Thursday, February 12, 2009

The genesis of Destroy All Humans!

Pandemic Studios Australia was recently shuttered. While there's a combination of feelings there, the important one is that almost everyone there is going off into more awesome new territory, which is great news.

Anyway, I was going through old emails last night when I found the email thread genesis of Destroy All Humans. The basic backstory was that we were pitching around games to make after our last project was cancelled, and one lunch a bunch of us designers came up with the concept of causing havok as an alien invading earth. Matt then sent out the one-liner, and the rest is history.

"Strike" means Desert Strike in this context - at the time, there was another team at Pandemic working on a sequel, which eventually turned out to be the game 'Mercenaries'.

This is a classic example of how things can both skew off vision quickly, and at the same time be recovered if you have a good project lead.

Matt Harding (Lead Designer/Dancing around the world guy)

Fly around in a UFO sucking rednecks and cattle onto your ship.

Anyone? Anyone?

Brad Welch (Lead Artist, future Design Director on DAH)
Is there a reason that a more adult style of humorous game is no good?!?

Doing a funny abduction game could actually be a laugh, or even doing a game that's all sort of spoofing cliches...

I have no idea what the game would party game perhaps?!?

Dan Teasdale (me!)
It'd be similar to Strike - you'd have a whole bunch of mission goals that you have to complete, getting more and more complex (military, etc) as time goes by. Just without the mass amounts of guns and terrorists, and with a comical retro sci-fi story.

Brad Welch

Wha about a setup where some of the major historical events of the 20th century were actually committed by aliens on a conspiracy to control the puny earthlings?!?

JFK - faked he's living on Mars

Marilyn - glamming it up on Alpha Centauri

John Howard - well he looks like an alien

Brendan Andrews (ex-Studio Manager)
How about ...

Where you are a time traveller / alien whatever.. who is the conspirator in all of the events that evoke conspiracy theories?
You pull the trigger for JFK, kill Marilyn, James Dean, Princess Diana, Princess Grace, kidnap Elvis - or perhaps you try to *stop* this happening and in so doing discover a new twist on each.

For each there is a story, people and associated environment already and the plots are already hugely popular.

Brad Welch
SO I guess it would be a mission based, third person game - sometimes a shooter (grassy knoll Warrior might be a bit sensitive in light of the Washington events), sometimes stealth, sometimes action..

Could be kinda fun, if it kept a sense of humour about itself...would the end boss be the weird alien parasite that is attached to Britney Spears spinal column forcing her to sing (when she plainly can't) and control the money spending teen masses?!?

Brendan Andrews

Well - I think the hook is *very* strong and the stories are already part of the culture. You could call it 'Conspirator' if you were the baddie, and Conspiracy of you were the goodie trying to stop the baddie. It might also need a gimmick, though - something that ultimately makes sense out of all of what was formerly a mystery. But as you said, certainly the different events lend themselves to variety on the 1st / 3rd person shooter. But the mechanic is basically that.

Lachlan Creagh (Lead Animator)

how did we get from abducting cows in a space ship to a fps with jfk?

Brendan Andrews
Just be thankful it's still on topic of game designs! ;-p

Do you think it's any good?

Brad Welch
Sorry about that!

Fiona Francois (Senior Artist, future Lead Artist on DAH)
What would the visual style be - realistic? Hmmm.

Adam Iarossi (Lead Programmer)
conspiracy theory interests me

the game could be you travelling around the world over the course of many years, as a spy or hired mercenary, trying to piece together some puzzle while finding yourself in the middle of these major events. something like "where in the world is carmen sandiego" meets "ronin".

Craig James (Senior Programmer)
What about in 'Stupid Invaders' style - without the crappy gameplay.

Adam Iarossi
oh, and you are being hired by aliens

Christie Peterson (Office Manager, future Studio Director)
I like that a lot – this is a game that will hold your attention and you can incorporate many of the elements previously discussed.

Brendan Andrews
There may be concerns on one of :

Gritty / Realistic / Mature / Edgy

.. or perhaps all of them ;-p

Andrew Payne (Project Lead)
I think there's something pretty cool about getting to fly a UFO.

Maybe you could start as a lowly pilot in an alien invading force, where your missions are to abduct specific people from farms and towns without being detected. If too many people see you then the military gets called in and you battle tanks, choppers or whatever other crazy stuff we throw at you.

As the story progresses, you get promoted, get better ships, get tasked with putting 'adjusted' people back into the community to take over American state by state. Try and abdjuct the president? Missions could then be more "strike-like" and your upgraded kick-ass ship would become important. Just to steal more stuff from Strike, perhaps you could get out and drive cars or fly planes into towns to avoid being 'detected' and abduct people thru stealth.

I think if you made the aliens deadly serious then it could be funnier than the more obvious humor in Stupid Invaders.

Geoff Suttor (Animator)
If we could art direct it similar to Mars Attacks, that would be cool. :D

Lachlan Creagh
you could have parrappa style press conferences at the end of each incident where your alien government stooge has to explain why theres no cause for alarm,

a later mission could be abducting an entire us statelike nebraska or idaho- where there could be bewildered farmer types (you place antigrav lifters at each corner and lift the whole thing off the planet)

or is there an invader zim licence we could get?-nah forget licenses altogether

Dan Teasdale

"The Nor---thern lights, just--a weatherballon"


The first Destroy All Humans! build


The name "Destroy All Humans!" was all Matt though, it was an epiphany when he was walking home one day:

"yes, DAH was an epiphany while walking home from work. I text messaged it to Andy. I remember passing by Family while I was sending it. By the time I was opening my front door I had one from him saying something along the lines of "Perfect. Done." And that was pretty much the end of it, huh?

At least that part was easy :)"

1 comment:

lach said...

Ah Dan-
We were young, good looking, our asses relatively unsodomised....what the hell happened?
The trouble is now you get to work with people who say "I played that as a kid".