With the Doomsday Arcade Series Finale going live this Thursday, we asked the creators where they came up with their crazy ideas and they were nice enough to answer.

As if the Series Finale of Doomsday Arcade wasn’t awesome enough, Michael Shanks and Michael Lunds have given us tons of stuff to laugh at and keep us busy until this Thursday rolls around. Don’t forget to check back throughout the week for more Doomsday Arcade goodness while you wait for the Finale to drop this Thursday at noon!

To watch all of the past Doomsday Arcade episodes up to catch up for the Finale and get yourself a badge, visit our Doomsday Arcade video library and start the viewing bonanza!

We started off by asking Shanks how he got started and what special challenges he had to overcome throughout the course of the show. And how the heck is this thing going to end anyway?

How did you come up with the idea for the show?

It was during my high school finals; I saw the ads on The Escapist for the film festival. I had been frequenting it every week for Zero Punctuation, and having always wanted to try my hand at some video work, it seemed like a great opportunity.

As I was doing exams at the time, I didn’t have a lot of time for a more creative premise. It seemed fairly obvious: a live action film competition on a gaming site – come up with a loose frame of a plot to make little fan-film homages to popular games.

Do you keep to the script or is there a lot of improvisation and collaboration on set?

I’d like to say there’s a lot of improvisation, but everything’s more or less set in stone once the script is written. Due to the amount of shots I like to plan, I shoot off of the storyboards rather than the script. Sometimes we’ll shoot half of a sentence in one shot, only to film the other half of that sentence in a shot an hour later. This chop and change method doesn’t really allow a lot of room to make stuff up as we go along. Which is a shame, as Lund comes up with stuff on set ten times funnier than I could ever write.

Did you know how it was going to end when you started?

I showed a friend these questions before I answered them and she laughed her head off when she read this one. I didn’t know how it was going to end even a week ago. Particularly when episodes came out fortnightly, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be writing scenes hours before I had booked actors to film them. Throughout the series, I’ve had about eight different endings in mind and it turned out to be one I came up with about a week ago. I think the ending may frustrate a few people, but I can’t think of any show which ends quite like this. I’d like to feel I’ve done something unique.

What have been some of the hardest costumes, props, and sets to create?

Costumes that come to mind instantly are obviously the Big Daddy suit; although the HEV suit was probably harder to make. Those are the two costumes I’ve outsourced to friends to build, as I knew they’d take a long time. Props like Polybius, the Gravity Gun, Portal Gun, Mini Gun and Medi-gun (lot of guns … ) were often difficult to figure out how to build. Luckily, my Dad fancies himself as Tim Taylor, so he was a tremendous help. Rapture was the hardest set, but compositing footage from an aquarium with a local 1930’s theatre helped that to come together.


Are you and Lund friends in real life, or just work together?

In real life, we are mortal foes. Every day before filming, we swordfight above a pit of lava to vent our hateful frustrations towards each other.

Originally, he didn’t want to come and film the “pilot” with me, as he cared more about studying (which I didn’t). Eventually I convinced him, which was lucky, considering it became something. We are friends, but he knows my friendship is just a front to get closer to his mother …

As most viewers probably figured out, nobody in the show is an actor. Most of us have never done acting before in our lives. Everyone on the show are just mates of mine. They’re kind enough to help out when I’m shooting stuff by letting me put them in silly costumes and telling them what to say. Generally the actors don’t read the script before they’re on set, where I feed them lines shot by shot.

Have people around your town come to know you and your weird characters when shooting?

A lot of kids from the high school I went to (and Lund works at) are aware of Doomsday and recognize us from it. It still raises most people’s eyebrows when they see us filming. Particularly when filming with the Big Daddy or a bronzed, shirtless Bruce.

How have you picked which games to recreate?

I’m a child of the 90s that was raised by my N64. I grew up on Mario 64 and TLOZ:OOT (one of the worst acronyms ever) so they naturally found their way on to the show. Really, whatever I’ve played or am playing at the time works its way in. When I bought Prototype, that became the next episode. When Lund and I stumbled to his house and finished the entirety of Doom co-op at 4am; that became the next episode.

Is LazerCat hard to work with?

Incredibly! Mufasa (my cat) is very friendly and doesn’t run away when I try and film him, but it’s so hard to integrate him into the scene he’s supposed to be in. Almost every shot of his is outdoors, but I live in an apartment block with almost no grass. That’s why every shot of him is an incredible close up: to cover up the fact we’ve about 2 square feet of “set.”

You use a lot of special effects in the show, what has been the most difficult?

Unsurprisingly, making the special effects is my favorite part of the process. I write stuff in the script I have no idea how to do, and then using software I’m forced to figure out how to do it. It’s really satisfying when you finally sort out how to achieve a certain troubling effect. In that sense, almost all of it’s difficult. Specifically, trying to create Rapture on almost no budget was a real challenge. Making Michael and I look underwater as we pretended to swim in front a blue screen was a joy to edit.

Are you really a Valve Fanboy?

What can I say? I love regulating the flow of fluid by manipulating passages…

I used to have three Half Life 2 posters in my room. ‘Nuff said.

Is it special effects, or are you really that handsome?

Oh Shane, you cheeky mongrel! I guess some of us are born with gifts – mine simply happens to be the chiseled features and bronzed complexion of a proud Greek Titan.

To watch all of the past Doomsday Arcade episodes up to catch up for the Finale and get yourself a badge, visit our Doomsday Arcade video library and start the viewing bonanza!

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