67: "I Didn’t Leave Games, the Games Left Me"

"'I've always wanted to be an artist professionally, I just didn't dream that many people would ever pay me to draw,' he says, describing himself as a fan of Disney animation. 'That was an early goal of mine: to be a great animator. Little did I know that my lazy California roots and lack of persistent training would prevent me from that kind of greatness.'"

Shannon Drake speaks to Earthworm Jim creator, Doug TenNapel.

"I Didn't Leave Games, the Games Left Me"

I was initially excited (Splee!) to learn that the creator of EWJ was also responsible for one of my favorite new cartoons, Catscratch. Upon further reading though, I began to see yet another disgruntled, ranting and self-absorbed lapsed developer. Doug, I think the biggest disservice 'DP' did you was to inflate your ego and salary so fast that you have no perspective any more. If your love of making games was bigger than your head, you'd get out there and do something like Telltale or Garage Games are doing instead of demanding to be treated like royalty for making some interesting characters almost 10 years ago. I yell because I care.

meathelix:
I was initially excited (Splee!) to learn that the creator of EWJ was also responsible for one of my favorite new cartoons, Catscratch. Upon further reading though, I began to see yet another disgruntled, ranting and self-absorbed lapsed developer. Doug, I think the biggest disservice 'DP' did you was to inflate your ego and salary so fast that you have no perspective any more. If your love of making games was bigger than your head, you'd get out there and do something like Telltale or Garage Games are doing instead of demanding to be treated like royalty for making some interesting characters almost 10 years ago. I yell because I care.

Disagree completely - I love the netherhood and am really excited that Doug worked on that and earthworm jim - two of my all time classic favs! there's a real uniqueness to the Netherhood and a an accpetance thats its not going to be a number one smash like the big shoot 'em ups - Doom 3, Quake, Halo etc etc etc Instead it's a really cool, special little game - one which makes gaming less stifled and more interesting. I cant help but feel Earthworm Jim could have gone further down that road if Doug had been allowed more control over it. It's pretty disgusting that now he's not even allowed to see what they're doing with his character. I'm not saying that capitalism is always bad and that the people with the money dont know what they're doing - just in this case I think they should have left well alone.

Here be beauty, there be piecharts...that kind of thing. Leave the creative people to do what they do best and we might have a few more games like the Netherhood.

All that talent...and humble, too!

Shannon, I can't deny the validity of your praise of Doug's work (and what's become of EWJ is a tragedy), but meathelix's comments are dead on. What has Doug done for the gaming world lately, beyond complain that it hasn't given him his due?

Developers (especially indies) are still bringing fantastic products to niche audiences. Look to Introversion or Positech or Ninja Bee, or peruse the latest reviews on GameTunnel. You can still find small teams making "really cool, special little game(s)"...while keeping their egos in check.

Enjoyed the article, esp. the history behind EWJ - truly a classic! Thanks much!

I couldn't say off the top of my head. I know he's worked a consultant on several projects, but my usual sources don't turn up anything where he's got a credit, which may just be the "consultant" effect.

Glad you liked the article. :)

While I can't really shed a tear for someone who says, "I'm so damn good, you should come and get *me*," I also feel like TenNapel sounds like a lot of artists who make their money off of people looking to make a lot of money, for better or worse. Of course the suits're gonna screw you out of your creations, that's why young & naive creative types need legal council (or at least more than a handshake). And if he really poops roses & gold the way he makes it sound, wouldn't there be more Earthworm Jims out there to his credit?

That being said, if you're into comics, good art and/or good storytelling, you should really check out "Creature Tech." (Someone could make a great game out of that...) It's got shotguns, life, death, love, aliens, symbiosis, demons, religion and a lot of evil, evil cats. Good stuff and amazing art.

Whether his ego be justified or not aside;

He be the first 'professional' dev who speak sincerely (perhaps, at least since Lord British?) of how he feels in regards to the treatment he been received from his peers, how his IP was used, the control over creativity he was releaved off of, and (that which I believe most of us agree to and been saying so for years now) how all those companies are treating games nowdays as neto-business and zero care for it as a form of art and entertainment.

Maybe it's because I'm a crusty old fogey who outgrew comic books almost 40 years ago, but if his idea of a good game is a surreal world of toilet humor, then I say thank G-d games left him.

 

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