Chat With Aaron Conners (UTM) (April 2003) Edited version
April 19, 2003
Chat With Aaron Conners
Session Start: Sat Apr 19 13:10:09 2003
(EDITED by DKBTF)
<AC> Howdy, folks!
<Ruben> Hi!!<Ro> Howdy!<Bjyman> Hi Aaron<Sowden> hey Aaron <Nikolai> Hello <RyanPatton> Glad to see you make it, Aaron:) <Frank> Hey Ma', look who's here <grendeljen> hi <tathorp> Hi Aaron! <Ro> Aaron: it's an honor!
<AC> These greetings remind me of writing golfer dialogue -- 100 ways to say "good shot"...So, James, you want to get us started?
<JLeMosy> Absolutely! First off, on behalf of everyone, I'd like to thank you for agreeing to this, Aaron.
<AC> My pleasure.
<JLeMosy> And, without further ado, the first question comes from "ripley":My 2-part question:1° Will the next episode continue from the horrible ending in Overseer?
2°Is there a possible continue online? Or boxed for purchase?
<AC> I think the odds of us releasing SOMETHING is very good... ...whether or not it's a continuing online game, or just a one-time thing, I can't predict...but I would put the odds of us doing a full online game through MS is probably a little over 50% right now... ...and if we do an online game, I think we would offer a "boxed" edition with all the episodes after it's all been released.
<JLeMosy> Samantha Kujala asks:You've said before the reason that you gave Tex an ex-wife in UKAM was because you were recently divorced at the time. Was the Sylvia in UKAM based on your ex-wife? I know later on you changed the actress and character of Sylvia in Overseer. I'm just curious if that first Sylvia bears any resemblance to your own ex-wife or if she's just a figment of your imagination.
<AC> Good one! My ex-wife and Sylvia had very little in common, but my and Tex's handling of the divorce were very similar...CJ had already introduced Sylvia Linsky in Mean Streets, and I was trying to incorporate as many characters from MS and MM as possible...so she was a logical choice. Honestly though, it was quite therapeutic to have Tex verbalize all the things I would have liked to say to my ex!
<JLeMosy> From Nikolai:Has there been any change of status in the Tex Murphy world in the past 6 months or so regarding the possibility of a new game? If Microsoft is NOT interested in pursuing Tex Murphy, could you guys buy the rights back? If you buy the rights back could you then afford, without Microsoft's funding, to make a new Tex Murphy game?
<AC> First off, MS will never sell back the TM rights......there's no reason for them to -- it's not costing them anything to keep the rights and who knows? So we're a bit screwed there...HOWEVER, CJ thinks that we could license the rights for cheap....so it wouldn't be prohibitive regardless of whether we go through MS, someone else, or do it ourselves.
<JLeMosy> Okay, our next question is from TAthorp: A lot of us have not, for one reason or another, been able read the novelizations of "UAKM" and "TPD" as they are extremely hard to come by. Are there any plans to re-release these in either print or e-book format, or even as part of the online game subscription model?
<AC> That's a question I'd like answered myself... ...I've tried repeatedly to find a contact at Prima who could tell me what would be involved in buying back the rights......For those who don't know, the TM novels were part of the short-lived Fiction line at Prima......but, apparently, they were only books that sold, so the line was discontinued right after the UKM novel was released......that's why the UKM novel is so much harder to find that PD......I fully intend to buy the rights back (if possible and/or affordable), and then re-release them (with extra goodies, of course) ...I'll keep everyone updated at UTM. <eom>
<JLeMosy> Next up is jen: When did you guys decide that Tex Murphy had to continue, with or without MS? Would consider self publishing Trance or Polarity if the MS thing doesn't go through?
<AC> I remember sitting in a bar in NYC with Adrian Carr a few years ago and telling him the story of the Trilogy.....he gazed at me, mesmerized, as I droned on for probably two hours......when I was done, he said: "F*** computer games, mate! Let's do these as movies!" ...Right then, I knew I had a story that I needed to tell -- with or without MS...And I think they'd make fabulous novels, as well. Who knows? Maybe I'll plan on doing the novels irrespective of what happens (since novels are my true love)!
<JLeMosy> "Bjyman" Blair asks: What does Fitzpatrick mean when he says "Who are you Tex?" in the spacecraft?How many times do you think you'll be able to have Chandler Ave. in any upcoming Tex games? I image in must be hard to make new areas to explore before it gets old since it is the exact same thing.
<AC> OK -- first question: That line spoken by Fitzpatrick was a request from Kevin McCarthy himself... ...he was an amazing actor to work with -- always exploring his character and the dialogue.....he felt that Tex had a secret self, much like Fitz, and that he hadn't revealed it to anyone yet ...Chris and I went, "Uh...OK" and we put it in. After we finished, I thought "That's a nice little addition -- mysterious and yet apt".
Wait! The second question! Chandler Avenue is going to get a full treatment in our new story for the online game. Do you want some details? Or should I leave it up to speculation?
<Bjyman> I'd like some details <Sowden> hints <JLeMosy> Show of hands... :) <Ruben> Details!!<RyanPatton> give us some details but no spoiler for now...:) <grendeljen> me! <daveman> Yes!!! <Nikolai> definitely something to wet our appetites <Jack_Apfelgebaeck> Absolutely!<TAthorp> details.....please......feeling withdrawal symptoms
<AC> OK. It involves a mysterious, long-time lodger at the Ritz Hotel....Rook plays a major role in kicking off the story...and Chelsee is the key to solving the first episode ...We're not sure how much 3D freedom we'll have, but we'll definitely make use of Chandler Avenue, one place in particular...the abandoned Bijou Theatre (!)
<JLeMosy> "EdwardDM10@aol.com" asks: If M$ offered you a chance to make a new Tex game, but insisted that the
characters had to be computer generated rather than FMV would you do it?
<AC> In a heartbeat... ...First off, the technology has gotten MUCH better......secondly, getting a foot in the door is more important than almost anything -- I'm convinced that anyone who actually PLAYS a Tex game will see that it could be very successful...FMV would probably always be my first choice, but programs like Poser make the characters and lip-synching much less resource-intensive.. which would be vital for a low-cost production like we'll need.
<JLeMosy> From Jack Apfelgebaeck: One simple (?) question: how is Chelsee and will we be seeing / hearing from here in the new game(s)
<AC> She's doing great. We talk to her every so often (but not since the Radio Theater) -- she's always checking in to see when Chelsee will reappear!......As for the new game, we'll get to see some really cool stuff with Chelsee that predates what we already know.
<JLeMosy> Ruben asks: Will the interactive game be more focused on humor (as UaKM), adventure (PD) or drama (TMO)? How is the development of the game in this moment? When will the game take place in the Tex timeline?
<AC> Big questions! First, it will definitely be more like PD than the others...UKM was great at the time, but certainly a comedy......TMO went a bit too dramatic (in places) for my taste -- I use the Indiana Jones movies as my gauge for the drama/comedy mix... ...The development is still at the design and scripting phase right now...We have artists doing preliminary work on rooms and characters, but they're waiting for me and Chris to lock down the design & story......I hope to have at least partial production later this month with a goal of having a demo to show MS in late May... As for the timeline, I'll give you a hint: July 14 (think of it as a puzzle -- a prize to whoever can figure it out)...
<Bjyman> July 14th was Bastielle Day. There was a refence to a Bastielle Day party in Overseer. <AC> Nice work, Bjyman!<Frank> lol Blair, you had some illumination <Bjyman> thanks.yep. just checked on Yahoo <SamSpade> what is it Bastielle Day?<Bjyman> France's version of Independence day <SamSpade> thanks
<JLeMosy> This next question follows up on the change of tone from UAKM to Pandora...From our own Valynis: My question is: What prompted this change of tone? Was it the natural progression of the character? Of your writing? Was it the general mood swing the adventure gaming world seemed to experience at that time?
<AC> Great observations, Valynis. I would say all of the above, to varying degrees... UKM was my first real writing gig, so there was a certain amount of amateurishness to it...there was also a lot of hysterical shit that I have no recollection of ever thinking, much less writing......We have to remember this was the era of Leisure Suit Larry...the fact that we included Nazi mysticism and Eugenics was pretty high-minded for the time......so I would say that UKM was a necessary evolutionary step for us, which we then leapt from to Pandora.
<JLeMosy> This next one's from Ryan Patton: Aaron, what is yourself, Chris, and crew helping you on to get started in production, to have the main focused to finish on the social consequences fixes, problems, etc. first, then story, game play, important potentials contemporary developments in Tex online game “demo”, designs stages, particularly interactive stories you ALL working on to provide into production stages before it release to us to play the Tex Murphy online game?
<AC> Ryan, let me answer both questions as best I can ...The design is going to be a scaled-back version of past Tex games...this includes room searches, interactive conversations, Tex voice-overs, etc.......some things that we're not sure about will be large explorable areas (such as Chandler Ave., Roswell, etc.)......I've already stated that we'll almost certainly use Poser characters......and, from a macro design standpoint, we're planning on stressing storytelling and pacing over methodical gameplay and exploration....Between us, doing a serialized game would allow us to start in a more user-friendly way -- less gameplay, more story -- and then, as people get accustomed to how it works, start to increase the gameplay/story ratio more toward the balance in PD...as for the technology, we're looking at using Poser, 3D Max, Macromedia Director, etc. Nothing too sci-fi, just relying on good artists and programmers to take our world-class design and script and make it a Tex game!
<JLeMosy> Next up is Frank: I'd like to know what they're up to now, with MS and all, and if they have recent news of either Adrian, Susan or the others. I'm not sure if I should ask the second question, but it's been bugging me for quite a long deal now. I can't help but wonder if they got into trouble, or if they got annoyed or bothered by the fact that we (especially I) got to get in touch with Ed Fries over a year ago. It's not that I'm paranoid, but each time the subject gets on the table Aaron changes his tone a bit. Especially last time, when he told some people to do anything but petition or pester MS about it. I'd hate to know that I'd caused any trouble, especially after all the trouble I had to get in touch with Fries. I leave it to your discretion whether it should be asked or not.;) okay well I'm off. Lookin forward to hearing what'll happen to Tex. AC I thank you for makin me smile.
<AC> OK, Frank: Let's put this Ed Fries issue to bed! Way back when when I first met Ed Fries, he said he'd heard great things about Tex Murphy, but that he'd never taken the time to play the games......we thought that we could "encourage" him to play the games if he got enough "testimonials"......unfortunately, he had the opposite reaction......he went to the new head of "Salt Lake Games" and said "What's up with all these e-mails"?.....and the new head (who isn't a big supporter of Tex -- envious, I think, because he didn't get to work with us on the games!), basically forwarded Ed's messages back to me and Chris. Now what the hell are Chris and I supposed to do the messages?!.....So that's when we called off the dogs, so to speak...Since then, there's been no more public talk with Ed or the Studio Head about Tex -- we've kept all our conversations limited to people in high places who actually know who Tex is and would like to see him resurrected. <Frank> thanks for clearing that up... I've been a PR for a few years now, and I felt this as a failure. After all, the point was to help, not screw up ;)
<AC> No worries, Frank. We appreciated the effort.
<JLeMosy> From Patrick (ProfPlum): When you start to develop a Tex story do you begin with an idea for a case, an antagonist, or with a character arc that you'd like to see Tex explore?
<AC> As you might gather, I'm a big history buff, and I especially love old unsolved cases, murders, mysteries, etc....Frankly, I've never been a huge sci-fi guy, but I really enjoy the juxtaposition of Tex (in the future) dealing with mysteries from the past (both his and OURS)...I've come across scores of interesting "story seeds" in my readings...
...and I file them away in the back of my mind for future use ...for the Trilogy, I combined about a half-dozen storylines drawn from real life and combined them with ideas already started in the earlier stories.....for the new game, I was inspired by a show on Discovery and then spent a few weeks of research, which turned up some unbelievably thrilling details -- all based on factual evidence!......then I started thinking, how would Tex deal with this....then I started thinking about some of the gaps in Tex's history, and how it would be nice to fill them in...et voila! A new story that keeps Chris Jones awake at night out of sheer excitement! (No kidding).
<JLeMosy> This next one's from Sowden: First I would like to ask you what is it exactly that you are doing at Microsoft, Links we all know of. But what is the entire Tex cast doing at Microsoft, if they all work there or not.
<AC> The people from the Tex Murphy crew who still work here: Me, Chris, Steve Barnes, Jon Clark, and some of the "cameo"actors such as George Manousakis (Rudy), etc....My job is UX (User Experience) Lead... I do anything involved with writing -- scripts, dialogue, manuals, etc....
Chris is a Project Planner -- he supervises budgets for the games produced at SLG...Steve and I work together in the same department (he worked on the documentation for Age of Mythology, Amped, and other games)... Jon Clark is still doing Audio, but he's no longer the entire Audio Dept. ...Everyone else is gone, sadly... OOPS! I forgot about Doug Vandergrift -- Rook, Beek, etc. -- He still works in the Art Dept. here.
<RyanPatton> Where's Les Oswalds, AC? Still working at SLC?
<AC> No. Les was a casualty of a recent purge. <eom>
<Daltone_uk> Wasn't Doug V. in The Fist Of North Star....or was that someone else?
<AC> Must have been someone else...If it were Doug, we'd never have heard the end of it.
<JLeMosy> Okay, here's one from Ro: So are you telling me, that IF I had $10 million dollars and I set them on your table, that you could produce a full length Overseer Quality type Tex Murphy game?
<AC> Oh, yeah. We could probably do it for 6, but we'd find a way to use all 10.More than anything, CJ and I would just like to get back to doing what we love and are passionate about -- that's why we're willing to pay for the prototype ourselves.
<JleMosy> Anthony : First, I love the Tex books as much as the games. At what point or what would it take for you to write additional Tex books without being able to do the games? And do you have the legal right to write more Tex books without anyones (i.e. Microsoft) approval? Alternatively, would you ever consider writing non-Tex Murphy books and what genres would they be? What are you favorite genres to read and what are you favorite books?
<AC> OK, Anthony: Thanks for loving the books -- that means a lot to me...As I said earlier, I really enjoy writing novels, and it's what I intend to do when I retire to a small bungalow overlooking a rocky New England coastline (in a year or two, hopefully)...I discussed re-releasing the previous Tex novels earlier today -- as for future Tex novels, the only issue would be the rights to the characters (ironic, huh?)...again, CJ feels that MS would ask for only a token royalty (unless the books/games became a huge success, of course), so I think I could manage it financially.. Right now, I'm in the middle of writing a completely unrelated novel -- a contemporary crime fiction set in Salt Lake City a month before the winter olympics...I'm excited about it and I already have an agent lined up, ready to shop it around, so we'll see how that goes...as for my literary tastes, they're pretty wide-ranging -- I like a little of everything and I lot of a few things. My top three books of all time would be: LOTR, A Confederacy of Dunces, and Where the Wild Things Are. How's that?
<JLeMosy> Here's another one from Nikolai:In a world where the lack of adventures has enabled a title as marginally above average as Syberia to become a hit, might the time not be right for a New Tex game? And finally along different lines, When I have shown friends (non-gamers all) The Pandora Directive or Overseer, they were each and every one of them, amazed. They had thought that pc games = Doom or maybe Pacman. Therefore, do you think that the avenues of advertising and marketing used for Tex might benefit if they were altered more towards movie-goers and those who read thrillers? The former would appreciate the fmv and the latter would likely have the staying power for a 40 hour adventure. It seems that EBX and the like are increasingly populated by people I no longer recognize, and they're looking for Dead or Alive 3 and Mech Assault.
<AC> I haven't played Syberia, so I can't comment on its quality (though I've very good reviews, as well as less than stellar comments)....My single biggest frustration as a game designer is my absolute belief that almost anyone who really knew what the Tex games were like would play them...Remember, CJ and I are not gamers – we love books and movies and we designed games for people like us....for some reason, the message never got across (or escaped from the computer gaming black hole) and Chris and I have often wondered why the Gaming Gods chose Myst instead of us. Unfortunately, we're at a point where making games is just as expensive as making movies ..and, like Hollywood, the Gaming Big Boys are hesitant to greenlight something that doesn't have a proven track record...
The Tex games did fairly well (for the time), but sales went down from UKM to PD (poor advertising on our part), and down again from PD to TMO (snafu with Intel -- long story)...but the fact is, that MS only does big-budget games and they can't justify a big budget for Tex......In my opinion, ONLINE is the opportunity to revisit the heyday of Adventure Games......ONLINE games can still be made relatively cheaply, so there's more room for experimental and niche stuff...Chris and I compare the technology to what we had to work with in UKM -- it's just about identical...so, for us, it's almost like starting over, except knowing what we're doing this time around... And, if we have some success online, that will go a long way to getting MS to pony up for a full-size Tex game in the future.
<Gittis_Poland> Aaron greetings from Poland. I got one question. Have you ever seen "Chinatown" by Roman Polanski ?
<MiF> About a new Tex game.., I think the time MUST be right..., I have found out about 3 or 4 new PI games in development at the moment!!
<AC> I love Chinatown -- definitely the greatest PI movie of the 70s...and why isn't MS interested in "competing" with the PI games in dev. as I mentioned earlier....For MS, the PI genre doesn't count -- it's all about doing "GAME X", except bigger and better. And GAME X has to have been a monster hit.To my knowledge, UKM is the biggest PI Genre game ever, and it was only a modest hit by today's standards.Unfortunately, winning awards isn't enough. I think UKM sold 300,000 copies -- Halo's sold, what, 5 million?
<Radagast> I'm afraid of listening to the Radio show, maybe they will spoil the games in the future. Should I be or are they even important to understand the following games?
<AC> Radagast: Please, go ahead and listen..I listen to them every few months myself -- and I promise they'll only whet your appetite for more! My personal opinion, of course.
<Kait> One would think that a co. as big as MS could break out of the monkey see, monkey do mentality
<AC> Kait: MS has become a success by "americanizing" the japanese business model -- the Games Division is trying to adapt.
<JLeMosy> Okay, here's another question from TAthorp:
Call me weird and then just walk away, but Chris Jones' voice mannerisms (coupled with the excellent writing of course!) really immerse one in the storyline. I've played the Radio Theater more times than I care to count, and honestly feel that it's better than the Star Wars radio theater which was formally produced! My hat goes off to the people behind the producers of Lombard St. as well (btw, still waiting for ep. 12)! Are there any plans to finish the excellently produced TM Radio Theater?
<AC> Thanks, TAthrop! Chris and I have worked together (and been friends) for so long, it's become a very symbiotic relationship. I think he has a great voice and, frankly, I think it's good enough to overcome the loss of FMV ...We were both enormously happy and relieved that everyone responded so enthusiastically to the Radio Theater...because we knew that our next game (if there was one) might be less complex/interactive than the games we'd done before... TMRT proved that people could be at least mostly satisfied with the humor, story, etc. without requiring gameplay to make the experience fun.....In addition to the novels, Radio Theater would certainly be a way to keep Tex around.
<TAthorp> Can't see the last part of my question, it was..Are there any plans to finish the excellently produced TM Radio Theater?
<AC> TAthorp: If we were to do the entire story of the Trilogy (to reach the only TRUE ending), we'd be doing probably 100 episodes...Now, I know that wouldn't suck, but Jon Clark would growl at us and go back into his cave, never to be seen again...We'll have to see how it goes with this new online game prototype. Again, I hope that it would lead to an opportunity to resume the Trilogy in a full-on game!
<JLeMosy> Another from Valynis: What was the motivation behind the change of dates of Tex's first case between Mean Streets and Overseer? And what about the change of dates of Tex's confrontation with the Colonel between UAKM and Overseer? (though I suspect this one is tied with the first question.)
<AC> Other PI Movies: The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, The Thin Man. Honestly, Chris and I joke that Tex wants Chelsee to think he's younger than he really is......The main reason is because we could pull off Chris looking a few years younger, but not 10-15 (I forget what the difference was)... Has anyone heard the story about The Big Chill? It was Kevin Costner's first big role (he played the guy who commits suicide before the movie starts)...anyway, there was an extensive flashback, in which all the main actors played themselves back in college (Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, etc.)....so they showed all this methodically (and expensively) filmed footage to test audiences, who laughed themselves silly because the actors were obviously too old to be in college...so all that stuff got cut, including all of Kevin Costner's...Doing the Mean Streets flashbacks, we needed to set it back only as far as Chris and Adrian could pull it off, simple as that. And we know Tex is bad with numbers, so he may have had the wrong dates originally, and told the correct dates to Chelsee...WHO KNOWS?Tex is a complicated man...and, as he told Pernell in the Pandora novel, his one fatal flaw is math.
<JLeMosy> Here's a sort of follow-up to that, again from Valynis: Is there a real story behind Tex's confrontation with the Colonel or is it just an anecdote to add to the timeline? If there is, do you ever plan to tell it?
<AC> You mean other than the fact that Tex turned the Colonel in?
<Bjyman> I'd like to know what exactly the Colonel did that was unethical
<AC> Oh, I see. I can practically guarantee that that little episode will be explained in the new story.
<Radagast> Whats the time where You all are. It's 10 pm in Sweden and I've just had my fourth beer...
<AC> It's 2 PM in Salt Lake City and I'm still drunk from last night. I'm actually eating Chinese food and listening to Pet Sounds -- a pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Incidentally, there's no connection between the food and the album title...
<SamSpade> 1. Will you continue story from Radio Theater or will you leave it without ending? 2. Maybe you could send us code of Tex games maybe someone could make it to work with XP and maybe add something new technical things.
<AC> The Trilogy story will be continued in some way (if it's the last thing I ever do...and it might be)...I would prefer to continue it in game form, but via novels would also be enjoyable. Radio Theater would be fun, but probably more work than we could justify...As for Tex game code, MS owns the right to all that stuff. The only way we would be able to update to code would be if they decided to greenlight a new game and thought that they could milk some more $ out of the old games by updating and re-releasing them (which could definitely happen, BTW).
<Nikolai> You could do real on-the-air radio and get advertisers: CBS Mystery Theatre ran from the 70's well into the 1980's commercially
<AC> Nikolai: I'd love it. I'm a big fan of the old radio shows. There are some stations in the U.S. that still broadcast vintage programs.
<JLeMosy> Question from Ryan Patton: Aaron, who will provide game narrative intro, if it will have one? Will it be same person doing narrative as TMRT?
<AC> Ryan: I don't think we would use a narrator in the game. Chris would do the voice-over narration, just as he did throughout the previous games.
<JLeMosy> Another question from jen (and something we'd all be interested in, I'm sure!): Would be consider throwing a launch party or a Tex Murphy birthday celebration party in UT where fans can get together and visit?
<AC> Chris and I have talked about a Tex reunion and, to be honest, we're torn. In some ways, it's almost best to keep a distance from the "creators" (remember Landrew from the original Star Trek series?)...on the other hand, it would be nice to get together and meet you guys. Perhaps we could set up an anniversary video tele-conference call (I've got buddies in the VTC business)...definitely something to consider!
<ChrisMarsland> I was just wondering what were the actural brands of the trenchcoat and other clothes Chris Jones wears as Tex. Strange question but we need to know so we can have our daily Tex dreessups! lol (Strange question I know)
<AC> Chris: I believe Chris wears London Fog. I'll have to check the hat (I've got it at home), but I can tell you it came from Angler's Inn (a fishing supply store in SLC).
<JLeMosy> Alright, another question from Jack Apfelgebaeck: I know that the most adventures still have to take place (chronologically)but does Tex already have some plans for his retirement?
<AC> Well, as we all know, Tex is real lone wolf...a wandering shadow always living on the edge it's hard to think about retirement when the word comes with a bullet to the temple in his line of work...401k is better used for 100 proof...In short, no, I don't think Tex has done a lot of retirement planning (unlike the Colonel). I don't think Tex is like any other PI, but he'd like to think he is.
<JLeMosy> As a follow-up, here's a question from Ruben:
How would a serious relation with Chelsee affect our solitarie PI?
<AC> I think it would fun to explore a relationship with Chelsee, but I don't think marriage is in the cards. Tex is the kind of guy who actually enjoys carrying a flame until it singes his knuckle hair...As long as Tex is in action, I think Chelsee will always be around, sometimes heavily involved, other times only on the fringes.
<jim123> AC - if you do get to make the next 3 games, would you continue after that, or leave it at that for the series?
<AC> I would love to keep doing Tex until he's ready to retire. At the very least, I think the Trilogy would be a great way to send him off to some tropical island.
<JLeMosy> From ProfPlum:In regard of writing for a branching path story architecture, what are some of the continuity difficulties, if any, that you encountered when developing Pandora? Are there any major changes to how the branching would be handled if the full game trilogy were completed?
<AC> Here's the difference between Pandora story branches and the Trilogy branches:...Pandora was based on the molding the moral character of the player/Tex... ...we wanted to offer the true hard-boiled, film noir experience without having to fundamentally change Tex......by branching, we not only extended gameplay and gave a new perspective to "interactive"... ...we also entertained ourselves by showing Tex as a softie and a bastard (as well as the guy we know and love)...For the Trilogy, I've created a design that is more physically-oriented -- in other words, the player must decide which actions to take, where to go, who to see, etc....there was also be an element of teamwork -- who do you choose to align with and how long will you stick with them....there will still be moral choices, but that won't be the primary focus and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, the Trilogy will HAVE TO BE replayed -- at least in part -- in order to put the pieces together and completely solve the multi-layered mysteries.
<JLeMosy> Here's Sowden: I would like to know your view on the Tex community as it is now. Is it as good as its ever been? Has it lost some enthusiasm? Or lost some people? I would like to know what you think of us, since we spend all our time talking about you. I would also like to ask for a unofficial statement of how Microsoft is treating you there under their wing.
<AC> Sowden: I really appreciate the Tex community without it, we wouldn't even be considering bringing Tex back frankly, we'd just come up with new characters, settings, etc. and start over -- believe me, it would be much simpler.. As for the folks in the community, some have come and gone, but most of the core people have been here from the beginning. James, especially, has been a huge, reliable, and high-quality supporter. I don't want to dismiss others' contributions, though. Matt (bored?!), Chris, Ryan, JTOG, Mark, etc. have all been great and it's always nice when people show up or post for the first time. I really enjoy the sense of camraderie.
<anthony> just one qiestion though...why doesn't Chris jones ever do Q&A sessions? would be fun
<AC> Chris Jones actually stopped by last Saturday (because I'd mentioned doing the chat), but he wasn't able to make it today. He's not much of a self-promoter...
<AC> Let me add a comment about MICROSOFT -- First of all, I really like working for MS -- it's a good company full of sharp people. Their Games Division has some problems which will eventually sort themselves out. in the meantime, we're doing what we can to help make good games.
<AC> Now, as for Chris, I promise we'll have another chat in the next month or so and Chris will sit in. Yes, he is a slow (and terrible) typist, but that's one reason he likes working with me (I type fast).... Chris has been recognized quite often (and probably more often than he'll ever admit -- hell, he's 6'7" -- he already stands out!).
<anthony> So AC, what about the film plans?
<AC> The Tex movie is still in limbo. I've had a number of producers say they love the script, but no offers yet.
<JLeMosy> Question from Ryan: Aaron, I notices in Pandora there was a boy and girl scaring at Tex as it shape of Texas after lighting strike. I wondered...you think Tex brother/sister will be involved or not in story?
<AC> Ryan: One of our story ideas (currently on the shelf) is for Tex to return home for a family reunion, and then some sort of compelling mystery ensues...when we first came up with the idea, we'd gotten verbal agreements from the two actors we wanted to play Tex's parents: June Lockhart (from Lassie) and Leslie Nielsen!
<anthony> so is John Cusack still your favourite canditate as Tex? do you think he'd do it?
<AC> I've always loved John Cusack, but there are a lot of people who'd do a great job as Tex. Keifer Sutherland might be good, but I agree that Chris Jones is the only true Tex -- I guess it would be like James Bond -- Sean Connery IS Bond, though the others have done a good job, too.
<JLeMosy> I've always thought that Noah Wylie, from "ER" would be good as Tex.
<AC> Noah Wylie's an interesting choice...How about Will Smith? Adrian Carr votes for Bruce Willis.
<JLeMosy> Okay, getting back on track, here's another ? from EdwardDM10: How did you manage to get 'big name' stars like Micheal York into the games?
<AC> Edward: It's all about who you know. Catrine MacGregor was our casting agent and she knew lots of people who knew lots of people. she would come to us with a list of actors who were available within our price range, and then we'd prioritize the list. Believe it or not, we had a chance at Sela Ward, but at the time I was the only person who knew who she was. Her part ending up going to...Tanya Roberts!
<anthony> how much money is MS willing to consider for a new tex game? as in, what do they usually spend on each game?
<AC> MS spends an average of 8-10 million per game.
<anthony> ok, and what would be the buget of this new Tex project?
<AC>Yes, 8-10 mill. UKM cost about 4 million (I think). PD cost about the same.TMO cost a bit less (much shorter development cycle).
<anthony> but if ms spends 8 mil per game,and a tex game generally costs half of that to make, what is the problem?
<AC> For the new project, we're shooting for a budget of $500,000 to 1,000,000 (I told you it would be scaled back!).
Employee salaries is by far the most expensive item. Paying for the actors and shooting process is not a huge percentage, maybe 15% of the total.the rest is in marketing and advertising.
<JLeMosy> Here's a couple more short ones from Ryan:
Aaron, In Pandora, whatever happen to Ardo now since Hotel is close?How do you work with your brother in Tex Murphy series? How he involved?
<AC> My brother and I are very close. He's a contractor in Mapleton, UT. I wanted him to be in the game because I've hosted interactive murder mysteries and he was always one of the star performers. He doesn't do anything else for the games and he's never worked for Access/MS.
<ChrisMarsland> Does yourself or Chris ever play a golf character in Links or lend your voice for a character?
<AC> Chris: CJ and I made a cameo in of the Links games years ago. In Links 2001, you can choose my face to appear in the display box when you're golfing -- I don't know why. It's really weird and I didn't know I was in there until I played the game after it shipped!
<JLeMosy> Another from Valynis:There must have been a few "war stories" connected with the making of Tex Murphy games. Could you tell us one or two?
<AC> War Stories?...The shooting of the FMV was always a huge undertaking and I could probably write an entire book about what it was like. ...Valynis: I'll have to give it some thought and get back to you.
<jim123> it was just before the "no pestilence has ever been so fatal or so hideous" bit
<AC> Jim 123: The intro had to be changed or Germany wouldn't sell it. at the time, the German market was the largest in Europe. so we made the change and it applied to all European markets...
<Ruben> What is the american scene?
<AC> Ruben: It's nothing big -- just makes obvious that the Artifact was discovered in the ruins of an old Nazi castle.
<jim123> if you get to make the final game of the 3, chris by then would be 55+ ish, so would you make him as an aged tex, or use make up to make him look 30-40 like in the previous ones?
<AC> Jim 123: The way Chris is going, he could pull off being in his 40s until he's 60. It's really quite amazing...and somewhat disturbing.
<JLeMosy> He's made some sort of secret deal with Dick Clark, then, is what you're saying?
<AC> Yes. Chris has Dickitis.
<JLeMosy> Okay, here's another from Val:Did any one of the actors involved in the filming of the games added so much in his (or her) interpretation that it changed his (or her) character substantially?
<AC> Good question, Val. As I said earlier, Kevin McCarthy really made Gordon Fitzpatrick his own character...Henry Darrow also did the same with Sonny Fletcher, adding the whole "Caballero" element, which wasn't written into the character initially....of all the characters, I think Michael York had the toughest job, since his character had to be so incredibly two-sided. <eom>
<JLeMosy> And, with that being said, I think now would be a good time to bring this chat to a close. I'd like to thank Aaron once again for joining us today!
<AC> See you guys later! Happy Easter!
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November 19, 2011