Alternate Reality Interview #2
The rat shank has been good to me. It is my only companion in my torment. I have named him Shanky. Nobody else understands me like he does. Before I made him, the rats were getting bolder, trying to reclaim the cell. They were unprepared for Shanky and I’s devastating counter attack. But now they’re getting organized. The other night, they just watched me. They didn’t gnaw at my flesh for sustenance, or try to bear their young inside of my potato sack. They just watched, eyes twinkling from the faint light coming from underneath the cell door, studying my behaviors and habits.
Unfortunately, they appear to be as intelligent as they are delicious. I clutch Shanky close and whisper that I won’t let them take him. After I manage to shut out the sounds of my own quiet weeping, I go to sleep hungry, not wanting to antagonize the rats further.I open my eyes, and quickly decide that I am not actually awake. For one thing, the door to the cell is open and the guards are gone, something that Alina would never be clumsy enough to allow. Secondly, I am consumed with a nameless dread, much more powerful than the usual nameless dread I am consumed with. Something is outside, waiting for me. I don’t want to leave the cage.
Suddenly I feel a sharp pain shoot of my back. I turn around. Rats. Hundreds of them, as big as hounds. The cage expands to contain the sheer volume of the enormous rodents.
I bring Shanky to bear, but I know as soon as they horde advances that if I stay my ground, I will die. I rush out of the cell, despite the months of torturous training towards the contrary. I slam the door behind me. Peculiar thing about rats: they don’t squeak like mice. They shriek. Loudly. The room fills with the unearthly wail of the titanic vermin, all of them lusting to avenge their eaten brethren. They’ll never succeed in breaching that door. I should know; I’ve hurled myself against it enough to know that it’s practically invulnerable.
I survey my surroundings. The white, sterile fluorescent lights outside of the Intern Pens are shut off, leaving the facility dark. I leave as quickly as possible, unable to bear the sounds of the rats. I arrive in the main foyer of the lab. It is eerily silent. There is not even any noise from the waterfall outside.
"You look confused."
I whirl around at the noise. I see a pair of purple eyes staring at me. It’s Memet. That explains the dream. But more importantly, she looks absolutely delicious. I think of all the rats that I’ve been forced to devour. Tasty as they may have been, one would tire of any food if it’s all you’ve eaten for 8 straight weeks. I’ve never even seen a moglin before, but I bet they taste divine.
I surreptitiously slip Shanky behind my back. I can’t simply lunge forward. I’ve been imprisoned here long enough to know that things aren’t always as they seem. I decide to lure her into a false sense of security. I remember my interview with Dage the Evil. This shouldn’t be too difficult. I let fly with my questions. With any luck, Shanky and I shall dine upon fresh moglin.
How would you describe what it is you do at AE?
Well, I’m sort of in a transitional period. I guess that’s why this is a hard question to answer. I used to focus completely on art. I was making weapons, armor, and pets. I learned some animation. In the last couple weeks I’ve been learning a bunch of stuff about the more behind-the-scenes aspects of the game. I’ve been learning how to create quests- actually I’m doing that today.
I add items to the databases, I’ve been making ads…I’m going to be writing design notes. I did write some DNs but I think I posted them under Alina’s name.
Oh! I also worked on updating the skeleton monster art today.
So you’re really all over the place, huh?
I’ve been all over the place recently, yeah. It’s kinda cool because it’s actually making me feel more connected with the games and what we’re doing than just focusing on the art did.
What do you do that you wouldn’t consider to be a part of your job description?
I don’t believe there is such a thing. I figure that right now my job description is “help Alina get the game out.” So yeah, anything that does that. Anything that helps the company as a whole runsmoother.
[Clean up after Notsgnal when he makes a mess with the rats. - Ed.]
How did you come up with the concept for your NPC?
I figured everyone has a human- or humanoid- NPC, so you know, I didn't want to do that. I guess I like the idea of something that seems innocent and innocuous, but definitely isn’t. I’ve always enjoyed the concept of shape-shifters, and stuff to do with magic and dreams.
When you draw, where do you find your inspiration?
That’s one of those questions that’s really hard to answer. Literally, all over the place. Of course I look at other games for inspiration, but also movies, real life, my dreams. Sometimes stuff just pops into my head and I have no idea where it came from. The aether, I guess. But yeah, I try not to limit myself. I think that if you’re only drawing inspiration from one source, you kind of…you end up covering yourself, if that makes sense. You’re just doing the same thing over and over again, doing the same thing everyone else is doing. I try to avoid that.
How did you make your way to AE?
I have known Zazul and Nythera since college. Actually, I had a radio show at USF with Zazul. We played gothic and industrial music. At the time Zazul was the station head, and I was the DJ in charge of the gothic, industrial stuff. I think Nythera was there too for a while. When I was looking for a job, Nythera told me that there was an opening in the player support department. I applied and they hired me. Then Alina found out I could draw, so I got moved into the art department for AQWorlds. Then Alina needed an assistant, so here I am.
What did you do before coming to AE?
Oh, geez. Um, I’ve had a lot of weird jobs.
Oh, you need to explain all of them right now.
(laughs) Okay, well, in college I worked at a winery and custom bottling place. I literally just made wine. That was pretty cool. I left the winery to work for the art department for a semester, taking care of the ceramics area, mixing glazes. I helped build a soda kiln. After that I had a job at a record store for a while. That was probably pretty normal, I guess. Directly before working here, I worked as a photo editor for a local place that does school photos. Essentially, I would edit the snot off of the kids’ faces. I’m not even kidding. That was 90% of the stuff I would have to do. Like "Oh no, he was just eating oreos," or "Oh crap, his nose was running."
When you were growing up, did you ever think that you would be in the game industry doing art?
I wanted to, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. I was really interested in doing comics and games, and I definitely knew I wanted to do art in some way. I played a lot of games growing up.
Like the Final Fantasy franchise, Legend of Zelda, stuff like that. When I was really little, I played Pitfall for the Atari.
What inspired you to pick up and learn Flash?
Actually, I was focusing on more organic programs, like Photoshop and Painter. I ended up learning Flash for AE. I had a passing familiarity with vector programs, but I never really had a reason to focus on them. When Alina said that she wanted to see how I was with the AQWorlds style, I had to learn Flash. I picked it up pretty fast.
Outside of the Lab, do you socialize with other AE team members?
Well, Neveya is my next door neighbor, and Zazul lives in our apartment complex, so I hang out with them a lot. I hang out Nythera a lot. I’ve been known to hang out with Jemini and Samba. I actually love everyone I work with. There’s no one that I wouldn’t want to socialize with. This is probably the first job that I’ve had where I felt like that.
What does your daily schedule look like?
I wake up, I come to the office, I figure out what needs to be done, and then I triage it so I can do it in the best order possible. But sometimes things stop being things I need to work on. It's kind of like "Oh crap, we need to do this now." I don’t know if it’s really scheduled. Then I go home and if I have time to draw, I do. Home life feels a lot like work, actually. There’s always something different that needs to get done, some errand that needs to be run. So when I can find time to be creative, I definitely am, and when I can find time to play games, I do, but mostly I have to clean the house and other boring stuff like that.
If you could master a different skill besides art, what would it be?
Oh, besides art? Hmmm. Well, I’m assuming that most creative things would fall into that category.
Well, let’s say besides drawing.
I definitely want to learn 3-D art. I’ve dabbled in it before, and I kind of know what I’m doing, but not really. But that’s kind of cheating. That’s a cheat answer. I want to get better at writing, but that’s art too. Hmm…I’d like to build robots. You know, I want to get better at 3-D stuff in general. Like, I really want to make action figures.
What do you want to see happen for the next release?
Like, next week?
Um, what can I even say…I want the game to not break. No bugs in the release.
Something realistic though.
I would like to see Zazul take over and turn the entire town of battleon into a big, evil carnival.
Of all the releases that you’ve seen so far, which one is your favorite?
I was really into the Darkblood stuff. I don’t think that’s a secret. I did a lot of artwork for the armors and stuff because I thought they were friggin’ awesome. That’s fresh in my head because it was something I was really involved in.
What’s the most hectic, crazy, catastrophically-apocalyptic release you’ve ever been a part of?
Oooh, well there was that one release where Ghost lost internet access. He had done all of the animation and suddenly he couldn’t send it to us because he didn’t have internet. Samba and Cysero had to derp animate the entire thing. That wasn’t really my problem, as I didn’t know how to animate at the time, but being in to the Lab for it, it was obviously pretty crazy.
If you weren’t working at AE, where would you be working?
Am I dreaming, or am I being realistic?
Let’s do both. Start with your dream job.
I wouldn’t mind working in movies. Behind the scenes, maybe. I had this one class at USF. It was technically a sculpture class, but we were learning how to build stage sets and dioramas and stuff, and I would love to do stuff like that. I would love to be someone like Guillermo Del Toro, either as a director, or a screenwriter, or working on the special effects and make up.
Realistically, I have no idea what I would be doing. I don’t even know what’s available for artists right now. I would probably be freelancing and I would hate it.
She’s talking but I’m no longer listening. Shanky can’t wait anymore. I’ve been moving closer and closer to her as slowly as possible. The time to strike is now.
"Oh wow, that is so interesting. I think tha- DIE YOU TASTY DREAM-BEAST!!!!!"
Perfection. Shanky and I leap onto the small creature and begin [Text removed because Oh my GOODNESS are your hallucinations dark! - Ed.] It is sometime before I realize that I am not actually [Again. Dark. - Ed.] Memet, but a plushy replica of a treasured childhood pet.
"Memet? Come on out, now. Shanky just got a little excited, that’s all. He doesn’t meet many new people."
"Come on, be reasonable. It’s not like I’m going to [DUDE. - Ed.] Perish the thought!”
A low rumbling is the only warning I get. A torrent of huge rats begins pouring with unnatural speed into the foyer. Memet is riding on top of the lead "alpha" rat.
"Onwards, my children!" She shouts.
They fall on me, all claws and teeth. I scream until it’s over.
I awaken in my cell.
I have been chained to the wall. Alina’s inquisitors are taking turns giving me their most [happy fun times - Ed.], the infamous destroyer of minds known as the "wet willy." It is beyond horrible. I wish that I was still dreaming about getting torn to shreds by giant rats. Alina watches from the doorway.
"Another interview down, Nots." She says. "Keep at it."
What? Interview? I have no clue what she’s talking about until one of the inquisitors reaches into a fold of my potato sack robe and takes out a tape recorder. He tosses it to Alina, who catches it deftly. The inquisitors undo the locks on my chain, and I frantically clean out my [wet, wet willy - Ed.] ears. When they leave, I remove Shanky from my robe, thankful that the inquisitors did not find him. I am slow going to sleep that night.
Tags: Notsgnal Story Interview with Memet Editor Notes