Chris Pope (also known as The SpacePope) recently made a brief appearance at the Alabama Phoenix Festival to promote the upcoming game, SpaceVenture. As a co-founder of Guys From Andromeda LLC, Chris is hard at work, getting the game completed later this year. Chris was gracious with his time and chatted for an interview with me, discussing the current status of the Kickstarter program, creating a visual walkthrough for the Space Quest games and how he finally made contact with the Two Guys From Andromeda, for the very first time.
What is the current status of the SpaceVenture Kickstarter program?
– “We are looking to have the game out, no later than October of this year. We’re working on a playable demo, that we’re hoping to have up very, very soon. Hoping to actually announce it for sure, with this next Kickstarter update in June. Some moons have to line up, before that’s going to work. It’s coming along. We’re going to be booking studio time for the voice actors, which we are going full union (SAG-AFTRA). We’ve already got our studio picked out we’re going to use. It’ll be in Studio City, which is basically the LA area.”
“We’re still looking to have Ellen McLain (the voice of GLaDOS), Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs), Robert Clotworthy (Jim Rainer of StarCraft, StarCraft II)… I’m talking with Vince Caso — from The Guild — at playing a part in the game. We’re talking to Veronica Belmont, who is the very well-known tech news girl. We’re really excited about having her in it. And some other names: John Patrick Lowrie (the Sniper of Team Fortress 2) and Gary Owens (Original Narrator of the Space Quest series).”
“The story, of course, is done. A lot of the artwork is done. The programmers have got the mechanics of the game rolling along pretty well. Scott is working on all of the click scripts right now. When you click your hand on this, it says this. We pulled another intern in, who’s a Unity guru — Unity is the engine we’re using. He’s plugging away, really helping out a lot. We don’t have a physical studio; we’re all working off the Internet. I’m in Atlanta, Scott’s in Alabama, Mark’s in Oregon, Patrick is in Oklahoma, Tyler is in South Carolina. Everybody’s scattered all over the place. The short answer is: It’s coming along.”
What is drop-dead target for SpaceVenture’s release?
– “Everything’s up in the air. If I had it my way, the absolute latest it would come out would be October. It’s going to come out this year. I feel like the game will be fully and utterly polished by October. It shouldn’t be any later than that. We’ve got most of the rewards for the backers. The one thing that we’ve got left are the boxes. We’ve got to order the Sierra-like boxes. We’ve got the Buckazoid coins, the shirts… we’ve got almost everything together — as far as rewards go. The game is still coming along.”
How did you initially get involved with the Two Guys From Andromeda?
– “It’s really odd, how it happened. I started doing social media with actors years ago. I sort of got a name for myself as the guy for social media, in the LA world. I actually found myself meeting with Disney and other people, at one point, just doing social media. It lined itself up. It was word of mouth. I’ll be the first to admit I was really lucky with this. I got in on it really early, and nobody was doing what I was offering: To help people with their social media presence and how to interact with fans. I had tried to get in touch with Scott Murphy a bunch of times, over a few years, saying, ‘Hey, I’d love to help you with your Website,’ because the Website was horrendous. It was a picture of a hand, sitting on a mouse. This is how it was for 10 years or something, up until last year. I was watching him on Twitter, and he seemed like he was so down. He was in Alabama, helping his Mom. He was doing something nice for somebody else.”
“A part of me owed a lot to Sierra, I was such a huge fanatic of Sierra when I was a kid. I would have never moved in the direction of computers and this industry, had it not been for Sierra. I’m thinking to myself, ‘What can I do, to give a little back?’ If I was going to help somebody for free, who would I want to help? I was blessed enough to interact with all these celebrity people, but I wasn’t as excited to work with all these famous people as getting to interact with Sierra people. I got to know Al Lowe a little bit — the maker of Leisure Suit Larry — which was cool. But of all the people I could track down of Sierra, Scott Murphy seemed like the one who could really use some help. Like I said, his Website was horrible. It had been better off if he just didn’t have one.”
“There was one day, my wife and I were at a goodwill store, picking up a couple of bike-riding helmets for my kids instead of driving home and picking theirs up they already had. While I was there, I saw an original Space Quest III box, which I was blown away. Of all the Space Quest boxes, that’s the one I didn’t have. I had the Collector’s Edition, which had Space Quest III, but I didn’t have the box. I took that as a sign. The next time I contacted Scott, I did things a little different. I decided to name-drop on him. I knew he was a fan of Eureka and I knew he liked Felicia Day. Out of the blue, he finally responded to me. We set up a phone call and it was really cool to finally get a chance to talk to him. I’d done a lot of podcasting over the years on the Tech Jive network, let’s do this: Let’s set up a Website, I’ll help you build your Twitter following, your Facebook following, and let’s do a massive interview, where you can tell your whole story. Normally, I’ve done over Skype in the past, but Scott said, ‘I’m just in Alabama, why don’t you come on over?’ We did like an eight- or nine-hour interview. He told it all. Scott brings a box of his Sierra stuff, a lot of stuff fans have never seen before. We took photos of it all.”
“This was like July 2010. Over the next few months, I would work on Scott’s Website. All of a sudden, Tim Shaeffer drops the bomb with the Double Fine Adventure KickStarter. Around that same time, Mark Crowe — who I had not been able to contact — contacts Scott out of the blue. One of my master plans was eventually to get Scott and Mark back together. I take no credit in that. I will admit that was a master plan, but I didn’t have anything to do with it. Mark contacted Scott on his own, and the two patched things up. They had a nice heart-felt phone call, and Mark basically pitched the idea of a game. Neither of them was very tech-savvy, in terms of social media. Scott said, ‘I’ve got the guy to do that. Let’s talk to him.'”
“Scott gave Mark my information. We met up on Skype and hit it off for about an hour and a half. The next thing we know, we’re negotiating starting a company together, being partners. One of the things I told them, flat-out, if I do this with you guys, I’m partners (with you). I don’t want to be the Third Guy From Andromeda. As a fan, there will only be Two Guys From Andromeda. They were cool with that. We started the company: Guys From Andromeda LLC and started the KickStarter. Away we go, down this crazy rollercoaster.”
How did you get interested in the Space Quest series?
– “Being such a huge fan, as a kid, Space Quest was the first Sierra game I ever saw. I played it at a friend’s house and got addicted to it. Every birthday, Christmas, every chance I got, I’d asked for a Sierra game. Space Quest being one of my favorite series, it was one I was collecting. Over the years, I’d had all the boxes, but Space Quest III was the one I didn’t have.”
Have you gotten your children addicted to the series as well?
– “My youngest daughter, Lilly. She loves adventure games. For some reason, she’s the one of the three who loves that idea. I sat down with her and we played Space Quest I together. We knocked it out in about a day. We beat Space Quest II and then Space Quest III. Now, we’re on Space Quest IV. We haven’t started it yet, but we’ll be starting it pretty soon.”
Didn’t you create a visual walkthrough for each game in the Space Quest series?
– “In 2006, at one point, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I was reminiscing about Sierra and thinking it would be fun to play through all those Sierra games, but how can I make this productive? I’m real big on if I’m going to do something, I’d like for there to be a reason for it, other than it’s just fun. Because I’d already beaten them, many times. I played through all of King’s Quest, all the Space Quest… I didn’t play through Space Quest VI. At the time, I didn’t have a way of getting it play. I had an emulator for all the others. I did all the Space Quests up to V.”
I went through every click, everything you type, I took a screenshot of exactly what you have to do, step-by-step. I did it for all the Leisure Suit Larry’s, as well. Al Lowe has a cool Website — none of the other Sierra people do — so I contacted Al. I said, ‘I’ve got all these screenshots, would you like to put them on your site?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ So, that started a back-and-forth e-mail with Al Lowe, and kind of got to know him a little bit. Eventually, we did a podcast together. Recently, I put up the Space Quest ones on the Guys From Andromeda Website.”
How do you balance managing celebrity appearances with the Guys From Andromeda?
– “When I started the company with Mark and Scott, I made a commitment to them: Basically, I would drop 90 percent of my other business and work on SpaceVenture, because it’s my dream. My dream, as a kid, growing up, was to work at Sierra. I wanted that more than anything in this world. To get to somewhat fulfill that dream, was a no-brainer for me to drop everything. My contracts were up for a lot of lesser-known actors. I dropped a lot of my actors. I kept some of my bigger actors and do the convention-booking thing, which doesn’t take a lot of my time. I shoot out e-mails; I make some phone calls. A lot of conventions go straight to my roster, so in terms of me having to do a lot of work there, it’s not heavy-heavy. I try to spend 90 percent of my time on this. I signed a contract with the Guys From Andromeda and that’s who I’m with.”
What was the fan reaction after the Guys From Andromeda appeared at GMX last year?
– “A lot of excitement. Scott and Mark haven’t been physically together, other than a video up in Oregon. Seeing them in a public environment was really big, to the fans. It was awesome. We got really good feedback from that. I know some of the fans are wanting to make it back this year.”
Is it official the Guys From Andromeda will return to the Geek Media Expo this year?
– “We’re working on it. I’m trying to confirm it. My buddy, Jeremy Miller, of Guest Relations, is working with me on that.”
Where will the Guys From Andromeda appear next?
– “The Two Guys From Andromeda — along with myself — will be at San Diego Comic-Con, which is in July. We’re going to have something for the press to check out, something for fans to try, like a playable demo of the game. We’re going to have a table there, as well. Most likely, we’re going to shoot for GMX again, this year. Other than that, we’re at the mercy of whether the conventions want to fly us out or drive us, because we’re not wanting to spend any of the backer money. We did spend a little bit of the money at San Diego Comic-Con, because we feel like it’s important to do that for the press. I was getting grief on KickStarter because the fans were saying, ‘Why are you going to so many conventions? Shouldn’t you be making a game?’ I had to put on there, ‘Actually, Chris is the one who’s been going to the conventions,’ because it’s my job to promote the game. I’m a producer of the game, but I’m also doing all of the promotions for the game. Mark and Scott have got their nose to the grindstone, getting things done. I’ll probably be at SIEGE, which is in Atlanta and most likely, DragonCon. If we don’t go to DragonCon, all three of us will be at PAX. But Mark and Scott will be at San Diego Comic-Con and GMX, as it stands right now.”