A chat with Aaron Conners (June 2004) (Cubase) Edited version
June 26, 2004
A chat with Aaron Conners
June 26, 2004
(EDITED by DKBTF)
A chat with Aaron Conners (Saturday, Jun 26th 2004)
12:35:21 [AaronC] Glad to be here. Shall we get started Jim?
12:37:04 [JimTOG] AC-DL wants to know "what's been happening lately?"
12:38:24 [AaronC] ...Right now, CJ and I are in a bit of a holding pattern...We still have guys working on art and dev, but we're not sure about the immediate future..HOWEVER, we are fully committed to bringing Tex back in some form or another.
12:39:39 [Cubase] Question from earljw: Aaron, Have you ever written or considered writing anything in the Tex Murphy universe that was not centered around Tex?
12:39:58 [AaronC] Good question..I've thought about it, but it would only work if the center of Tex's universe (namely Tex) is moving forward. For now, I'm just focused on revealing more of our friend's many untold adventures!
That reminds me.....CJ and I have considered doing the "Adventures of Xavier Jones" should the right to the Tex Murphy intellectual property get too expensive. It would be fun to use Tex's universe with a different character and have Mr. Murphy pop up occasionally!Xavier Jones was Tex's former partner at the Dobbs Detective Agency.
12:45:29 [Cubase] Question from ChrisNFB: Not related to new game, but a question that I have been wondering about... Before the release of "Overseer" (about 4-6 monnths) I saw an ad for the new tex murphy game called "the Poisoned Pawn" I was just wondering what happened to that title?
12:45:51 [AaronC] Ah...the Poisoned Pawn fiasco..I've been lucky enough to get to name the last three Tex Murphy games, and it's something I always put a lot of thought and effort into.For what became Overseer, I wanted to use a chess term, since chess was the recurring motif.. When I came across the term "poisoned pawn", I was very excited, because it seemed to capture Tex's essence: the bait in a trap that must be sacrificed in order to win a greater victory. Well, that was our title and we made up graphics with it and started the ad campaign then, this woman in our marketing department - who functions remarkably well considering her two-digit IQ and small town hickness - thought the title was "Poisoned Pond"...I'm like, "What? You think we're making some type of eco-terror game?"but this stupid woman convinces everyone that the name is "too confusing".so CJ decides he wants to call the game "Overlord", which I think is not great, but whatever turns out there are tons of potential legal problems with that name. so CJ goes with a name that kind of sounds like Overlord, except (for me) it's a dumb title with clear overtones of slavery, etc...however, marketing LOVES the new title so I fought the good fight as long as I could and then had to give up. And there's the story of Poisoned Pawn. The End.
12:53:32 [Cubase] Question from JimTOG: Did the term Overseer apply directly to Gideon as the one who overseers the Overlord operation?
12:54:17 [AaronC] Well, there were a couple uses of the term, the first was the implant, which was referred to specifically as the Overseer implant - it enslaved its host and allowed others to "oversee" the activities and movements of the host. I think Gideon was the Overseer in a much more philosophical sense.
12:56:51 [Cubase] Question from Ripley (Yes, you PM good Rip!) Will the next one begin where Overseer left off?
12:57:32 [AaronC] We HAVE to pick up from the end of Overseer. In my mind, that was where the story of Tex's future would really BEGIN. I always considered Pandora to be the foundation for the Tex mythos and that the Trilogy would tell the "real" story.
12:59:12 [AaronC] *AHEM* I have a question for the group : What level of experience would you need to be satisfied with a new Tex product, in other words, how much would you enjoy a text adventure...or a new novel...or an interactive "audio-only" game (i.e. TMRT)? Please respond.
13:03:27 [AaronC] I know we'd all like to do a full-scale game with great graphics, multiple paths & endings, etc., but (as I'm sure most of you have noticed) there aren't many games like that coming out anymore. What I'm thinking about is creating a new type of game that I could produce mostly on my own. it would have puzzles, lots of interactivity, etc....and, of course, use those great voices but it would be cheap and easy to produce as a purely online game. I'm just curious whether or not this would be acceptable to you loyal fans, and/or have appeal to new players. <end>
13:06:29 [Cubase] Question from ChrisNFB: For a new tex adventure (now speaking if a game semmes most plausable after all....), which way are leaning graphicly, FMV or CG?
13:07:12 [AaronC] FMV or CG...that is the question...Whether 'tis nobler to film actors or sling them around (I'll stop now)..Actually, CJ and I believe that FMV is vital and should be used if at all possible. If we get enough funding to do a full-on game, I believe we would do our best to utilize FMV for conversations, but then use CGs for in the environments. <end>
13:09:34 [Cubase] Question from Blankman: Will the Tex Murphy Radio Theater be taken into consideration with this new game?
13:10:33 [AaronC] All the dream sequence stuff especially is very important to the backstory. <end>
13:11:18 [Cubase] question from demonlawye: If the next Tex installment isn't Chance etc, does it have a working title?
13:11:42 [AaronC] It depends...Here's one possible.We could create TWO different products - one, a full-scale game featuring Tex in one of his many as yet unpublicized adventures. while I would carry on the story of the trilogy with a series of smaller, more customized online games. How's that?
13:14:34 [Cubase] question from Ruri who has dinner stading by yummmm : What is your favourite place in Tex Murphy's world and why?
13:15:01 [AaronC] My favorite place is definitely the Brew & Stew. though I'm sure Chelsee's apartment could be a fun spot as well ;-) ,end>
13:16:33 [AaronC] I love greasy spoons and the men who run them.
13:16:26 [Cubase] question from JimTOG What, if anything, did you do for Cortina Entertainment?
13:17:38 [AaronC] Ah...the Cortina fiasco... After UKM, I had lots of job offers from new gaming companies but I didn't want to leave Access, who couldn't match the salaries I was being offered for that reason, they gave me permission to do some freelance work...I was wooed by Cortina Entertainment, who flew me down to LA to meet their team and discuss a project which they had gotten the rights to Humphrey Bogart for...Of course, having a virtual Bogie was a huge draw for me. So, we drew up contracts and I started to work on the story and design, but then a few months later, their financing fell through and the project never happened.
13:22:11 [Cubase] Question from Cubase: Drifting away from Tex if I may for the moment.... Aaron, in the Pandora novel, it says that you admit to loosing a good weekend every year reading the Lord of the Rings from start to finish. With the recent success of the films, what is your opinion on the transferral from text to screen for LOTR? …and do you still find time to read the story, or do you now have the films to keep you content?
13:23:25 [AaronC] I haven't read the books for a couple years now. I LOVED the movies and thought PJ did a brilliant job pulling off what I always thought would be an impossible feat. Personally, I liked FOTR the best. My only complaint was in the portrayal of Farmir , who was one of my favorite characters in the book. Other than that, everything was as good or better as I could have imagined.
13:28:53 [Cubase] Question from earljw How much planning do you do when you're writing? Do you plan everything up front, or fill in major plot chunks as you go? Do you find the outcomes sometimes surprise you at all?
13:30:00 [AaronC] In every brain test I've done, I come out equally left- and right-brained. so when I write, I have to start with an outline for structure, and then I put my creative hat. I like to think of it as creating a coloring book, and then getting out my crayons.
I need to know where the story is going and how it's going to end, though there are paths along the way that sometimes go in unexpected directions.
13:32:16 [Cubase] Question from Cubase (Still chewing): When writing the novels and producing the games, did you have any idea that they were going to create such a lasting impression on the users… seeing that some 6 years later, the community/fan base for Tex Murphy is still going strong?
13:32:58 [AaronC] Cubase, I had no idea we'd have any kind of lasting impact. back in the day, we were just happy to be doing something we loved - it was just a bonus that other people liked it. We really appreciate the fact you've all kept up your support over the years.
Honestly, that's why I want to do the online games. nowadays, it takes too damn long and too damn many people to get anything done. If I can control the development myself, I KNOW it'll get done and get done right.
Unfortunately, I'll have to charge all of you about $12,000 per game to make it profitable. ;-)
13:36:27 [Cubase] Question from JimTOG: On a personal note, when we invite you to a chat, do you feel as though you'll be tossed to the wolves?
13:37:37 [AaronC] Wolves? No. It's pretty cool. It reminds me a bit of how my dog Murphy wakes me up by jumping on me and licking my face. ;-)
13:38:36 [Cubase] Question from Ruri: Back to the games more specifically now: When covering places or concepts that exist in reality (e.g. Roswell) is it mainly through research or imagination that you form the idea of how it could be within Tex Murphy's world?
13:39:05 [AaronC] OK, Ruri: I haven't always been totally thorough researching actual places. one reason is that it's in the future, so many things could and would probably change for past places and events, however, I am a stickler for accuracte portrayal, so I research the shit out of it. All the Roswell stuff was accurate and documented (though probably by insane hillbillies).
13:42:21 [Cubase] Personally though, the Roswell part of Pandora really left a lasting impression on my fears of the dark.... have you even gotten the chance to play back your own creations... and do you get the same feeling?
13:43:24 [AaronC] We try to be as objective as possible, but it's very difficult to feel fear with your own creation. It's easy to see how it would creep people out, however, and we're very happy about that!
113:45:37 [Cubase] Question from JimTOG What's that crazy Doug Vandergrifter doing nowadays?
13:46:13 [AaronC] Doug? What a piece of work that guy is...Doug is still slaving away in the MS art department trenches, hoping he'll be struck by lightning so it'll all end quickly and as painlessly as possible.
13:49:15 [Cubase] question from Sowden1How are things progressing with Microsofts involvment with you, Chris Jones, and the rest of the cast about the awareness of Tex Murphy?
13:51:11 [AaronC] Sowden, things are in flux right now. CJ and I will know a lot more in the next few weeks as to our mutual futures. I wish I could say more, but it'll have to suffice for now. I promise to let everyone know what's up when I can.
13:49:15 [AaronC] Did I mention that Doug and Chris and I are in a band together? As for our band, CJ, Doug and Randall (who plays Louie) had a band years ago called the Consultants of Swing. Then, a couple years ago, CJ went to Disneyland, where he saw a Beatles tribute band that got the crowd all excited, so he decided that we should do the same. Now, we do covers of the Beatles and Beach Boys, and we're going to start doing other classic rock, such as the Kinks, Hollies, Who, etc...CJ is an awesome keyboardist, Doug plays bass, I play guitar and some keyboards, Jon Clark plays horns, and we have another guitarits and a drummer (who you don't know). We don't have a proper name, though I like to call us The Beatless. We all sing, though Chris mostly does backup.
13:56:18 [Cubase] Question from JimTOG: I remember seeing a reference to an older game, perhaps pre-Access, that you were working on. I'm sorry I can't think of the name, but, what DID you do before Tex?
13:58:11 [AaronC] I wasn't in the biz before Tex, so I'm not sure what you're referring to. I always had an interest in making games, though. One of the resons I got a chance to work with Chris is because I wrote interactive murder mysteries all through college, which I would host. I still hope to put the mysteries into an online game.
I had a blast doing UKM, but it was first experience, so I didn't really know what I was doing, and didn't really appreciate how cool the experience was... ...Pandora was really the pinnacle and I loved every minute...Overseer was different because the original story idea wasn't mine (though it was at least as much work to redo it), plus we had some creative differences between me, CJ and Adrian Carr as to the tone of the game, which caused a bit of tension..though I think Overseer turned out to be a great game, especially considering it was done in 9 months using an old storyline!
13:59:11 [Ruri] Oh what did you study at college? Multimedia?
14:03:26 [AaronC] Ruri, I went to college and got a degree in English Literature. <end>
14:03:34 [Cubase] Question from Ruben (from a while back sorry): Last time you had intention to do a demo to show some producers, did you do it?
14:04:26 [AaronC] Ruben, we're still working on the game demo and experimenting with a variety of game engines to see which one will work best with our design.
14:04:46 [Cubase] <b>question from Cubase,/b>: With more modern technologies in games nowadays, what sorts of games have really gained your attention and blown you away? Do you obtain inspiration from such advancements for your own projects or are things just moving too fast?
14:05:54 [AaronC] To be honest, I hate most new games. I was at E3 and it was severely disappointing....I think game creators have focused on utilizing technology and graphics to the exlusion of story and character. lately though, it seems like the technology curve has flattened out and users are not getting their fixes anymore..I think the web is where we'll start to see the level of creativity that I associate with the mid 1990s - back when you had to be creative because PCs weren't powerful enough to do the realistic stuff they're capable of today.. As for newer games, I liked Voodoo Vince.but there've been very few games that have caught my eye - and I'm not much of an RPG guy, though I do like the Ensemble "Age" games. <end>
14:11:30 [Cubase] Question from ChrisNFB: Speaking of new games and someone mentioned RPG's, Have you played "Conquer Online", and if u did, what do you think of it?
14:12:50 [AaronC] I haven't played Conquer Online. As I've said before, it seems ironic, but I really don't like to play computer games - I just like creating them! <end>
14:14:41 [Cubase] Question from Ruri What do you feel is the most unique or strong aspect to the Tex Murphy world or games?]
14:20:36 [AaronC] I'll answer Ruri's question...sting that our games aren't always at the very top of people's lists, but Tex is a CHARACTER that people always mention as one of their favorites. I think the major strength of our games is the characters, dialogue, and relationships. <end>
14:18:44 [Cubase] Question from Cubase: When producing the Tex Murphy radio theatre, of course the experience and methods would be quite different to writing a book or producing a game. Would you care to elaborate on this experience?... which reminds me... Frank is wondering if you need voice actors?
14:22:39 [AaronC] Now for Cubase's last question...I really liked writing the TMRT scripts - it WAS very different, but I enjoy trying new forms of writing. In fact, I liked it so much, that's why I've been working on this design for an audio-only game...I'm as curious as anyone to see how an "interactive"TMRT would be......As for needing voice actors, I don't think I need any, but I think it would be cool to have a prize be a cameo appearance in the audio game! <end>
14:26:25 [Cubase] from me again I have to ask this one, and I feel a bit embarrassed asking (don’t throw your tomatoes at me please!); did you get a chance to experience the ‘Lombard St’ radio theatre in full? If so, what were your impressions? …even with its bad character impressions and all =oP.
14:27:49 [AaronC] Cubase, CJ and I listened to the first couple episodes and found them incredibly clever and entertaining. I have to admit that I didn't keep up with it, but I admire the effort - It's obvious that everyone really enjoyed them.
14:29:12 [Cubase] LAST QUESTION from Jim Of all my fav characters in Overseer, including your great portrayal of...of...what's his name, I liked Delores Lightbody the best. What was it like working with Micala Nelligan? or Michael York for that matter?
14:30:29 [AaronC] Micala was absolutely hysterical. I knew the dialogue between Tex and Delores would be funny, but Micala took it to a whole new level...Michael York was, as you might imagine, an incredible class act - hearing him deliver the lines I wrote was a huge thrill and honor. I've never been particularly smitten with actors, but I have to say that the great ones, like Michael, Kevin McCarthy, Barry Corbin, etc. took characters that existed only in text and really brought them to life. I can't imagine any of the characters differently than how they were in the games. Adrian did a great job, but the really experienced actors didn't need that much direction.
114:35:50 [AaronC] OK, folks. I've got to hit the road. If anyone has unanswered questions, post them on the UTM site and I'll try to answer them eventually.
14:36:48 [AaronC] Thanks, everybody! See you next time!
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November 19, 2011