So what is it with February and King’s Quest games?
A couple weeks back, Episode 3 of “The Silver Lining” was released, and on the same day, Telltale Games buys up the rights to the “King’s Quest” franchise with plans to reboot the series in episodic format. So there’s two instances of KQ news right there.
Then on the 23rd, another independent fan community called AGD Interactive (responsible for creating the fan-remakes of KQ1, KQ2, and Quest for Glory 2) out and released their VGA remake of “King’s Quest 3.” For a game series that was otherwise considered dead back in 1995, we’re seeing a lot of life getting pumped into it this month.
I just playing the new KQ3 remake, and it’s pretty darn amazing. Back in the day, I remember this game driving me insane for having the most notorious opening puzzle ever, and it’s still as maddening as ever. The idea is that you’re a slave to a wizard, and that whenever he’s home, you have to do your chores and stay inconspicuous. But as soon as he goes on a trip, you have to escape the house, run around collecting ingredients, and use them to cast a spell to defeat him with. And you always had 20 minutes before he came home, in which time you’d have to hurry home and hide all your stuff. Then you’d have to wait for him to leave before continuing. It’s the same in the remake, except now you have about ten minutes, and the timer flashes yellow and red, adding to the panic of the situation. It’s pretty awesome. Not for the faint of heart or beginner adventure gamers.
On top of that, they’ve added several new puzzles, locations, and characters. So just when you think you know the original game well-enough to beat it, this one finds new ways to throw you for a loop.
It’s also very beautifully animated with a great soundtrack and semi-professional voice acting. Josh Mandel even returns to voice King Graham. And I can’t help but notice how the death music sounds suspiciously a lot like the theme to “Inspector Gadget.” Maybe it’s a coincidence, but either way it works.
I really have to hand it to AGDI – they know how to make games, and more importantly, they know how to finish them. I have to wonder what it is with the “King’s Quest” series and how KQ fan-games actually seem to get completed. Over the years, dozens of “Space Quest” projects started up, and they’re either all canceled or still in development. In any case, this is a good reminder to get my butt in gear.
Actually I just finished this last night, and for an episode where I thought I already knew all the puzzle solutions (thanks to the original build) I was surprised to find myself wandering the islands for six hours solving puzzles. It’s actually a really well done episode. The puzzles are tough and challenging, but not completely impossible since there’s always a clue somewhere to give me the hints I need. And to top things off, they’ve added this incredible action sequence/mini-game which wasn’t even in the build three months ago. I still call black magic on how they managed to put this together so fast considering how even a simple collision mesh used to provide them with months of technical bugs to iron out.
The story is still on par with the last two episodes, so expect the usual drama and lengthy conversations. Some love it, some hate it. Take it as you will. I ignored it after finding myself too preoccupied with the puzzle-solving.
As for yours truly, I left the team several months ago to work on my own games, but there’s still a lot of my lead animation in this chapter. And to top things off, I voice Stick-in-the-Mud (but they left out my musical number!)
What’s been bugging me about the show is the commitment these students show for this extracurricular activity of theirs. This isn’t some ordinary Glee club where students come in, practice some tunes, put on shows and earn a few extra credits. No, this is the Glee club from Hell where everything is life or death and they’re humiliated time and time again from their peers. No matter how much these kids love music, there’s no reason they have to submit themselves to this pain and misery every week and here’s why.
1. Mr. Schuester is insane.
I know the teacher’s quirks have been satirized to death here in season 2, but his problems are still worth repeating. The guy has terrible taste in music, he makes his students do horrible things, and he somehow favors inspiring his pupils with bad assignments over saving his own marriage. Seriously – the guy hears about Lady Gaga and decides all his students should spend the week rehearsing and singing Lady Gaga songs while in full costume. Even the guys. And this isn’t for an audience – he’s making them put on elaborate shows that only they themselves watch – either in the classroom or in an empty gym. To add to his insanity, his students later suggest they all sing Britney Spears and he suddenly becomes offended at the idea in spite of how hyped he was over Lady Gaga. Oh, right – and what about that time he blackmailed one of his students by planting marijuana in his locker? Did they ever follow up on that?
2. The Glee Club has Sue Sylvester as an enemy.
Sue is the school’s coach, and she has a notorious reputation for being the most evil woman on the planet (making her the best thing about the show, of course.) She’s attempted to fire children out of cannons and has already stolen Christmas – but she’s always at odds with the Glee club, sometimes over financial reasons, but mostly over personal issues. And when Sue starts storming the hallways attacking students and threatening legal action against any adult who tries to stop her, no amount of Broadway tunes is worth staying in that class for. Heck, I’d change schools if she even existed. She’s like Eric Cartman from “South Park,” and I don’t want to be around when she finally pulls a Scott Tenorman.
3. For that matter, the entire school hates Glee club.
What universe is this where an entire student body hates the idea of people singing songs? Sure, you can expect the football team to be bullies, but these Glee kids are terrorized and abused by every single person in this school. And the only way to get anyone to stop is to assimilate the bullies into Glee club somehow. It’s not worth it, people.
4. Everybody brings baggage to class.
And everybody’s baggage is controversial. Teen pregnancy, handicapped people, racism, religion – and of course, every other episode is centered around the victimized gay kid. The Glee club in this school is like the therapy group from Hell.
I’m surprised there isn’t a running gag in this show where Mr. Schuester walks into class and has to stop another student from strangling her to death.
6. Expenses. Lots of them.
The show often suggest that there’s virtually no budget for Glee club. Whatever budget there is most likely goes towards paying Mr. Schuester’s bills since the class often has to work harder just to afford bus trips to regionals. So where are they getting all the money for their costumes, instruments and dirt-bikes that they use to perform? All out of the students’ pockets. And like I mentioned before, these kids put on elaborate shows for no one in general. When one group of students dress up like Kiss for one number, that’s over a $1000 worth of costumes for about three minutes of singing in front of your friends.
7. Everyone in Glee Club likes Justin Bieber
That’s right. There’s already been a Justin Bieber episode. And it didn’t involve Bieber getting dragged behind a truck over a dirt road. No – it involved all the guys in class dressing up like Justin Bieber because “nobody rocks harder than him.” Then all the girls in class swoon at the guys like over-sexed twelve year-olds and my Facebook lights up with dozens of hate-filled status updates. Millions boycott the show in protest, and the kids in Glee club are left looking like little asses with their stupid Bieber hair, wondering where everything went wrong.
Don’t ask me why I’m still tuning in next week, though.
This just happens to be one of those weird dates I remember regarding my own work. At some point, I remember looking up the source files of the original Ducktalez cartoon to see when I’d made it and that date turned out to be February 14th, 2001. So I’m guessing on Valentine’s Day ten years ago, I randomly screamed into a microphone and spent an hour drawing Ducktales characters in MS Paint and testing out the animation on my Klik ‘n Play game engine – which is a weird thing to do on one of the few Valentine’s Days where I even had a girlfriend. But I think this is interesting because this also means that I’ve been an animator for ten years straight now.
Back to Ducktalez, it’s no major feat that in ten years, I’ve only been able to create five badly-animated episodes, so it’s nothing to write home about. But since this is my most popular series and people still send me e-mail about it, I figured I could post an image preview of Ducktalez 6 and provide some answers to frequently asked questions. I’ve taken a short break from “Incinerations” to get D6 out the door and here’s what I’m working on right now.
So yeah – as many have surmised from the teaser, Darkwing Duck is in this one. DZ6 is actually the third part in a four-episode story arc I’m planning right now. As I work on it, I’m finding it’s not my best work. It’s not the epic follow-up that people have been waiting for since DZ3, and it’s not going to challenge people to think sixth-dimensionally like DZ5 did. But at the same time, I think it’s still a necessary stepping stone in the series for the pay-off yet to come.
Anyway, here’s a few things to expect from it.
-The length of this cartoon will actually be closer to 20 minutes. That wasn’t intentional – I wanted 15 minutes tops just so I could fit it under YouTube’s length requirements. At the moment, I’m presently 6 minutes finished. I already cut out a lot of scenes and did some major editing to the script, but there’s no way to get it shorter. And the reason for this is:
-Lots of dialogue. Darkwing is a wordy guy. He has to be – he’s your classic in-the-shadow crime-fighter archetype. But when I have to build comedy around his over-the-top exposition, the minutes start packing on. I already cut out most of his Rorschach-style soliloquies, but otherwise, wordiness in this cartoon is just something I’ll have to bite the bullet on.
-Also don’t expect any super-fancy well-animated 3D characters this time around. There’s nobody new like Vegeta, Doctor Who, Buzzkill, or the T-Rex. I wanted to keep it on the ducks this time and build their world and characters just a little more. Besides, bad animation takes long enough to make as it is.
-We now have shadows and lighting. I figured you can’t do a Batman parody without shadows, so I made the city of St. Canard the only place in the Ducktalez neighborhood where things actually have shadows. It’s kind of tricky to do with these characters, but it’s been a fun challenge.
-There’s a musical number this time. I destroyed my throat recording it, along with any chance of me performing in that Ducktalez Broadway musical in the near future.
Also, sorry, but Scrooge still isn’t back yet. I know this is the major complaint I keep getting about my cartoons, but just hold out for a while – I’m going somewhere with this. It’ll be awesome. If it wasn’t awesome, I wouldn’t be so pumped to get started on “Ducktalez 7.”
All these years of watching the same reruns and seeing the same clips over and over again, and not once did I ever realize that we kept catching snippets of the same McBain movie. “Simpsons,” you’re the gift that keeps on giving.