‘Played’ isn’t quite the right word for Hardly Workin’ [archived official site]. You may need Quake II for it but Hardly Workin’ is machinima – a movie made in a video game, before that term was yoinked by a site which became a #contentnetwork. What made Hardly Workin’ stand out to me was that you could hardly see it was Quake II. While most early machinima drafted existing in-game characters and assets for action figure pantomimes (and heck, Red vs. Blue still does this – no disrespect), Hardly Workin’ is built from scratch for a silly cartoon tale about two lumberjacks getting jobs in a diner.
Antics ensue, of course. It’s fun, it’s funny, it’s gruesome, and technically it’s flipping impressive.
Hardly Workin’ is technically a Quake 2 replay file, hacked into movie form using the finicky replay editor Keygrip 2. All of its characters have unique models and skins with their own animations and animated faces. Everyone has voice-acting. Its textures are new. It even manages to be colourful – something Quake II isn’t exactly known for. If you load up the movie’s level on its lonesome, you can see a bit of how it works, with little extra sets hidden out of sight for cut-away shots. I’m still a bit impressed by the technical limitations creators Ill Clan worked with and around. It took them two years.