 4′, if such, should focus on developing the resources ahead of time, deal with all the legal shit, and then have someone design the tools and engine ahead of time to save time. (NSGS took me 11 months because due to circumstances, I had to re-develop some cutscene graphics.)

    Glad to know, I’m not the only person who ponders late at night about a Gex 4… ;P

    ~The Luminous Manic

  • mike
    OGHC Loves Gex

    Just thought you’d be amused to hear about one of your over-the-hill fans. Where are the geriatric gamers of Japan, and what do they play?

    http://oghc.blogspot.com/2005/07/grandmas-secret-stash-part-i.html

    Grandma got a kick out of this game. She laughed at all the jokes, she ate all the bugs, she got the innuendo. here’s an excerpt from the guide: “Gex […] is the best video game I have played and believe me, I’ve played them all…” Not bad for 1998.

    Most Grandma moment: “I’m a STORM TROOPER!! That’s great! …HA!! I’m on fire!! BURN ASSHOLE!!!”

  • BD
    Gex 64

    The only gex I played was Gex 64: Enter The Gecko, and I thought it was hilarious with all the Titanic, Bond, etcetera mockeries. It was very fun, and at least it was better than the platformer that had Sonic on the Sega Saturn ;) But seriously, the levels were so big, that even when it is no “Mario 64″, it certainly competes with Crash Bandicoot. Great game, great game.

  • Chris
    Gex: Make a sequel!!!

    I am Chris Davenport, I’m 13 years old and I come from the West Midlands. I thought it will be so cool if you released a sequel to the Gex series. I loved the games and I am missing it a lot because I have never heard about it for a long time. I loved playing Gex especially when I am playing all the bosses including Rez. It is just a great game and in fact brilliant in those days so it’ll be brilliant if you was thinking to continue the series. Gex 3D was my very first game on the Playstation and I was only young and I thought it was the best platformer I have ever really played. It has a nice storyline and has a lot of fun gameplay, pretty visuals and just hilarious quotes. It’s just my type of game and I have never really played any others previously which is as exciting. I do have an Xbox, X360, Gamecube, GBA, PC and a Nintendo DS. I bet you are thinking why haven’t I got the Sony Playstation and PS2? Well I had both but my PS was broken and I sold my PS2 for an X360 because the games coming out for it look not that good. I do have a few ideas for a new Gex game but even if you are not thinking of making a sequel I could share my ideas with you. Please Reply ’cause I’m Gex’s biggest fan. ^_^ 

  • Ryan
    Please make gex 4

    THe gex games are my favourate games of all time and I dug out my N64 yesterday and said to myself why didnt they make a gex4 and the I fired up my memory card and the game said there was no save data than i picked load (just incase) and it said would you like to load Gex4 and im like okayyyyyyy ill just load this pressed yes and all the tvs said boss names I went into the area were the first gate is and it was open but mushoopork was chanelZ i went in there my game froze up and all i could see was a huge rez i turned it off and thought im never gonna think that again but i might tell the publisher about it well back to the topic pleasse make gex 4 im dieing to see a new gex game.

  • Angelique

    I have been looking for the past 3 years for a copy of Gex mine got stolen

    where in Adelaide can I get a copy please help

     

  • randomDragon
    Sexiest Lizard

    I found a programm that makes Gex 3d playable on pcs without 3dfx. I played it a bit again after a long time. I love him and his sexy lizard shape. i´m not kidding when i say that Gex turns me on every time i see him!

  • GEXTOTHEMAX
    WOOT!!!!!

    Gex is the most AWESOME game ever! i don’t get why Crystal dynamics replaced him with a lame c-in-a-D logo!!!!! there should be a gex DS, a Gex 4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10!!!! he should have as many games as final fantasy!!!!!

    P.S. if anyone knows about a new gex game… POST IT!!!!!!!!

  • ric
    gex 4

     

          ano gex enter the gecko i think was the best game ever it captivated you it struck so many emotions like the cartoon levels made you happy and the scary tv was frightening what im asking is there going to be a gex on ps2 because there was a rumour in liverpool that a gex game was going to come out or be made for xbox and ps2 tell me if you know a web page on the new gex game

  • Gilian
    Gex and other games

    Hello! I’ve read your comments and wanted to add something about games. My favourite web-site is http://www.download-full-games.com/ and I advice you to visit this site.

  • Morton
    Gex fan

    I am a true fan of gex and i think its a classic gex has everything a great game needs action, suspence and a little slapstick violence and i love the music too. i just wish they would bring out a new gex game how cool would that be.

  • Morton
    good news

    good news everyone i finally managed to grab my self the first ever gex game for the ps1 i now have all 3 gex games

  • fletch
    you r nerds

    man u guys reali gota get a life, and start a free game website so wen im bord i can play them

  • enigma
    gex is great

    I got two and three, never seen one though anywhere.

  • Herabec

    I bought Gex 3 for the nintendo 64 and it is one of my favorite games of all time, although it wouldn’t share my memory card with any other games, if I tried to save any other files on it, it would delete them all. Ahh, the memories… I loved the remotes and Channels idea, very origional. It really is a Shame Gex didn’t become huge.

    I had toys I had named after him, infact, I even named my pet salamnder Gex…

  • eddiea

    hey, some dude is selling an original GEX pin on Ebay. If that’s possible, this thing is worth a mint!! He says they issued the pin for the first E3!

    man, wish i was around for that party…

    oh pleeeeez let me win this auction…

    eddie–

  • pooogen
    love love love

    what are you talking about LOVED i still love gexx favortie game eveaaa

  • BelgianBoy

    In the 90’s I bought a Panasonic 3DO only because of Gex!

    Even though it was a quite expensive hardware in europa, I don’t have any regrets at all!!

    What a great game it was (and still is I guess…)

    Nice job…

  • Sam26
    Gex 4 would be awsome

    Just on n64 it was huge imagine on next gen consoles. A next gen gex game would make the series much more popular and really make gex the next sonic. They should also make a gex ds, a port from the n64 and ps1 version.

  • Rez
    hey guys GEX what!

    Gex is the greatest

  • Kingpin
    Gex 4

    My informats say that gex is buying stocks in japan meaning that C.D. migt just bring back everyones fave trashtalking gecko

  • GexsNumberOneFan
    I wish to thank you

    I wish to thank you for getting through the pain to create that amazing game. I love to play GEX and it is my favorite of the series. You rule!