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Director / CrewI'm Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment and Creator of The Toxic Avenger!

May 10th 2017 by LloydKaufman • 47 Questions • 2666 Points

I have loved games all my life, made board games as a kid, started programming computer games in 1975 in college, then professionally since 1980. I was one of the first 10 employees at Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts, The 3DO Company, and Dreamworks Interactive. More recently I focused on Serious Games in education, health, training, and neuroscience, before becoming Google's Chief Game Designer for 4 years. I quit there last month to get back to my first love: making games people love to play, with cutting edge technology, new creative tech niques, and great collaborators.

Some games I've contributed to include the arcade game Sinistar, LucasArts games like their flight simulator line, as well as Graphic Adventures like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and Fate of Atlantis, The Dig, and the first two Monkey Island Games.

Here's a more complete (but still partial!) list: http://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,1657/

Proof: https://i.redd.it/nx8rsfanqjvy.jpg

Q:

Tequila…

A:

Playing through Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis was one of my defining childhood memories. What was the process of making 3 different middle sections (fists, brains, pair)? Was there any sense of how many people played through each or all 3?


Q:

Me gusta!

A:

That was my idea, we'd experimented a bit with mixing different play styles in our Last Crusade adventure game, and I wanted to take it further. Hal went along with it, somewhat reluctantly because as project leader it fell on his shoulders to implement all the extra work involved in 3 paths (I think it meant the game was about 2x as hard to make as if it had been one path, not 3x as there was a lot of commonality/reuse of assets). We had fun coming up with ways to appeal to each type of player. I don't have figures for sure, but I'm pretty sure that only a minority of players - I'm thinking 10 or 20% - played through on all 3 paths, but that was mostly anecdotal, we didn't have analytics built into the game as it would now. The intention was not for people to replay so much as for the game to essentially adapt itself to the favored style of the player - but we also knew that completeist players would want to try every variation, and the "Indy Quotient" system was designed specifically for them, to encourage them to keep going. To get all 800 points you needed to play all 3 paths AND several variations and "achievements" that were possible within each.

Interesting side note, that 3 path structure inspired Louis Castle at Westwood to do something similar with his Bladerunner game, and took it several steps further. Brilliant game, I'm looking forward to see what kind of games come out of the current movie sequel to that.


Q:

How do you feel about James Gunn's success/Guardian's of the Galaxy?

A:

Whoa whoa whoa

YOU made Fate of Atlantis?

I don't have any questions man, I just wanna say that game is so good, it's my childhood, I had a CD for it, I loved it so much

You're awesome, LucasArts games were godlike

God bless


Q:

I love James Gunn. The minute he started working for Troma I knew he was a great talent, and after he masturbated on my desk I was forever indebted to him.

A:

Aw, thanks - I co-designed it, there was a big team and Hal Barwood had the most influence on the game, but as it was the most successful adventure game LucasArts ever did (at least before the recent mobile game remakes, don't have figures on that) and did better than either of the other Indiana Jones games we designed without each other, I think it hit a sweet spot of collaboration, where Hal's writing and cinematic experience blended well with my game design skills. And as with so many things, there was a good dollop of luck and timing, but thank you in any case for the kind words. Incidentally, a bit of trivia - for a long time the working title was Indiana Jones and the Key to Atlantis, but we weren't really satisfied, and I think the manager of the division was particularly adamant that we change it. There were dozens of alternatives thrown around, including some I've forgotten except that they were terrible (and had strong supporters nonetheless). But I think "Fate of Atlantis" was perfect, short but provocative, and with a tinge of foreshadowing since Fate often implies a bittersweet ending. Names are one of the hardest things to do - not kidding, anyone who has worked on a game will concur.

To digress - I remember in particular one 3 hour session doing nothing but hashing out the name for "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe" - that was actually thrown out as sort of a joke, along with "Hitler's Greatest Hits" which I expect would not have been a wise move. For the record, we had a long talk about the ethics of making a game where you could play the German side, but we thought (and I still believe) that in doing a war game, allowing people to play both sides is important to remind you that there were human beings on both sides of any conflict.


Q:

Troma was the first American company to distribute hayao miyazaki movies.

Any plans on distributing more animated movies in the future?

A:

What is your favorite out of all the games?


Q:

Yes! If something one of a kind and brilliant, such as My Neighbor Totoro or A Very Troma Christmas, comes along we'll certainly be happy to introduce it to the American public, as we did with Miyazaki's film.

A:

Well, the cliche is that it's like picking a favorite of your kids - but the truth is, it depends on what the criteria are. Probably the one I've gotten the most satisfaction from hearing player's comments is Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. But I also have a soft spot for Sinistar, my best-known arcade game work - which was also the first professional game I did that was published.


Q:

And is a carrier of ass cancer.

A:

FoA was one of my favourite games as a kid. I still use a quote from the game regularly: "I don't think that will work."


Q:

Thanks everyone for a great AMA! Troma has the best fans in the world! "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High aka Vol. 2" is the greatest movie we've made in 43 years. Please contact your local cinema to book it. If there's enough advanced notice I will attend in person and create a great independent, idealistic, art event!

Also, subscribe to Troma Now! www.watch.troma.com

Any questions unanswered here, please Tweet them to me @lloydkaufman and I will answer!

A:

We enjoyed the recurring catchphrases that we stuck into our subsequent games as Easter Eggs. My favorite that I wrote was originally in the Last Crusade game, "I'm selling these fine leather jackets" - that showed up in many subsequent games.


Q:

Any chance of some Troma TV shows? We need a weekly does of depravity on the streaming box in our living room where we can hide our shame.

A:

What do you think to Ron Gilbert's Thimbleweed Park? I saw in your MobyGames credentials that you were a play tester :D


Q:

Troma would love to do a "Class of Nuke 'Em High" TV series. It would be "Ash vs Evil Dead" meets "Twin Peaks" meets "Saved By the Bell"! Everyone write to Netflix and demand it!

A:

Loving it - I've been very busy job hunting since it came out so besides my early testing, I've only been able to get partway into the game so far, but I think Ron and company did a perfect job of capturing the feel of our old games, while actually upgrading the quality in many ways. It's not so much an authentic 80's game as it is an evocation of our memories of what the games were like - when you actually play an 8 bit game now it can be shocking how primitive the tech feels. I'm eager to finish the game.


Q:

How does someone pitch you an idea? Would you produce a new idea nowadays?

A:

What is the absolute worst game you have ever played? What's your favorite dish with chicken in it? Do you play Rocket League?


Q:

I'm not a pitcher, I'm a catcher. If you happen to be on Grindr look me up, my name is Chino. I do read finished screenplays though.

A:

One question at a time please! Worst game - wow, that's tough, I try to put the really bad ones out of my mind, and I don't waste time on a game if it doesn't interest me (unless I have to play it, sadly that happens a lot). I really can't think of a "worst". Chicken - I really like chicken in many forms, I guess I'd pick grilled on the barbecue with lemon, garlic and herbs. Rocket league - no, sorry!


Q:

Im a mega low budget director, and huge troma fan. Ive always wanted to have a movie released by troma (which is a dream of mine) Is there any advice on what steps to take to make that possible?

Thanks for everything you have done.

A:

How was it to be a part in the beginning eras of gaming?


Q:

Make a movie that's entertaining and one of a kind then send it to The Troma Team! www.troma.com

Also, watch my Make Your Own Damn movie lessons for FREE on The Troma Movies YouTube Channel!

A:

Great! I began making computer games in college in 1975, purely for my own satisfaction, but realized I could apply it to my degree (I went to Hampshire College where they let you design your own curriculum) and used games to show off the programming, physics, and astronomy expertise I was gaining. Never thought at the time that it was preparation for a career, except as a programmer doing boring stuff (I did a lot of business programming during my college summers to make cash, and figured that might be my career, but wasn't too enthusiastic about it). But as soon as I graduated I got lucky and got right into the games industry, and never looked back. Certainly being part of the birth of Lucasfilm Games/LucasArts was an early highlight that I will always treasure. I realize now we were very lucky, those of us who started in the 70's and early 80's, because we got to figure out the rules and learn on our own, with no one telling us what to do - we made a lot of mistakes, but there was a freedom and freshness that I miss today. But at the time, particularly when I took my first job at Milton Bradley, people were telling me that I should be wary of "this video game thing" and that it might be a fad that would blow over. I believed them, but it made me even more determined to enjoy it while I could. I don't think it's a fad any more...


Q:

Hey Lloyd, can you be my grandpa? I'd be a dope grandson straight up

A:

Why did you make Sinistar so goddamned hard?

Run, coward!


Q:

You can be a dope grandson but I want to be a woke grandmother.

A:

Money! The game was significantly easier up to about 6 weeks before release, but it was averaging about 3.5 minutes of play per quarter, and we needed to get it down to about 2 minutes in order to optimize earnings. We didn't want to make the first level too hard or no one would come back, so unfortunately we had to goose up the difficulty of level 2 a lot, more than we wanted for fun, but the earnings were critical. The "legend" is that RJ Mical still has a set of the ROMs of the easier build lost in his garage somewhere, but I'm dubious about that.


Q:

What films do you love that you don't think people would expect?

A:

Mata Hari is one of my favourite 'modern' adventure games, and one of my favourite games that you've worked on. How did it come about and what was it good to work with Hal Barwood again?


Q:

All the movies by John Ford, Mizoguchi, Robert Bresson, Eric Rohmer, and of course, the great cinema poets and interpretive dancers The Mitchell Brothers. Stan Brakhage in my opinion was the greatest visual artist of my lifetime.

A:

Glad you liked it! That one came about as a request from the publisher. They approached me, and I thought it was the kind of thing Hal would be interested in. At the time we were living about a 10 minute drive apart, and both available for freelance work. The theme of Mata Hari was actually a bit tough, not what we might have chosen on our own, but the historical references and spy work were close to our Indiana Jones experience, and we had a lot of fun on it. We got several trips to Germany as a result too, to the developer's offices in Hannover mostly, but also to meet the publisher in Hamburg, and to show it off at Gamescomm, the big German games show. German fans are, per capita, the biggest fans of the old LucasArts adventures, so that was a fantastic experience. (To support that claim before anyone protests, we sold 10x copies per capita of Monkey Island 2 in Germany than we did in the US)


Q:

Hey Lloyd! I've been getting into your work and Troma in general over the past few months. Inspiring stuff.

Nobody likes cancelling projects, but I'm assuming that's especially true for you, given your work ethic of trying make as much shit as possible. That said, there are a few cancelled Troma movies that I've seen mentioned, like Schlock and Schlockability, and Lenge: Legends of Troma. What are the stories behind these two (and any others that you care to bring up)? What would you say the "point of no return" is on making a movie, where you're far enough into the process that you have to finish it even if you can tell it's a disaster?

EDIT: Also, know anything about this movie or where one could find it?

A:

Do you think Fate of Atlantis can be made into a movie? Do you think these point and click adventure will make a comeback?


Q:

I personally must finish every movie I start. But, if you watch Tales from the Crapper, which I spent 4 years on, you'll see that that's very stupid.

A:

Can be - sure! Will be - very unlikely. Steven Spielberg enjoyed it - he is a hard-core game player, I have a lot of stories of seeing how dedicated to games he is - but he has plenty of ideas of his own about Indiana Jones, as does George. I got to brainstorm with the two of them together when I was the first project leader on The Dig, and really respect their depth of knowledge and their creativity, so I don't think it will be chosen as a movie plot, unless at some future point there is perhaps an animated series like George has done with Star Wars, giving them the option to explore many different stories.
As to point-and-click, it's already made something of a comeback, I'm amazed at how many new games are being made in the genre. I'll put in a plug for an indie game called Agatha Knife, from a Spanish studio called Mango Protocol. I saw it at a conference in Barcelona last year and it's just been released, very biting satire and funny, although it takes a lot of swipes at organized religion and has a pretty (charmingly) horrifying premise. I'm excited to see how the genre has stayed alive and in recent years, grown quite a bit. But it will never be as central as it was in the late 80's/early 90's.


Q:

What do you think of Digital film-making becoming the general way of doing things?

A:

What would you say is an often overlooked aspect of game development by most people?


Q:

Thats a great question. It's yin and yang, thousands of excluded people can now enter the walls of filmmaking thanks to the miracle of digital filmmaking. It has democratized a heretofore artform that has been controlled by money. You don't need money to make a digital film. On the other hand its almost impossible to live off your art unless your digital film is produced by one of the massive media conglomerates.

A:

Hmm, I'll answer that from the viewpoint of developing games, not playing them, I think that's what you're after but correct me if I'm wrong. Writers (if the game involves writing/story) often are short-changed, with professional writers only brought in mid-way or later in the game, when the best story games have good writers on board from the first day. Musicians also feel overlooked, but unless it's a music-oriented game I don't think they have as good a case.


Q:

In the time of youtube and a hordes of directors trying to have a shot, how would the young Lloyd Kaufman would stay alive and do well if he had started making films just last year?

A:

What were the challenges of working on a 4th Indiana Jones story when there were already episodes/stories in existence? Was it difficult to come up with something new & fresh while still keeping within the general feel of an Indiana Jones story?


Q:

Great question. First, I'd have to decide do I want the Oscar and riches. In which case it would be imperative that I blow somebody in California. If teenage Lloydie wants to be an independent filmmaker and doesn't mind living in a refrigerator carton with the bath salts crowd, then teenage Lloydie would stay in NY, take a day job and make 5000 movies.

A:

No, it was a pleasure. We had lots of ideas - had narrowed it down to the one we chose, and one about a quest to find Excalibur, but rejected that one because it wouldn't have easily given Jones a reason to go anywhere but England, while Atlantis gave us a lot more interesting options. Game developers always have many more ideas than time and resources to implement them.


Q:

One more question Uncle Lloydie, one of importance. I tweet many anti-Ajit Pai rants and cartoons on Twitter but it seems like the majority of people aren't as outraged by the possible destruction of net neutrality as they should be. What can be done to get others behind the cause and realize what a major, major topic this is?

A:

do you think games are any more violent today than they were in the 80's?


Q:

We need the fake PC phonies like Will Smith and Meryl Streep to speak out on behalf of Net Neutrality, but like the other elites, such as Hillary Clinton and the Trump gang, they'd rather close their gates, enjoy their riches, and stay behind their YUGE wall. Read my Huffington Post article about Net Neutrality here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/innovation-and-our-better-future-depend-on-preserving_us_5848ac6fe4b08f092ddd9926

A:

Hard to say - objectively, probably so, but I think that's mostly a result of the power of the platforms and the graphics. If you look at books, movies, even opera, themes of live and death - and violence - have always been popular, although with games as with other media the violent ones are minority of the total.


Q:

I've been a huge Troma fan for most of my life and have had the privilege to meet you on a few occasions. I've always has a soft spot for the older movies such as Squeeze Play, First Turn On and such, do you think you would ever make another movie along the lines of the older comedies such as those?

A:

was there a particular reason for you not working on Indiana Jones & the Infernal Machine? :)


Q:

I am happy to hear you have a soft spot for soft core. Stuck on You is one of the greatest raunchy comedies of all time. I love those movies, but I have moved on, as you will see when you experience "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High aka Vol. 2". Picasso had his blue period, I have my blue balls period. I am now into something more Cubist

A:

I wasn't at LucasArts by then! I was working at The 3DO company on their game console (first one using a CD drive as standard).


Q:

Can I pay you to be in y'alls next flick? I want to leave my daughter a legacy of her dreadlocked daddy in a Troma film, can we make that happen or nah?

A:

One game you wish you could redesign?


Q:

We're writing The Tempest/Shitstorm. Watch my Twitter and Troma Social, when you see we're casting be very aggressive. We cast anyone that's very aggressive for the part. We'll give you an Arm and a Legacy.

A:

Interesting question - with all of my games I usually know even before they are shipped of several things I would have like to have done differently, but didn't have the time. I think that's very common among designers, we're always tinkering and if you indulge the urge to change everything, you end up with one of those disasters that goes on for years and never comes out. Like - no, I won't be catty. I think that with hindsight, I would have made the most changes to Koronis Rift, the first game I did at LucasArts. Looking back, I made many mistakes that a rookie designer tends to make, chief among them trying to do too much, and also putting too much effort into parts of the game that weren't enhancing gameplay. In some ways that was one of the very first FPS games, and I think I could have made it a lot more exciting if I'd made it less strategic.


Q:

What would it take for Troma to distribute your film?

Is there a specific process or guideline to follow?

Are you interested in jumping aboard as a producer in an already-financed film?

Besides Fernando Alle and Kansas Bowling, who are some of your favorite up-and-coming filmmakers? Who's the next big thing?

A:

What prompted you to leave Google, and how was your experience with working there?


Q:

If there's a producer's fee attached I'll jump aboard anything, including The Titanic! As for up and coming filmmakers, Brandon Bassham is TROMAzing! He wrote and directed "Fear Town USA" and "The Slashening" available on our streaming service Troma Now www.watch.troma.com

Bassham is writing a draft of my next feature "William Shakespeare's The Tempest Presents Troma's Shitstorm"!

A:

I've summarized my reasons for leaving here: http://www.theinspiracy.com/noahs-arkive/the-evolution-of-a-game-designer Bottom line is, I joined there to work on really big game projects but the VP who wanted to do that left the company shortly after I was hired, and I never got to do the kind of game design work I'd come there to do.

But I have to say, Google is a fantastic company. I very much enjoyed working there for a long list of reasons. Lots of incredibly smart and talented colleagues, very interesting challenges, amazing benefits (I still miss the food... yeah, kind of shallow that way) and it was reassuring to feel that they were supporting me when I traveled, I saw about 15 of the offices around the world and never tired of exploring new ones. I highly recommend it as a place to go, and if you're a 20-something hot coder, it's probably the best place in the world to work on many accounts.


Q:

Any memories of working with Oliver Stone in The Battle of Love's Return?

A:

What's your fave 90's PC game?


Q:

Oliver and I were best friends from 2nd grade through college. He was always a psycho. He got into movies because I was making movies. Obviously he was very much influenced by his time on Battle of Love's Return and Sugar Cookies

A:

Tough call. Ruling out games I worked on myself, I guess the first one that comes to mind is Star Control 2, I loved that game. Very creative, and a great blend of story and gameplay.


Q:

Did you know Herschell Gordon Lewis?

A:

What's your favorite adventure game?

Do you think point and click adventures still have a place in modern gaming?

What could developers do to make them more attractive to a wider audience?


Q:

Yes, I knew Herschell Gordon Lewis, I've written about him in my books. He was a lovely man. And although he always stressed marketing strategy over art, he was a real artists. In spite of his business acumen.

A:

Fav adventure game - probably Monkey Island 2. I didn't have a lot to do with the production, so I didn't get sick of it from having to play it too often. I think Ron, Dave and Tim made an amazing team, and certainly brainstorming with them was incredibly fun, and seeing how the game came out, there were many bits that would make me laugh even after seeing the same joke many times. I still remember one of my favorite points in making the game, where we were talking about how Guybrush could slide down a rope - "What if he used a hook?" "Not funny enough" "How about a rubber chicken?" "Nah, a rubber chicken wouldn't slide, you'd get stuck." Silent thought, and then someone (could have been me, I honestly don't know because several of us can't agree) said, "not if it was a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle" - and we all cracked up. Modern gaming - see above, I'm happy to see as a genre they're doing pretty well, but I don't think they'll ever be as popular as they used to be.
More attractive - Hal Barwood and I had an idea we toyed with in Mata Hari involving turning dialog and information into physical tokens. I still think we could go much farther - we came up with the idea fairly far into design, and if we designed a game from scratch around it I think it could be amazing - but I doubt it would make them really mainstream. I think they're an acquired taste, and it's like a specific genre, e.g. "mockumentaries" that some people find really enjoyable, but never are breakout hits these days.


Q:

Greeting Lloyd! I've been trying to get in contact with you for the last 3 years. I sent you a personal letter and your assistants have confirmed that they have given you this letter on at least two occasions but I still haven't gotten that sweet tromatic reply. Should I give up or should I continue pestering your assistants? Thanks! CRETINS RULE!

A:

Thanks for the reply! Monkey Island 2 is one of my favorites as well, although I'd have to say my absolutely favorite is Sam and Max Hit the Road.


Q:

I answer every letter, every tweet and every email I get. All you have to do is send an email to [email protected]

A:

Are you aware that Steve Purcell, who created the Sam and Max comics and inspired us to make games around them, is now at Pixar?


Q:

Why do you make the types of films you do? Do you think you will try a different, more mainstream style anytime soon? Not that you need to, just curious. :~P

A:

Who came up with the Monkey Island interface (pick up, talk to, give)? Why did that more immersive and interactive approach not take off more? I loved it, its humor also is still unique in games. Is there room for comedy in video games?


Q:

Great question. But, the kinds of movies Michael Herz and I make reflect what's in our minds and hearts. We're not interested in making sausages or trying to ride the wave of what's popular now. Class of Nuke Em High has become a classic because it's entertaining and has a universal message and love story that will resound through the ages.

A:

I think Ron Gilbert was the most influential person on that, it was really his game, and he was the SCUMM system architect and he was very interested in experimenting with the interface. I'm not sure about your question - there were several games made with that same or very similar interface. Humor definitely is still possible and can be great in games, it's been 10 years now but I still think Portal was a high point in both game play and humor, GlaDOS is an amazing character. But humor is really hard, and interactive humor is an art style that few people have mastered.


Q:

Where will I be able to check out this Troma Now Podcast I'm hearing about?

A:

As a pioneer of the Adventure Game format and point and click adventures, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced when creating these amazing worlds? given the technology you guys had. (Monkey Island universe and Fate of Atlantis innovative world)


Q:

It'll be on Troma Movies on YouTube in a few days! Brilliant!

A:

Perhaps the hardest thing was coming up with puzzles and situations that were tough to solve, but fair, and lent themselves to solution with an AHA! moment when you kept thinking about them. As Ron has said, "it's all locks and keys" and the trick is learning dozens of ways to disguise that.


Q:

In planet terror, one of the actors had his face on a bunch of balls. Don't you wish this was your part?

A:

What's your favorite meme?


Q:

Over my 50 years of making movies, my face has been on more balls then you'll ever meet. Remember I have lips like a woman, and I know how to use them.

A:

I'm a fan of Richard Dawkin's original use of the term, I think it's a bit sad it has come to mean what it does and don't really have a favorite. The original concept is so fresh and powerful, it doesn't deserve to be turned into pictures with text!


Q:

A young filmmaker is pursuing their first film. What's one big piece of advice you wish you had when you were making The Girl Who Returned that you'd give to someone else Directing their first film?

A:

What was an innovation in game play you came up with that didn't catch on like you would have thought?


Q:

Don't make an unwatchable movie. Remember that movies are supposed to entertain!

A:

I miss the old game Acrophobia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrophobia_(game) I'm surprised it didn't spawn imitators, or not many anyway.


Q:

A young filmmaker is pursuing their first film. What's one big piece of advice you wish you had when you were making The Girl Who Returned that you'd give to someone else Directing their first film?

A:

You will have seen the various incarnations of VR and the 3 or 4 times they have been heralded as the next big thing over the last 30 years. Do you think it will ever catch on for real? What challenges in game design do they need to overcome to become more widely accepted?


Q:

We have time for a few more questions, 10 more minutes! I must go back to planning for "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High" at the Cannes Film Festival! We are taking 15 people! We will have parades and street theater! It's like a circus. Watch "All the Love You Cannes" on the Troma Movies YouTube Channel to get an idea of what Troma's experience at Cannes is like!

A:

I think the current wave is for real. I love both games (Virtual Virtual Reality is really fun) and VR storytelling (Check out Spotlight Stories, particularly Pearl and Special Delivery).


Q:

Just want to say thanks for everything, I'm forever influenced and indebted to you.

Also what does Trey Parker smell like?

A:

Walt Disney, or Jim Henson?


Q:

Thanks!

Trey smells like success!

A:

John Lasseter


Q:

Hi Mr. Kaufman! May I ask, do you have any advice on getting a film actually together and made?

A:

So what's wrong with Sega and Sonic? Why do they easily make terrible games for their most valuable IP?


Q:

Get out of bed and do it! You don't need money anymore. Thanks to the miracle of digital technology, and armies of film nerds who are willing to work for nothing to support you, you can make your own damn movie. I've written six books about it!!

A:

Sorry, no opinion on that, I never owned a Sega platform and Sonic never appealed to me.


Q:

Did you try the unicorn frapucino? I'm still convinced it's a myth.

A:

What advice would you give to the parent of a pre-teen, who's absolutely nuts about making games, game-design, programming and playing?

They've a talent and knack (from my v. limited perspective), how do I support, encourage and engage without being pushy? (ie. balance of playing vs. creating).

Any pointers from your experience on the 'making side' gratefully received.


Q:

No Unicorn Frap but we made a music video for Unicorn Smack. You can see it on Troma Movies on YouTube. We did it for free cause we like their music so much!

A:

The gateway these days is often Minecraft, I'd recommend that if your child hasn't yet tried it, it's often a way people get started, particularly 10 year old boys it seems. But I'd also recommend checking out one of the several publicly available game making programs that require very little programming expertise, can't recall a particular one at the moment, sorry! But playing stuff your kid makes is a good idea.


Q:

Ever meet Doris Wishman?

A:

Thank you.

Yes, Minecraft was the gateway, were currently using Unity to participate in online game jams. That's a really good point about playing what's made - I normally advise from a distance, but should be playing too. Thanks!


Q:

Yes. Every once in a while she'd drop by Troma HQ with a bunch of bags, sit in our reception area, and act crazy, which we encourage in Tromaville. She was a great lady!

A:

Unity is a great move, sounds like he or she is going fine. Finding other friends who want to share/collaborate also can help encourage young developers.


Q:

Can you produce a film where Peter Litvin fights killer robots and have Kansas Bowling direct it?

A:

Why are film adaptions of video games and game adaptions of films usually mediocre?


Q:

That is my dream project. All I need is your half a million dollars to make it all happen.

A:

What makes a good film often doesn't make a good game, in some ways linear stories like books and films are diametrically opposed to the interactivity in games. Also, many games based on films benefit from the film marketing without trying hard to be fun, it can be a callous way to just make money without making a good game.


Q:

Were Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus their own worst enemies? My sense is that they did so much right, except the scripts. They had huge stars, franchises, some big slick productions etc... but weak ideas. It could have gone so differently if they stayed out of the way a bit more.

A:

Sinistar kicked a$$!! Was there any way to get past the 3rd level? I've seen people playing old games (Asteroids comes to mind) to the point where they could play indefinitely. Sinistar was a BEAST. I probably paid for your kids college trying (and failing) to survive the 3rd level.


Q:

Golan loved movies for sure, he just lacked an artistic vision. Globus was all business. Unlike Kaufman and Herz they were motivated by money and power. Unlike Kaufman and Herz they were extremely successful.

A:

Hah, I didn't ever get a cut of the profits from the game - but I did get my first car with bonus money, so thanks! Sure, I've gotten to level 5, and know many people who have gone higher, but it is of course extremely difficult. See above for why that is.


Q:

What's all this I hear about THE TROMA NOW PODCAST? :)

A:

The excitement of running like hell from Sinistar, spewing bombs but knowing you were 1 or 2 short of taking him out was epic. "Run, coward!!!!"

Thanks for the memories!


Q:

Go to Troma Movies on YouTube where we have given away about 400 movies free as a thank you to our devoted fans. In the next few days we'll be putting up an amazing new podcast called The Troma Now Podcast which is pure genius.

A:

You're welcome!


Q:

Hey Lloyd!

I have so many good memories of watching Toxie, the subhumanoids, Sgt Kabukiman, etc during high school and my early college days. Back then, we relied on the neighborhood video store and their limited selection for entertainment. Do you think the expanded choices we have today with streaming entertainment help or hurt studios like Troma?

A:

How/where did you develop the awesome Sinistar voice? That thing is impressive, especially considering tech constraints


Q:

It can only help. The more competition and variety we have in our lives the better we will all be. By the way, subscribe to Troma Now and help support independent art, and make the world a better place. www.watch.troma.com

A:

Answered above, it was voiced by this guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Doremus

There is a pretty tiny amount of recorded voice in the game, I think about 20 seconds of unique stuff. There wasn't much to work with.


Q:

Walt Disney, or Jim Henson?

A:

Hello, Mr. Falstien! I did an AMA request last week asking for a game designer/writer, so I wanted to ask: what is it like and what is involved to create a character in your game? I've always been intrigued by the minds behind the characters; why they made the character say the things they say and act the way they act.

Thanks for doing this!


Q:

Disney for sure. Just Dumbo and Song of the South tower above anything that Henson has done. Although Henson is great.

A:

I don't have a specific system for that. When I've done it, I usually start with the game or gameplay and work backward - what kind of character would have the qualities needed for the game? And I use a technique taught by Orson Scott Card, the writer, acknowledging the first few things that come to mind, but push farther into unusual or surprising or quirky alternatives, rejecting the initial cliches. I also like to try to harness my subconscious, think hard about a concept or character, then purposefully distract myself or meditate (or even let myself come to the edge of sleep) and set a reminder (like an alarm) so that I come back to it obliquely.


Q:

How did you first get your work into festivals? Did you start off small and then build?

A:

Will you be in this upcoming E3?


Q:

For the most part festivals have come to us. We don't think it's right to be paying to submit a movie to a festival, so we don't have a lot of contact with festivals. That is why we established the all FREE Tromadance Film Festival 18 years ago. Submissions are still open for this year! Deadline is June 1st! www.tromadance.com

A:

Nope, I have only been to one E3 in the last ten years, don't find it very useful for me any more.


Q:

Is there any personal favorite film of yours that you would ever want to do any Tromatized version of, so to speak?

A:

i LOVED Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis - really captured the feel, wit, and spirit of adventure of the movies.

However.

the part where Sophia is giving the lecture, i could not figure out how to interrupt for the life of me. i remember thinking "how long could this lecture actually be?" and leaving the game on for a couple hours while i went to do something else. this burned the laptop screen and led to me getting in a smidge of trouble with my dad. so thanks for that ;)

how do you feel about the state of adventure games these days? there are times when i really miss those old LucasArts adventure games but i recently tried to play Grim Fandango and found that i just don't have the attention span for it anymore. what's your opinion this kind of behavior/shift in game mechanics?


Q:

The musical Pal Joey by Rodgers and Hart. There is a very bad version with Frank Sinatra. Pal Joey is a very dark story that would make a great Tromusical!!!

A:

In the 80's in particular we got excoriated whenever games seemed "too easy", particularly Loom that was designed as what one would now call a casual game. People wanted lots of "play time" even if it meant some boring grinds, we didn't like it but the customers made it really clear. I'm very pleased that now it's not unusual for a game to be much shorter, and that even a cheaper game can bring more income to the developer because you don't have to pay a store's cut of stocking it (or extra money to keep it on the shelves).


Q:

What's the grossest scene you have seen in a movie that wasn't a Troma movie?

A:

I've spent more than eight years writing a script for an RPG, could you please make it a game or send me in the right direction?

You're amazing.

  • The Rostical Guild (google it).

Q:

Every scene in the TV show with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin is terrible and gross.

A:

Sorry, I don't think I can help with that. Most people (and especially companies) with the resources to make games have more ideas/designs than they can handle, I literally don't know of a single case of this kind of thing resulting in someone picking up a game and paying to make it.


Q:

what do you think of the situation in venezuela?

A:

Did you ever receive complaints in the mail about Sinistar? I wasn't around in the 80's but that game seems absolutely mentally scarring, and I can't imagine it went through without some sort of controversy, internal or otherwise.


Q:

The situation in Venezuela is a mirror image of the United States in 35 years

A:

Whoops, tried to reply to this but something went wrong. Anyway, no, there wasn't any controversy - people liked being startled for the most part, a few were resentful but most people thought it was a fun surprise, and got over it quickly. In a crowded, noisy arcade I don't think it was particularly scary.


Q:

The scene in the first film, where the assholes from the gym hit the kid and knock him off his bike, and then as he is struggling to get off the road, they purposefully back over his head. Well that scene kinda messed me up for a long time. Do you feel any guilt about that?

A:

Oooh this question has been on my mind a while now. I read an article posted in /r/futurology that due to robots taking our jobs, humans will soon find themselves at an existential crisis because their lives have no meaning. One of the proposed solutions is that we will spend most of our times living in VR worlds and having rich lives there. What is your opinion on that?


Q:

Same thing happened to Donald Trump and look where he is.

A:

What makes you think that hasn't happened already? Pretty realistic, huh?


Q:

Which do you prefer Gore Gazette or Fangoria?

A:

How much easier did game development went once you started developing for machines with actual operating systems?

When you guys made games back in the old days, a lot of that stuff was done without any kind of middleware or sophisticated tools - literally just commands executed directly on the hardware. Yet those games are still some of the most fun, clever, and memorable games of my lifetime.


Q:

Toxie and I love them both.

A:

It was pretty gradual as OS improved and tools became available. I'm glad you liked the old games, but overall I think the quality of games overall has improved, we just tend to have nostalgia for the ones we saw when we were younger.


Q:

Would you like if I painted a portrait of Toxie?

A:

What was your biggest challenge in learning programming?

I really want to learn, but I find it really intimidating.


Q:

Yes! Pls send pics! Toxie and I love Troma fan art!

A:

That's a tough one for me to answer with relevance, I learned initially about 45 years ago, and frankly the biggest challenge was the frustration of waiting for the punched cards to be read into the feeder and run on the mainframe miles away - and did I mention I had to walk to the computer lab at school 10 miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways? :-) I think there are lots of very accessible ways to learn programming these days, but I'm very out of touch with them, sorry!


Q:

Can Troma make a remake of Doctor Who? I think using Troma as a launching point for such a thing would be amazing.

A:

Which of your games do you still dust off and play, just to enjoy playing them?


Q:

Doctor Who is Doctor Poo as far as I'm concerned. But we did just finished remaking Class of Nuke 'Em High! Please contact your local theater to play "Return to Return to Nuke 'Em High aka Vol. 2"

A:

I don't - just never been motivated to go back much. The one I most miss playing (but that I'd rather play a modern version of) was Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe. And I wasn't very heavily involved in the development of that, it was very much Larry Holland's work.


Q:

In today's viral world, what would it take for a Sgt Kabukiman clip for more modern times?

A:

Do you find modern AAA games lacking in depth? Where has the modern gaming industry disappointed you?

What game being worked on are you most excited about?


Q:

Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD has his own talk show on the Troma Movies YouTube Channel, "Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner". It will one day become a viral sensation! Season 2, and a feature length special "Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner: Loaded in Las Vegas", coming soon!

A:

I wouldn't say lacking in depth, depending on the type of game some are amazingly deep. But I've never been a big AAA game fan in general, except for some strategy or RTS games. I guess I'm disappointed there haven't been more (successful) attempts at funny games. The one I'm most excited about hasn't been announced yet so I can't say more, should be out before the end of this year though.


Q:

What software/hardware were you equipped with?

A:

It varied considerably during my career, literally dozens if not hundreds of answers to that. If you are more explicit in a reply to this I'll try to oblige.


Q:

What is your opinion on games having loads of DLC and no game? Also Whats your opinion on competitive shooters like CSGO and Overwatch?

A:

Not sure what you're referring to, I guess I'm not playing games of that sort. I've never played CSGO or Overwatch. So many types of games now, and I've spent more time on VR and to some extent mobile games recently.


Q:

As an absolute complete noob to designing games, where do I start the learning process. I don't know java or python at this point. And how does graphic design tie in? What tools do I need?

A:

I'd recommend Jesse Schell's "The Art of Game Design" book as a start, it will answer many of your questions and has lots of great advice. I don't get a cut, I'm just a fan of Jesse's work and this book in particular.


Q:

How often are you referred to as a sadist for making Sinistar?

A:

At least this once! I guess maybe people were more traumatized than I thought :-) Sorry. After all, you do get to blow him up as revenge. Sure, it's not going to end well for the player, but that was true of just about every arcade game.


Q:

I'm a 28 yo male that wants to be a video game producer. I'm going back to school in the fall to finish up my degree in computer science with a minor in business. What steps do I need to make so that my dream becomes a reality?

A:

There are entry level producer positions - assistant producer or possibly another unique name. www.gamasutra.com has lots of job listings. If you are a competent coder you may well find it easier to get a job using those skills and work internally in a game company to become a producer.