Kenny Lee is a modest man. Together with his brother Teddy Lee, they’ve made a flash game that quickly gained fame and notoriety for its subject matter, although most do not know that since releasing their masterpiece the two are working on new projects under the moniker Cellar Door Games as well.
We caught up with the developer of Don’t Shit Your Pants Kenny Lee (his pants are still on) for a chat about answering the call of nature in the most imaginative way possible.
Hi Ken, before we begin, can you introduce yourself to our readers who are not familiar with your game development background?
There’s really not much to say about my background. I haven’t actually been making games for a long time. Although I’ve been dabbling in it for a while, it was only recently that I took things seriously and made things publicly available. DSYP (Don’t Shit Your Pants) was actually the first game I made that was put on the Internet.
How big is your development team, and who worked on what?
At the time, it was only the two of us, but after the incredible feedback we received on the game, several people were interested in working with us and we grew from there. For DSYP specifically, we had one other individual work on the design and sound, while I was responsible for the programming and art.
Is your team working on anything at the moment?
We actually made our first iPhone game, Tribal Tallies, two weeks ago that is a more commercial endeavour, which unfortunately means no potty jokes. Ever since DSYP, we formed a larger group and started Cellar Door Games. Decade Studios is still active, but for the foreseeable future we’re working under that name. I don’t know if that complicates things.
Are there any plans for a sequel to DSYP?
In my mind, DSYP was a one shot thing. It was like a funny joke that really doesn’t work as well the second time. We’ve got a lot of people asking us to make Don’t Piss Your Pants, but it probably would have been better if that was our first game, and Don’t Shit Your Pants was our second.
You can’t really follow up number 2 with number 1, if you know what I mean. However we have had some ideas that sound pretty good. We’re also thinking of bringing it to the iPhone, if anyone would care for that kind of thing, since the fun is over in 15 minutes or less.
What was the inspiration for the game? And are you guys planning to release another flash game anytime soon?
Ha, I wish I could tell you. It started with an email that, to my embarrassment, made me laugh out at work. But I knew that this game had to be made. Some people ask if the protagonist was borrowed from that dude in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but that was purely coincidental. I’ve never even seen the show.
As for flash games, I’d have to say we don’t really have anything planned.
How long did it take to produce DSYP?
It took about two weeks to get everything done for the game. It probably could have taken shorter, but I only had evenings to work on it, and it was my first time with ActionScript.
Did you expect such a positive overall reaction to the game after it was released?
Oh, not at all. I mean, I thought it was funny, but humour is so subjective and you can never really tell. We were expecting some 20,000 hits max, but to hit one million and have sites like 1UP and GiantBomb talk about it came totally from left field. While some people were uptight about it, I’m glad that most didn’t take offense to it.
Despite its name, we wanted to keep it as clean as possible. For example, although talking about poop and stuff is funny, actually seeing it isn’t, so we tried to reduce that.
Best and worst feedback you’ve received for DSYP?
Thankfully the majority of it has been good feedback, so it’s tough to pick out the best one. We’re just happy that so many people enjoyed it.
Some people were critics, which is totally fine. So again, I can’t pinpoint any feedback that was the worst. There were some weird responses, from people saying things like “This game sucks it only has 1 level.” It took some time to understand a generation of gamers who weren’t raised on text adventures.
Other names considered for DSYP?
Haha, DSYP was the first and only one. Before we actually published it on the Internet though, there were some reservations and we considered changing it. We knew the vulgarity would get people to click it though, so we stuck with it.
What influenced or inspired the art style for DSYP?
Pretty much any EGA adventure game you can think of. It’s interesting because the original idea was to be a really really old-school adventure game, where there was no art and only text. I pushed it to be a Hugo House of Horrors type game.
I actually had a really hard time duplicating the 16 colour style (especially since I’m not an artist). It was tough fighting with all this new fandangled anti-aliasing and 16 million colours and whatnot. I actually went online and found a DOS graphics editor made by EA in 1994, that forced the 16 colour palette and resolution.
Your favorite adventure or text games from the past?
That’s a toughy. No offense to the recent ones but I don’t think they hold a candle to what was made prior. I was a fan of them all. All the “Quest” series from Sierra, and the quirky titles from LucasArts, like the Monkey Island and Indiana Jones series. Admittedly, I wasn’t that big a fan of the text-based ones.
Why was DSYP described as survival horror? And why was that used as the basic description for the game?
That was just to add to the joke. I didn’t come up with it though, I wish I did.
Who came up with the idea for the survival horror description then?
If someone sponsors you to make a zombie-themed version (or Christmas edition) of DSYP, will you do it? How about for charity?
Yeah we could. It certainly wouldn’t be difficult.
Did the protagonist of the game ever had a name? What was the story behind his predicament?
We didn’t go into the details of the game. We prefer to leave it up to the individual.
Which real-life person or game character did you base the protagonist on?
Though not focused on anyone in particular, I did use Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series as an overlay since I can’t draw myself.
What are your plans for the iPhone version of DSYP, and do you have a scheduled (or tentative) release date or it? Any new features planned?
Right now all plans are tentative. We’re not sure if people would really want that on their iPhone, and we don’t even know if Apple would approve of such an application. If we did release it, it would probably include another setting. I said earlier that we did have some ideas, and I think they’d work if it weren’t explicitly a sequel, but like an added extra.
Any easter eggs that is not well-known, or secrets about DSYP that haven’t been found out (or revealed) yet?
I wish. I’m surprised at how hardcore people can get. Some person hacked the game and got every single word in our string parser, so unfortunately no, I’m pretty sure every possible outcome has been revealed.
Have you received any fan work for DSYP yet? Any plans to commercialize the idea (t-shirt prints, etc.) besides an iPhone version of the game?
It’s bizarre, because what we saw as a have-fun-and-forget type of flash game, people really got into. We had a magazine wanting to highlight it, and we’ve even had individuals make pretty creative youtube videos of it.
The iPhone is really the only other outlet we’ve considered for it.
Some people are comparing DSYP to YHTBTR (You Have to Burn the Rope). Have you played Kian Bashiri’s flash game, and what do you think of it? Any connections between the two?
Yes, I’ve played it. It was fun. Although he wasn’t exactly an inspiration for our game, I would say that he was an inspiration for us submitting to IGF. I know he got nominated last year, and if weren’t for that, we probably wouldn’t have submitted this year ourselves.
Did you ever consider a song composition for the credits to DSYP? Any features that were cut out, or didn’t make it into the Flash version?
A song probably wouldn’t have fit the EGA motif. Aside from several achievements that were cut (10 down from 15), I’d have to say DSYP is the closest to a game where I’ve done everything I wanted to do.
Do you have any plans for DSYP if the game makes it as an IGF finalist?
Nope. We submitted to IGF because we didn’t see any downside to it, but we didn’t look very far into the future.
There’s a downside! It costs money.
It does, but the exposure it gets is worth it.
Any particular IGF games that caught your attention?
I saw a few games that I wouldn’t really consider indie on the list, but the term is defined differently for different people so it’s tough to say.
Your definition of indie?
Oh man, I don’t know if I could answer that one. It would be long and drawn out, and I’d probably change it in mid-paragraph. Even I don’t have a strict definition.
A lot of factors come into play, like team size, games they’ve made, have they worked for publishers, and so on.
Are you planning to submit DSYP to any other competitions?
IGF is the only competition that we planned to submit DSYP to. So everyone else can breathe easy. I kid.
In closing, anything you’d like to say to your fans?
They’re the best.