We recently caught up with Mark Darin, a designer at Telltale Games, to ask some questions about the first episode of SBCG4AP, Homestar Ruiner, which will be hitting WiiWare sometime soon.
WiiWare World: Plenty of mini-games were created for the Homestar Runner site already. Who came up with the idea to make a full-fledged game on a console?
Mark Darin: Most of the mini-games on the Homestarrunner.com site are really just jokes. Nostalgic references to the videogame era of the 80’s. What stood out to us were the characters themselves and the stories they would find themselves in on a weekly basis in the Homestarrunner.com cartoons. Homestar, Strong Bad and the rest of the cast were colorful, funny and wonderfully absurd… a perfect fit for the episodic storytelling that Telltale is known for!
WW: We know what the first episode will be about – Will the rest of the episodes continue where the first one ends, or will they all feature completely separate stories?
MD: We are approaching the storytelling almost like a sitcom. Each of the episodes are self-contained stories. You won't need to have played the first one to jump right in and be comfortable. But, like a sitcom, as you play more episodes, you’ll start to pick up on subtle character traits, running gags, and self-referential material that can really enhance the experience.
WW: Homestar Runner is the character the website was made for – Why did you decide to make a game featuring Strong Bad instead of Homestar?
MD: As Strong Bad himself exclaims on the website, “You don’t know it yet, but I’m the reason you’re here.” Strong Bad's crazy, self-centered, and mischievous antics are what really make the game (and the website) fun. Everybody wants to be the cool guy, and in the Homestar universe you just don't get any more awesome than Strong Bad.
WW: You’ve created two seasons of Sam & Max games, and the third season will start in the near future – How similar to the Sam & Max games will Strong Bad be?
MD: They are similar in the fact that they are both point & click style adventure games, and that they are both really funny. But they're funny in different ways. Strong Bad really has a style all his own. We have also made an effort to add more side activities to do in SBCG4AP, things that aren’t part of the story. Players can wander off at any time and just screw around. We have retro-style video games that Strong Bad can play, mini-quests, and even the ability to pull out your trusty Taranchula Black Metal Detector to search the environments for buried items!
WW: The game will feature all main characters. Will we also see some of the more popular minor characters, like Trogdor, Homsar and the past/future versions of the main characters?
MD: We are trying to squeeze in as many characters as we can that fit the stories we are writing. Don't be surprised if you see a few of fan favorites making cameo appearances in upcoming episodes.
WW: We’ve seen that the game will include some mini-games, such as Snake Boxer 5. Can we expect a lot of these, and is there a chance we might even see some games from the site?
MD: We’ll be including at least one of these retro style arcade games in each episode. We’ve decided against replicating the actual games from Homestarrunner.com within the game because... well... they're already on the website. Whether you have a Wii or a PC, these games are already pretty accessible and we felt that giving paying customers something they could play elsewhere for free would be a bit of a cop-out. We want to make sure to keep everything fresh and new!
WW: The Sam & Max games had loads of interactivity – Will there be tons of objects and characters to interact with here as well?
MD: I think on average we have a few more characters to interact with, but fewer objects in the environments. The Homestar Runner universe just isn't that dense. Early in the design phase we decided that if we started cluttering up the environments with items just so you'd have something to look at and interact with, it wouldn't feel like Homestar Runner anymore. Instead of junking up the world with stuff that didn't feel right, we took the route of including more side activities for the player to engage in.
WW: About how long would you say the first episode is?
MD: It usually takes me about 3 hours to play straight through an episode, and I know exactly what I am doing every time. That's without asking all the questions, taking the side quests, playing the mini-games and so on. The more you play and discover all the secrets and collectables (did I mention there are also achievements and hidden items to collect?!), the higher Strong Bad’s “awesomeness level" becomes. To max that out, you’ll probably end up having to play a lot longer. We made a conscious effort to make sure that the game doesn’t end just because you have completed the story.
WW: The Strong Bad section of the website has almost 200 emails now - How many emails will there be for Strong Bad to answer in the game?
MD: Not 200.
WW: Will some of Strong Bad’s emails feature Easter eggs, like on the website? (i.e. being able to click certain words to see secret clips or pictures?)
MD: Well, if we told you, it wouldn’t be an Easter egg!
WW: Do you have any other WiiWare releases in the pipeline?
MD: Not at the moment. We will be bringing Sam & Max to the Wii very soon, but it will be a retail release containing all six episodes of Season One... much too large for WiiWare!
WW: Will we finally figure out the mystery of how Strong Bad types with boxing gloves on?
MD: YES! …I mean no. No, you won’t. Sorry.