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DID YOU READ

Talking with Peter Molyneux, part 3

Talking with Peter Molyneux, part 3 (photo)

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You mentioned the promises that your character will be making along the first part of the game. How does that play out with the leveling-up mechanics and with the action?

This whole idea of experience and experience-spending is still a very, very important one, but it’s completely different in “Fable III”. So, normally in role-playing games, you get experience for fighting, which kind of doesn’t work when you’ve got a game that also gives you the ability to get married, the ability to make friends or to buy houses. We needed a score which applied to all of that. We translated it into the idea of followers. The more followers you get, the more powerful you become.

Did you get that idea off of Twitter?

[Laughs] It does sound like that, doesn’t it? But, no, the followers lead into another visual representation that we’re calling the Road to Rule. It’s another location that shows you your journey, your path to becoming King. As you earn more followers, these gates on the Road unlock. They are like levels. And what you are doing is getting closer and closer to this castle in the distance, so when you go through the final gate, you are at the right level to take on the castle. I love the idea, I’ve made it super clear. The player sees that he’s going up levels and getting nearer to becoming King.

So, what does changing up these systems offer the player? And does it teach you anything, in terms of design?

The other thing that we found, which was a really exciting thing when we realized it, is that if you asked ten people what “Fable III” was to them, you’d get ten different answers. Some people say, “I love the socialization side, the customization side, the getting married, I love the combat, whatever.” Well, in “Fable I” and “Fable II,” we made the mistake of just throwing all this stuff at you, without any sense of pacing your progression. But, now as you go through the gates on the Road to Rule, there are these chests. On one side of the road, all of the chests have to do with combat, so you can get extra spells, you can power up your combat. The other side is all the stuff to do with the other parts of the game. If you want to, you can spend your followers on dyeing your clothes. Effectively, you are crafting your own “Fable III” experience. So some people will play this game and never want to get married, they’ll never want to get involved in sin, they’ll never want to buy houses, why do we force it down their throats? Now we can give you the option, it all kind of flows through these followers.

The followers are a bit abstracted; what will your interactions be with people in the gameworld?

So, here we have this woman that we’ve been taking into the pub. We’ve actually turned her into an alcoholic, so much so that last time we came back here, she started throwing up all over the place. I find it funny, but it probably has serious political consequences about drinking in the game. And, again, you have unlocked this as part of your game experience. If you are not someone who wants to do this, you don’t have to do it.

And we’re trying to win her trust here?

What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to win her trust and she’s given you a challenge to take her trust a little bit further and you may be able to get married to her. She’s asked me to deliver a package to the mystery dweller’s camp but what I can do is just take her along with me, just by reaching out my hand.

Are we going to take her with us?

Peter: We’ll just take her with us. You can do this to anybody. And you know, just taking her with us will gain you these followers. I’m gaining these followers and this will increase the bond between the two of us and she may well help me in combat, she may prove helpful in social situations as well. In fact if we take her to this romantic place, she may well display her, er, affections… It is very emotional because if we can get her to hate me, then we’ll have to drag her along. And if someone comes to you and asks for a promise to be fulfilled, you can then take them by the hand and drag them into your dungeon and have them executed. It’s a very harsh thing to do when they’re begging for mercy and you’re dragging them along, but we let the player do that.

With so much that you’re allowing the player to do, it can’t be easy to describe the scope of the game to newbies…

There’s this terrible, awful, atrocious thing that executives like to say. They say, “show me the fun.” That’s when I feel like going postal and going out with a machine gun and going corporately postal on them because what do you mean,”show you the fun?” It’s like saying, “Alright, ok, let’s look at your movie, you’ve got five seconds to show me how amazing the movie is.” It’s an impossible thing to do. What you are doing is putting the player into a certain state of mind. It’s not just an input/rsponse loop. If I had to mash a button for 15 minutes, it doesn’t matter what you’ve got on the screen, it’s going to get tedious. Your thumb is going to get sore, you’re just going to get exhausted from just driving through this. We’re trying to create pacing and balance, and it’s knowing when you let the player breathe and take stock of where they are. That’s not got anything to do with gameplay, nothing to do with gameplay. It’s all to do with, you know, with getting the person emotionally involved and taking them on that journey. I think from moment-to-moment you are balancing the amount of interaction the player has and the amount of interaction they don’t have. When a scene in a game goes on too long, I know what I’m doing, just putting the controller down and letting my eyes glaze over. As a game designer, that’s when you know, “Oh, ok I’ve lost you.”

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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