INTERVIEW – In Conversation With Mark Darin (Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe Kickstarter)

By Marty Mulrooney

Following the upsetting news in recent weeks of mass layoffs at Telltale Games, Alternative Magazine Online couldn’t be happier to present an exclusive online interview with former Telltale designer and writer Mark Darin where we talk all about his new adventure game Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe!

Hi Mark, thank you for your time and welcome to Alternative Magazine Online! You were formerly a designer and writer at Telltale Games – what projects did you work on during your time at the studio?

Okay… Deep breath…. Here we go… These are all the titles I worked on in some capacity. Sometimes just helping out, sometimes leading the project.

  1. CSI: Hard Evidence
  2. Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space
  3. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People
  4. Tales of Monkey Island
  5. Hector: Badge of Carnage
  6. Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent
  7. Jurassic Park: The Game
  8. Law & Order: Legacies
  9. The Walking Dead
  10. The Walking Dead: 400 Days
  11. The Wolf Among Us
  12. The Walking Dead: Season Two
  13. Tales from the Borderlands
  14. Minecraft: Story Mode
  15. Batman: The Telltale Series
  16. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
  17. Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two
  18. Batman: The Enemy Within
  19. The Walking Dead: The Final Season

Whew!! That’s a LOT of games!!

I was incredibly saddened and shocked by the recent Telltale layoffs. I actually first heard the news when I saw your status update on Facebook – please accept my sincerest condolences. Did this development come totally out of the blue?

We all knew that the company was struggling financially, but no one knew exactly how bad it was. We were always told that things were going well as far as securing money was concerned and were looking forward to changes being made in the company. But the studio actually closing came as a shock to everyone.

My fiancée always reminds me that when one door closes, another opens. I was therefore delighted when I heard about your new Kickstarter campaign! What can you tell AMO’s readers about Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe?

Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe is a comedic spoof on classic film noir detective movies as well as a narrative driven adventure game inspired by the classic adventure games of LucasArts and Telltale Games. It’s a little bit Maltese Falcon, a little bit CSI, and a little bit Naked Gun. The story follows detective Nick Bounty and his quest to be taken seriously as a real detective. As the case unfolds, he becomes entangled in an absurd mystery that threatens to end his life… and his newly hired partner’s too!

The Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe is the third game to feature Nick Bounty as the down-on-his-luck detective, but you don’t need to have played either of the first two games to enjoy this one. Each game is a stand-alone story to be enjoyed on its own.

Do you remember when Pinhead Games was first founded?

I first started creating games under the name “Pinhead” way back in 1987! My parents refused to buy me a Nintendo and instead thought I’d be better off with a computer, so I ended up with a Commodore 64. That’s when I learned that I could actually make my OWN games. The first game I made was a single screen parody of Maniac Mansion called Maniac Outhouse. I was thinking “If a mansion is a multi-room home with lots of space to explore, what would the exact opposite be?”

You can even check out some of the old C64 Pinhead games here.

Here are some screenshots from Pinhead Games of old!

C64:

Commodore Amiga:

I remember playing the original Nick Bounty games when I was a teenager! At the risk of feeling old when you answer this question, please remind me: when were the first two games released?

A Case of the Crabs was released in 2004, with The Goat in the Grey Fedora releasing a year later in 2005.

What made you decide to revisit Nick Bounty in this new game?

I’ve been wanting to revisit Nick Bounty for a long time actually, but my work with Telltale took up much of my time. I had always wanted to make a Nick Bounty game with Telltale, but as they took on bigger and bigger IPs the likelihood of that became much less likely. Now that Telltale has closed its doors and I don’t know where my next paycheck is coming from, I thought this might be the right time to revisit the thought.

The original Nick Bounty games were freeware, whereas the new game will be a commercial release; how will this shift affect the development process?

When the games were freeware, it meant that everyone worked on a volunteer basis, including myself. This time around, although the budget is still very small, contributors will be paid for their efforts. That’s really the biggest shift, the production process remains relatively the same.

What made you decide to go down the Kickstarter route?

That’s pretty simple, I needed money! With Telltale laying everyone off without a severance package, I no longer had an income! I needed a way to stay afloat until I could land another job! But that doesn’t mean that I’m spending all that money just on rent and groceries; once I have a steady income again, I’ll match the donated amount and put it all back into the development of the game. I’ve already started hiring additional former Telltale Games artists to assist in making this game the best looking Nick Bounty game ever!

You’ve already surpassed your initial funding goal – congratulations ! What stretch goals are you currently working towards?

All additional funding goes toward making the game look and sound better. Even though we have not yet reached the 30k stretch goal, we have still funneled some of the donated money towards creating concept art that establishs the targeted visual style.

What rewards can backers look forward to?

$10 – A copy of the game and your name in the credits

$50 – All the above PLUS a collection of Wallpapers and a printable DVD sleeve.

$100 – All the above PLUS immediate access to the early “Proof of Concept” playable demo.

$500 – All the above PLUS a “Fish Tie” t-shirt.

$1000- All the above PLUS a signed poster!

What can you tell me about the two concept artists you recently hired?

I’ve been able to reach out and enlist the help of two amazing concept artists! Both are former employees of Telltale Games who also lost their jobs in the massive layoffs. They will be helping to design the environments and craft a unique Film Noir aesthetic that with give this game its standout visual style. Check out some of their visually striking work in the links below:

i. Fedja Hodžić – www.fedjart.com

ii. Aletta Wenas – www.alettawenas.com

What game engine will you be using for this project?

The game will be developed in Unity.

Will the entire game be presented in black-and-white?

Pretty much, though there will be elements of the UI that will use splashes of blue to make the game stand out.

Will any of the original voice actors be returning?

Jason Ellis will be reprising his role as Nick Bounty. The rest of the cast is still TBD, but expect to hear some familiar voices!

It looks like Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe is going to be a traditional point-and-click adventure game. Will there be a focus on inventory-based puzzle-solving?

Yes. Puzzling will be an important part of the game, though the exact mechanics are still being worked out.

Will the game be mostly comedic in tone?

Comedy is a big part of Nick Bounty. As a fan of dumb/smart comedy like Monty Python, Airplane, Angie Tribecca and the like, I aim to uphold that standard. I’ve made too many Walking Dead games and my emotional state can’t handle any more emotionally draining scenarios!

What do you think will make Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe stand out from the adventure game crowd?

Honestly, I don’t really think about that. I just want to make a game that’s fun to play and makes you smile. If I can create characters that you WANT to spend time with and game you enjoy playing through, then I’m happy.

Thank you for your time Mark. I backed the Kickstarter campaign the day it was announced and I wish you the very best of luck developing Nick Bounty’s latest case!

For more information about the Nick Bounty and the Dame with the Blue Chewed Shoe Kickstarter – and to pledge your support – please visit:

Kickstarter.jpg

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pinheadgames/nick-bounty-and-the-dame-with-the-blue-chewed-shoe

AMO would love to hear your thoughts via the comments section below! Also, don’t forget to follow AMO on Twitter and Facebook!

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