WPR talks with Straandlooper, what could go wrong?

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Best question – “How much alcohol was imbibed during the creative process?”

We recently got the opportunity to speak with Straandlooper about their point and click adventure game trilogy, Hector: Badge of Carnage. The game follows Detective Inspector Hector through a twisting and turning game of puzzles, puns, and prostitutes. You can check out the reviews of them here, here, and here.

The gents have a great sense of humor and gave us a few tidbits about their game as well that may not have been known if not for our sleuthing.

What was the inspiration for creating the Hector: Badge of Carnage series?

Being an animation company, Hector was originally slated to be a TV series (there’s even a full length script for a pilot kicking around here somewhere). However, we were a bit sick of the traditional funding methods to get a TV show off the ground, and luckily for us, the wonderful, magical iPhone landed in our laps. Imagine that! All you need is an idea, and bingo, free money!

So, how to turn Hector into a game? We’re great at dialogue and had ideas for some wacky cop-based stories, and we all grew up loving the LucasArts classics, so the point & click was a perfect fit.

How much alcohol was imbibed during the creative process?

Alcohol? How dare you! The creation of Hector is not some sort of ridiculous party trick or locker room gag. It’s a refined technical process that requires acute mental focus! How else were we to achieve a game – nay, experience – so scientifically perfect that the Royal Academy uses it to calibrate their instruments? Shake your head, layman. You obviously know nothing of the creative process.

With all of the crazy antics within the series, there are bound to be parts that end up on the cutting room floor. Do you have any examples that you’d like to share?

Remember the wig in episode 1? Well, get this… it was originally going to be a hat! LOL! Okay, hold on, I’m sure I’ve got some better stuff than that. Lemme pull up the Document of Lost Ideas and give you the top three…

1. In Episode 2, the original means of escape was going to be a Mentos & Coke bomb – get Mentos from the clubber’s purse, find 50p for an ancient Coke machine inside the building, then toss the Mentos in the toilet bowl and the Coke in the cistern, flush to mix, and kaboom! (But it was questionable whether the explosive nature of the M&C combo was common enough knowledge, so we went with the laSplode hairspray instead. Later, in the restaurant, however, Doreen orders a Mentos & Coke.)
2. Most people like to end a climax with their most spectacular visuals. We, on the other hand, really wanted the end of Episode 2 to roll back to a proper Zork-era text adventure during a pitch black escapade through the Clappers Wreake Sewers. I’m talking zero visuals. How would they get through? By the lucky arrival of Blind Ali just before plunging in. (Had some great stuff planned for this, but ditched because it would have required a complete change of game design.)
3. Had to cut some good bits out of Clapfest in Episode 3: Hector was going to have to stop a heist of a Ride Token Booth, a Dodgem Car jacking and low-speed chase, and strap a post-thrill-ride souvenir photo onto a squirrel to win a pet lookalike contest. We also had plans to pay homage to Insult Swordfighting from Monkey Island with some sort of Cockney Rhyming Slang Challenge, but after talking to Dave Grossman about the difficulties of writing the original, opted out of that one.

Bonus: We briefly toyed with the idea of the final final final Episode 3 climax featuring Her Majesty the Queen.

Are you planning on any more adventures for Hector after the third episode comes to a close? Have you had any thoughts or plans to incorporate Hector into any other types of games besides point and click adventures?

Hector’s pretty versatile, but I’d have to say anything short of a point and click wouldn’t do Hector justice. The story-centric style and player-driven pace of the point and click was a perfect fit for Hector’s world, and anything else – first person shooter, time-based arcade puzzler, MMORPG – while funny to imagine, probably wouldn’t work as anything more than a parody spin-off.

Certainly wouldn’t say no to a late night TV series or feature film though, if there are any commissioning editors listening out there…

The voice acting for Hector is delightful. Is the voice actor that plays him anywhere near as condescending, lewd, or rough around the edges?

Yeah, Richard’s a nasty piece of work, but he’s a necessary evil. You should see him when we go over schedule.

What other games do you have in the works?

You’re talking about us like we’ve got more than one room in our studio. Everybody’s been elbow deep in Hector for the past eight months that all anyone wants to do for the next couple of weeks is Sweet Fanny Horse Apples (which is an endearing way of saying “nothing”, and is not the name of our next game (although perhaps it should be)).

On the bright side, our What Now meeting is coming up, so at least then I’ll at least know for whoever interviews us next. Little did you know how close you came to a world exclusive.

What are the people in your office playing right now?

One of the perks of working with Telltale is that they’ve given everyone on the Straandlooper team their entire backlog of adventure games, everything from Bone to Back to the Future. We’re not really getting anything done otherwise.

In true Hector fashion, if you were stuck in a locked car slowly sinking into the lake and all you had about you was a half empty bottle of beer, a coat hanger, and a condom of unknown origin, how would you escape?

Does the cigarette lighter work? If so, I’d prime the lighter, then place it inside my mouth to heat up my breath as I inflate the condom to the size of a beach ball. I’d then peel off the label of the beer bottle and scratch a detailed note with the coat hanger onto the back of it with my precise location. Once done, I’d place the note inside the bottle and place the still inflated condom over the neck. Then I’d straighten the coat hanger and use it to pop the back seat off. I’d release the bottle-balloon into the boot of the car, kick the seat back into place, then use one of the buttons on the dash to pop the boot from the outside. The boot would flood with water, the bottle-balloon would rise to the surface of the lake, and due to the superheated air, it would float right up out of the water and the wind would blow it straight to Lambert at the station. Then I’d take a nap until he showed up with a crane.

If the cigarette lighter didn’t work I’d just finish the beer, then break the window with my head.

Thanks for speaking with us Straandlooper! Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Hector in the future, perhaps even on television. We look forward to seeing what hilarity will ensue in your next project.

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