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The Feed: Robot Chicken/’Spore Galactic Adventures’ Q&A

Posted by ballightning on May 23, 2009

G4: How did you get involved in doing new adventures forSpore Galactic Adventures?
Matt Senreich:There’s a guy who works at Maxis, Kevin Kurtz, who has been talking to me for years about us doing something with him. He likes our sensibility and our sense of humor, and he’s been he’s been looking for a while for a project for us to do. He used to work over at LucasArts, and when we went over to EA to work on Spore, he just thought it really spoke to the Robot Chicken style of writing. So he sent me a little tease of what they were doing withSpore Galactic Adventures, and I just bit. Then I presented it to the writers, who all signed on.

G4: How was writing for Spore different from writing for Robot Chicken?

Root:Robot Chicken is more targeted. You’re trying to draw the viewer to one specific thing, you want them to listen to one specific joke, and you’re making one specific point. But when you’re writing for a video game, you’re writing an immersive environment where it’s up to the player to decide what they’re going to see first or next, so you’re juggling all these possibilities. It’s a much different kind of writing, which was quickly apparent when we started working onSpore.Spore, luckily, doesn’t have anything like dialog trees, but every supporting character could have up to five lines of dialog when they’re just passive, and five lines of dialog when you talk to them…
Senreich:…and there’s the pressure of making every one of those lines funny…
Root:…and if you’re just walking past a character, maybe you’re only going to catch one of those lines, so they all have to be equally weighted. There’s all kinds of considerations like that you never have to think about when you’re writing for TV.

G4: Were any of the writers were either particularly good or especially bad at writing for the game?

Senreich:Dan Milano, who was the creator of Greg The Bunny [and now writes and does voices for R.C.], he picked it up really quickly. He was like the guru, everyone looked to him.
Root:Dan is the kind of guy who, if you tell him he gets to make his own video game, he will latch onto it and squeeze every little bit out of the experience because he was so excited about it. I think he probably had the best day out of any of us.
Senreich:Yeah. So who had the hardest time?
Root:I’m going to say Hugh Sterbakov.
Senreich:Really?
Root:Just because he would tell you that he had the hardest time. He actually did really well, but he would pretend like it was just another miserable chapter in his life, ’cuz that’s the kind of guy he is.
Senreich:Yeah, as much as he’ll say he had the hardest time, his adventure was one of my favorites.
Root:Oh yeah, “Banana Monkey War” was fantastic.
Senreich:I don’t think anybody really struggled, I think some people just took a little longer to figure out the mechanics.
Root:Yeah, we’re all video game players, so we were all excited by it. It wasn’t like having your parents write a video game. Everyone in that room can set the clock on their VCR.

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