The guys held several panels, speaking about their current Kickstarter project, SpaceVenture, among other things. I caught the guys during some downtime and got an exclusive interview. Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy have incredible down-to-Earth personalities and are equally thankful to Ken and Roberta Williams at Sierra; for giving them a chance to work at their software company, as well as to the fans, who have helped fund SpaceVenture! The Two Guys From Andromeda talk a little about their last days at Sierra Entertainment, going their separate ways and then reuniting for SpaceVenture!
Would you mind telling me how you guys reunited for this project?
– Crowe: “Scott and I live far apart. We hadn’t seen each other in a number of years. I’ve been in the software business for quite a while, doing console games. We had toyed with the idea of getting together, doing a Space Quest game, 10 to 15 years ago, but we knew we had a lot of hurdles. The publisher, Activision, owned the game, so that was a major hurdle. The advent of Kickstarter was the impetus of us getting back together, doing this thing. Kind of showing us how we could do this, without funds. We wanted to do a Space Quest game, and we approached Activision, but they politely told us no. We started forming the concept for an original title. We definitely don’t want to come across as though we’re anti-Activision. We would like to work with them someday. And maybe we can get the license to Space Quest, at some point in the future.”
– Murphy: “Mark was working for Dynamix, when Sierra purchased them. When Dynamix closed down, he went to Pipeworks. I didn’t even know he was still in the software business. He’s learned a ton of stuff about project management. He knows all kinds of really cool buzzwords. I kind of phased out of it. Time passed. I was burned out. Things happened. I had several personal issues: A marriage that ended after several years, health problems with some family members.”
– Murphy: “Nothing was really going on with the adventure game (genre). The first-person shooter came along; the adventure game got forgotten. The console became huge, and people quit making games, for the most part, for PCs. I knew about Kickstarter, but I really didn’t know what Double Fine was doing. He got in touch with me, we talked about old times and compared notes.”
– Crowe: “We were aware that we had this loyal fanbase, out there. For years, they were clamoring for a new Space Quest game, but we knew we couldn’t give them the Space Quest game. When Double Fine came out with Kickstarter campaign, they didn’t even announce what they were doing… just make a game. Shoot, we’re two committed guys. I’m sure we can come up with something new and original. So, I cold called Scott. We had completely lost touch of each other, with our busy lives. I tracked him down.”
– Murphy: “I thought he moved out and bought a Dunkin Donuts, or something.”
– Crowe: “I almost did. An ice-cream shop. I almost bought a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream shop, back in Oakhurst, actually. So, I cold called Scott, well, e-mail, actually. Fortunately, he was receptive to it. He got back in touch with me, right away. I was so glad. We got together, and rekindled our friendship. Cleared the air about a lot of stuff.”
– Murphy: “We had some confusing things about how our lives went. Mark was starting a new life. He had two kids. He and his wife wanted to get out, and have their own lives. There was so much pressure on us with the games… There was a lack of communication, rather than miscommunication. We were just so fried. We would get done with a game, and we’d just want to get the hell out of the building. Get away for a while. And a lot of things were happening fast with Mark. When you have two babies, that eats up a lot of your time. I stayed with Sierra, and then Sierra closed down. At first, I was bummed about it, and then I realized, after I’d been off for a couple of weeks, ‘Wow. What a relief.’ The weight was lifted. I was only sleeping two hours a night, and I felt all this energy… my shoulders felt like they raised about two feet. It was just kind of weird.”
It sounds like both of you might have gotten burned out, while working at Sierra.
– Crowe: “What Scott did have, and still does, thankfully, is a really twisted sense of humor. That is still intact and very much a part of what we’re doing… We’re definitely keeping the Space Quest feel, in SpaceVenture. But it was really, a heart-to-heart conversation that we had, when we reconnected. We both realized, together, our talents melded. What’s that saying? The sum is greater than the parts.”
– Murphy: “Having never been in a partnership with anybody else before, we really didn’t understand how well we got along, compared to other people. We never had disagreements. There were never any hard feelings. We got along so well, we respected each other’s opinions. We listened to each other. We really had a smooth relationship. The toughest part was dealing with the corporate stuff. You see bands break up all the time. You see partners go separate ways. Sometimes, they get back together. The fact of the matter is, Mark and I never really went away. After we patched up some of the misconceptions, how we went our separate ways, once we got over that initial hour, really nothing’s changed. All of a sudden, all of that time we’d been apart, was gone. Both of us were wiser. We appreciated each other a little bit more, because of that gap in time. I have as much, if not more, respect for Mark, than I did before.”
Can you tell me a little about SpaceVenture?
– Crowe: “It’s very Space Quest-like. It’s got our DNA all over it. Obviously the same type of humor: sci-fi parody. That’s our shtick… and we’re schticking to it.”
“Ace Hardway is our main character. He’s not very like Roger Wilco in a lot of ways. He’s not a bumbling moron. He’s very driven. He’s very proud of his profession. He’s an intergalactic plumber, but he’s not a janitor! We’ve kind of done a 180 from Roger Wilco, who was this bumbling janitor. This guy is more driven. He’s got this sidekick, Rooter, which is his walking toolbox.”
– Murphy: “He’s a blue-collar kind of guy. A blue space collar. He’s someone a lot of people can relate to. Roger was fun. We could do things to him, but he just wanted to sleep and eat. Ace has a higher aspiration for himself. He’s no executive. He’s not running a super corporation. He’s no superhero, but he has a lot of heart.”
– Crowe: “SpaceVenture is — at its core — a classic point-and-click adventure game. It’s got all of the trademark Space Quest things. It’s not linear. You can backtrack to different worlds. Lots of different characters to interact with. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the fans who have contributed through the Kickstarter campaign, funding this project. As part of the reward in doing that, we’re letting them see the whole development process, as we go along. On our backer website, they’re able to see all the concept art, a behind-the-curtain look at the design process.”
Will this be a PC-only release? Or will you consider consoles, as well?
– Murphy: “Initially, PC.”
– Crowe: “That’s something we’re going to visit down the road, after we see how this does. Right now we’re targeting PC and IOS. We think we’ll be on the iPhone IOS, iPad and possibly Android, too. We think that’s where we need to be.”
– Murphy: “We’re dying to get on the mobile platforms. It just makes their smart phones, or their iPad, that much more fun. The PC has always been our home base. I actually have a beef: How few things have been made for the PC, over the years. Maybe it’s my old-timer mentality, perhaps. Most everybody has a PC, of some sort, or an IOS device.”
Will you be attending any more conventions in the near future?
– Crowe: “Next year (2013), for sure, when we have a game to show. Certainly, when we’re further along in the development process. This was kind of a last-minute thing, so we weren’t prepared to show a lot from the game.”
– Murphy: “GMX added us really quickly. We’re hoping to be at DragonCon next year. I screwed up and missed it this year, because of a personal issue. There’s a real good chance that we’ll make PAX, in March. Chris Pope is definitely going to drag us to more of these things. He’s really experienced with this stuff, so we’re paying a lot of attention to him. Every opportunity we get, we’re going to try to attend conventions, because this has been a blast.”
– Crowe: “We’re hoping to be at Comic-Con. We hope to also be back here, at GMX next year, and definitely make the circuit.”
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