This post is a personal story about friendship and the best (not so) scary movie that changed our sense of humor forever. Possibly yours, too. This will not be a controversial post, but it is REALLY WEIRD that the Founder/CEO of a family-friendly video game studio is about to praise and credit a horror film series with being the inspiration behind the growing success of Artix Entertainment's video games. Why? Read more to find out.
Something you did not know about me...
I had a real hard time fitting in when I was little. If you found anyone who went to middle school with me and asked them about me, they would respond, "OMG, him? Yeah, he's that kid that wore black all the time and never smiled. Probably why he always sat alone at lunch." I was really quiet. Rarely, when I did open my mouth it was always about vampires, robots, ninja zombie aliens and so on, and was heavily shunned by the other kids for doing so. The thing that would surprise you most is that I had NO sense of humor. No puns. No jokes. No self-deprecating sense of humor. The guidance counselors were worried because I never laughed.
Warlic & Artix were childhood friends
I met Warlic when in 5th grade during an embarrassing complication resulting from my real first name being the same as his last name. We nearly ended up in the principal's office. It was complicated. But it did not take long for us to figure out we had a very important thing in common... we loved video games. The very first time we got to hang out, we made a video game, "DragonLord." It was a super-cheesy, simple RPG fighting system built with Basic. Sadly, we had only gotten to hang out together twice before we both moved hours away in opposite directions.
Evil Dead 2
In 9th grade, Warlic and I finally got a chance to hang out. That night, we stayed up late and saw an R-rated movie that, for us, was life-changing. It was called Evil Dead II and starred Bruce Campbell as his iconic and legendary character, "Ash." (Note: Yup, this is why I named the main character in ArchKnight Ash.) It was supposed to be a horror movie... and it was dark and gruesome, but for some reason, it was sooooo absurd that we started laughing. Laughing hard! We had never seen anything like it. Each scene seemed to be unintentionally more bizzare and quirky than the last. The main character goes to this creepy cabin in the woods where he finds a book of ancient evil called the Necronomicon. He foolishly causes a passage from the book to be read which brings back evil spirits. At some point Ash's hand got posessed and started punching him, flipping him, and smashing plates over his head. Eventually, he had to remove his own hand... and then spent a good portion of the movie chasing it around the creepy house, fighting it with embarrassing results. Every scene felt like an "epic fail." But back then, we could not tell if it was intentional or not. The highlight of the movie... was when Ash needed to go into the basement to collect the missing pages of the Necronomicon. To prepare himself, he does a brief Rocky-style preparation montage where he puts a chainsaw where his missing hand is, saws off his shotgun, cowboy-twirls it into the holder behind his back, and as the camera zooms up onto his face, he holds an unflinchingly-serious face and says, "Groovy."
We were literally rolling around on the floor laughing. Did you ever laugh so hard you were worried you were actually going to die?
If this is your first time seeing the scene, you might not find it AS funny as we did, because it has been imitated and spoofed hundreds of times in movies, video games, and other media. It did re-define our sense of humor. If you play Artix Entertainment games, you have seen that "epic fail" throughout almost everything I have had a hand in creating. But there is something else that director Sam Raimi did that changed the way I thought about making things...
Secret: The Movie was actually a remake of a remake....
When director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell made their first scary movie featuring a creepy cabin in the woods, it was called, "Within the Woods." Then they got a professional camera and a budget and went on to make Evil Dead which was almost an exact copy of their original movie. It was scary, and attempted to be a legitimate horror movie. But there was something comical about it. They decided to remake the same movie a 3rd time... and made Evil Dead II. Yup, it was not actually a sequel, but ANOTHER REMAKE of Evil Dead... except that they added that epic fail humor. Does this sound familiar?
It should sound familiar. We did the same thing. That first game that Warlic and I made, "DragonLord," was sort of our "Within the Woods." That is, DragonLord was our prototype concept for AdventureQuest. Then DragonFable was a remake of AdventureQuest, updated with that "epic fail" style sense of humor and fresh new game design. Then we did the same thing with AdventureQuest Worlds, where we quite literally built the exact same game a third time... evolving it as a massively multiplayer game.
Army of Darkness
They made an actual sequel to Evil Dead II... and it was released in theaters under the name Army of Darkness. It was FULL OF UNDEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I highly recommend that everyone over age 13 watches Army of Darkness. In this movie, Ash had fallen through a vortex in time with his shotgun, chainsaw, and car into a medieval time full of knights and castles. To return to the future, he had to once again quest for the Necronomicon. He epically failed and unleashed an army of the undead. The end of the movie was a giant undead war. Yup, an army of the undead attacked a castle of human defenders who were fighting for their lives. Needless to say, I have been trying all my life to recreate the feeling I had watching that battle.
Everything I make is original or a very blatant parody. What I wanted to recreate was that FEELING, because I wanted to be on that battlefield fighting that army of skeletal knights so bad I could nearly taste it.
In highschool, a friend gave me access to the BBS door game "Legend of the Red Dragon." It was a text-based fantasy game. I creatively created fake players who were skeletal forces and put a message that an undead army was attacking the town. Players battled to defeat the army, but once the minions were gone, the undead dragon boss suddently appeared with an insane number of health points and incredible attack damage. Many players died over the course of 24 hours trying to defeat the beast. Once slain, I changed the game so that the undead dragon's head became a permanent fixture in the inn. The players had never experienced a "real-time event" that actually ended up changing the world before.
Not long after I created the original AdventureQuest, we had the "Undead Invasion." It was a re-imagining of what I had done in that BBS door game. Because I was creating all of the monster's art, animation, and code alone back in those days, you could see how I was trying to incorporate the humor into the monsters themselves... in their descriptions and animations. The war was interesting because it was the first time a "war meter" appeared. All players working together to defend the town from an unstoppable army of the undead? If an event like that was not a 1st in games period, it had definitely never been done before in a web game. (Remember, this all happened in 2002... years before games like WoW or TOR existed) We were pretty cutting-edge. You can replay a version of this war in the original AdventureQuest's "10th Anniversary Quest."
AdventureQuest Worlds "Evil Dead II" Spoof
I finally got to do a full parody of the movie that inspired me most during our AdventureQuest Worlds Friday the 13th "Creepy Campfire Tales" with George Lowe. The event had 3 segments, each one doing a parody of a horror movie genre. For my segment, J6 built a semi-perfect 2D replica of the creepy cabin from the movie. We replaced Ash with a chainsaw-armed Artix. In the movie, they call their undead "Deadites." In our script, we had Beleen as the Pinkomancer, so she created undead "Pinkites," which were basically pink skeletons with bows on their heads. Just like Ash fought his hand, in the game you had to go fight Artix's missing pink hand... which was GIANT and pretty comical. Doing a PG-parody turned out to be pretty easy, and the fans of the movie definitely loved the references. If you are a Member of AQWorlds, you can play the parody as part of the "Creepy Campfire Tales." Many of our players were too young to know the movie, and many thought we were referencing other movies and shows they saw which were (LOL) also actually parodies of Evil Dead II. Funny how most people do not know the origin of things. That is a large reason of why I am writing this post. I think you should know.
Evil Dead Reboot & AdventureQuest 3D
This week they are "rebooting" Evil Dead with the launch of a new movie. Yes. They are remaking the same movie AGAIN. It is rated R and marketed as "the most terrifying film you will ever experience." Reading the reviews, this movie IS NOT FOR KIDS. (Actually, none of them are.) What is fascinating is, while Army of Darkness was more main stream, built for a wider audience, the reboot of Evil Dead goes back to its roots. It is serious. No jokes. No epic fail. It is down-right horrifying. It features a brand new cast, some familiar things, some completely new things. For example, instead of Ash, they are introducing a new character, Mia. Yup, just like how they replaced Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck with a female, they are doing the same thing in the Evil Dead reboot. I think it is a great idea. Because NO ONE COULD EVER PULL OFF ASH! Putting a new female character is brilliant. Especially because there are rumors that they are making an Army of Darkness II and a chance that Bruce Campbell as Ash could be side-by-side with the Mia character. #HopeForTheFuture
Meanwhile, we are also "rebooting" AdventureQuest with our new game, AdventureQuest 3D: Legend of LORE. We too are aging it up for an older audience, like the original game. (Although most younger players will still be able to enjoy it.) It will have some familiar things and some completely new things. We are refining our sense of humor to be older and more dangerous. The combat system will be deeper and it should reflect the times we live in. But we can all agree on not having a female Artix... right?
I am going to be working on AQ3D until 5pm tonight... then I am taking Warlic on an "emergency out-of-office meeting." Secretly I scored two tickets to a pre-screening of the new Evil Dead from Gofobo... and he is going to be pretty surprised when he sees what our "emergency out-of-office" meeting is.
Meanwhile, if you have not seen Army of Darkness.... *GIVES QUEST* Watch Army of Darkness! (Is it on Netflix?)
QUESTION: What movies, TV shows, and games heavily influenced your life?