Sweet Recently Divorced Lady Freedom!

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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.

4 thoughts on “Sweet Recently Divorced Lady Freedom!”

  1. Oh, pray tell, what was the gag you’ve wanted to see in a video game since you were a freshman in college? The “Believe in Yourself” freeze-frame? Please tell me it was the “Believe in Yourself” freeze-frame.

  2. Fair enough, the Ken Burns stuff cracked me up. But it fit what was happening, plot-wise–the way you described it, I was looking for a joke that could really have been put in any game, at any time, as soon as you could convince other people it was a good idea. So you bided your time to use that joke until it was organically right for the story, huh? Or have you pitched that for other projects?

  3. Well, I think once something makes its way into being a setting in an Apple program, it’s gotten common enough you don’t have to squeeze it in. And one of the cool things about Telltale is you don’t have to do a lot of convincing. You can come up with a corny joke, and the artists and choreographers and sound guys will jump on board, to the point of composing & performing a violin piece for it.

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