The guys behind The Gunstringer came up with the concept in three minutes.
The comparisons between the movie business and the videogame industry are numerous, and sometimes they are completely apt. Young, bright-eyed videogame developers sometimes get that one chance to impress an executive with a stellar idea just like the stereotypical aspiring screenwriter, and sometimes they get as lucky as Josh Bear and Mike Wilford from Twisted Pixel Studios. Fresh off the success of ‘Splosion Man, the guys had nailed a sit-down with Microsoft to pitch ideas for Kinect titles. But after seeing a demonstration of the hardware in action, the pair realized the idea they had prepared just wasn’t going to work. So when Cherie Lutz of Microsoft left the table at The Matador, a Mexican restaurant in Redmond, Wa, Bear and Wilford had just a few minutes to think.
“Mike’s kind of chatting with other Microsoft people, and I’m frantically looking around the restaurant just trying to think of ideas,” said Bear. “To my left, there was this painting of a skeleton cowboy and I looked at it and just – literally – I was like ‘OK: Skeleton cowboy that needs to get revenge on posse … marionette. Fuck it.'”
When Lutz got back to the table, Bear dove into his pitch about an undead stringed puppet. “‘Yeah, Cherie, so, we’ve had this idea for a long time, umm, a marionette, and you use your hands like this, and you’re a skeleton cowboy,'” Bear said. “I was lying my ass off, and Mike was just sitting there backing me up.”
Improbably, the pitch landed somewhere between lovably weird and “What the?” and Microsoft loved it. They put The Gunstringer in development, and the Kinect title came out on September 13th.
Lutz is now aware that Bear and Wilford made the game up nearly on the spot, but they’ve made it a running joke to look around wherever they meet with Microsoft to try to pitch games based on what they see. “The last restaurant we went was this weird French-Asian place and there was a geisha statue. I said ‘OK, Cherie, it’s Kinect Robo-Geishas, is that cool?'”
Why yes, it does sound pretty cool.