Monday, November 17, 2008

Everybody Dies: an Interactive Fiction Game

Nerd Confession Time: ever since I was a teen, I've been a huge fan of text-adventure games, or interactive fiction (to use the high-brow term).  Those who were computer geeks like me in the 80's will know what I'm talking about and might even remember games like Zork, Planetfall or the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy (all made by that classic interactive fiction company, Infocom).  

Anyway, I still play those kinds of games today and when my buddy Jim Munroe asked me to draw some illustrations as part of his new text-adventure game, Everybody Dies, I was thrilled.  My schedule at the time was jam packed, but there was no way I was going to miss out on the opportunity to get my name in the credits of something like that!

Originally, I was asked to draw 3 small illustrations, but that quickly morphed into 16 full drawings, which is a pretty sizable amount.  But after I played through a rough beta version of the game, I was totally stoked and wanted to deliver the best job possible.  Jim is a professional writer of some repute, and he crafted a game that was refreshingly original and hilarious.  

After the game was completed, it was entered in the annual Interactive Fiction Competition (a cool nerdy event all on its own) and we were delighted to find out that it won 3rd place.  The credit really goes to Jim, since he had the hard task of writing and programming it, but I was very happy to contribute.

So all this is preamble to me explaining where the illustrations at the top of this post are from, since they are 2 of the 16 drawings I created for the game.  These two feature two of the characters from the game, Graham and Lisa.   You can check below to see the pencil roughs for those illos.

The best part though is that if you want to play Everybody Dies and check it out for yourself, its completely free.  You can play it online at this link (using Javascript), or  download various Mac or Windows versions to play offline.  Give it a try, if you've got the time -- Jim's writing is a real treat.

P.S. for the record, my favourite Interactive Fiction games of all time are Sorcerer, The Lurking Horror and Infidel, all by Infocom.   I even played them again just a couple of years ago.  There -- taste my nerdiness.


Jason Chalker said...

Awesome! Those came out great!

I love those games too. Although the only one I really played regularly was Zork. If you have an iPhone, there's a free app called Frotz that has the original MIT bbs version of Zork and all the other MIT interactive fiction games you can download to your phone. You can also get the Infocom versions of Zork, but they aren't free.

thedave said...

...these look great...i am checking out the link now.

Zack said...

Whoa, interactive fiction with Michael Cho illustrations, that's just about the coolest thing to happen to my dorky little world since the iPhone.

jeremy said...

I loved the writing and the illustrations in Everybody Dies.

Michael Cho said...

Jason: Thanks, Jason. You can also check out the link on my post for free online playable versions of Zork, and a ton of other infocom games. Those games are now carefully archived and available online -- and the cool part is you can find all the manuals and original documentation for them too!

thedave: thanks, Dave. Hope you like the game.

zack: thanks, Zack!

Jeremy: thanks, Jeremy. I'm glad you liked the game.

Paul Conrad said...

Michael, as always your work rocks (saving them to my Michael Cho inspiration folder right now) :)
Doesn't look like the changes at home have affected your output too much... that's good.

Also, LOVE the new masthead too!

Scott Chantler said...

You have completely destroyed my productivity with that Infocom games link. Long live Zork!

Michael Cho said...

Paul: thanks, Paul. Yeah, I don't have much free time with the new baby, but I keep trying to do some quick drawings when I can, so as to avoid getting too rusty. And thanks for the kudos on the header-- I was actually inspired by your blog to make a custom one for myself.

Scott: ha! You have only yourself to blame, young man. Actually, I wasted weeks myself working through the entire Infocom library a few years back. You can even google the games and find the original packaging and instructions online...but I probably shouldn't have told you that, right?

Now you're gonna waste even more time...

Bat said...

Hi Michael... great blog man! Love the alley scenes you do, cool stuff. My supressed inner-geek will check out the game too!.... anyway, nice stuff, see on the DB!

Aparna said...

Last one is my favorite, its very beautiful