Monolith was busy making its mark in the First Person Shooter genre. However, there was a collective of folks there who were passionate about other game genres as well. If you look at the games I’ve shipped, you can clearly see I was one of those people. 😉

Sanity was an action game with humor, puzzles, collectible cards, and tons of visual effects. These are all things that were right up my alley!

We had small teams back in the day at Monolith so it was common to wear multiple hats. As lead programmer and lead designer, my focus was on the game systems and user experience. I designed the talent and stat progression for the main character, all the boss encounters, and many of the puzzles. I wrote portions of the narrative, directed the design of most of the talents, and coded an interactive UI system that let you solve puzzles on small popup interfaces in the game.

Sanity was one of those projects where I would wake up in the morning and think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had <this thing> in the game?” and then by late afternoon I could have it in the game in prototype form to try out.

One of my favorite stories about Sanity’s development was how Ice-T became involved.

We were putting the finishing touches on the game and had just recorded the dialogue for all the characters. Then the head producer at Fox Interactive calls one afternoon and says, “So, one of the QA testers at Fox is in a band and he knows Ice-T. Evidently Ice-T loves video games and really digs the story of Sanity. We should see if we can get him as the main character.”

We already had a great voice actor for the main character and all the dialogue was recorded, but the prospect of having Ice-T as the main character got us pretty excited. I mean, he’s a famous rapper. That had to be good for the game, right?

Not even two weeks later, Ice-T had agreed to play the part. So I flew out with the lead artist to Ice-T’s mansion in Hollywood Hills to record him in his own private recording studio.

As Ice-T was giving us a tour of his beautiful home, we were walking down the stairs and he said, “Yo, all the white people, look to your left.” On the wall were graphic photos of slavery from the 17th and 18th century. We got very uncomfortable. Then he laughed and said, “I’m just playin’ with y’all.” which resulted in some awkward laughter from everyone else.

Ice-T’s recording studio was on the bottom floor of his home and it had a shark tank inside it.

Ice T’s Home Recording Studio

I had the pleasure of directing Ice-T on every line of dialogue. He was patient, responsive, and a ton of fun to work with. And evidently he got tired of having friends mooch snacks from his kitchen, so he installed a vending machine in his house just for them.

Sanity released in 2000 and received a 8.3 out of 10 from both IGN and GameSpy with the commentary“Monolith and Fox did a bang up job on the title, proving that a concept once thought to be totally impractical from technology and design standpoints wasn’t just possible, it was destined to be.” IGN [Sep 2000]

Here’s what I did on Gruntz.