Perth Games Festival 2014 was this past weekend, and it was a huge success with many great local games shown!
Oscar Brittain was one of many local developers showing off his new prototype for the very first time, but having one of the most unique games on the floor resulted in lots of people flocking to his booth to find out what it was all about!
Leave ’em Laughing is a narrative-driven game based around character experiences and telling jokes. It’s a fascinating concept, but I have to admit that I had no idea how this was going to play until I saw it. In turn, I assumed players would have a lot of questions, so if you’re keen to learn more about it, here is a Q&A I ran with Oscar after the festival:
As a Perth-based developer, could you tell us more about yourself and your previous work?
Oscar: My name is Oscar Brittain, I’m 24, and I live in Fremantle, WA. I studied journalism and archaeology, then I dropped out and started making video games. I’ve made a few freeware games, and I also released a commercial game called World’s Fastest Pizza earlier this year.
What would you say is the driving inspiration behind your new game, Leave ’em Laughing?
Oscar: I watched the Woody Allen film “Annie Hall” about two years ago and thought it would be cool if there were games like that. There’s even a sort-of tutorial at the beginning of it, haha. I thought you could have a really narrative-focused game if the player wrapped up it’s events in some kind of gameplay scenario. At some point I figured that comedians are basically summing up their own personal narratives on stage. So that was it, really.
How would you best explain your game to someone who hasn’t heard about it before?
Oscar: Do you know Seinfeld? It’s like Seinfeld. Haha. It’s a game where your actions shape the narrative in the beginning, but then later the narrative comes back to shape the gameplay.
As it’s such a unique concept, could explain how a typical game session would play out?
Oscar: Lets say you pick “The Parents” episode, which is about the Main Character’s parents coming to visit. You’re dropped into a randomly generated city to explore and interact with. You can talk to people, visit shops etc., but everything you do will relate back to the theme of “The Parents”. Once you reach the end of that narrative, your actions dictate it’s ending and you return to your apartment to plan your act. You then get to perform your routine.
Could you tell us more about the stand-up component of the game and how that will work?
Oscar: Well, it kind of works like a crafting system in something like Don’t Starve. You interact with something, and it will give you part of a joke, and interacting with something else will give you another part. When you craft your routine, you see all the possible jokes you can make and choose which ones work best with one another, while being mindful of your audiences tastes.
You may have really solid jokes about computers, so you’ll get a really good bonus if you told them all together, but if your audience is a bunch of 80-year-old bingo players, you might get less points than if you just told one joke about Antiques Roadshow. The actual performance is sort-of like Guitar Hero(?) Maybe? I’m not too sure how to explain it!
Where would you say your primary influence for the humour in your game comes from?
Oscar: I won’t lie to you. I’m a really, really funny person. Ha! I guess films like Clerks or Coffee & Cigarettes; just a very loose feeling humour. As for the actual stand up jokes, I’m a huge fan of the late Mitch Hedberg, but also Arj Barker and Stephen K. Amos, among others.
Could you tell us about your approach to the art-style and music, and how that fits the theme?
Oscar: I was trying to do my own version of Magali Dincher’s drawing style. She’s really cool and does all these pictures of Fremantle, also. I wanted to use pixel art as a technique, but not have the game be a “pixel art game”. I have a bunch of friends who are musicians and they all offered me their music, which was rad. I wanted to use music that was kinda different to the things that inspired the game so that I would’t feel like I was making some pastiche of other people’s shows and films.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge working on the game so far?
Oscar: Writing jokes! I’m starting to get into the feel of it now. It’s difficult because there’s no visual delivery in the game, a comedian in real life really acts out their jokes, but this is mostly audio, so I’ve been listening to a lot of comedy instead of watching it to see what works without relying on visuals.
A lot of people played the game at the Perth Games Festival! How will that influence development?
Oscar: I was worried they game was too slow and that people wouldn’t get how the mechanics come together at the end of the episode, but people totally went along with it! I was really surprised. I think I’ll stick to my guns in terms of pacing and things now, it’s given me the confidence that people liked it.
How can the Perth community support your project, and where can we learn more about it?
Oscar: I’m currently running a Kickstarter that people can check out below, as well as a Greenlight page that needs some love too. And finally, people can follow me on Twitter, where I talk about videogames and sometimes tacos.