Colin Timothy Gagnon (sacredspud) wrote,
Colin Timothy Gagnon

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"Computer! Set a course for Monostadt VII!"

Guess what I finished tonight? The first draft of the Captain Spleen Audio Drama. Yes, I know that you don't know or care what I'm talking about.

The first question you probably have is "What the hell is the Captain Spleen Audio Drama?" All right. Long ago in 1996 I thought (mistakenly) that I was terribly witty, and (inspired heavily by the poor example set by Russian Underwear Software) programmed a really terrible adventure game called Captain Spleen. It was awful, the graphics could have been drawn by a retarded monkey, and it was incredibly short thanks to the constraints of MS-DOS and some very poor design choices on my part. A handful of people (probably other 16-year-olds who thought they were terribly witty) actually paid me money for the sequel. Those people are never getting their five dollars back.

The story told by the two-episode Captain Spleen series was simple. Spleen was a Flash Gordonesque science fiction hero, in that he was dashing, looked good in tights, and so much was happening to him at any given moment that he didn't need any real background story. In episode one, Spleen must defeat his arch nemesis, a giant nose named Mr. Pointy who has come to collect an old debt. My friend Robert worked with me to design the second episode in which we get kidnapped and Spleen has to rescue us. There were a few good ideas between the stories and a whole lot of bad ones. Mercifully, the third episode never got off the ground, but it was going to have a surprise ending in which the bad guy is unmasked as my friend Tom who turned to a life of crime in order to star as the bad guy in a video game.

We finished Captain Spleen ][ about a month before South Park premiered on Comedy Central, and I was very upset by the character Kenny who is literally the same as Captain Spleen's sidekick Kent (except that Kent never really dies, you just think he does. Then he shows up later t regale you with stories of how he was saved or resuscitated just after you left the room). People have asked me whether I was stealing from South Park or vice versa, but obviously we came up with the idea independently. Besides, I had based Kent on a character named Trent from the game Leather Goddesses of Phobos, which is definitely worth checking out if you want to know what my problem is.

Anyway, about the time I was graduating high school, I started serious work on Captain Spleen 3D. I had some good ideas for a science fiction parody, but I wanted to start the story over. Mr. Pointy had drowned in mucus at the end of the first game (I don't know why, either), and I liked him as a bad guy. I didn't like the Lane Mastodon/Flash Gordon feel of the Captain Spleen character, but I was really into Kevin Smith movies and accidental heroes like Arthur Dent and Roger Wilco (the glorified janitor from the Space Quest games). I was hoping to restart the series with Spleen and Kent as slacker roommates who get recruited by a little-known government agency to explore the cosmos. Eventually reality set in when I realized that my ideas weren't really suited to game design. The real meat of the project was in the jokes and the dialogue. The actual game I was writing -- the interactive portions -- were just filler to tie the funny bits together. Captain Spleen would work better in a non-interactive format.

It was during the spring semester of 2000 that I started rewriting Captain Spleen as an audio production, mostly out of practicality. I'm a lousy graphic artist, I didn't have the resources to put it together on film, theater was simply not an option, and certain types of comedy work better in audio than text. I never actually stopped writing the script, but I went on several long hiatuses. Generally these have been beneficial, because all this time has allowed some of the pop-culture references to age, and the ones that haven't been axed will still make sense in a few years. About a month ago the script was about fifteen pages long and really, really messy. Now it's 52 pages long, and pretty darn tight.

So who's gonna act in this thing? I don't know. I may or may not put out a casting call here, but I'd like to involve the people who worked on the Us (Not Them Productions) version of HHG, so they get first dibs and that might be enough. There are 38 characters (technically more, but I'm counting all of the robot bachelors as one character, as well as all of the royal eunuchs). I expect a lot of doubling up on parts and I myself insist upon playing Spleen, Mr. Pointy, the narrator, Forrest Headroom, Thelonius Q. Greengenes, and all of the robot bachelors. Actually recording the dialogue is going to be the hardest part. Editing, though terminally dull, is really easy. Creating convincing sound effects is fun. When it's finished I'll break it up into tracks and post the MP3s on Soundclick or someplace like that.

I'm sorry, this probably comes off as another "Colin getting all excited about a project I'm not interested in that he's never going to finish" post, but this is something I've wanted to do for ages. Working with Us on HHG has proven to me that it can be done well and easily, and I'm elated that the biggest obstacle is overcome.

I so hope that I'm still fond of this script in a couple of days when I go back to edit it.
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