I’ve been so busy with the videogame-making and occasionally -playing that I’ve been negligent in the videogame-promoting. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People has two episodes out for WiiWare and PC, and the second episode, “Strong Badia the Free” came out last Monday. As you might imagine, it’s a thoughtful and provocative examination of the political process and man’s cruelty to his fellow man.
It’s kind of a milestone for me, since it’s the first game I’ve been credited as a “director,” and the first game (not counting the Kim Possible playtest at Epcot) where I’ve been involved from initial story idea all the way to shipping. On the blog, I’m listed as “lead writer,” which is a little silly on these games. When you’re working with a couple of guys who can turn the boring line “Freedom!” into the actually-funny line “Sweet Recently Divorced Lady Freedom!” you quickly learn to just get the basics done and let the experts do their thing.
My capsule review (which is probably biased somewhat): it’s very good! I think it feels like an extended Homestar Runner toon (if not a sbemail) that you can wander around in, and it hits a pretty good balance between in-jokes and story. Plus, there’s a gag (a cutscene at the beginning of the last act) that I’ve wanted to see in a videogame ever since I was a freshman in college.
And one of my favorite things about episodic development is we can experiment with the story and puzzle structure, and come up with adventure game puzzles that play like minigames — Tic Tac Doom from the Sam & Max episode “Bright Side of the Moon” is still my favorite. There’s an extended one at the end of this episode that, whether it works or not (some people got what was going on right off the bat and liked it, some people absolutely hate it), makes me optimistic about our ability to change up the way these games work. Maybe we can slowly and gradually cram character development and storytelling into types of games that don’t normally have it.
Biggest lesson learned: The Algebros was way too much work for such a corny joke.