Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hallway of Adventures

It's been a little while since I have updated this blog, as this blog is no different than thousands of others that had their output diminish in a fairly predictable trickle. I wish I had more time to work on the game, but my job is absolutely killing me. This is by far the hardest I've ever worked in my life, which I say not to try to impress anyone, but because I feel it's noteworthy in why this game is taking so long to create. I love my job, but I need to get better at it so I can accomplish tasks in less time and get home earlier.

I've also had a recurring physical problem lately for the first time in my life: some kind of neck-tension-based headache. I really do live a charmed life and have had little wrong with my body in my time, but starting on many Friday nights I begin to get a throbbing pain in the back of my neck that continues through the weekend, only to die off when I get to work and back into my routine on Monday. It's bizarre, it might be a withdrawal from coffee, or relating to my shitty monitors at home, but there have been a few weekends in the last few months where I couldn't get any work done because of the annoyance of this. Tylenol laced with codeine helps, but those are supposed to be for Dayna's back, not my limp-wristed neck.

But the game is progressing. One of the things I am trying with Cryptozookeeper is using animatronics, robots, and mannequins for actors. My friend Randy (sometimes credited as "The Milker") has one such mannequin that looks a bit like Christopher Walken. I tapped this Walken-like guy to play a minor character in the game. I was rifling through Randy's on-line photo accounts to grab source material, and all was good. However, over the weekend I was helping him put together his studio one town over, and noticed that he had Walken bundled up for the season. He let me borrow him so I could take some more pics.

Working with a mannequin may seem like it could be a nest of problems, but honestly, with Photoshop and a few points of articulation it's not that bad. It beats trying to work with my brother on Fallacy of Dawn, for instance. I've used inanimate objects before, but to varying degrees of success: for instance, there is a scene in Necrotic Drift where a wraith appears. Gerrit Hamilton (who is playing the lead in CZK!) played a few parts in Necrotic Drift, one of which was the wraith. The puzzle eventually progresses into this scene:

Which, typical of everything I do in text games, was something I was very happy with at the time, but now makes me cringe with how thrown-together it is, looking back. Anyway, before the wraith gets into the jewelry store, I wanted to show it dissipating and reforming and getting all wraithy. I didn't have any pictures of Gerrit from the back, and although my camera had a timer, it was an enormous pain to set the thing up and adjust my position and tweak it until I got correct. Especially when there was a Silver Surfer toy near my desk at the time.

(It was this one, if you are curious.)

And the net result was this picture in Necrotic Drift:

I mention this not because it was some awesome special effect (it does look like a toy being posed from behind), but basically to demonstrate how CZK is a weeeee bit better in production values! Rather than an eight-inch plastic toy providing a body, I now have a six-foot mannequin doing the same!

But here is the thing - this requires putting it (the Christopher Walken-looking mannequin) someplace while all the photos get taken. Since I live with someone, it didn't take very long to figure out that someplace equals "downstairs." I have had the guy set up and assembled all day.

And each fucking time I pass him I have had the shit momentarily scared out of me, because of the life-size intruder in the den.

Seriously, check this shit out. This is what I see everytime I go upstairs for something:

And no matter how prepared I am for him being out there, I get the split-second mental alarm going off when I enter that room. This is how ridiculous it is: in uploading that photo, I saw that I had left my Tang on the Crystal Castles machine. I got up and went out to get it. Even then I had the microsecond-sized mental zinger of "OUTSIDER!!" go off.

So at any rate, that's what it's like to make text games around here.