Freeware Garden: Mouse Corp
Interview With thecatamites
If you know and thus love what thecatamites have (has) been doing these past few years, chances are you have already downloaded Mouse Corp and are already defacing the graves of an impossibly colourful 3D world. A world filled with sentient vegetation and a wild menagerie of oddities you'll have to traverse, quasi-RTS style, as three mice.
Now, I could go on all about the wild mechanics of Mouse Corp or its wondrously grotesque take on the Sonic universe, but I won't. I will instead provide you with an interview featuring the wonderful Mr. Stephen Murphy -- a.k.a. thecatamites:
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RPS: Who would choose to re-imagine the Seven Cities of Gold (either the game or the myth) as part of the/a Sonic the Hedgehog universe? Why would anyone ever do this?
Stephen Gillmurphy: I wanted to make something pretty with good colours, but there is something very melancholy about bright videogame prettiness. I read a while ago that thinking something is beautiful means desiring that it be exactly what it is, but, with something like the checkered field backgrounds in Sonic etc, I think it's different because while those things read as abstractions to me rather than things in themselves they're not abstractions of anything in particular. You wanna get closer but there's nothing to get closer to because they're fundamentally unreal and that's part of the appeal. They're evocative but what they mostly evoke is distance.
A really fussy, unregenerate and videogamey militaristic resource gathering thing seemed like a good framework to lay onto my own fussy, unregenerate attempts to play around with those feelings... I think it is a little glib to make any real comparison exploring and assimilating things in a videogame world to historical colonialism, but there were smaller details I like about 7COG that I thought would work well when adapted as part of new and very obviously unrealistic context. I like how eerily empty and uniform the experience of exploring a new continent in it looks, as if being mediated as gold collection sim means flattening the world out even on a visual level. I like the little trumpet sounds that play when you land on a new continent and the plaintiveness of noticing these little touches of grandiosity from little bug guys stripping a new continent bare.
RPS: What is a Mouse Corp?
Stephen Gillmurphy: The remnants of a dead mouse.
RPS: What is a Mouse Corp game?
Stephen Gillmurphy: Mouse Corp Game is a truly exciting opportunity to explore, sleep, perform uncompensated labour, poke around old ruins, listen to records, collect shit, shoot things, fulfill tasks, fail to fulfill tasks, experience gradual dissolution of purpose, enter other dimensions and get eaten by a dragon. It is exactly like real life, except with music from NEW VADERS, so it is better.
RPS: Do you hate mice?
Stephen Gillmurphy: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RPS: Do you hate people?
Stephen Gillmurphy: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RPS: Do you hate colours?
Stephen Gillmurphy: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
RPS: What do you hate?
Stephen Gillmurphy: Other videogames... the police.
RPS: What are you hoping to achieve with Mouse Corp, then?
Stephen Gillmurphy: I hope it is cute. And lets people explore inviting or other 3d spaces in a structure that's broken up and reflexive enough to allow for different levels of focus and energy expenditure. Also money would be nice and is necessary.
RPS: And could the catamites provide the esteemed RPS readership with a very brief, very lovely making-of this latest excellent thing of yours?
Stephen Gillmurphy: I started making it in July of last year after playing Radia Senki for NES and really liking the soundtrack, primary-colour fantasy stuff, but also kind of distant and melancholy, and wanting to make something with the same feelings. I made most of it in a month but there were parts I put in that didn't work too well and things I wanted to do that were very fussy and complicated. Like, cutaways to Mouse Corp central offices where people would throw themselves out of windows if you started falling below the berry quotas. But Tom Whalen aka NEW VADERS had already sent me a lot of good songs for it, which contributed to me wanting to finish it off at last. I picked it up again for the first time in a while around the start of this month and liked a lot of it and stripped a lot of stuff out and redid other things and generally made it more focused again. I wasn't sure whether to charge money for it so settled on making it optional. I like the idea of having a bunch of disparate games that all cost the same and the implied equivalency that this invokes, but I also like freeware and the lack of the sense of guarantee that people assume a commercial thing implies. It is a quandary. Please send me money.