Malachit had the chance to interview Richard Hare, Lead Designer of the in 1996 released adventuregame 'ToonStruck', in March 2003. You get to know what a possible sequel would have looked like and Richard tells us about some about his future plans.
AC: Hi Richard. Could you introduce yourself at first?
RH: My name is Richard Hare and I am the Creative Director and one of the co-owners at The Collective; a video game developer in Orange County, Southern California that has developed 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Fallen', 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', and 'Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb'. Prior to forming The Collective, I worked for Virgin Interactive and was the Lead Designer on the adventure game ToonStruck.
AC: How did you get the idea for ToonStruck?
RJ:Originally, the project's Executive Producer, David Bishop, had the idea for a game called, 'Trouble in Toonland'. The story was about a young boy, Daniel, who is transported to a cartoon world that is being terrorized by a villainous, black-and-white "toon" known as Ghastly Graham. Teaming up with a friendly toon, Gerald, Daniel must stop Ghastly Graham before he sucks all of the color out of the cartoon world.
We took this rudimentary story concept and made a LOT of changes so that it would appeal more to an older audience. Daniel became the animator, Drew Blanc. Ghastly Graham became Count Nefarious. And Gerald became the wacky, morphing Flux Wildly. We were all huge fans of the LucasArts adventure games at the time and so we decided to make a game in that genre. AC: 'ToonStruck' was the first PC-game with a real actor in a toon world. What gave you the idea not to use a toon-character, but a real actor? RH:Back then there had been two major Hollywood films featuring a mix between real actors and animated worlds; "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Cool World." Some of the senior executives at Virgin Interactive really liked the idea of doing the same for a game.
AC: In my opinion 'ToonStruck' is one of the best adventures ever made, but it wasn't a big commercial success. Do you have a explanation for that? RH:Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the game. There were numerous reasons why ToonStruck was not a big commercial success:
· In Western culture, cartoons are typically considered to be for children. I think there was a lot of consumer confusion regarding ToonStruck. It could easily be confused as a game for kids or edutainment. · The game was not backed with an effective, timely marketing campaign. There was very little advertising and none of it really captured the essence of the game. · Adventure game sales were already on the decline. · The box art was truly awful - particularly in Europe. AC: At the end of 'ToonStruck' there was a hint to a sequel, which unfortunately never has been made. What would 'ToonStruck 2' have been look like and what would be the story? RH: Actually, due to scheduling pressures, we were forced to cut the first game in half and re-shoot the ending. There was a lot of material created (art, animation, audio, and code) for the first game that was never used. In the original story, once Drew escaped from Nefarious's castle, he and Flux were supposed to ride a "Train of Thought" (remember the train tracks area in Zanydu?) up to an island in the sky. Here, Drew explores his own fears and fantasies within a carnival setting (there was a Wild West shootout, an encounter with Drew's artist idol, Van Gogh, and a visit to a maniacal dentist). Finally, Drew needs to kick-start his imagination/creativity (represented by a huge lighthouse) and defeat both Fluffy Fluffy Bun Bun and Nefarious in the process.
If the first ToonStruck had been commercially successful, we would have used most of the content that had been cut from the first game and added in additional scenes to pad out the story. Drew Blanc would have been transformed into a "toon" at the outset of the game and would need to undo this by the end of the game. We also wanted to add in more physical-based puzzles, allowing Drew to physically push around objects in the scene and use them together to solve different problems.[i/]
AC: Is there a chance this game could ever be released? RH: [i]There is no chance whatsoever! No publisher would want to make a sequel for a game that was not commercially successful; particularly an adventure game!
AC: Do you think the adventure-genre is dead? RH: I think it definitely has been dead for the last few years. However, I am confident that the adventure game will make a comeback - but not exactly the way it was. I'm looking forward to 'Sam & Max 2' which is due out sometime in the near future. I also hope that The Collective can perhaps create a new type of adventure game and help revitalize this genre. AC: When did you start to develop computer games? RH: I started working on video games when I was 16 years old and still at high school. I began creating art for the 8-bit Commodore 64 computer for games such as Leviathan and Tusker. That was 17 years ago! AC: What are you currently working on? RH: The Collective is currently working on 'Wrath' (a game that combines turn-based strategy with creature fighting) for LucasArts and two other action-adventures that have not been announced as of yet. AC: What does your family think of your work?
RH:My mum and dad are very proud of what my brother, Doug (who is one of my partners and former lead programmer on 'ToonStruck'), and I have accomplished. AC: What is your favourite computer game? RH: I think my favorite computer game is the one that I have yet to create! AC: What kind of game would you like to develop, if you had unlimited means? RH: I'd love to create a ground-breaking adventure game that would appeal to old adventure fans and new gamers alike.
AC: What is your favourite food? RH: I love Thai food! AC: Thanks for your time!