David Jaffe’s Drawn to Death debuts in a couple of weeks as a “hybrid shooter brawler” arena combat game for Sony’s PlayStation 4. In an interview with GamesBeat, veteran game designer Jaffe — creator of titles like Twisted Metal and God of War — referred to it as Quake meets Super Smash Bros.

Jaffe’s team at The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency has worked on the unconventional game for more than three years, and it is finally ready for its debut on April 4 as a PlayStation exclusive. Over time, the team will update the game with new modes and other things to keep it going.

The artwork in the third-person, four-player multiplayer game is a crazy quilt of images from the mind of a 16-year-old high school student in the game. The teen’s doodles in his notebook spring to life, and they take shape in the arena in a very imaginative way. The battle maps are full of both the doodles and the crazy creatures from those pencil-sketch drawings.

Jaffe said in our interview that some people might view the game superficially as a crude title — akin to something like Duke Nukem — where asshole characters bad mouth each other and slay each other in brutal ways. But Jaffe said the game has his own brand of self-aware humor which he desperately hopes the audience will grasp.

And he also said that the story of the main character is told in ways that are very creative. You will, for instance, be able to read doodles about the teenager that reveal the kid’s state of mind after his parents’ divorce. It is only in the actual gameplay that these parts of the game’s back story are revealed.

For the first month, Drawn to Death will be a free title for PlayStation Plus subscribers. After that, it will be a $20 purchase.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview. It’s a long discussion, but I found it to be wonderfully deep.

Art from Drawn to Death.

Above: Art from Drawn to Death.

Image Credit: The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency

GB: How’s the game going here? How long have you been working on it?

David Jaffe: We started in 2013, I think. A while. A little over three years. We started the company and the game all together. Probably the first year and a half was just gearing everybody up and getting the tools set up. We’ve probably been in production for about two years.

GB: What was the original idea?

Jaffe: Thematically, it started as stick figures. I can’t really draw, and so I remember drawing this image of a stick figure drawing back to just nail another stick figure with a volleyball, a dodgeball. I remember the title I wrote at the time was “Hyper Violent Super Big Headed Stick Figure Violent Dodge Ball.” That was in my head for about a year. We were just starting Twisted Metal, and I said, “I want to make that game one day.”

Obviously we evolved the dodge ball out of it and evolved them from stick figures, but the idea of drawing characters in a notebook, and then as we started to really massage the concept, we said, “Well, are these drawings in a therapist’s office for kids? What is this book?” Very quickly it was like, “This should be notebooks we doodled when we were kids in high school.” The art style shifted away from stick figures to what you see here.

The intent is that the artist, the kid, he’s not a trained artist. He’s not some 16-year-old savant. He doesn’t have brilliant artistic skills. He’s just very imaginative, bored, dealing with normal teenage stuff. One thing I like about the game — the mechanics came first. We wanted to put our stamp on a shooter. I love heavy mechanics-based games. I love competitive games. For me a lot of shooters have become so much about a metagame — leveling up, upgrading weapons, prestige, all that wonderful stuff — we said, “Let’s see if we can concentrate more on the moment to moment battlefield engagement between you and an enemy.” Can we somehow enrich that experience and bring something new to the shooting?

It evolved into this shooter-hybrid brawler. We’ve been describing it as a cross between Smash Bros and Quake. That’s where we ended up, our key inspirations. But the other part of it — being in high school, being about this kid’s life — what I love about that is, even though it’s very much a mechanics-heavy game and very much a multiplayer game, observant players will find, whether you’re talking about just little hints around the classroom, or the various characters that start to show up—something begins to make its way into the doodles.

You have the girl here that he’s clearly into. As you explore the notebook, explore the skybox — I’ll show you some of the stuff.


GB: He’s doodling a game design?

Jaffe: He’s just drawing stuff. He’s not thinking about games. He’s just drawing characters. If you explore enough — this comes from the time my kids were playing a lot of Minecraft. I don’t know how familiar you are with the fiction of this character named Hero Brian. Steve is the main mascot of Minecraft. That’s the guy you see in the press art and all that. There was kind of an evil dark version that a lot of gamers who are into Minecraft would call Hero Brian. He was supposed to appear in the Minecraft landscape and follow you, and if he looked at you you’d die.

It was total urban video game legend. At the time, the Mojang guys were like, “No, that doesn’t exist.” But I loved that on YouTube — my kids would obsessively search for these videos of storytelling and world-building that wasn’t an elaborate cutscene, but it was just things you’d see off in the distance, in the background. A lot of that philosophy found its way into Drawn to Death. My hope is that people play the game, love the game, and in loving it start to explore a bit. It’s certainly not meant to be something you come to like Last of Us and it tells you a story. But story is all over Drawn to Death. You wouldn’t know it. It’s just a question of where you look.

For example, if you go into the stat screen and start to look at characters, all of the characters he’s drawn, there are cell phone communications between the kid and that girl at the beginning of the class. He’s explaining the impetus or the inspiration behind each of these characters. This character Alan is based on his stepdad, who he can’t stand, who runs a chain of Magic Mouse Burgers and Fun restaurants.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

You’ll only find that out through listening to what they say in the game, the characters themselves, or reading the cell phone, looking up in the skybox and reading where Amy, the girl, has written notes to the kid and he’s writing notes back. Hers are upside down because she sits in front of him in class. She’s turned around writing in his notebook. You start to think, “Wow, there’s a whole fiction here. Not just in terms of the kid’s life that’s reflected, but the characters themselves are self-aware.” They’re not aware of this kid being in high school. They’re just aware of the hand, which is like their god. It created them and can destroy them at a moment’s notice. But it’s also a mechanic you can call on in the game, using the hand to kill your enemies.

The inspiration behind all of this is to make a wonderfully fun deep competitive online multiplayer game, but it just naturally, once we realized it was about this kid’s drawings — it very naturally took on a life of its own. It told its own story of who this kid is, versus just being — we could have stopped there and said, “It’s a kid’s doodles.” But it was more fun to write a story and figure out ways to embed that in the gameplay. That’s a really long answer. Thanks for coming in!

GB: [A live action video of a classroom shows, from the main character’s point of view]. How much of that video you showed is in the game?

Jaffe: We shot about 12 of these. We’re actually opening day one with just the first two. We have a lot of them, and since we’re looking at this as a service-based game, we’ll roll out new ones as the days go on. There’s one where he’s in detention. There’s one where him and this guy Fincher, they don’t get along all that well. He’s kind of the bully.

Some of that story, even though there’s no performance — we don’t have them going into storytelling, like actors, because especially when they’re addressing the camera, that can come off as cheesy unless you do it exactly right, and we’re still a pretty small game. We can’t afford to go out and hire amazing actors who can directly address the camera and not feel like old-school Sega CD. But all of that—again, another example of that world-building in places that I don’t think you’d expect it. At least I’m hoping you don’t expect it. I hope players come for the meal, which is the gameplay, and if they’re really into it, it’s like, holy cow, there’s a whole little world here to discover.

GB: Can we take a look at gameplay briefly?

Jaffe: Let me drop you in first. Play a bit of the training. I want to talk about the humor of the game and my joy and concerns about the game’s humor. I’m okay if you put humor in quotes. It’s very subjective. We did a lot of focus testing on the humor, because every time we did focus tests I thought they were going to say, “Jaffe, you gotta pull the humor out. You gotta take the frog out.” And I was fine with that. I thought the frog was funny. But I got that maybe a lot of people wouldn’t think so. But every time the focus tests came back they said, “We love the humor, don’t touch it.” This will also help you get a sense of the mechanics before you jump in.

GB: Are you targeting more than high school students? Is it just anybody who appreciates the style?

Jaffe: I don’t think we’re officially targeting high-school kids as a title. I don’t really think about that, which is why I was more than happy to put it through focus tests and ask, “Do people think this is funny?” Play a bit of this. I won’t talk, because I want you to digest it and get an idea.

Where it’s going — one of the things I think is really cool about this game, all the characters are unique in how they navigate, move, and control. I wanted to give you a sense of how much variety and mechanical depth there is. All the characters have pros and cons against other characters. We’re definitely looking at a game that’s more like Smash Bros as inspiration for how much the characters can do and how long it’ll take players to learn and master each character. Hopefully the players who are really into the game will quickly realize that if you’re just running around with a machinegun and shooting — it’ll take more than that for you to do well.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

I also wanted to show you the humor of the game, or the “humor” of the game. There’s this weird line we’re trying to walk. A lot of people, on the surface of it, are going to think — taken literally, I think there’s a self-awareness we’re trying to get across. The best example is here. There’s an announcer you’ll hear in a moment. He intentionally sounds like the kinds of announcers you hear back in the Midway arcade game days, the ‘90s era of games like HYDRO THUNDER! and all that stuff. It takes a while, but if you play enough games you start to hear him having conversations with his mother, who he still lives with, or he’s thrilled to still be working in the industry. This is the first job he’s had since the arcades collapsed.

We’re intentionally over the top. We’re trying to straddle this line between what a kid in high school would find stupid humor, over the top humor, bawdy vulgarity, but at the same time sort of wink at it. We get that this stuff isn’t necessarily where the target is anymore, but to us — maybe because some of us grew up there, we just started working at the time — we’re still connected to that time. There’s a sense of charm to it, I guess? I don’t know if people are going to get that, but I wanted to play this, because it reflects the best version of that.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: So some awareness of video game history?

Jaffe: Awareness of game history, but also of — it knows that it’s doing juvenile humor, bathroom humor in a lot of ways. It’s aware that it’s not the height of comedy, but there’s something I think is charming in that. This is a line we put online for the website. In the game there are all these buff coins that spawn. It gives you extra ammo or a faster fire rate.

GB: Would you say it’s a Pixar kind of humor, where there are jokes for the kids and jokes for adults?

Jaffe: I don’t think so? It’s not really meant for kids. We’re not thinking of it that way. We’re not that sophisticated. [laughs] The gameplay is. I’ll stand on the mountain and shout about how sophisticated I think the gameplay is, how much nuance and variety there is, but as far as the humor, no. We’re just doing stuff that makes us laugh.

What I’m waiting for is people on NeoGAF saying, “That fucking announcer is ripped from the ‘90s. What are these guys, living in Midway arcade-land, Ready 2 Rumble and stuff?” But again, what I love about it is, if you actually play it — that’s a two-minute soliloquy that plays during gameplay when you pick up one of these coins. He has probably 40 of those, where he just goes off about his personal life and how he’s gotta go to the bathroom, but he’s not going because he’s a pro and he’s gonna sit here and take it. How he lives with his mom, but he wants to go on a date with this girl. It’s just like, “Why is the announcer in this game having a therapy session with me?”

I think that stuff’s really cool and really funny. Absolutely terrified of how it’s going to play in the world. But again, to Sony’s credit, ever since I started working with them in ’95, they’re just like, “Find a north star. Follow your north star.” I love that about this game. I think it probably has the most spirit and personality of any of the games I’ve worked on. It has a voice. Whether it’s a voice that reviewers or gamers embrace, I don’t know. But it’s genuine. I’ll give you that.

If we go into the game itself, which is where the meat of this lies — this goes through the various specials for each character. They’re all very different.

GB: The frog is always with you?

Jaffe: He’s kind of the mascot. He’s with you in the training and in the shell. There’s a whole history of him that observant players, going back to the Hero Brian idea — they can discover his true motivations. But on the surface — I kind of wrote him in the voice of Niles Crane from Frasier. He’s this elitist British frog who hates you. “Yeah, I’ll train you. I can’t stand you, but sure, we’ll do this.”

Again, it’s designed to be more like a brawler than a shooter. It’s not like you play Mortal Kombat and suddenly your version of Jax is better than mine. You just play well because you’ve learned the ins and outs of the character. We want that same philosophy to apply in Drawn to Death.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

What I think is cool about it is you can start the game with four players. We went with four as the maximum because, again, this is super polarizing for some people, but the idea was — usually shooters have 16 or 32 players, some even have 64 on the field. We wanted to be sure that it was a deeper experience, where you could pay attention to who you were fighting and what their tactics were. Does this character that I’m fighting have a pro or a con against the one I’m using?

We started with eight characters in development. Whenever we had more than four, it just felt too chaotic. We said, “Let’s get the very best version of the game that ticks those boxes, making a hybrid shooter-brawler.” Four is where we ended up. What I love about it, if someone drops out as you’re playing, the level changes. It gets smaller. The rule set changes. It’s constantly adjusting based on how many players are in there to give everyone a good time.

This is the core death match that unlocks after unranked. It’s about making defense matter in a game like this. Usually it’s just, fuck it, kill things, and if you die you respawn and go back in. In this one, every time you lose a point, and it’s the first to five. It forces you to play defensively. It forces you to learn where the health is, not just run and gun the whole game through. All of these decisions move toward building an experience that will hopefully engage in the player in that moment to moment, on the field battle, more than a lot of shooters might.

GB: Have you thought about letting players draw their own things into the game?

Jaffe: Kind of? We’re not launching with it, but — I’ll show you our taunt system in a second. All the characters are able, in the lobby, to text taunt, as well as to give taunts. These are taunts you can unlock in the game. Down the road it’s possible that we will give players the ability to make their own.

We had looked at the idea of in-game user-generated content. The problem is, thematically the wrapper works for us, but the minute we start giving the player that level of expression — which I think is very creatively fun – it does pull away from the story of the world we’re trying to tell. Even in that last one, there’s stuff where he talks about his parents’ divorce. I’ll show you some of the skybox stuff, where you get a sense that he’s been sent to detention, and why. If we open the door up for everyone to put in crazy stuff, our worry is that it de-legitimizes the fiction we’re trying to express.

Here’s the detention slip. This is stuff you have to go out of your way to find. What’s in the sky box? There’s notes between him and the girl in class. This tells him about dealing with this kid in class who’s being a dick to him. There’s all kinds of little gags in the game, things to discover.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: [One character has a monkey on his back, pooing and throwing his poo]. A monkey on his back.

Jaffe: Exactly. This is a freezing homer. If someone’s leaping in the air — let me see if I can land that. That’s a grenade you can have, the defense grenade. You throw it and it creates a barrier in the level. But she’ll also poop out a bomb sometimes. She has very powerful attacks, but it comes at a cost.

This is the shax, which is a mix between a shotgun and an ax. If you get close enough to someone and do enough damage, you see these blades. Now I have two of them. You play this little mini-game here, and when you win it, these blades do a huge amount of damage if you can score a hit.

This is a mode called organ donor, where if you kill people, they lose hearts. You collect the hearts and bring them to these bases that are moving around. Some of them that move slowly are worth only one point when you deposit there. Other bases are worth more points, but it takes longer to deposit. This character has blood in the water, so she can tell when someone’s close to death. Here’s Uncle Joe, who can fire this dude in a coffin.

I’m on this gun. If someone was down there and paying attention, because we put a really good health pickup over here, there’s a lot of mechanics in the level themselves. Someone can come down here — in this case I could shoot the gun if somebody was on it. It fires and does an instant kill. There’s all these little gimmicks and gags hidden in the level for players to explore.

It’s very much inspired by great Nintendo games, in the sense of — everything in those games where you thought, “I wonder if I could do this,” and it pays off. Even though this is a much more bawdy, R-rated version of that, we wanted to build in that same joy that comes from — like, if you shoot the slot machine it’ll spin out a pickup. It could be good or bad, depending. All the levels are filled with those different kinds of secrets. If the other guy doesn’t know this secret location here, you’re good, but he happens to know it. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to take in.

The main thing to take away, or at least I hope so, is that there’s a lot to this. There’s a lot of mechanics. She’s got a defense move where if you’re running and you do a normal jump, it’ll do a back shield. You can also do one that does a rotation. If you have a weapon lined up, it’ll flip you around and you can hit somebody chasing you.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: Do you feel like this part of a David Jaffe genre in some way? Is it similar to your past games?

Jaffe: I don’t know. That’s for someone else to decide, really. It’s the evolution — it’s not lost on me that it’s probably a very difficult game to demo for people. That’s why I brought these, because at least this helps visualize the level of variety and complexity to the characters, and hopefully some of the weapons. It’s a hard game to sit in front of someone and not think you’re overwhelming them. I get that.

I would say it’s a continual evolution of my love affair with mechanics. I started out in games wanting to do more storytelling, and relatively quickly I realized that’s not what I love about games. I love interactivity. I love the mental engagement that comes when you’re into a great game, whether it’s the new Zelda, or Hearthstone, which is one of my favorite games. This is a representation of my take on the meatiest, mechanics-heavy game I’ve made.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: It’s very deep, considering that in some ways it could be very superficial.

Jaffe: It’s deceptive. It’s not superficial at all. But I would forgive people if they thought it was, both thematically — if you look at it at face value, we’re just making dick jokes and fart jokes. It’s the video game version of a Kevin Smith movie. But to be fair, Kevin Smith movies are also sweet and have a lot of heart to them. With this game, if you do care enough to look into the fiction of the character who’s dealing with his family drama at home, his missing brother, this girl he really likes — it’s normal teenage struggles. That’s reflected in there as well.

Mechanically as well, there will be people who pick it up, play it day one, run around with a shotgun, and ask, “What’s the big fucking deal?” But there are hopefully going to be enough people who also get that it’s not superficial, who are able to get it through gameplay and realize, “Wow, this looks like it’s just picking up guns and shooting, but if you want to play this well and compete in the ranked mode and climb the tower” — we have this tower every season. Every time you go up a rank you get a floor in the tower. We’ll update the tower, but the first month it’s these weird Grimm’s fairy tales. Every time you work your way up, you get more of the kid’s take. You also earn these stickers.

If you really want to play at this level and compete and work your way up every month — this player account’s only up to floor 15 — the requirement for realizing that it’s not superficial, learning the pros and cons and the nuances of the weapons and the depth of the characters and how to use the hand moves when you need them — I’m hoping we’ll have a passionate group of fans that embrace the depth of the game. It’s a long way of answering the question. You could look at it as superficial. I don’t think that view will be rare when the game comes out. People will see it that way. My hope is that through conversations like this and letting people get their hands on it, there will be enough players that realize how special it is — or at any rate, we think it’s special and we hope they’ll agree with us. But who knows?

GB: As far as the attitude goes, where you do feel like it’s placed? It almost seems like a Duke Nukem meets something….

Jaffe: It would be Duke Nukem if it wasn’t self-aware. But that’s not really fair, because Duke is self-aware. We could get into a whole conversation about how self-aware Duke Nukem is, really. Duke Nukem was aware that it was a parody of that kind of character. I think it’s similar in that sense. It knows there’s a level of stupid humor.

The tricky balance is, we know it’s stupid humor, but we also think stupid humor is funny. We’re aware of it. We acknowledge it. We know there’s more sophisticated writing and humor out there in the world, certainly even in video games. We’re with you on that. We get it. But we also very proudly say, “We still fucking think it’s funny.” I still think fart jokes and dick jokes can be funny. When you ask where it fits tonally, I think it’s somewhere in that ether of—it doesn’t totally take itself seriously, it gets that this stuff is juvenile, but it embraces how juvenile it is, because I like juvenile. Sometimes I think we’re all a little too seriously.

GB: Do you think it’s deliberately rebellious in that way, rebelling against certain kinds of games, serious games? Even though there’s a serious game in it?

Jaffe: I’d say yes, but you can find parts of the level where this kid is just dealing with his parents’ divorce. He’s dealing with the struggles of a lot of kids. There’s a heart to it, an intent to express a genuine emotional aspect. But there is also a bit of — not conscious rebellion, but I certainly think — there’s a million reasons I work with Sony, other than the fact that they’ll have me, which I always appreciate. But a big one is that Christian and Shoe and everyone else, they’re always saying, “Make what moves you. Make what excites you.”

The stuff that comes through those games, when you’re allowed that directive — you must have felt it when you write. A lot of times you write something and you don’t know what it’s about until after you finish it. You think, “Oh my God, that’s what it is.” God of War was about working too much and avoiding your family. I didn’t realize that. I’m not joking. That’s what it was about. I got divorced after God of War because all I did was work on God of War. But at the end of the day, that’s what the game was about.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

I don’t want to give you an answer that’s like, “No, fuck serious games!” There is a spirit and a heartbeat that I’m proud of, that I feel is genuine. I think I’m too close to it to be able to speak to it or articulate it yet. I think that people would be incorrect to think that it’s only a game about rebellion, but I think it’s correct to say that there is a sense of — there’s a bit too much seriousness in certain games, and a bit too much seriousness in writing about games. Sometimes it’s okay to just say, “Fuck it, let’s enjoy the fact that things can be fun.” They don’t have to try to be the Citizen Kane of our industry.

If I hear that one more time I’m gonna fucking jump off a bridge. Anybody who says it hasn’t watched Citizen Kane. I can point you to a lot of fucking overrated boring games. Is that what you mean by the Citizen Kane of our industry? Although I appreciate Citizen Kane for what it did. I’m not mocking it. Anyway. It’s a great flick in context, for what it brought to the medium, but do you really want to sit down and watch Citizen Kane like you want to sit down and watch It’s a Wonderful Life? Really?

Walter Driver, Mark Stanley, and David Jaffe with moderator Ophir Lupu.

Above: Walter Driver, Mark Stanley, and David Jaffe with moderator Ophir Lupu.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

GB: Do you think your younger self would have made this game without that self-awareness?

Jaffe: Yeah, that’s called Twisted Metal. Sure, I think so.

GB: Does the kid feel like you in some way?

Jaffe: Absolutely. Again, I count myself lucky that I’ve been able to work on games that I love for 20 years. Every time I do one, I’m like, “Gosh, I hope enough people give a shit that they let us do another one.” For better or for worse — and I would say for better — my spirit is in this game. It doesn’t mean the rest of the team’s spirit isn’t, it very much is, but I can see the essence of what moves me and inspires me and excites me in this game. I’m grateful that we got to make it.

It’s like going on a date at that point. When you put yourself in your game as much as I think some of us have put ourselves in this game, and then you launch it, you’re like, fuck, I hope somebody likes me. That’s there as well. But I wouldn’t change it. I’m super proud of it and I hope it finds an audience.

GB: It’s a game where you want to pause and just look at all of these images. I can see doing that in the middle of the map. You just think, “Wow, that’s a neat drawing over there,” and you stand still for a while.

Jaffe: That’s why we have friendly mode. There are things happening, going back to the Hero Brian thing — there are actual animations happening in the background that tell the story of Johnny Savage, the punk character, and a number of other characters. Things that are totally written and happening in this game that I’m hoping people will find and put on YouTube. “Oh my God, I played this level for a month, and I had no idea about that character he’s with.” All that stuff pays off. All that stuff is written and reflected in the game.

Hopefully people will stop and look and read what’s in the sky, read what’s on the walls. It’s a weird game, because sometimes people look at it and say, “It’s so ugly.” But I think a lot of people, and certainly myself, look at it and see a beauty to it. I’m not trying to oversell that, but there’s a rawness of the imagination, I think, reflected in this game. Sometimes you just want to stop and look at it. There’s so much stuff happening, like in a kid’s imagination. There’s very little discipline. There’s very little technique. He’s just like, “This is the shit on my mind. Here, take it.” There’s bound to be some jewels in there.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: Some of the story wouldn’t get told in your traditional way, like with a cutscene or whatever, but it can be revealed by what you notice in the game.

Jaffe: That’s exactly right.

GB: It seems like a uniquely video game way to tell a story.

Jaffe: Which is why it drives me bananas when that — I have an opinion about everything, if you aren’t aware. Here’s the thing. It drives me bananas when so many games are lauded for basically taking cinematic technique and saying, “We’ll move you and be emotional with you,” and then they just show you a cutscene. This medium is unique. It can tell stories in its own way.

Do I think we come close to a great piece of storytelling, like something you’d see in Last of Us? Of course not. But do I think that in terms of just looking at techniques for getting story across — it’s interactive. You want to go into the world and discover the story for yourself. I don’t think you want to sit down and be told the story, at least in a game like this.

It’s there. How many people are going to find it all? I don’t know. It’s like Where’s Waldo? Where’s the story? It’s in there. If you care, you’ll find it. I don’t expect a lot of people at first; hopefully they’ll just get entranced and excited by the mechanics. That character you just heard, all that is written in bad English and then translated into Japanese. I have no idea what the Sony folks in Japan thought when they got it. We wrote her like a bad anime translation.

You start to read about his dad, seeing the things he’s doodled in the notebook. You start to read little notes that the girl — she’s drawn this bus. If you start to look, he got sent to the principal’s office and she’s kind of flirting with him by drawing in class herself. The guy you saw in the video that was kind of a dick — if you look up here, this is Fincher. He’s drawn in a mocking way. But it’s all gameplay. It’s all interactive.

So on the one hand, yes, we have a butthole in our game, because buttholes are funny. They’re funny! They’re fucking funny! Think about it. You have a hole in your body and poop comes out and it’s called a “butthole.” That’s a funny thing! But it’s also a level of his ability to express that he doesn’t like this guy. You can destroy the statue. I expect somebody to sit there and say, “Oh, that’s storytelling?” No, but if you play it enough and like it, I hope people will walk away thinking, “There’s a point of view here.” It’s everywhere.

You can see this character hanging off the paper in the distance. Little things like that. That will pay off eventually, if you care enough to explore what this stuff is about.

Drawn to Death

Above: Drawn to Death

Image Credit: Sony

GB: Do you think people will notice this in gameplay, or will they have to stop playing to see it?

Jaffe: I think it’s a little bit of both. There will be people who want to come in and explore. We’ve given them the ability through this mode. I think there’s also people that, by the nature of shooting, will start to realize — it goes back to the whole Nintendo thing. There’s all these little bits and gags and stuff. Someone may notice, and someone may not. It depends how they notice. But it’s there. “I wonder what happens if I shoot that billboard. Oh shit, it’s changing. It’s changing again.” And then some people will see it on the internet. There’s lots of that stuff that we wanted in the game. Hopefully people will find it in their own time.

GB: You hinted at more stuff coming. What’s in the future for this game?

Jaffe: New levels, new modes, new characters, new weapons, new costumes, new taunts. There’s a new taunt system.

It’s very much like — I was thinking about this the other day. I have no idea why. For some reason, there’s an Entertainment Tonight clip from when I was a kid and they were launching the TV show Silver Spoons with Ricky Schroeder. He said, “I hope I get to grow up on this show.” That was the first time, in my brain — I must have been about 11 at the time — I realized that every time a show comes on the air, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be on the air in a month. Back then you’d at least get a season, but there’s no guarantee these days that it’ll be on the air two months later, let alone five years later.

We look at this very much like a service-based game. We have a lot of gameplay left, a lot of cool characters left, a lot of systems we want to share with players. It’s like a little virtual theme park. What are we doing for Christmas? What are we doing for the fourth of July? What do we do on your birthday? I’d love for this game to have enough of an audience that we’re able to ask ourselves and answer the question, “What does it look like if Drawn to Death got to be a service?” We’re set up to be that, but ultimately that comes down — we’ll know in two months whether we’re going to get a full season or not.