This interview is of Doodstormer, creator of Elements (CYOA)!
(Interview conducted by Gunwallace!)
Q.1 Why Doodstormer as an alias?
I use Doodstormer as my alias for pretty much everything. Partly it's because I'm really forgetful, and partly because I like people to be able to find me easier on the near dozens of communities and such that I use. I don't know where it came from or if it means anything significant, although apparently it can be taken as “Death Aggressor” if you've got a really loose grasp on Dutch.
Q.2 Who is Doodstormer when he's at home?
By day I am Tim, an eccentric but mostly average high schooler, living with my equally eccentric parents, my stereotypical jock younger brother, and 5 cats. My hobbies can be boiled down to drawing, Lego and Mystery Science Theater. Most people see me as anti-social due to my picky tastes (I basically can't stand anything made after the 90s).
Q.3 Your comic, Elements CYOA, is inspired by old school computer games like King's Quest … which ones have you played, and which was the most frustrating/memorable?
I believe my first real experience with text-based adventuring began when I bought the King's Quest Collection, which was basically all of the 7-8 games in that series. I was completely clueless as to what the games actually were, but the cheapskate deep within told me that 7 games for 10 bucks was a deal I should take up.
There were a few other ones, like Peasant's Quest (a short flash game that parodied the genre) and Zork, but King's Quest was the biggest influence. Most of the stylistic elements and puzzles were actually influenced more by the Myst series though, which I had watched my dad play when I was really young.
I still haven't beaten most of them, since even though I like the games my skill at figuring them out leaves something to be desired.
I would say by far the most frustrating one I've played was I believe the second King's Quest, where every time you started the game it would ask you to find a word in the manual just to start… Only I didn't have a manual, so it required a long rabbit chase of Google links just to start.
And then the first screen entailed navigating through a twisty curvy path using the arrow keys, and since this was an older game, the boundaries weren't very clear… I ended up giving that one up pretty early in, unfortunately.
Q.4 Aside from computer games, what other influences are important to your comic?
Well I think the most obvious outside reference is MS Paint Adventures, which inspired me to do my own comic in such a format (reader commands). While MSPA has largely fallen away from it's original format in that respect, I liked the idea. I believe it also influenced my habit of making snarky rejections to odd commands.
Another influence would be my dad's occasional ramblings about peoples' behaviour. He'll often make odd analogies, like comparing politicians to cats, and those end up sticking in my head, emerging in the comic as absurd caricatures. Actually the Schlockmeister is a more direct reference to him.
And, of course, there's the influence of the standard 52-card Poker deck. Lon Quillow actually began life as a sketch for the 2 of Hearts.
Q.5 Could you explain the process of selecting/rejecting suggested orders in Elements CYOA?
The ones that go right out from the start are the ones that are suicidal or sexual, since I have standards, dang it!
Then, after I've eliminated those I check to see which ones are popular or have been repeated from a previous page. Of course, the popular stuff can get overridden if somebody suggests something absolutely hilarious or something I think will be more useful to the story. Really it's a very random process, but the main rule is not to make it feel like any one person is being given too much control.
Q.6 What is the best order suggestion you have NOT used?
In terms of popularity, the best unused command was a tie between throwing the mailbox through Lon's window (to get inside), and tying the knife to a stick to make a spear.
I don't think there's been one I really liked that I didn't use, at least that I can remember.
Q.7 You have mentioned that Elements has more plot development to come. How flexible is the future of the story and the fate of Lon, everyone's favourite humble 'shroom farmer?
While I have the general idea of the ending worked out, it as well as everything in between is very flexible. The main things that I plan to introduce concern unexplained elements of the “game”, like the cards, as well as getting to know the cultures of the various races. I want to let people get to know the universe, since I feel that if you know more about the world of the characters, you care more about their struggles.
As for Lon, I think he'll be fine aside from perhaps going completely insane at least twice along the way.
Q.8 Your updates come along in quickfire batches. How long does it take you to do a page?
The length of time needed for a page typically depends on what “props” I need. If it's just messing around with things in the current room, it only takes me a few minutes to move things around.
If I need to make new backgrounds, characters, or positions for current ones, it takes me a little longer. Due to shaky hands, the backgrounds drive me insane trying to get the lines right.
Really, what contributes to the waits between batches is giving time for people to make their suggestions.
Q.9 What has been the biggest artistic challenge so far in Elements?
I think the biggest challenge I've had so far is the “cutscene” in pages 136-139. I had to make several backgrounds and positions all at once, as well as convey a mood of doom ‘n’ gloom. Since the characters don't talk for themselves or have any features aside from their eyes to convey any emotions, it really relied totally on the backgrounds, which I believe I succeeded at accomplishing.
Q.10 Do you have any other webcomic projects in mind for the future?
I've been working on a script for a sci-fi comic, Lunar City Arena, recently, that would require a lot more investment in the way of art and time from my end. My current plan is to finish it first, then release it in the standard webcomic fashion. I'd say more on this, since LCA is one of my favorite themes and I'd really like to make a comic for it, but I think I'd get carried away.
I've also considered making a sprite comic with effort put into making it actually a good comic. I feel that sprite comics as a whole are generally thought of with such low regard due to the lack of effort or consideration put into them, and it would be fun to make one people can enjoy, as well as maybe inspire other spriters to try for higher standards of quality.
Both ideas are in the very rough stages of development, with at most some sketches and small snippets of dialogue, and probably won't see light until much later.
Q11. Would you like to collaborate with others on any of these projects? (Do you see yourself more as a writer or an artist?)
I think that while collaborating would probably make the work easier, I'm really picky when it comes to ideas I really like and would probably become an incredible annoyance to the artist/writer I was paired with. That's not to say that I wouldn't be able to write or draw for somebody else's idea, but I guess I just like to do things my own way too much.
I'd like to say I'm both an artist and a writer, but my strong point would definitely be the art rather than the writing (Which I'm always looking to improve on).
Q12. Would you ever consider making Elements into a actual computer game or book?
A computer game, maybe, but it would probably be too easy to beat, seeing as the comic would become an incredibly detailed walkthrough. I've considered finding someone that could convert some in-game puzzles into flash games though, since I'm a sucker for interactivity.
I probably wouldn't consider releasing Elements in book form either, since I don't really think it would work very well in that medium. It'd be like reading through a book of screenshots. I might make a “user's guide” of some kind though, sort of like the old SNES game manuals that gave you a crash course on what you were playing and who the characters were.
Q.13 When Elements CYOA was featured, did it affect your attitude about your work?
Did you feel compelled to advance the story quicker or add more action/humor due to the increased audience?
While it didn't affect the actual content of the comic, getting featured sort of jolted me into actually updating, since I had been slacking off on it for a while.
It also made me pay more attention to commands from the DrunkDuck audience, seeing as if I was taking up a big thumbnail on their front page saying it was a Choose Your Own Adventure, I figured I should let them see that happen from their end.
Q.14. One of the best aspects of Elements is the Choose Your Own Adventure aspect where readers can submit orders. But this can make reading from the beginning less exciting, since all those orders have already been made. However, a reader/order-giver has to have some clue as to what is going on in order to make useful suggestions … Is there an ideal place to begin for new readers? Or maybe a summary page?
To be honest, I'm not really sure where is the best part to start. If you're really in a hurry, I'd say if you just skipped through three pages at a time you'd get the essentials.
There is going to be a character introduced in the near future for the sole purpose of remedying this problem though, since I know it's a bit of a drag to read through if you're just trying to get information.
Q.15 This whole interview exchange has been a very pleasant experience … have you ever wanted your own TV talk show? And if so who would be the musical guest following this interview?
I've never thought about having my own talk show. I suppose if I did, I'd probably do a variety thing with randomly selected guests and musicians, just to keep things fresh. Although I think there's a few guests I'd really like to get and would end up hand picking, like Mike Nelson or Sean Connery.
Q.16 I'd ask another question, but I'm busy drinking single malt with Sean Connery in the green room … must be time for your monologue. (Anything you wish to add to this interview? Do it now or we'll cut to commercial …)
Kids stay in school, make friends, and enjoy life!
Adult types keep doing whatever it is you do, I'll get there eventually so save me a chair.
I can't think of anything else to say (It'll come to me about 25 minutes after this is published, most likely), so thanks for the interview!
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