Here’s a fun little extra from my interview with Double Fine’s Tim Schafer that I couldn’t leave on the cutting room floor. It’s about one old-school gamer’s arguably-legitimate complaint about one of Schafer’s classic creations.
To set this up, Schafer and I were nearing the end of a half-hour conversation in Las Vegas at the DICE Summit earlier this month. I was following up on a joke he’d made earlier in our interview about angry Tweets he gets these days. By this point, though, we were talking about how the gaming scene has or hasn’t changed in the quarter century he’s been making games.
Me: 25 years ago, if somebody said they wanted to punch you in the face, they had to go up to your face to say that, right? You didn’t know about angry fans as much [in the old days, right]? Would they write letters when they were angry?
Schafer: Yeah. I got hate mail for Full Throttle. This dad was like, ‘I should be able to get into that junkyard any way that I can physically think of doing it.’ He was really mad. He wanted his money back because he couldn’t just get into the junkyard any way he wanted to.
Me: Kind of valid — and at the same time not valid at all. Would you agree?
Schafer: He was trying to invent, like, a physics-based open world game 20 years before they were invented.
Note from Stephen: I’ve never played Full Throttle (sorry!), so I asked some of my colleagues if the game’s junkyard scene was frustrating. Several of them remembered that, yes, it was. Getting inside was a tough puzzle. You can see what players faced at 18:30 of this video:
And here’s Kotaku East’s Richard Eisenbeis explaining what was so tricky about that part of the game [spoiler warning: he gives away the solution]: “Normally, when you pull on that chain, it opens the shutter door, but, if you let go of the chain and try to run for it, Ben, isn’t fast enough to make it. So most people tried to figure out how to make Ben run faster or tried to wedge something under the gate. But the solution, as you can see in the video, was not to open the gate, but to lock it so you could climb up the chain. However, that lock is an easy-to-miss item.”
If you’re a veteran game creator that got interesting mail back in the day that you would love to share with the world, let me know.