By John Walker on December 17th, 2008 at 10:16 am.
While there was almost another Telltale-related controversy yesterday, it remains completely shadowed by the rift between Telltale and Videlectrix that we first reported last week. For those unaware, Videlectrix claim to have been making cutting edge videogames for the last thirty years, and more recently have been closely affiliated with the Homestar Runner website. Their output includes classics like Salad Daze, Pigs On Head, and of course Thy Dungeonman 3. It’s literally impossible to calculate their impact on the gaming industry. Creative differences over the direction of the Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People episodic adventures have spilled over into the public in an ugly foray. Determined to prove there’s investigative journalism alive and well in the games media, Rock, Paper, Shotgun conducted a world exclusive interview with both developers at Videlectrix, in an attempt to uncover the Whole Truth.
RPS: Before we get into the current dispute, could you explain a bit about Videlectrix for our readers? Who are you, and what drives you as a development company?
‘TRIX: Weclome to Videlectrix! We use computers…to make video games! Never before has a company so all-the-time tried to make really good games and really good games graphics. We take a heads-down approach to game development and haven’t even checked out what the competition is up to in over 30 years! Now THAT’S dedication!
RPS: We want to say what respect we have for your company, and your portfolio of games. We are bemused each year when your products don’t appear in reward nomination lists. Are you often frustrated when you’re missed out of such ceremonies?
‘TRIX: We’ve never really been concerned with being REwarded. Getting warded once the first time is plenty enough for us. Though we ARE often frustrated. Mostly by the vending machines in the break room.
RPS: We’ve noticed over the last few years that Videlectrix games have made some leaps and bounds in terms of technology. Hallrunner, for instance, is in 3D, and STRONGBADZONE uses vector graphics. How do you respond to critics who suggest that you have abandoned your roots in favour of the latest special effects?
‘TRIX: Critics also scoffed at the joystick back when the paddle and trackball ruled the earth. But the ‘Trix knew the ‘stick had something special. Plus, we were all pretty big fans of joy to begin with. How could we go wrong?
RPS: You’ve long been associated with the Homestar Runner website. Could you tell us a bit about how you first came to work in partnership with Telltale? Why did you find it necessary to team up with another studio?
‘TRIX: Fortunately there is a ‘coat tails’ clause in our contract with Homestar Runner that says if they ever made a videogame with somebody else, we would get to horn in on that action. Also, rent was due and it looked like we were gonna come up short. Thanks, Telltale Games, Inc.!
RPS: Obviously there were some creative differences from the beginning of the Strong Bad episodic adventures. Telltale’s decision to use full 3D graphics and non-pixelated characters was not in line with your own direction for the series. Why did you not object earlier on?
‘TRIX: It’s a classic case of the old switchjob. We thought WE were making the Strong Bad game for months until we were informed that what we had been working on was a “mini-game.” Well, if thousands of hours of coding and severals of pixels only makes a “mini-game,” then I guess you can just start callin’ us “Mini-lectrix.” I suppose Activision, Imagic, and Mattel are just MINI-game companies too, huh?
RPS: Now of course the disagreement with Telltale has become public, with the release of the first of your Roomisodes. Telltale are distancing themselves from you, and going ahead with the release of Episode 5 despite this all. Could you explain what led up to the current situation?
‘TRIX: It’s very simple, actually. Telltale claims they invented the ‘sode’ when they know good and well Videlectrix did decades ago. Are they just ignoring our ‘Cartridgisodes’ or forgetting that we pioneered the ‘LCD Handheldisode?’ Roomisodes were just a natural extension of our earlier innovations. And we will continue to innovashe despite whatever fanciful, pranciful claims Telltale makes.
RPS: Where do things stand now? Are the differences between the two companies irreconcilable? Will there be a second season of Strong Bad episodes?
‘TRIX: With a big enough novelty-sized check, I think we could come to some sort of middle ground. But until they get rid of that ridiculous THIRD dimension, a season 2 is on hold.
RPS: For the record, we are also speaking to Telltale to get their side of the story. Are there any responses they might give us we should be suspicious of?
‘TRIX: Anything that comes outta that Dan Connors is a filthy lie! Or a filthy joke. Heh heh. He actually did make some good ones. Gotta remember to send him a Decemberween card.
RPS: Many thanks, and good luck with the rest of the Roomisodes. We look forward to playing them.
Episode 5 is sort of available on Telltale’s site now. And Roomisode Ep 1 can be downloaded for free from Videlectrix. Coming soon, we speak to the CEO of Telltale Inc., Dan Connors, to find out exactly how he thinks he can show his face in public after this. Enormous thanks to Videlectrix assistants, Mike, Matt and Emily for their help arranging this interview.
*Well, we speak to other people too.