Designer Diary: Monday, June 28, 1995

Hector LeMans concept art

Hector LeMans concept art

Okay, scrap the Warcraft game idea. What was I thinking? I don’t know how to make one of those things! I must have been crazy! I need to stick to what I know – graphic adventures. I think I was just trying to hide from the fact that I don’t know what kind of graphic adventure to make. What I really need to do is concentrate. I just have to sit in this chair, clear my mind, and have a good idea. Hmmm… what… kind… of… game…? Need an idea… a really good idea… need an idea for a game… just one simple idea… hmmm… Maybe I just need some coffee.

Hey, how about a 3D graphic adventure that tells a tale of hard, cold crime and corruption in a wildly surreal and mythical world, combining elements of ancient Mexican folklore, classic film noir movies, and ’60s-era custom hot rods? Woooo! Caffeine high!

Sometimes things are so easy! Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all that easy. Maybe I agonized for months, suffering from writer’s block and a paralyzing fear of the blank page. But I’m writing this from the future, so I can remember it anyway I want.

The truth is, I had part of the Fandango idea before I did Full Throttle. I wanted to do a game that would feature those little papier-mache, folk-art skeletons from Mexico. I was looking at their simple shapes and how the bones were just painted on the outside, and I thought, “Texture maps! 3D! The bones will be on the outside! It’ll look cool!”

But then I was stuck. I had these skeletons walking around the Land of the Dead. So what? What did they do? Where were they going? What did they want? Who’s the main character? Who’s the villain? The mythology said that the dead walk the dark plane of the underworld known as Mictlan for fours years, after which their souls arrive at the ninth plane, the Land of Eternal Rest. Sounds pretty “questy” to me. But who supplies the dramatic opposition? Why demons and monsters ‘n stuff? There you have it: a game.

“Not cool enough,” said Peter Tsacle, my lead artist. “A guy walking in a supernatural world? What’s he doing? Supernatural things? It just sounds boring to me. Really boring. In fact, I’m falling asleep just thinking about… zzz.”

Ouch.

Well, back to the drawing board…

Tim Schafer, Grim Fandango Designer