Chat With Aaron Conners on the UTM (July 2003) Edited version
July 14, 2003
Chat with Aaron Conners, Chris Jones & Doug vandegrift.
Session Start: Mon Jul 14 22:25:36 2003
(EDITED by Dkbtf )
<AC> So, James. I hope you've got some good questions for US...
<JLeMosy> "Us" you say? :)
<AC> Yes...US. I have a special guest with me...You may know him from such games as Mean Streets and Martin Mendorian.. ...also Under the Killing Moon...and the Pandora Detective.....It's the one, the only Tex Murphy -- Chris Jones!
<AC> CJ: Howdy yourself!
<AC> James, why don't we start with questions for CJ?
<JLeMosy> Here's one from Bjyman: Does his wife ever get jealous with the kissing scenes with Chelsee, Regan, and Sylvia?
<AC> It has happened on occasion...so I tell that I don't enjoy it!
<JLeMosy> I think that's the only question specifically for CJ. :) The rest are more general in nature.
<AC> OK. Chris will just help me answer the questions, then.
<JLeMosy> As we are coming along in the development of our online adventure witho our good friend Tex,
what more can you tell us about it since more has been developed since you could last tell us about it?
<AC> OK, Chris and I will try to give some info...first off, we're looking not only at online, but also the possibility of a stand-alone project..we're talking to a couple different sources about ways to get produced.and, most importantly, working on an incredible new story, which may very well outdo anything we've ever done before!
<JLeMosy> The first is theres a little in the ally behind rooks pawn shop where something wierd is happening, something tex doesnt even wanna know about, will we ever find out what it is?
<AC> Chris says that one was a personal favorite. whatever it is, it's probably still going on. BTW, Bjyman, happy Bastille Day!
<JLeMosy> Here we go from Crowley: Where does the chameleon's morphing ability originate from? A favorable mutation? (considering the timeline and the Chameleon's appearance, it seems that her mother might have actually been pregnant for him during WWIII)
<AC> ...Chris says: "Ancient Chinese secret"!..I think the best way to answer the question would be to contact Russell
<JLeMosy> trago's got one: is there a possibility of bringing back richie havens for the new game? i loved his work on the last two.
<AC> We hadn't really thought about it...but we'll see how it goes and get back to you. Unfortunately, right now we're looking at a C Movie budget (though the script will be nothing but A+, baby!). <eom>
<JLeMosy> grendeljen sez: I read earlier that you both were making a personal (which meant, your own cash) commitment to the project. If it's not too presumptious, how much are you backing yourself, and can we help?
<AC> You guys can help by keeping the buzz going, and (of course) getting as many people as possible
to support the game when it comes out...as to our personal investment, let's say it will be enough to get the ball rolling, but not enough to get it all the way to the pins.
<JLeMosy> Ruben's got one for Chris: With which register do you feel more confortable? Humorous, drama...
<AC> CJ: To be honest, I like the combination of both..pure slapstick wouldn't work, but humor and irony within a dramatic, quasi-realistic setting creates maximum impact.. it also makes Tex a more dimensional character, instead of a cardboard cutout (hopefully). <eom>
<AC> Can I add something?
<AC> I personally think scenes in TMO, such as the one with the Guard at L&O, were good examples of funniness and tense drama.
<JLeMosy> Next is Chris Bookless: if you do an internet-based and a stand alone version, will they be the same game/story, or will they be separate entities?
<AC> We think they would be separate entities, though we'd prefer to simply do a single, deluxe (as much as possible with a C Movie budget), stand-alone game..an online game is less intimate and should almost be designed as a group activity...the stand-alone is the more traditional mode and the one that we're obviously most comfortable with...I think we're looking at doing one or the other right now.
<JLeMosy> Mr. Bookless has a follow-up: how much has the story changed from what you were planning to do before ms bought out access?
<AC> That's a good question...As I've said before, we've put a tremendous amount of work into "The Trilogy"....We have also done work on another story line...which Chris and I are growing increasingly giddy about...and we have recently decided to carry the story forward in a slightly different direction, picking up from the current end of the Tex Murphy Radio Theater...None of the original story will change, but there will be new and exciting elements introduced.. We will let you know when the story is ready to resume -- and it will be sooner rather than later.
<AC> BTW, ROOK GARNER just stopped by and says:
<AC> Rook: "Hey...back at you, you f****ers"~
<AC> Any questions for Rook?
<GK> Rook, are you like Rook (in the game) what parts do you use in the game that are really you?
<AC> Well, Doug has played a wide variety of characters.....including Beek, Bosworth Clark, Sal Bando..he's also a very talented artist!
<JLeMosy> Okay, Gary Sogar asks:(and this one sounds a little philosophical to me) What has caused the sudden, positive change in Tex's future?
<AC> CJ SAYS: Well, there are signs that the Adventure Genre was only mostly dead, not all the way
dead.. and there are now opportunities and avenues that were not open to us over the past few years...
plus, we've been working on s**t we couldn't care less about for so long, we'll do damn near anything to go back to doing what we're good at and what we love! <eom>
<JLeMosy> Chris Marsland wants to know: Last time you spoke to us, you told us the brand of trench coat Chris wears in the games, and said you would get back to us on the brand of fedora, so if one of you could remember I'd be happy. :)
<AC> Trench coat is London Fog. Sorry, we forgot to check the Fedora brand. I'll try to remember to look under the brim when I get home tonight.
<JLeMosy> Another clothing-related question from grendeljen: "and please take this in the fun spirit in which it is meant..... Boxers or briefs? 8)
<AC> Let's just say...boxer-esque. Chris changes underwear, depending on the role. And Tex doesn't wear UNDERWEAR, he wears UNDERPANTS!
<JLeMosy> Ruben's got another one:Is the new story going to have any guest star?
<AC> First off, I love Reubens...especially if the corned beef is nice and rare.....as for potential guest stars, it's a little early...however, we're talking to Sandra Bullock and Freddie Prinze, Jr...but are still waiting for confirmation...
<AC> ...I can say that we'll definitely have some cameos from a few characters from the past games.
<JLeMosy> Susan Harris asks: Is it possible to have my Tex Murphy books autographed by Aaron Conners and Chris Jones?
<AC> It's possible. Actually, I'm sure we could set up something with Mssr. LeMosy. <eom>
<JLeMosy> Yes... it could be... arranged. (trying to sound intriguing and shifty)Email 'em to me, Salsa :)
<AC> Chris will only sign briefs with his "special symbol".
<GarySogar> Because he's a private dick?
<AC> Touche, Gary!
<JLeMosy> Ryan Patton, comin' at ya': CJ/AC how did you guys get the surprising annoucement to us all that TM may come back to our PC screen? Did someone higher up tell you about it or what?
<AC> OK! Back to business!.....the new Tex project has not been christened by "higher-ups"...this is purely a labor of love by Chris, me, Doug, and hopefully a few others to get back to what we really want to do.we will need financial assistance from another source in order to fulfill our vision, but we feel the opportunity is there. <eom>
<AC> That's one way to look at it.
<JLeMosy> Todd Athorp asks: A message board post mentioned the possibility of a 'prequel' novel. Without giving too much away, could you please elaborate? Is this for setting up the new game, pre-TPD, pre-UAKM?
<AC> CJ and I talking about story development, not just for the current story but for past and present issues. As soon as we make a firm decision, I will post a message, I promise.
<Crowley> Arrogantly bypassing James: who are your and Chris' favourite comedians? (I'm guessing Peter
Sellers is one)
<AC> James: Chris wants to answer the comedians question...Chris really likes Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, MST guys, and William Powell.. ...Doug likes Chaplin (Charlie, not Oona), Shemp Howard....Aaron likes Larry Miller, Dennis Miller, Ann Miller, and Miller Genuine Draft. Well, of course, we love Monty Python and the Marx Brothers...we just that would go without saying, which is why we didn't...
<JLeMosy> Crowley's got another one:Here we go : In the last three Tex Murphy games the death scenes have been rather non-explicit, downright boring, unlike for example Amazon and Martian, Memorandum. What is the reason for not showing or describing the dozens of ways for Tex to die?
<AC> CHRIS SAYS: You're dealing with ESRB ratings - push it too hard and you'll get a Mature rating, and we didn't think it was enough of a justification...don't get us wrong, though, we love the gross death scenes.
<JLeMosy> Did you two ever argue about the story, gameplay or anything?
<AC> Constantly...actually, we find that an open exchange of whoopin' and a-hollerin' creates a vibrant, creative
environment....I would say that we each concede about the same amount and are usually able to find a workable
compromise...it's a great working relationship.
<AC> James, next up? Got something for Rook? He's starting to nod off...
<JLeMosy> Gary Sogar again: You mentioned on the bboard how may units you would need to sell. How many did UAKM, Pandora, and Overseer sell?
<AC> CHRIS SAYS: UKM did about 350,000 world-wide.....Pandora did about 120,000 world-wide.....TMO doesn't really count. For a full explanation, write to Intel and ask "What the Hell...?!"...
UKM had the advantage of a delayed release and a lot of Hollywood-related publicity. Pandora came out with very little fanfare.
<JLeMosy> To Doug/Rook, From Ruben: Which character you´ve played you like most? Is much of Rook on you? or maybe of Beeks?
<AC> DOUG: Hi Rube....I had just finished playing Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, so there's a lot of Scrooge in Rook...My favorite character was Sal lucido, because I got to play Twister with a hardbody chick...The character most like me is the original Larry Hammond in MM (with two heads).
<JLeMosy> From Ryan, to Rook: Rook, what your biggest accomplish in life?
<AC> DOUG SAYS: His greatest accomplishment was when I beat Randall (Louie) in bowling.
<JLeMosy> Jason Henderson's inquiring mind wants to know:Hey Chris, I'm an amateur actor, if you need voices or live actors for the new tex project, I'll do it for free, could I please? PS would you do an answering machine message for me? I'll pay $5.00 American Dollars. :)
<AC> How about this...as a fund raiser, everyone who would like a Tex Murphy answering machine message can pay James $10.00 and submit a message of 30-40 words ...I'll get Chris to record each message, send it to James, who will then forward it back.. How's that?
<JLeMosy> What, really? :)
<AC> You'd have to write your own message, and I think we'd need to restrict it to the first 20 or so people to send in their donation.
<AC> Hey, Money Talks. Gary, I say we call it Tex Messaging.
<AC> BTW, Chris and Doug says SO LONG!
<JLeMosy> Thanks for stopping by and hanging out Anyway... Ryan asks: How is the pre-game in production development shaping up at this point you and CJ with staff? What are some of the things your working on now? Are you going to show us an artwork preview or
<AC> Right now, Chris and I are focused exclusively on the story.. as usual, it's a sprawling epic, a rich tapestry of sex, food, and locked doors...I'm writing a treatment of the story arc, from which Chris will begin to cull a list of characters and locations...while I work on a plan to continue Radio Theater as a stopgap measure (purely a rumor at this point ;-)....I'll then start on writing interactive conversations, cut scenes, Tex VOs, etc.
<JLeMosy> Crowley asks: Does the chess setting in the end of Overseer come from some fabled chess match?
<AC> Actually, I spent a lot of time on that puzzle. It was the best way I could find to get checkmate after being overwhelmingly outmatched and in danger being checkmated yourself with any single wrong move.
<ChrisMarsland> Great work on all the puzzles I must say... except i did find the inplant removal from
the brain abit tedious :)
<AC> Yah. CJ came up with that one.
<Bjyman> Yeah and that Game Players mode bug never did get fixed
<AC> Yah. That was CJ's fault too. I'm glad he left.
<Jim> Any new target date for a release?
<AC> Right now, we're aiming for a playable prototype, a complete script, and a full game design by January 1. IF we get funding, we're confident we could have a release in time for Christmas shopping next year.
<ChrisMarsland> Where exactly are you guys chatting from Aaron? Microsoft office, or your house?
<AC> I'm chatting from a luxurious escape pod, floating over the Great Salt Lake.
<JLeMosy> I would like to ask Aaron what his beef is with Intel.
<AC> Long story. But..CJ and I were well into the design of "Trance" when Intel approached us about doing a small game to bundle with their new computer. .they promised to fund our new project, but it would have to done in 9 months (start to finish)...as most of you know, that's not nearly enough time to do a full game...anyway, we took the bait and did Overseer -- Chris thought it would be easier to retell a story than create one from scratch, though we pretty much rewrote the whole thing anyway.. so we ended up doing this game to feature new DVD technology, but the technology didn't work right, so we get lambasted.. and then Intel changed its marketing strategy and ended up not bundling Overseer with their computers...we scrambled to make Overseer a decent game and released it, but it was an uphill battle from Day 1. we didn't lose any money on the project, but our numbers looked terrible (especially for those who compared TMO straight across with Pandora and UKM). .and with the sales numbers looking like a spiral jetty into oblivion, it's been impossible to get anyone to believe that a new Tex game would sell. There's the whole story in a nutshell. It's all about the numbers. Don't blame Intel. It certainly wasn't intentional on their part. It was just a bad situation all the way around...luckily, like disco, I think the Adventure genre has come full circle. And we're gonna boogie on down!
<JLeMosy> From Jason Henderson: Since the Tex Novels are hard to find (I have The Pandora Directive - awesome - simply awesome work.) If we held a Tex convention (Theoretically) could you sit down and read them to us like
children at story time, or better yet get the gang and read them together?
<AC> That would be really fun, Jason...then we could all have snacks and take a nap...seriously though, it's great to hear that you liked the novel...I really hope I can write some more one of these days.
<FredBuer2> I didn't get a chance to mail James with a Q, I'll just ask while I have the chance: As things stand, would it be impossible to do any future Tex games in FMV?
<AC> FMV is not impossible, but it is expensive...it's also time-intensive... CJ and I have done a bunch of research, and we're convinced that rendered characters can look good
enough, and that as long as we have the original voices (and dialogue, story, etc.), we'll be able to pull it off. And let's be honest, Tex & friends aren't getting any younger!
<JLeMosy> Jen's got one:a bit of a wierd question, but was crazy Gary modeled after someone local in SL Utah?
<AC> Crazy Gary is my personal personification of religious zeal and we've got plenty of that around these parts. Don't get me wrong, There's nothing wrong with religion per se. I'm just uncomortable with zealots (of every kind).
<JLeMosy> "basti" asks: Who makes the music for the new Tex episodes on the web? Will it be the same midi music we know from UAKM and Pandora?
<AC> Jon Clark is our sound wizard, and he pieced together the soundtrack from Matt Heider's excellent
score. With any luck, we'll have Matt join us for our future endeavors. <eom>
<AC> My Featured Screenshot is of Wanda Peck. What a hottie! Too bad our explicit love scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
<JLeMosy> When all is said and done, how do you want the whole Tex saga to be remembered?
<AC> An excellent question, James. Well worth the wait!
[AC clears throat solemnly...]
Let's consider three possible scenarios :
#1: Tex has gone to the Big P.I. in the Sky....if so, we had a great time, we did the best we could, and we're glad we could entertain a bunch of folks.....we also met some loyal supporters and it's meant a lot to us that you'd still keep the home fires burning even after all these years...In the scenario, we would at least give everyone a final series of Radio Theater to wrap things up...
..#2: Tex gets one last hurrah, we'll give you all one hell of a story even though it might not cover all of Tex's fabulous adventures (and there are many still untold!)..it would be a great way to ride off into the sunset...
#3: The new game is a big success and the Tex franchise rises from the ashes...
...then it's off to the Trilogy and the adventure we've waited 6 years to tell!....As for the legacy of Tex, regardless of how it plays out, I hope people will think of us the way I think of the LOTR books, Casablanca, and the Beatles' Revolver album -- great pieces of entertainment that I can always go back to and find a warm fuzzy....
<AC> Thank YOU guys! Au revoir, folks.
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November 19, 2011